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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XVIII.—Nos. 59 and 60 LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS (LINDSEY HOUSE).
General description and date of structure.
The usual account (fn. 1) of the origin of Lindsey House is to the effect that it was built in 1640 for Robert Bertie, 1st Earl of Lindsey, who died from wounds received at the battle of Edgehill in 1642. While, however, there is every reason to believe that the date assigned to the house is correct, it is quite certain that the remainder of the statement is untrue.
The first reference to this house occurs in a deed, (fn. 2) dated 9th March, 1641, wherein William Newton sells to Sir David Cunningham, Kt. and Bt., of London, for £300, "all that messuage or tenement lately erected in and built upon part of … Pursefeild by the said Sir David, conteyning from north to south 59 feet … abutting north upon a messuage lately also erected and built upon other part of … Pursefeild by Monsieur Tartro, and on the south abutting upon a messuage lately erected upon Pursefeild by Sir Edward Bellingham, Kt., late deceased, and distant from the south side of Queenes Street to the north side thereof 227 feet."
Apparently Cunningham had only erected the house as a speculation, with the idea of selling it as soon as possible, for three months later a further transfer of the property was effected. By indenture, (fn. 3) dated 14th June, 1641, Sir David Cunningham sold the premises for £4,000, to "Henry Murray, Esq., one of the Groomes of His Majesties Bedchamber, and Ann, his wife, one of the daughters of the late Paull, Viscount Bayning of Sudbury." With these facts before us it may be stated quite definitely that there is no truth in the statement that the house was built for the first Earl of Lindsey. In fact, the residence of the Earls of Lindsey at the time and for many years after was in Canon Row, Westminster, and it is to this or the later house in Chelsea that the references to "Lindsey House" met with during the 17th century occur. (fn. 4) There is no trace of the name "Lindsey House" being applied to these premises before the occupation of the fourth Earl of Lindsey early in the 18th century.
From the question of the owner of the house, we now turn to that of the architect. Colin Campbell (fn. 5) states that the house was designed by Inigo Jones, and Ralph (fn. 6) asserts that it was built on his model. Both these authors wrote a considerable time after the erection of the premises, and no contemporary evidence has been found to verify their statements. Nevertheless, if history fails to identify the design with Inigo Jones, the building shows many characteristics of his work, and as such it has been accepted by leading architects to the present day.
The exterior (Plate 77) is of stone and brick, with a portion of the cornice in wood. Nearly the whole of the front has been stuccoed and painted over at a subsequent period. It is pleasing in its broad effect, and must have formed a fine central feature to the original buildings of Arch Row. Six pilasters, of the Ionic order, decorate the walls, and rest upon pedestals, standing upon a string cornice at the first floor level. The pilasters are diminished as they rise and are given an entasis, this "diminishing" somewhat reduces the size and importance of the capitals. "Swags" are introduced in the capitals similar to those in Nos. 51 and 52. The fine entablature and parapet dominate the composition, the bold pediments which adorn the first floor windows greatly adding to the general effect. The central pediment which, according to the elevation given by Campbell, was originally adorned by a crowned female bust, is specially noticeable. The window openings, which now come down to the floor level, are shown as commencing at the level of the bases of the pilasters, the architraves resting upon pedestals of similar design to those beneath the pilasters. He also shows all the sills of the second floor windows in line, and in keeping with that of the centre window. The increase in the size of the windows has somewhat destroyed the breadth of this fine facade.
Two noble piers (Plates 78 and 79) of brick, surmounted by lofty, carved stone terminals, stand in the courtyard and were justly praised by Hatton in 1708. This author stated that there were six of these with railings between. (fn. 7) If the four others were of the size of the two remaining, the space between would hardly have permitted sufficient width for the passage of carriages and would have overpowered the design behind. It is probable that the other piers were of smaller size if they ever existed, but in the Wilton House picture (Plate 6) and the design for the medallion (Plate 7) two piers are shown in the centre, flanked by the wall of the courtyard. It may therefore be suggested that these piers were removed to their present position when the premises were divided in 1751–2, and the iron railings substituted for the wall in front.
A plan of the house (Plate 80) is extracted from Colin Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus (1717), and presents the ground floor as it existed about that time. It represents a good 17th century town house. The front doorway gave direct access to a large front hall, and behind was a fairly large well-staircase. In addition, there was a service staircase leading to the upper floors, and another in the front portion affording access to the basement.
The rate-books show that in 1751 or 1752 the premises were divided, making, in fact, two 18th-century houses. The alterations to the interior incidental to this were probably carried out by Isaac Ware. The general planning of these alterations is shown on the survey plans (Plate 80) made by Sir John Soane in 1802, and preserved in the Soane Museum.
The staircase in No. 59 is of oak, with interesting carved brackets (Plate 81). This staircase occupies about two-thirds of the space taken up with the former staircase, and a portion of the original cornice still remains on the top floor; its boldness contrasts with the smallness of the later work. The staircase of No. 60 is of stone and of very ordinary design.
On the south side of the ground floor front room of No. 59 is an ornamental alcove (Plate 82). The Dictionary of Architecture attributes it to Isaac Ware about 1759, probably from the fact that the Shiffner Arms, which it bears, are of that date. Ware, in his book, Designs of Inigo Jones and Others, shows a somewhat similar alcove of his own design. The alcove is enriched with Ionic columns supporting a segmental vault. In the tympanum is a well-carved coat of arms bearing on its dexter side the arms of Henry Shiffner, and on the sinister what were probably the arms of his wife, Mary Jackson, daughter of the Governor of Bengal. (fn. 8)
The doorway in the same room, shown on Plate 83, may have been designed by Ware as part of his alterations, but the chimneypiece appears to date from the occupation of Sir Spencer Perceval, between 1791 and 1808. Adorning this chimneypiece is a medallion head, with inscription "A · VITEL · GERM · IX." The room behind is panelled, and has a boldly-moulded marble chimneypiece, which appears to be contemporary with the erection of the premises.
There is an interesting marble chimneypiece (Plate 84) in the ground floor back room of No. 59, which in style agrees with the alcove, and may therefore date from the alterations of the premises in 1752. It is ornamented with Ionic columns and entablature. In the centre is a projecting panel sculptured in relief representing one of Æsop's Fables, The Bear and the Beehive. It follows the design of Francis Barlow, published first in 1665–1666, and reprinted in 1687. In Soane's plan (Plate 80) this chimneypiece appears to be shown in the northern back room and was probably removed by him to the position it now occupies. (fn. c1)
On Plate 79 are details of woodwork from No. 60, and the following are a few of the more important features. In the ground floor front room are a carved marble chimneypiece, carved wood doorways, enriched mouldings and plaster cornice. The middle room on the same floor has a carved wood chimneypiece and good joinery details. The first floor front room contains a carved chimneypiece, carved architraves to the windows and mahogany doors, and in the second floor back room is a carved wood chimneypiece.
On the plans drawn by Soane, dated 1802, several openings are shown in the party wall, entailing a few minor alterations; these appear to have been made by Sir Spencer Perceval. After the Perceval occupation the two parts were separated and the openings were again closed.
Condition of repair.
In March, 1652, Murray sold the premises to the Hon. Charles Rich, (fn. 9) second son of Robert, Earl of Warwick. Rich had married, against her father's will, Mary Boyle, seventh daughter and thirteenth child of the first Earl of Cork. Most of their married life was spent at the residence of Rich's elder brother at Leigh's Priory, Essex. "Her house was the resort of pious puritan ministers of Essex and bishops and divines from London, and her works of charity were widely known." (fn. 10) It was apparently not very long after the purchase of the premises in Lincoln's Inn Fields (fn. 11) that she had a long and dangerous illness, after which, as soon as she was able to travel by coach, she was "removed to [her] own house in Lincoln's Inn Fields." (fn. 12) In 1659 Charles Rich, on the death of his brother, succeeded to the earldom of Warwick, and Lady Warwick records: "After the funeral of my Lord's brother, we removed from Lincoln's Inn Fields (where we then lived) to Lees." (fn. 13) The house was, however, not entirely given up, for in 1664 the whole family seem to have been resident there. The countess relates how in May of that year her only son (Charles, Lord Rich) was taken with the smallpox in the house in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and how she sent away his wife, her daughters and her husband, and shut herself up with her boy. In spite of all her care "both for his soul and body," the illness terminated fatally on the 16th of the month. After the sad event, " I was, by my dear sister Raneleigh's care and kindness to me, instantly fetched away from my own house at Lincoln's Inn Fields, where my dear child died, to her house (and never more did I enter that house; but prevailed with my lord to sell it)." (fn. 14) The earl died in 1673 and the countess five years later.
It did not take very long to dispose of the house in Lincoln's Inn Fields. By indenture dated 2nd July, 1664, the earl sold the premises to "Charles Powlett, Lord St. John of Basing, son and heir of John, Lord Marquis of Winchester," (fn. 15) whose residence it formed for the next 21 years or more. St. John succeeded his father in the marquisate in 1675. His character has been thus summed up by Burnet: "He was a man of a strange mixture; he had the spleen to a high degree, and affected an extravagant behaviour; for many weeks he would take a conceit not to speak one word; and at other times, he would not open his mouth, till such an hour of the day, when he thought the air was pure; he changed the day into night, and often hunted by torch light, and took all sorts of liberties to himself, many of which were very disagreeable to those about him. In the end of King Charles's time, and during King James's reign, he affected an appearance of folly, which afterwards he compared to Junius Brutus's behaviour under the Tarquins … though he was much hated, yet he carried matters before him with such authority and success, that he was in all respects the great riddle of the age." (fn. 16) He was created Duke of Bolton in 1689, and died in 1699.
The house was the scene of a gruesome incident in 1688, when, after Lord Russell had been beheaded in the field opposite, his body "was first caryed into Lord Marquess Winchester's house, where his head was put on, and from thence in a hearse … to Southampton House." (fn. 17)
It is doubtful, however, whether Winchester was still in occupation of the house at this time, for in 1685 he and his mother had sold it to George Holman (fn. 18) (under the name of Ambrose Holbeach) for £4,500. (fn. 19) Holman apparently let the house to Sir John Lowther, afterwards Viscount Lonsdale, one of the chief supporters of William III., for a letter is extant, dated 6th March, 1690, from Sir Daniel Fleming to Sir John Lowther, at Winchester House, Lincoln's Inn Fields. (fn. 20) In 1695 the house is shown in the jury presentment list for that year as in the occupation of "Sir Robert Holman," and a deed, dated April, 1697, states that it was then inhabited by George Holman.
In 1700 the ratebook shows that the occupier of the house was the Earl of Dorset. Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset and Earl of Middlesex, was born on 24th January, 1638, the son of Richard Sackville, 5th Earl of Dorset, and Frances, daughter of Lionel Cranfield, 1st Earl of Middlesex. In his early days, as Lord Buckhurst, he was notable for his profligate mode of life, (fn. 21) but with all his vices his natural goodness of heart and his great understanding constrained public opinion to judge him favourably. He distinguished himself by his gallantry in the naval battle with the Dutch on 3rd June, 1665, at which he was present as a volunteer. It was on this occasion that he is said to have composed the song "To all you ladies now at land." It seems not unlikely, however, that he merely touched it up. He succeeded to the title in 1677. During the reign of Charles II. he was in enjoyment of the royal favour, but on the accession of James was compelled to retire from court. At the Revolution he assisted the Princess Anne in her flight from her father's palace, and was afterwards appointed by William lord chamberlain of the household, a position which he held until 1697. In addition to his merits as a poet, he has claims to remembrance as a generous patron of letters, befriending Dryden, Butler, Wycherley, and many others. He died at Bath in January, 1706. His residence at Lincoln's Inn Fields had, however, terminated either in 1702 or 1703.
The next resident at Nos. 59 and 60 was Robert Bertie, 4th Earl of Lindsey, whose title appears for the first time in the sewer ratebooks in the Council's possession under the year 1703. At first he was only occupier, not owner, but in August, 1704, Lady Anastasia Holman, widow of George Holman, sold (fn. 22) the house to the earl for £4,000. It is obviously from the fact that the house thus became the town residence of the earls of Lindsey that it obtained its name of Lindsey House. In 1701 Lord Willoughby de Eresby, as he had up till then been known, had succeeded to the earldom of Lindsey and to his father's position as lord great chamberlain. In December, 1706, he was made a marquess. In 1715 he was created Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven, and the house is said to have been in consequence known for some time subsequently as Ancaster House. (fn. 23) He died in July, 1723, and was succeeded in the title and in possession of the house by his son Peregrine, who died on New Year's Day, 1742.
The ratebook for 1743 shows "Lady Mary Bertie" as in occupation of the house. This doubtless refers to Mary, eldest daughter of Peregrine. Early in 1748 she married, her husband being Samuel Gretehead, of Guy's Cliff, in Warwickshire. At first sight this would appear to fit in admirably with the evidence of the ratebooks, since the book for 1747 is the last which contains her name. It is doubtful, however, whether the entry is entirely to be trusted, as the house is distinctly marked "Empty" in 1745, and in 1746 no name appears in respect of the premises.
In 1748 the occupier of the house was, according to the ratebook, the "Duke of Somerset." Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, owed all his wealth and much of his importance to his marriage, in 1682, to Elizabeth Percy, sole heiress of the last Earl of Northumberland. He took a prominent part in ceremonials at court, for which his fine person well fitted him. In 1687 he lost his position of first lord of the bedchamber and the command of his regiment by refusing to undertake the duty of introducing at court the papal nuncio. He took arms on behalf of the Prince of Orange in 1688, and both he and his wife became and remained great favourites with Anne, in spite of Swift's persistent efforts ("Beware of carrots from Northumberland," (fn. 24) in allusion to the colour of Her Grace's hair) to bring about the latter's dismissal from her position as mistress of the robes. Two years after the accession of George I. he threw up his court appointments in disgust at the arrest of his sonin–law, (fn. 25) and thenceforth he devoted himself to ruling his family and estates. "He became known as 'the proud duke,' and the tradition of his pride is kept alive by the anecdote that when his second duchess once tapped him with her fan, he remarked, 'Madam, my first duchess was a Percy, and she never took such a liberty.'" (fn. 26) He died at his seat in Sussex in December, 1748. Under date of 15th December, Horace Walpole writes: "Old Somerset is at last dead. … To Lady Frances, the eldest, (fn. 27) he has additionally given the fine house built by Inigo Jones, in Lincoln's Inn Fields (which he had bought of the Duke of Ancaster for the Duchess), hoping that his daughter will let her mother live with her." (fn. 28)
Spencer Perceval was the second son of John Perceval, 2nd Earl of Egmont, and was born in Audley Square on 1st November, 1762. His private income being but slender, he took up the profession of the law. In 1790 and 1791 his resources were increased by the gift of the deputy-recordership of Northamptonshire and of a small sinecure in the Mint. In August of the former year he married, and, shortly afterwards, he took up his residence at No. 59, Lincoln's Inn Fields, his name appearing in respect of the house in the ratebook for 1791. (fn. 29) He now began to obtain Crown briefs, and in 1796 was made king's counsel. In the same year he first became a member of the House of Commons. During the next few years his political influence steadily grew, and on Addington succeeding Pitt in 1801, Perceval was made solicitorgeneral, and in the following year attorney-general. During the Addington administration he displayed great debating talents, and was persuaded to retain office on Pitt's return to power, but resigned on the latter's death in 1806. In the new ministry formed by the Duke of Portland, Perceval became chancellor of the exchequer, and on 25th June, 1807, gave the usual ministerial dinner to hear the king's speech read at his house in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which had then for four years consisted of No. 60 as well as No. 59. Shortly afterwards he left the house. Of his subsequent life only the slightest outline can here be given. On the whole he was successful in his financial administration. On becoming prime minister in 1809 he found himself practically without support, and "yet he carried on the government single-handed, prosecuted the war, defeated his opponents and disarmed his critics." (fn. 30) On 11th May, 1812, he was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons by John Bellingham, a bankrupt, who had a grievance against the government.
Old Prints, Views, etc.,
Coloured print in Habershon's Records of Old London.
Engraving in Colin Campbell's Vitruvius Britannicus.
Engraving in London and Its Environs, 1761.
Engraving in Roland Paul's Vanishing London.
Photograph by Society for Photographing Relics of Old London.
In the Council's collection are:—
* Front elevation (photograph).
* Brick and stone piers to forecourt (photograph).
* Brick and stone piers to forecourt (measured drawing).
Wrought iron railings to front (measured drawing).
* Plan of ground floor about 1717 (copy of engraving).
* Plans of ground and first floors in 1802 (copy of measured drawing).
* No. 59. Carved oak bracket to staircase (photograph).
* No. 59. Alcove in front room on ground floor (photograph).
* No. 59. Front room on ground floor showing chimney-piece (photograph).
No. 59. Front room (N.W. portion), on ground floor (photograph).
* No. 59. Chimney piece in back room on ground floor (photograph).
No. 60. Staircase (photograph).
No. 60. Marble chimney-piece in front room on ground floor (photograph).
No. 60. Marble chimney-piece in front room on first floor (photograph).
* No. 60. Details of carved woodwork on first floor (measured drawing).