Survey of London: Volume 14, St Margaret, Westminster, Part III: Whitehall II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1931.
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CHAPTER 5: THE COCKPIT LODGINGS
The first person to obtain the office of Keeper of the Palace of Whitehall was Thomas Alvard, whose appointment (fn. n1) was dated 20th March, 1529–30. In connection with the construction of that part of the Palace lying to the west of the street, provision was made for a lodging for Alvard. (fn. n2) Nothing further is heard of the Keeper's lodging for nearly seventy years, and none of such of the formal appointments of Alvard's successors (fn. n3) during that time as have been found contain any reference to a lodging. In 1598, however, the overseers' accounts give the name of Thomas Knyvet, (fn. n4) who had been appointed Keeper in 1581, next to the names of the occupiers of Hampden House. A similar entry occurs for every subsequent year until Knyvet's death in 1622 (although Knyvet's actual occupation had ceased even before 1598), and on several occasions the word "Cockpitt" is placed against the name. These indications that Knyvet occupied a house on the "Cockpit" side are confirmed by an inquisition (fn. n5) held in 1611 on the rights of the Keeper of the Palace, which found that among a number of houses appurtenant to the office was one which lay "juxta le Tennys Courte," and had been occupied by Knyvet himself. Whether Knyvet's house was identical with Alvard's lodging it is impossible to say. The fact that no entry that can be referred to it is contained in the overseers' accounts between 1562 (the earliest volume extant) and 1598 might suggest that in the latter year it was a new house. This would, however, conflict with the statement made in the course of the inquisition mentioned above that Thomas Knyvet at one time lived there as Keeper of the Palace, and that afterwards Sir Henry Knyvet occupied the house. As Sir Henry was living there in April, 1597, (fn. n6) it is evident that the above assumption would be incorrect.
From what follows it will be seen that the Duke of Albemarle's lodging after the Restoration was in the direct line of descent from Knyvet's residence, and therefore probably included the site, or perhaps even the actual buildings of the latter.
The first reference to the building which has been found in the accounts of the Paymaster of Works is for the year 1597–8. (fn. n7) Two other references follow within the next year or two, (fn. n8) and shortly afterwards the premises were taken over by James I to serve as a residence for Prince Charles. (fn. n9) A few months later the prince's sister, Elizabeth, was in occupation. (fn. n10) The inquisition mentioned above (which is unfortunately not legible in places), states that, after the occupation by Sir Henry Knyvet, Lady Frances Har[rington] and afterwards the Lady [Elizabeth] occupied the house by the appointment and grant of Lord Knyvet, and that from the time that [not legible] and the Lady Elizabeth were seised of the messuage, King James allotted to Lord Knyvet £20 a year for such use. The accommodation seems to have been insufficient for the princess, and the Little Close Tennis Court was adapted for her use as a kitchen and other offices. (fn. n11) Elizabeth was at this time only eight years old, and her residence at Court was infrequent, but from 1608 onwards she was there more often; the accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber for every year from 1607–8 to her marriage in 1613 containing notices as to "making ready within the Tennis Courte for the Lady Elizabeth." Occasionally her apartments were used by Prince Charles. (fn. n12)
The princess's connection with the lodgings ceased on her marriage with the Elector Palatine in 1613, (fn. n13) and the rooms seem to have reverted to the use of the Keeper of the Palace. This was now Robert Carr, Viscount Rochester, who on 19th June, 1611, received a grant (fn. n14) of the office, including "totum illud mesuagium … & gardinum … iacentia iuxta le Tennys Courte … modo vel nuper in possessione preclarissime filie nostre Domine Elizabethe." Rochester, who in 1613 was created Earl of Somerset, seems to have made his residence there (fn. n15) after the princess's departure. When the investigation concerning Overbury's murder was proceeding in 1615, the commissioners wrote to the earl, requiring him "to keep his chamber near the Cockpit." (fn. n16) The countess was sent to Lord Aubigny's house in the Blackfriars, it being suggested that the Cockpit was unsuitable for her, "there being many doors and few keys." (fn. n17) Somerset was tried and found guilty, and on 19th October of the following year (1616) the position of keeper was filled by the appointment of Philip, Earl of Montgomery, (fn. n18) who in 1630 succeeded his brother as Earl of Pembroke. The grant again mentions specifically the house "lately in possession of … our daughter, the Lady Elizabeth."
Pembroke's residence at the house is well established. (fn. n19) There is a well-known passage in the Sidney papers, (fn. n20) which tells how he, on the day of Charles I's execution (30th January, 1648–9), "out of his chamber window … looked upon the King, as he went up staires from the parke to the galerye in the way to the place of his death." Pembroke's own death, which took place almost exactly a twelve-month later (23rd January, 1649–50) occurred "in his lodgings in the Cockpit." (fn. n21) Pembroke was the last of the Keepers of the Palace to reside in these lodgings. The appointment of George Kirke (fn. n22) after the Restoration did not include the grant of "the house next the tennis court."
On 29th February, 1649–50, a few weeks after Pembroke's death, the House of Commons resolved "that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland [Oliver Cromwell] have the Use of the Lodgings called the Cockpit." (fn. n23) Several references to his residence there for the next few years are extant, (fn. n24) but on 14th April, 1654, he removed to the main building in Whitehall. (fn. n25) After his death, on 3rd September, 1658, his widow returned to the Cockpit lodgings. It is said that Richard Cromwell occupied the lodgings for a time in 1659, (fn. n26) but this seems to be a mistake. (fn. n27) On 22nd July, 1659, "the Cockpit" was assigned to General Fleetwood. (fn. n28)
We now come to the residence of George Monck (afterwards Duke of Albemarle) at the Cockpit lodgings. According to Wheatley and Cunningham, (fn. n29) this began a few months before the Restoration. The statement is, however, incorrect. On his arrival in London on 3rd February, 1659–60, Monck had assigned to him the apartment at Whitehall called the Prince's Lodgings, (fn. n30) and thither he returned on 21st February, but almost at once removed to St. James's. (fn. n31) After the entry of Charles II into London on 29th May, he "retir'd to his Apartment at the Cockpit, whither he was now remov'd, to be nearer the King's Presence and Counsels." (fn. n32) His removal therefore coincided with the Restoration, (fn. n33) and the Cockpit continued to be his London residence for the remainder of his life. (fn. n34) Even during the Plague he, almost alone of the courtiers, remained at his post. Here he died on 3rd January, 1669–70. (fn. n35)
There are many references to works carried out at the Cockpit lodgings during Albemarle's residence. Among them was the erection of a new hall (fn. n36) and a chapel. (fn. n37) There are also allusions to the rooms of Sir William Clarke, the duke's secretary. (fn. n38) No evidence has been found suggesting that Albemarle's son, the second Duke, resided at the Cockpit. Later in the year (1670), on the arrival of the Prince of Orange on a visit, (fn. n39) the latter was appointed lodgings in the Cockpit. It seems probable that it was the Albemarle lodgings which were utilised for the purpose. The references, (fn. n40) under the heading of "Cockpitt Lodgings, Oct. 1670," to "Repaireing & fitting severall Lodgings & offices There For the Reception of ye Prince of Oring" contain allusions to "ye bricke wall in ye garden next ye parke," "ye presence chamber and ye white guilded withdraweing roome," and to "a guilded carved chiminey peece in one of ye lodging roomes next ye Parke," which make the identification almost certain. The plan of 1670 (Plate 1) shows the Albemarle lodgings as including the actual Cockpit, as well as practically all the buildings lying to the west of the "passage from the Park" and the new tennis court.
After the death of Albemarle the premises were divided into three portions, the westernmost ("ye outer lodgings next ye parke") being assigned to the Duke of Buckingham, and the easternmost to the Duke of Monmouth, while the central part of the premises, including the Cockpit itself, is found a few years later in the possession of the Earl of Danby. The Buckingham and Monmouth properties are dealt with in Chapters 10 and 7 respectively.
It seems probable that Sir Thomas (afterwards Lord) Clifford preceded Danby in the occupation of the central part of the premises. There are several references from June, 1671, to November, 1672, to work done at Clifford's lodgings, and the first of these shows that the lodgings were at any rate on the Cockpit side of Whitehall. (fn. n41) Clifford resigned his office of Lord Treasurer in June, 1673, and retired from the court. He was succeeded in office by Sir Thomas Osborne, who in the following year became Earl of Danby. There are suggestions that Osborne had made a bargain with Clifford (fn. n42) with regard to the Treasury, and it is possible that the Cockpit lodgings were included in the transaction. Be that as it may, he was certainly in possession of the lodgings in the middle of 1674. The accounts for that year contain items headed "charges in building severall new lodging roomes at the Cockpitt for the Right Honourable Thomas, Earle of Danby, Ld. High Treasurer of England, and altering and fitting the old building there for severall offices belonging to the said lodgeings in the moneth of Sept. 1674 and severall other months before." The works continued until November, 1674. It was not, however, until 28th March, 1676, that a grant (fn. n43) was made to the earl, "in Considerac[i]on of the repaireing of such buildings as are already erected and of new buildings to be erected upon the ground herein after menc[i]oned," of "all that peece … of ground with the buildings thereupon now built called … the Cockpitt, abutting South upon Hampden House and garden, East upon the Tennis Court, and West and North upon our Parke called St. James Parke, and conteyneing in length from North to South Two hundred and tenn foot … and in breadth from East to West att the South end thereof One hundred and Forty Foote … and att the north end thereof fowerscore Foote," for a term of 99 years or the duration of his own life and the lives of two sons.
In 1681 Danby let a portion of his lodgings to the Earl of Conway. Accommodation was reserved for Danby's son and daughter, Viscount Latimer and the Countess of Plymouth, (fn. n44) and some misunderstanding evidently arose about these rooms. (fn. n45) Danby had offered the rooms free of charge, but Conway insisted upon paying rent. A letter, (fn. n46) dated 13th March, 1682(–3), to the Earl of Conway "at the Cockpit," shows that the latter duly took up his residence there. The Countess of Danby seems to have lived with her son and daughter in the reserved rooms, for on 30th March, 1682, she presented a petition, stating that she was very ill as the result of an accident to her coach, and praying that her husband (who was imprisoned in the Tower) might be allowed to visit her at the Cockpit. (fn. n47).
On 19th June, 1684, Charles II granted (fn. n48) to his niece, Anne, Princess of Denmark (afterwards Queen Anne), the lodgings, described in the same terms as in the grant to Danby. According to the Duchess of Marlborough, the property had been "bought of the duke of Leeds." (fn. n49) There is a slight anachronism in this, as Danby was not created Duke of Leeds until 1694, but the statement would in other respects seem to accord with probability, for his lease had still some time to run. There is, however, ample evidence that the purchase money (£6500) was paid to the Duke of Albemarle, and the only explanation that fits the facts would seem to be that Danby had disposed of his lease to the latter. (fn. n50)
The story of Princess Anne's escape from the Cockpit on 26th November, 1688, on the news of her husband's defection to the Prince of Orange, is well known. (fn. n51) A few weeks later she returned, and, "hearing that the Prince and Princess of Denmark were come to town, he [William III] called to see them at the Cock-pit." (fn. n52) Anne's actual residence at the Cockpit did not last long after William's accession. In the early part of 1692 the King and Queen insisted upon the departure from the Cockpit of the Countess of Marlborough, and Anne, rather than be separated from her favourite, resolved to leave with her. (fn. n53) She visited the Cockpit occasionally, (fn. n54) and disposed of its rooms as she would. (fn. n55)
In 1702, a portion of the lodgings was utilised for the accommodation of ambassadors. (fn. n56) On the first occasion, at the coming of the Prussian Envoy, at least five rooms (fn. n57) were set apart, in addition to the provision of a kitchen (fn. n58) in another part of the building ("in ye Court at ye Cockpit between ye Councill Chamber & ye Tennis Court,"), but in 1705 only three are mentioned. (fn. n59) About 1733 "the new buildings" shown on Danby's plan (Plate 37) were demolished for the construction of Kent's Treasury, which extended southward so as to take in a large slice of the courtyard or great garden attached to the lodgings. The "old buildings" south of the courtyard were still in existence in 1722 (see plan on p. 120). They are shown on Lediard's map of 1740, but had disappeared before 1793 (Plate 61), their site, together with the remainder of the courtyard, forming the "stableyard" shown in the plan of 1824 (Plate 68).
Apart from the chief set of lodgings, the history of which has been traced above, and from the residences of Ormonde, Monmouth, etc., which are dealt with separately, other lodgings, generally of a minor character, were provided on the Cockpit side after the Restoration. A few, such as those of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London and Mrs. College, are dealt with in the appropriate place, but a complete account is not possible as the position of these lodgings cannot usually be identified. The more important instances are as follows: (i) On 9th December, 1680, an order was issued (fn. n60) to "furnish the roomes at the Cockpitt … in all things as they were furnished for ye prince Elector Palatine: To be ready for ye Entertainmt of ye prince of Hanover." The latter prince's stay at Whitehall lasted from 11th December, 1680, to 12th March, 1681, (fn. n61) and on 23rd March (fn. n62) an order was issued that "the lodgings in the Cockpitt in Whitehall where the Prince of Hanover lately lodged bee delivered unto the Earle of Craven to lodge there untill further order." No other reference to Lord Craven's residence has been found. (ii) In 1683 the lodgings of Lord and Lady Sunderland "at the Cockpit" are mentioned. (fn. n63) (iii) On 10th November, 1685, the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury were asked to send a customs officer "to visit the Earl of Clarendon's goods at his lodgings in the Cockpit prior to their going for Ireland." (fn. n64) (iv) In 1699 the Commissioners sent from France concerning the settlement of trade with England were given "the rooms in the Cockpitt formerly belonging to his Grace the Duke of Shrewsbury" as their meeting place. (fn. n65)