I stumbled upon Rugman’s Row when searching the catalogue on the PRO website www.pro.gov.uk in 2000. Among the seven results returned was a lease in Rugman’s Row, St. Bartholomew’s the Great, London in 1645. Living in Cheshire, which in UK terms is a long way from Kew, I ordered a very expensive scanned copy of the lease. While waiting for the copy my curiosity got the better of me and I made the trek down to Kew, London.
I was able to handle the original document, which had good and clear handwriting but it did not indicate where the Row was (no map) or how the Row got its name. The leases were between the Earl of Holland, who was the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time and his wife, and various tradesmen. These included merchant tailors, baker, yeomen, wire drawer, glover, perfumer, silk weaver and joiner but no rug maker or dealer. Searching through some old maps at the PRO also did not reveal anything. A recent A-Z of London streets and several websites, including one which lists the streets of London that have been lost, did not have trace of Rugman’s Row. Most of the maps were not detailed enough in the 17th century but fortunately the maps revealed that the Fire of London in 1667, had not reached the area of St. Bartholomew’s the Great and therefore survived after this date.
The London Metropolitan Record Office advised me to contact the Guildhall Library, in Moorgate, as they held the City archives. An e-mail enquiry to the Guildhall Library produced an unexpected result. Within days a reply came back stating that there was an article in the Archaeological Journal of 1996, called ‘The Prospect From Rugman’s Row’ by Dr. Roger H. Leech. There were also two small detailed maps showing the development of Cloth Fair, in St. Bartholomew’s with Rugman’s Row being a row of booths that were to be developed into permanent buildings in 1616. Rugman’s Row faced Kentish Row and the space between them became New Street and later Newbury Street as it is today.
In July 2001 I visited the Guildhall Library and Rugman’s Row on Newbury Street and although there isn’t a sign for Rugman’s Row, the buildings must be the original with renovations. Rugman’s Row and the streets on the map also escaped the blitz of WW2. The photograph on the left was taken from point A on the map above, and the photograph on the right was taken from point B.