Streets that link Samuel Pepys, a hymn, and a comedian

Eleanor Farjeon
Eleanor Farjeon

On 13 February 1881 the writer Eleanor Farjeon, best remembered for writing children’s books, was born at 12 Buckingham Street in London. Perhaps her most famous work was the hymn ‘Morning has broken’, popularized in the 70s by the singer known then as Cat Stevens.

Buckingham Street takes its name from George Villiers, the second Duke of Buckingham, who also gave his name to Of Alley (now York Place). The duke’s father was the original owner of York House (once the palace of the Archbishop of York) and the surrounding land; the son was forced to sell his inheritance after he ran up debts. In 1674 a property developer acquired it on the condition that the streets built on the land were given Villers’ full name. That meant five streets, called George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street (now gone), Of Alley, and Buckingham Street.

Samuel Pepys lived first at number 12, where Farjeon was born, and then at the grander number 14, which was a newly rebuilt house facing the river.

Eleanor Farjeon later lived, and died, in Perrins Walk in Hampstead; the walk takes its name from John Perrin, a local tavern owner whose descendants owned land in the area until 1882. The comedian Peter Cook also had his final home in Perrins Walk.