Survey of London: Volume 13, St Margaret, Westminster, Part II: Whitehall I. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1930.
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CHAPTER 11: LXIX—PEMBROKE HOUSE (No. 7 WHITEHALL GARDENS)
The First Pembroke House.
This part of the Palace was completely destroyed in the Fire of 1698, and nearly twenty years later the ground was still "almost covered with heaps of rubbish, part of the ruines of the said Pallace." In 1717 Henry, Lord Herbert, applied for and obtained a lease of the site, (fn. n1) described as abutting south-east on "a little Garden, called Queen Marys Garden," and southwest on a passage leading to the latter from the Privy Garden, and containing in length 127 feet and 120 feet on the south-east and north-west respectively, and in width 78 feet at each end. On this ground Lord Herbert built "a very good house, of 58 feet 4 inches in front & 36 feet 7 inches in depth." It was designed by Colin Campbell. The western elevation is shown in Plate 67 and the river front in an illustration entitled "A View of Whitehall from the River Thames" reproduced in J. T. Smith's Antiquities of Westminster.
In 1729, Herbert applied for a fresh lease in consideration of the great expense to which he had been put, and the further expenditure he had in view. It was then found that he had enclosed a larger site than he was entitled to do, "so that the said messuage with the yards, terrasse, terrase walks & stables thereto belonging contain … at the south-east end 129 feet 3 inches & in depth on the south-west side 159 feet 6 inches." A new lease, including the additional ground, was granted in 1730. (fn. n2)
In 1744 Lord Herbert, now 9th Earl of Pembroke, asked to be allowed to surrender his lease and to be granted a new one. (fn. n3) to include a portion of Queen Mary's Terrace (see p. 59). On this occasion also it was discovered that an encroachment had been made, the earl having enclosed a piece of the Privy Garden, 45 feet 10 inches by 10 feet, on which he had erected a portal at the entrance into the courtyard. A new lease was granted including the site of the portal and that portion of Queen Mary's Terrace which immediately adjoined the property. (fn. n4) The plan of the premises included in the lease shows the position of the earl's house. This was evidently the building which had been erected soon after 1717. On obtaining his new lease the earl enlarged the house, carrying it across the whole width of the property, and including therein the site of the second bastion of the river wall.
The Second Pembroke House.
These additional premises were not destined to last for long. In 1756 the 10th Earl presented a petition stating that he was taking down the house built by his father and rebuilding it in a more substantial manner, and asking for a fresh lease. (fn. n5) According to the official report, part of the brick messuage had already been pulled down and the other part was in bad repair, and a comparison of the plan (reproduced below) with that made in 1744 shows that the building demolished was the comparatively recent enlargement of the original premises. A new lease was granted, and in 1757 or shortly afterwards the earl pulled down the rest of the building and erected the present house and lodge to the design of Sir William Chambers, R.A., at a cost, it was estimated, of upwards of £22,000. With regard to this figure the surveyor-general in 1802 expressed the opinion that the money had been "injudiciously expended," and pointed to the great disadvantage to the Crown "of having the property revert at the end of the lease, covered with a mass of building so very disproportionate in value, both to the sum it has cost and to the extent and situation of the ground it occupies." (fn. n6)
Besides the stables in the front of the house, further stabling and a riding-house were constructed on the east side and covered with a lead flat, forming a broad terrace extending to the river. A water-gate was formed at the northern corner and a curved flight of steps to the river.
In 1818 the riding-house and stabling were demolished and the ground laid out as gardens. The terrace to the house at the principal-floor level was retained, including the portion over the water-gate.
Description of Structure.
The main building is approached through the arched entrance to the lodge (Plate 65). The latter consists of two storeys, and is designed in the Roman Ionic Order in brick and stone. It comprises a wide central doorway, with a moulded and keyed semi-circular arch springing above the cornice to the Order. The archway contains a pair of folding doors with spandril filling, the whole surfaces being formed into panels by oak studs representing iron nails. Cast-lead masks adorn the panels, together with a pair of heavy bronze lion's-head knockers. A coronetted iron lamp is supported on wrought-iron brackets springing from each side of the entrance. The wall surface is treated with semi-attached columns and pilasters supporting a dentilled cornice and frieze, and the attic storey is finished with a moulded cornice and stone blocking course. The south-west corner is concave on plan, similar to that shown on the earlier plans. The east wall of the lodge facing the courtyard is also in brick and stone, with rusticated quoins to the archway. The old coachhouses on either side have ellipticalheaded openings, and the door hinges can still be seen.
The ceiling of the carriageway is groin-vaulted in three bays, the middle bay being now occupied by a bridge connecting the upper rooms. The courtyard beyond has been covered by a slate-and-glass roof, which greatly disfigures the general appearance of the front of the main building so ably designed by Chambers.
The general exterior is executed in brick with stone dressings, and consists of four storeys. The front is symmetrical, with the centre slightly advanced, forming a break which terminates with the cornice and pediment at the level of the top floor. A balustraded parapet completes the general façade (Plates 69 and 70).
The ground floor comprises three arched openings with moulded architraves between blocked quoins which contain the entrance, with a window on each side containing squared panes of glass (Plate 72). The flanks have square-headed windows, but are otherwise similarly treated.
On either side of the entrance are still fixed the old iron link extin guishers, reminiscent of days when runners carried torches by the carriages or chairs, and extinguished them on the completion of the journey.
The central feature of the main storey (Plate 69) is a large three-light Venetian window with Doric columns and entablature, within an arched recess. Below the window-sill is a balustraded panel on a plain plinth which continues across the main front. The flanks have square-headed windows with moulded architrave and carved brackets, and panels below. The floor above has a range of square windows, (fn. n7) the central one being ornamented with an eared architrave. The main cornice is enriched with modillions, and continues across the front at the level of the top floor, forming a pediment to the centre as already mentioned. The attic storey has a stone balustraded parapet on a high plinth above a dentilled moulding course.
The east front is in three advanced faces, with the northern treated as a canted bay. The exterior is in plain brickwork relieved at the second floor by stone bands, and completed with a stone modillion cornice and blocking course, behind which rises the slate roof. This front is sober and restrained, no attempt having been made to carry out any of the features introduced in the west front (Plate 71). The broad terrace at the chief floor level extends eastwards over the water-gate, a one-storey building known as Queen Mary's boat-house. The latter structure has a stone front, divided into three bays by attached Doric columns, decorated with heavy rustications, and supporting a plain frieze with a moulded pediment, containing a bricked-up lunette in the tympanum (Plate 66).
The premises contain some handsome rooms, the principal floor being high and planned in the grand manner to accommodate with comfort the crowds which attended the great receptions at the house. The plaster ceilings are highly ornamental, and the mantelpieces and door-cases are features of decorative interest and importance.
The entrance vestibule has arcaded walls and is finished with a Doric cornice with mutules and guttae. The mantelpiece is in mottled marble, with a mitred bolection moulded architrave around the fireplace, which contains a grate of the period in cast iron (Plate 72).
The main staircase has panelled walls, and an ornamental plaster ceiling with a decorative modillion cornice (Plate 85). The wall-surfaces to the landings on the first and second floors have Corinthian pilasters supporting an enriched entablature, and form and arcaded treatment of two bays containing the entrance to the lobby and a complementary door (Plates 73 and 74). The stairs, which are in stone, continue around an open well to the second floor, and have their moulded nosings returned over their outer ends. From the first to the second floor the ends are shaped similar to their soffits. The handrail is in mahogany, with a similar section to that of the dado rail, while the balustrading is in wrought iron of a scroll design. The secondary, or service, staircase is in stone, with a plain iron bar balustrading.
The lobby on the first floor (Room No. 29) (Plates 75 and 76) leading to the Salon (Room No. 27) has the walls decorated with plaster panels containing festoons, masks and trophies of the chase, and also a carved chair-rail and skirting. The ceiling is barrel-vaulted with panels and coffers, springing above a cornice with a bold egg and dart ornament. The door-cases have carved pulvinated friezes representing bay and oak leaves with crinkled crossed ribands, and enriched cornices supported on shaped brackets (the end doors have broken pediments), the doors themselves and all others to the chief rooms on this floor being double-moulded, six-panelled, in mahogany. The Salon (No. 27) measures 52 feet in length and 32 feet at the widest part, including the bay, and 15 feet in height; unfortunately it is now divided by partitions. The ceiling (fn. n8) to this room is an elaborate piece of ornamental plaster work (Plates 80 and 81). The design is divided by a decorated band into four panels around a circle, and conforms to the shape of the room. The field of the panels is occupied by foliated scrolls, which issue from elongated vases with entwining festoons of drapery and husks suspended from skulls of bulls. A decorative cornice and frieze complete the general composition. The door leading from the lobby (Plate 79) has attached Corinthian columns supporting a pedimented head, the frieze being occupied with a scroll repeat design, and a lower frieze with swags of laurel. The whole is picked out in gold, and when the room was furnished with suitable surroundings the effect must have been imposing.
In Room No. 25 the chief features are the carved pine chimneypiece and the ornamental ceiling. The chimneypiece (Plate 82) has marble slips with egg-and-tongue ornament to the fire opening. On each side is a carved tapering panel containing strings of fruit in high relief, a bust of a child with head slightly turned inwards supporting the shelf. The frieze contains a central panel adorned with a shell between swags of laurel. Above the mantel is a carved frame enclosing a picture, (fn. n9) and having tapering panelled pilasters which support an enriched pediment of irregular shape containing a coronet and laurel swags. The frieze also contains a shell on a central tablet between a scroll design. This chimneypiece is said to have been removed from Room No. 81 of Cadogan House, and to have been designed by Kent.
The ceiling to this room is very decorative (Plates 83 and 84). The centre of the design comprises a rosette of scrolled leaf radiations, while an outer circle of ornament, almost the width of the room, is formed by a band of acanthus repeat design, with a wider band of running floral ornament, and an outer band representing a reeded coil. The outer band has looped festoons of laurel, with a deeper loop at the corners supporting a cluster of martial trophies. Four motive tripods, with a plume of burning incense rising into the field, divide up the outer band. Further panels occupy the ends of the ceiling, and contain scroll designs with sphinxes and burning lamps, while the border comprises husks and foliage. Decorative mouldings and modillions to the cornice of the room complete the composition.
Room No. 24 has its end opposite the bay window divided into three bays by attached fluted Doric columns on pedestals. The centre contains a deep alcove (Plates 77 and 78) with decorative doors to the flanks, the whole suggesting a small stage for private theatricals. This suggestion is supported by the presence of carved masks in circular panels over the doors, and by the general enrichment of the mouldings, which are picked out in gilt.
The ceiling to the main portion of this room is designed on the lines of a spider's web with an entwining vine, while a large rope of fruit and flowers encircles the ceiling, looping over as a wreath in each corner (Plate 85). The ceiling to the bay window has a similar composition, but is treated independently. The main cornice has decorated members with modillions. The mantelpiece is in Sienna and statuary marbles, and has shaped consoles supporting the moulded shelf, while the frieze contains a central tablet with a carved draped urn. The boxed linings to the windows containing the shutters are interesting, each reveal consisting of a carved panel between mirrors. The architrave around has the egg-andtongue and cable ornament. The passage adjoining this room has a small domed ceiling. The staircase adjacent is in oak with turned balusters, and continues around an open well to the third floor.
The lobby (No. 19) to Room No. 17 on the second floor has a decorative ceiling, comprising a small dome on panelled pendentives between groin-vaulted bays springing from panelled pilasters. The window jambs and head are panelled with Gothic tracery decoration (Plate 75), a treatment which is also applied to the windows in Rooms Nos. 17 and 18.
In Room No. 16 is a decorative looking-glass panel door, which is the back of the cupboard in No. 17, and has the glass covered with a geometrical arabesque pattern in metal on wood, with the top corners rounded (Plate 87).
Room No. 14 contains a Sicilian jasper and statuary marble mantelpiece with a mirror above in a carved oak frame. In this room is also a break-fronted oak bookcase or cupboard, comprising three compartments in two heights with a broken pediment over the centre compartment, which contains a mirror. The main mouldings are carved, and the whole design is contemporary with the building.
Room No. 13 has a decorative plaster ceiling, lightly modelled, and a modillion cornice (Plate 86). The end of the room opposite to the bay window contains an alcove similar to that in Room No. 24 on the floor below. It has a groin-vaulted ceiling, with modelled plaster masks to the wall surfaces of the tympani. The front of the alcove contains a female mask on the keystone of the opening, and is flanked by fluted Doric columns and pilasters supporting an entablature. The bays on each side contain a six-panelled door, with a circular panel above (Plate 77).
The back of the alcove is faced with some Chinese wallpaper, mounted on canvas and varnished, which is said to have been removed from Malmesbury House (Room No. 90). The mantelpiece is in Sienna and statuary marble, with a wave architrave with egg-and-tongue enrichment which terminates with a scroll at the base.
The top floor also has an alcove in Room No. 2, which is over Room No. 13, and has a flat ceiling. The doors have carved architraves and decorated consoles supporting a moulded head. The mantelpiece is in mottled grey marble, with a carved wood overmantel, surmounted with a decorative circular panel, which probably once contained a dial. The ceiling to the room is designed in light relief, with the cornice mouldings enriched.
Condition of Repair.
Henry Herbert, 9th Earl of Pembroke, was born in 1693, and succeeded his father in the earldom in 1733. From his skill in architecture he was known as "the architect earl," and Marble Hill and the Lodge in Richmond Park remain as "incontestable proofs of Lord Pembroke's taste." (fn. n10) He was active in promoting the erection of the first Westminster Bridge, and it was largely due to him that Labelye was employed to design it. He died suddenly on 9th January, 1750–1 at Pembroke House.
A few weeks later, on 2nd April, Horace Walpole wrote: (fn. n11) "Mr. Whithed has taken my Lord Pembroke's house at Whitehall, a glorious situation, but as madly built as my Lord himself was." If Walpole is correct, Whithed's residence must have been very brief, for the ratebooks from 1752 to 1755 show the Earl of Buckinghamshire at the house.
John Hobart, 1st Earl of Buckinghamshire, born about 1694, was son of Sir Henry Hobart, and brother of Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk, favourite of George II. He died in September, 1756. The ratebook entry for 1755 is "E[mpty] Ld. Buckinghamshire"; and that for 1756 "E[mpty] Earle Pembroke rebuilding."
Henry Herbert, 10th Earl of Pembroke, was born in 1734, and was thus only 16 years old at his father's death. After that event he travelled on the Continent, and in 1752 obtained a cornetcy in the army. In 1759 he was made lieutenant-colonel of Elliot's light horse and proceeded with his regiment to Germany. In 1760 and 1761 he commanded the cavalry brigade under Lord Granby, and in the latter year was promoted to be major-general. In 1762 he published a treatise on the Method of Breaking Horses, and in the same year scandalised society by eloping with Miss Hunter. (fn. n12) He afterwards returned, and was restored to favour. He attained the rank of general in 1782, and died in 1794 at Wilton. His residence at Pembroke House seems to have lasted from 1756 to his death. (fn. n13)
George Augustus, 11th Earl of Pembroke, was born in 1759, and like his father, adopted a military career, being appointed ensign in 1775. In 1784 he entered Parliament as member for Wilton, and though he vacated his seat on his appointment as Vice-Chamberlain of the Household in 1785, he was again returned for Wilton in 1788 and 1790. In 1783 he had been made lieutenant-colonel of the 2nd Dragoon Guards, and in 1793 went with his regiment to Flanders and was in command of the British and Hanoverian troops which took part in the fighting at Hundssluyt. In the following year he returned home on the death of his father. He became lieutenant-general in 1802, K.G. in 1805, Governor of Guernsey in 1807, and general in 1812. In 1807 he went as Ambassador-Extraordinary to the Court of Vienna. He died in 1827.
He occupied Pembroke House only at intervals. The appearance of the "Earl of Pembroke" in the issue of Boyle's Court Guide for 1795 suggests that he was there for a short time after his father's death. Five years later he again was in residence for a short while, but in 1816 (implied by an entry in the Court Guide for 1817) he made it his town house for the remainder of his life.
Charles, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, eldest son of the 1st Earl Cornwallis, was born in 1738. At the age of 18 he was appointed ensign, and in 1758–9 served as aide-de-camp to Granby in Germany, being present at the battle of Minden. In 1761 he was made lieutenant-colonel and saw much active service. In the following year he succeeded to the earldom, and took his seat in the House of Lords, but the American War of Independence recalled him to his military duties. After serving one campaign as major-general he returned to America in 1778 as second in command. After some successes he was besieged in Yorktown in 1781, and forced to capitulate. It seems to have been generally recognised that he was not to blame, and in 1786, after being twice refused Pitt prevailed on him to go to India as Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief. In this position he carried out many reforms, and broke the power of Tippoo Sahib in the Third Mysore War. For the latter service he was created a marquess in 1792. In 1794 he returned to England, and in the following year was made Master-General of the Ordnance, with a seat in the cabinet. From 1798 to 1801 he was Viceroy and Commander-in-Chief of Ireland, where a rebellion, assisted by a French army, was in progress. He restored order to the country, but the experience he gained made him an ardent advocate for Catholic emancipation and Union with Great Britain. The latter was granted, but the refusal of the former brought about his resignation. In 1802 he was appointed plenipotentiary to negotiate the Treaty of Amiens. After three years of peaceful retirement he was prevailed on to go to India in 1805 for the second time, but died soon after his arrival. Cornwallis' residence at Pembroke House seems to have begun in 1795, and to have continued until his appointment as Viceroy of Ireland in 1798. (fn. n14)
Henry Cecil, 1st Marquess of Exeter, was born in 1754, and succeeded his uncle as 10th Earl of Exeter in 1793. On 19th August, 1800, he married (as his third wife) Elizabeth, Dowager Duchess of Hamilton, and The Times for the following day contains a notice that "the Earl of Exeter has taken the house of the Earl of Pembroke in Privy Gardens." In the following year he was created a marquess. Pembroke House served as his town residence until his death, which occurred "at Pembroke-house, in Privy-gardens, Whitehall" (fn. n15) in 1804.
The marchioness, one of the daughters of Peter Burrell, and sister of the 1st Lord Gwydir, had in 1778 married Douglas, 8th Duke of Hamilton, from whom she obtained a divorce in 1794. After the death of the marquess she removed to the southern portion of the Countess of Portland's house (see p. 183), and afterwards to No. 2 Whitehall Gardens, where she died in 1837.
Frederick John Robinson (Viscount Goderich, afterwards 1st Earl of Ripon), second son of the second Lord Grantham, was born in 1782. In 1806 he entered Parliament as member for Carlow, and in the following year was returned for Ripon, which borough he represented for nearly 20 years. In 1809 he was for some months Under-Secretary for the Colonies, and in 1810 was appointed a Lord of the Admiralty, a position which in 1812 he exchanged for a seat on the Treasury Board. In the following year he was made joint Paymaster-General of the Forces. In 1818 he became President of the Board of Trade and Treasurer of the Navy, with a seat in the cabinet. At the beginning of 1823 he succeeded Vansittart as Chancellor of the Exchequer. During his tenure of office he introduced a number of fiscal reforms (for the most part suggested by Huskisson), and from his optimistic views on the condition of the country he came to be known as "Prosperity Robinson." (fn. n16) When Canning took office in 1827, Robinson was raised to the peerage as Viscount Goderich, and became Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, and Leader of the House of Lords. On Canning's death later in the year Goderich became Prime Minister. He resigned at the beginning of 1828. In 1830 he resumed his old appointment for War and the Colonies, but his scheme for the abolition of negro slavery not being acceptable to the cabinet, he resigned in 1833, when he became Lord Privy Seal, being at the same time created Earl of Ripon. He resigned office in the following year. His subsequent appointments were: President of the Board of Trade, 1841–3, and President of the Board of Control, 1843–6. He died at Putney in 1859. He had come to Pembroke House on leaving No. 10, Downing Street, in 1828 and his residence there terminated in 1831.
Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington, was born in 1780. In his early years (as Lord Petersham) he was an intimate companion of George IV, and a distinguished leader of fashion. "His habits and tastes were eccentric. . . . He designed the Petersham overcoat and the Petersham snuff-mixture, and mixed his own blacking." (fn. n17) He succeeded to the earldom in 1829. In 1831 he married Maria Foote, the actress, and in the same year came to Pembroke House, which continued to be his town residence until his death, which occurred at Brighton in 1851. (fn. n18)
The house was then taken over by the Government for use at first as the Copyhold, Enclosure and Tithe Commission Office, and afterwards as the War Office, and has ever since been utilised for official purposes.
In The Council's Collection are:—
(fn. n19) Plan of ground applied for to be leased by the Earl of Pembroke in 1744. (Copy of
plan in possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands.)
(fn. n19) Survey of land in Privy Garden belonging to Rt. Hon. the Earl of Pembroke, dated 1756. (Copy of plan in the possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands.)
(fn. n19) Plan (1803) of entrance or basement floor. (Copy of plan in possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands.)
(fn. n19) Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawings).
(fn. n19) Elevation and plan of the Rt. Hon. Lord Herbert's house in Whitehall. Copied from Vitruvius Britannicus, Vol. 3, 1725.
(fn. n19) General view of entrance lodge (photograph).
West elevation of entrance lodge (measured drawing).
East elevation of entrance lodge (measured drawing).
Detail of stone mouldings to west front (measured drawing).
View of passageway looking towards Whitehall (photograph).
(fn. n19) West elevation of house (photograph).
(fn. n19) Elevation of west front (measured drawing).
(fn. n19) Entrance doorway and side windows (photograph).
View of entrance doorway looking south-east (photograph).
(fn. n19) East elevation and water-gate (photograph).
(fn. n19) Exterior of water-gate (photograph).
Elevation of water-gate (measured drawing).
(fn. n19) General view of entrance hall (photograph).
Detail of panelling to entrance hall (measured drawing).
(fn. n19) General views (2) of staircase at first and second-floor landings (photographs).
(fn. n19) View of ceiling to staircase (photograph).
(fn. n19) View of wall decoration to staircase (measured drawing).
(fn. n19) Detail of iron balustrading to staircase (measured drawing).
(fn. n19) General view of lobby (room No. 29) on first floor (photograph).
(fn. n19) Detail of lobby on first floor (measured drawing).
Detail of ornamental plaster ceiling in room No. 28 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General view of bay window and ceiling in room No. 27 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General view of ornamental plaster ceiling in room No. 27 (photograph).
(fn. n19) Detail of frieze and cornice in room No. 27 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General view of door and casing in room No. 27 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General view of ornamental plaster ceiling in room No. 25 (photograph).
(fn. n19) Detail of panel to ceiling in room No. 25 (photograph).
(fn. n19) View of chimneypiece in room No. 25 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General view of ornamental plaster ceiling in room No. 24 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General view of alcove to room No. 24 (photograph).
General view of ceiling to alcove to room No. 24 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General details of alcove with plan, room No. 24 (measured drawing).
(fn. n19) View of mask over door to alcove front, room No. 24 (photograph).
(fn. n19) Detail of carved shutter to windows (photograph).
(fn. n19) View of lobby (No. 19) on second floor (photograph).
Detail of lobby (measured drawing).
(fn. n19) Detail of marble mantelpiece, room No. 18 (photograph).
View of archway and panelling to passage outside room No. 18 (photograph).
Detail of decorated pilaster, room No. 18 (photograph).
(fn. n19) Detail of marble mantelpiece in room No. 17 (photograph).
View showing Gothic tracery decoration to window jambs, room No. 17 (photograph).
View of panelled door to cupboard, room No. 17 (photograph).
(fn. n19) Mirror-door to rooms Nos. 16 and 17 (photograph).
(fn. n19) Marble mantelpiece to room No. 15 (photograph).
General view of oak fitting and mantelpiece, room No. 14 (photograph).
Plaster ceiling to room No. 13 (photograph).
(fn. n19) General view of bay window and ceiling, room No. 13 (photograph).
(fn. n19) Front of alcove, room No. 13 (photograph).
Marble mantelpiece, room No. 13 (photograph).
Wood mantelpiece to room No. 7 (photograph).
General view of alcove and plaster ceiling, room No. 2 (photograph).
Marble mantelpiece and wood overnmantel in room No. 2 (photograph).