7 Library Place, next door, was home to Payn's Circulating Library. Advertisements in almanacs (see below) show it operating there from at least 1852 to 1886, before moving to 27 King Street. In 1852 an annual subscription to Payn's Library cost £1 1s, a not inconsiderable sum at the time. It allowed the well educated access to books, newspapers and periodicals which they could not afford to buy for themselves. The service must have been popular because, by 1860, the charge had risen to £1 5s, although there was a daily rate of 3d for those who only occasionally used the library. Quite how Payn's was able to operate as a commercial venture, next door to the public library, is unclear, but even that charged a subscription.
At this time libraries were for reference only. Books could not be borrowed.
Before King Street was developed, Library Place was an important link between the main shopping centre in Broad Street and the Royal Square. It was itself an important commercial centre, with jewellers, a pharmacy, a 'dining-house', a 'fancy repository', wine and spirits merchant, taverns, hotels and boarding houses, a hairdresser, a china and glass dealer, a 'trowser warehouse' and a major auction house, all in business there in the mid-18th century.
Perhaps after a morning spent reading the latest news in one of the libraries, gentlemen would adjourn to one of the nearby taverns and restaurants for lunch. These included the British Hotel on the corner with Broad Street, the Vaults Hotel at No 2 at the opening to the Royal Square at the other end of the street, or Allan's Dining-Rooms at No 6.
It was also a popular location for teachers offering private tuition in music, art and languages, among other subjects.
Gradually the commercial centre of the town shifted from Broad Street and Library Place into King Street, Queen Street and Halkett Place, and Library Place lost its shops, which were replaced by impressive large buildings for banks in the second half of the 19th century.
Among the banks to trade from the street were London City and Midland, Midland, Jersey Banking Company, Jersey Commercial Bank, Parr's, Westminster, NatWest and Barclays.
Individual property profiles
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