Somers, of Somers Town.

Somers, of Somers Town.
10.10.2018
Spectacles

Somers’ shape is what you might call a modern classic, inspired as it is by the NHS’ ever-popular 524 spectacle.

Its name is derived from a street in another long-standing establishment of sorts: Somers Town.

Somers Close, the curving residential road that gives Somers its name, lies close to the western boundary of Somers Town; an area that was once a ’delightful and rural suburb, with fields and flowergardens’, according to an 1813 issue of Gentleman’s Magazine. Now more closely associated with the screeching sounds of train tracks and the bleak visuals of Shane Meadows’ film of the same name, Somers Town’s colourful history is all too oft-forgotten.

Built on an estate formerly belonging to the Charterhouse, the streets of Somers Town have housed an impressive roster of Londoners. The long-gone Polygon, which sat on what is now Cranleigh Street, was a group of Georgian townhouses home to the likes of Charles Dickens, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, and their daughter, Mary Shelley. The Polygon makes frequent appearances in Dickens’ work, popping up in Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, and Bleak House, to name but a few. Now it merely receives a nod in the form of a customary blue plaque.

An even more impressive line up of Londoners lie in the nearby St Pancras Old Church, just north of Somers Close.

Believed by many to be one of the oldest Christian sites in England, the churchyard - still consecrated, but now managed as a public park by Camden Council - was the site where a young Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley planned their elopement, professing their love over the grave of her mother. Alongside Mary Wollstonecraft rest other literary greats, including Thomas Hardy and John William Polidori, author of the first published modern vampire story.

The most obvious celebrity resident, hard to miss thanks to his towering memorial, is the remarkable Sir John Soane, whose imposing grave you may recognise as the inspiration behind the design of the telephone box.