Street View: 8
Address: 26-27 High Holborn

Hooper’s shop only accidentally made it into a drawing by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, and that only partially, as he depicted the two neighbouring properties, numbers 28 and 30. One half of Hooper’s premises can be seen on the right-hand side of Shepherd’s picture. The same cluster of houses was also depicted in volume 4 of Walford’s Old and New London. In both pictures the names of the shopkeepers are different from the ones in Tallis’s Street View; we will come back to that in the posts on the other buildings, but for now, we are just concerned with Hooper’s shop.

T.H. Shepherd, 27-31 High Holborn (© Trustees of the British Museum)

E. Walford, Old and New London, vol. 4

Hooper was first found at 27 High Holborn in an 1802 insurance policy with the Sun Alliance. He and Silvester Norton, confectioners, insure the property on the 1st of November of that year. They may have been at the address in earlier years, but I have not found any evidence for that. In November 1806 Silvester Norton married Elizabeth Hooper at St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and in September of 1807, John Hooper married Elizabeth Norton at St. Pancras Old Church. Both marriages were by licence and the entries in the church registers do not include the names of the parents, which is a pity, as that would have confirmed the double link between the Hooper and Norton siblings. As it is, they may be relatives, such as cousins or nieces rather than siblings, but that the two confectioners forged a double family bond is clear. Silvester’s will of 1826, however, helps as he describes John Hooper as his business partner and brother-in-law, so Elizabeth Norton, John Hooper’s wife, was most likely Silvester’s sister.(1) Anyway, after the death of Elizabeth, John married Sarah, the daughter of his neighbour Richard Swift, a perfumer at 28 High Holborn.

Tallis lists the Hoopers as ‘confectioners and lozenge manufacturers’. Lozenges were, according to The Guide to Trade: The Confectioner (1842) “composed of loaf-sugar in fine powder, and other substances, either liquid or in powder, which are mixed together and made into a paste with dissolved gum, rolled out into thin sheets, and formed with tin cutters into little cakes, either oval, square, or round, and dried”. I am slightly worried about the “other substances”, but the Guide starts the list with fairly innocuous additions to give the lozenges their taste, such as peppermint, cinnamon, lavender, or ginger. They then go on to sulpher, ipecacuanha, yellow pectoral (made with orris-root), and magnesium lozenges, among others. Yuk.

The Great Lozenge Maker, cartoon by John Leech, first published in Punch, 1858. Mind, I am not suggesting that Hooper resorted to putting poison in his lozenges.

John Hooper's sons from his first marriage, John, William and Frederick, all entered into the business as wholesale confectioners. In the 1841 census, John senior is still found at 27 Holborn, but his occupation is listed as 'independent', so presumably retired. John junior and Frederick are found at the same address as 'confectioners'. At number 26 we find Charles Norton, Elizabeth Norton, and Thomas Norton. Charles (48 years old) is listed as 'independent' and after Elizabeth's name it says 'friends on a visit', but that is later crossed out. Thomas is 18 years old and 'shopman'. Thomas was most likely the son of Silvester, as he had a son John who was born in 1824, so definitely the right age, but what the exact link between the Hoopers and Charles and Elizabeth is, is uncertain. Thomas Norton is still at 26-27 High Holborn as a shopman in the next census of 1851. John Hooper senior is now listed as 'landed proprietor of houses' and although there is another John Hooper listed, it is not son John, but a 'nephew', working as 'warehouseman'. Another ten years on and the 1861 census lists John senior as 'gentleman' and son Frederick as the 'confectioner'.

John Hooper by John Linnell 1837 (Temple Newsam House, Leeds Museums and Galleries via BBC Your Paintings)

Various directories show us the changes in the name of the business and address:
1811 London and County Directory: Hooper & Norton, wholesale confectioners, 27 High Holborn
1814 Post Office Directory: Hooper & Norton, wholesale confectioners, 27 High Holborn
1819 Post Office Directory: Hooper & Norton, wholesale confectioners, 27 High Holborn
1823 Kent’s Hooper & Norton, confectioners, 27 High Holborn
1825 Pigot’s Hooper & Norton, wholesale confectioners, 27 High Holborn
1839 Pigot’s John Hooper & Sons, wholesale confectioners, 27 High Holborn
1843 Post Office Directory: John Hooper & Sons, wholesale confectioners, 26-27 High Holborn
1848 Post Office Directory: John Hooper & Son, wholesale confectioners & lozenge manufacturers, 26-27 High Holborn
1851 Post Office Directory: J. Hooper & Son, wholesale confectioners, 26-27 High Holborn
1856 Post Office Directory: J. Hooper & Son, wholesale confectioners, 26-27 High Holborn

It is logical that Norton’s name disappeared after Silvester’s death in 1825, but the explanation for the expansion into number 26 is not so easy to link to a specific occasion. Did the neighbouring shop owner die, move away, go bankrupt and did Hooper take the opportunity to expand? Or was there another reason to take over number 26? Whatever the reason, the confectioners continued to make their lozenges from the combined address for many years to come.

John senior died in November 1865 and his executors were sons John and William, both listed as wholesale confectioners of 27 High Holborn.(2) At some point between 1866 and 1873, the sons must have sold the business as in the last instalment of The Building News of 1873, the rebuilding of 26-27 High Holborn was described as for Henry Brett & Co, whom we will encounter in a later post at 139 Holborn Bars as the proprietors of Furnival’s Inn, coffee house and hotel. The Building News gives details about the changes (see below), one of them the covering of the open courtyard with a timber roof with a lantern “the length of the store”. This lantern can clearly be seen on Goad’s insurance map of 1887. The WHSE you see in the picture just means ‘warehouse’. Brett informed his customers in an advertisement in the Daily News of 15 May 1874 that the distillery had been removed from Holborn Bars to their new building at 26-27 High Holborn. And with this, we have come to the end of our story for 26-27 Holborn.

(1) Silvester had died in July 1825 and was buried at St. Andrew’s on the 30th of that month. PROB 11/1710/11.
(2) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1866. His estate was valued at under £25,000.


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