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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
A Park once filled with Vice
William Whetstone's park - a centre of vice and gambling.
Location: Whetstone Park, Camden, WC2A
Description: Whetstone Park is located in the borough of Camden and is now little more than an alley parallel to High Holborn. Much of its north side was swallowed up be a Pearl Assurance development in 1912-14.
But it has a rich heritage being named after William Whetstone who built it as speculative development in the 1630s in defiance of the restrictions forbidding building beyond the City boundaries.
His houses were ordered to be pulled down, but the orders were not acted on and the street rapidly became known as a centre for vice and gambling.
Whetstone Park never developed commercially and as late as 1900 appears to have been still largely residential.
British History Online says: Two hundred years ago it was a place of very bad reputation, and was attacked by the London apprentices in 1602. The loose character of Whetstone Park and its inhabitants is a frequent subject of allusion in the plays of Dryden and Shadwell, and occasionally in Butler's Hudibras and Ned Ward's London Spy. But Whetstone Park is not without at least one distinguished inmate. At all events we read in Philips's Life of Milton that the author of Paradise Lost left his great house in Barbican, and betook himself to a smaller (in Holborn) among them that open backward into Lincoln's Inn Fields. Here he lived a private life, still prosecuting his studies and curious search into knowledge.