Survey of London: Volume 36, Covent Garden. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1970.
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CHAPTER XI - Bedford Street and Chandos Place Area
A stone now in the garden of the Bedford Office in Bloomsbury is incised with the legend 'Here is Bedford Streete F E B' [Francis Earl of Bedford]. It bears no date, but in the parish ratebooks two or three names of residents in the street are first identifiable in 1633 and by 1640 the street was virtually filled up: it is called Bedford Street in the ratebooks from 1638. The details of the initial leases, tabulated on pages 294–5, indicate, what the ratebooks confirm, that the east side and the west side south of No. 21 were built first, under leases running from 1631, and the north-west part of the street later, under leases running from Christmas 1634.
There is evidence that between April and June 1631 the fourth Earl was obliged to alter the intended line of the street, because he had been unable to obtain the property he needed to continue it southward to the Strand. It is not clear whether the adjustment was to east or west, but the effect was to give the street only constricted access to the Strand via Half Moon Passage or Street. (fn. 5) The name of Bedford Street was subsequently extended to this southern part, almost all of which was excluded from the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden, by the enactments of 1646 and 1660.
One or two people of title and a sprinkling of 'esquires' occur in Bedford Street in the early years. Sir Francis Kynaston's aristocratic academy, the Musaeum Minervae, had a brief existence in the street c. 1635–7 (see below), and the fashionable miniaturist, John Hoskins, occupied one of the newly built houses, on the site of No. 29, from 1634 until his death in 1664. Next door at No. 30 a foreigner, Monsieur Sebastian, took in lodgers from 1637, among them Sir Henry Slingsby, whose wife died here in 1641. (fn. 6) From the beginning in 1633 there was a tavern, the Cross Keys, on the north corner with Henrietta Street. (fn. 7)
People of title disappear from the lists of ratepayers after 1666 and in the following year nine 'shops' are specifically mentioned in the ratebooks. At least one house, just south of Henrietta Street, is known to have been taken in October 1666 by an upholsterer who had been burnt out of his City premises by the Great Fire. (fn. 8) In the later 1670's the rates began to be assessed to individuals in partnership. The character of the street in the eighteenth century is indicated by Strype in 1720: 'Bedford-street, a handsome broad Street, with very good Houses, which, since the Fire of London, are generally taken up by eminent Tradesmen, as Mercers, Lacemen, Drapers, etc. . . . But the West Side of this Street is the best.' (fn. 9) Seven residents in the street are included in Mortimer's Universal Director of 1763, an apothecary, two gold- and silver-lace manufacturers, three mercers and a woollendraper.
The Bedford Office specifications for a house to be built on the site of No. 21 in 1757, which was destined by the building lessee for resale and designed to accommodate a ground-floor shop and shop front, indicates the type of substantial tradesman's house that was thought suitable to the street. It had a frontage of 20 feet and a depth of 40 feet plus 'a stack of Clossets', and was to cost the lessee (one Benoni Thacker) some £814 in addition to £150 to be spent on the area and vaults and in repairing the back buildings. Thacker was allowed to use sound timbers from the previous house. The front of grey stocks was very plain, with a stone stringcourse underlining the three windows of the second storey. The outside shutters of the ground storey, the door and 'frontispiece', and window sashes were to cost £50. Inside, the ground storey, 10 feet 6 inches high, was evidently left unfitted. The staircase, with twisted balusters in its first flight, was to have a rail-high wainscot dado to thirdstorey level. On the twelve-feet-high second storey each of the two rooms had a 'Plaine Dado and neat Moulded Empost and Base', a marble chimneypiece and (like the rear closet) a plain ceiling with a carved plaster cornice in three members: the dining-room on this storey had two pedimented doorcases. On the ten-feet-high third storey the rooms had Portland stone chimneypieces and plain plaster cornices. (fn. 10) This house was soon disposed of by Thacker to Frederick Pigou, a merchant and sometime director of the East India Company and Sun Fire Office who lived in it until 1776. (fn. 11) It probably survived until the building of the present No. 21 in 1882. (fn. 12)
Another tradesman's house was the austere corner-block at Nos. 10–11, with its attractive shop front, which was probably built about 1782– 1783 and first occupied by a grocer: (fn. 13) this was photographed and pulled down in 1910 (Plate 58a) to make way for Aldine House at Nos. 10–13.
Institutions located in Bedford Street included the Westminster Fire Office, at No. 36 from 1751 to 1795 and then at No. 20 until it moved to No. 27 King Street in 1810. A few years later No. 20 housed the Geological Society, from 1816 to 1828. (fn. 14) By 1850 this had been succeeded by the Botanical Society, but the Post Office Directory for that year indicates the very mixed character of the other occupants in the street at that time. Perhaps a third of the properties were in divided tenure. Three premises still housed gold-or livery-lace makers, but no trade or profession predominated, the occupants including skilled craftsmen, small manufacturers, professional men, tailors and dressmakers, a professor of music, a lodging-house, two schools, and, perhaps, one or two private residents. Future developments were foreshadowed by the presence of booksellers or publishers at three addresses in the street, including J. G. Bell in the grocer's old premises at No. 10. The directory for 1900 shows an increase in this class of trade, which now prevails in that part of the street not occupied by the outfitting firm of Moss Brothers. Of the original thirty-two house sites, perhaps ten may be said to survive as physical entities. None of the surviving buildings is earlier than the 1860's.
Ratepaying occupants in Bedford Street include: (fn. 15) Sir Thomas Bludder, 1634, member of the Long Parliament; John Hoskins, 1634–64, miniature painter; Sir Francis Kynaston, 1635–7, poet and scholar (see the Musaeum Minervae below); (Sir) John Hamilton, 1634–6, later first Lord Bargeny, royalist; Captain Brett, 1636–8; Sir John Seaton, 1637–47; Sir John Freezwell, 1640; Anthony Weldon, Esq., c. 1640–5, officer in the parliamentary army; Philip Stanhope, first Earl of Chesterfield, 1644, 1656, captured royalist officer who was allowed to remain on parole at his house in Covent Garden in lieu of being committed to the Tower; Lady Temple, c. 1644; Colonel Dewet, 1644; Sir Gilbert Pickering, 1645, member of the Long Parliament; Lady Richardson, 1647; Captain Millward, 1650–1; Colonel William Wotten (Witten, Wetton), 1653–7; Captain Samuel Hoare, 1662–8; Dr. Francis Glisson, 1663–6, Regius Professor of Physic at Cambridge; Sir Richard Franklin, 1663–6; Captain Parry, 1664– 1665; Dr. Jonah Best, 1675–6; Colonel John Pinchbeck, 1675–8; Captain Lewis Billingsley, 1677–80; John Bevis, 1733, ? astronomer; MajorGeneral Hargreave, 1737–49; Cary Creed, 1738–59, etcher; James Quin, 1748–51, actor; Westminster Fire Office, 1751–95, at No. 36, and 1795–1810 at No. 20; Rev. George Farran, 1764–6; Abraham Langford, 1765–9, auctioneer and playwright; Richard Yates, 1768–73, ? comedian; John Mortimer, 1770–4, historical painter; William Duesbury and Company, 1774– 1799, Derby china manufacturers and Duesbury and Keene, 1800–6, adjacent to Henrietta Street premises, see page 232; Henry Oldfield, 1787–92, ? antiquary; James Dickson, 1795–9, probably the botanist; John Nost Sartorius, 1806–14, animal painter; John Taylor, 1818–20, ? miscellaneous writer; John Gideon Millingen, 1836, physician and writer; James Warren Childe, 1839–51, miniature painter; John Gray Bell, 1851–4, bookseller; Alexander Macmillan, 1864–72 at No. 16 and 1873–97 at Nos. 29–30, bookseller and publisher and brother of Daniel Macmillan, latterly as Macmillan and Company; Frederick Warne, 1866, publisher; Edward Arnold, 1891– 1905, publisher; G. P. Putnam and Sons, 1891– 1936, publishers; J. M. Dent, 1898–1911 at Nos. 29–30, 1912– at Nos. 10–13, publishers; William Heinemann, 1899–1928, publishers.
Other occupants whose names do not appear in the ratebooks include: Remigius Van Leemput, 1635, painter (see also page 263); Sir Antony Ashley Cooper, 1660–1, later first Earl of Shaftesbury; (fn. 16) Edward Conway, third Viscount Conway, 1672 (fn. 17); Benjamin West, c. 1763, painter. (fn. 18)
The Musaeum Minervae
One of the first buildings to be raised in Bedford Street, on the west side opposite the churchyard gates, was for a year or two the home of an academy where young noblemen and gentlemen were educated 'in armes and artes and all generous qualities'. The chief creator of this short-lived enterprise was the poet and courtier, Sir Francis Kynaston, a well-established figure at Whitehall, esquire of the body to Charles I, and sometime Member of Parliament for Shropshire, where his formidable father, Sir Edward, still resided. His acquaintance, Samuel Hartlib the educationalist, jotted down some notes about him in 1635: 'Hee is a good scollar. An oeconomical contriving head … A devout man. Hee expects good meanes afterwards of his owne. Was Cupbearer to K. James but trembled always so that hee was faigne to resigne that office. For hee is of a modest civil and somewhat timorous disposition.' (fn. 19)
The project was nonetheless a bold one. It probably originated in 1633 or 1634, when Kynaston evidently produced a treatise (its date is uncertain) on the proposed academy, which he submitted on behalf of himself and others to the King. The treatise was approved, and recommended to a 'select committee' of the Privy Council. The matter hung fire with them, and Kynaston, who feared becoming 'the greatest Marke of Scorne, and Obloquie, and the deepest Adventurer in disgrace, in case this designe of an Academie doe miscarry', addressed an (undated) appeal for help to his friend, the Lord Keeper, Lord Coventry. The merits of the idea were pressed principally on patriotic grounds, as rendering less necessary both the education overseas of young Englishmen and the influx of foreign teachers to England: the opposition of Roman Catholics was anticipated, and also that of the Queen's French friends. Kynaston asked that the King should recommend the nobility and gentry to contribute towards the academy, and should himself 'make choyce of the 100 Schollers' who were to be the first 'academiques'. (fn. 20)
The appeal found its way into the hands of the fourth Earl of Bedford, whose markings on the copy now in the Bedford Estate Office show that he read it attentively. (fn. 21) Kynaston's words suggest that the academy's location was still unsettled; and it was possibly in consequence of the Earl's interest that Kynaston acquired at about this time the twenty-one-year lease of a property in Bedford Street (perhaps at No. 23), where he appears among the ratepayers in 1635. (fn. 22) Hartlib notes in his journal for that year, with reference to Kynaston: 'over against the Ch[urch]-Yard West Dore in Coven-Garden there is an Academy erecting by the permission of the K. who has contributed a hund. lb. too it and subscribed. The like are to doe other Nobles': he further records that Kynaston 'hase taken 2 Houses in CoventGarden and made one of both'. (fn. 19) (fn. 1) This property was not held directly from the Earl but (presumably) from his lessee or lessees (see table on pages 294–5); nevertheless, Kynaston had hopes of obtaining the freehold to give to his academy. This hope he voiced to the King in an undated petition, signed in a hand so tremulous as to substantiate Hartlib's gossip. Kynaston, having procured a staff of teachers and furnished the house, asked the King to appoint it as the first home of the academy, with Kynaston as regent. Here the scholars would be taught 'at the Cheapest Rates as possible may be'. (fn. 23) (fn. 2)
On 26 June 1635 the King issued letters patent, with all the embellishments of honorific Latin, incorporating the academy under the title of Musaeum Minervae. (fn. 24) Kynaston was said to have equipped the house with mathematical and musical instruments, books, codices, manuscripts, pictures, images, and other 'antique, rare and exotic things', both for use and ornament. Six professors assistant to the regent were named: Edward May (philosophy and medicine), Thomas Hunt (music), Nicholas Phiske (astronomy), John Spidell (geometry), Walter Salter (languages), and Michael Mason (the fencing-master or 'Professor of Defence'). Of these, Phiske had had a house in Russell Street (on or near the site of No. 7) since 1633. May and Mason also lived in Covent Garden, appearing as ratepayers there, like Kynaston, in 1635: May in King Street (at or near No. 33) and Mason in Bedford Street (probably next door to Kynaston, at No. 22). (fn. 25)
The Musaeum was thus well begun and in October 1635 Hartlib subscribed his name, perhaps in the capacity of benefactor. (fn. 19) In December a warrant passed for a gift of £100 from the King, which was paid in the following February: it is not clear whether this was additional to the royal benefaction recorded (perhaps as promise rather than performance) by Hartlib earlier. (fn. 26)
In 1636 the Musaeum's Constitutions, which the letters patent had confirmed and Lord Keeper Coventry and the Lord Chief Justices had further ratified, were published. (fn. 27) They bore the arms, featuring an open book under crossed swords, granted on 8 August 1635. (fn. 28) A dedication by the regent and professors to 'the Noble and Generous Well-wishers to Vertuous Actions, and Learning' offered an apologia for the academy. The opposition of those jealous for the privileges of the universities and the inns of court was turned aside by reference to the Musaeum's lack of power to award degrees, especially in the traditional subjects of divinity, physic and law, and to the co-existence of universities and academies in the cities of Italy, France and Germany. The Musaeum was intended rather to teach foreign languages and to inculcate the 'most usefull accomplishments of a gentleman'.
The senior staff of the Musaeum was to consist of the rector; the six professors named above (including the fencing-master), who were paid a monthly salary; an unspecified number of 'assistants'; a library-keeper; a receiver or treasurer; and a master for the boys' school which was to be attached to the academy. The regent, professors, receiver and schoolmaster were to hold their posts for life. The royal nomination of a hundred scholars had evidently not been pursued, and the first rule of the Constitutions established the qualification for the junior membership, which was to be confined to such as should 'bring a testimoniall of his Arms and Gentry, and his Coate Armour tricked on a table', and pay an entrance fee of £5 (save that the sons of benefactors should not thereby be excluded). Presumably junior members were expected to reside, as the first four vacations were normally to be spent in the Musaeum. The course of study was not directed towards any final 'examination' or diploma; indeed the 'competitive' attitude was discouraged in a rule that none should 'make any comparisons amongst themselves, but shall strive to excell in humanitie, and in giving every one his due …' The course was nevertheless of seven years' length. Those who followed it half-way were called triennals and those who completed it septennals. The election of the regent and professors, subsequent to the first, was vested in the professors and those septennals who were resident in London: election was to be by ballot-box. The regent was to be chosen from among the professors, and this element of autonomy (notable in so courtly an institution) was stressed in a rule that none should be elected regent or professor who made suit 'by power and authority'.
The Musaeum's own life was shorter than its intended course of study, but the curriculum is nevertheless of interest. Kynaston himself, as regent, was responsible for a kind of countrygentleman's course in heraldry and blazonry, 'practicall knowledge of Deeds and Evidences' and 'Principles and Processes of common Law', knowledge of antiquities, numismatics, and husbandry. May as 'Doctour of Philosophie and Physick' was to teach physiology and anatomy, and Phiske, as professor of astronomy, also optics, navigation and cosmography. The professor of geometry, Spidell, was to teach that subject, arithmetic and analytical algebra, and also fortification and architecture. Hunt, the professor of music, taught singing and the playing of the organ, lute, viol, and other instruments. The languages to be taught by the professor, Salter, were Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Italian, French, Spanish and German ('High Dutch'). Mason, the 'Professour of Defence' was to teach 'skill at all weapons and wrestling'. Other subjects were riding, 'dancing and behaviour', painting, sculpture, and writing. Members were not to study more than two subjects at a time, 'whereof one shall be Intellectual, the other Corporall'. Teaching by actual 'Demonstration and Experiment', where possible, was prescribed. The active practice of 'research' and experimentation by the professors was indeed intended to form an important part of the Musaeum's life. (Kynaston tried to ensure uninterrupted mornings for himself by the shrewd rule that none should speak to the regent in the forenoon except on business and then only in Italian, French or Latin.) May, the professor of philosophy and physic, was specifically required to 'make experiments of naturall things, chiefly for medicinall use', and to make records of both successful and unsuccessful experiments for the guidance of later workers. Phiske, the professor of astronomy, was to keep a diary of 'the Coelestiall Apparances', and also of the weather, 'that at last we may finde the causes of our insular varieties'.
Each professor (because 'learned men are many times anticipated by death, and their excellencies die with them') was to give annually to the library 'some Raritie in writing or otherwise … concerning their own Professions', and at their deaths were to 'leave in writing some memoriall of the most selected Points, Secrets, Experiments, and Demonstrations which doe belong to every of their Arts or Sciences for the greater advancement of learning'. The privileges of septennals included access to 'any books Charts, Experiments, Secrets, or Demonstrations that shall be conserved in the Musaeum'. (fn. 27) Kynaston himself evidently possessed a notable collection of curiosities and objects of study, together with a library especially rich in musical MSS: this may have been distinct from the Musaeum's possessions but Hartlib doubtless valued the privileges of membership partly for the access afforded to the library. (fn. 19)
The benefits of the Musaeum were intended to be in some degree available to the public. On Tuesday afternoons there were to be performances of 'publick Musick', and public lectures were to be read in full term. In regard to these last a careful reservation was made in the Constitutions: 'that onely shall be accounted and received for the doctrine and learning of the Musaeum Minervae, which shall be found true, after sufficient experiment'. (fn. 27) It was perhaps an intention to print as well as deliver public lectures that is implied by Hartlib's comment in 1635, that the Musaeum was to have a Latin theatre and ought to have a printing-office. (fn. 19)
On 27 February 1635/6 the Musaeum had its hour of glory when it staged a masque, Corona Minervae, in the presence of the King's two young sons, the future Charles II (aged five) and James II (aged two), and their sister Mary (aged four). No doubt in deference to their childish tastes a performance was staged of singular fatuity. At its conclusion the small princes were conducted to a banquet surrounded by artificial books. (fn. 29) (fn. 3)
Probably soon after this royal occasion the regent and professors petitioned the King to issue letters recommending contributions towards the provision of a larger house. What had been so far established was 'a perfect modell', with a constitution 'as may serve for the government of as greate a societie or Colledge as any in England or elsewhere', but could not house 'in a regular Collegiate way' all the sons of 'noble personages' who wished to patronize it. The academy was said to be 'taken notice of by forreigne kingdomes', and to match its good name and prospects needed a new home which 'for the structure and magnificence thereof may be an honour to this Citie and an ornament to this whole Kingdome'. (fn. 31)
The appeal was evidently well received by the King, (fn. 32) and the end of 1636 and beginning of 1637 found the Musaeum turning its facilities for research to some public good. Kynaston submitted to the Lords of the Admiralty a design of a pendant furnace for use on board ship invented by his colleague May, that engaged their active interest. (fn. 33)
But there is little doubt that by about 1639 the Musaeum had come to an end. The year 1637 is the last in which Kynaston appears as a Bedford Street ratepayer, and he was then in arrears: May disappears from King Street shortly afterwards. (fn. 25) A judgment on Kynaston and his academy which Hartlib records hearing in 1639—'hee proposed impossible and impracticable things. A project with too many windings and too much ostentation'—suggests that the academy had already ceased to exist. (fn. 19) (fn. 4)
One factor underlying this sudden collapse was the lack of adequate endowment. The letters patent of 1635 had made the Musaeum capable of receiving gifts of real property, but it seems clear that none was received, and an attempt in March 1637 to obtain the lease of concealed Crown lands in Denbighshire failed in the face of a prior claim. (fn. 35) From the first, Kynaston's need to seek contributions of money had caused him to be 'somewhat slandered' (fn. 19) and in the Musaeum's apologia it had been necessary to rebut charges of personal profit-seeking, by the protestation that all contributions had actually been spent on the Musaeum. In the absence of endowment, the fact that many of the early promises of contributions had remained unimplemented (fn. 36) was a serious weakness, and in a petition for the King's aid, probably of 1637, the regent and professors were obliged to confess that they had 'receaved little advancement from any one else'. (fn. 37)
They had claimed support in the City of London, but the training that the academy aimed to give was essentially aristocratic. Effective support could probably be hoped for only from a class indifferent to the acquisition of professional qualifications.
The bestowal of such qualifications was precluded by the jealousy of the universities and inns of court: their hostility, which Kynaston had already noticed in his appeal to Coventry, may indeed have been a root cause of the Musaeum's failure. Hartlib at least seems later to have thought that the opposition of the universities had been significant. (fn. 38)
What precipitated the Musaeum's closure, however, was no doubt the plague of 1636 and 1637. A petition probably of the latter year from the regent and professors speaks feelingly of their efforts to withstand 'those pressures both of debts expences and other inconveniences, which the infelicitie of theis sad and desolate tymes of Mortallitie have inevitably cast upon us'. Without the royal bounty they would no longer be able 'to prevent that desolacon [and] discontinuance of our Studies and proceedings'. They asked for a proclamation publicizing the King's support, the exaction of promised contributions, and the diversion to the Musaeum of the funds raised by lottery for a water-supply to Covent Garden: they also renewed their plea for a grant of lands. (fn. 32) Late in 1637 the plague was certainly present 'in King street and about the Couent garden'. (fn. 39) Perhaps it did indeed touch the Musaeum nearly: between 1637 and 1638 the death occurred of the fencingmaster, Michael Mason, who lived very close to the Musaeum in Bedford Street. (fn. 25)
To these sombre circumstances was finally added an element of the ridiculous. This was the irruption from deepest Shropshire of Kynaston's aged father, Sir Edward. The settlement of his estates had been the subject of suits in Chancery some six or more years earlier. Kynaston now evidently suspected Sir Edward of secret conveyances to deny his rights as heir, and the exponent of a practical knowledge of deeds and evidences was obliged to fly to the King's protection against his father's wiles. In February 1637/8 the King, angered by Sir Edward's animadversions on his son's rôle as courtier, sent him a stiff reprimand and an enjoinder to respect Kynaston's claims as heir to the estate. By April the old gentleman was in London, little daunted by the King's letter and denouncing the regent of the Musaeum Minervae (then aged fifty-one) as 'most unthrifty and debaucht', as well as a great expense to his longsuffering parent. Kynaston was still appealing to the King in December 1638, when this great matter was referred to Laud and others of the Privy Council. By February 1639 they had contrived an agreement between the disputants. But Sir Edward's tongue had inflicted some damaging wounds. (fn. 40) A poem of Kynaston's published in 1642 speaks with apparent self-reference of 'lawsuits, and troubles', (fn. 41) and it was perhaps in such worrying circumstances that his life ended that same year. (fn. 18) In any event it seems clear that he had outlived his academy.
In Covent Garden, only the professor of astronomy, Phiske, remained resident after its closure. Building up a 'good practise' as physician and astrologer he continued in Russell Street until 1658, glad, perhaps, to relinquish those struggles with the weather's vagaries imposed upon him by his former duties at the Musaeum Minervae. (fn. 42)
Nos. 4–6 (consec.) Bedford Street and 1–5 (consec.) Chandos Place
This building, of which only the northern part lies within the former parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden, was erected for the Civil Service Supply Association in 1876–7 to the design of Lockwood and Mawson, architects, of London and Bradford (Plate 70a). The contractors were Lucas Brothers of Lambeth. (fn. 43) The seventy-seven-year Bedford lease of the site was granted, however, to the local builder, William Howard, who from 1849 to 1874 had occupied part of the site, after moving from No. 48 Bedford Street. (fn. 44)
Although much less spectacular than some of their Bradford warehouses, the exterior of this large four-storeyed building is an interesting example of Lockwood and Mawson's Roman Renaissance manner, where Bramantesque details are combined with obviously Victorian features such as the pedimented doorway in the canted angle, and the tall pavilion roofs at each end of the Bedford Street front. The materials are those so much favoured by Victorian architects, hard red brick and natural terra-cotta. There are ten windows in each upper storey of the Bedford Street front, while the Chandos Place front has twelve. The ground-storey windows are recessed between piers of horizontally channelled brickwork, cinctured by two enriched bands. The second- and third-storey windows are linked vertically by their terra-cotta dressings, those of the second storey being delicately detailed arches obviously derived from Bramante's Cancelleria, though here surmounted by triangular pediments. The third-storey windows have moulded architraves, plain friezes, and cornices. Corinthian pilasters, with fluted and cinctured shafts, rise through the two storeys to flank the canted corner and divide the Bedford Street front into six bays, all except each end one being two windows wide. The pilasters support a rather overscaled entablature, its frieze enriched with garlands festooned between ribbon knots and circular paterae. In the attic storey the windows are dressed with eared architraves, and the brick face is divided into bays by short pilasters, with enriched panelled shafts, placed above the Corinthian pilasters of the main face. Pedimented dormers rise in front of the pavilion roofs, and at wide intervals along the Chandos Place front.
Nos. 10–13 (consec.) Bedford Street and 66 Chandos Place
This building, Aldine House, was erected for its present occupants, J. M. Dent and Sons, publishers, in 1911, under a ninety-nine-year Bedford lease at £940 per annum (Plate 71c). Most of the accommodation above ground-floor level was let as offices. The architect was E. Keynes Purchase. Regarding the genesis of the design, however, J. M. Dent wrote that it was 'good to be able to have our premises built as we desired them, and I had great fun and interest in getting the architect, Mr. Purchase, to give me what I wanted, and at last I was quite satisfied with his plans. . . . The building is a great pleasure to me. I had my own way with regard to the façade—a blend of Elizabethan and Queen Anne styles—and I cannot help feeling that it is at once modest and dignified.' (fn. 45)
The cost while work was in progress was estimated at £25,000. The contractor was C. F. Kearley. (fn. 46)
Externally, Aldine House conforms closely to the approved design, although the Chandos Place front remains incomplete, owing to the intervening Nos. 67–68 not having been rebuilt. There is in fact little of Queen Anne and nothing of Elizabeth in the architectural treatment, which is best described as Edwardian Baroque. The ground-storey showrooms are expressed externally by a series of wide but shallow segmental bow windows, recessed between panelled Doric piers supporting an entablature, all executed in dark oak. The three-storeyed upper face is of red brick dressed with Portland stone, the Bedford Street front being divided into three wide bays, the middle one a segmental bow. Each bay contains a three-light window for each storey. A massive mutule cornice, conforming to the contour of the front, extends above the fourth storey. Over the middle bay rises a segmentalpedimented attic, and there is a dormer over each side bay. The showroom entrance is in the splayed corner, which is developed above the secondstorey window as a stone-faced tower. This terminates in an octagonal lantern, its concave cupola crowned with an elaborate finial. The executed portion of the front to Chandos Place repeats the design of the side bays to Bedford Street.
Nos. 14–16 (consec.) Bedford Street
The three previous houses on this site were pulled down in 1862–3. (fn. 25) The present houses have uniform elevations, and represent virtually a single phase of building, although No. 16 was, by a little, the first to be built, and set the pattern for the other two (Plate 70b).
A building lease of the site of No. 16 was granted by the eighth Duke of Bedford on 18 December 1863 to Alexander Macmillan, one of the founders of the publishing firm, who was about to move his premises hither from Henrietta Street. The term ran for eighty years from Michaelmas of that year. (fn. 47) Alexander Macmillan had already been planning his building operations on the site in July, (fn. 47) and The Builder published the tender for the work on 5 September of the same year. (fn. 49) Macmillans were in occupation by the end of 1864 or early in 1865, (fn. 25) and remained here until 1872, when they moved to Nos. 29–30 Bedford Street. (fn. 50)
At Nos. 15 and 14 the building leases were formulated in January 1864 but were not signed until 20 March and 19 December 1865 respectively. Both ran for eighty-one years from Christmas 1863. They were granted, not to the first occupants, but to a builder active in this area, John Clemence of Villiers Street. In the draft for his leases he was required to build the houses 'to correspond in every respect' with No. 16. (fn. 51)
It is known that Clemence retained the lease of No. 15, and in June 1865 granted a twenty-oneyear sub-lease from 24 December 1864 to the publisher Frederick Warne. Warne was setting up his own business on the dissolution of his partnership in the firm of Routledge, Warne and Routledge, and in 1887 took another twentyone-year lease from Clemence. (fn. 52) Warne and Company still occupy this site with rear premises in Bedford Court.
At No. 14 the first occupants were Wilkinson and Matthews, solicitors (who as Wilkinson, Howlett and Durham still occupy the premises), Robert Gardner, bookseller, and Alexander Fraser, wine merchant. (fn. 53)
Both Nos. 14 and 15 were probably first occupied late in 1865. (fn. 25)
The identity of the architect responsible for the uniform fronts provokes speculation. The architect employed by Alexander Macmillan was certainly S. S. Teulon, who is named, as 'Mr. Teulon', (fn. 49) in The Builder, and who submitted plans, section and elevation (virtually that now existing) to the Bedford Office. (fn. 54) It is difficult, however, to account for his authorship of a design which exhibits no vestige of his accustomed style, nor is it known why the observance of this pleasant but rather old-fashioned design was required at the other two sites. It may be noted that No. 16 and (to a lesser extent) No. 15 occupy part of the vista westward along Henrietta Street, but the elevational design did not in fact match the building then adjoining No. 16 northward, which shared the view from Henrietta Street (Plate 51a). (fn. 55)
The premises comprise three separate units, each four storeys high and three windows wide, with shop fronts in the ground storey. The treatment of the upper face, finished in painted stucco, recalls the Circus at Bath in a Victorian version where each unit is separately articulated yet linked by the continued coronas and cymas of the storey cornices. In each unit the three second-storey windows are framed in architraves and recessed between Doric pilasters supporting a triglyphed entablature, and an Ionic order is similarly employed in the third storey. A pedestal, broken by projecting dies, underlines the fourth-storey windows which are simply dressed with architraves, and the front finishes with a massive dentilled cornice, broken between each unit and stopped at each end by a scrolled bracket and surmounted by a balustraded parapet.
Nos. 17–19 (consec.) Bedford Street
This building was erected in 1883–4 as a westcentral district post and telegraph office (Plate 63a). (fn. 56) The site was leased by the Postmaster General from the ninth Duke of Bedford for a term of ninety years from Midsummer 1880, at a rent of £380 per annum, (fn. 57) and is still held by the Post Office under this leasehold tenure.
The design of the building was undertaken for the Post Office by the Office of Works, which employed Higgs and Hill as contractors. (fn. 58) The lease from the Duke of Bedford was essentially a normal building lease, with a peppercorn term of one year. The structural specifications prepared for the contractors by the Office of Works were submitted to the Bedford Office, for approval by the Duke's surveyor, W. S. Cross. (fn. 59)
The proposal had been informally agreed in the autumn of 1879, the Duke's steward, John Bourne, being favourably disposed to the establishment of a post office in the street. The Postmaster General was the more inclined towards the site because of the rear access into Bedfordbury which was to be provided by the extension of Bedford Court then being planned by the Metropolitan Board of Works. In January 1880 the Treasury gave permission for the Post Office to take a lease (for a term it then supposed to be eighty-eight years and the Bedford Office eighty). (fn. 60) The houses on the site were cleared by the Bedford Office in that year (fn. 61) but the terms of the lease occasioned prolonged disagreement between Bourne and the two government departments involved. The proposed height of the building caused some dispute, and then further delay arose from the 'troublesome and difficult' negotiations with Bourne over his wish to preserve open spaces at the rear of the site, to avoid disputes with the Duke's other tenants. Inflexible attitudes were taken up, but in face of the Post Office's refusal to continue negotiations Bourne seems to have made concessions, and by the end of 1881 the Post Office was planning a larger building than first intended, at an estimated cost of £15,000 compared with the £10,500 originally forecast. In view of the increased expenditure Bourne agreed to an extension of the lease to ninety years. The revision of the Office of Works' plans for the building took a long time, and in July 1882 Bourne was threatening to have questions asked in Parliament by Samuel Whitbread about the slow progress towards building. (fn. 62) In December 1882 the contractors' specifications were signed on behalf of the Office of Works (fn. 59) and in July 1883, when building was in progress, the agreement for the lease was concluded. (fn. 60) By the autumn of 1883 the final cost was being estimated at £30,000. (fn. 58) The building was finished by the end of 1884, and thither was transferred the business previously dispatched at the St. Martin's Lane office. (fn. 60) The use of the building as a public post office continued until 1963. (fn. 53)
The architectural authorship of the design is not quite clear. From January 1880 to February 1882 E. G. Rivers, a surveyor in the Office of Works, figures in the Post Office files as if responsible for the design. Thereafter Rivers (who by 1883 had been transferred to Bristol) (fn. 63) disappears from the negotiations and by the summer of 1882 the Post Office was in communication with the Office of Works' 'Consulting Surveyor'. This was Rivers's superior, the surveyor for the erection of Post Offices, James Williams, who evidently acted for the Office of Works in the preparation of final revised plans. (fn. 64) It was Williams who was named as the architect in the public press while the work was in progress. (fn. 65) It may be noted that the Bedford Street office has stylistic features very similar to those of the Savings Bank (now demolished) in Queen Victoria Street, a building attributed to Williams in his official capacity. (fn. 66)
The Bedford Street building has an impressive and large-scaled front, three storeys high and six windows wide, built of stone to an astylar Italianate design obviously influenced by Barry's great club-houses. The ground storey is divided into six bays, each end one wider than the rest, by Doric pilasters supporting an entablature composed of a frieze and cornice. The frieze is plain except for wreathed monograms V.R. carved above the second and fifth bays, and the obliterated lettering in the middle. The southern bay opens to Bedford Court and the northern bay contains the entrance doorway, the splayed reveals of the opening being decorated with horizontal fluting. Similar reveals frame the sash windows of the four middle bays. The piano nobile has a pedestal course, broken by the shallow projecting balustraded aprons of the windows. The latter are dressed with architraves, flanked by plain jambs from which triglyph-consoles project to support frieze-blocks and triangular pediments. The piano nobile is finished with a moulded stringcourse comprising a guilloche band and a simply moulded cornice. This forms a sill for the third-storey windows, which are dressed with moulded architraves, shouldered near the base. The crowning entablature, consisting of a rollmoulding, plain frieze and dentilled cornice, is surmounted by a balustraded parapet. Behind rise the pedimented entablatures of the six dormer windows in the mansard roof. The three evenly spaced chimney-stacks have moulded panels and cornice caps.
The interior fittings for the public postal hall have been removed; all that remains is the dentilled cornice. A wide stone stair with decorated cast-iron balusters supporting a moulded mahogany handrail leads to the piano nobile where there are two very plain principal rooms on the street front, an internal passage, and a very narrow gallery in the rear; from this gallery two windows (now obscured) overlook the former sorting hall which extends back from the main block of the building, parallel to Bedford Court: these windows formed part of the internal post office security measures.
Nos. 20–26 (consec.) Bedford Street and 20–22 (consec.) King Street
These buildings, now occupied by Moss Brothers, the oufitters, exhibit a range of styles as wide as that of the clothes displayed in their windows. Most prominent is the Gothic conecapped tower of the corner premises, at No. 26 Bedford Street, built in red brick and stone in 1875–6 under an eighty-year Bedford building lease granted to the previous occupant of the site, George Herbert, a gold-lace manufacturer; (fn. c1) and the builder was William Howard of Bow Street. (fn. 67) Jacobean influence shows in the superimposed orders decorating No. 22 King Street, dated 1907. The slickly detailed metal-and-glass curtain walls of Nos. 24 and 25 Bedford Street are typical of the inter-war years, while the late 1950's are reflected in the panelled front of opaque and clear glass at Nos. 22 and 23 Bedford Street.
No. 27 Bedford Street
This corner building (now somewhat mutilated) was erected in 1861–2 for William Moseley, tool manufacturer. Unlike the usual Bedford eighty-year building lease, this was for forty years only. (fn. 68) The builder was William Howard of Chandos Street. (fn. 69) The architect is not known. The building is now occupied, together with Nos. 16 and 17 King Street, by the Communist Party of Great Britain, which has occupied No. 16 King Street since 1920.
No. 27 Bedford Street has equal frontages to King Street and Bedford Street, and a canted angle. Above the remodelled ground storey are three well-defined storeys, faced with stucco to a coarsely detailed Italianate design. The threelight and single windows are dressed with orders and placed in bays between pilasters, rusticated or panelled, which rise to support the heavy modillioned cornice.
Nos. 28–30 (consec.) Bedford Street
These premises were built in 1872–3. The first occupant of No. 28 was an Elizabeth Evans, widow (to whom the Bedford building lease had been granted), and of Nos. 29–30 Macmillan and Company, publishers, on their removal from No. 16 Bedford Street. The building lease of Nos. 29–30 was granted to John Clemence of Villiers Street, builder, for a term of eighty years. (fn. 70)
The two properties have similar fronts, four storeys high and three windows wide, designed in a coarse Italianate style. Above the shop fronts the walls are of brick, now painted, with stucco used for the elaborate dressings of the windows, and for the heavily bracketed crowning cornice.
Inigo Place, Bedford Street
This western entrance to St. Paul's churchyard, formerly called Church Place, is screened from Bedford Street by a series of handsome cast-iron gates. There is a single gate on each side, and a pair of gates with an ornamental overthrow, the latter extending between Portland stone piers formed in chamfer-jointed courses, capped with simple entablatures, and crowned with draped urns.
Nos. 31 and 32 Bedford Street
This building was erected in 1885 under a Bedford building lease for eighty years granted to John Clemence of Duke Street, Adelphi, gentleman (elsewhere described as builder). The first occupants of the upper floors (from 1886) were the Institute of Builders (now the Institute of Building), the Central Association of Master Builders of London (later the London Master Builders' Association, and now the London Region of the National Federation of Building Trades Employers) and the Builders' Accident Insurance Company. The last still occupies part of the premises. The ground floor was occupied by Macmillan and Company, publishers, from 1887. It is not known which architect, if any, was employed. (fn. 71) (fn. c2)
The red brick and terra-cotta front of this building is elaborately detailed in a florid Flemish Renaissance style. Four storeys high, it is divided by pilasters into two bays, with a large three-light window to each storey above the ground-floor shop front, and it is finished with two scrollsided and pedimented gables.
Nos. 41 and 42 Bedford Street and 25 Maiden Lane
This building was erected in 1912–13 on the freehold of the Corps of Commissionaires, to accommodate a ground-floor shop with flats above (Plate 71d). The architects were Crickmay and Sons. (fn. 72) Situated at the angle of Maiden Lane and Bedford Street, it is a straightforward, if rather unimaginative, example of the Georgian Revival. It is four storeys high to the main cornice, with a fifth storey in the roof. The ground storey, faced with polished granite, is largely taken up with the shop premises, the entrance to the upper storeys being contained in the Maiden Lane front. A very much simplified granite mutule cornice divides the shop fronts from the upper storeys, which are faced in dark red brickwork, with rubbed brick arches linked with slightly projecting panels in similar brick below the window sills. The angles of the building are marked by alternating narrow brick and Portland stone quoins (the date 1913 being incised in one of the stones) and both fronts are surmounted by a modillion cornice, which, like the deep bandcourse at fourth-storey level, and the other dressings, is also in Portland stone. Two dormers on each front mark the attic storey, contained within the tiled mansard-type roof.