Brabant Court | Look Up London

History of Brabant Court

If you’ve ever visited the Sky Garden, you probably queued alongside Philpot Lane. Just off this street is a tempting little dead end called Brabant Court and if you walk through you’ll find a surprising 18th Century building!

Brabant Court | Look Up London

History of Brabant Court

Brabant Court can be seen below on the Horwood Map of 1799, but it was originally called Bowling Alley.

Image from www.layersoflondon.org

It’s so small that its name is only visible on the helpful key.

Image from www.layersoflondon.org

You can see it with its current name on the William de Morgan map from 1682.

Image from www.layersoflondon.org

There are some stone bollards in the corners, suggestive of horse and carts coming into the yard to load and unload goods. Inside the court itself, you find no.4 Brabant Court. It was built in 1710 which received Grade II listing in 1972.

4 Brabant Court | Look Up London

In 2013 it won the City Heritage Award, given to the best refurbishment project in the City that year.

It seems that it’s still a private home today and you can get a peek inside with these photos from the interior designer, Jackie McWeeney.

When you encounter these houses I think you can’t help but wonder about past residents.

4 Brabant Court | Look Up London

Someone who did live in Brabant Court (though I’m not sure if he lived in No.4) was John Lydekker. His will is in the National Archives, dated 27 July 1832 from Brabant Court, Philpott Lane. 

John was born in 1778 and joined the haberdashery trade. By 1804 he was running his own business as a cane and whalebone merchant which might seem like a leap into a new industry, until we remember that whalebone was an integral part of corsets and stays within fashionable garments.

John did eventually jump ship – literally – to become a ship owner and in 1829 he owned five ships according the the Register of Shipping. His ships traded between London and Greenland (for whaling) and the South Seas (mostly associated with the Transatlantic Slave Trade).

In 1832 John died, rather suddenly, of Cholera and wrote his will on the same day. He left about £58,000 (£5.1million) not to his family, but to the Seamen’s Hospital Society in Greenwich.

The society erected a memorial plaque (now in the Museum of London Docklands) to ‘Gratefully record his munificent bequest to the institution’.

Image Credit: Elliot Brown / Flickr

He was buried in St. Dionis Backchurch, Fenchurch Street which was demolished in 1878. The remains of everyone buried there – including Lydekker – were moved to the City of London Cemetery in Newham.

As ever, it proves it’s worthwhile having a peep down London’s many narrow alleys!


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4 Comments

  • Brabant is an area in both The Netherlands and Belgium. The province of North-Brabant lies in The Netherlands and the provinces of Flemish and Walloon Brabant lie in Belgium. All used to be part of the Duchy of Brabant, a state of the Holy Roman Empire.

    March 24, 2023 at 5:54 pm
  • Ron Chriswell

    Reply

    While my son and I were visiting London, and on a walking tour, we were told that this exact home was the inspiration for Charles Dicken’s character, “Scrooge’s” house. Does anyone know any more about this?

    May 25, 2023 at 5:37 pm

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