Survey of London: Volume 18, St Martin-in-The-Fields II: the Strand. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1937.
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CHAPTER 5: HUNGERFORD MARKET AND THE SITE OF CHARING CROSS RAILWAY STATION
Of old Hungerford House, which for two and a half centuries occupied a site to the east of Brewer's, now Hungerford Lane, not a trace remains, nor is there any view from which its appearance can be reconstructed. The ground owned by the Hungerfords had a frontage of about 100 feet to the street and extended backward as far as the river, but the house can have occupied only a small part of this area since a large portion was let out in small tenements in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (fn. n1) Two houses belonging to Westminster Abbey bounded it on either side, the Reindeer, later the Prince's Arms, on the west, and the Lion Inn on the east. Hungerford House itself owed a quit rent to the Keeper of St. Mary's Chapel in the Abbey, who painstakingly recorded (fn. 152) the fact each year though no payment seems ever to have been made. The non-payment of their dues is in keeping with the general character of the Hungerfords, whose family record for dishonesty, vice and violence seems to have been exceptional even in the unsqueamish age in which they flourished. Their family tree, part of which is given on the next page, may perhaps provide the eugenist with a reason for some of their more unpleasant characteristics.
The first of the Hungerfords to occupy a house in the Strand was Sir Walter, afterwards 1st Baron Hungerford, who seems to have taken up his residence there in 1422–3 at the time when he became a member of the Protector Gloucester's Council. (fn. n2) Hungerford had gained a reputation in the French wars (he is said to have beaten the King of France in a duel outside Calais in 1401), and his loyalty to the Lancastrian cause made him a trusted servant of Henry V. He was appointed steward of the household of the infant King Henry VI in 1424 and was created Baron Hungerford in January, 1425–6. In the following year he held the office of treasurer. He died in 1449 and was buried in the iron chapel which he had erected in Salisbury Cathedral and which still survives. His title and estates passed in succession to his son Robert (died 1459) and his grandson of the same name. The latter, when only about 10 years old, married Eleanor, daughter and heiress of Sir William de Moleyns, and was summoned to Parliament as Lord Moleyns. He supported the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses, and after a life of violence and bloodshed was executed at Newcastle by the Yorkists in his thirty-fourth year. (fn. n3) His son, Sir Thomas Hungerford, met a like fate in 1469 for conspiring with the Earl of Warwick to restore Henry VI. The family estates were confiscated, and Hungerford House was granted to Ann, the widow of Humphrey Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, who had married as her second husband Walter Blount, 1st Baron Mountjoy, an ardent supporter of Edward IV. Mountjoy died in 1474, but his widow continued in occupation of Hungerford House until her death in 1479. (fn. n4) In 1472 the reversion of "Hungerford Inne" had been granted (fn. 4) to Ann's youngest son by her first marriage, John Stafford, Earl of Wiltshire, but he died before his mother, and no information concerning the ownership of the house between 1479 and 1485 has come to light. Upon the accession of Henry VII the attainders on Sir Robert and Sir Thomas Hungerford were reversed, and some of their forfeited estates, including the house in the Strand, were restored to Sir Robert's youngest son, Walter, who had been knighted on the battlefield of Bosworth for having slain, in hand-to-hand combat, Sir Robert Brackenbury, Lieutenant of the Tower. In 1497 Sir Walter Hungerford assisted in quelling Perkin Warbeck's rising, and in 1503 he was present at the marriage of Princess Margaret with the King of Scotland. He died in 1516. His son, Edward, who was one of Henry VIII's attendants at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, married as his second wife Agnes Cotell. The latter had strangled her first husband, John Cotell, and seems to have married her second husband almost immediately after burning the body of her first. No proceedings were taken against her until after Sir Edward Hungerford's death, when she and one of her accomplices were convicted. They were hanged at Tyburn in February, 1523–4.
Among the State papers is an inventory of goods "belongyng unto Dame Agnes Hungerforde wydoe late atteynted of felonye and murder" The goods include "vij bedds wt all thyng longyng therto, iiijer potts, iiij pannys, ij kettylls" and other "housholde stuffe … remaynyng in my husbond house at Charyng crosse." A list of Sir Edward Hungerford's clothing includes: "A Gowne of blake velvet lynyde wt sarsenet … a doblet of yoloe saten and ye forsleves of it of cloth of golde … a jackett of blake tyncell ye whiche cost xv li … a cote of cremesen velvet leyde under wt cloythe of sylver … a doblet of blake satten the forsleves and the plagards of tyncell … a coote of blake saten garded wt iij [pieces] of blake velvet furred" and "a bonnet of blake velvet and a broyche on hym." (fn. 154)
Sir Walter Hungerford, afterwards 1st Baron Hungerford of Heytesbury, the son of Sir Edward by his first wife, seems to have inherited all the worst qualities of his forefathers. At some time prior to 1532 he married as his third wife Elizabeth, the daughter of John, Lord Hussey of Sleaford, whom he treated with great brutality, and whom, when he failed to dispose of her by other means, he tried to poison. As Thomas Cromwell's agent in Wiltshire he took an active part in imprisoning and denouncing traitors, (fn. 7) but in 1540 was himself suspected of treason and attainted. He was accused of employing men to practise conjuring in order to shorten the King's life and of committing unnatural offences, and in July of that year he suffered on Tower Hill in company with his former patron Cromwell.
Lady Hungerford's father had been executed for treason a year or so before her husband, and but for her marriage settlement she would have found herself in a desperate plight. Fortunately for her the Court of Augmentations confirmed the settlement by which several Cornish and Berkshire manors and "one mese with a garden called Hungerford Ynne near Charing Cross" were granted to her for life. (fn. 155) She afterwards married Sir Robert Throckmorton.
Queen Mary reversed the attainder on Sir Walter Hungerford and granted (fn. 4) to his son, Sir Walter Hungerford the younger, who was known as the "Knight of Farleigh," the reversion of the property held by his mother in dower. (fn. n6) His domestic life was no happier than his father's, for in 1570 he charged his second wife, Anne, the daughter of Sir John Dormer, with trying to poison him and with adultery. (fn. 119) Lady Hungerford was acquitted on both counts, and as her husband refused to pay costs he was committed to the Fleet. During the last year of his life he went through a form of marriage with his mistress, Margery Brighte. He died in 1596 leaving his property to his brother Edward, from whom Lady Hungerford afterwards managed to recover reasonable dower.
Sir Walter Hungerford's daughter, Lucy, married Sir Anthony Hungerford of Black Bourton, Oxfordshire, a descendant of Walter, first Baron Hungerford, the first owner of Hungerford House. Sir Edward Hungerford, who died without issue in 1607, left his property to his grand-nephew, the child of this marriage, and his namesake. (fn. n7) At the outbreak of the Civil War Sir Edward Hungerford the younger was put in command of the Parliamentary forces in Wiltshire, where he carried out his duties with unpleasant zeal. At his death in 1648 his interest in Hungerford House passed to his royalist half-brother, Sir Anthony Hungerford, whose son, another Sir Edward (the family practised an inconvenient economy in nomenclature), was the last occupant of the house.
The last of the Hungerfords gained a reputation for extreme
extravagance (he is said on one occasion to have paid 500 guineas for a wig)
and he quickly worked through his patrimony. The success of Covent
Garden Market, a spontaneous growth on the Duke of Bedford's estate,
which had been officially authorised in 1669, probably inspired him with
the idea of using the site of Hungerford House for a similar purpose. (fn. n8) In
1678 he obtained (fn. n9) an Act of Parliament (fn. 158) which, after stating that his mansion
and the houses and shops adjoining it were "soe old and ruinous that the
same could not be rebuilt without great expence," granted him authority
to let the ground on building leases and to keep a market there on Mondays,
Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year. The market was opened
in 1682 with good hopes of success:
Thriftless himself, but lyke the goode manure,
His rotten waste did fertilise the lande,
And others' thriftye toile hath wrought the cure,
A goodlie mercatt joines the busie Strand. (fn. 159)
It seems, however, that the rhymster chose the wrong metaphor, that of the corrupt tree would have been more appropriate. In spite of its easy access to river and street and the steady growth of population in the neighbourhood, the market languished. In 1685 Sir Christopher Wren and Sir Stephen Fox, the new proprietors, obtained a licence (fn. 160) to sell grain there, but with little resulting increase of custom. Wren and Fox's trustees sold the market to Henry Wise in March, 1717–18, (fn. 161) and it remained in the hands of his descendants until its acquisition by the Hungerford Market Company in 1830. A view of the market-house, which is said to have been designed by Wren, is given in Plate 24a. The upper room there was for a time used as a school for the charity children of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and afterwards as a French chapel. (fn. 129)
By the beginning of the nineteenth century the old market and its surroundings had become an eyesore, "a deplorably dirty-looking piece of ground, flanked by squalid houses, and little better than a monster dust-heap, and a cemetery for the dead dogs and cats of the neighbourhood," but undeterred by the previous failure to create a market a number of speculators formed the Hungerford Market Company, which was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1830. (fn. 162) Charles Fowler, the architect of the new Covent Garden Market, was commissioned to design the buildings. The water stairs and quay, which were "constructed in granite on a handsome scale," (fn. 129) projected 150 feet farther into the river than the old embankment, and Villiers Street wharf was bought in order to provide an access through Villiers Street to the Strand. Part of Charles Court was also added to the original site, and the line of Hungerford Street was moved farther east so that it led to the centre of the market. The river frontage was appropriated for a fish market which it was hoped would break the monopoly "of that article which [had] been too long tolerated at Billingsgate," since the removal of old London Bridge made it possible for fishing boats to come direct to the wharf. The houses on either side of the fish market were used as taverns. The great hall was supported by a double range of vaults. These were on a level with and opened into the fish market and were designed to be used as warehouses. Shops were built along both sides of the hall and in the galleries above, while the central space was left clear for stall-holders. A view of the new market is given on Plate 25b.
There was a ceremonial opening on 2nd July, 1833, when the ascent of a balloon was among the attractions provided. (fn. 163) Everything possible was done by the "spirited proprietors" (fn. 164) to bring customers to the market—a fleet of steamboats were launched which plied between Hungerford Wharf and the City, Westminster, Vauxhall, Greenwich and Woolwich, while Hungerford Suspension Bridge was in part designed to bring housewives from Southwark and Lambeth thither—but in spite of all the efforts of the proprietors the enterprise was largely a failure. In 1851, the year of the Great Exhibition, Hungerford Hall was erected for lectures and shows of various sorts, but in April, 1854, during an exhibition of a Panorama of the Duke of Wellington's Funeral, it was destroyed by a fire caused by the carelessness of the boys employed to light the gas. (fn. 165) The fire also caused considerable damage to the market hall. In 1862 the whole of the property was bought by the Charing Cross Railway Company for the formation of Charing Cross Station. A plan of the market is given on Plate 26.
Properties other than Hungerford Market whose sites are now Covered by Charing Cross Railway Station
(i) The Reindeer, later the Prince's Arms.—A narrow strip of ground to the east of Brewer's (now Hungerford) Lane and with a 14-foot frontage to the Strand was from the fifteenth century (and perhaps earlier) until 1864, when it was bought by the railway company, in the possession of Westminster Abbey. In 1480 it was in lease to John Evingar, the lessee of the Brewhouse adjoining (see p. 28). Just after the dissolution of the monasteries "Kateryn" Griffith, widow, whose husband David had had a lease of this property from the Abbey, brought an action in the Court of Requests (fn. 166) against George Salisbury, "servyngman," who, she complained, had put her "out of hir howse … cast hyr goods out in the Kyng's highway bette hyr and maymyd hyr and causyd hyr husband by force therof to take an Inward thought and dyed." Salisbury had also seized some of the fittings of the house, which included "a grett feyre carvyd Cuppbord," "a fayr Longe Settell," "a portall and other the particion of hyr shoppe" and "the glass wyndowes in hyr hall and the parlor." The successive tenants of the house can be traced in the Abbey muniments, but none of them seems to have been of note. The house was called the "Reyne deere" in 1603 in the will of Humfrey Stile, (fn. 167) but in a Chancery action (fn. 168) concerning the lease brought by the heirs of Thomas Sheaf, "doctor in Physique," who was the tenant of the house from 1634 until 1657, (fn. n10) it was referred to as the "Prince's Armes."
In 1763 Henry Thrale, brewer, of Southwark, the husband of Hester Lynch Salusbury (afterwards Mrs. Piozzi) and friend of Dr. Johnson, was the lessee, but not the occupier. (fn. 169) It was demolished circa 1864.
(ii) The Lion or the Greyhound, afterwards the One Tun Tavern.—Like the Reindeer this house, which lay immediately to the east of Hungerford House, belonged to Westminster Abbey. It was mentioned in a Chancery suit (fn. 170) concerning the Bell, circa 1480, but the first actual lease of it which has been found was dated 1503 (fn. 152) and was made to Robert Gauntlet, brewer of Westminster, and Agnes, his wife. A barn and a close near Charing Cross were also granted by this lease. Both properties were demised to John Pomfret, the lessee of the Red Lion in King Street, Westminster, (fn. n11) in 1512, (fn. 152) and in 1531 at Pomfret's death they descended to his son-in-law, John Benet. (fn. 171) The close and barn were sold (fn. 172) to the King in that year, (fn. n12) but the Lion remained in the possession of the Abbey, among whose muniments the names of the tenants can be found. Robert Huyck, doctor of medicine, who held the property during the greater part of Elizabeth's reign, undertook by his lease, granted in 1563, (fn. 152) to make a "good and sufficient wharf at the end of the tenement towards the Thames." (fn. n13)
Towards the end of the sixteenth century the sign of the house was changed for a time to that of the Greyhound. Marie Scuddamore and Thomas Cardiffe of Helme, Hertfordshire, who obtained a lease in 1628, sublet the property, which by that time had other tenements built upon it beside the inn. Cardiffe's son, another Thomas, mortgaged his lease in 1639 to Alexander Holt, "citizen and goldsmith of London," for £650 in order to raise a regiment for King Charles. Holt foreclosed on the mortgage while Cardiffe was away fighting and obtained a fresh lease from the Abbey. (fn. 173)
At the time of the erection of Hungerford Market, Sir Edward Hungerford appears to have bought up Holt's interest in the premises, for he pulled down the Lion Inn and built three small houses fronting the Strand, and a tavern behind them, and opened a court under one of the Strand houses and on two sides of the tavern into Greene's Lane. This court is called Globe Alley on Morden and Lea's map (see p. 27), and the tavern was therefore probably known as the Globe for a time, but in 1691 it was called the One Tun Tavern, and this name it and its successor retained until circa 1859, when the site was cleared for the erection of Charing Cross Station. One Tun Passage is shown on the plan of New Hungerford Market (Plate 26). The yard of the inn, extending to the river, was leased to Sir Stephen Fox in 1678, and was later absorbed into the site of Hungerford Market.
(iii) The Bell.—Before the formation of Hungerford Market and the break-up of York House, a lane, Bell Yard, led from the Strand to the river, dividing the two properties. Like Hartshorn Lane and Brewer's Lane, Bell Yard was originally the yard of an inn and only slowly developed into a public thoroughfare. The first mention that has been found of it is in a Chancery suit brought by Gilbert Leverick and Elene his wife about 1480. (fn. 170) They, in fifteenth-century language, accused John Keynes, brewer, of doing a "midnight flit" (to the next-door house, the White Lion) in order to avoid paying for repairs to the Bell Inn, which he held of them by lease. Leverick himself was not above a little sharp practice, for he held the premises in right of his wife, and after her death John More, who was entitled to the reversion, had to resort to law in order to obtain possession. (fn. 174) John More, alias Meryden, left this property (fn. 175) to his nephew and namesake, who, in 1506, sold (fn. 176) it to John Norres, the owner of the Axe and the Rose on the opposite side of the Strand. Thomas Stockwood, who was probably the grandson of the lessee of the Brewhouse (see p. 28), and the great-grandson of John Norres, (fn. n14) sold the Bell in 1564 to William Downes, "citizen and Merchaunte Tayloure of London," with "all that garden grounde nowe devyded into sixe severall gardens with divers houses, buyldings, stables, gardens, orchards (etc.) lienge … betwene … the capitall mancion wherein Sr Nicholas Bacon knighte … dothe nowe lye in and nowe or late called Yorke place on theste parte the tenement of the Dean and Chapter of Westmr called the Grehounde nowe in the tenure of John Calton on the weste parte and abbuttinge on the … River of Thames on the southe and the highe streete there on the northe parte." (fn. 179)
There is a mention of the Bell Inn in 1612 when the Earl of Rutland paid the landlord £5 for stabling and feeding his horses. (fn. 180) Bell Yard is given in the ratebooks for the first time in 1628, but it is mentioned before that date as the address of several persons in receipt of poor relief from the parish. In 1650, when William Downes, the grandson or great-grandson of his Elizabethan namesake, sold the property to James Waterer, (fn. 181) there were, in addition to the inn, 12 houses in the yard, one of which was said to be occupied by Downes. There was also a wharf to the river.
Waterer's daughter, Barbara, married Sir Thomas Mompesson, (fn. 182) and their son and grandson, Sir Thomas and Charles Mompesson, following the prevailing fashion, proceeded in 1694 to develop the property. The ground was let on a building lease to Robert Offley and John Hooper, who demolished the old premises and began to erect new two-storey houses there. Bell Yard was changed to Charles Court, probably as a compliment to the heir, but it was some years before it was completed, for the contractors, although they mortgaged their lease, had insufficient money and "ye materialls in severall of ye houses were dampnifyed and spoyled for want of finnishing ye houses." (fn. 183) The difficulties were finally overcome, and in 1720 Strype was able to describe Charles Court as "a very handsome new-built Court, with Houses fit for good Inhabitants, having a Stone Pavement down to the Thames, where there is a Pair of Stairs for the conveniency of the Water. Out of this Court there is a Passage into Villiers-street, and another into Hungerford Market." The wharf and lower end of the court were afterwards taken over by the York Buildings Waterworks Company, but the rest of the court remained intact until circa 1830, when the lower half was bought by the New Hungerford Market Company in connection with their new buildings. Hungerford Arcade, extending into Villiers Street, was built on part of it. The remainder of the court was bought by the Charing Cross Railway Company, and Charing Cross Station now covers the whole of the site.
York Buildings Waterworks.
The break-up of York House and Garden into streets of moderate-sized houses circa 1670–80 (see p. 57), a development typical of what was going on throughout the neighbourhood, made the problem of water supply a pressing one. The City supply which had been tapped by the larger householders of Westminster at the beginning of the century was quite inadequate to meet the new demands upon it, and in any case was jealously guarded by the City authorities. There was therefore opportunity for the growth of private enterprises. One of the earliest of these was the York Buildings Waterworks Company. (fn. n15) In 1675 Ralph Bucknall and Ralph Wayne (fn. n16) obtained a licence (fn. n17) to erect waterworks near the river upon part of York House Garden. A piece of ground at the bottom of Charles Court and Villiers Street, the site of which is shown on the plan of Hungerford Market (Plate 26), was purchased, and the buildings erected. The property was at first divided into 12 shares, but the company was perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy and the number of shares was continually being increased. A fire broke out in the waterhouse in July, 1684, and burnt 12 houses in Villiers Street, Lord Willoughby's house being "blown up, furniture and all" to prevent the fire spreading further. The waterworks were entirely burnt in another fire in 1690. In the following year the company was incorporated by Act of Parliament and the buildings re-erected. A view of them is given on Plate 31.
De Saussure, a Swiss, who was in England in 1725–29, found the "abundant" water supply of London a cause for great admiration. "In every street there is a large principal pipe made of oak wood, and little leaden pipes carry water into all the houses. Every private individual may have one or two fountains in his house, according to his means, and pays so much a year for each—these fountains giving three hours' water in every twenty-four. Besides the pipes there are in many streets pumps and wells, where poor people who cannot afford to pay for water can obtain it for nothing." De Saussure found the York Buildings Waterworks machinery very "curious," a view which would be shared by modern engineers. "Smoke issuing with force through a little tube, and corresponding with a large and tightly covered boiler full of boiling water, sets in motion a large piece of machinery, composed of wheels, counterpoise, and pendulum, which in their turn cause two large pumps to work continually. This piece of machinery and the two pumps are placed at the foot of a wooden tower, about one hundred feet in height, its breadth diminishing after the manner of pyramids, gradually.
"At the summit of this tower, which is octagonal, there is a small leaden cistern or bath, which receives the water the pumps send up, and from thence it flows into the great reservoir or pond of Marylebone. The inventor of this machinery is a very clever mathematician, Dr. Desaiguilliéres, celebrated for his physical experiments and his hydraulic inventions." This premature steam-engine had but a short existence. In September, 1731, it was announced that "The York Buildings Company have given over working their fire-engine." Judging by contemporary accounts the York Buildings Dragon, as it was called in one pamphlet, seems to have produced more smoke than power.
During its most successful period the company is said to have supplied about 2,700 houses. In 1719–20 when the South Sea Bubble ramp was at its height, the company, which was always in want of capital, opened a subscription at Mercers' Hall for raising a fund of £1,200,000 for "purchasing forfeited and other estates in Great Britain." This new departure only increased the difficulties of the concern, which became involved in innumerable lawsuits with its creditors. In 1746 the proprietors let the waterworks on lease, an arrangement which continued for the rest of the century. In 1812, by which time there were 1,500 shareholders, the proprietors tried to improve the system by substituting iron mains for the wooden pipes, and installing a steam-engine, but the improvements failed to produce dividends, and in 1818 a 2,000-year lease of the works was sold to the New River Company. The York Buildings Company was dissolved by Act of Parliament in 1829 and all its effects sold.
Charing Cross Bridge.
In 1836 a private company obtained authority from Parliament (fn. 184) to build a "Suspension Footbridge" from Hungerford Market to Lambeth with a northern approach through the market. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who was then at work on the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol, was engaged as engineer. Hungerford Bridge, an engraving of which is reproduced on Plate25a, was not completed until 1845. It had a very brief existence, for in 1859 the Charing Cross Railway Act (fn. 185) authorised its purchase by the railway company. The new railway bridge was begun in June, 1860, and opened early in 1864. The two brick piers in the river up to the level of the railway are those originally built by Brunel. (fn. 186) Work on Clifton Suspension Bridge was abandoned in 1853 owing to lack of funds, but in 1860, after Brunel's death, a company was formed to complete it as a monument to its designer. The chains used were brought from Hungerford Suspension Bridge, which was then being demolished.
Although the name of Hungerford Bridge was in 1845 officially altered to "Charing Cross Bridge," the old name has remained in common use, and is now the only surviving reminder of the connection of the Hungerford family with this neighbourhood. (fn. n18).