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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Dr. Hunter & Mr. Hyde

28 Leicester Square 19 Charing Cross Road
I'm reading The Knife Man by Wendy Moore, a book about John Hunter, the father of modern surgery. Along about 1783 he had become wealthy enough to acquire a house large enough to house his family, students, laboratory and his ever growing collection of natural curiosities.

To this end he buys two houses that are situated on opposite sides of the block, 28 Leicester Square and 19 Charing Cross Road, their backs face each other. He then has a structure built that bridges the space between the two houses. It looks like it is still there. This is all in London, England.

John Hunter's House
The conjoined house is still there. The 'front' faces Leicester Square and is marked by the orange spot labeled "The Moon Under Water". The back fronts on Charing Cross Road and is marked by the orange spot labeled "Maharaja of India".

Floor Plan for Hunter's House
Some people think this house was the basis for Dr. Jekyll's house in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. There are certainly enough similarities.

The house looks to be about 200 feet from front to back and maybe 50 feet wide, which means each floor would be about 10,000 square feet. Wendy tells us that the house was four stories tall which would give him 40,000 square feet of floor space, not counting the stables in the basement(!). Currently, it appears to be seven stories tall. I suppose in the intervening 200 years the top three stories could have been added.


Ole Phat Stu said...

Charing, not Charring. Just one R.

Chuck Pergiel said...

I knew that. I don't know how it crept in. Must of been my inner Mr. Hyde.