Survey of London: Volume 3, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1912.
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VIII.—No. 44 LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS.
General description and date of structure.
On 17th August, 1638, William Newton sold (fn. 1) to William Goode and Daniel Charlewood, in trust for Thos. Goode and Thos. Dalwyn, a "parcell of ground lymitted, staked out … as the scite of a capitall messuage shortly to be erected … conteyning … in breadth from a building plot letten to Richard Ellis, carpenter, on the east, to another building plot letten to Ric. Banckes, freemason, on the west, 33 feet." The house which was in due course erected, and to which we may provisionally assign the date of 1639, was known as The Two Black Griffins, (fn. 2) doubtless from the circumstance that each of the two gateposts was surmounted by the figure of a black griffin. The original house seems to have been still standing when the premises were purchased by Sir William Craven in May, 1700. As, however, according to the ratebooks Sir William Craven did not enter into residence until 1702, it seems likely that the interval was occupied with the rebuilding of the premises, and the design of the existing house is consistent with such an assumption.
The exterior is of brick, with painted wood cornice (Plate 49). It has also painted floor bands and quoins. The front of the top storey is probably of later date. The door case has a segmental pediment resting upon brackets. At the second floor level there are casement windows with ornamental iron balconies. These balconies were probably fixed about the beginning of the 19th century. Additions had been made earlier in the hall on the ground floor by the application of two elaborately carved door cases and pediments. The front and back rooms on the ground and first floors, and the second floor back room, contain carved wood and composition chimneypieces. Plate 50 shows the one in the first floor back room.
The house has a beautiful oak staircase (Plate 51). The ends of the oak treads are finished by carved brackets, the balusters are twisted and have carved bases, and the newels are shaped to represent Corinthian columns. The moulded handrail has an interesting contour by reason of its being ramped to the newels, one being introduced half way up each of the two flights.
The staircase hall is deal panelled and has a carved cornice surrounding a painted ceiling (Plate 52) representing female figures and amorini against a background of sky. It is thought that this painting may be by an imitator of Thornhill.
Condition of repair.
|Sir Clipsley Crewe. (fn. 3)|
|1653.||Sir Thos. Ingram.|
|1654–7.||John Geary (Geare).|
|1657–62.||Lady Jane Hart.|
|1663–7.||Countess of Kent.|
|1668–75.||Lady Fitzhardinge. (fn. 4)|
|1676–86. (fn. 5)||"Judge Windham."|
|1687–89.||"The Lady Windham."|
|1690–9.||Sir Robert Southwell.|
|1702–8.||Sir William Craven.|
|1769–87.||M. J. Levy.|
Amabella, Countess of Kent, was the daughter of Sir Anthony Benn, Recorder of London. She married first Anthony, younger son of Francis Fane, Earl of Westmorland, and secondly, as his second wife, Henry Grey, 9th Earl of Kent, a strong parliamentarian. He died in 1651. His widow long survived him, living until 1698 and earning the title of the "Good Countess" from her charity. As, however, her son Anthony married in March, 1663, it is just possible that the Countess of Kent referred to in the ratebooks may have been his wife, Mary, daughter of 1st Baron Lucas, but this does not seem very probable. Some slight confirmation of the identification of the occupant of No. 44 with the Countess Amabella is afforded by the circumstance that the latter is mentioned in a deed (fn. 6) of 1657 as a friend of "Dame Jane Hart, widow, of Kingston," apparently the previous occupier of the house.
Sir Hugh Wyndham, the eighth son of Sir John Wyndham, of Orchard-Wyndham in Somerset, was called to the Bar in 1629. In 1654 he was created serjeant-at-law, and the same year was raised to the bench. At the Restoration his promotion was declared illegal, but he was very shortly reinstated successively as serjeant-at-law and judge, and in 1670 was knighted and made baron of the exchequer. In 1673 he was transferred to the court of common pleas. He died at Norwich while on circuit in 1684. His residence at Lincoln's Inn Fields does not appear to be known to any of his biographers.
Sir Robert Southwell, eldest son of Robert Southwell, one of the most prominent officials in the south of Ireland, was born near Kinsale on 31st December, 1635. Robert was early destined for a diplomatic career, and, after entering Lincoln's Inn in 1654, was sent on a tour in 1659–1661. In 1664 he obtained the position of a clerk to the Privy Council, and in the following year he was knighted. Shortly before this he had been appointed envoy to Portugal, and brought his mission to a satisfactory end in 1668. The same year he left England on a similar errand, and on his return in 1669 took up his residence at Spring Gardens. Other missions to Brussels and the Elector of Brandenburg followed in 1671 and 1680. At the Revolution he was made a commissioner for managing the customs, and in the following year became principal secretary of state for Ireland, which office he held until his death in 1702. From 1690 to 1695 he was president of the Royal Society. No. 44, Lincoln's Inn Fields apparently served as his town house from 1690 to 1699. (fn. 7)