Street View: 20
Address: 237 High Holborn

The story of Edward Radclyffe starts with a trade card that I found in the British Museum Collection. It depicts Radclyffe’s name, occupation and address within an elaborate frame or cartouche. The Museum dates it to circa 1830.

trade card c. 1830 (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

They also have two other, undated, trade cards for Radclyffe with a more elaborate design than the one above. One of these trade cards had the address 237 High Holborn, which is the same as that which the trade card above mentions and which is also the address where Tallis found our carver & gilder, but the other card has the address 49 Brewer Street, Golden Square.

trade cards (© The Trustees of the British Museum)

So, which address came first? Although the Museum does not date the two trade cards, they also possess a sheet of paper with a copy of the card with the Holborn address that has been annotated with information about Radclyffe’s address. The sheet was bequeathed to the museum by Sir Ambrose Hill, who wrote Signboards of Old London Shops, so I assume they are his notes. He apparently had a look at various directories and found that the Brewer Street address was used by Radclyffe in 1817, but that he used the High Holborn address from 1827 onwards. A look at some other directories can pinpoint the date of Radclyffe’s removal a bit more precisely. Pigot’s 1822 directory shows Radclyffe already at Holborn, but the 1819 Post Office Directory still has him at Brewer Street. He had been there at least since 1811 when he is listed in Brewer Street in the London and Country Directory The Land Tax records also indicate a move in 1820 or thereabouts. He is not yet to be found in the 1819 and 1820 tax records, but he is there in 1821. Tax records were usually slightly behind with their administration, so a date of 1820 for the move is most likely.

In 1824, Edward got into financial difficulty and the creditors were asked to convene with the assignees of the bankrupt’s estate to see whether Radclyffe’s household goods and stock in trade had to be sold.(1) Radclyffe must have been able to turn things around as he continued to work as a carver & gilder at High Holborn. In 1838, in an Old Bailey case, he described himself as a picture dealer who had a picture, described as “Time flying away with Beauty”, stolen from him.(2) Despite his move from Brewer Street to Holborn, Edward and his wife Harriet continued to have their children baptised at St. James’s, Piccadilly. I found ten children, some of them with very fancy names, but there may have been more.(3) The eldest son, Edward William, later joined his father in the business.

Although Radclyffe started his career as a carver and gilder and was listed as such in most directories, in the 1843 Post Office Directory that designation has been expanded to “carver & gilder & picture dealer, liner, restorer & importer”, and in 1848 to “importer of pictures, picture & glass frame manfr. pictures lined & restored”. By 1851, however, he had apparently reduced his line of work to “picture importer”. From 1846 onwards, it must have been Edward William who ran the business and changed the line of work as Edward had died in that year. Edward had left the business to his wife and after her demise it was to go to Edward William.(4)

In the 1851 census, number 237 was occupied by John Beale, engineer, his wife Harriet M.A. and a cousin Geo. D. Radclyffe, shoemaker. Harriet Beale was Harriet Mary Anne Radclyffe who had married John Beale in 1835 in the presence of her father and sister. So, although the business of Edward Radclyffe remained at number 237, the owner, Edward William, was no longer living above the property, or maybe he did, but was away at the time of the census. I have not yet traced his whereabouts in 1851.

Edward William was often named William and unfortunately, there was another Edward Radclyffe and another William Radclyffe around of roughly the same age. They were the sons of Willliam Radclyffe, an engraver from Birmingham. But the 1861 census helps us out as Edward William’s brother Adolphus is living with him at the time. Edward William is listed as plain William, a dealer of works of art and living at 9 Charing Cross. Harriet, by then a widow, is still living at 237 High Holborn, which is bracketed together in the census record with number 238. I have not traced Harriet any further than the 1861 census and in 1871, the property for 237/238 High Holborn is listed as having no one sleeping on the premises, although the enumerator says that it contained a seed shop. This may very well be related to a) James Carter whom Tallis lists as seedman and florist at 238 High Holborn and/or b) Dick Edward Radclyffe, Edward William’s son, who was also a seed merchant. We will sort all that out when we write up the entry for number 238.

Edward William is known to have acted as intermediary at sales and supplier of paintings to Angela Burdett Coutts, and the National Portrait Gallery also has some paintings that passed through his hands.(5) By 1871 Edward William has relocated to 9 Warwick Street, but he also had a shop at 123 Pall Mall, as in the 1865 probate registry for John Jones, a picture restorer, he is mentioned as picture dealer of 123 Pall Mall, and in a notice after his death about his estate, he is said to have been of 123 Pall Mall and 30 Portland Road, Notting Hill.(6) The lease of the Pall Mall shop and of the house in Warwick Street were auctioned by Christies in April 1874 and so was the stock of about 240 paintings.

The London Gazette, 26 May 1874

The Athenaeum, 4 April 1874

(1) The London Gazette, 27 November 1824.
(2) Old Bailey case t18380402-1009.
(3) Harriott Mary Anne (1809), Caroline Sarah (1810), Edward William (1812), Robert Bolton (1816), Leopold Henry Radclyffe (1818), Arthur Dodd Walwyn (1821), Rosina Elizabeth Minchin (1823), Augustus Napoleon George (1825), Septimus Augustus Howlett (1827), Adolphus Thomas Hall Radclyffe (1829).
(4) PROB 11/2039/274.
(5) Susan S. Lewis, The Artistic and Architectural Patronage of Angela Burdett Coutts, thesis Royal Holloway, University of London, January 2012 (online here). For NPG paintings see here and here.
(6) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1874. The executor was son Dick Edward Radclyffe, seed
merchant of 129 High Holborn. Estate valued at under £5,000.


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