Below is a brief history of Percy Circus, we will be adding more detail to this page, so do visit again.
The development of Percy Circus, much like that of Holford Square, took place as part of the New River Companies development of its estates during the first half of the 19th century. Much like Holford Square both Percy Circus and Great Percy Street take their name from Robert Percy Smith, a Governor of the New River Company: 1827 until his death in 1845.
Percy Circus was built between 1841 and 1853. It interrupts Great Percy Street and had five entrances to it, all at odd spacings. It is on quite a steep hill (this point can be confirmed by anyone who has tried to take a ‘shortcut’ via Percy Circus on a bike!) Despite its difficulties it is widely admired as one of the most pleasing circuses in London, perhaps its lack of symmetry and angle help in this.
The Survey of London for North Clerkenwell says of Percy Circus “success was achieved through picturesque variation in the house elevations, deftly enlivened by recession and projection, adding up to what Christopher Hussey, in 1939, called a ‘monumental conception’ and ‘one of the most delightful bits of town planning in London’. ”
Upon completion in 1853, Percy Circus had (clockwise from north) Holford Place, Great Percy Street (east), Upper Vernon Street, Great Percy Street (west) and Vernon Street. All the streets apart from the eastern side of Great Percy Street are short link streets. An irregular crossing at this point in the New River estate was inevitable as the new metal water pipes laid down in the 1820s had a junction at what would become Great Percy Street and Vernon Street. The laying out of the New River estate’s roads along the water pipes will be covered in a different article.
Only fifteen of the original twenty-seven houses survive today. During the Blitz the three sections of the circus to the north suffered along with Holford Square. After the war the New River Company who still owned the freehold on the Circus decided that unlike Holford Square, the circus should be preserved.
More history of Percy Circus will be added soon, but for now take a look at the Survey of London’s section on the Percy Circus Area.