Think of Harley Street and images of well-dressed surgeons, dentists and superintendents come to mind. But for a street that began as a smattering of Georgian houses, it has grown into the most-reputable area in London.
Harley Street and the streets surrounding it, were originally part of the Howard de Walden estate, owned by the de Walden family and was passed to the Duke of Newcastle’s daughter in 1711, who went on to marry the second Earl of Oxford, Edward Harley. As London grew in the 18th century, Harley decided to develop all of his streets for residential purposes around Cavendish Square and honour members of his family by naming the streets after them. When he died, these were passed to his daughter who married the second Duke of Portland, and the area was now known as the Portland Estate.But the ownership of the estate went full circle when after five generations, the land was given back to the widow of the sixth Baron Howard de Walden, Lucy Joan Bentinck, and was known again as the Howard de Walden Estate.
It was at this time that doctors moved into the area due to the quality of the Georgian style houses. Others followed and the district soon became known as the medical centre of London. But a dental surgery at the heart of the Harley Street district was still needed for this thriving area, that was an ideal location in central London and close to Kings Cross and Marylebone train station. The Medical Society of London opened in 1873 and nearly forty years later the Royal Society of Medicine moved to Harley Street. The amount of doctors in the area grew to almost 200 by 1914, ten times more than when the first doctors arrived in 1860.
But the street also brought a famous resident. A year before the Crimean War in 1854, Florence Nightingale returned from a tour of Europe and Egypt where she had been studying various hospital systems, and took up the position of Superintendent at the Establishment for Gentleman during illness at No 1 Harley Street. Her former home is now occupied by England’s oldest private dental practice ‘90 Harley Street,’ who were the the first dental surgery in the Harley Street district.
Dr Edward Bach even practiced from Harley Street in the 1920s before moving to the London Homeopathic Hospital. His Bach Flower Remedies are now known all over the world. Today over 3000 people are employed within this prestigious street now full of private clinics, and Harley Street district dentists play their part in offering clinical excellence and are still being ran by highly classed professionals who are at the top of their game.
Kevin Brant is a writer with experience in magazine columns, short articles and editing. He is the author of this article on London Dentist in Harley Street. For more information Visit Invisible Braces.
Florence Nightingale was a Former Resident of Harley Street