Survey of London: Volume 10, St. Margaret, Westminster, Part I: Queen Anne's Gate Area. Originally published by [s.n.], [s.l.], 1926.
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XL—No. 14 QUEEN ANNE'S GATE: (Formerly No. 7 Park Street).
Ground Landlord, Etc.
It is not definitely known who designed this house and No. 16 adjoining, but in the Soane Museum there is a sketch plan by Robert Adam for a house to be erected partly on this site for Charles Townley. The house does not, however, accord with the sketch plans, and it is quite possible that Adam was not the architect employed, although there are some decorative features characteristic of his work.
The exterior consists of a plain brick front of four storeys over a basement. The lower portion is stuccoed, a treatment probably carried out at a later date than the erection of the house. The rear of the premises is similar to No. 16.
The dining-room on the ground floor overlooking the Park is the finest room in the house (Plate 92). The walls are decorated with a series of porphyry scagliola columns, which have Ionic capitals containing masks and floral volutes (Plate 93), while the bases are of statuary marble. On each side of the mantelpiece are semicircular niches with enriched heads, which no doubt originally contained statuary from Townley's famous collection. The wood mantelpiece has carved consoles to the jambs supporting large goat's heads, terminating a fluted frieze which contains a centre tablet.
The ornamental plaster ceiling is good, and typical of the "Adam" period, while the frieze is decorated with emblematical musical instruments between swags suspended from lion's heads beneath the modillions to the cornice (Plate 93).
The staircases in construction and arrangement are similar to those in No. 16, with the exception that the ground-floor space formerly occupied by the main basement stairs has been floored over and another staircase substituted.
The gallery on the first floor forms the subject of the painting by Zoffany referred to below. The lantern-light which is shown in this picture remains the same to-day, but the chimney breast has been altered and the opposite wall pierced by openings with semicircular heads.
The front room on this floor has an ornamental plaster ceiling (Plate 94), with panels painted in the style of Angelica Kauffmann. The ceiling of the back room has floral scrolls, lamps, and small medallions containing female figures (Plate 95). These medallions are similar to those which decorated the ceiling of the staircase at No. 29 Great George Street (see Plate 54). The marble mantelpiece to this room has inlaid flutes in giallo antico on white, with a sleeping Cupid as the subject of the centre panel.
Condition of Repair.
|1806–07||Ed. Townley Standish.|
Charles Townley was born in 1737. From about 1758 to 1765 he lived the life of a country gentleman on his Lancashire estate, but a visit to Italy led him to study ancient art. Until 1772 his headquarters were at Rome. During this period he formed the nucleus of his valuable collection of antiquities, and on coming to London looked round for a house in which he could accommodate them. On 24th December, 1777, he purchased (fn. n1) from Michael Barrett the remainder of the 61 years' lease (from Lady Day, 1776) of a house on the north side of Park Street " being the seventh house from Queen Square." In 1786 he became a member of the Society of Dilettanti and in 1791 a trustee of the British Museum. He died at the house in Park Street on 3rd January, 1805. (fn. n2)
Townley's Sunday dinners " principally for professors of the Arts, when Sir Joshua "Reynolds and Zoffany generally enlivened the circle," were famous. A picture painted by Zoffany about 1782 shows Townley in his library, sitting among the spoils which he had gathered, with one of Captain Cook's sledge-dogs at his feet, conversing with his friends D'Hancarville (most of whose Récherches sur L'Origine des Arts de la Gréce was written in this house), Charles Greville and Thomas Astle.
Townley was liberal in admitting strangers to view his collections, and "the servants had directions to exhibit [them] to all individuals of respectability who desired to see them." (fn. n2) With but slight exceptions they were all acquired from Townley's executors by the British Museum.
In the Council's Collection are:—
(fn. n3) General exterior of premises (photograph).
(fn. n3) General view of dining-room (photograph).
(fn. n3) Detail of Ionic cap, architrave and cornice to ditto (photograph).
Detail of plaster ceiling to ditto (photograph).
Wood mantelpiece to dining-room (photograph).
General view of staircase (photograph).
(fn. n3) Decorated ceiling to front room on first floor (photograph).
(fn. n3) Decorated ceiling to back room on first floor (photograph).
Lobby on first-floor landing (photograph).
Mantelpiece to front room on first floor (photograph).
Mantelpiece to back room on first floor (photograph).
(fn. n3) Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawings).