The first residents of the Lambeth Estate, from 1824, would have perhaps been builders, joiners, printers, furniture makers, saddlers, blacksmiths, clothing makers, butchers, bakers, teachers or nurses. Originally, all the houses were rented.
We know from censuses that the streets were much more densely populated than now.
As many as 20 people lived in each Roupell Street house, split between four small rooms (toilets were outside in the back yard). Signs of these living arrangements can still be seen in some houses – each room had a lock on the door and a separate hearth for heating and cooking.
The finish in each room also tells us about the wealth of the occupants. The front room on the ground floor has a more elaborate fireplace surround, and detailed wooden panelling. It would have commanded the highest rent. The other rooms would have rented for less, and have plainer fireplace surrounds and panelling.
Our predecessors fared relatively well against the surrounding area in the maps produced by Charles Booth’s Inquiry into Life and Labour in London between 1886 and 1903. Each street is coloured to indicate the income and social class of its inhabitants. At that time, Theed Street was known as Palmer Street.
Shaded red “fairly comfortable, good ordinary earnings”
Solid red “mixed, some comfortable, others poor”
Shaded blue “poor – 18 to 21 shillings a week for an average family”
Solid blue “very poor, casual, chronic want”
In 1868, two years ahead of the law which brought in education for all children between the ages of 5 and 12, St Andrew’s School was built in Roupell Street. There were 1,000 pupils, and on Monday evenings classes for adults “whose education has been neglected in early youth”.
The architect, Edmund Woodthorpe, also designed a matching accommodation for teachers next to the school, and a mission hall behind, where there were magic lantern shows on damp winter nights.
The school is now used by EF for language teaching, and the house privately occupied.
Thanks to our friends and neighbours whose support helps make LERA events possible
The Warehouse, The King’s Arms, The White Hart, Konditor, Waterloo East Theatre, 1901 Arts Club