In 1599, when the first Globe Theatre was opened, the timber-framed building now occupied by Field & Sons was already 20 years old. Shakespeare himself was a regular visitor to Borough High Street, home of his friend John Harvard (founder of Harvard University). The premises overlooked what was then London’s busiest, most congested thoroughfare, where shops, ale houses and brothels served and entertained a transient population of many thousand grid locked travellers and merchants waiting to cross into the City.
By 1600, the present “No.54” had become a minor “stew” catering for the rejects from the nearby Madame Britannica Hollandia’s royally patronised establishment which claimed to be “The best run whorehouse in “England”. In 1676, the building was one of the few to escape the fire which destroyed most of North Southwark.
Some time during the 18th century it became “The Hen & Chickens”, a coffee house, familiar to such celebrated locals as Mrs Thrale, Dr Johnson and Oliver Goldsmith. Poet John Keats was also a student at Guy’s and a regular visitor.
In 1875, Henry Wainwright, brother of the then tenant Thomas Wainwright ironmonger, brought the dismembered body of his girlfriend from Whitechapel by cab, to bury it in the cellar of the recently vacated property. He was arrested whilst attempting to break-in and was later hanged at Newgate Prison. Perhaps this affected the price at which the Field Family bought the building in 1875! It is speculation whether the grey lady, who appears on the stairway from time to time, is the dead girl or another unhappy spirit.
In the years that followed, the office has remained largely unchanged whilst witnessing the metamorphis of Borough High Street from a predominantly working class enclave supporting the Docklands industry, to a thriving community recently identified, with the emergence of The Shard, as London’s third business quarter.
Although the Company now boasts four offices, Borough High Street remains its flagship office housing not only Residential Sales and Lettings teams, but also Property Management, Accounts and its original occupier, Field & Sons Commercial.