Company trade routes and places

THE EAST INDIA CLUB, ST JAMES SQUARE

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Founded in the middle of the 19th century, the club’s original members, as set out in the Rule Book of 1851, were The East India Company’s servants – Clerical, Civil, Military, Naval and Medical of all the Presidencies, including those retired and all commissioned officers of Her Majesty’s Army and Navy who have served in India. However, within the first two decades of the club’s foundation, The East India Company started to lose its Indian possessions and was wound up entirely in 1874. As a result, the club could no longer look to The East India Company as its main source of members.
 

CLIVE OF INDIA STATUE, WHITEHALL

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At the age of eighteen, Robert Clive was sent out to Madras (now Chennai) as a “factor” or “writer” in the civil service of The East India Company. It was often the case that young men joined The East India Company to make their fortune. Little did he know how far this journey was to take him. He entered the military service of The Company in 1744, then soon distinguished himself in the fighting against the French and their local allies.
 

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE, KING CHARLES STREET

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The interior was designed by Matthew Digby Wyatt, Surveyor of The East India Company and subsequently Architect to the Council of India. Wyatt could draw upon the proceeds from the sale of East India House, in Leadenhall Street, and he could thus afford to decorate the interior courtyard of the India Office with marble, tiled friezes and a wealth of elaborate carving.
The staircase has now been restored to Wyatt’s original design, during which it was discovered that the stone statues upholding the chimney-piece bearing the royal crest were estimated to date from the early seventeenth century. It is thought that they came from The East India Company in the City of London.
 

WELLINGTON STATUE, BANK OF ENGLAND

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Arthur Wellesley, an employee of The East India Company, later known as The Duke of Wellington, has a statue situated in front of The Royal Exchange at the meeting point of Cornhill and Threadneedle Street opposite The Bank of England. The statue is cast from the guns Wellington himself captured from the French. Wellington led campaigns in India against the allies of competing European powers called the Anglo Maratha wars, helping establish The Company as the dominant European trading power in India. There is no saddle on the horse, and no boots or stirrups on the Duke. This was intentional, as victorious Roman generals rode like this. It was sculptured by Francis Chantrey and erected in 1844.
 

CUTLERS WHARF

The East Indiamen were the largest merchantmen in the British merchant fleet. Because of their size and draught they had traditionally lightened their loads at Long Reach, near Gravesend, before sailing along the Thames to deep moorings at Blackwall. It was here, rather than in the severely congested Pool of London, that the goods were unloaded. The valuable cargoes were then carried by lighters to the ‘legal quays’ and ‘sufferance wharves’, and from them to the spacious East India Company warehouses, which by the late eighteenth century centred on Billiter Street and Cutler Street (those in Cutler Street were largely built in the 1790s).
 

CHURCH OF ST MATTHIAS, POPLAR HIGH STREET
St Matthias Old Church is the modern name given to the Poplar Chapel built by The East India Company in 1654, in Poplar, Tower Hamlets in the East End of London.

In 1627 The East India Company purchased a house in Poplar High Street to be used as a hospital for disabled seamen. In 1618 a corrupt jeweller, Hugh Greete, had been sent back from India for stealing some of the best stones. He died in prison in 1619, however he directed that a school or hospital be founded from his estate. The Company had set up a shipyard in Blackwall in 1614, so neighbouring Poplar was the obvious choice for location. In 1633 the inhabitants of Poplar and Blackwall – largely employees of the Company – requested that a chapel be built there as St Dunstan’s, Stepney was too far away for them. When Gilbert De, the Lord of the Manor of Poplar, died in 1639 he left a further £100 towards the building of the chapel which was added to the donation of Hugh Greete, if work started within three years of his death.

The chapel was rebuilt in 1776 and refurbished in 1866. It closed in 1976 but was saved by English Heritage and the Docklands Development Board in 1992 and is now a community centre.
 

THE EAST INDIA ARMS, FENCHURCH STREET

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The East India Arms on Fenchurch Street stands at the centre of The Company’s former commercial universe. Westwards lies Philpot Street where it was originally based, in its founding Governor Thomas Smythe’s mansion.
 

NO 7/8 CONDUIT STREET

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Today this is the site of The East India Company flagship store, and the address has a significant connection to The Company via Charles Fox. Charles Fox was born at 9 Conduit Street who after a period of friendship became a political rival to Pitt over the India Bill in 1784. In 1787, the most dramatic political event of the decade came to pass in the form of the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the Governor of Bengal until 1785, on charges of corruption and extortion. Fifteen of the eighteen Managers appointed to the trial were Foxites, one of them being Fox himself. Pitt was in an uncomfortable political position. The premier was forced to equivocate over the Hastings trial, because to oppose Hastings would have meant to endanger the support of the King and The East India Company in his position of Prime Minister, Hasting and the others were eventually acquitted in 1795.