Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.
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Charles II Street
Charles Street—the name was changed to Charles II Street in 1939—is first mentioned by name in the ratebooks of the parish of St. Martin in 1672, although the intended street already bore that designation in 1665 (see page 77). The ground on both sides of the street for two hundred feet east of St. James's Square was part of the land granted freehold by the Crown to the Earl of St. Albans's trustees in 1665. The ground facing the remainder of the street formed part of the land leased in 1661 by Henrietta Maria's trustees to the Earl of St. Albans's trustees for thirty years; subsequent grants extended this term to 1740. In 1663 the Earl's trustees granted seven leases of land in Charles Street; in 1664 they granted two more, in 1669 four, and in 1670 two, all for terms of between forty-two and fortyfive years. (fn. 1) Lessees included Abraham Story, master mason, (fn. 2) Ralph Norris, who was perhaps a relation of Francis Norris, bricklayer, (fn. 3) and John Angier. (fn. 4) Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1681–2 and Blome's map of 1689 (Plates 2, 3) show that the building of houses along both sides of the street had then been completed.
In 1720 John Strype described Charles Street as 'large and handsome'. (fn. 5) But at the east end of the street the houses had low rating assessments and owing to their proximity to St. James's Market were probably mean in character. The only direct access from Charles Street to the Haymarket was through the yard of the Bell Inn.
The eastward extension of Charles Street is closely connected with the history of the Opera House (see pages 237–8). In or shortly after 1795 Thomas Leverton, who was architect to the Land Revenue Department, (fn. 6) prepared plans for the improvement of the theatre which provided inter alia for the extension of Charles Street to the Haymarket. (fn. 7) In 1799 the manager of the theatre, William Taylor, obtained statutory powers for this purpose, (fn. 8) but nothing was done until after the passing of the New Street (i.e., Regent Street) Act in 1813. John Nash's plans included a proposal that the theatre should be enlarged and insulated by widening the east end of Pall Mall and extending Charles Street to the Haymarket. The execution of this scheme was completed in 1818 (see page 241).
The formation of Regent Street also involved the demolition of a number of houses in Charles Street, which was thereby divided into two halves. The section of Regent Street between Piccadilly and Pall Mall was completed in 1819. (fn. 9)
The Earl of Galloway's house
A house for John Stewart, seventh Earl of Galloway, in Charles Street is included in a list published in 1815 of the buildings 'designed and erected' by John Johnson (1732–1814). (fn. 10) Shortly after his succession to the earldom in 1773 Galloway obtained a renewal of the Crown lease of the house he then occupied on the south side of the street, and of the adjoining house to the west, and on this combined site a new house with a street frontage of some sixty-three feet (fn. 11) was built in 1775–6. (fn. 12) In 1778 John Johnson exhibited at the Society of Artists a design for the chimneypiece in the 'Drawing parlour' of the Earl's new house. (fn. 13)
The Earl of Galloway occupied the house until his death in 1806. He was succeeded by his son, the eighth Earl, who lived there until 1820, (fn. 14) except in the years 1809–10, when the house was occupied by the Earl of Liverpool, then Secretary for War and the Colonies and later Prime Minister. (fn. 15)
In 1814 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests decided that it would be necessary to buy the Earl of Galloway's leasehold interest in the house for the formation of Regent Street. (fn. 16) The house itself was not demolished, but the adjoining stable yard and offices were removed 'to make way for the Buildings fronting the New Street', and in c. 1820 the freehold of the house was sold by the Commissioners to Pascoe Grenfell, M.P., for £11,000. (fn. 17)
Pascoe Grenfell occupied the house until 1827, (fn. 12) when he was succeeded by the Archbishop of Armagh, who remained there until his death in 1862. (fn. 18) He was succeeded by the Marquis of Waterford, who lived there until his death in 1895. (fn. 19)
In 1896 the trustees of the Marquis of Waterford desired to sell the house, and the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, realizing that its acquisition by the Crown would in due course facilitate the satisfactory rebuilding of the adjoining houses in Waterloo Place, took the opportunity to repurchase the freehold. (fn. 20) The house was demolished in 1912. (fn. 21) The site is now occupied by No. 29 Charles II Street, which forms the return front of No. 11 Waterloo Place.
No. 10 Charles II Street
In 1825 John Howell of the firm of Howell and James, haberdashers and warehousemen of No. 9 Regent Street, (fn. 22) purchased the lease of No. 10 Charles Street. (fn. 23) This house, which backed on to his premises in Regent Street, was occupied by Howell until 1834. (fn. 12) In 1833 it 'was redecorated outside with a neat cemented front, and a novel doorway with frontispiece, which often attracted the eyes of the passers-by'. (fn. 24) This work was carried out by J. B. Papworth, whose designs are in the library of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
During the period 1826–34 Papworth was also employed by Howell to carry out important structural alterations to the premises in Regent Street, (fn. 25) and in 1838 the rear portion of No. 10 Charles Street appears to have been made to communicate with the shop in Regent Street. (fn. 26)
From 1835 until 1877 No. 10 Charles Street was occupied successively by John and Andrew Lawrie of the firm of Lawrie and M'Grigor, army agents. (fn. 27) In 1878 it was re-occupied by Messrs. Howell and James and considerable alterations were made. The work included the rearrangement of a number of rooms on the ground and second storeys, the enlargement of the groundstorey windows, the insertion of new casements in the windows of the second, third and fourth storeys and the addition of a new upper storey. The architect was Alexander Graham. (fn. 28)
Messrs. Howell and James occupied No. 10 Charles Street from 1877 to 1893. The house was then divided. (fn. 22)
The front elevation is five storeys high (the fifth being an added attic) and three windows wide. The design is typical of Papworth—a neoclassical composition carried out in cement. The ground storey contains the doorway on the left of a large shop window, formed by removing the pier between the original two windows. The surviving piers are simply rusticated and the doorway has a cornice-hood projecting on scroll-consoles. A cast-iron balcony extends in front of the three second-storey windows, which are set in a framing of pilasters, with panelled shafts and capitals of fluting between acanthus leaves, supporting a cornice. The middle window of the third storey is dressed with a triangular pediment resting on consoles, but the flanking windows, and those in the fourth storey, have simple architraves. Below the attic storey is an entablature consisting of a plain frieze and a modillioned cornice returned against each end of the front.
The Junior United Service Club
The United Service Club was founded in 1816. Its first permanent home was in the club-house erected in 1817–19 at the north-east corner of Charles Street and Regent Street. This building proved too small and in 1827 it was sold to the recently formed Junior United Service Club; the United Service Club then moved to the new clubhouse at the south-east corner of Pall Mall and Waterloo Place which it still occupies. The Junior United Service Club rebuilt their clubhouse in 1854–7 and continued to occupy the site at the corner of Charles Street and Regent Street until the amalgamation of the club with the United Service Club in 1953. The club-house in Charles II Street was demolished shortly afterwards and its site is now occupied by the Atomic Energy Authority of the United Kingdom.
The founder of the United Service Club was Lieutenant-General Thomas, Lord Lynedoch, better known as Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham. He took the chair at a meeting of senior Army officers at the Thatched House Tavern in St. James's Street on 31 May 1815, when it was decided to 'form a general Military Club'. A committee of management was formed, temporary premises were taken in Albemarle Street, and the first general meeting was held there on 13 January 1816. Shortly afterwards the application of the Navy Club to join the new club was accepted, and the name of the club was changed to the United Service Club. (fn. 29)
On 22 February 1816 the newly established committee of naval and military members appointed (Sir) Robert Smirke to be the architect for the proposed permanent club-house. (fn. 30) The New Street was then in course of construction, and on 14 May the committee decided to accept the plot at the corner of Charles Street on which the first clubhouse was later built. A week later Smirke submitted preliminary plans and the committee 'came to an unanimous Resolution of Building accordingly and with as little delay as possible'. (fn. 31) The United Service's was thus the first members' clubhouse to be built in London.
Its erection did not begin until March 1817, the delay being perhaps caused by difficulty in obtaining possession of the site. The building contract, which provided for the completion of the house by 11 October 1818 at a cost of £15,483, was signed on 18 February 1817 (fn. 32) and on 1 March a plate with the following inscription was attached to the foundation stone: 'To Lieutenant General Thomas Lord Lynedoch, Kt. & G.C.B. The United Service Club as a memorial of the high sense it entertains of his judicious action which led to its establishment and of the zeal with which he so beneficially devoted his unceasing devotion to its interests has caused this plate to be inscribed and to be deposited with the foundation stone of their house on the 1st day of March and in the fifty-eighth year of the reign of George the third MDCCCXVII Robert Smirke, architect.' (fn. 33)
Smirke's contract drawings probably provided for an extremely plain building. In August 1817 his suggestion that an extra outlay of £300 would 'enable him to improve the exterior Appearance . . . very considerably by rising the parapit [sic] Wall . . . and ornamenting the Walls' on the Regent Street and Charles Street fronts, was approved by the committee. (fn. 34) In March 1818 he was authorized to erect 'a large and handsome Balcony' and ornamental pillars on the Regent Street front; the portico and balcony on the Charles Street front appear to have been additions decided upon at the same time, but they may have been included in the contract designs of 1817 and enlarged in 1818 to balance the extra embellishment of the Regent Street front. (fn. 35)
Smirke's building (Plate 64) occupied an oblong site, with frontages of 65 feet to Regent Street and 100 feet to Charles Street. The principal rooms were contained in two lofty storeys, and the kitchens, staff offices, etc., were in the basement. Servants' sleeping quarters were contrived in mezzanines and, no doubt, in inwardfacing garrets. The plan was simple and, in general principles, similar to Smirke's other clubhouses. The doorway, within the central portico on the Charles Street front, gave access to the entrance hall, with the steward's room on the left (west) side, and a doorway at the end (north) opening to the staircase hall where, behind a threebay colonnade, the stairs rose to the principal floor. A doorway in the west wall of the staircase hall opened to the middle bay of the three-bay coffee-room, its windows overlooking Regent Street and Charles Street. A corresponding doorway in the east wall of the staircase hall led into an ante-room, with two parlours on the east and the dining-room on the south, its windows overlooking Charles Street. This general arrangement of rooms was repeated on the first floor, or principal storey, with a large saloon on the west, a twincompartmented library on the south, and again two parlours on the east.
The exterior was 'Grecian' rather than 'Greek', bold in scale and sparsely ornamented, both fronts, presumably, being of painted stucco. The 'principal front' to Charles Street was divided by massive plain pilasters into three bays, and the division between the two storeys was articulated by a bandcourse, moulded between the pilasters. The middle bay was the widest, with a Greek Doric tetrastyle portico projecting from the ground storey. The three tall rectangular windows of the principal storey opened on to a balcony above the portico, finished with railings of cast iron set between stone or stucco pedestals. The windows were without ornament but in the wall face above was a long bas-relief panel representing 'Britannia distributing rewards to naval and military heroes'. (fn. 38) Each side bay contained two tiers of three closely spaced windows, those of the ground storey being tall and rectangular, those of the principal storey having round-arched heads, with moulded archivolts rising from moulded imposts. A frieze of anthemion ornament was introduced in the side bays only, and the front was finished with a boldly moulded Doric cornice surmounted by a pedestal parapet. All the available evidence suggests that the Regent Street elevation contained three large round-arched windows, lighting the first-floor saloon and opening on to a balcony above the Doric colonnade which fronted the ground storey.
The interior appears to have gone unrecorded, but remembering the low cost of the building, it seems probable that simplicity ruled. The principal rooms would, no doubt, have had much the same character as those in the Oxford and Cambridge University Club.
Smirke's building was not a success. In 1822 some £600 were spent on internal alterations and the enlargement of the house was considered three years later. At an extraordinary general meeting in February 1826 it was decided that the impending demolition of Carlton House presented the club with an opportunity which might never occur again 'of procuring a situation where a new House may be erected with every desireable accommodation in lieu of expending money upon the present building'. The committee was therefore authorized to procure a lease of a new site and sell the existing house. (fn. 39)
The club-house was first offered, unsuccessfully, to the Travellers' Club. (fn. 40) On 24 March 1827, when the United Service Club's new building in Pall Mall was in course of erection, Captain J. E. Johnson held a meeting at the British Coffee House in Cockspur Street to consider the establishment of a club to be called the Junior United Service Club. His proposition, which was read to the meeting, stated that it was 'a matter of general complaint that while only Field Officers are admissible to The United Service Club all those below that rank have no similar establishment to which they may resort', and that the establishment of his proposed club would 'have the effect of preventing young and inexperienced officers from resorting to those haunts of excess and dissipation of which so many have been the deluded victims'. (fn. 41) The meeting was evidently successful, for a provisional committee with Johnson as chairman was formed, and only three weeks later the United Service Club accepted the offer of the Junior to purchase the club-house in Charles Street for £15,000. (fn. 42) This offer was endorsed by the provisional committee of the Junior at its meeting on 23 April 1827. Subsequently the club moved into temporary quarters in Dover Street until possession of the house in Charles Street could be obtained. (fn. 43)
Captain Johnson was appointed secretary of the club in April 1827, but his integrity seems to have been questioned, and his connexion with the club ended in the following July. (fn. 44)
In December 1827 Decimus Burton was appointed consulting architect to the club. Shortly afterwards doubts seem to have arisen as to the suitability of Smirke's building as a home for the club, but in March 1828 a general meeting rejected a proposal to build a new club-house. Possession of the building in Charles Street was obtained in July 1828, (fn. 45) members of the United Service Club being offered accommodation there until the completion of their house in Pall Mall. (fn. 46)
In 1830 Burton prepared plans for the removal of the 'Heavy Colonnade and Balcony' which darkened the coffee-room on the Regent Street front, and for the enlargement of the parapet. After some negotiation the Commissioners of Woods and Forests sanctioned the removal of the columns on condition that the parapet should be replaced by a balustrade. It is not certain whether this alteration was executed, but in the autumn of 1830 important modifications of the interior, including an entirely new staircase, were carried out at a cost of £14,670, which was very nearly as much as the club had paid for the purchase of the building. (fn. 47)
Despite this heavy expenditure the accommodation provided in the club-house was evidently inadequate and uncomfortable. In 1836, 1838, 1844 and 1850 the committee enquired whether the Commissioners of Woods and Forests could grant the club a larger site elsewhere. In 1847 a proposal to purchase the adjoining St. Albans Hotel and three houses in St. Alban's Place and to build a new home on this much larger site was thwarted by the exorbitant terms demanded by the sitting tenants. (fn. 48)
In 1851, however, the leases of the three houses in St. Alban's Place, and in 1854 that of the St. Albans Hotel, were purchased at a total cost of over £18,000 and in April 1854 plans for the rebuilding of the club-house to the designs of Thomas Cundy, junior, were submitted to the Commissioners. (fn. 49) James Pennethorne, the Commissioners' architect, reported that Cundy's elevation (fn. 50) provided for 'so large and magnificent a Structure that every possible facility should, in my opinion, be afforded for its erection'. (fn. 51)
Plans of the ground and first floors, and a perspective view of the exterior, show Thomas Cundy's scheme for rebuilding the club-house. (fn. 50) The plans reflect the influence of Charles Barry; so, for that matter, does the design for the exterior, which might fairly be regarded as a Victorian adaptation of Inigo Jones's Banqueting House.
The ground-floor plan provides for a drawing-room overlooking Regent Street and a large coffee-room overlooking Charles Street. Between these rooms is a small vestibule, with a short flight of stairs rising to the top-lit hall, having an arcaded corridor on three sides and an enclosed staircase at its east end. East of the hall is the smaller coffee-room, and to the north lies the strangers' diningroom. On the upper storey is the writing-room, over the drawing-room; the card-room, over the vestibule, etc.; the library, over the large coffeeroom ; and the remaining space is largely taken up by three rooms for billiards and smoking.
Cundy's plans were rejected by the club, probably on grounds of expense, and at about this time the committee obtained the option of first refusal of the site of Buckingham House, Pall Mall. This proposal was also rejected on the same grounds, (fn. 52) and in July 1854 the building committee of the club authorized T. Marsh Nelson, of the firm of Nelson and Innes, to submit plans for alterations and additions to the existing clubhouse for the Commissioners' approval. (fn. 51)
Nelson's first plans (fn. 50) provided for the retention of that part of the existing house west of the east wall of the staircase, and for rebuilding in the same style on the rest of the enlarged site. (fn. 51) These proposals were considerably modified and ultimately the elevations of the new club-house as completed in 1857 (Plate 65a) bore no resemblance to Smirke's building. The positions of the entrance and staircase were not, however, altered, and owing to the enlargement of the site they were no longer in the centre of the Charles Street front. The builder was George Myers of Belvedere Road, Lambeth. (fn. 53)
The foundation stone of the new building was laid by the chairman of the club, the Earl of Orkney, on 29 March 1855. The plate attached to the foundation stone of the first building was uncovered during the course of demolition. It was relaid with the following inscription on the reverse: 'The Club House built by the United Service Club in the year 1817 was purchased by the Junior United Service Club on its formation in 1827, and occupied by the latter Club until 1854, when the original House was taken down and a new Building erected on the site. The first stone of the new House was laid on the twentyninth day of March in the 18th year of the Reign of Queen Victoria. 1855.' (fn. 54) The caryatids on the main staircase, the 'sculptured group allegorical of the Army and Navy' which was placed above the bay window on the Regent Street front, and some other sculptural embellishments were the work of John Thomas. (fn. 55) The stained glass above the staircase was by Ballantyne of Edinburgh. (fn. 56)
During the rebuilding the club was temporarily accommodated first at No. 15 St. James's Square and latterly at the Wellington Hotel, St. James's Street. The new club-house was opened on 3 March 1857. (fn. 57)
Two elevations, but no plans, have survived to show T. Marsh Nelson's original designs for the alterations and additions proposed in 1854 to be made to Smirke's building. (fn. 50) The middle and west bays of the Charles Street front are retained, with some minor changes of detail (pediments added to the three windows of the middle bay and an open balustrade instead of the pedestal-parapet) which might, in fact, have already been made by Decimus Burton. The extension on the east side contains a large and lofty room on the ground storey, and a dome-roofed room above. The wide pilasters, Doric cornice and crowning balustrade of the then-existing building are repeated in the elevation of this addition, which is a composition of three bays, one very wide between two narrow, that on the east side not carried up to the full height. The middle bay contains, in the ground storey, a segmental bow window of three lights, set between two round-arched windows; above is a range of five round-arched windows, similar to those in Smirke's front but placed at a much higher level. The narrow flanking bays have one round-arched window in each storey. Smirke's front to Regent Street was to be altered by removing the Doric colonnade and forming a bow window in the middle of the ground storey. Again, it is possible that part of this work had already been carried out under Burton's direction.
An account of the new club-house, designed by T. Marsh Nelson, appeared in The Builder, (fn. 58) from which some of the facts in the following description have been derived. Nelson's plans were much more simple and direct than those prepared by Cundy, who probably worked to the same programme. The enlarged site was L-shaped, fronting 65 feet to Regent Street, 135 feet to Charles Street, and 115 feet to St. Alban's Place. From about half-way along the Charles Street frontage, the west part of the ground storey was taken up by the hall and staircase, 32 feet wide and 53 feet deep, with a doorway in its west wall opening to the large morning-room, 30 feet wide and 63 feet long, having a large bay window overlooking Regent Street (fig. 51). A corresponding doorway in the east wall of the hall opened to the members' coffee-room, 41 feet wide and 66 feet long, with an even larger bay window to Charles Street. Opposite the bay, and behind a screen of paired columns, was the visitors' coffee-room. At the rear of the site, the arrangement of which was subsequently altered, was the smoking-room, 54 feet long and 22 feet wide, lit by a dome of painted glass. Between the smokingroom and the visitors' coffee-room was the house dining-room, various bars and serveries. The principal rooms on the first floor followed the same pattern. The evening-room was over the morning-room, the writing-room over the hall, and the library over the members' coffee-room. The basement contained the members' dressingand bath-rooms, etc., on the west part of the site, the rest being taken up by the kitchens and staff offices. Sleeping quarters for the staff were in the roof storey.
Architecturally, the building was best described by the adjective 'imposing'. The elevations (Plate 65a) were faced with Bath stone and detailed in the high Italian Renaissance manner, but the composition was undistinguished and the scale rather overwhelming. The ground-storey face was horizontally channelled, the upper face was of plain ashlar, the angles were quoined, and over all hung a beetling cornice, richly detailed but taken, it appears, from fig. 947 in Gwilt's Encyclopaedia. (fn. 59) The ground-storey windows were dressed with architraves and cornices resting on consoles, and the asymmetrically placed entrance was framed in a boldly rusticated archway. The first-floor windows had full tabernacle-frames with, alternately, triangular and segmental pediments. The twostoreyed bay in the centre of the Regent Street front was most elaborate, each storey being dressed with columns, pilasters, and entablatures, Doric below and Corinthian above. The middle window of each storey was round-arched and adorned with a carved mask-keystone and spandrels, those of the upper storey extending into the tympanum of an open segmental pediment. Above the blockingcourse was a group symbolizing the army and the navy, carved by John Thomas.
The interior was decidedly eclectic in style. The Viennese Baroque of Fischer von Erlach and Lukas von Hildebrandt must have inspired the hall—with its monumental doorcases, bracketed entablature, and screen of Ionic columns with swagged capitals—and the grand staircase (Plate 65c) which rose with a central flight to the halflanding, passing under an arcaded screen supported by caryatids, and returning in parallel flights to the first floor. Curiously enough, the railing was of a debased anthemion pattern and the caryatids, placed back-to-back, were 'Grecian'. The morning-room was also Baroque, with panelled pilasters and deep consoles supporting the main cornice. The members' coffee-room and the library were more sober in form, but rich in ornament, with columns and pilasters of scagliola —Ionic in the coffee-room and Corinthian in the library—and elaborate compartmented ceilings. The evening-room also served as the club's picture-gallery.
In 1869 the club purchased some adjoining premises in St. Alban's Place and in the following year this new space was used for the construction of improved domestic accommodation. At the same time the interior of the club was redecorated under the direction of Mr. Moody of the South Kensington Museum. (fn. 60) In 1903–4 servants' dormitories were built on the St. Alban's Place front, the architect being John Johnson. (fn. 61)
In 1914–15 the crowning cornice was raised above a new attic storey added by Sir Aston Webb, an improvement to both the accommodation and the appearance of the building (Plate 65b). The contractors were Trollope and Son. The whole of the new floor was used for members' bedrooms and bath-rooms, and on the ground floor a ladies' dining-room was provided. (fn. 62) The total estimated cost was £35,000. (fn. 63)
On 10 December 1952 extraordinary general meetings of the United Service Club and the Junior United Service Club were held simultaneously, and at both meetings resolutions approving the amalgamation of the two clubs were passed by overwhelming majorities. The amalgamation took effect from 1 February 1953. (fn. 64) The Junior United Service Club house was subsequently vacated, and it was demolished in 1955. (fn. 65) The site is now occupied by the Atomic Energy Authority of the United Kingdom, whose premises were designed by Trehearne and Norman Preston and Partners, in association with Leslie C. Norton; the builders were Trollope and Colls.