CHAPTER 17: LXXIV—NO. 2 WHITEHALL GARDENS
The property is the freehold of the Crown, and is used for the
purposes of the offices of the Cabinet and the Committee of Imperial
The original lease of 1810, comprising both Nos. 2 and 3, has
already been referred to (see p. 204).
The separate lease of No. 2 granted in 1837 (see below) describes
it as bounded north on premises belonging to the Crown and leased or
intended to be leased to Sir John Edward Swinburne (No. 3), and containing
in breadth towards the river 23 feet, and in length 242 feet and 241 feet
7 inches on the north and south sides respectively.
The exterior is on similar lines to No. 1 and comprises four storeys
above basement and an attic storey.
The back room on the ground floor contains a carved statuary
marble mantelpiece with an entwining vine to the columns supporting the
mantelshelf. The frieze has a central vase and vine decorations (Plate 97).
The back room on the floor above is treated in a late French style, with wall
panels containing oil paintings of rural compositions, and some smaller
panels representing subjects of still life which are signed "E. J. PARRIS,
pinx. 1841" (Plates 95 and 96). The ceiling has a central panel containing
a painted floreated wreath. The mantelpiece is carved in statuary marble
with a pier glass above, both of which are of similar French character. The
room also contains an ornate complementary glass chandelier. The front
room is panelled in a similar manner with the mantelpiece duplicated.
Condition of Repair.
The occupiers of No. 2, as given by directories, etc., until the time when the house was
utilised for official purposes were:
|1820||Dowager Duchess of Northumberland|
|1825–37||Dowager Marchioness of Exeter|
|1838–49||Lord Prudhoe (Duke of Northumberland)|
|1853–66||Dowager Duchess of Northumberland|
|1867–73||Duchess of Northumberland|
|1874||Baron Emil von Erlanger|
|1875–78||Benjamin Disraeli (Earl of Beaconsfield)|
|1880–94||Arthur Clarges Loraine Fuller and Lady Victoria Fuller|
|1897–1904||Archibald Constable and Co, and others|
The Dowager Duchess of Northumberland, who was resident in 1820, was Frances Julia,
widow of the 2nd Duke, and daughter of Peter Burrell of Beckenham, t. She died the same
year, and the house seems to have remained empty until 1824, when h er, Elizabeth, entered
Elizabeth Burrell married (i) in 1778, Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, and (ii) in 1800,
Henry, 1st Marquess of Exeter (as his third wife). After the death of the marquess (in 1804)
she went to live in the southern portion of the Countess of Portland's house (see p. 183), and on
the expiration of the lease of that house in 1824 removed to No. 2 Whitehall Gardens, which was
her residence for the remainder of her life. She died in 1837 "in Privy-gardens, Whitehall." (fn. 1)
In 1837 No. 2 Whitehall Gardens was leased for the remainder of the 99 years' term
to the Rt. Hon. Algernon, Lord Prudhoe. (fn. 2)
Algernon Percy, born in 1792, was the second son of Hugh Percy, second Duke of Northumberland. He entered the navy, and became post-captain in 1815. He then retired from active
service, but attained in 1862 the rank of admiral on the reserved list. In 1816 he was created
Baron Prudhoe. He travelled much in the East, and was one of the first to take a warm and intelligent interest in Egyptian antiquities. At his suggestion and expense Lane visited Egypt to collect
material for the monumental Arabic Lexicon, the heavy cost of printing which was borne at first
by him and afterwards by his widow. He also assisted Sir John Herschel in his expedition to the
Cape for the purpose of making astronomical observations, and accompanied him in person. In
1847 he succeeded his brother as 4th Duke of Northumberland. Among other wise and munificent
expenditure he established many foundations and endowments in aid of sailors, and particularly
assisted in the provision of lifeboats and in the establishment of schools for children of sailors and
fishermen. In 1852–3 he was First Lord of the Admiralty. He died at Alnwick in 1865. His
residence at No. 2 Whitehall Gardens lasted from 1837 to 1849.
He was succeeded, though not immediately, at No. 2 by the "Dowager Duchess of Northumberland." Apparently this was the widow of his brother the 3rd Duke, who had in 1817
married Lady Charlotte Florentia Clive, 2nd daughter of the 1st Earl Powis. From 1831 to 1837
she was governess to Princess, afterwards Queen, Victoria. She died in 1866.
It may be presumed that the "Duchess of Northumberland" who succeeded the former
in the occupation of No. 2 was Eleanor, the widow of the 4th Duke, and eldest daughter of the
2nd Marquess of Westminster. Her residence lasted six years. She died in 1911.
For the details of the life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, the reader is referred
to the standard biographies.
The issues of the Post Office Directory show Disraeli at No. 2 Whitehall Gardens from
1875 (implying a residence begun in 1874) to 1878. Until the end of January, 1874, his headquarters in London were Edwards's Hotel, but "just in the nick of time Disraeli found a house to
suit him in Whitehall Gardens, within a short walk both of Downing Street and of Westminster
Palace, and so he was able to escape the inconvenience of an hotel, and, as he told Lady Bradford,
'live again like a gentleman.' To Whitehall Gardens he came up before the close of the second
week in February." (fn. 3) A few days later Disraeli became Prime Minister for the second time. The
period of his residence in Whitehall Gardens was marked by the purchase of the Khedive's Suez
Canal shares, the adoption of the title Empress of India by Queen Victoria, his elevation to the
peerage as Earl of Beaconsfield (1876), the reopening of the Eastern question and the Treaty of
Berlin. During a part of the time he was seriously unwell, and was unable to walk even the short
distance to Downing Street. (fn. 4)
Towards the close of 1877 his residence at Whitehall Gardens came to an end. On coming
to London in November of that year "he did not go to Whitehall Gardens, but to the official
residence in Downing Street, 'to avoid,' he told Lady Bradford, 'my terrible steep Whitehall
Stairs, which I cannot manage.' For the remainder of his Premiership he lived, when in London,
at 10, Downing Street." (fn. 5)
In The Council's Collection Are:—
(fn. 6) Ground and first-floor plans (copy of plan in possession of H.M. Office of Works).
Elevation of eastern front to garden (copy of plan in possession of H.M. Office of Works).
(fn. 6) General view of front of premises (photograph).
(fn. 6) Mantelpiece in back room on ground floor (photograph).
(fn. 6) General views of back room on first floor (photograph).
(fn. 6) View of back room on first floor showing mantelpiece (photograph).
(fn. 6) Plan of survey of Captain Bennet's house in Privy Garden, 1808 (copy of plan in possession
of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands).