Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1935.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
CHAPTER 12: BETWEEN THE SITE OF NAUNTON HOUSE AND THE ORIGINAL PASSAGE TO SPRING GARDENS
Next to the tenement of Edward Myllet in the Ministers' Accounts for 1534–5 (fn. n1) come two tenements leased to John Hill and David "Abenyon" (fn. n2) for 40s. and 30s. a year respectively. A grant was made of both tenements to John Burnell on 10th May, 1540, and the transactions concerning this property during the remainder of the sixteenth century were numerous and rather involved. They may be summarised as follows:
Browne was thus in possession of both the Hampton and the Collier leases expiring in 1608 and 1648 respectively, as well as the sublease of his own house expiring in 1601. He is shown in occupation of the house in the earliest ratebook extant (that for 1574), and his name continues until 1591. In 1593 (the ratebook for 1592 is missing) his place is taken by his widow. (fn. n3) In the following year "Jeames Huckle" succeeds.
On 28th February, 1611–2, a grant was made (fn. n4) to John Eldred and William Whitmore for a term of 60 years from that date of the two tenements of Hill and "Avenon." The only previous lease referred to is that to Burnell, and the existence of the Collier lease, which Browne had acquired, is ignored. Eldred and Whitmore immediately (5th March, 1611–2) sold their interest to James Huckle, who, as was seen above, was in occupation of Browne's house. (fn. n5)
On 27th December, 1632, the King granted (fn. n6) to William Collins and Edward Fenn the two tenements in perpetual fee farm at the old rent of 70s. for the use of Sir William Russell, treasurer of the Navy, but as this grant is never afterwards referred to in the history of the succession of the property, it was probably revoked.
The last ratebook giving the name of James Huckle is that for 1640, (fn. n7) after which his widow's name appears at intervals until 1647, when a note "gon" is added.
It is evident from the ratebooks that the property had for some time comprised more than two houses, and a parliamentary survey made in 1650 (fn. n8) shows that there were then four, which are described as follows:
"All that Tenemt scituate … on the West side of Charinge crosse … built wth Tymber and Flemish Walle and Covered wth Tyle, and well in repaire, consistinge of one Small Parlor and a Celler underneath the same next to the streete, and Backwards one Kitchen, And above staires in the first story next to the streete one faire Dyneinge Roome well Wainscoted, and behinde the same one Chamber and a Closett and a Lobby Roome there, and in the second story over the same two Chambers and a Closett, and over the same one Garrett devided into two Roomes, As alsoe one Court yard, one Entry and a shedd there, alsoe standinge backwards adioyninge to the said house, one Tenemt consistinge of a Coalehouse and a stoole house belowe stayres, and above stayres in the first story one Roome and a Garret over the same, in the occupacion of the Widdowe Kinge (fn. n9) and Mr. John Coggan, and is worth per ann xlii"
"All that Tenemt lyeinge … betweene th'aforesaid Tenemt and the springe garden walle, built as aforesaid, consistinge of one Parlor and a Seller under the same, and one Parlor and a small Roome theire, and over the same 2 Chambers and a Closett, and over the same in the garret 2 more Roomes and a Closett there, And further backwards adioyninge to Springe Garden in annother Rainge of buildinge one faire kitchen, 2 Larders, one Wash house and a stoole house and a Coale house, and over the same in the first stroy 3 Chambers and a Dyneing Roome, and in the second story 3 faire Chambers, and over the same one garret devided into three Roomes, alsoe 2 Court yardes, adioyninge to the Lady Nutton's [Naunton's] on the south, now in the occupacion of the Widdow Rowden, and is worth per ann. xxxli."
"All yt Tenemt built as aforesaid adioyninge on the north side of tha' foresaid Tenemt, consistinge of two Large Sellers, and over them two halles on the front, and behind them 2 faire Kitchens and a Pantry, and above staires in the first story 4 Chambers on the front and two Chambers Backwards, and two Closetts there, And in the second story three Chambers and one Closett, And in the third story two Garretts, And further backwards adioyninge to the Springe garden one small Kitchen and a stoole house, and over the same in the first story one Chamber and a garret over the same, Alsoe 4 Court yardes all paved wth Purbeck stone, well fitted and Joynted, now in the occupacion of the Lady Dorleton, (fn. n10) and is worth per ann. 1li."
"All that Tenemt built as aforesaid adioyninge to the north side of tha' foresaid Tenemt consistinge of one Hall and one Kitchen, and under the same two Sellers, and backwards one Wash house and a Larder, and in the first story one faire Large Dyneinge Roome and three other Chambers, And in the second story 4 Chambers like the other, and over the same in the third story 4 such Chambers as aforesaid, Alsoe one Courtyard, one stoole house, bounded wth the house of Doctr Medcroft (fn. n11) on the north, now in the occupacion of one Mr Hatcliff, (fn. n12) and is worth per ann. xlli."
Meanwhile the King had on 15th July, 1639, granted a reversionary lease of the premises to Thomas Turner for a term of 31 years following the Eldred and Whitmore lease then in possession of James Huckle or his widow, (fn. n13) and on 23rd February, 1640–1, Turner had conveyed his interest to Sir David Cunningham. In ignorance of this fact the Parliamentary Commissioners had sold the property to Captain John Nelthorpe, but on Cunningham protesting his claim was admitted and the sale revoked. (fn. n14)
The property was included in the Manor of Westminster, and in the two leases of that manor granted in 1678 (fn. n15) to Joseph Sheldon and Nicholas Charlton on behalf of John Hall. On 24th December, 1678, the manor was mortgaged to Matthew Johnson and Richard Grayham, who had already (27th December, 1677) acquired from Sir James Cunningham (administrator of the goods of Sir David) the residue of the 31 years' lease, and on 10th April, 1680, John Dixon purchased from Hall, Johnson and Grayham the residue of the 31 years' lease and of the two leases of the manor (so far as this particular property was concerned), subject to the payment of £6 a year to the holders of the manor. (fn. n16)
The houses, which had been four in number (though in five occupations) in 1650, are shown by the Hearth Tax Roll for 1666 as five, assessed at 8, 11, 7, 11 and 12 hearths respectively, the last-mentioned (the northernmost, i.e. Hartlib's house) being in the occupation of Lady Diana "Curson." (fn. n17) In 1695 the number of houses had risen to six, (fn. n18) and in 1729 to eight. (fn. n19) A deed of 2nd May, 1739, shows that four were on the Charing Cross front, while the remaining four faced Spring Gardens. (fn. n20) The southernmost house but one on the Charing Cross front was in 1742 known as The White Swan. (fn. n21) On the south side of this house was the entrance to Pump Court, (fn. n22) which had been formed in the interior of the property and is first mentioned in the ratebook for 1705. At about 1729 (see p. 113) a passage (now merged in the Mall Approach) had been formed leading from Charing Cross into Spring Gardens on the north side of the estate, thus providing an additional frontage.
Dixon's lease was due to expire in 1756, but on 17th November, 1739, he obtained a reversionary lease of 32 years. (fn. n23)
On the widening of the street in 1758 the Westminster Bridge Commissioners at first proposed to purchase only the southernmost house on the Charing Cross front, but it was subsequently found necessary to acquire the next two houses also. (fn. n24) In connection with the widening of the passage on the north of the property (see p. 116) the commissioners decided to purchase also the northernmost house (fn. n25) as well as the four houses in Spring Gardens, and thus became possessed of the whole of the Dixon estate at a cost of £2,603. (fn. n26) The description of the property given in the transfer is borrowed from that contained in the grant of 1739, and gives the dimensions as 61 feet on the Charing Cross front, and 65 feet towards Spring Gardens, but the latter is more correctly stated as 62 feet 2 inches in the minutes of the commissioners. (fn. n27) The Crown's interest in the premises was acquired on 25th September, 1765. (fn. n28)
Four houses were erected on the Charing Cross frontage, and the northernmost of these (afterwards No. 52) together with the whole of the Spring Gardens frontage, was sold to Andrew Drummond. (fn. n29) The ratebooks show that No. 52 was not for many years used as part of Messrs. Drummond's bank premises, which were, so far as the Charing Cross frontage is concerned, at first confined to the site of Naunton House (see p. 103). It would appear that about 1777 the southernmost of the four houses on the Charing Cross frontage was added. (fn. n30) Capon's view (Plate 87) shows that Nos. 50–52 were still standing in 1810, but in that year Messrs. Drummond occupied No. 52, and took No. 50 which was rebuilt and added to their premises. (fn. n31) No. 51 was taken about 1825 (fn. n32) and Nos. 50–52 appear then to have been rebuilt as shown in the view reproduced on p. 109. (fn. n33) The present building, covering the whole site as well as that of Nos. 47–48, Charing Cross, was erected about 1879.