I seem to be getting mildly obsessed by the origin of street names in Soho.
This one, Bateman Street, which connects Dean Street to Greek Street was named after the owners of the great house along one side of which it originally lay.
Monmouth House was a very grand and huge house, the back of which is marked by Bateman Street, whilst its front faced onto Soho Square, then known as King’s Square. It was designed by Christopher Wren for the Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II, in 1677. He didn’t get long to enjoy the house, leading a failed rebellion against James I and losing his head as a consequence in 1685. It was snapped up (the house that is) by the Bateman family after which Bateman Street is known. There is also Bateman’s Buildings which runs straight down the middle of where the old house would have stood and into Soho Square to the north.
Bateman Street has two of the grand old Soho pubs. The Crown and Two Chairmen on the corner of Dean Street and the Dog and Duck on the corner of Frith Street. High crimes have been commited by developers upon the body of The Crown and Two; its current incarnation is as a gastro pub and is painted grey. At least it is no longer purple. The Dog and Duck on the other hand is a lovely late 19th century pub, Soho’s finest and one of the best of its type in London. Worth a visit just to look at the wooden bar. In past years the beer was often “sticky” and the glasses perhaps not always the cleanest. Nowadays these faults have been rectified and the quality of the drinks is up to the standard of the architecture and decor of the pub.
The Crown and Two does have a very nice Indian restaurant opposite. Gopal’s is an old-fashioned, unfancy curry house but a good one. It was built on the site of Victorian London’s largest venereal disease hospital, the London Lock Hospital. Think of that as you chow down on your Chicken Tikka Masala, or perhaps not. Soho was a centre of the capital’s vice trade and the hospital was located here in 1862 for the convenience of its customers.
There remains a trace of the fruitier side of life in the neighbourhood. On the corner of Bateman’s Buildings there is an old school “Gentleman’s Club” which hosts “live erotic stage shows in a plush low-lit setting.” Apparently.