Fitzrovia 

Fitzrovia is an area of central London. It’s bounded to the north by Euston Road, to the east by Gower Street, to the south by Oxford Street and to the west by Great Portland Street.

Fitzrovia is named after the Fitzroy Tavern, a pub on the corner of Charlotte Street and Windmill Street. The name was adopted during the inter-war years initially by the artistic and bohemian community habitually found at the Fitzroy.

The Fitzroy Tavern was named after Charles Fitzroy (later Baron Southampton), who in the 18th century developed the northern part of the area. Fitzroy purchased the Manor of Tottenhall and built Fitzroy Square, to which he gave his name. Part of the Square is designed by Robert Adam.

The southwestern part of the area was first developed by the Duke of Newcastle, who established Oxford market, now an area behind Oxford Street. By the beginning of the 19th century this part of London was heavily built upon, severing one of the main routes was Marylebone Passage.


Today a tiny remnant of the passage remains on Wells street, opposite what would have been the Tiger pub, now a fetish clothing emporium.

Much of Fitzrovia was developed by minor landowners and this led to a predominance of small irregular streets and buildings of differing architecture, in comparison, neighbouring areas Mayfair, Marylebone and Bloomsbury were dominated by one or two landowners and so were developed more schematically, with stronger grid patterns and more squares.

Two of London's oldest surviving residential walkways are in Fitzrovia. Colville Place (built circa 1740) and the pre-Victorian Middleton Buildings (built circa 1825) are in the old London style of a way.

Some would say that the most prominent feature of the area is the BT Tower. It’s one of London's tallest buildings and was open to the public until an IRA bomb exploded in the revolving restaurant in 1971. 

In its early days Fitzrovia was largely an area of well-to-do tradesmen and craft workshops, with Edwardian mansion blocks built by the Quakers to allow theatre employees to be close to work. 

Nowadays property uses are diverse, but Fitzrovia is still well known for its fashion industry, now mainly comprising wholesalers and HQs but there are still tailors working away in small workshops.

Media Companies have replaced the photographic studios of the 1970s–90s, often housed in warehouses built to store the new designs of the fashion industry.

Charlotte Street was for many years the home of the British advertising industry and is now known for its many and diverse restaurants. There are still several major advertising agencies in the area including Saatchi & Saatchi and TBWA.

Amongst those known to have lived locally and frequented pubs in the area are Augustus John, Quentin Crisp, Dylan Thomas and George Orwell. 

Orwell's novels Nineteen Eighty-Four and Keep the Aspidistra Flying features a local pub, the Newman Arms, as does the Michael Powell film Peeping Tom. Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester lived in a house on Tottenham Street that now has a Blue Plaque. George Bernard Shaw and Virgina Woolf lived at different times in the same house at 29 Fitzroy Square. 

In Saul Bellow’s The Deans December, the eponym, Corde dines at Étoile, Charlotte Street, on his trips to London, and thinks he "could live happily ever after on Charlotte Street". Then there’s Ian McEwan who lives on Fitzroy Square, and his novel, September takes place in the area.

For more information, there are two excellent books about Fitzrovia: Characters of Fitzrovia by Mike Pentelow & Marsha Rowe and Fitzrovia by Nick Bailey. We have copies of Characters of Fitzrovia available at a greatly reduced price. Please email if you are interested.