Bleeding London – Grotto Passage

Bleeding London – Grotto Passage

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To celebrate our forthcoming Bleeding London evening on 31st October, here is another of our favourite London streets. This time Jen Pedler and Joanna Moncrieff nominate Grotto Passage

Grotto Passage

Grotto Passage picture copyright Jen Pedler

Grotto Passage – off Paddington Street, Marylebone named after John Castles a shell designer/entrepreneur who exhibited and sold his creations (1737 until his death in 1757) from tents and sheds on this site then known as The Great Grotto. With shell grottoes being a must have for the English country house Castles seems to have made a good living, designing a grotto for Robert Walpole’s Chelsea home. The Great Grotto became one of London’s most popular attractions.

Fashion’s change and after Castles’ death the Great Grotto closed, eventually being replaced in 1846 by ‘The Grotto Ragged and Industrial Schools’. The school taught working class children practical skills to help them get more skilled employment. The current building was erected in 1860.

In one story Holmes and Watson start in Cavendish Sq and traverse a ‘network of mews and stables’ on their way to Baker St, so possibly Grotto Passage was one of them. You can follow the route on Jen’s walk Sherlock Holmes – the Return, part of Literary Footprints, on 17th October.

On 22nd October Joanna has a walk looking at literary links in Mayfair, called Poetry, Prose and Paperbacks

Grotto Passage

Grotto Passage copyright Jen Pedler



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