Street View: 8
Address: 28 High Holborn

As we saw in the post on John Hooper, 28 High Holborn was occupied by his neighbour (and later father-in-law) Richard Swift, perfumer, but the last we hear of the latter is in 1831 when he took out an insurance policy with the Sun Alliance. Two years later, Eliza Huntley, hairdresser and perfumer, insures the property, but that is all we know of her. In July 1837, Emma Sarah, the daughter of Anthony and Julia Brown is baptised at St. Andrew’s, Holborn, and although no house number is given, the family lived at High Holborn. In the church record, Anthony is described as musical instrument maker. Although he was born in London, Anthony was originally called Antonio Bruno, as his ancestors were of Italian origin, but he anglicised his name to Anthony Brown. Pigot’s Directory of 1839 duly lists him at number 28. Tallis lists him at 28 High Holborn as violin, violincello and guitar maker, but he was not to stay at the address for very long.

In the 1841 census, Anthony can already be found at 40 Upper Rosoman Street, Clerkenwell, still listed as musical instrument maker. At the same address we find Alexander Cheffins, professor of music, whom we came across in the post on 4 Mortimer Street. Both gentlemen only made a brief appearance at the addresses that Tallis listed and if he had published his booklets a year later, he might have missed them altogether. Anthony Brown was to remain at Upper Rosoman Street for quite some years, although he seems to have emigrated to Australia later in life. At some point in time he worked with Joseph Panormo, the brother of Louis Panormo whom we have encountered in the post on 46 High Street, Bloomsbury. I suppose musical London was not that big a place and we should not really be surprised that Panormo, Cheffins, and Brown were in some way linked.

The next occupant of number 28 is Charles Laughton, a hosier, who was definitely there when the census of 1841 was taken, that is, on the night of 6/7 June. According to the Post Office Directory of 1848, he was still there, but, in the directory of 1851, he has made way for Henry Hart, clothier and outfitter. Around that time, Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, depicted the two small houses at 28 and 30 High Holborn.

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

Both Shepherd and the engraver for Walford’s Old and New London give the shop at number 28 the name “Aux Mille Couleur” and above the windows the words “cleaner, dyer, scourer”, so the shop was certainly no longer occupied by Hart, the outfitter. The alleyway between the two buildings, behind the man and the dog, leads to number 29, the Coach & Horses whose proprietor Pacy also took over number 30. The 1851 census (30 March) tells us that Henry Hart is still at number 28, so the Shepherd and Walford drawings must date from a later period. The British Museum dates the picture to c. 1850 and J.F.C. Phillips in his Shepherd’s London (1976) to c. 1852, which accords with the pencilled comment by J.G. Crace under the British Museum copy which says c. 1852 and that seems a more likely date than 1850 since Henry Hart is still at number 28 at the time of the census and is also listed in the 1851 Post Office Directory. The 1856 Post Office Directory gives ‘Boura Aimé, dyer & scourer’ which does corresponds to the lettering on the property in the two pictures. No comma between Boura and Aimé, so unclear whether Aimé is a first name.

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

But the listing in the 1856 directory does not solve everything. There were two gentlemen of that name in London who were both listed as scourers and dyers: Julien Aimé Boura and Louis Aimé Boura, no doubt with a close family relationship. In the 1851 and 1861 censuses, Julien is enumerated at 42 Edgware Road and Louis at 31 Rathbone Place, so neither was living at 28 High Holborn. The Finsbury electoral register for 1865 lists an Aimé Boura at 28 High Holborn, but does not give more information. The 1841 census, however, lists Louis as Aimé Boura at Rathbone Place and an Old Bailey case confirms that Louis and Aimé are one and the same person. Boura states that he is a dyer of Rathbone Place and that “I call myself both names when it is required, but generally I do not give any name but Aime” and when asked to confirm that he had two names, “I have never been used to write only Aime — it is the name I have always gone by — it is my Christian name”; in other words, he is called by his second name, but uses both first names in writing.(1) This explains why the census and electoral register just use ‘Aimé’ as that was probably his answer to their question ‘What is your name?’.

The 1861 census for 28 High Holborn shows a blank space behind number 28, so presumably nobody slept on the premises and the 1871 census even skips the number altogether. This would be the end of the story of 28 High Holborn, but for an invention by Louis Aimé Boura of Rathbone Place which was explained in The Patent Journal, and Inventors’ Magazine of 1848 and which I thought I’d share with you. The contraption was also shown in the 1851 Great Exhibition.

(1) Old Bailey Case t18420919-2638.


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