York Watergate, Embankment Gardens, London, Dec 2023.

On my way to review an exhibition at the Courtauld, I had a closer look at the York Watergate in Embankment Gardens. It was built around 1626 in the grounds of York House: the Duke of Buckingham’s mansion.

The street behind it is Buckingham Street, which was where the actress Peg Woffington lived in the 1750s. Her address was given as York Buildings, which was the generic name for all the premises on the site of York House (Edmund John Niemann painted an evocative view of the street in 1854 showing the York Watergate in the distance).

Now an unassuming cul-de-sac at the back of Charing Cross station, Buckingham Street was handy for the Strand as well as the playhouses, and was previously the site of an inexpensive theatrical venue called The Great Room at York Buildings. The street ran down to the Thames in Peg’s day, and I like to think of her embarking on a boat nearby, headed for her villa at Teddington.

EDIT: Thank you to Henry Hitchings who drew my attention to this truly stunning picture of the York Watergate by George Belton Moore (1845).