As we move around the Monopoly board, it seems that some of the sets were put together at random and some were chosen by association. As we come to the end of the second side, the oranges have a clear link; they are all connected by the law. Bow Street is most famous for the Magistrate’s Court; Marlborough Street also had a Magistrate’s Court and Vine Street had a police station, once one of the busiest in the world.
Millions and millions of people play Monopoly in all its various guises and we all have our favourite sets – a straw poll in the Euracom office suggested that Rob likes the four stations, Richard likes the ‘greens’ of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, Joe likes the blues because they’re close to his beloved Arsenal and Kelly likes the purples of Park Lane and Mayfair. However, if winning the game is your sole aim, the oranges are statistically your best bet. Why? Well, the ‘jail’ corner (including Just Visiting) is the single most visited square and the most frequently thrown dice scores are 6, 7, 8 and 9. You can see where we’re going with this…
Bow Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950
Bow Street in Covent Garden was constructed in 1633 by Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford and was given the name ‘bow’ purely because of the shape of the road. The most notable resident around this time was ‘Roundhead’ Oliver Cromwell and in the 18th century, Bow Street was associated with the pornography trade but the most famous building on the short thoroughfare was the Bow Street Magistrates’ Court, established in 1740.
Bow Street Magistrates Court © Matt Brown
The most well-known magistrates’ court in England for most of its 266-year existence, one of the first ‘habitual’ disorders they sought to stop was crime as a result of gin consumption. In order to tackle these crimes, magistrate Henry Fielding brought together eight reliable constables to make arrests and serve writs. Known initially as ‘Mr Fielding’s People’ their reputation for honesty and efficiency earned them the famous moniker the ‘Bow Street Runners’.
This group, the first uniformed police unit in Britain, soon became more organised and was the precursor to the Metropolitan Police.
A series of famous names passed through Bow Street Magistrates’ Court including playwright Oscar Wilde (who ordered tea, toast and eggs from the Tavistock Hotel to be delivered to his cell), murderer Dr Crippen, suffragettes Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, Chilean dictator General Pinochet, 60s crime bosses Ronnie & Reggie Kray and most recently, radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza.
The court closed for good in 2006 and was converted in to a boutique hotel and today, Bow Street is most famous as the location of the Royal Opera House.
Marlborough Street (£180); Rent: £14; 1 House £70; 2 Houses £200; 3 Houses £550; 4 Houses £750; Hotel £950
Marlborough Street is in Soho running west to east from the junction of Regent Street at its western end. At the eastern end it becomes Noel Street.
It was developed in the early years of the 18th century as Great Marlborough Street and was so named for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, the commander of the English Army. At first, the street was a very fashionable place to live but as the 19thcentury came around, it became, as it remains, a commercial street with perhaps its most famous resident being the instantly recognisable black and white Tudor beams of Liberty.
Great Marlborough Street © Stig Nygaard
Like Bow Street, Marlborough Street was well known for its magistrates’ court where famous defendants in cases heard there include The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones and Beatle John Lennon.
The musical connection continues with the HQ of Sony Music and well-known classical and jazz record store Harold Moores Records but early in the 20th century it was a hub for the automotive industry.
Vine Street (£200); Rent £16; 1 House £80; 2 Houses £220; 3 Houses £600; 4 Houses £800; Hotel £1,000
Even though today Vine Street is a 70-ft long dead end, it also has a fascinating crime-based history. We know for sure that the street was named after an 18th century pub called The Vine but further to that, it’s thought that there may have been a vineyard in or around the locale in Roman times but try as we might, we can’t verify that factoid.
Around 1750, a court house was built at the western end but closed in 1836 when the court system in Westminster was overhauled and in about 1767, Vine Street Police Station was built. Originally intended as a watch-house, a school operated on the first floor and there were two cells in the basement.
It went on to become one of London’s major police stations and one of the busiest in the world in the 19th century and it closed in 1940. As foot traffic in the area increased, it was re-opened in 1966 but closed for good as recently as 1997.
De Dion-Bouton, once the largest car manufacturer in the world had a showroom at number 10 and at 45, residents included United Motor Industries and Charles Jarrott & Letts, concessionaires for de Dietrich, Oldsmobile and Napier cars.
Vine Street London © Howard Lake
The most famous activity at the Vine Street Police Station occurred in 1895 and it involved John Sholto Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensbury, the man who gave his name to the rules that form the basis of boxing, and Oscar Wilde.
Angered by an apparent homosexual relationship between Wilde and his son Alfred, Queensbury referred to Wilde as a ‘Sodomite’ and Wilde then sued him for criminal libel. During the court case, Queensbury’s barrister portrayed Wilde as a vicious older man who preyed on young boys and Wilde quickly dropped the case when he was informed that Queensbury’s legal team intended to call on several male prostitutes to testify that he was indeed promiscuous.
Queensbury then issued a counterclaim against Wilde for the huge amounts of money incurred in organising a defence and appointing a legal team which he won, leaving Wilde bankrupt. He was subsequently sentenced to two years’ ‘hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed’ first in Pentonville Prison and then in Wandsworth Prison after being charged and convicted of gross indecency.
With his health and reputation in tatters, he exiled himself to France and died at the Hotel d’Alsace in Paris in November 1900.
Back to Vine Street and today, it is nothing more than a nondescript dead-end populated predominantly with the rear facades of properties facing other streets.