A “long unlovely street,” according to Tennyson, running north-south through central Marylebone and now best known
for dentistry. Wimpole Hall is a palatial house in Cambridgeshire that belonged to the Harley family, developers of the Cavendish
estate. Begun around 1724 Wimpole Street had just seven houses by the end of the decade. The statesman and political theorist
Edmund Burke was living here in 1759, at a time when the street was beginning to fill with substantial, if uninspiring, terraces.
Upper Wimpole Street was created after the closure of Marylebone Gardens in 1778. Like Harley Street and the rest of the neighbouring area, Wimpole Street soon attracted the cream of London’s fashionable society, before
being colonised by doctors, mainly from the 1820s. Later still, the street gained popularity with opticians and dentists.
Arthur Conan Doyle opened his ophthalmic practice in Upper Wimpole Street in 1891. The Royal Society of Medicine came to 1
Wimpole Street in 1912. The British Dental Association and the General Dental Council are both based in the street and private
dental consultants still abound here.
A different kind of suffering has guaranteed the street’s place in history. Elizabeth Barrett was kept a virtual prisoner
at 50 Wimpole Street by her tyrannical father before eloping to Italy with fellow poet Robert Browning in 1846. The story
of The Barretts of Wimpole Street became the subject of a play and a 1934 film, remade in 1957 with John Gielgud as
the patriarch. In Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (1814), Mr Rushworth takes a house in Wimpole Street after his
marriage. Professor Henry Higgins lives at 27a Wimpole Street in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. Paul McCartney
stayed at 57 Wimpole Street, the home of his girlfriend’s parents, from 1963 to 1966. He wrote I Wanna Hold Your
Hand and Yesterday here.