Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings). Originally published by London County Council, London, 1980.
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North of Reeves Mews, there were once some small houses built behind No. 34 Grosvenor Square. These were all leased in 1728, mainly to Robert Scott, carpenter, and William Barlow senior, bricklayer. (fn. 4) They were demolished in 1886; the subsequent history of their site will be found on pages 148 and 168.
Nos. 49–54 (consec.)
Nos. 49–54 (consec.) consist of a conventional range of shops and offices, built in 1935 by Gee, Walker and Slater for Town Investments Limited to designs by C. S. and E. M.Joseph. (fn. 5)
The whole ground between Reeves Mews and Mount Street was first leased to William Barlow senior, bricklayer, in 1728. (fn. 6) In 1856 Reading and William Watts of Motcomb Street, builders, applied to replace six houses here with three residences of quality. Thomas Cundy II became their architect, and in 1859–60 reconstruction duly occurred. White Suffolk bricks with rich dressings of Portland stone and cement were prescribed for the elevations, and indeed No. 55 shows more elaboration than most of Cundy's other fronts on the estate, having stone balustrading, columns and pediments to the first-floor windows and ornamental cornices at two levels. (fn. 7)
All three houses were well tenanted for many years; occupants of No. 55 included the fourth Earl and Countess of Donoughmore (1861–90), the seventh Viscount Falmouth (1891–9) and Admiral Sir Percy M. Scott (1914–25). (fn. 8) After Scott's departure No. 55 was taken by an interior decorator, G. Jetley, who made internal alterations to designs by G. J. Morriss Viner and installed an incongruous shop front from the pencil of Philip Tilden. (fn. 9) The house suffered bomb damage in 1941.
No. 56 is part of Audley Mansions, an account of which will be found on page 324. Previously a large coach manufactory, for some years part of the extensive premises of John Robson and Company, had been situated here. (fn. 10)
Nos. 57–63 (consec.) South Audley Street and No. 84 Mount Street
The first buildings on these sites between Mount Street and Aldford (then Chapel) Street, all modest, were leased in 1730 to the undertakers of the Grosvenor Chapel, (fn. 11) and seem mostly to have survived until the 1880's. No. 63, the corner house with Chapel Street, was commercially occupied from the first, (fn. 12) and had a handsome eighteenthcentury double shop front with a pillared entrance topped by an open pediment, (fn. 13) similar to that formerly at No. 62 Brewer Street, St. James's. (fn. 14) It survived a proposed rebuilding in about 1832 for which attractive drawings are extant. (fn. 15) In 1879, before a comprehensive scheme for Mount Street had been arrived at, reconstruction of some of these properties was mooted by the famous gunsmiths James Purdey and Sons, then in Oxford Street. They had acquired the lease of a large draper's establishment here and now submitted a proposal for the corner house with Mount Street and the two properties southwards. This first building, of red brick with dressings of red Mansfield stone, was designed in a vaguely Queen Anne style by William Lambert, surveyor, and erected by the builder B. E. Nightingale in 1881–2. (fn. 16) So successfully did Purdeys pursue their trade here that 'in the Edwardian era there was said to be no crowned head in Europe without a Purdey'. (fn. 17) The shop remains and preserves, notably in the hallowed 'Long Room', much of its Victorian atmosphere.
In 1884 the first Duke was surprised to find Purdey proposing to complete the block up to Aldford Street as a speculation, but agreed that 'he could carry out his present design better than anyone else'. However, as the occupying tenants of Nos. 61–63 wished themselves to rebuild, it was in their interests that Lambert's designs were extended in 1889–90, Stephens and Bastow being the builders. (fn. 18) The main elevations retain the same height and character towards South Audley Street, but there is a small extension of two storeys and a half facing Aldford Street. A similar feature was repeated at the other end of the block when in 1892 Purdeys took in No. 84 Mount Street to the west, the architect again being Lambert and the builder Stanley G. Bird. (fn. 19)
Nos. 64–70 (consec.) South Audley Street and No. 27 South Street.
The present vigorous brick-and-terracotta range here was built between 1891 and 1900, and replaced eight houses facing South Audley Street. The original developers, in about 1730, were the same four entrepreneurs who undertook the Grosvenor Chapel and so much else in the street. (fn. 20) The former No. 70 had segmental-headed undressed window openings containing flush frames in all three upper storeys of a plain brick front. There was a public house at either end of the range, the Merlin's Cave at the corner with Chapel Street and the Albemarle Arms at the corner with South Street; both were suppressed in the 1880's shortly before rebuilding. (fn. 8) In the centre, a house was altered in 1829 by the surveyor and builder James Gallier so as to provide a clear ground floor leading through to John Robson's extensive carriage works behind, which were rebuilt shortly afterwards. This house became the headquarters of a coach-building business that survived rebuilding and continued under various names up to 1940. (fn. 21) In about 1826–7 the Albemarle Arms seems also to have been rebuilt. (fn. 22)
In 1890 the Estate decided to reconstruct the range in two sections, starting at the north end. T. Chatfeild Clarke and Son, architects of so much new building in Oxford Street, were given the job, and in 1891–3 Nos. 64–68 were erected by a consortium of three tradesmen all employing the builders Ashby Brothers. The new range had shops below with Portland-stone fronts, and flats above of red brick and pink terracotta in a very loose Queen Anne style; a tourelle at the corner with Aldford Street was prominent. (fn. 23)
In 1898–1900 the range was extended to cover the remaining frontage up to South Street and the return. Howard Chatfeild Clarke, the junior partner, was this time sole architect; he merely continued the design regularly and symmetrically, placing another tourelle at the corner. The builder was H. Lovatt and the sole undertaker was Robert Turrill of Turrill and Sons, the coach-builders who were successors to John Robson's business. (fn. 24)
Nos. 71–75 (consec.) South Audley Street
Nos. 71–75 (consec.) South Audley Street, between South Street and Deanery Street, constitute five of the most exceptional houses on the estate. Originally a range aspiring to some degree of architectural ambition, three of the houses (Nos. 71, 73 and 74) still possess outstanding early-Georgian features, notably ceilings, while No. 71 also has an unusual exterior, probably little modified since its first erection. Nevertheless, so tortuous is their history and so much have most of the elevations been changed, that some attempt at clarification is called for.
The whole of this range was taken by the architect and plasterer Edward Shepherd in 1736, promptly leased to him and various associates, and built over the next few years. (fn. 25) By his agreement Shepherd took all the land westwards as far as Park Lane, northwards up to South Street, and southwards to the estate boundary; beyond this point he had already acquired ground on the estate of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, where the Dorchester Hotel now stands. (fn. 26) There were then no plans to extend Park Street or any other thoroughfare southwards into this quadrilateral, and Shepherd was not immediately concerned to develop most of the south side of South Street. So a majority of the houses intended for the range in South Audley Street were to enjoy large gardens and views over Hyde Park, with stabling sited to one side or another in South Street or Deanery Street.
In other of his grander leasehold undertakings Shepherd had already shown a flair for devising schemes of some architectural pretension and then compromising them in the face of practical difficulties. This seems to have happened again at Nos. 71–75, where there is vestigial evidence that he at first intended a homogeneous range of seven houses clothed by a uniform elevation. Six of these seven were to have modest frontages hardly exceeding twenty feet, but in the centre was to be a slightly projecting 'great messuage or tenement' fifty-six feet in breadth; (fn. 27) much of the land behind was probably to be devoted to this house. The surviving front of No. 71 offers clues to the intended elevation of the range. Its pedimented top and Venetian windows may tentatively be read as one of two 'wing' features, the responding 'wing' to which would have come at the corner of Deanery Street (where indeed an early plan shows that there was once an answering Venetian window on at least the ground floor). Remnants of a third set of Venetian windows devised for the 'centre house' can still be seen on No. 74, despite refronting there (Plates 6d, 44c in vol. XXXIX).
The integrity of this symmetrical design seems soon to have been compromised, for the actual frontages of the completed houses show that Shepherd was unable to maintain absolute regularity. In the business of disposing of them he combined the two houses at the south end and reduced the frontage of the centre house. Still, the finished scheme was probably recognisable as an attempt at a symmetrical, Palladian composition, and the open ground behind remained for some years a reality for at least the southern houses of the group. This was reduced firstly by the builder of what was later to be known as Dorchester House, to the south-west, and then the expansion of its grounds in 1770. Later, the ambitious rebuilding of much of the south side of South Street encroached further on the amenity of these houses, and in the 1830's, at the instigation of John Feetham, most of them were disconnected from their old stabling in this street. The gradual pre-eminence achieved by No. 75 over other houses in the group, culminating in a reconstruction of its elevations in about 1800, destroyed the outlines of Shepherd's composition, while almost all that was left of it was obscured by Edwardian refrontings of Nos. 73, 74 and 75. But enough fine interior features survive to make his original intentions for these houses recognisable.
No. 71, at the corner with South Street, was leased in 1736 to Thomas Skeat, bricklayer, just two months after Edward Shepherd had concluded an agreement for this area—an indication that the two probably worked together here. (fn. 28) This supposition is strengthened by the style of the house, which conforms to what is known of Shepherd's mode of classicism, and by the ubiquity inside and outside of plaster and stucco-work, this again being a mark of his oeuvre (Plates 80, 81, fig. 71: see also Plates 6d, 10a in vol. XXXIX).
Originally No. 71 was the most modest house in the range, having no attached stables and only a small garden. Its first occupant, from 1739, was Samuel Greathead, a West India merchant and M.P., of Guy's Cliffe, Warwickshire. (fn. 29) In 1741 Greathead leased the house together with stables on the north side of South Street from Skeat, with an option to purchase the house for £1,050. In the event he bought the house along with the stables on slightly different terms in 1746, at the same time relieving Skeat of various mortgages. Greathead remained here until 1756, when he sold No. 71 to the Dowager Countess of Denbigh for £2,400. (fn. 30)
As the house appears to have changed remarkably little since it was first built, it merits some description. One of its several distinctions is an elaborate elevational treatment towards South Audley Street, perhaps the result of a conception by which it was intended as a 'wing' to the Palladian composition postulated above (Plate 6d in vol. XXXIX). Though this front is narrow, with only a single window on each floor, each of the main storeys displays a different version of the tripartite Venetian window (Doric with Gibbs surrounds at ground level, Ionic on the first floor, and a curtailed, pedimented version above). There is a full original attic storey and a pediment over that. Some of these features are executed in stone but some appear to be in stucco.
The rear of the house is now entirely stuccoed and also has a pediment at roof level, while a similar motif occurs in the middle of the return front towards South Street. But the chief feature on this side is a broad overhanging first-floor projection, supported on an open row of piers and columns. Some discrepancies of style hint that this may have been an early afterthought, perhaps added by Skeat for Greathead. Beneath the overhang is the entrance (where it was doubtless situated from the first), with a rusticated surround to the door and fine ironwork including an overhead lampholder (Plate 80a).
Within, much original work survives on the main floors, especially plasterwork. There are two rooms on each storey apart from the first, and a single central staircase with old stone treads but a later balustrade. The hall is panelled in wood (Plate 80c). On the ground floor, the front room is distinguished by a fine ensemble of an overmantel flanked by two dummy bookcases. In 1933, however, only the case on the left, which has a small closet behind, was false (Plate 81b). An article on the house of that date in Country Life speaks of the bookcases as having been added, (fn. 31) (fn. 1) but a conveyance of 1756 included 'glass cases in the fore parlour' in a list of fixtures and fittings. It also mentions 'eagles' there, possibly holding looking-glasses (as at No. 73). (fn. 30) At the back, the dining-room is typical of Shepherd's work, having sunk plaster panels to the walls and a fine ornamental ceiling. There is also a chimneypiece in marble with a naturalistically carved central relief illustrating winter, and a splendid wooden overmantel with Corinthian columns and a broken scrolled pediment (Plate 10a in vol. XXXIX).
On the first floor, the front room again has a pedimented overmantel but no other special features. The middle room overhanging the entrance and the rear drawing-room both have further elaborate ceilings. That in the rear room displays a central sunburst and, in the borders, garlands and baskets of fruit, while the marble chimneypiece responsively bears a tablet carved with a relief of summer; the panelling here is of wood. The middle room has no other old work except the cornice and ceiling (Plate 81a), the original marble fireplace (with a relief depicting boy shepherds watching a chase) having recently been stolen.
Of later works to the house, little is known. A sub-lease of 1815 mentions the marble chimneypieces but particularizes few other features. (fn. 32) At some point the curious pedimented and stuccoed backdrop at the rear of the garden, set against the side wall of No. 28 South Street and very probably an original feature designed to carry flues from a basement kitchen, was allotted three neo-classical reliefs (Plate 80b). Changes of 1882 included 'alterations to the front' but their nature is obscure. (fn. 33) In 1903 a bay window was carried up through the main storeys at the rear by Green and Abbott, decorators. (fn. 34) A discreet scheme by G. J. Morriss Viner (on behalf of Violet, estranged Duchess of Westminster, who took the house in 1925) to add bathrooms over the projection towards South Street came to nothing, but some changes were then made. (fn. 35) A major conversion carried out in 1972 by the Rolfe Judd Group Practice chiefly affected the upper floors and the basement (where in 1933 'a curious little chamber … with a four-part vault and Gothic window is said to have been an oratory'). (fn. 36) Some windows were opened out towards South Street where there were previously blanks and the exterior brickwork was painted, but the Georgian character of the main floors has been respected.
Occupants include: Samuel Greathead, M.P., 1739–56. Isabella, Dowager Countess of Denbigh, wid. of 5th Earl, 1756–69: her son, 6th Earl of Denbigh, 1769–1800: his wid., 1800–14. Gen. Isaac Gascoyne, 1815–41: his wid., 1841–56. Rear-adm. George Pryse Campbell, 1858: his wid., 1858–74. Montagu William Lowry Corry, latterly Baron Rowton, politician and philanthropist, 1875–81. Lady Frances Baillie, da. of 7th Earl of Elgin, 1884–94: her son, James Evan Bruce Baillie, and his wife, Nellie Lisa née Bass, latterly suo jure Baroness Burton, 1896–1921. Lady Henry Grosvenor, da.-in-law of 1st Duke of Westminster, 1922–4. Violet, Duchess of Westminster, 2nd wife of 2nd Duke, and her 3rd husband, Frederick Heyworth Cripps, 1925–51: Cripps only, 1951–3.
No. 72 is now the least interesting of this group of houses. It was leased in 1736 to John Eds, carpenter, doubtless one of Edward Shepherd's associates in the building of this range, and was valued a little more highly than No. 71 because it enjoyed an attached plot for stabling at the rear, on part of the site of the present No. 28 South Street. (fn. 37) The narrow front retains what may well be an original rusticated surround to the entrance and a cornice similar to that of No. 71, but it has been stuccoed, raised and otherwise altered. The rear elevation, though also stuccoed, is more recognisably old. Inside the original floor plan survives with a central toplit stair sandwiched between the front and back rooms.
Surprising light on this modest house is cast by its connexion with the French royal family during their Napoleonic exile. Between 1805 and 1814 it was rated to 'Monsieur of France', otherwise the Comte d'Artois and later Charles X. (fn. 29) A contemporary diarist describes a 'sad mock drawing-room' held in 1814, shortly before the exiles' return, at 'the dark rooms in South Audley Street'. (fn. 38) According to another author, Louis XVIII also used the house. (fn. 39)
The front of No. 72 probably assumed much of its present appearance in the 1830's after the local speculator John Feetham had acquired an interest in it along with Nos. 73 and 74 in order to rebuild the back premises in South Street, which were now separated from the main house. (fn. 41) Feetham sub-let No. 72 in 1833, but was still working there five years later. (fn. 41) The stucco-work, first-floor balconies at front and back and possibly also the extra storey may then have appeared. A room was added in 1855 and an 'iron building' put on at the rear in 1875, both during the tenancy of F. W. Cadogan, who later claimed to have spent 'very little short of £2,000' on the house. (fn. 42) Yet in 1887 a new ground-floor window was inserted on the front by C. H. Thomas, architect, and in 1900 the house was said to require 'a large outlay'. It was then taken on by the builder John Garlick, to whose attention much of the present interior is due. (fn. 43)
Occupants include: Col. Charles Ingram, M. P., son of 3rd Viscount Irwin, 1738–43. Brig.-gen. Thomas Fowke, 1744–50. Henry Reginald Courtenay, M.P., 1751–63. 'Monsieur of France', i.e. the Comte d'Artois, later Charles X, 1805–14. Col. James Hamilton Stanhope, son of 3rd Earl Stanhope, 1821–5. Thomson Hankey, West India merchant and political economist, 1833–54. Frederick William Cadogan, son of 3rd Earl Cadogan, 1855–70, 1876–86.
No. 73, the northernmost of three houses here with deceptive Edwardian fronts of stone, was first leased in 1736 to John Shepherd, the plasterer brother of Edward Shepherd. (fn. 44) Like most of the houses in this range, it had a connected plot reserved for stabling, covering parts of the present Nos. 26 and 28 South Street. The house was assigned in 1738 to its first occupant George Ogle, translator of Anacreon and Horace and author of a modernized Chaucer. (fn. 45)
Despite its front, No. 73 is a well-preserved Georgian house of distinction, boasting four of the vigorous decorative plaster ceilings still so plentiful in this district (fig. 73). There are front and back rooms on each floor with a spacious toplit staircase interposed, to the side of which are an area and remnants of a connecting corridor between the rooms. The back elevation retains its old brick appearance, having a bay window through all the main storeys. Though other Georgian details survive, the plasterwork (which in this house assumes a particularly un-classical aspect akin to Jacobean 'strapwork') is the outstanding feature. On the ground floor, besides the usual ceiling compartments there is in the front room a remarkable wall cartouche probably designed to hold a looking-glass, surmounted by a stooping eagle with a garland in its beak; in the back room, three small decorative reliefs also survive on the walls. Both front and back rooms on the first floor have equally elaborate ceilings. (fn. 2)
Many changes have been made to the house since Ogle's occupation. In 1807 a small circular back stair had already been inserted in the space next to the main staircase. (fn. 46) This has since disappeared, as have any traces of the bedroom stair inserted in 1853 by Thomas Cundy III, with Higgs and Company as builders. (fn. 47) In 1831 John Feetham acquired No. 73 and separated it from the stabling in South Street which he rebuilt, but no trace of works by him in the house itself is now discernible. (fn. 48) In 1864 a porch (probably of iron) was erected on the front. (fn. 49)
In 1894, after brief occupation by the Duke of Westminster's son Lord Henry Grosvenor, the house was taken as a speculation by Turner Lord and Company, who carefully rebuilt the back bay. (fn. 50) Ten years later a new resident, Robert Younger, employed Paul Waterhouse to make alterations to the value of £4,000; these included a chic new porch with a sweeping glass roof, alterations to the internal area, the present balustrade to the stair, and probably also considerable decorative works on the upper floors. (fn. 51) In 1908 Younger applied for a new lease but was told he would have to refront the house in Portland stone, as the tenants of Nos. 74 and 75 had agreed to do. After long negotiations Younger submitted, and on his behalf Paul Waterhouse designed a complex and deliberately asymmetrical elevation, with hints of the Adam style so as to harmonize with the porch of 1904; as the storey-heights of No. 73 differ from those of No. 74, the intensely mannered design here was treated quite separately (Plate 44c in vol. XXXIX). The prescribed Portland-stone cladding was applied by the builder James Carmichael of Wandsworth in 1909. (fn. 52)
Since 1945 the front porch has disappeared, perhaps in a campaign of modernization undertaken by the Rolfe Judd Group Practice in 1970. (fn. 53)
Occupants include: George Ogle, classicist and Chaucerian scholar, 1738–46. John Hill, M.P., 1751–4. John Feetham, ?coal merchant, 1842–3. Sir Frederick Bathurst, 3rd bt., 1844–6. Lieut.-col. Peregrine Francis Cust, son of 1st Baron Brownlow, 1848–73. Lord Henry Grosvenor, son of 1st Duke of Westminster, 1888–92, 1894. Virginia, Dow. Countess Somers, wid. of 3rd Earl, 1896–9: her grandson, Henry Somers Somerset, also grandson of 8th Duke of Beaufort, 1900–4. Robert Younger, latterly Baron Blanesburgh, Lord of Appeal in Ordinary, 1904–46.
No. 74 is one of two grand houses at the southern end of this range interlocking in plan and complex in history. Behind its Edwardian front lies one of the most distinguished Georgian interiors on the estate (Plates 15d, 82, fig. 74: see also Plate 44c, fig. 5c in vol. XXXIX).
Unlike Nos. 71–73 to its north, No. 74 was directly leased in 1736 to Edward Shepherd, undertaker of the whole of the range. (fn. 54) Commanding the longest frontage (fifty-six feet) and highest ground rent (£20) of any house hereabouts, it was intended as the imposing centrepiece of the range and in 1740 was dubbed the 'Great Messuage or Tenement called the Centre House'. (fn. 55) Connected with the back of the plot was a piece of land with a forty-six-foot frontage towards South Street, presumably at first destined for stabling; this site is now covered by parts of the modern Nos. 24 and 26 South Street.
In November 1740 Shepherd and his mortgagees conveyed the house and back buildings to Francis Salvador, merchant. (fn. 55) Salvador was acting for the Kingdom of Portugal and the house was destined 'as a residence for the ministers and officers of that Court'. (fn. 56) Yet for the next few years its history is obscure. The Portuguese Embassy seems to have remained at its previous address in Golden Square until 1747, when the ambassador is first found paying rates in South Audley Street. (fn. 57) Some of the intermediate period was doubtless taken up in fitting out the house and converting the major part of the back buildings facing South Street into a chapel to replace the embassy's previous one in Warwick Street, behind Golden Square. This chapel was an unpretentious, precisely square building over a basement fronting on to South Street but probably entered from a passage along its west side, and connected to No. 74 by a narrow corridor from its south-east corner. (fn. 58) An inventory of the chapel's contents in 1757 suggests a full set of fittings but tells virtually nothing of the appearance of the interior, except that there were twenty windows and a number of galleries. (fn. 59)
Of the house itself, enough remains to show that Shepherd finished it with an opulence befitting one of the most important contemporary powers of Europe. In one respect it was curtailed, for the southern third of the frontage originally envisaged was transferred to the northernmost house on the site of the present No. 75, leaving No. 74 with an asymmetrical front only thirty-nine feet wide as against the fifty-six feet at first proposed. The whole breadth was however retained at the back, so that the plan of No. 74 interlocks with that of No. 75. From the present front and from old plans it may be deduced that the original elevation was roughly like that of No. 71, with 'Venetian' features to the entrance and immediately above.
Inside, there is a front-compartment staircase in the original position, but now entirely of wood and late Victorian or Edwardian in date. Beyond this, the back stair has recently been replaced by a lift but the main groundfloor rooms are very well preserved. Old doorways and cornices and one or two fireplaces remain (Plate 15d), but the chief objects of interest are the decorated ceilings, of which four at ground level and two on the first floor survive. Two specially notable examples are that over the staircase, where before recent alterations the accompanying plaster surrounds and panels over the first-floor doors were also virtually complete (Plate 82d); and that in the back room on the ground floor, where Shepherd's craftsmen executed a design of truly Roman grandeur, with emperors' heads and cornucopias in strongly separated compartments (Plate 82e: see also fig. 5c in vol. XXXIX). The rare richness of the ceilings at No. 74 reflects the house's ample storey heights, and several of them are deeply coved (Plate 82a, 82b, 82c).
Both house and chapel continued in use by the Portuguese for eighty-two years from 1747. Little is known of their history during this time, but evidently they were kept up in style, for in 1771 Lord Fitzwilliam was referred hither (to 'Mello's house') to see examples of fine foreign furniture. (fn. 60) In 1807–8 a new lease was applied for, with the promise that 'great sums will be expended in building on the premises', but nothing seems to have come of this. (fn. 61) Though negotiations were renewed in 1823, no decision could be obtained from Lisbon as to whether the embassy should remain here. (fn. 62) Eventually the Estate began treating instead with Thomas Oliver, then speculating in a small way in the Portugal Street district. In 1827 Oliver agreed terms for a long lease, but the deeds were made out to an associate, John Feetham of Putney, probably a partner in the firm of John and Thomas Feetham, coal merchants, of Abingdon Street, Westminster. (fn. 63) This was Feetham's first connexion with houses in this range, which he was to do much to transform.
The Portuguese finally left No. 74 in 1829. (fn. 29) Feetham seems to have delayed any works until 1831, when he acquired interests in Nos. 72 and 73, with back premises also facing South Street. (fn. 64) He then pulled down the chapel and in 1833–4 used this part of the ground to build two sets of stables, with sites equivalent to the modern Nos. 26 and 28 South Street. (fn. 65) The main house itself he sub-let in 1832 to the first Earl Cawdor, together with a third new and quite separate set of stables built by him not on the chapel site but further east; these survive at the present No. 32 South Street. (fn. 66) In No. 74 a number of features probably date from the beginning of Cawdor's tenancy. These include a pair of Ionic columns now set into the wall opposite the staircase; they were once free-standing and testify to a change in the position of the entrance, which between this time and 1936 was at the north end of the front, thus allowing a spacious hall to extend the full width of the house. At this time also the ground-floor back room (or dining-room) seems to have been extended forward and a servery formed behind two further columns. These have now disappeared, but a fine marble fireplace of the period still exists in this room. The most likely author for these alterations is Sir Jeffry Wyatville, who in 1829 was building a country house for Earl Cawdor in Carmarthenshire. (fn. 67)
In 1835, by an agreement involving several houses in this range, Feetham gave up his interest in much of the back property behind No. 74. (fn. 68) Next year he received an additional term of ten years 'by recommendation of Mr. Cundy owing to the defective state of the main walls'. (fn. 69) No further changes are recorded until 1882, when (Sir) William Cuthbert Quilter, stockbroker and company director, acquired the house. With Ernest George and Peto as his architects, Quilter made alterations in 1882–3. Apart from some works upstairs, he built on a bay at the back of the ground-floor dining-room and in the garden added on a large billiard-room connected to the main floor of the house by a flight of steps. This may also have been the time when the wall between the two main ground-floor rooms was once again shifted, and the present woodwork of the main stair installed. (fn. 70)
The house was expanded once again in 1902–3 when Quilter, having acquired the stables to the north of his garden room, proceeded to build a new house there, the present No. 28 South Street, to designs by Detmar Blow. Quilter connected the back of that house with No. 74 by means of a passage leading into the side of the picture gallery (as the garden room was now called), and this was duly much altered by Blow at the same time. (fn. 71) For some years Quilter seems to have lived at No. 28 South Street and sub-let No. 74, which he was thinking of selling along with his furniture and pictures for 'not … less than £250,000'. (fn. 72) Yet in 1906 he applied for a further term, which was agreed only on condition that Quilter would refront the house in Portland stone, as H. L. Bischoffsheim had just agreed to do at No. 75. At this stage the front was said to be of 'painted cement' (perhaps another result of the changes of 1832), but Quilter argued for its beauty, claiming that 'it would be simply desecration to interfere with it as it is in keeping with the interior which is "Adam"'. After the terms had been reduced and Eustace Balfour agreed to design the front himself in a Georgian manner, Quilter submitted. The present elevation, retaining the existing pattern of fenestration, was therefore provided by the builders Foster and Dicksee in 1908. A surprisingly plain front with a portico at the north end and pilasters, it contrives to retain much of the Arts and Crafts eccentricity for which the firm of Balfour and Turner is noted (Plate 44c in vol. XXXIX). Quilter quickly sold his interest in the house once the work was completed. (fn. 73)
The next known alterations to No. 74 occurred in 1919 at the hands of the decorators Turner Lord and Company. (fn. 74) In 1925 the house was subdivided and part of the premises came into commercial use, but no major changes are known. (fn. 75) In 1936–7 a more thoroughgoing conversion was undertaken. On behalf of A. E. Mallinson, the architect W. J. Pierre-Hunt turned the upper floors into flats, while Pilditch, Chadwick and Company, surveyors, made the ground-floor premises suitable for the Alpine Club. This involved opening out the two main rooms into one long gallery, reinstating the wall between front room and stairs, and returning the main entrance to its original position, with new glass doors both here and at the entrance to the gallery. At the back, Quilter's picture gallery became the club's library. (fn. 76) Since then some few alterations have been made, such as the installation of a lift and the removal of some portion of the decorations on the upper part of the main stair.
Occupants include: Portuguese ambassador or envoy, 1747–1829. 1st Earl Cawdor, 1832–60: his son, 2nd Earl, 1860–82. (Sir) William Cuthbert Quilter, M.P., director of National Telephone Co., latterly 1st bt., and father of Roger Quilter the composer, 1882–1908. Alpine Club, 1939–present.
No. 75, still sometimes referred to as Bute House, is now the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt. Though its interior dates largely from a substantial reconstruction undertaken in 1926, it still contains clues to a history as noble and as intricate as that of any surviving house on the estate (Plates 83b, 83c, 83d, 84, 85, figs. 75–6: see also Plate 43a in vol. XXXIX).
When Edward Shepherd first laid out this range, he planned no less than three houses here, with a total frontage of some sixty-eight feet. Of the plots leased to him in 1736, the house at the corner with Deanery Street was to have twenty-two feet in front and the next one north nineteen and a half feet, but the house next to No. 74 was not only wider (twenty-six feet) but was allotted nearly the whole of the back land behind, stretching through to Park Lane on the west, South Street on the north, and the Grosvenor estate's boundary with the Dean and Chapter of Westminster's to the south. (fn. 77)
In order to dispose of the houses Shepherd was obliged to change these arrangements. In 1738 the two southern houses, which had restricted gardens, were sold to John St. John (later Viscount St. John) who occupied them as one. St. John paid no less than £4,000 for these premises, suggesting a high degree of finish and decoration, but the earliest available plan (fig. 75) shows that the two parts had been completed virtually as separate entities. The plan also indicates openings, probably similar in form to the Venetian windows extant at No. 71 and perhaps indicating that this end of the range complemented the other end in design, on the frontage towards South Audley Street, one of them being used for a door. (fn. 78)
On the northern part of the site, it was noted in 1738 'that the Treaty which was lately on Foot between his Grace, the Duke of Argyll and Mr. Shepherd, a noted Architect, for the Purchase of the fine House in Audleystreet … is broke off; and that the said House, which, for the Elegancy of the Building, Extent of the Garden, Fineness of the Situation and Beauty of its Prospect, exceeds any other Building near London is now to be sold'. (fn. 79) In the event Shepherd seems to have granted only a short tenancy and a restricted amount of ground to the first occupant here, the second Earl of Halifax, reserving a large proportion of the back land along South Street. Halifax does however seem to have secured a larger house than was first intended, with a front of forty-two feet, of which seventeen were taken from the as-yet unoccupied No. 74. Though this breadth did not extend the full depth of plot, the house enjoyed storey heights comparable with those of No. 74 and higher than those of St. John's house. (fn. 80)
After St. John died in 1748 the southern house was let furnished for five years to the Dowager Lady Monson, at a rent of £220. At this point the ground-floor rooms consisted of a 'fore parlour', dining-room, drawing-room, small octagon room facing Deanery Street, hall and great staircase, with a further drawing-room and a 'gallery' of some grandeur above. (fn. 81) Then in 1754 a more notable inhabitant arrived in the shape of John, third Earl of Bute, then forty-one and soon to be political mentor to the Prince of Wales, later George III. Besides the house Bute also bought the stables, which faced east on to Deanery Street just south of the estate boundary. (fn. 82)
With the accession of George III in 1760, Bute as the theoretician of absolutism became the central, controversial figure in affairs of state and was Prime Minister in 1762–3. Apart from his political career he also harboured large architectural ambitions. After consideration of various sites, work began in 1763 on a splendid house to be built by Robert Adam for him off Berkeley Square, the future Lansdowne House. But financial extravagance and violent opposition to his politics forced Bute to withdraw from public life in 1765 and to sell this house, half-finished, to Lord Shelburne. Though he entertained the idea of buying another Adam house off Piccadilly, he in the event retained the house in South Audley Street, whose windows received the attentions of the Wilkite mob in 1768. (fn. 83) Henceforward Bute's life was quiet and scholarly, but his architectural interests were undiminished. Luton Hoo, the country house which he had bought in 1762, was being grandly enlarged by the Adams from 1766, and there is evidence of some works by them at South Audley Street. In 1766 Bute was told by a friend that the house would not be 'in a condition to receive you and your Family for some time', while a bill of 1773 from the carver Sefferin Nelson certified by Robert and James Adam refers to an elaborate chimneypiece 'for the Town House'. (fn. 84) Nevertheless the few traces of mid-Georgian work visible in No. 75 today are less likely to be due to the Adams than to Bute's next campaign of works, the background to which must now be explained.
The great westward expanse of ground that originally accompanied the northernmost house on the site of No. 75 had already been curtailed in the 1750's by development on the south side of South Street. It was further reduced in 1770 when Lord Milton, who had built what was later to be known as Dorchester House immediately south of this ground, bought the northern house in order to extend his garden. Having no use for the house itself, he in 1774 sold it to Lord Bute with only a third of its original garden and a set of stabling facing South Street. (fn. 85) Bute now added this house to his own, thus creating a larger house equivalent in size to the modern No. 75, and in 1775–6 undertook substantial alterations under the direction of the up-and coming firm of Lancelot (Capability) Brown and Henry Holland, architects and builders.
Brown and Holland's works at No. 75 cost at least £3,700 but are in many respects obscure. (fn. 86) The structural works may chiefly have involved the northern part, where a semi-circular bay was added at the back; as yet, however, no attempt was made to equalize the storey-heights or to make the front uniform. Much of the expenditure probably concerned internal decorations. In November 1775 Lady Mary Coke reported that Lady Bute's new apartment was 'very fine but not yet furnish'd'. (fn. 87) Sixty years later came allusions to 'the magnificent productions of the pencil of Cipriani and other Italian artists' which decorated the walls and overdoors of 'five spacious saloons' and were in a 'style wholly Etruscan', as well as to valuable furniture and massive 'mirrors from the ceiling to the floor occupying every vacant space'. (fn. 88) Allowing for inaccuracies and the possibility that some of this may have been earlier or later work, the most probable date for these decorations is 1775–6. A number of surviving chimneypieces on the ground floor and cornices and a dado-rail in the drawing-rooms also accord well with Holland's customary style.
Bute died in 1792 and was succeeded by his son, who soon asked for a new lease. (fn. 89) Though no renewal was granted, a comparison of plans taken of the property in about 1797 and in 1811–12 indicates that between these dates the new owner undertook further major works. A possible candidate for this job is Robert Mylne, who was much concerned with Bute's properties at the time and 'viewed the house all over' in 1802. (fn. 90) The front was regularized, given plain sash windows and probably stuccoed throughout, while two further bays in brick were put on the southern portion of the back to make the rear elevation uniform. Much internal rearrangement must also have occurred to even out the levels, chiefly in the central portion of the house, and the back staircase was moved. (fn. 91)
In 1811 Lord Bute put the house up for sale. Describing it to the Duke of Newcastle, the Bond Street house agent and upholsterer John Johnstone listed among its attractions fine views over the park, a deep terrace behind the house, and heights of sixteen feet to the principal storeys. (fn. 92) Both house and furniture were purchased by the fourth Duke of Buccleuch, who in 1812 set about repairs and furnishings that cost him £4,591. (fn. 3) Inventories of 1812 and 1816 show that at this time there were two dining-rooms on the ground floor, a 'blue room' in the middle at the back, and directly above this a 'painted drawing-room' with mirrors, as the central of the three first-floor bow rooms. (fn. 93)
These last rooms were to be severely damaged in March 1835 during the tenancy of the next occupant, William Lewis Hughes, Lord Dinorben, by a fire that destroyed most of the decorative work on the first floor and made some of the ceilings collapse. (fn. 94) Nothing is known of what must have been major works of reinstatement, but the three bows at the back, hitherto 'of a beautiful red brick and inimitable workmanship' were probably now stuccoed and a conservatory was perhaps added. Dinorben had already acquired a new lease in 1819 and, by an arrangement of 1833 with John Feetham, accepted stables built by the latter at the present No. 26 South Street in exchange for his previous ones a little further west. In the year of the fire the plots were slightly rearranged and No. 75 lost any direct connexion with the premises in South Street. (fn. 95)
In 1872 the Hughes family gave up the house in favour of Henri Louis Bischoffsheim, founder of the bank of Bischoffsheim and Goldschmidt and a notable connoisseur of French furniture and art. Bischoffsheim quickly added a 'new portico', perhaps no more than the modest canopy present in 1891 over the front door, then close to the corner with Deanery Street (fn. 96) (Plate 83b). Of more extensive alterations probably made by him precise details are wanting. By 1876 the famous ceiling painting by Giambattista Tiepolo (Allegory of Venus and Time, now in the National Gallery) had been installed in the house along with its four accompanying roundels in grisaille. (fn. 97) In 1880 a new lease included clauses relating to 'the hand painting and tapestry etc.'. Two years later a small coach-house was built in the garden to designs by W. H. Syme, and several subsequent minor changes are recorded. (fn. 98) In 1897–8 Balfour and Turner altered the bay towards Deanery Street and the conservatory was remodelled, while in 1902–3 a lift was installed, some of the fireplaces were changed, and a marble dado and some architraves were put in by Turner Lord and Company in the region of the main staircase. (fn. 99)
The appearance of No. 75 during Bischoffsheim's tenancy is known from two illustrated articles that appeared in The King during 1902 (Plates 84, 85). 'From the architectural point of view', their author says, 'the inside of the house has no more to recommend it than the outside; the rooms are well-proportioned, and have a certain stateliness, but that is all. The house is made what it is by its fittings, its furniture, its decoration… .' The planning in fact remained as it had been since 1812, but the decorations had assumed an elaborate French manner to suit Bischoffsheim's sumptuous collections. The main staircase had an ornamental iron balustrade; one of two large figurative bronzes now in the garden stood at its foot, then carrying a candelabrum. At the back of the house on the ground floor were ranged from north to south the ballroom, the blue drawing-room and the boudoir, behind which was a conservatory (Plate 85b). The Tiepolos were then in the blue drawing-room (so called since at least 1812), the walls of which were covered in a delicate handpainted satin. The walls of the boudoir were also hung with blue painted satin, below an ornamental cornice, while the ceiling was covered with pieces of tapestry set in gilded mouldings. On the first floor the central back room was a large dining-room, and the adjoining room to the north the black drawing-room (with furniture upholstered in black satin) which communicated with the music room overlooking South Audley Street. It is quite possible that a number of decorative features shown in the photographs of 1902 go back to alterations made in the Butes' time. (fn. 100)
One further major change during Bischoffsheim's residence occurred in 1907. He had asked for a longer lease, which was agreed in exchange for the refronting of No. 75 in Portland stone—an idea emanating from the Estate solicitor G. F. Hatfield and extended shortly afterwards to Nos. 73 and 74. Bischoffsheim's elevation, 'taken from a book of Inigo Jones' Georgian designs', was submitted to the Grosvenor Board and subsequently revised by one Richard Philip or Phillip(s), but on publication was described as the work of Cyrille Joseph Corblet, architect, with Philip acting only as executant; the contractors were Foster and Dicksee. In 1908 an iron-andglass porch was added. (fn. 101) In appearance the new front indeed reflected the Edwardian conception of Palladianism (Plate 83c). It is derived in part from the Banqueting House, having Ionic pilasters intervening regularly between the windows. There are pediments to the groundfloor windows, a strong frieze and cornice over the main upper storey, and a full balustraded attic. But the presence of an off-centre doorway, still then close to Deanery Street, detracted from the composition's formality.
Bischoffsheim died in 1908 but his family kept No. 75 until 1926, when its final transformation occurred. Perhaps in anticipation of a state visit from King Fuad, the Egyptian Government offered in 1925 to buy the freehold for £50,000, terms which the Estate thought 'extraordinarily favourable' and promptly accepted. (fn. 102) Fernand Billerey was then commissioned to reconstruct the interior for the Legation, with Holland, Hannen and Cubitt as contractors. Billerey achieved this behind the front of 1907 with one major external alteration, the removal of the entrance to a position nearer the north end of the house (Plate 83d). Behind this he constructed a spacious new hall and ceremonial staircase in a refined French-classical manner, with steps in Tavernel stone (cut in Brussels) and a wrought-iron balustrade made in Paris (Plate 43a in vol. XXXIX). The old stair disappeared and most of the reception rooms were redecorated, the ground floor in an English taste, the first floor in a Louis XVI style, though aspects of the previous schemes remained. The Tiepolo ceiling painting and roundels were rearranged in the new ballroom at the north end of the first-floor suite. Next to it is the 'salon', Bischoffsheim's large dining-room, where the naturalistically painted flowerpieces and arabesques are said to have been carefully repaired; this is the descendant of the 'painted room' allegedly burnt in 1835, so some parts of these paintings and of other decorative elements in the room go back to Bute's time. Beyond this is a dining-room, in 1927 the 'state bedroom', containing the cornice and tapestry ceiling which Billerey moved here from Bischoffheim's boudoir immediately below. The ground-floor rooms, less elaborate, still retain some fine old chimneypieces. Behind the house, Billerey removed the conservatory and built stepped loggias running down into the garden; that on the north communicates with offices at No. 24 South Street. (fn. 103)
Apart from the restoration of the southern end of the front after war damage, the Embassy has been little altered since 1927 and continues to be kept up in style. In 1969 the main Tiepolo was bought for the National Gallery and a replica painted by John Lewis for the ballroom, where the original roundels remain. (fn. 104)
Occupants include: No. 75 (north), 2nd Earl of Halifax, 1739–46. Simon Luttrell, M.P., latterly Baron Irnham, later successively Viscount and 1st Earl of Carhampton, 1748–69. United with No. 75 (south), 1774. No. 75 (south), John St. John, latterly 2nd Viscount Saint John of Battersea, 1738–48. Dow. Lady Monson, wid. of 1st Baron, 1750–2. 1st Earl of Powis, 1752–4. 3rd Earl of Bute, sometime Prime Minister, 1754–92: house united with No. 75 (north), 1774: his wid., 1792–4: their son, 1st Marquess of Bute, 1800–12. 4th Duke of Buccleuch, 1812–19. William Lewis Hughes, M.P., latterly 1st Baron Dinorben, 1819–52: his wid., 1852–71. Henry Louis Bischoffsheim, banker, 1873–1908: his wid., 1908–22: their da., Amelia, Lady Fitzgerald, wid. of Sir Maurice Fitzgerald, 2nd bt. and 20th Knight of Kerry, 1924–6. Egyptian Legation or Embassy, 1927 present.