Gower Street takes its name from Lady Gertrude Leveson-Gower, whose husband was 4th Duke of Bedford. Lady Gertrude supervised the development of this section of her husband’s estate when Gower Street was built in the 1790s. The first occupant in 1792 was a widow- Sarah Chandler. By 1796 Mrs Chandler has sold her house to a City merchant named Jonathan Chapman.
By the time Nelson won his famous victory at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, No 71 Gower Street had passed to John Sargeaunt, a member of Doctors’ Commons; the colloquial name for the College of Advocates and Doctors’ of Law situated near St.Paul’s Cathedral. These advocates -a wholly separate body from the barristers of the time- enjoyed a monopoly of practise and were required to hold doctorates in the civil (i.e.Roman) law before being admitted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to practise in the Court of Arches. Court of Arches sat originally in the crypt of the church of St.Mary-le-Bow in Cheapside. A description both of the premises and the court at work is given by Dickens-who worked for a time as a shorthand reporter in this court as a young man-in Chapter 23 of David Coperfield. (Dickens knew Gower Street well. When, as a young boy he was working in a blacking factory, his mother was endeavouring to set up a private school in Gower Street, on the site of University Hospital) John Sargeaunt sold this house about 1823 to a fellow lawyer, William Fuller Boteler, who was educated under Dr Raine at Charterhouse School and at St.John’s College, Cambridge. He was called to the bar of Lincoln’s Inn on 23 November 1804. Although his advancement at the equity bar was slow, he ultimately became the leading tithe lawyer of his day.
Appointed Recorder of Canterbury, Sandwich, Hythe, New Romney, he was andvanced King’s Council in 1831. In 1844 he was appointed Senior Commissioner of the District Court of Bankruptcy in Leeds. Botler died in 1845 from the effect of railway accident his wife Charlotte sold the house few years later.
In 1852 71 Gower Street got a new owner. His name was Joseph Batho, the civil engineer and inventor, who is now best remembered for being a joint-patentee with William Clark of a revolutionary steam road roller. The London post Office directory for 1861 lists a new occupant. Physician John Hogg, the author of The Health and Habits of the Inhabitants of London (1847) and Prevention of Consumption (1860). Hogg shared the ground floor consulting rooms, as well as a living accommodation above, with his son Francis Robert Hogg, who was Assistant Surgeon to the Royal Artillery, Woolwich. The father continued here until 1879. His executors sold No 71 Gower Street to Miss Eleanor Mitchell, who started to run it as a boarding house in 1881. Few years later Miss Mitchell sold her business to Mrs Floyd. She in turn sold on before 1888-the year Jack the Ripper was stalking the fog-bound streets of Whitechapel to the east-to the architect Robert Tyler.
The dwelling returned to use an apartment house circa 1897 with Mrs Lucy Crawcour. Records for 1907 show the apartment house run by Horace Alex Welch.
regency house hotel
By the end of the First World War in 1918 the proprietor was a Mrs Nellie Peters who sold the business circa 1925 to Miss Inez Atkinson. The house is still shown in the London Post Office directories of this date as ‘apartments’, but by 1931 is listed as ‘private hotel’ in the hands of an Italian lady Mrs Vechietti.
71 Gower Street continued to be shown as a ‘private hotel’ until the present name was adopted in 1950 by then proprietor George James.