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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CHAPTER 22: BETWEEN NO. 66 CHARING CROSS AND THE ENTRANCE TO SPRING GARDENS FROM COCKSPUR STREET
Before 1759 the entrance from Cockspur Street to Spring Gardens (fn. n1) was very narrow (see Plate 80) and the Charing Cross frontage to the west of the site of No. 66, now only 24 feet long, was about 54 feet in length. At the time of the street improvement the space between this frontage and Spring Gardens was occupied by six houses, brief particulars of which are as follows.
(a) The easternmost of these is described in 1713 (fn. n2) as "all that Messuage … commonly called … the Kings head (fn. n3) (now the Queens Head) sometime in the Tenure … of Mary Evans … since … of Gabriell Kunholt, Bookseller (fn. n4) … and since that … of Henry Collier … late … of Anthony Blount (fn. n5) and now of John Vaughan." The sign was subsequently changed to The St. Andrew (fn. n6), or St. Andrew's Cross. The premises seem to have come into the hands of Francis Plumer, who sold them to the commissioners for carrying out the improvement. (fn. n7)
(b) In 1706 Samuel Browne and Anne his wife sold to Joseph Locker a messuage, with appurtenances, in the parish of St. Martin's. (fn. n8) Ten years later Locker sold (fn. n9) the house to John Walker under the description of "all that Messuage … thentofore in the tenure … of Samuell Browne, afterwards of Thomas Kelley, Vintner, Since in the tenure … of Robert Winter, Cook … and now or late in the tenure … of Thomas Affleck, Victualler … and is Commonly called … the Thisle and Crowne, Scituate at or near Charing Cross … and is Adjoyning towards the west to a Messuage then or late in the occupacion of Michaell Bidell, Gunnsmith, and … East to a Messuage then in the tenure … of Robert Vincent, Victualler." The sale of the premises to the commissioners was not completed until some time after the house had been pulled down, owing to the death of Walker, but on 27th March, 1765, they bought (fn. n10) from the representatives of Walker and of his mortgagee the ground "and the Messuage … Erected thereon situate … on the South Side of the High Street … called … Cockspur Street (fn. n11) … late in the tenure … of Thomas Bright, Barber, and abutting Northwards on the said Street … Southwards on a Messuage … called … Brown's Coffee house … Eastwards on a Messuage … commonly called … Saint Andrews Cross Alehouse … and Westwards on a Messuage late in the Occupation of Mary Piddock, and containing in Front … at the North End … thirteen Feet and Six Inches … And at the South End thirteen feet And in depth forty two Feet and Six Inches."
(c) The next three houses to be mentioned were, when purchased by the commissioners, in the ownership of Zachary Pearce, Bishop of Rochester. (fn. n12) The one next to the Thistle and Crown was described (fn. n13) as a messuage "heretofore called … the Blue Bell Alehouse … now in the tenure of Mary Piddock, widow, and abutting Northwards on the said Street [Cockspur Street], Southwards on a Messuage … now in the tenure … of Joseph Dugdale, Haberdasher, Eastwards on a Messuage … in the possession of Thomas Bright, Barber, and Westwards on a Messuage … in the possession of John Adams, Pastry Cook, and containing in Front … from East to West … both at the North and South Ends … Eight feet and four Inches … and in Length from North to South both on the East and West Sides … thirty seven feet and Six Inches." The ratebooks show that the house was from 1665 to 1672 in the occupation of Middleton Harrington, and there is record of a token issued by him at The Blue Bell. (fn. n14)
(d) and (e). In 1692 John Cooke "of Burton upon the Woulds" sold (fn. n15) to his mother, Jane, the reversion, expectant on her death, of "all that Messuage, built with brick, knowne by the name of the Signe of the Spread Eagle Taverne, Scituate … neare … Charing Crosse … heretofore in the possession of Sarah Hazle, Widdow, and now or late in the occupacion of John Rawlins, Esqr … being on the South side on the High Streete … leading towards St. James's, betweene a tenemt heretofore in the occupacion of Middleton Harrington on the East, and a way or passage leading into … the Spring Garden on the West." The ratebooks show that "Widdow Hassell," who succeeded her husband, John, in 1663, was followed in 1665 by Andrew Hinder (fn. n16) who continued until 1675. From 1676 to 1691 John Rawlins was at the house, and he was followed by Robert Winter, (fn. n17) who continued until 1714. At about this time the house was divided, one portion occupying the street frontage, while the other was situated in the rear, facing the Spring Gardens passage. On 30th October, 1728, Tracey Pauncefort, who had bought the premises from Jane Cooke in 1696, (fn. n18) assigned them (fn. n19) to Richard Eardnell and William Vavasour under the description of "All that Messuage … built with Brick and formerly known by the name … of the Spread Eagle Taverne, but now divided into Two Messuages … one of them formerly called — Coffee house and the other called … the Three Pidgeons, but the one is now the Dundee Arms and the other a Pastry Cooks," and in the following year the premises were purchased by Thomas Pearce. (fn. n20) In 1758 the Westminster Bridge Commissioners received authority to widen the entrance from Cockspur Street to Spring Gardens, and for that purpose to purchase the freehold "of all and every such Building … as they … shall think necessary … within the bounds … following, that is to say, situate … adjoining to the said … street … on the east side thereof, as far as a certain messuage … now in the occupation of Robert Taylor, statuary … and abutting north on Cockspur Street and south on Spring Gardens." (fn. n21) The two houses mentioned above had now passed to Thomas Pearce's eldest son and heir, Zachary, Bishop of Rochester. (fn. n22) In the sale (fn. n23) to the commissioners they are described as two messuages "one of which … is now in the tenure … of … John Adams, And is situate … on the South side of Cockspur Street … abutting … southwards on a Messuage … in the Occupacion of … Joseph Dugdale, Eastwards on the … Messuage … in the Occupacion of … Mary Piddock … and Westwards on the … Street … leading from Cockspur Street to the … Passage in Spring Garden, and containing in Front on the North End … thirteen feet and Eight Inches … And at the South End … twelve feet … and in Length … on the East and West Sides … thirty seven feet and Six Inches … And the other … is now in the tenure … of the said Joseph Dugdale, and is Situate … on the East Side of the above mencioned Street or Avenue leading from Cockspur Street to the said Passage in Spring Garden, and Abutting Northwards on the … Messuages … now in the Tenures … of … John Adams and Mary Piddock … in part and on the … Messuage … in the possession of … Thomas Bright of the other part, and Southwards on a Mesuage … called Brownes Coffee house now in the Occupacion of Thomas Brown, Eastwards on a Mesuage … in the possession of … Thomas Bright in part and on a yard belonging to the said Mesuage … in the Occupacion of the said Thomas Brown in other part, and Westwards on the said Street leading from Cockspur Street … and containing in front … at the West End … nineteen feet and three Inches … and in the Rear at the East End … Eleven feet … and on the North side … twenty feet and four Inches … to a Break of four feet from North to South, and in further Length on the … North Side … Eastwards ten Feet … and … on the South Side … thirty feet."
(f) The remaining house was Brown's Coffee House. (fn. n24) This seems to have been the only part of the Bowyers' freehold (see p. 123) which in the middle of the eighteenth century was still in the possession of the family. On 21st July, 1758, the commissioners purchased from John Astle of Harlington, nephew, devisee and sole executor of Lettice Bowyer, "the Messuage … called … Brownes Coffee house … Situate … at the South East corner of a certain Street … leading from Cockspur Street to the passage in Spring Garden … Abutting Southwards on Spring Garden, Eastwards on a Messuage … now in the Occupacion of Robt Taylor, Statuary, Northwards on three severall other … Messuages now in the several possessions of William Plivey, Victualler, Thos Bright, Barber, and Joseph Dugdale, Haberdasher, and westwards on the said Street … and containing in front on the South side … next Spring Garden … Forty five feet … and on the … North Side thereof from the aforesaid Avenue Eastwards thirty feet … to a Break of Ten Feet from South to North, and from that Break further Eastwards Fifteen Feet … And in Depth from North to South nineteen feet … from the said Avenue to the aforesaid Break, and from thence further Eastwards to the said Messuage now in the Occupacion of … Robert Taylor twenty nine feet." (fn. n25)
In the early part of 1759 all six houses had been demolished, and on 13th March in that year the commissioners sold the surplus land, containing 24 feet in length and 70 feet in depth, to Francis Plumer, subject to his erecting thereon not more than four brick houses "with Regular and Uniform Fronts according to an Elevation" agreed. (fn. n26) Plumer built three houses on the site (fn. n27): (i) with a frontage to Cockspur Street (now Charing Cross), afterwards Farrance's noted confectionery and ice shop (fn. n28); (ii) fronting on the widened street; and (iii) facing Spring Gardens. The last mentioned became the Spring Garden Coffee House. (fn. n29) The whole site is now covered by the premises of the National Provincial Bank.