Street View: 18

Address: 44 Farringdon Street


Charles Houghton ran the Britannia Nail Warehouse in Farringdon Street and according to the advertisement he had in Tallis’s Street View, you could also obtain from him, besides nails, cornice poles and ends, rings, brackets, curtain bands, and any kind of article that a builder, cabinet maker, upholsterer or box maker might require. But also, as he proudly had written on the vignette in the Street View, Patent Buffalo Horn Furniture.


The horns were not from buffaloes specifically killed for their horns, but from the cattle slaughtered in the abattoirs, or so The Furniture Gazette of 1884 wants us to believe. Not that it mattered for the buffalo; it died anyway, and probably not in a very pleasant way. Better not think about the details. I found an example of such furniture on Pinterest – hideous I think, but there is no accounting for taste.

late 19th century horn furniture (Source: pinterest.com, pin-342766221609778944)

late 19th century horn furniture (Source: pinterest.com, pin-342766221609778944)

Charles Houghton probably started his working life as an apprentice ironmonger, but whether that was in his native town or in London is unknown. On the 1851 census he is listed as coming from Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. We know that he became a member of the London Bowyer Company as he is mentioned as such when he took an an apprentice of his own in March 1834, Thomas Mortin, the son of Thomas Mortin of 70, Red Lion Street, plumber and glazier. The link with the Mortin family became even closer when Charles married the daughter of Thomas senior, Mary, a few weeks later, on 19 April at St. Andrew Holborn. An 1834 advertisement (see below) mentions the 44 Farringdon Street address, but also the previous one: Skinner Street, Snowhill. The eldest son of the couple, Charles Solly Houghton, was baptised on 28 December 1835, and many more children were to follow(1), but from 1846, the family no longer lived at Farringdon Street. Thomas Mortin was not the only apprentice Houghton had. An Old Bailey case of March 1835 relates how another apprentice, Charles Woodward, got a consignment of nails together for one Henry Smith, purporting to be in the employ of John Brees, a customer of Houghton.(2) Woodward states that he has been in the trade for three years, although he does not say that he was with Houghton these three years.

1834 advert (Source: gracesguide.co.uk)

1834 advert (Source: gracesguide.co.uk)

Charles went bankrupt in mid-1846 and in the London Gazette notice of his problems, he is given the address of 58, Dudley Grove which is also from where his daughter Maud is baptised in late 1846. The 1851 census, sees the family living at 6, Arlington Square. Charles happens to be absent from home when the census is taken, but he can be found visiting one Mary Houghton in Bury St. Edmunds, possibly his sister. Charles is still described as ironmonger, but when in 1856, his daughter Isabel is baptised he is described as ‘gentlemen’ and living in Stoke Newington. The 1861 census sees the family living at Woodland Terrace, Islington and Charles is then ‘Collector to a brewery’. Charles dies on 25 August 1866 at 84, Newington Green Road and probate is granted to widow Mary the following May.(3) The estate is valued as under £1,000. The following census of 1871 sees daughter Laura as the head of the household at Grange Road Terrace, Stoke Newington. She is described as a school mistress and with her are living her mother and four of her sisters: Gertrude, Fanny and Maude are described as governesses and Isabel as a scholar. And that is as far as I will take this story of the ironmonger’s family.

Advert from the Tallis Street View

Avert from the Tallis Street View

(1) Laura Mortin (bapt. 13 Oct. 1837), John Rowland (bapt. 29 April 1840), Gertrude (bapt. 5 May 1842), Fanny (bapt. 14-01-1845), Maud (bapt. 30-12-1846), George (±1849), Mary Ann (bapt. 4 Jan. 1852), Arthur (±1854), and Isabel (bapt. 30-11-1856).

(2) Old Bailey case t18350302-842. Smith was found not guilty on the grounds of insanity.

(3) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1867.


<– 45 Farringdon Street 43 Farringdon Street –>