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 6: V—NOS. 37 AND 38, CHARING CROSS (DEMOLISHED) AND SITE OF WALLINGFORD GARDEN
History of the Site.
The circumstances in which a 70-feet strip of the timber yard was acquired by the owners of Wallingford House have already been narrated (see p. 46). This ground was laid out as the garden of Wallingford House, and West's house, erected in 1687 and afterwards rented by the Admiralty (see p. 55), occupied the site of the Duke of Buckingham's summer house. (fn. n1) On 23rd March, 1685–6, the duke let the garden to Francis Jenkes on a building lease for 99 years as a security for debt owing to the latter. (fn. n2) A copy of the actual lease has not been found, but from recitals in later documents (fn. n3) it appears that the ground was described as "all that Toft or peece of Ground … adjoyning to Wallingford House, lying on the North Side of the said House, containing in Length from East to West One Hundred Twenty Six Foot and from North to South Seaventy Foot, the East side Fronting the … Street leading from Charing Cross to Whitehall, the West side Fronting the Spring Garden, the North abutting upon the Wall of Two houses, the one lately in the tenure of Sr Richard Franklyn, (fn. n4) the other in ye tenure of— Rowland, the South Side abutting upon the Gallery of Wallingford House, to be continued from the East to the West by a Streight line." That part of the building scheme which involved disturbance of the amenities of the Spring Garden met with opposition, and in July, 1686, the lord treasurer intimated that building on that side of the plot must be stopped. (fn. n5) The attorney-general, however, on being consulted, expressed the opinion that "the wall dividing that garden, which was formerly part of the Timber Yard, and the Spring Garden, doth pass by that grant [the original patent to Knollys], and the Duke and his assigns have liberty to erect buildings thereupon and to make lights towards Spring Garden by the express words of the patent." (fn. n6) Nevertheless, in May, 1687, Jenkes' widow was still waiting for the removal of the embargo, (fn. n7) which she obtained in the following month. (fn. n8) The total building operations comprised the formation of Buckingham Court (fn. n9) and the erection of fifteen houses, five of which were on the street frontage, one being over the entrance to the court. The freehold was sold on 18th December, 1713, by the Duke of Buckingham's trustees to Thomas Cole, (fn. n10) and the list of occupants given in the indenture includes the names of Sir James Wishart (in the house formerly of Robert West), showing that West's house was used for the accommodation of one of the lords of the admiralty, and Joseph "Gentlivre." This was Joseph Centlivre, principal cook to Anne and George I, husband of Susannah Centlivre, actress and dramatist, who died in Buckingham Court on 1st December, 1723. (fn. n11) Thomas Cole died in 1715, leaving (fn. n12) to his daughter, Elizabeth Lambe, his "freehold estate in Buckingam Court and adjoyning thereunto, containing 15 houses." The ratebooks for 1725 to 1729 show "Duncan Campbell" occupying the centre house of the five on the street frontage, that is, the one over the entrance to Buckingham Court. Campbell was a well-known soothsayer and quack. In 1725 Defoe published The Dumb Projector: or a Trip to Holland made by Mr. Duncan Campbell, in which he says: "I have not, a great while, seen a more polite Assembly of Gentlemen and Ladies than I met the other Day at his [Campbell's] House in Buckingham Court at Whitehall." Campbell died in 1730, and the ratebook for that year gives "Wid° Campbell" in respect of the house. She was succeeded in the following year by "— Miller," afterwards corrected to "John Millan." Millan was evidently much interested in his predecessor, for in 1732 appeared the Secret Memoirs of the late Mr. Duncan Campbel, "printed for J. Millan, at the Green Door, at the Corner of Buckingham-Court." (fn. n13)
On the widening of the street in 1758 (see appendix) the Westminster Bridge Commissioners purchased from James Lambe (apparently the son of Elizabeth) for £1,800 the five front houses, (fn. n14) and added to the public way a strip of ground increasing in depth from south to north from 20 to 28 feet. The portion not used (about 400 square feet) was resold to Lambe for £300, (fn. n15) on the condition that he should purchase the old materials for £90. (fn. n16) The new houses erected by Lambe were only four in number, the entrance to Buckingham Court not being built over.
Description and Date of Structure.
Nos. 37 and 38, Charing Cross, were the two houses north of Buckingham Court, built by Lambe in 1758–9. They were three-storey buildings with attics, and the original shopfronts seem to have been but slightly altered (Plates 81 and 82). They had brick fronts, though No. 38 had been in later years rendered in plaster. The return front of No. 37 to Buckingham Court was also in brick.
In the Council's Collection are:
(fn. n17) General elevation to Charing Cross (photograph).
(fn. n17) Elevation to Charing Cross of Nos. 37–41, Charing Cross (copied from a drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
Plans of ground, 1st and 2nd floors (copied from drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).