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Shelley Sites/Sights

London Residences

London Shelley sites have, for the most part, fallen victim to the Victorian passion for urban renewal and the twentieth-century need for vertical space. Lewis’s Hotel on St James’ Street, and Cook’s Hotel on Abermarle Street no longer exist, nor were we able to locate the lodgings Shelley took at Half Moon Street, the Kentish town 5 Church Terrace address, Hans Place, 13 Arabella Road, Norfolk Street, or the Hunts’ houses in the Vale of Health and Lisson Grove.

A few sites still remain, however. Poland Street, where Shelley fled after his expulsion from Oxford, still stands, now decorated with a tremendous mural of which Shelley probably would have heartily approved. His first floor (second floor to Americans) rooms were for rent in June 1999, and the street-level storefront housed a very good Italian restaurant. There had been a plaque designating the historical importance of the site, but the building’s residents told me it had been stolen by American tourists.

Other addresses can still be found, although the buildings have been replaced: Nelson Square is now surrounded by public housing; the site of Shelley’s number 2 lodging is now part of the unit facing Blackfriars Road. 56 Margaret Street is a book and print store; 26 Marchmont St. is a combination mall and luxury apartment complex; 119 Great Russell Street is a YMCA.

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Published @ RC

January 2006