Jul 2, 2008

Where Canterbury Began

41 Charing Cross, subsequently known as 16 Whitehall, occupies part of the site of London's Whitehall Palace, which burnt down in 1698. Already a centre of London book publishing before it was built in 1765, the ground floor of the three-storey plastered brick building was a Coffee House by 1810.

The inaugural meeting of the Canterbury Association was held in the upper floor rooms on the 27th of March, 1848, where a resolution was passed: "that the name of the proposed settlement be "Canterbury" and the name of the chief town be "Christchurch."

Next door were the banking offices of Thomas Somers Cocks (1815-1899), an original member of the Canterbury Association. Cocks, Biddulph and Company became the Association's bankers. Thomas's cousin the Reverend Henry Bromley Cocks, (1832-1894), first Vicar of Sydenham, emigrated to Christchurch in 1861. Mount Somers in the foothills of mid-Canterbury is named after the banker to the Canterbury Association.

The 165 year-old building was demolished in 1930, to be replaced by the neo-Georgian offices of the Glyn Mills Bank. Known as Kirkland House, it now forms part of the British government's Cabinet Office. The commemorative plaque was unveiled on the 16th December 2003.

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