CHAPTER 15: IX—NOS. 54 AND 55, CHARING CROSS (DEMOLISHED)
History of the Site.
The early history of the site of Nos. 54–55, Charing Cross, has been
dealt with in chapter 14. The ratebooks show that the house then
occupying the site was occupied from 1604 to his death in 1624 by Sir
Carew Reynell, (fn. 1) and then by his widow until 1626. The next resident
who can be identified is Ralph Skipwith, whose occupation lasted from
1635 to 1651, when he was succeeded by Sir George Pratt. (fn. 2) Pratt died in
1673 leaving, in case his son Henry should die without issue, all his estate
to his wife Margaret. (fn. 3) Sir Henry died childless in 1674, and Lady Pratt is
shown in the ratebooks at the house until 1689. The house was then
divided. In 1712 George Pratt Webb sold (fn. 4) to James Lawrence "all that
Brick Messuage … now divided into two Messuages … now in the Tenure
… of John Edridge, Scrivener, Peter Shafore, Coffeeman, and Mansell
Bennett, Watchmaker, Scituate on the south west side of Chareing Cross."
In 1737 a deed of trust was entered into (fn. 5) by inter alios Elizabeth
Griffin and Mary Dearing, two of the nieces of James Lawrence, in which
the houses were described as "now in the Several Tenures … of Sir Thomas
Ranton, Knight, and James Ticknor, Sadler."
The ratebooks show that Ticknor's was the northern house, and
these facts enable Pratt's house to be identified with the large doublefronted building, the northern part of which has a shop front in which saddles
and saddlecloths are displayed, shown in the view of Charing Cross circa
1740 reproduced in Plate 86. The corresponding house in the earlier view
reproduced in Plate 85 also has saddles displayed. (fn. 6)
A later description of the house is contained in a deed of 1799 (fn. 7)
concerning "one third part of … those two messuages … situate … on
the south west side of Charing Cross … formerly in the tenure of Mr. William
Randall, Tea Dealer, and Mrs. Ruth Hannington, Fishmonger, but then or
late of Mr. Rutton, Tea Dealer and Mr. Adams, Mathematician, fronting
… Charing Cross and … adjoining to a messuage … late in the occupation
of Thomas Povey Esquire … south and … another messuage … formerly
of Colonel Bond … towards the north, and abutting on Spring Garden …
west." Further details are given in 1803 (fn. 8) concerning the southern house,
formerly of Ruth Hannington, which is said to be "then in the tenure of
Mr. Robert Blunt," and to abut on a house of Mr. Lane on the south and
one of Messrs. Rutton, Fincham and Chapman, Tea Dealers, on the north.
Johnstone's Directory for 1817 shows Robert Blunt, linen-draper and hosier,
at No. 54, Charing Cross, and Messrs. C. and E. Finchams, tea-dealers and
grocers, at No. 55. The two houses occupying the site of Sir George Pratt's
house were therefore Nos. 54–55, Charing Cross.
Date and Description of Structure.
No. 54 consisted of four storeys, with a brick front and slate roof.
Plain bands indicated the various floor levels. The ground floor had a
shop front. Internally the premises were of no interest. There are no
indications either in the deeds or in the ratebooks to suggest any rebuilding
since the division of the house after the death of Lady Pratt.
Both houses (No. 55 had been rebuilt) were demolished in connection
with the formation of the Mall Approach.
The occupants of No. 54, Charing Cross, from the death of Lady Pratt until 1840 were,
according to the ratebooks, as follows:
|1693–1719||John Edridge (fn. 9) |
|1723–40||Sir Thos. Renton (fn. 10) |
|1787–96||Dudley Adams (fn. 11) |
|1797–1817||Robert Blunt (fn. 12) |
In the Council's collection is:
(fn. 13) General exterior to Charing Cross (photograph).