Survey of London: Volume 10, St. Margaret, Westminster, Part I: Queen Anne's Gate Area. Originally published by [s.n.], [s.l.], 1926.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
XXXIX.—No. 16 QUEEN ANNE'S GATE: (Formerly No. 6 Park Street).
Ground Landlord, Etc.
The freehold belongs to Christ's Hospital. The house is at present occupied by Lord Henry Cavendish Bentinck, M.P.
These premises were built in conjunction with No. 14, and the plans will be found generally to correspond, though the variation in the proportion of the back rooms causes a right-angled break in the line of the party wall (Plate 79). The exterior consists of a plain brick front of four storeys above a basement, with the face of the lower portion stuccoed. The rear has a plain brick segmental front, with the offices in the basement carried out to the boundary, forming a lead flat at the ground-floor level.
The entrance door has side lights and semicircular fanlight, the whole being recent work. A screen partition has also been erected in the hall.
The front room has an arcaded treatment masking the entrance and service (Plate 90), a feature which is typical of an "Adam" house. The back room has a carved wood mantelpiece of later date.
The main staircase consists of a continuous semi-elliptical sweep of stone steps to the first floor, the landing being supported by a wood column. The wrought-iron balustrading is of " S " design, with a delicate mahogany handrail. From the first to the second floor the staircase is of similar construction, and is well lighted by an elliptical domed skylight. The circular service stair has stone winders with a plain iron balustrading from the basement to the second floor, with an ordinary wood staircase above.
The front room on the first floor has a plaster ceiling decorated in low relief, with a device of crossed lighted flambeaux within a floral surround, while the frieze is decorated with lion's heads, vases and honeysuckle ornament, well modelled in plaster. The mantelpiece is of white marble with fluted pilasters in inlaid Genoa green, while the centre tablet has a sculptured representation of the Choice of Hercules (Plate 90). The back room has a carved white marble mantelpiece, with a central tablet containing a representation of a warrior being carried off the field of battle (Plate 91). The Gallery between these two rooms is furnished with a barrel-shaped lantern light.
Condition of Repair.
The occupiers of this house up to 1840, according to the ratebooks, were:—
|1783–84||Sir Jas. Harris.|
|1786–88||Hon. F. Robinson.|
|1790–93||Lord Apsley. In 1793 "Repairing."|
The "Lord Kinnaird" who was the first occupant of this house was George, 7th Baron Kinnaird. His immediate successor was
James Harris, 1st Earl of Malmesbury, eldest son of James Harris, author, born in 1746. On leaving Oxford, he went in 1765 to Leyden for a year and there began his Diary. After some time spent in travelling he was appointed secretary of embassy at Madrid. In 1770, when chargé d' affaires in the absence of the ambassador, he was faced with a diplomatic crisis, in which he gained great credit. In 1772 he was appointed minister at Berlin, and in 1777 became ambassador to Russia. In 1778 he was made K.B. Although a supporter of Fox, his great abilities induced Pitt to send him in 1784 as minister to Holland, a position nominally inferior to that of his Russian appointment, but in fact of more responsibility. Here he practically carried through a counter-revolution in favour of the House of Orange as against the Bourbons. In 1788 he successfully negotiated an alliance with Holland and Prussia, and was created Baron Malmesbury. He afterwards negotiated the marriage between the Prince of Wales and Princess Caroline of Brunswick and brought the princess to England. In 1800 he was raised to an earldom. Although frequently consulted on matters of foreign policy, his active diplomatic career was now closed. He died in 1820. His purchase of No. 6 Park Street, was made in 1781, (fn. n1) but his residence there seems from the ratebooks to have been confined to a short time immediately before and after his Holland mission.
"Lord Apsley," who is shown as the next occupant of the house, was Henry, afterwards 3rd Earl Bathurst, who was born in 1762. He was a friend of Pitt, and successively filled a number of offices, including those of Master of the Mint (1804 onwards), President of the Board of Trade (1807–12), Foreign Secretary (1809), Secretary for War and the Colonies, and Lord President of the Council. On his father's succeeding to the earldom in 1775 he became Baron Apsley, and on his father's death in 1794 himself succeeded to the earldom. He was made K.G. in 1817, and died in 1834.
William Smith, son of Samuel Smith, a City merchant, was born in 1756. From 1784
to 1830, with a few intermissions, he was a member of parliament, where he distinguished
himself as a consistent supporter of all measures for the removal of religious disabilities and
the abolition of slavery. His advocacy (sometimes at great length) of the claims of the dissenting bodies is alluded to in the lines:—
"At length, when the candles burn low in their sockets,
Up gets William Smith with both hands in his pockets,
On a course of morality fearlessly enters,
With all the opinions of all the Dissenters."
He early acquired a taste for art, and accumulated by degrees a fine library and collection of pictures. His town house in Park Street was a meeting-place of notabilities, and his dinners were famous. Rogers has left a note (fn. n2) of one. "Dined at William Smith's, March 19, 1796, "with him [Fox], Dr. Parr, Tierney, Courtney, Sir Francis Baring, Dr. Aikin, Mackintosh "and Francis. Sheridan sent an excuse." Thomas Clarkson and Zachary Macaulay were also frequent visitors. Smith died in 1835.
The champion of dissent was followed by the virtual leader of the High Church Party. Joshua Watson, son of a City wine merchant, was born in 1771. At the age of fifteen he entered his father's counting-house, and when he came of age was admitted a partner. His sympathies, however, were with the ideals of the High Church Party. In 1811 he took a house at Clapton, where he was near his brother (rector of Hackney) and Henry Handley Norris, and the three made the district a centre for religious and philanthropic work. He was a zealous member of most of the principal Church societies. Being appointed on a royal commission for church building, "he found the work so engrossing that in 1822 he took "a house, No. 6 Park Street, Westminster, where he lived for sixteen years, in order to be "near the scene of his labours." (fn. n3) He took a leading part in the foundation of King's College. He died at Clapton in 1855.
In Wheatley and Cunningham's London Past and Present it is noted that on an autograph visiting card of about 1835 appear the words: "William Wordsworth, No. 6 Park Street, "Westminster." Although no other evidence for the fact has been found, there is no improbability that the poet should for a time have been the guest of Watson, who was on intimate terms with his brother, Christopher.
In the Council's Collection are:—
(fn. n4) General exterior of premises (photograph).
General view of staircase (photograph).
Doors on first-floor landing (photograph).
(fn. n4) Arcading to front room on ground floor (photograph).
Mantelpiece to back room on ground floor (photograph).
General view of back room on ground floor (photograph).
(fn. n4) Mantelpiece to front room on first floor (photograph).
Ceiling to front room on first floor (photograph).
(fn. n4) Mantelpiece to back room on first floor (photograph).
(fn. n4) Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawings).