I.—No. 43 PARLIAMENT STREET.
The freehold is the property of the Crown, and the premises are in
the occupation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
General Description and Date of Structure.
On 3rd February, 1753, the Westminster Bridge Commissioners
covenanted (fn. 1) with James Mallors that "as soon as he or they should have
completely repaired and made fit for habitation the four messuages standing
[in Cannon Row] on part of the ground aftermentioned, and should also
have built and finished the several other new brick buildings or houses
aftermentioned," they would demise to him for 72 years "all that peice
or parcell of ground with the four several messuages or tenements, and
all other erections and buildings standing and being on part thereof,
situate and being between a new street called Parliament Street and
Cannon Row … abutting west on Parliament Street, east on Cannon
Row, north on another parcel of ground lately sold to John Vardy, gent.,
south on ground and houses lately leased to Richard Hughes, slater,
with frontage north to south on the west side towards Parliament Street
81 feet 6 inches, and the same in rear to Cannon Row, east to west on the
north side 77 feet and on the south 77 feet." The plot sold to Vardy
extended southward along Parliament Street 69 feet from a "new-street
called Derby Street," (fn. 2) and the plot leased to Mallors, being south of this,
must have included the sites of Nos. 43 to 45 Parliament Street. Exactly
how far advanced in building these houses were is difficult to say, but they
do not appear to have been occupied until 1758.
The exterior of No. 43 consists of a plain brick front of three storeys
over a basement, and an attic storey with a mansard roof. A plain band
denotes the level of the first floor, and a modillion cornice with a plain
blocking course forms a parapet to the eaves (Plate 1). The entrance
door has a wood case decorated with ¾-diameter Doric columns, which
support a moulded pediment over the keyed elliptical head (Plate 3). The
back of the house, which overlooks Cannon Row, has a red-brick front
with gauged arches to the windows, the sashes of which are divided into
small squares by substantial sash bars, and appears to be of an earlier date
than the front portion of the house. This supposition is confirmed by the
provision in the deed of 1753 concerning the repair of the houses already
existing in Cannon Row.
The interior is full of interest, and contains some excellent examples
of the craftsmanship of the latter half of the 18th century. The main staircase, which is executed in wood, has an interlaced balustrading, divided into
panels by intermediate balusters decorated with a sunk ornament, while
the mahogany handrail has a perforated rail below enriched with a wave
ornament (Plates 4 and 5). The design is based upon the characteristic
features of the Chinese Chippendale
period, and, although effective for the
purpose, does not convey the feeling
of sufficient rigidity. The small staircase on the second floor which leads
to the attic has also an interlaced
balustrading. (fn. 3) The doors to the
rooms leading off the stair-landing
have carved architraves and moulded
overdoors. The back staircase to the
Cannon Row portion has turned
balusters, with shaped brackets to
the strings, and turned newel posts
with moulded pendants. The staircase walls have moulded panels in
wood, with a moulded dado rail and
Detail of wood
balustrade to staircase
Wood balustrade to attic stairs
In the front room on the ground floor is a plaster ceiling, with a floral
border and an enriched modillion cornice. The mantelpiece, with enriched
mouldings in white marble, and the frieze and jambs in Sicilian jasper,
has a central tablet containing a sculptured pastoral subject (Plates 6 and 9).
The chair-rail and skirtings are carved in wood, while the door has a moulded
overdoor and a carved frieze of vine leaves. In the back room is a decorated
coved ceiling supporting a lantern light. The other rooms have carved
wood mantelpieces, with plaster ornamentation to the frieze, and carved
chair-rails and skirtings to the walls (Plates 8 and 11).
In the front room, on the first floor, is a white marble mantelpiece,
with the frieze and jambs in Sicilian jasper, and a sculptured central tablet
containing a representation of an infant Bacchus (Plates 7 and 10.) The
rooms generally have carved wood chair-rails and skirtings, whilst the other
mantelpieces have moulded wood shelves and jamb linings, with their
friezes decorated in plaster, and the central tablets enriched with a rustic
subject or a representation of one of Æsop's Fables. Francis Barlow's designs
for Æsop's Fables published in 1665–66 and 1687 form the basis of many
of the subjects for these central tablets, which were very fashionable during
this period. (fn. 4)
Condition of Repair.
The premises have been recently re-decorated.
The ratebooks give the following names in connection with the house up to 1840:—
|1797–98||Rt. Hon. Henry Dundas.|
|1818–28||Office for British Claims.|
|1831–||William John Rose.|
John Calcraft the elder, born in 1726, was the son of the Duke of Rutland's election
agent at Grantham. By the Rutland influence he obtained a small clerkship in the pay office.
Henry Fox, 1st Lord Holland, who is said to have been a relation, when he became paymastergeneral, shewed Calcraft extraordinary favour and appointed him deputy commissary-general.
He made a huge fortune as army contractor. In 1763 he deserted the cause of Fox for that
of Pitt, and was dismissed from his position. In 1765 he contested Rochester against Grey
Cooper (see p. 6) but was defeated. He was M.P. for Calne from 1766 to 1768, and
from the latter year until his death represented Rochester. He gradually acquired considerable
political influence, which he used to further parliamentary reform. He died in 1772.
James Meyrick was agent to Colonel Legge, Governor of Nova Scotia, and several of
his letters, addressed from "Parliament Street," are preserved. (fn. 5)
Henry Dundas, afterwards 1st Viscount Melville, a son of Robert Dundas of Arniston
the elder, was born in 1742. In 1763 he was admitted a member of the Faculty of Advocates
and rapidly obtained a large practice. In 1766 he became Solicitor-General for Scotland,
and in 1775 Lord Advocate. In 1774 he entered Parliament for the first time, and at once
adopted an attitude of strong opposition to the claims of the American colonists. For the
next thirty years he took a prominent part in politics, serving the offices of, inter alia, Treasurer
of the Navy, Home Secretary, President of the Board of Control, Secretary of War, and First
Lord of the Admiralty. Indian affairs engaged a good deal of his attention. He interposed
at different times both against and in favour of Warren Hastings, and it was owing to his support
that the East India Company obtained the renewal of its monopoly. One of the chief items
to his credit during these years was the planning and carrying out of the Egyptian Campaign
of 1801 against the opinions of Pitt and the King. In 1802 he was created Viscount Melville
of Melville and Baron Dunira. In 1805, as a result of a report by the commissioners appointed
to enquire into irregularities connected with the navy, Whitbread accused Melville of malversation, and the motion was carried by the casting vote of the Speaker. His name was erased
from the roll of the Privy Council, and in the following year he was impeached before the
Lords but was acquitted. In 1807 he was restored to the Privy Council, but never again
took office. He died in 1811.
In the Council's Collection are:—
(fn. 6) General exterior of premises (photograph).
(fn. 6) View of entrance doorway (photograph).
General view of rear to Cannon Row (photograph).
View of main staircase balustrading at ground-floor landing (photograph).
(fn. 6) Views (2) of main staircase balustrading at first-floor landing (photograph).
(fn. 6) Details of staircase balustrading (measured drawing).
General view of rear staircase to Cannon Row (photograph).
Ceiling to front room on ground floor (photograph).
(fn. 6) Marble mantelpiece to front room on ground floor (photograph).
(fn. 6) Marble mantelpiece to front room on ground floor (measured drawing).
(fn. 6) Central tablet to do. to front room on ground floor (photograph).
Deal doorcase to front room on ground floor (photograph).
Coved ceiling to rear room on ground floor (photograph).
Wood mantelpiece to front room on ground floor to Cannon Row (photograph).
(fn. 6) Wood mantelpiece to rear room on ground floor to Cannon Row (photograph).
(fn. 6) Marble mantelpiece to front room on first floor (measured drawing).
(fn. 6) General view of mantelpiece to front room on first floor (photograph).
(fn. 6) Details of central tablet to front room on first floor (photograph).
(fn. 6) Wood mantelpiece to rear room on first floor to Cannon Row (photograph).
(fn. 6) Wood mantelpiece to front room on first floor to Cannon Row (photograph).
(fn. 6) Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawing).
Wood mantelpiece to front room on second floor (photograph).