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 9: VII—NOS. 29 AND 31, SPRING GARDENS (DEMOLISHED) AND SITE OF THE WHITE HORSE
On 10th April, 1547, a grant was made (fn. n1) to "Thurstian" Mayre and Agnes his wife of a messuage called "le Whyte Horse" in the King's Street of Westminster near "Charyng Crosse," for a term of 21 years at a rent of £5. The rent was comparatively large, and the house was evidently an important one. Mayre is said to be already in occupation, and the Ministers' Accounts show that he was occupying the house at the same rent as early as 1534–5. (fn. n2)
On 14th July, 1564, the Queen sold (fn. n3) to Thomas Reve, William Ryvet and William Hechyns a large amount of property (of a total value of £3,967 15s. 7d.) including the messuage called the White House alias the White Horse, then or late in the tenure of Thurstan "Maior." The house subsequently came into the possession of John Baptist Castilian, (fn. n4) who on 13th March, 1571–2, sold to Henry Mackwilliams and his wife, Lady Mary Cheke, (fn. n5) "all that his messuage, house or tenemente called the White house, otherwise called the White horse … then in the tenure of the said henry Mackwilliam." (fn. n6) Mackwilliams, who was one of the gentlemen pensioners of Elizabeth, died in 1599, (fn. n7) and the ratebooks from that year until 1615 show his widow ("Ladie Cheeke," "Lady Mary Cheeke") residing at the house. On her death towards the end of 1616, (fn. n8) the premises came into the possession of her (and Mackwilliams') five daughters: Margaret, wife of Sir John Stanhope, Baron Stanhope of Harrington; Susan, wife of (1) Edward Sandeys, (2) Sir Goddard Pemberton, (3) Sir Thomas Ireland; Ambrosia, wife of Sir William Kingswell; Cassandra, wife of Sir Charles Cotton; and Cecily, wife of Sir Thomas Ridgway; each of whom had inherited from their father a fifth share in the house. Lord Stanhope, whose residence was next door, acquired the rights of three of his sisters-in-law, (fn. n9) and he and Margaret were therefore in possession of four-fifths of the premises, but Cassandra's fifth descended to her son, Charles Cotton. (fn. n10) The ratebooks afford no clue to the occupation of the house at this time, but the desired information is contained in a chancery suit brought by Sir Lionel Tollemache on 24th January, 1632–3. In his plaint (fn. n11) Sir Lionel states that he "is and for diverse yeeres last past hath bene a lessee or undertenante for diverse yeeres yet to come to the right honorable Margaret, Lady Stanhope … Of … one Messuage … called the White house neere Charincrosse. … Of fower partes of Wch sayd messuage in Five partes to be devided shee the said Lady is & for diverse yeeres last past hath bene seised in hir demeasne as of Fee, And one Charles Cotton Esquire is … seised of the other Fifte parte thereof in his demeasne as of Fee." Cotton, it appears, on several occasions promised "in a very friendly & curteous manner" to let Sir Lionel have the first chance of purchase, in case he (Cotton) should desire to sell his share, and had actually offered to sell for £300, a proposal which Sir Lionel had accepted. The sale, however, had not been proceeded with, although in expectation of it Sir Lionel had laid out money in repairing the house.
Whether Cotton eventually carried out his promise is not known, (fn. n12) but the Tollemache family subsequently obtained not only his fifth, but the four-fifths belonging to the Stanhopes. The latter transaction took place perhaps in 1648. (fn. n13)
The house for many years seems to have escaped rating, the first entry which can be identified as referring to it being one for "Sr Lyonell Talmage" in 1655. The entry persists until 1661 and then disappears, reappearing as "Sir Lyonell Tallinodge" in 1665. This was the younger Sir Lionel Tollemache (son of the above-mentioned) who married Lady Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart in her own right, and their son Lionel became 3rd Earl of Dysart. In the ratebooks for 1666 and 1667 "Mr. Rossington" appears in place of Sir Lionel. (fn. n14) Thereafter the house seems to have been divided, and in the 1674 ratebook the occupiers are given as Jeremia Gowring, Adam "Locket" and Thomas Jolly. The Hearth Tax Roll for the same year shows that these were rated at 7, 14 and 10 hearths respectively, implying an original house of 31 hearths, somewhat larger than Kirke House. (fn. n15) In the ratebook for 1685 the names are: Jerom. Gohory, Adam Lockett and Geo. Stockdale. The second name in each case shows that this was the site of the famous "ordinary" kept by Lockett, often mentioned in the plays of Cibber and Vanbrugh. (fn. n16) The premises ran back the whole depth to Spring Gardens. (fn. n17) Adam Lockett appears first in the ratebooks for 1668 (fn. n18) and continues to 1686; Edward Lockett takes his place in 1688, (fn. n19) and continues until 1704. From 1705 to 1722 Peter Shuttleworth is shown as the occupier of the Lockett house, and in the following year and onwards the premises are in three occupations. In 1731 for the first time the word "Court" appears, enlarged in 1740 to "George Court," a name which persists until the demolition of the premises in 1758. In the plan reproduced in Plate 80, and in the list prepared by the surveyor-general in 1754 (see appendix) it is called Rummer Court, and the latter document (fn. n20) contains the information that one of the two old brick houses occupying the frontage extended "half over the Gate way leading into Rummer Court." The Rummer from which the court took its name, and which could not have been the same as that which flourished in 1683 (see p. 78), apparently co-existed with another of the same sign on the other side of the road (see pp. 252–3). MacMichael quotes (fn. n21) two advertisements from the Daily Advertiser for 26th June, 1742, and 15th February, 1742–3, relating to The Rummer, which must refer to this building. In the latter it is noted that "there is a back door into Spring-Gardens."
The Earl of Dysart had entered into an agreement for letting his estate at Charing Cross on a building lease to John Lambert, and on the Westminster Bridge Commissioners approaching him in 1758 with a view to acquiring the front part of the property for the purpose of widening the street (see appendix), he proved somewhat difficult. He informed them (fn. n22) that "if his Freehold Estate … is to be taken away by Force from him and his Tenant, he shall look on such Proceedings as an Encroachment on his Property, and hopes he shall be able to redress himself, nor will he submit to the Determination of a Jury, as he don't apprehend that they have any Authority or Power to determine the Value of a Man's Freehold, or set a Peremptory Price on his Property, without his previous Consent in order for Sale." The premises were duly taken and the improvement carried out, but it was not until 1765 that matters were finally settled, the interim proceedings including two jury verdicts, a petition by the earl to the House of Commons and a counter-petition by the commissioners, and an action in the Court of King's Bench. (fn. n23) On 5th March, 1765, the earl formally conveyed (fn. n24) for £1,670 to the commissioners the two front houses, which had been pulled down and the materials taken by the earl for his own use. The portion of the site not thrown into the public way was reconveyed to the earl for £851 9s. 6d. Lambert's interest in the premises was acquired for £135. (fn. n25)
From the plan on p. 103 it will be seen that the street was widened along the Dysart frontage by about 30 to 35 feet. Two houses, afterwards Nos. 44 and 45, Charing Cross, were erected, the latter being the wellknown Ship. (fn. n26) The site is now occupied by the Whitehall Theatre.
As has been mentioned, the whole of the earl's estate at Charing Cross had been let on building lease to John Lambert. The ratebooks show that the Spring Gardens frontage was rebuilt during 1760–1, and that the new premises were occupied in 1762. In the following year Lambert's executors sold (fn. n27) the lease of the two houses, afterwards Nos. 29 and 31, Spring Gardens, to John Michie "of York Buildings … Esquire" and John Devaynes, "Citizen and Apothecary of London" respectively.
Description of Structure.
These premises, built in 1760–1, had originally a brick front of three storeys, but No. 29 had later been increased in height (Plate 83). This house had a wooden doorcase with Ionic columns, supporting a pedimented head and a carved frieze.
No. 31 had the entrance doorway set in an arched brick recess, with wooden Doric columns supporting a large oval fanlight with radiating bars. The staircase had turned balusters and carved brackets to the return of the nosings to the treads on the moulded strings. The walls had a panelled dado following the rake of the stairs with panelling above, and a band with a wave ornament at the level of the first floor (Plate 83). The rooms in the rest of the house had plain panelling. A cast-lead cistern on the premises had a panelled front, the central panel containing the date 1765 and the letters "D 11" (Plate 84).
Lord Balgonie, who is shown by the ratebooks to have lived at No. 29 from 1785 to 1796, was Alexander, afterwards 7th Earl of Leven. He was the eldest son of the 6th Earl, and was born in 1749. In August, 1784, he married Jane, daughter of John Thornton, and it seems probable that No. 29 was the first home of the married couple. He succeeded to the earldom in 1802 and died in 1820.
On leaving No. 29 in 1796 Lord Balgonie was succeeded by his brother-in-law, Samuel Thornton. The latter, born in 1755, was the eldest son of John Thornton, and brother of Henry, the well-known philanthropist and leader of the Clapham Sect. In 1780 Samuel was appointed a director of the Bank of England, a position which he held for 53 years. His parliamentary career lasted for 34 years from 1784 when he was elected, together with Wilberforce, to represent Hull. He was a governor of Greenwich Hospital and president of Guy's. He died in 1838.
John Hookham Frere, who succeeded Thornton at No. 29 in 1799, was born in 1769. He was educated at Eton and Caius College, and on leaving Cambridge entered the Foreign Office. In 1797 he joined with Canning in the publication of the Anti-Jacobin, and many of the pieces appearing therein were the joint productions of Frere, Canning and others. In 1799 he succeeded Canning as under-secretary of state for foreign affairs, and a year later was appointed envoy extraordinary and plenipotentiary at Lisbon, being transferred to Madrid in 1802. On his return in 1804 he was granted a pension of £1700 a year and made P.C. In 1808–9 he was again in Spain as minister plenipotentiary to the Central Junta, who for his services created him "Marquez de la Union." This was the end of his public career, although he was afterwards offered the post of ambassador to Russia, and twice refused a peerage. Later, he went to reside in Malta for the health of his wife, and there he died in 1846. His literary works were brilliant. Outstanding among them are his translations of Aristophanes, and he shares with Canning the authorship of the Friend of Humanity and the Knife-Grinder. The ratebooks for 1799–1800 show "John Hookham Frere" at No. 29, but those for 1801–3 give only "John Frere." There can be little doubt that the same person is intended, but from the fact that Frere was in Portugal and Spain from about October, 1800, until August, 1804, it is evident that his actual residence at the house must have been brief.
Sir George Gilbert Scott was born in 1811. He was articled to an architect, and the early part of his career was marked by a large practice among the recently constituted boards of guardians, for whom he produced many buildings of the workhouse class. He gradually built up an ecclesiastical connection, designing many churches. It was however chiefly in the field of church restoration that he established his fame. Among works of a different type may be mentioned the Albert Memorial, the Foreign and Home and Colonial Offices and St. Pancras station and hotel. He was knighted in 1872 and died in 1878. "In 1838, shortly after his marriage, Scott established himself at 20 (now 31), (fn. n28) Spring Gardens, where he continued to conduct his work till the end of his life." (Dict. Nat. Biog.)
In the Council's collection are:
(fn. n29) General exterior to Spring Gardens (photograph).
(fn. n29) Detail of doorcase to No. 29 (photograph).
(fn. n29) General view of staircase to No. 31 (photograph).
(fn. n29) Detail of cast lead cistern (drawing).