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35 St Martin's Street
St Martin's Street is a narrow, paved street to the south of Leicester Square. Newton lived in number 35 from 1710 to 1725 and this is marked by a bust in Leicester Square Gardens. This was a three storey terrace house built c1695. He then moved to Kensington but retained the St Martin's Street house until his death in 1727.
As he died without leaving a will, a full inventory of the house contents was made. The manuscript was forgotten for two hundred years until it was rediscovered by Richard de Villamil and printed in his book Newton: the Man.
The house was pulled down in 1913, despite Lord Macaulay's belief that it would be "well known as long as our island retains any trace of civilisation." The panelling and other fixtures of the fore parlour were saved and reconstructed as the Isaac Newton Room at Babson College, Massachusetts.
The site is now occupied by the Westminster Reference Library (a public library owned by Westminster Council.) The photograph shows the south east corner of the Library, with St. Martin's Street going north to the left and Orange Street crossing the picture from left to right. Newton's house was at the left end of the land now occupied by the library (where the porch of the entrance is.)
There is an inscription on the centerline of the library, cut into the stone (no plaque): SIR ISAAC NEWTON LIVED IN A HOUSE ON THIS SITE 1710-1727, and there are two longer inscriptions on the staircase from the entrance to the main reading room:
Here stood the house of SIR ISAAC NEWTON in which he lived from 1710 to 1727 & was visited by his friends Addison, Burnet, Halley, Swift, Wren and other great men. Later it became the home of Dr CHARLES BURNEY and his daughter Frances and was the resort of Johnson, Reynolds, Garrick and many others. The library also covers the site of the Leicester Fields chapel built for the Huguenots in 1693
This public library erected to replace the former library of the Parish of
St Martin in the Fields was opened on the 8th Oct 1928 by THE VERY REV.
W. FOXLEY NORRIS DD. DEAN OF WESTMINSTER [list of (no doubt worthy) members of
the public libraries commitee omitted...]
Plan of 35 St Martin's Street before its demolition.
In the future, I hope to create an online reconstruction of 35 St Martin's Street, using the detailed, room by room, Inventory of the house contents and other surviving information. The virtual museum exhibits will read like a guidebook, inspired by a comment by Richard de Villamil about the Inventory: "This list is so complete and so detailed that we could easily re-furnish every room in Newton's house (if it still existed) as it was at the time of his death."
© 1994-2001 Andrew McNab. Back to isaacnewton.org.uk