No. 53, Charing Cross and No. 21, Spring Gardens

Pages 114-117

Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1935.

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Table of contents


History of the Site.

The sites of Nos. 53–56, Charing Cross, were formerly occupied by three tenements, shown by the Ministers' Accounts for 1534–5 to be in lease to John Shypton, William de la Haye and Henry Hornecliff. On 20th March, 1547–8, a new lease for 21 years was granted (fn. n1) to John "Shepton" of the tenement then in his tenure, and further leases of the same were obtained by John Ussher on 3rd March, 1564–5 (for 21 years from the preceding Michaelmas), and Robert Power on 23rd May, 1573 (for 21 years from the termination of Ussher's lease). The second tenement is shown by a comparison of later Ministers' Accounts to have come into the possession of William Kytchyn, who on 14th March, 1547–8, obtained (fn. n2) a 21 years' lease of the tenement then in his tenure. On 26th May, 1568, Henry Mackwilliams received (fn. n3) a new lease of the premises for 21 years from the previous Lady Day. The third tenement came into the hands of William Weston, joiner, who on 22nd March, 1554–5, obtained (fn. n4) a grant of the messuage then or late in the tenure of Henry "Horneclyffe" for 21 years from the following Lady Day.

On 19th July, 1576, a lease was granted (fn. n5) to John Dymbleby (fn. n6) of the second and third tenements for 30 years. At the end of four years he had rebuilt the greater part of these two tenements, and as the first tenement was in a very bad condition and also required rebuilding, he managed to obtain (fn. n7) on 24th November, 1580, a new lease for 40 years of all three. Later (8th June, 1591) he secured (fn. n8) a reversionary lease for 21 years from 1620. Charles I's need for money led to the inclusion in a grant (fn. n9) of 24th December, 1631, to Charles Harbord, William Scriven and Philip Eden, of these and many other properties, in perpetual fee farm, at the rent of 53s. 4d. (20s., 20s. and 13s. 4d.), which had obtained from the days of Henry VIII.

What then happened it is impossible to say, (fn. n10) but when next found the premises are in the possession of Sir George Pratt and John Bond. Pratt's portion, covering the sites of Nos. 53–55, Charing Cross, was the larger, comprising two houses, one in his own occupation and the other in that of Lady Kingsmill. (fn. n11) From these facts it is possible by reference to the ratebooks to ascertain something of the former occupants. The southern house was from 1608 to 1614 in the occupation of George Calvert, (fn. n12) and in 1615 and 1616 in that of Sir Thomas Mildmay, who is shown in the ratebooks next to Sir Jerome Bowes. Mildmay was succeeded in 1618 by Lewis Lameere, whose name continues to 1633, and that of his widow to 1637. In 1638 Lady Kingsmill (fn. n13) appears.

Lady Kingsmill (fn. n14) died in 1672 (fn. n15), and shortly afterwards the house was in the occupation of Thomas Povey. (fn. n16) No later resident seems to have been of any importance. In 1698 George Pratt Webb, grandson of Sir George Pratt, figures in a recovery deed (fn. n17) relating to (i) the house "wherein Dame Bridgett Kingsmill formerly dwelt near Charing Crosse … and next adjoining unto the messuage wherein Sir George Pratt formerly dwelt," and (ii) a messuage in the Strand formerly called "the Sugar Loafe," whereby the two messuages were to be "to the use of the said George Pratt Webbe … for ever." The object of the deed was evidently to enable Webb to dispose of the two houses, and that he did sell The Sugar Loaf soon afterwards is known. (fn. n18) No record has been found of the sale of Lady Kingsmill's house, but it never appears again, save as a boundary in deeds relating to Sir George Pratt's house, and there can be no doubt that it was sold, at about the same time, probably to Samuel Browne. In a deed of 1712 (fn. n19), among the fee farm rents receivable by the lessees of the Manor of Westminster, occur "all that rent of one pound per annum issuing out of a Tenement within the said Manor of Westminster then or late in the possession of John Elderidge, and all that Rent of one pound per annum issuing out of a Tenement within the said Manor … then or late in the possession of — Bond Esquire, and all that rent of thirteen shillings and fourpence per annum issuing out of a Tenement or Tenements within the said Manor … then in the possession of Samuel Brown." These amounts make up the 53s. 4d. payable on the three tenements of Shypton, De la Haye and Hornecliff. John Edridge was one of the occupiers of Sir George Pratt's house, and John Bond was the owner of the house to the north of Pratt's. There is therefore a presumption that Samuel "Brown" had an interest in the remaining portion of the three tenements, namely, Lady Kingsmill's house; and the presumption becomes a practical certainty when we find that, on the Westminster Bridge Commissioners deciding (fn. n20) to widen "the Passage called the New Passage leading from Charing Cross into Spring Garden," it was from Samuel Collins, "son and heir of Francis Collins by Elizabeth his wife … which said Elizabeth was the Daughter and only Child of Samuel Browne," that they had to purchase the property on the north side required for the improvement. (fn. n21) It is described as a piece of ground on the west side of the street and on the east side of Spring Garden, together with the two messuages thereon, abutting south on the passage and north on a messuage in occupation of William Hannington (the then occupier of the house on the site of Pratt's house), and the dimensions are given as 27 feet in front to the street, 24 feet at the west end, 78 feet on the south side and 71 feet on the north side. The commissioners pulled down the houses, widened the street, and in 1765 sold the residue, (fn. n22) containing 16 feet frontage to Charing Cross and 15 feet frontage on the west, to Jane Marsh, subject to a payment of 13s. 4d. annually to the Crown. Lady Kingsmill's house is shown (the last house but one to the left) in the view of Charing Cross reproduced in Plate 85, and a part of it can be seen in the view reproduced in Plate 86.

The buildings erected on the site lasted until demolished for the purposes of the Mall Approach.

Description of the Structure.

No. 53, Charing Cross, with the corresponding house in Spring Gardens, comprised a brick exterior of three storeys and a slate Mansard roof. Though containing three fronts, the whole was successfully treated as an architectural composition.

The front facing south-east to Spring Gardens had a central pedimented doorway and sidelights, and above was a three-light Venetian window, a feature which was repeated on all three elevations. The short return to Spring Gardens proper had a doorway and sidelights treated in a similar manner to the window over.

The portion facing Charing Cross had a well-designed shop front (probably added in the early part of the nineteenth century (fn. n23) ) with a short return to Spring Gardens. An interesting feature shown in Plate 88b is the box arrangement for keeping the shutters of the shop window during the daytime.

Historical Notes.

The occupants of No. 53, Charing Cross, from the time of its erection in 1765 until 1840, were, according to the ratebooks, as follows:

1765–95 Jane Marsh
1796–98 Mrs. Edge
1799–1804 Rich. Lane
1805–18 Commissioners of Barracks (or Barrack Account Office)
1819 Thos. Bonner
1821–23 Lumley and Joblin
1824 Geo. Lumley
1825– Robt. Taylor and Thos. Bowley

In the Council's Collection Are:

(fn. n24) General exterior to Charing Cross (photograph).
(fn. n24) General exteriors to Spring Gardens (2) (photographs).
(fn. n24) View of Charing Cross from sketch drawing by W. Capon, circa 1810 (photograph).


  • n1. P.R.O., E. 315/219, fo. 32.
  • n2. P.R.O., E. 315/219, fo. 83.
  • n3. P.R.O., L.R. 1/46, fo. 148.
  • n4. P.R.O., L.R. 1/38.
  • n5. P.R.O., L.R. 1/47, fo. 126b.
  • n6. John Dymbleby, yeoman of the Queen's larder, is shown in the ratebooks at one of these houses from 1574 (the earliest extant) to 1605. He was buried at St. Martin's on 22nd August in that year. (Registers of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, p. 154.)
  • n7. P.R.O., L.R. 1/48, fo. 299.
  • n8. P.R.O., L.R. 1/51, fo. 198.
  • n9. P.R.O., C. 66/2572, No. 3.
  • n10. On 29th August, 1650, particulars were drawn up for the sale of the fee farm rents (P.R.O., E. 308, file 21, No. 13), but the transaction could not have been carried through as the rents were still payable in 1712 (see p. 116).
  • n11. Pratt's will (P.C.C., 69 Pye) mentions "all that my Messuage … scituate neare Chearing Crosse … wherein I now dwell, and all that my other Messuage … next adjoining to my said now dwelling house And wherein Dame Bridgett Kingsmill now dwelleth."
  • n12. George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore, born about 1580, was appointed one of the clerks of the Privy Council in 1608. He was knighted in 1617, and from 1619 to 1625 was secretary of state. In 1621–3 he founded a colony in Newfoundland under the name of Avalon, but it was unsuccessful, and after some years he managed to obtain a grant for a new colony (Maryland). He died in 1632 before his patent had passed the great seal.
  • n13. Daughter of John White and widow of Sir Henry Kingsmill of Sidmonton, Hants, who died in 1625.
  • n14. "Certificate that Lady Kingsmill was assessed June 30, 1643, at 300l. for her 1/20, and for non-payment all the goods in her house at Charing Cross were sequestered, and sold at Guildhall, and the house itself sequestered, but that she has since paid the assessment and been discharged." (Cal. of S. P. Dom., Committee for Advance of Money, p. 177.)
  • n15. Her will (P.C.C., 101 Eure, dated 13th July, 1670, proved 30th August, 1672) provided that her executors should "assigne over the Lease of my now dwellinghouse att Charing Crosse, and … deliver over all the goods, furniture and houshould stuffe thereof … unto such person … as my … Daughter, the Lady Gorges, shall by any writing under her hand direct … as soone as conveniently they can after my decease, Soe as the same may continue and be att her dispose without her husbands Intermedling therewith."
  • n16. This information is contained in a number of deeds, see e.g. indenture, dated 22nd April, 1737, concerning Pratt's house, which is described as abutting south on a messuage "formerly in the Tenure of Lady Kingsmil and since of Thomas Povey Esquire" (Middx. Register, 1737, III, 449). The ratebooks for 1678–97 show Povey on the Spring Gardens frontage. On the other hand those for 1675–7 show him on the Charing Cross side, but though their evidence is not quite clear, owing to the fact that the names do not always run in the same order, it rather suggests that Povey occupied the next door house. Moreover, a comparison of the Hearth Tax Rolls for 1666 and 1674 shows quite definitely that Lady Kingsmill's house (11 hearths) in the former year is to be equated with that of "Lightfoote" (11 hearths) in 1674 and the ratebook for 1676 agrees. The house was evidently divided, and, whatever may be the facts as regards the period 1675–7, there is no doubt that Povey occupied the Spring Gardens portion from 1678 to 1697. He is frequently mentioned in Pepys' Diary as treasurer for Tangier and surveyor-general of the victualling department, in both of which posts Pepys succeeded him. In 1662 he was made master of the requests, but was removed from office on the accession of James II. For Povey's previous house near Lincoln's Inn Fields, see Survey of London, V, p. 12.
  • n17. Indenture, dated 1st November, 1698, between George Pratt Webb, John Thomas and John Edridge. (P.R.O., C. 54/4832, No. 13.)
  • n18. Indenture, dated 8th January, 1698–9, between George Pratt Webb and Henry Willis. (P.R.O., C. 54/4834, No. 14.)
  • n19. Indenture, dated 12th March, 1711–2, between Thomas Edwin and Charles and John Edwin. (Middx. Register, 1735, I, 85.)
  • n20. Minutes of the Commissioners, 18th March, 1761. (P.R.O., Works, 6/35, pp. 300–1.)
  • n21. Indenture, dated 3rd June, 1761, between Samuel Collins and Sarah his wife and Samuel Seddon and John Simpson (P.R.O., C. 54/6078, No. 16). The purchase sum was £1,160.
  • n22. For £410 (P.R.O., Works, 6/35, p. 490). The indenture of sale was dated 22nd May, 1765 (Middx. Register, 1765, IV, 122).
  • n23. Capon's view of 1810 (Plate ) shows the building before the insertion of the shop front.
  • n24. Reproduced here.