By Angela Lovely
The new development on the former Middlesex Hospital site has been named Fitzroy Place by its owners.
“We have renamed the scheme Fitzroy Place. We felt it was important to create a name for the site that embodied the area, embraced local culture, local people and respected the rich heritage of Fitzrovia,” said a spokesperson on behalf of the owners.
Apart from being too similar to place names to the north east — Fitzroy Square, Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy Mews and Fitzroy Court on the Camden side of Fitzrovia — Fitzroy Place is not a name associated with this part of Fitzrovia.
The name Fitzroy comes from the estate which Charles Fitzroy first baron of Southampton developed in the eighteenth-century and was within the old parish of St Pancras.
On the Westminster side of Fitzrovia, the streets have names associated with the landed estates of Berners and Portland, within the old parish of St Marylebone.
You could argue that Fitzrovia is more suited to only the Camden side, but this name is unusual in that it is a name taken by people during the 1930s and had associations with the writers and artists who at first frequented the Fitzroy Tavern in Charlotte Street.
It was further popularised in the 1940s by Julian-Maclaren Ross before falling out of use in the post-war period and into the 1960s.
Then the name was re-born in 1973 with the first Fitzrovia Festival as residents asserted themselves reminding others that people live here.
Today Fitzrovia describes the whole area between Gower Street in the east and Great Portland Street in the west. An area which is quite distinct from the more formal streets and squares of its Marylebone and Bloomsbury neighbours due to its mix of uses and architectural styles. The name Fitzrovia is not repeated in any name of street or square.
The Middlesex Hospital had a rich history all of its own. It was the second hospital on the site and in the nineteenth-century Florence Nightingale worked as a nurse there and Dr Joseph Rogers was a medical graduate of its teaching who would later go on to be instrumental in campaigning against the poor law. It was one of the most important hospitals in London.
Frederick Cayley Robinson was commissioned to paint his four Acts of Mercy paintings which explored the positive forces of the human spirit in the face of destruction. These beautiful paintings used to hang in the foyer of the hospital.
The name Middlesex was synonymous with care and fighting disease and it was a hospital both staff and patients have fond memories of.
The name Fitzroy Place is unimaginative, has nothing to do with the history this part of our neighbourhood, and says nothing about that fine institution that once stood on this ground.