Nos. 21-24, Cockspur Street and the Two Chairmen

Pages 150-153

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


Ground Landlords.

The Two Chairmen is the freehold of Barclay, Perkins and Co., Ltd. Nos. 21–24, Cockspur Street, have been demolished.

History of the Site.

The site of these premises was during the greater part of the seventeenth century occupied by the White Hart inn. By some means this, as well as the property adjoining to the west on the south side of Warwick (now Warwick House) Street, had come into the hands of Thomas, Viscount Falconbridge, (fn. n1) who on 30th December, 1684, granted the inn to Samuel Aubery on a building lease (fn. n2) for 70 years from the preceding Christmas.

Little is known of The White Hart, which seems nevertheless to have been one of the most important inns in the neighbourhood. The earliest occupier who can be identified with certainty was Thomas Sparkes, or Parkes, (fn. n3) who was there from 1628 to 1641. In 1644–5 Richard "Sparks" is shown in the ratebooks for what appears to be the inn, and his widow from 1652 to 1657. From 1659 to 1668 John Howard (fn. n4) was the occupier, and was succeeded by his widow until 1672. "Mrs Hill at the White Hart" is shown in the ratebook for 1673. In the following year Bryan Westland appears and continues until 1684. "Widow Buckler" is shown in 1685, and thereafter the inn disappears. This was the result of the operations of Samuel Aubery, who pulled the inn down, and on its site erected eight houses, some of which had frontages on Cockspur Street, while the others were disposed in a court called White Hart Court. The court, which appears to have had its entrance on or close to the site of The Two Chairmen, first appears in the ratebook for 1687. The ground leased to Aubery constituted only a portion of the Falconbridge property, which extended 116 feet further west. (fn. n5)

Falconbridge died in 1701, leaving (fn. n6) all his freehold messuages "scituate … in Warwick Streete in the Parish of St. Martins in the Feilds and St. James Westminster" to his wife for life and afterwards to his godson, Thomas Frankland. On the death of the latter (then Sir Thomas) in 1747 all his landed property was bequeathed (fn. n7) to trustees with instructions to dispose of it by sale. No record of such sale has been found, but the property in Cockspur Street and Warwick Street is found in the following year in the possession of Sir Jeremy Sambrooke. Aubery's lease expired at Christmas, 1754, and on 2nd November, 1753, Sambrooke granted to Joseph Pearce another building lease (fn. n8) of the premises. The plot is described as containing "in front next Cock Spurr Street from East to West 62 feet 2 Inches, (fn. n9) and from thence Runneth in a Straight Line west or south westwards 16 feet, and from thence … Southward 3 feet and 6 Inches, and from thence … westwards or south westwards 12 feet and 5 inches, and from thence … Southwards 36 feet and 5 Inches quite up to a wall Called Old Spring garden wall, and from thence … Eastwards 63 feet and 6 Inches, and from thence … Northwards Inclining towards the East 16 feet, and from thence… northwards Inclining a Little more towards the East Fifty Three feet and 5 Inches, and … Eight messuages standing on the same peice of ground in the Occupations of Timothy Sheldrick, Henry Hadley, Christopher Moore, Sam1 Greenfield, Thos Cockran and Charles Simes." The first four of these are shown by the ratebooks to have occupied the street frontage. Pearce effected three sub-leases, (1) to William Crompton (24th May, 1754) (fn. n10) of 56 feet frontage, containing the houses of Sheldrick, Hadley and Moore and part of that of Greenfield; (2) to John Showrd (14th May, 1755) (fn. n11) with a frontage of 17 feet 2 inches; and (3) to Thomas Cockran (23rd May, 1754) (fn. n12) with a front of 12 feet 6 inches "with a messuage and part of a messuage standing thereon in the Occupation of the said Thos Cockran." The result was the erection of Nos. 22–24 (1), No. 21 (2) and The Two Chairmen (3). The new premises appear in the ratebook for 1756.

Description of Structure.

All these houses were erected in 1755–6, and Nos. 21 to 24 were demolished in 1914.

Nos. 21 to 24, Cockspur Street. These each comprised three storeys and an attic, over shops (Plate 91). Nos. 22–24 had a stucco front. No. 23 had a slight break forward, with quoins to the external angles and a bay window of three storeys with a flat roof which finished below the main cornice. No. 21 had a brick front, with a bay window to the first and second floors terminating with a wood modillion cornice. The interiors were uninteresting.

The Two Chairmen. This house comprises three storeys with an attic, over the public quarters. It has a bay window to the first and second floors which is surmounted by an iron railing. The interior contains no features of interest.

Figure 28: Second floor of The Two Chairmen

Condition of Repair.

Nos. 21–24, Cockspur Street—Demolished.

The Two Chairmen—Good.

Historical Notes.

According to the ratebooks the occupants of these houses until 1840 were as follows:

No. 24.
1756–58 William Weir
1759–62 Sarah Stratford
1763–4 (Ratebooks missing)
1765–76 Benj. Crompton
1777–90 Crompton and Son
1791–92 Jas Crompton
1799–1803 Fras. Pontet (fn. n13)
1804–05 Rd Adams
1806–33 Jas Cawthorn
1834– Maria H. Cawthorn
No. 23.
1756–70 Messrs. Crompton and Spinnage
1771–90 Crompton and Son
1791–98 Jas. Crompton
1799–1825 Paul Colnaghi (fn. n14)
1826–32 Martin Colnaghi
1833–34 Martin H. Lewis
Gartano Colnaghi
1835–38 Fras. Graves & Co.
1839 Martin Colnaghi
1840– Martin H. Lewis
Galtano Colnaghi
No. 22.
1756–76 Henry Rymer
1777–85 Eleanor Sherrard
1786–93 Richd Jeston Case
1794–1809 John Main
1810–32 John Main & Son
1833– John Main
No. 21
1756–76 John Showrd
1777–1805 John Frost
1806–12 John & Wm Frost
1813– Wm. Newman
The Two Chairmen.
1756–59 Thomas Cockran
1760–77 John Read
1778–83 Wm Lord (fn. n15)
1784–85 Wm Wilson (fn. n16)
1786 John Barber (fn. n16)
1786–90 John Stone
1791–95 John Page
1796 Jas. Jackson
1797 Charles Marshall
1798 James Hill
1799–1801 Fras. Gratland
1802–24 Wm Malcolm
1825–29 Margaret Malcolm
1830– Robert Malcolm

In The Council's Collection are:

(fn. n17)General exterior of The Two Chairmen (photograph).
General exterior of Two Chairmen (photograph).
(fn. n17)Plan of second floor of The Two Chairmen (drawing).


  • n1. Probably by the transaction recorded in the final concord between the viscount and William Kniveton and Rose his wife, concerning nine messuages and two gardens in St. Martin's (Trinity, 25 Chas. II). The consideration was £900. There is every probability that the site originally formed part of the tenement leased to Swallow by Henry VIII (see p. 122), but it has proved impossible to identify it with the subject of any of the numerous transactions (recorded almost entirely in the Fines) entered into by the Bowyer family.
  • n2. Particulars taken from indenture, dated 16th February, 1735–6, between Charles Edwin and John Edwin. (Middx. Register, 1735, V, 326.)
  • n3. His name is spelled either way in the ratebooks. "Petition of Thomas Parks, Post master from London to Barnet… Has executed that office about six years … without any neglect … and has received but two years' pay at the rate of 20d. per diem." (Cal. of S. P. Dom., 1637–8, p. 53.)
  • n4. "Request for favour for John Howard, of the White Hart, Charing Cross, who desires to have the post kept at his house as before" (ibid., 1667–8, p. 150). The ratebook for 1659 has the note "postmastr" against Howard's name.
  • n5. The eastern boundary of the 116-feet plot was said in 1748 to be "Certain Messuages … belonging to Mrs. Ann Edwin and Susannah Edwin" (indenture, dated 7th July, 1748, between Sir Jeremy Sambrooke and Charles Simes—Middx. Register, 1748, II, 158). The Aubery lease had been sold to Thomas Edwin in 1727. (Ibid., 1726, V, 391.)
  • n6. P.C.C., 87 Dyer, dated 14th November, 1699, proved 26th May, 1701.
  • n7. P.C.C., 125 Potter, dated 30th September, 1746, proved 6th May, 1747.
  • n8. Middx. Register, 1754, II, 251.
  • n9. The lease here intercalates "and then Runneth Southward in a Straight Line 68 feet and 8 Inches," the inclusion of which results in an impossible plan, whereas without it the plan corresponds quite well with the details of the three plots into which Pearce divided the property.
  • n10. Middx. Register, 1754, II, 252.
  • n11. Ibid., 1755, II, 335.
  • n12. Ibid., 1754, II, 253.
  • n13. Indenture, dated 1st April, 1799, between Jas. Crompton and Francis Joseph Maria Pontet. (Ibid., 1800, II, 559.)
  • n14. Indenture, dated 24th March, 1799, between Jas. Crompton and Paul Colnaghi, "print seller." (Middx. Register, 1800, II, 560.)
  • n15. Indenture, dated 3rd March, 1783, between John Cockran, mathematical instrument maker, and William Lord, of the premises "known … by the Sign of the two Chairmen." (Middx. Register, 1783, I, 413.)
  • n16. William Lord, victualler, assigns to Wm. Wilson (ibid., 1784, I, 494) and Wilson assigns (1st August, 1785) to Barber (ibid., 1785, III, 491).
  • n17. Reproduced here.