Nos. 45 and 47, Whitehall

Pages 222-224

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 premises are the freehold of the Crown.

History of the Site.

On the southern portion of the land granted to Basil in 1611 (see p. 213) he built a large house which he leased for a term expiring on 25th March, 1643, to Sir Charles Wilmot. (fn. n1) Sir Charles first appears in the ratebooks in respect of this house in 1612. In 1627 Elizabeth, Basil's widow, granted a further lease of 28 years from 1643 to Arthur Wilmot on behalf of Sir Charles, then Viscount, Wilmot. Lord Wilmot died in the latter part of 1643 or early in 1644, leaving the house (fn. n2) "neere Charinge Crosse & adioyninge upon Scotland Yard wherein hee then dwelt" to his son Henry (afterwards 1st Earl of Rochester) for life, and afterwards to Charles his grandson. Both died intestate, and the property came into the hands of Anne, Countess of Rochester, in trust for her son John, the 2nd Earl. "By reason of the Warr & great distemper of the tymes," Henry the 1st Earl had not been "in a capacity to looke after or take possession of the premisses," (fn. n3) and the rent due under the lease had not been paid, with the result that Elizabeth Basil had re-entered, and the house had been let to Lady Mary Harvey, who first appears in the ratebooks as occupier in 1649. A survey of the house made in 1650 runs as follows: (fn. n4)

"All that Messuage or Tenemt built wth Brick and Covered wth Tyle, scituate … at Cheringe Crosse, adjoyninge to Scotland yard on ye west, consistinge of one Halle Wainscoted halfe way and paved wth Tyle pavemts, one Parlor Wainscoted, one Pantry and one Seller under the same, alsoe backward one Kitchen paved, one Larder, and betweene th'aforesaid Parlor and Kitchen an Open place like a Cloyster, and two Chambers over the same Kitchen and Larder. And above stayres in the first story one large and spacious Roome called the Dyneing Roome, well floored, seeled and Lighted, and one wth drawinge Roome, and one other faire Chamber adioyninge to the same, alsoe backwards one other Chamber Well Wainscoted, and in the second story 4 Chambers and two Closetts Wainscoted, and a Belcony leaded lyeinge towards Scotland yard, and in the third story 4 handsom garretts. th'aforesaid Roomes are well in repaire, and well Lighted & seeled and floored, and contayne by admeasuremt 94 feete of assize in Length and 34 feete in breadth now in the occupation of the Lady Harvey and is worth per annum .........................lxiiijli." From the facts that the street frontage was 34 feet and that Wilmot House was the northern boundary of Denham Buildings (see p. 209) it follows that the site corresponded, at any rate towards the street, with that of the present Nos. 45 and 47, Whitehall.

Lady Harvey let the premises on 7th June, 1660, to "Mr Willoughby," and the ratebooks for 1660 and 1661 show "Coll. Willowby" in occupation. In 1663 his place is taken by George Stepney (fn. n5) who continues until 1668, when he was succeeded by his widow, Jane. The Hearth Tax Rolls for 1666 and 1674 show the house as assessed at 15 and 14 hearths respectively. In the latter year the Countess Dowager of Rochester leased to Jane Stepney "a Messuage call'd Wilmott-house … adjoyning to Scotland Yard" for 31 years. (fn. n6) In 1738 the house comprised two messuages described (fn. n7) as: (i) "All that Messuage … situate … on the East side of Charing Cross Street … now in the possession of John Millan, Bookseller … and also All those severall Tenemts Rooms and appartments comonly called the Lodgings, being in part over the Shop now in the possession of the said John Millan and now in the several tenures … of John Winbush, John Cox Esqr, — Norint and Philip Davies," abutting north on the house of Edward Hurst and Old Man's Coffee House and south on Scotland Yard and Denhams Buildings; and (ii) "All that Messuage … situate … in the First Scotland Yard near Whitehall … late in the possession of … William Burton & now of … Mary Johnstone" abutting west and north on Millan's house, and south on Scotland Yard.

John Millan, whose shop, according to the above, occupied the whole of the street frontage, was a well-known bookseller and publisher. (fn. n8)

Millan's occupation (fn. n9) lasted from 1735 to 1781, when he was succeeded by Mary Egerton in 1782 and Thomas Egerton in 1783.

Humphrey Edwin (see p. 213) had in 1738 obtained a reversionary lease for 30 years from Christmas, 1756, and on 20 May, 1759, a further lease for 22½ years from 5th January, 1786. On its termination Thomas Egerton in 1814 obtained a new lease for 80 years from 5th April, 1808. The site is described (fn. n10) as "containing in front towards Charing Cross Street … 35 feet … and extending from thence Eastwards on the North Side thereof 93 feet 10 inches … then turning Southwards 47 feet 4 inches … from thence extending Westwards 48 feet … then turning Northwards 17 feet 3 inches … from thence extending Westwards 17 feet … then turning Northwards 9 inches … and from thence extending Westwards to Charing Cross Street … 31 feet … On part of which … Ground there having been lately erected and are now standing Two Messuages … fronting towards Charing Cross Street … numbered respectively 31 and 32." From the fact that the lease contained a clause for the completion of the two houses it is evident that they were not yet finished. On the other hand two leases (fn. n11) of Nos. 31 and 32, Charing Cross, by Egerton to Thomas Harrison, dated 2nd and 3rd January, 1815, mention the houses as built and occupied by Richard Langford and John Taylor respectively. The date of erection is therefore 1814. On the renumbering of the street in 1930 the houses became Nos. 45 and 47, Whitehall.

Description of Structure.

These houses consist of three storeys over shops and basements. The first-floor windows are set in a brick recess. The rest of the front is in plain brickwork.

No. 45 retains an iron balcony railing across the front, of the familiar mass-produced pattern of the period.

There are no internal features of interest.

Condition of Repair.


In the Council's collection is:

General exterior to Whitehall (photograph).


  • n1. Sir Charles Wilmot, 1st Viscount Wilmot of Athlone, was born about 1570. After leaving college he took service in the Irish wars, and most of his public life was spent in Ireland, where he became governor of Kerry, joint commissioner for the government of Munster, and president of Connaught. He was knighted by Essex at Dublin in 1599, and in 1621 was created viscount.
  • n2. Most of the following information is taken from P.R.O., C. 5/43/93, containing a record of Chancery proceedings in a suit brought by Anne, Countess of Rochester, against Lady Mary Harvey and Simon Basil the younger.
  • n3. A letter, dated 14th November, 1646, is addressed to "Alexander Pym at Wilmot House, near Whitehall." (Hist. MSS. Commn., 10th Report, App. Pt. VI—Mr. Bouverie's MSS., p. 95.)
  • n4. P.R.O., E. 317, Middx., 75.
  • n5. The ratebook for 1664 records "a great loss by fyre."
  • n6. P.R.O., L.S. 13/174, p. 91.
  • n7. Indenture, dated 16th August, 1738, between Humphrey Edwin and others. (Middx. Register, 1738, IV, 205.)
  • n8. It has been asserted that James Thomson removed "to the house of Millan the bookseller in Charing Cross" and completed his poem Winter "in the apartment over the shop" (Robert Bell's Life of Thomson), but, as Léon Morel has pointed out, Millan was at the time (1725) living in Shug Lane, and did not remove to Charing Cross until later (see p. 73). The house of Millan has been identified (Wilmot Harrison's Memorable London Houses, 3rd edn., p. 28) as formerly No. 30, Charing Cross, but this is incorrect. No. 30 was Old Man's Coffee House, which lay north of Millan's house.
  • n9. It seems probable from the ratebooks that Millan was preceded in his tenancy by William Seward (1714–33), John Rigby (1710–2) and Edward Castle, the well-known bookseller (1697–1709). "The Life of Prince Eugene of Savoy … Printed for Edw. Castle at Charing Cross" (The Daily Courant, 27th January, 1704–5); "The History of the Renown'd Don Quixote de la Mancha … Sold by Edw. Castle at Charing-Cross" (ibid., 29th January, 1704–5); "A Catalogue of a Curious Collection of Books … that will be sold by Auction … on Monday the 12th instant … Catalogues sold at 6d. by … Mr Castle, near Scotland-yard Gate near Whitehall" (The Post-Man, 30th January —1st February, 1704–5). In 1709 Castle moved to the other side of the road, to one of the shops in front of the then Admiralty building and is afterwards described as "against Scotland Yard, near the Admiralty." (Plomer's Dictionary of Booksellers and Printers.)
  • n10. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, F. 6, pp. 130–1. The description is important as being the only one known of the southern portion of the Basil property. It is easy to plot from it the compensatory protuberance in the south-east side (see p. 213).
  • n11. Middx. Register, 1815, II, 426 and 40.