Only three contemporary leases for Union Street have been discovered. Two are leases for empty plots and one is a lease of a plot with a house already built on it. A further three deeds recite original leases and altogether they provided dates and modes of construction of ten houses in Union Street and for a further eight adjacent sites or completed houses. It has not unfortunately been possible to identify all the houses or sites mentioned in these leases; nonetheless they do give an admirably clear picture of how Lucas’s building speculation developed and what was his part in it, and of his relations with the builders and tenants. This information is supplemented by Lucas’s will written in 1734/35, the greater part of which is taken up with bequests to his wife, Thamer Lucas, and to his surviving children of property in Union Street in which he has retained an interest.
No.19 Union Street, south side (Now renumbered to 34 shown here) was built by two masons, John Royalls or Ryalls and Robert Pearce or Pears under a lease of the 25th July 1709. They were to build or cause to be built at their own cost ‘one good brick tenement the front storey to be ten feet clear and lay the front with good grey stocks in such manner as the said Thomas Lucas hath to lay six feet in depth and the whole front of the said house with good purbeck stone and sett posts to keep the carts off at such distance as the rest of the posts are and to pave before the front of the said house as far as the said Thomas Lucas doth’. Royalls and Pearce were to have the benefit of the house on the west, one of a pair then being built by Lucas for Mr. Thomas Rowbotham, a dancing- master, for a party wall on condition that they should provide the same benefit to Lucas should he build next on the east side where a plot was already staked and marked out for building. In this way, Lucas controlled the depth of the cellar and the height of the ground storey. He ensured that the front elevation should conform to those of the houses he had already built himself and that it should be constructed of bricks of his own specification. Nowadays ‘good grey stocks’ would be described as brown but were then so named in distinction to the bright red bricks used for arches and decorative dressings.. The house built by Royalls and Pearce survives and the adjacent house built by Lucas for Rowbotham survived until recently. A photograph of them shows that Lucas’s intention that Royalls and Pearce should conform to his elevation was completely fulfilled. To the front elevation of the two houses is nearly identical and the only clue to there having been built separately is the straight joint between them.
On the south side, there were twenty three houses running without a break from the corner with Butt Lane, No.1 to No.23 (No.42). The remainder of the street ran between the back gardens of houses facing onto Church Street. They were no part of Lucas’s development, but came to him with the parcel of land in 1704/05. What ever intention Lucas may have had to continue building in Union Street to the east, was probably frustrated by difficulty in raising money, and by lack of time since, from 1713, he was employed by the Commission for Fifty New Churches, first in Deptford but after 1718 in Stepney.
South Side of Albury St on the right looking east to Church Street. 1910?
Part 3 extract from A Quiney's paper on Albury Street 1979.