Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.
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St. James's Street, East Side
No. 3 St. James's Street and Pickering Place
The ground upon which these houses stand formed part of the freehold estate granted in 1665 by Charles II to the trustees of the Earl of St. Albans. In 1669 the site of the present No. 3 St. James's Street was leased by the Earl of St. Albans's trustees to Thomas Purcell for forty-five years at a rent of £13 a year, and a house was probably built there before 1676. (fn. 7) Between 1686 and 1690 it appears to have been occupied by James Prestwick.
The ratebooks indicate that in 1690 this house was divided into two, and four small tenements were built at the back on the site of what had been James Prestwick's garden; the entrance to the courtyard thus formed was presumably through a covered passage. The court became known as Stroud's Court, named after Thomas Stroud, who from 1691 to 1695 occupied the northern of the two houses in St. James's Street. (fn. 8)
In or about 1699 Widow Bourne became the occupant of this house, and is said to have opened a grocer's shop or coffee mill there, thus establishing the business which is still carried on at No. 3 St. James's Street by Berry Brothers and Rudd Ltd., wine merchants. In 1703–4 she was succeeded by William Pickering, who was probably her son-in-law. (fn. 9) He was often described as a painter stainer, (fn. 10) but he was also a very successful grocer (fn. 11) and appears to have carried on both trades from his house in St. James's Street.
In April 1731 William Pickering entered into a building agreement with the ground landlords, Sir Thomas and Lady Hanmer. Sir Thomas Hanmer (1677–1746) had been Speaker of the House of Commons in 1714–15, (fn. 12) and his wife Elizabeth was the only child and heiress of Thomas Folkes of Bury St. Edmunds, who had been one of Lord Dover's trustees. In exchange for a new lease of the two old houses in St. James's Street and of the tenements in Stroud's Court, William Pickering agreed to demolish the existing buildings and to rebuild the whole property. The agreement also contained detailed specifications relating to the design, materials and workmanship of the new houses. (fn. 13)
The ratebooks show that the tenements in Stroud's Court were empty in 1732, and that in 1733 they were re-rated as three houses, a fourth (now No. 1 Pickering Place) forming the back premises of the more southerly of the two houses in St. James's Street. (fn. 14) In 1736 this court was described as 'a new Court'. (fn. 8) The ratebooks for 1733 show that the assessments for the two houses in the street, previously £40 each, were amalgamated and fixed at £61, which was paid by William Pickering until his death in 1734. This sheds little light on what rebuilding took place, but the architectural evidence suggests that Pickering did not observe all the conditions set out in the rebuilding agreement. Either he retained parts of the existing buildings or else he rebuilt the whole in a manner which, as far as those parts fronting on to the court are concerned, was not only remarkably old fashioned but did not comply with the detailed instructions in the agreement. The archaic character of the internal fittings cannot satisfactorily be accounted for by the permitted reuse of sound material from the existing houses (Plates 229a, 268b, figs. 68–9).
The new lease from Sir Thomas and Lady Hanmer to Pickering was executed in May 1732. The site was described as measuring 40 feet in breadth and 102 feet in depth, and having five newly erected messuages. The lease was for sixty-one years from 1733, at a peppercorn rent for the first year and at £60 a year thereafter. (fn. 15)
In 1734, and from 1741 onwards, the ratebooks described the court as Pickering Court; from 1812 it has been known as Pickering Place. (fn. 8)
William Pickering died in September 1734, leaving a considerable fortune. (fn. 11) His business was carried on by his two sons (fn. 16) and later, down to the present day, by their successors and business associates. In the late nineteenth century the grocery trade was abandoned and the firm concentrated on the sale of wine. (fn. 17)
From 1735 to 1737 both the houses facing St. James's Street were occupied by Elizabeth Pickering, but in 1738 the rating assessment was divided and they were then separately occupied by William Pickering's two sons, William and John. In 1756 the assessment was re-united and both houses were occupied for many years afterwards by John Clarke, the Pickerings' business successor. (fn. 8) George Berry first appears in the ratebooks in 1812, paying for both houses, but the directories show that from at least 1817 the northern shop was separately occupied. During the nineteenth- century a new window was inserted in this northern shop.
In 1931 the firm, then known as Berry Brothers and Co., took a new lease of both parts of No. 3. The lessor was Sir Charles Bunbury, (fn. 18) the direct descendant of the nephew and heir of Sir Thomas Hanmer who had granted William Pickering his lease almost two hundred years previously. The whole premises were thus restored to a single occupant. At the same time the northern shop-front was restored in conformity with an early nineteenth-century drawing in the possession of Messrs. Berry Brothers and Co., the details being copied from the two surviving bays of the southern shop. Various changes were also made in the interior. The architect employed was Mr. E. G. W. Souster. (fn. 19)
The small houses in Pickering Place have been little altered but the size of the court was greatly increased when the yard behind No. 4 St. James's Street, immediately to the north of Pickering Place, was added to it in 1821–3. (fn. 8) The dividing wall must have been demolished, and the building in the yard of No. 4 St. James's Street and adjoining to the most northern of the small houses in the court was given direct access to Pickering Place. This building became No. 5 Pickering Place and was first used as a billiard-room and a few years later as a warehouse. (fn. 8)
No. 3 St. James's Street (Plate 268b) is of three storeys with a garret in the roof and the front is six windows wide. It is faced with yellow stock brick with red dressings, and has a projecting brick frieze and moulded cornice between the second-storey windows and a parapet with a stone coping. The original double-hung sashes have now been replaced by crude casement windows and the former slated mansard roof (probably not original) has been rebuilt following war damage. Across the ground storey there is an arcaded shop-front in timber, the design and part of the fabric dating from the second half of the eighteenth century. It is of five bays, all of them glazed and two formed as double doors, with glazing of unusual quasi-Gothic design in the tympana. At the north end, slightly set back from the face of the shop-front, is the arched passage entrance to Pickering Place. The piers are panelled and there are moulded imposts and archivolts. A frieze and a cornice, formerly enriched with dentils, extend across the whole front above the arches. Above them again is a somewhat ill-related iron railing of recent date.
The interior (figs. 68–9) is divided into two unequal parts by a substantial brick wall which is cranked on plan. In the southern part the shop occupies the whole of the ground storey with the former partitions removed and the walls lined with oak panelling of a sixteenth-century character; on the first floor there is a large front room and a square room behind with a corner chimney-breast. The northern part has a front and back room on each floor, with a central stair compartment entered directly from the side passage. Apart from a little plain woodwork the upper flight of the staircase is the only remaining old feature in the house; it dates from the early eighteenth century and is constructed round an open well with square newel posts and closed strings. It has substantial plainly turned balusters supporting a wide handrail, which also caps the newels. The bottom flight, which had been removed at an unknown date, was replaced in 1931 and matches the upper part, but for many years before that the only access to the first floor had been by a staircase with its own entrance door inserted in the middle of the street front.
The upper part of the building was occupied separately and at some date, probably a little before 1900, an elaborate and rather self-consciously artistic scheme of decoration was carried out on the first floor. In the principal front room the heavily beamed ceiling and the dado panelling are entirely of mahogany, formerly French polished, and the upper parts of the walls, beneath their present covering of wallpaper, are of finely jointed red brick. The fireplace opening is lined with De Morgan tiles and flanked by pairs of broadly fluted columns of red and yellow marble with caps and bases of a metal resembling pewter. The wooden upper part contains three rectangular reliefs of figure subjects executed in the same metal and over them are arched recesses with mannered paintings of flowering plants at the back. The rear room has a similar ceiling and chimneypiece, the lower part of the latter being a heavy, almost monolithic design in brown marble. The second front room was refitted at the same time in a plainer manner and also several rooms on the second floor where oak was used instead of mahogany.
The passage leading to Pickering Place, which has a round-headed archway at the rear, as well as on the front, is lined for two-thirds of its height with wooden panelling, the side wall of the house being timber framed with brick infilling. The rear elevation, and the four-storeyed houses round the court, are much less finely built than the street front (Plate 229, figs. 68–9). The brick is a pinkish stock and there are broad bands at the first- and third-floor levels (except on No. 1), and an eaves parapet. The window openings have rough, cambered arches and most of them have double-hung sashes, those to Nos. 1 and 2 having wide frames nearly flush with the face of the brickwork. Nos. 3 and 4 each have an original, wooden doorcase with a cornice supported on carved brackets, and No. 2 has one with reeded mouldings and rosette stops dating from the early nineteenth century when the two ground-floor windows were made into one. Other alterations have been made to the rear of No. 3 St. James's Street and to the houses in the court, the plans of which are exceptionally small with no openings of any sort at the rear. Each floor has a single room with a corner chimney-breast, the modest staircases and entrance halls being squeezed in where they would fit. The rooms are lined with plain panelling with a simple chair-rail and box-cornice, the ground storey being better finished than those above. The staircase in No. 1 has closed strings and square newel posts except on the ground floor where they are formed as plain columns. The balusters are similar to those in No. 3 St. James's Street though not so large and there is a narrow well. Nos. 3 and 4 have dog-leg stairs with newel posts of the simplest and roughest type and a light well at the back. The stair to No. 2 has been rebuilt.
No. 6 St. James's Street
This house and shop have been occupied by Lock's, the hatters, since 1765. The business was originally established by Charles Davis in 1726 in one of the small shops which stood in front of the Thatched House Tavern on the west side of St. James's Street. (fn. 8) In 1751 Davis became one of the sidesmen at St. James's Church and (as might be expected) made hats for the parish beadles. (fn. 20) In February 1757 James Lock married Davis's daughter Mary, (fn. 21) and after her father's death in the winter of 1758–9 she inherited the business, which was carried on by Lock. (fn. 22)
In December 1764 James Lock acquired from Peter Vanina, figure maker, a lease of No. 6 St. James's Street, and the ratebooks record him as the occupant in 1765. (fn. 23) The site of the house formed part of the freehold land granted by the Crown to the Earl of St. Albans's trustees in 1665; by 1764 the ground landlord was James Finlayson, gentleman. (fn. 23)
James Lock retired in 1797; the business was continued by other members of the family and in 1872 passed into the hands of Charles Whitbourn, nephew of the last James Lock (who died in 1876), and his partner James Benning. It has since been converted into a private limited company. (fn. 24)
Although the pleasant but unassuming front of Lock's premises (Plate 268a) suggests a mid eighteenth-century date, the carcase of the house might well belong substantially to the late seventeenth century. Evidence leading to this conclusion is provided by the early character of the gabled back elevation, with its flush-framed windows in rough segmental-arched openings; by the heavybarred sashes still surviving in the basement; and above all by the remaining part of the original staircase, leading to the basement in short flights round a small well, with a massive handrail supported by stout urn-shaped balusters, and closed strings housed in square newels with turned pendants. (A lead tank on the premises, dated 1728 and initialled V.S., might relate to an early occupant.)
The front to St. James's Street is of the simplest character, its most noteworthy feature being the charming shop-front of 'Regency' design, with its two show-windows divided by delicate sash-bars raised above stallboard grilles of upright wrought-iron bars. The central door to the shop and the name fascia are trimmed with reeded and stopped architraves, and a similar framing surrounds the house door which is of much earlier date. The plain brick upper face has two storeys, each with two windows set in openings with flat arches of gauged brickwork. These windows are now furnished with modern replicas of the original barred sashes, and have casings and valance boxes for sunblinds. The stone-coped parapet partly conceals the two dormers in the tiled mansard roof.
At the east end of the back garden is a small two-storeyed cottage, its lath-and-plaster front finished with a pediment in which is set a portrait medallion. The deliberate crudeness of the external painting gives this building an air of antiquity, but the interior finishings all point to a date around 1800.
No. 10 St. James's Street and Nos. 20–21 King Street
On 31 May 1830 William Crockford applied to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for a lease of ground at the southern corner of St. James's Street and King Street, where he wished to erect a 'large and handsome public building'. (fn. 25) The Commissioners were at that time engaged in widening the western extremity of (Little) King Street and had acquired this site which had formerly been part of the St. Albans freehold (see page 295). Ultimately Crockford was granted a lease of ground with a frontage of 40 feet to St. James's Street and some 150 feet to King Street. A small piece of this ground had previously been occupied by Gloucester Court (see page 295), and the frontage to King Street extended some 17 feet east of Crown Passage, which was covered over at first-floor level by Crockford's new building. (fn. 26)
Crockford's club-house at Nos. 50–53 St. James's Street (fn. 1) had been erected in 1827 to the designs of Benjamin Dean Wyatt. (fn. 27) The gambling which took place there had won an enormous fortune for its proprietor. Crockford subsequently lost a large part of this wealth in unsuccessful speculations, (fn. 12) one of which was the St. James's Bazaar.
The authorship of this building has been attributed to various architects, (fn. 2) but there can be no doubt that the primary responsibility was James Pennethorne's, although John Nash may have exercised general supervision over the preliminary designs. Since 1828 Pennethorne had been John Nash's principal assistant and had conducted the metropolitan improvements then proceeding in the Strand and elsewhere. (fn. 28) To employ him to design a building to be erected on Crown land was therefore a wise course. On 17 June 1830 Pennethorne wrote from Nash's office at No. 14 Regent Street to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests stating that he was 'directed by Mr. Crockford to transmit . . . sketches of the Plans and elevations of the Building which he desires to erect' in King Street. This and another letter dated 14 September 1830 are signed 'James Pennethorne for John Nash'. (fn. 25) Shortly after the death of George IV on 26 June 1830 Nash was deprived of his official positions (fn. 27) and subsequent letters to the Commissioners were signed by Pennethorne without any qualification; in one letter from the Commissioners he is specifically referred to as 'Mr. Crockford's Architect'. (fn. 25) In an obituary notice published in 1871 The Builder attributes the design of the bazaar to Pennethorne. (fn. 28)
Crockford had hoped to roof in his building before the winter of 1830, but in May 1831 Pennethorne sent a further set of designs to the Commissioners for their approval; neither set is known to have survived. Building work evidently began shortly afterwards, for in August Pennethorne was threatening that if 'The man living in the house in Crown Court' were not evicted within six days he would 'pull it down over him— a trifle like this must not stop our work'. (fn. 29)
The bazaar (Plate 270) was opened in April 1832, (fn. 30) its total cost being nearly £20,000. It appears to have lasted for only about one year and in 1839 the building was said to have been unoccupied for the previous six years; Crockford himself attributed his losses to 'change of fashion [which] has affected not only this property but all property of a similar description in the Metropolis'. In 1839 he attempted unsuccessfully to dispose of the building for use as residential chambers. (fn. 31) The directories of the 1840's describe it either as the 'St. James's Wine Establishment' or as a 'clubhouse'.
In 1847 Crockford's widow divided the principal room into two storeys, formed new staircases and converted the building into chambers. The architect was Ambrose Poynter, whose only modification of the elevation was the insertion of rectangular windows in the third storey (Plate 270a). These alterations were sanctioned on behalf of the Crown by James Pennethorne, who was now official architect to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. (fn. 32) In 1849 the new windows were lowered and iron balconies added, the great height from the floor to the sills of the windows having made it impossible to let the upper rooms 'at least to Noblemen or Gentlemen of high rank (who are alone to be permitted to be occupiers)'. (fn. 31)
The building continued in use as chambers until 1881–2, when the lease was acquired by the Junior Army and Navy Club. (fn. 33) Considerable alterations were made to adapt the building for use as a club-house, the most important internally being the construction of an oak staircase in place of the existing stone one. A canted bay was added in the centre of the ground and second storeys of the St. James's Street front, and sleeping accommodation for servants was provided by the addition of a low curb roof. The architect was Wyatt Papworth. (fn. 34)
The Junior Army and Navy Club had been established in 1871, and in 1879 it had been housed at Nos. 12–13 Grafton Street. (fn. 35) At first it prospered in King Street, and in 1897 over seven thousand pounds were spent on further alterations to the building. The architect for this work was Walter Emden. He inserted dormer windows in Papworth's curb roof and substituted a balustrade for the plain parapet. The elevation to King Street was further botched by the addition of a continuous iron balcony. Above the portico Emden inserted in the third storey four round windows, and above the cornice he erected a large sculptured panel on each side of which was a recessed window surmounted by a pediment. (fn. 36)
In 1904 the Junior Army and Navy Club came to an end after several years of financial difficulties. (fn. 36) The building remained unoccupied until 1907 when it was acquired for use as a confiserie by Messrs. Rumpelmayer and Co. of Paris. The alterations made by their architects, Messrs. Runtz and Ford, included the construction of the present entrance on the St. James's Street front; the portico in King Street may also have been enclosed at this time. (fn. 37) Rumpelmayer only remained in occupation for some two years, and in 1912 the building was acquired by the present occupants, the Motor Union Insurance Co. Ltd., for use as offices. (fn. 37) In 1914–15 the attic storey and roof erected by Emden were entirely rebuilt, an extra storey surmounted by attics being added above the main cornice. The architects were Messrs. Hoare and Wheeler. (fn. 38)
Originally, the St. James's Bazaar contained cellars, a moderately high ground storey, and a lofty second storey. The exterior, faced with stucco, presumably frescoed to represent Bath stone, was a distinguished design in a simple Roman manner. Tallis shows the St. James's Street front in its original state (pocket, drawing C), the ground storey having doorways, with oblong windows over them, recessed in the three equal bays of a colonnade formed of Doric plain-shafted columns flanked by the existing channel-jointed piers. In the smooth face of the pedimented upper storey was a group of three round-arched windows, with moulded archivolts and imposts. The appearance of this front has been drastically changed, first by the insertion of the three thirdstorey windows immediately below the great triangular pediment, and later by the addition of a canted bay in the middle of the ground and second storeys. The further addition of an attic storey, with two circular windows, has robbed the pediment of its effect, and the pediment cornice has been reconstructed with a cavetto in place of its rich modillions (Plate 270c).
The long frontage to King Street has suffered less from change, that is, up to the level of the original crowning cornice. The channel-coursed ground storey has three widely spaced openings at each end, now straight-headed but originally with segmental voussoired arches, and from the centre projects the original shallow porch of five bays formed by Doric plain-shafted columns, that at each end coupled with a square pillar. The interesting fenestration of the second storey is original, with three groups of three round-arched windows, the middle three separated by wide, imposted piers, and those in each side group linked by blind windows to form arcades of five bays. The rectangular windows in the third storey, and the stringcourse below them, were inserted about 1847 (Plate 270a), but the round windows and recesses in the middle four piers date from 1897. To this date, too, belong the side balconies of the second storey, although iron railings of a more appropriate design have replaced the spiky filigree originals. The attic storey of 1914–15 is a sober design except for the fussy effect of the middle three windows, set in a rusticated arcade, and the paired round-arched windows at each end.
Nos. 14–22 (consec.) St. James's Street
Nos. 14–18 (consec.) St. James's Street were rebuilt between 1910 and 1912 by Lloyds Bank. (fn. 39) The architects were F. W. Waller and N. H. Waller of Gloucester, and the builders were George Trollope and Sons and Colls and Sons Ltd. (fn. 40) The height of the new building was adjusted to accord with that of the recently completed Nos. 23–27 (consec.) St. James's Street. The Commissioners of Woods and Forests hoped to extend the building north to the corner of Ryder Street when the leases of Nos. 19–22 (consec.) St. James's Street expired in 1914. (fn. 41)
At first Lloyds Bank were interested in this scheme, and their architects prepared a model of the enlarged block, which was now to extend from King Street to Ryder Street. In 1913 the bank's interest in the project was taken over by the firm of Robert Lewis, tobacconists, which had been in business at No. 20 St. James's Street for sixty years. Their architect, Paul Hoffman of Capel House, New Bond Street, collaborated with F. W. Waller and N. H. Waller in the preparation of the main elevations. (fn. 42)
The demolition and rebuilding of Nos. 19–22 was to have started in October 1914, but the outbreak of war brought the arrangements to a standstill (fn. 42) and demolition did not begin until 1923. At this time Lewis's architects were Sir Alexander Stenning and Partners, but they seem to have been replaced by George Vernon of Conduit Street, who submitted revised designs in October 1924. (fn. 43) Building operations must have been put in hand soon after this date, and the new block was completed in carcase in the autumn of 1926. (fn. 44)
The building is of Portland stone, monumental in scale and ill suited to the general architectural character of St. James's Street. The design is a pastiche of Norman Shaw's late Baroque manner, deriving in particular from the Regent Street front of the Piccadilly Hotel, but it has little enough of Shaw's genius. Here is the same basic idea of a high rusticated arcade (embracing the ground and mezzanine storeys) sustaining a colonnade of paired Ionic columns, rising between the three-light windows of the two upper storeys and supporting a great entablature above which is a recessed attic, buttressed by paired scroll-consoles. But here the arcades are broken into short three-bay groups by narrow, slightly projecting features, in the centre of each front and on each splayed corner. Particular emphasis is given to the central feature, where the main entrance is dressed with paired Doric columns and a triangular-pedimented entablature, and a three-storeyed bay window rises into the main entablature, where the cornice is broken to form a segmental pediment. Behind the crowning balustrade rises a high roof containing two tiers of dormers. On the return front to Ryder Street the arches of the ground storey were omitted and the columns in the upper part were replaced by pilasters.
No. 26 St. James's Street: Sir Richard Steele's House
In the latter part of 1714 Sir Richard Steele leased the house which then stood on this site from Lady Vandeput, widow of Sir Peter Vandeput. (fn. 45) In August 1717 Steele wrote to his wife 'I have had much Struggle by reason of ill payments and unreasonable Hasty Severe people among the rest that Hagg Lady Vandeput: I have paid her to the end of last Quarter and have given Her warning, and can remove any time between this and Quarter day without paying more than this Quarter.' (fn. 46) In September he wrote from his house near Hampton Court to his wife (who was then in Wales) that 'Madame Vandeput has thoroughly nettled Me, but, as she is of the Fair sex, I shall not make answer to her usage in word or deed, but go to town on Monday, and move from Her House, that week.' (fn. 47) It is not certain whether he carried out this threat (the ratebooks show no interruption of his occupancy), but in June 1718 he again became Lady Vandeput's tenant. By Lady Day 1719 he was six months in arrears in the payment of his rent, and in May Lady Vandeput brought a successful legal action against him. (fn. 48) Lady Steele had died in December 1718, and Sir Richard appears to have vacated the house in St. James's Street shortly afterwards. (fn. 49) The ratebooks record him in occupation until 1721.
Nos. 23–27 (consec.) St. James's Street
In 1903 and 1904 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests agreed to grant separate building leases to the three tenants who between them occupied the five houses, Nos. 23–27 (consec.) St. James's Street. The property was to be rebuilt as three separate buildings, each with a ground-floor shop and offices or flats on the upper floors. The buildings were not to be masked behind a uniform façade, but the Commissioners ensured a certain degree of uniformity by specifying the height of the main frontage and restricting the attic to a single storey. All three buildings were to be faced in Portland stone, and were to harmonize with each other. The site of the former No. 24 St. James's Street was divided between the new Nos. 23 and 24–25, while Nos. 26 and 27 were rebuilt as a single block. The architects of No. 23 and Nos. 26–27 were H. H. Collins and M. E. Collins of Old Broad Street. Nos. 24–25 were designed by F. E. Williams of Henrietta Street. The buildings were finished in carcase at the end of 1905, and fully completed during the following year. (fn. 50)
The three buildings have five-storeyed stone fronts arranged in two stages, the lower marked off by a continuous iron-railed balcony at second-floor level, and the upper finished with a cornice and balustrade. Some attempt has been made to attain uniformity within the group, for apart from having main horizontal members in common each building is divided from its neighbour by superimposed pilasters, the lowest rusticated and the next plain, whereas the tall ones in the third and fourth storeys have garlanded lion heads carved beneath the capitals. The ground storey of each building contains a display window, while the second storey is filled with small, closely set windows separated by the long brackets of the balcony above or, as in Nos. 24–25, by carved pilaster-strips. In the upper stage, however, each architect has gone his own way, and confusion reigns. The relatively wide front of Nos. 26–27 has two three-light bows rising through three storeys and flanking a flat wall face containing a single straight-headed window in each storey, all opening to iron-railed balconies that link the two bows. In Nos. 24–25 a similar design is compressed into a narrower space, rusticated masonry adding to its overcrowded appearance. The bows are curiously shaped and over-ornamented, and they rise through only two storeys leaving three plain, flat-headed windows in the fifth storey. No. 23 has three closely set windows in each storey, fronted at third-and fourth-floor levels by iron-railed balconies carried on long brackets. The feature of the building is the fivestoreyed angle turret which projects out over the main entrance, its windows separated by columns and pilasters and its floor and sill levels marked by prominent cornices. The return front to Ryder Street is divided into three bays by tiers of pilasters, as if to echo all three of the main fronts. The attic storey is its most elaborate feature, consisting of a centrepiece recessed between pedimented wings, but the western wing is considerably the taller and rivals the turret.
Boodle's: No. 28 St. James's Street
In 1772 a new society, called the Savoir Vivre Club, was formed at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall (fn. 3) (see page 351). An undated newspaper cutting which almost certainly belongs to the first half of 1772 states that 'A Correspondent who dates from the Star and Garter, Pall-mall, informs us, that a Club of a new order of Maccaronies is just instituted there, under the title of The Scavoir Vivre. These gentlemen have thought fit to decorate themselves with a Uniform of scarlet Cloth, with Velvet Collar and Sleeves of Bleu Celeste.' A print showing a member garbed in this uniform is dated 12 July 1772. (fn. 51)
Between 1772 and 1776 there are frequent references to the Savoir Vivre Club. In April 1773 The Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine, whose first number was published in October 1772, changed its name to The Macaroni Savoir Vivre, and Theatrical Magazine and celebrated the occasion with an ode to the new club. The same number of this magazine also contained 'An Oration pronounced in the Macaroni Club at their last meeting, with an Apostrophe to the Savoir Vivre', which makes it clear that many members of the former club had already deserted to the latter. (fn. 52)
The main object of the members of the Savoir Vivre Club appears to have been to display their wealth. They offered five annual prizes for the best poem, painting, sculpture, engraving and musical composition, (fn. 53) they entertained lavishly at the Pantheon (fn. 54) and in conjunction with Boodle's, White's, Stapleton's, Almack's and Goostree's, they organized the famous regatta and masquerade at Ranelagh on 23 June 1775. (fn. 55) Horace Walpole, however, commented that the club 'only shone by excess of gaming', and that its leader was Thomas, Lord Lyttelton, (fn. 56) the 'wicked Lord Lyttelton', (fn. 12) whose friends undoubtedly deplored his connexion with the club. (fn. 57)
The proprietor of the Savoir Vivre Club was Nicholas Kenney, the father of James Kenney the dramatist (fn. 58) and formerly assistant to Longchamp, 'who then conducted the Jockey Club at Newmarket'. Soon after its formation in 1772 at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall, Kenney moved the club to a house on the west side of St. James's Street nearly opposite to the present Boodle's clubhouse. After three years Kenney's lease expired (fn. 59) and on 1 August 1775 he obtained the lease of three 'old and very low houses' on the east side of the street. They were demolished and Boodle's present club-house, costing '£10,000 and upwards', was erected in 1775–6 in their place. (fn. 60) John Crunden was the architect. (fn. 61) The new building consisted of two separate houses, the northern one (for the club's use) occupying about two-thirds of the whole site (Plates 60, 61, 62, 63, figs. 70–3). (fn. 60)
The new house, which was opened for the Savoir Vivre Club in the spring of 1776, (fn. 62) is said to have been 'furnished in a style beyond any preceding club: classical pictures, sofas and chairs covered with satin, etc.' (fn. 59) On 22 March 1776 Horace Walpole recorded that 'a new club is opened in St. James's Street, that piques itself on surpassing all its predecessors'. (fn. 62) On 5 April James Boswell 'mentioned a new gaming-club, of which Mr. Beauclerk had given me an account, where the members played to a desperate extent. Johnson. "Depend upon it, Sir, this is mere talk. Who is ruined by gaming . . . ?" ' (fn. 63)
The most prominent member of the club at this time was General Richard Smith, whose father had 'kept a little cheese monger's shop in Jermyn Street'. After 'committing some atrocious acts that endangered his neck' Richard Smith had been sent to India, (fn. 64) where 'he amassed prodigious wealth', (fn. 65) and rose to command the East India Company's army of Bengal. (fn. 64) Upon his return to England he was elected in 1774 member of Parliament for Hindon, but the election was declared void. (fn. 66) He then became 'the deepest of all deep gamesters in London', but he was excluded from Almack's Club, (fn. 67) 'Pride and insolence' being 'the prominent features in this profligate upstart'. (fn. 65) According to Horace Walpole, Smith 'and a set of sharpers' then 'formed a plan for a new club, which, by the excess of play, should draw all the young extravagants thither. They built a magnificent house in St. James's Street, furnished it gorgeously, and enrolled both the clubs at White's, and that of Almack's. The titular master of the house the first night acquainted the richest and most wasteful of the members that they might be furnished in the house with loans of ready money, even as far as forty thousand pounds.' (fn. 67)
General Smith's success was short-lived. In May 1776 he was again elected member of Parliament for Hindon, (fn. 66) but there were 'such gross Instances of Bribery and Corruption' (fn. 68) that he was sentenced in the Court of King's Bench to a fine of one thousand marks and six months' imprisonment. (fn. 69) In 1779 Richard Smith became a member of Brooks's (fn. 70) and from 1780 to 1784 he and his son John Mansel Smith represented the rotten borough of Wendover in Parliament. (fn. 71) In 1792 he was said to be 'in great poverty', (fn. 65) but at the time of his death on 3 July 1803 (fn. 72) he was living in Park Place (fn. 73) and was said to have left 'a very large fortune'. (fn. 72)
Nicholas Kenney's partner, Richard Miles, says that 'no club ever did or ever will flourish as this Club did for some years'. (fn. 59) Its success was nevertheless extremely short. Kenney appears to have lent money to the members of the Savoir Vivre Club in the same way and with the same lack of success as William Brooks at his club. (fn. 74) In 1777 he mortgaged his lease of the club-house to General Smith (then described as of Harley Street) for £2500 (fn. 75) and in 1778 a successful action for debt was brought by a poulterer of St. James's Market against Kenney in King's Bench. In the following year the latter brought an action in Chancery against John Crunden, the architect of the building, to whom he owed £200, when his affairs were said to be in a 'very indifferent' state. (fn. 74)
Richard Miles attributes the rapid decline of the Savoir Vivre to the successful establishment of Brooks's in the splendid new house on the west side of St. James's Street in 1778. 'Boodle's Club, then in Pall Mall, [was] increasing [and] wanted a larger house. Mr. Kenney, understanding it and fearing he should be quite deserted, was induced to offer his house to Mr. Harding, who then conducted Boodle's.' (fn. 59) At a general meeting of Boodle's club in Pall Mall held on 14 June 1782 it was resolved that 'Harding do take Mr. Kenney's House in Saint James's Street for their Use.' At the same meeting it was also decided to admit fifty additional members to the club, and it may therefore be inferred that some members of the Savoir Vivre joined Boodle's. (fn. 76) The earlier history of Boodle's is described on page 332.
Shortly afterwards Benjamin Harding was granted a twenty-one-year lease of the house (fn. 77) and the ratebooks for 1783 give his name as the occupant. In its new home his club continued to be known as Boodle's, but the name Savoir Vivre also lingered on, being sometimes used as the name of the house rather than of the club. (fn. 78) In 1815 The Epicure's Almanack commented that the name Savoir Vivre 'was probably dropt because the members were conscious that their vivre was not quite adequate to their savoir'. (fn. 79)
Kenney retired to private life; (fn. 59) by his will (proved in 1799) (fn. 80) he is described as of 'Bromton' (presumably Brompton, near Knightsbridge), and appears to have died in moderate circumstances. Benjamin Harding appears in the ratebooks as the proprietor of Boodle's until 1796, and from that year until 1810 the names Harding and Cuddington are given. In 1802 Kenney's executors sold their leasehold interest in the property by auction, and the sale particulars contain valuable information about the building as it then was (fn. 77) (see below); Harding and Cuddington were presumably the purchasers. From 1811 to 1817 the proprietor was Richard Cuddington, who from 1818 until his death in 1830 was in partnership with John George Fuller. (fn. 81) In his will Cuddington described himself as of Hydehurst in the parish of Charlwood, Surrey, gentleman; he owned property in Surrey and Sussex, most of which he left for life to his niece, whose children he directed to 'bear the Arms of Cuddington (the same as those of Nonsuch Park from whom I am descended)'. His friend and partner John Fuller was to be given the opportunity to purchase Cuddington's moiety of the business at Boodle's. (fn. 82)
From 1830 to 1849 Fuller was the sole proprietor; (fn. 83) he is said to have been formerly a waiter. (fn. 84) Wyatt Papworth says that he was a cheerful man, and that 'few persons were so full of anecdotes of Club and Theatrical celebrities, himself full of Shakespear and the eminent Tragedians of former days'. (fn. 85) In 1819 Fuller purchased some fields at the top of Brixton Hill and erected there a house later known as Leigham House, which was designed by J. B. Papworth. (fn. 86) At Boodle's Papworth designed in 1821 'a new Reading Room, with the necessary furniture; and an enlargement or alteration of the façade'. This probably refers to the addition of the bow window. (fn. 87) In 1823 he 'furnished designs for other furniture, and in 1825 and also in 1834 other decorative repairs were superintended by him'. In 1833–4 new kitchens and a dining-room were built at the back of the house to his designs. (fn. 88)
In 1850 William Gainer succeeded Fuller as proprietor (fn. 89) and in 1857 or 1858 he purchased the Crown lease of the house and became the tenant immediately under the Crown, In 1862–3 a billiard- and smoking-room were added above the dining-room; Mayhew and Knight of Argyll Street were the architects. (fn. 90) In 1878–9 the houses in Bury Street which backed on to the rear of the club-house were demolished and rebuilt, and a thin strip of land which had formerly been part of their back yards was acquired by Gainer, who entirely rebuilt the kitchen offices of the club; the narrow passageway giving access to Bury Street was acquired in 1871.
Gainer died in 1893 and was succeeded in the management of the club by his sister, who died in 1896; on 31 December 1896 the Crown lease of the club-house was purchased by the members. Between 1919 and 1922 the building was very thoroughly renovated under the superintendence of Professor Beresford Pite.
The front (Plate 60, fig. 72), which might be regarded as a Palladian villa composition compressed to fit an urban site, consists of a pedimentcd Central feature linked by narrow recessed faces to slightly projecting tower-like wings. The materials are yellow stock bricks dressed with stone, now painted.
When first built, the ground storey of the central feature had a brick face with three plain rectangular windows (Plate 54a), but a wide segmental bow of three lights has replaced the middle window and the brickwork has been stuccoed, the piers forming panelled pilasters supporting a plain lintel. The panelled bandcourse finishing this storey is original, but was formerly ornamented. These changes were, presumably, part of Papworth's 'enlargement or alteration of the façade' in 1821. The upper face contains a great Venetian window, with its narrow side lights framed by plain-shafted Ionic columns and half-pilasters supporting entablatures, and its wide middle light spanned by a moulded archivolt surrounded by a fan-ornamented tympanum, this being slightly recessed in a plain brick arch rising from a fluted impost-band. In each flanking spandrel is an upright oval patera of radiating fluting, and above the plain frieze-band is a triangular pediment with a plain brick tympanum, its apex rising well above the low parapet. The Venetian window is furnished with an elegant iron railing, its lines continuing those of the flanking pier pedestals. The front area railing, with four narrow decorative panels, is original.
The narrow wings are identical, except for a window replacing the original south doorway. The ground storey is divided into three bays by plain-shafted pilasters of a Corinthian order, those flanking the doorway in the wide central bay forming responds to the columns of a porch, which has a fluted frieze to its entablature and a light iron railing above. The doorway has a roundarched head with a moulded impost, and in each side bay is a narrow window with a fluted circular patera above the impost. In the second storey, the pedestal and impost mouldings of the central feature are repeated, and the single tall window is treated to conform with the great Venetian window, having recessed Ionic half-pilasters carrying an entablature, here broken by a frieze tablet modelled with a pair of griffins. Originally a circular arch sprang from the impost-band at this level, with a high-relief urn in the tympanum, and over it was a small square window. (fn. 91) The enlargement of this window, however, has necessitated the substitution of a depressed elliptical arch for the semi-circular one and the removal of the urn. The iron window guard suggests a date about 1800, but the alteration may be due to Papworth, who proposed to remodel the attic above. (fn. 92) This remains unusually low with a single window of squat proportions.
In the auction sale particulars of 1802 (fn. 77) the building was described as a 'Spacious and singularly Elegant . . . Mansion with suitable offices etc. . . . desirably situate in the most eligible part of St. James's Street, with a neat compact house adjoining, suited for the residence of a single man of fashion. . . .' Lot one, which comprised the centre part of the building and the north wing, was described as 'built in an uncommonly substantial manner on a spacious and most approved plan, finished with infinite taste, at a very considerable Expence, and now in excellent repair, presenting a most superb elevation towards St. James's Street'. The premises consisted of 'The Approach', with a stone portico opening into a neat paved hall measuring 18 by 15 feet; an inner hall with an 'elegant stone staircase'; a 'Front Parlor' of 36 by 24 feet; a dining-room of 36 by 21 feet, and an oval room 24 by 16 feet. On the first floor there was 'A suit of five Splendid Apartments', consisting of an ante-room, 18 by 15 feet, a 'superb drawing room or saloon', 36 by 24 feet, 'near 20' high' and 'fitted in a superior Style of Magnificence'; a 'Back drawing room' 24 feet square; a 'capacious dining room', 33 by 21 feet, and 'an elegant oval room', 24 by 16 feet. On the second floor there were three 'neat bed chambers and two Water Closets', and in the attics there were five bed-chambers and a 'spacious wash house and laundry'.
Lot two, the southern wing, was described as 'The elegant compact house adjoining . . . [with] an elegant Portico, correspondent with that on the right of the Building: opening into a neat hall, paved with stone, 14′ square: an inclosed stone staircase and dining parlour 14′ × 20′.' On the first floor there was a front drawing-room of 14 by 18 feet, 'with windows to the floor and balcony', and a back drawing-room of 14 by 20 feet. On the second floor there were 'Two good bedchambers and water closet', and in the attics there were two bedrooms and two 'smaller sleeping rooms'. (fn. 77)
The entrance hall to the club is plainly finished with a small dentilled cornice, and simply moulded architraves and cornices to the doorways. Two doorways, one now closed, lead to the main staircase hall behind. This is plainly finished and the stone staircase itself, which rises round a rectangular well, is somewhat lacking in character. It has a light mahogany handrail supported on plain square balusters, enriched with acanthus-bud ornament in cast metal. The ornament is rather heavy and may date from Papworth's alterations; otherwise the staircase appears to be original. The principal front and back rooms on the ground floor are as Papworth left them, except that the chimneypieces have been replaced by late eighteenth-century examples, presumably imported (Plate 63b). Papworth's detailing is typically unorthodox: both rooms have broad pilasters of a quasi-Doric order, with scagliola shafts imitating Siena marble, and there is a double skirting, the upper part having a band of ornament, though the enriched cornice is reduced to a minimum. The rooms are entered through two-leaf doors, of mahogany (one leaf of that leading from the staircase hall being false), and the doorcases have dentil cornices and pediments ornamented with acroteria. A wide opening between the two rooms has folding doors and is finished with a scroll pediment, and another opening, beneath a segmental arch, leads to what was formerly the entrance hall of the adjoining house. This is similarly decorated, the rear being formed as a shallow segmental apse. An old photograph (fn. 93) shows that the original chimneypieces in the two front rooms had pairs of simplified pilasters supporting a plain shelf with a frieze beneath it, and both appear to have been of dark marble. The present chimneypieces are all of white marble, that in the main room having fluted pilasters below frieze-blocks carved with urns, and a fluted frieze broken by a tablet carved with cupids. In the smaller room the chimneypiece is flanked by half-terms, the frieze having inlaid flutes and a carved tablet. The rear-room chimneypiece has inlaid fluting to both the pilasters and the frieze of the entablature, which is broken by a tablet carved with putti under trees.
Behind the main staircase hall is the 'oval room', more properly a rectangle with a segmental end, but no longer containing anything of interest. Alongside the main staircase is the stone service stair, now rising no higher than the ground floor, and resembling the larger staircase in what was the attached private house, both being completely plain but with a bowed end. The original diningroom of this house no longer exists; behind it a larger room has been built in comparatively modern times. It contains an imported wooden chimneypiece of late eighteenth-century date, with Corinthian columns and a frieze decorated with festooned urns in oval frames, and a central tablet, portraying a lion-drawn car with figures.
The 'superb drawing room or saloon' (fn. 77) (Plates 61, 62) on the first floor is one and a half storeys high and an oblong in plan, with a wide chimney-breast projecting slightly from the long south wall, balanced by a projecting feature in the north wall. The great Venetian window almost fills the west wall and the principal doorway is centred in the east wall. Each wall face is dressed with pilasters, rising from a pedestal-dado with a plain die, and supporting a full and highly enriched entablature. Paired pilasters flank the end walls and the chimney-breast, single pilasters are used in the side bays of the long walls, and the central feature in the north wall has a recessed face behind two fluted columns in antis. The pilasters have moulded and enriched bases, shafts with single flutes flanking a panel with a simple filigree motif, rising from a vase and then repeated, and elaborated Tower-of-the-Winds capitals. The architrave of the entablature has a fluted fascia and the frieze is decorated with a repeating motif of formalized acanthus scrolls sprouting below small flat vases, punctuated by large crater-like vases above the pilasters and columns, and oval paterae in husk festoons where the pilasters are paired. The anthemion-enriched impost of the Venetian window is continued across the wall faces, between the pilasters, the spaces above containing paintings of neo-classical figure subjects in panels framed by enriched mouldings, with wide and plain margins. On the side walls these painted panels are all oblong, and on the east wall is an oblong between two circles.
The large doorway in the east wall has a doorcase composed of an architrave flanked by half-pilasters with fluted shafts and ram-head capitals, and surmounted by a frieze decorated with a panel containing a low kylix vase between acanthus-tailed griffins, with amphorae above the pilasters. The cornice ties in with the continued impost-band on the walls. In the east bay of each side wall is a smaller doorway, its doorcase composed of an architrave flanked by Corinthian half-pilasters and surmounted by an entablature with a triangular pediment. The large east doorway is furnished with two leaves, each of four panels, and the smaller doors have three panels on each side of a staff-bead, all the panels having enriched mouldings. There were, doubtless, similar pedimented doorways in the west bays but these have been replaced by Papworth with wide roundarched openings, having panelled linings and framing many-panelled sliding doors.
The white marble chimneypiece is finely carved. Elongated consoles, with two vertical bands of horizontal fluting, support the entablature, its architrave, frieze and cornice bedmouldings being broken by a large central tablet carved with a classical figure subject. The friezeblocks above the consoles are carved with urns and the outer jambs are formed as Ionic half-pilasters. The grate is a fine example of cast iron and brasswork, the beaded surround to the opening being flanked by flambeau-columns and surmounted by a decoration of acanthus-tailed griffins. The wall face above the chimneypiece is adorned with a guilloche-framed panel containing a painted neoclassical figure subject, much finer in quality than those in the panels above the impost-band.
The flat ceiling is divided by enriched mouldings into three panels, a large square between narrow oblongs. The anthemion-ornamented frames are original but the enclosed decoration, although appropriate to the room, was added by Professor Beresford Pite in 1919–22. Before this the panels were plain, though there are two unconfirmed references to their having once contained paintings. (fn. 94)
A series of gilt girandoles in the saloon is probably original. They contain mirrors, framed by scrolls and female figures, and are not unlike a set at Osterley Park, except for the upper part which consists of a rather crude fluted frieze and miniature cornice, supporting a pair of ewers.
Round-arched doorways connect the saloon with the undress dining-room on the north (Plate 63a) and the former front drawing-room of the adjoining house on the south. Both rooms were redecorated by Papworth and have flat circular ceilings supported on pendentives, with a wide, semi-elliptical arch over the rear part of the room. The identical chimneypieces of white marble have simple, panelled jambs and friezes, with female heads on the stops, and plain corniceshelves. Above each of them is a large gilt mirror with reeded pilasters and anthemion ornament and rosettes in the frieze.
The back drawing-room and the 'elegant oval room' (fn. 77) have given place to a large dining-room filling almost the whole width of the premises. According to Christopher Hussey (fn. 95) this was formed about the same time as, or shortly after, Professor Pite's work, the architects being Messrs. Hoare and Wheeler. As Hussey observes, the style of the decoration is reminiscent of Robert Smirke.
Papworth's dining-room, added in 1833–4, at the rear of the attached house, remains in part but is now used as a kitchen. It has Doric pilasters and a wide segmental bow window looking north. There was formerly a large mirror with a segmental head at either end of the room and a taller one above the chimneypiece, which was apparently of dark marble, very simple in form and with applied rosettes to the frieze. Papworth intended a grander interior with free-standing Ioniccolumns, (fn. 92) but presumably this was never carried out.
It is worth noting that the dimensions of the 'capacious dining room' on the first floor, mentioned in the sale particulars of 1802, (fn. 77) correspond closely with those of Papworth's room. Although the dimensions quoted are not, in general, very accurate, there is no other room to which these could apply and it seems reasonable to assume that Papworth remodelled an addition already made to the building.
The billiard- and smoking-room added over the dining-room in 1862–3, by Messrs. Mayhew and Knight, is in three compartments, divided by crude Corinthian pilasters and entablatures, the central space having bowed sides and a coved ceiling with top lights. At first it was reached by a new staircase immediately adjoining it, but this was removed when the present dining-room was formed. Both this room and the featureless billiard-room above the new dining-room are served by a continuation of the main staircase. It seems unlikely that the stairs originally rose higher than the first floor, though there is no visible sign of alteration. The stair compartment has a band at the level of the original second floor, ornamented with paterae and acanthus buds, and the plain walls above are finished with a frieze of anthemion ornament and an enriched small-scale cornice. A plain flat ceiling surrounds the saucerdomed roof-light which rises from a frieze-band decorated with husk pendants and festoons looped below oval paterae.
No. 36 St. James's Street and No. 64 Jermyn Street
The former Nos. 36 St. James's Street and 64 Jermyn Street were rebuilt as a single block of commercial premises in 1904–5 from the designs of William Woodward of Southampton Street, Strand. (fn. 96) The building has a stone-faced exterior of Edwardian Baroque character, with two fivestoreyed fronts of similar design in which a wide segmental bow, three windows wide, is separated by a windowless face from the three-bayed curving front of the corner tower, rising for seven storeys to finish with a dome. The bows and the curved corner are linked by iron-railed balconies at second- and third-storey levels, and by the entablature below the fifth storey. The bays in the curved corner are divided by rustic piers surmounted by panelled pilasters, and at least one convention is observed by dressing the windows of the second, third and fourth storeys with Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns. The dome has a depressed look, stepping in low stages, one ringed with consoles, to a small iron-railed platform.
White's: Nos. 37–38 St. James's Street
This house has been occupied since 1755 by White's, which previously occupied a house on the west side of the street. The earlier history of the club and of the chocolate house is described on pages 463–5
In March 1673/4 Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans, and his trustees leased to Colonel (later Sir) Edward Villiers six small messuages on the east side of St. James's Street. (fn. 97) In September 1674 Villiers petitioned the Crown for the grant of the freehold of the site, and stated that the six houses were meanly built and that he had pulled them down and was building 'a very fair house with a very ornamental front'. The request was granted, subject to the existing leases which would expire in 1720. (fn. 98) After Villiers's death his son, Edward Lord Villiers, agreed in February 1693/4 to convey the house to Elizabeth, Countess Dowager of Northumberland; it was described as 'the great house', formerly in the occupation of the said Countess, but then partly in the occupation of Mary Terrick, widow, and partly of Lord Villiers and unlet. The conveyance took place in 1694, the price being £2700, (fn. 97) and the ratebooks indicate that the Countess Dowager lived in the reunited house until her death in March 1704/5. (fn. 99) The house then passed to her granddaughter, whose husband, the Duke of Somerset (the 'Proud Duke'), leased it in 1706 to the Duke of Beaufort, (fn. 97) and in 1709 to the Duke of Norfolk. (fn. 100) In 1716 Margaret, Dowager Duchess of Newcastle, was the occupant. (fn. 8) In 1720 the Duke of Somerset sold the house to Sir Thomas Webster of Copthall, Essex, baronet, (fn. 101) whose son, Sir Whistler Webster of Battle Abbey, Sussex, sold it in 1755 to Robert Arthur, (fn. 102) the proprietor of White's, which was then on the west side of the street. At this time the house had the highest rateable value in the whole of St. James's Street. At the same time Arthur also purchased from Sir Whistler Webster the Crown lease of the house now numbered 59 Jermyn Street, whose garden backed on to the rear of the 'great house' in St. James's Street. (fn. 103) This garden was subsequently used for the domestic offices of the club.
Arthur was a person of some consequence. In 1747 J. J. Heidegger had taken him into partnership for 'attending and assisting him [Heidegger] in carrying on Balls, Masquerades and Assemblys' at the King's Theatre, (fn. 104) and by his will, proved in 1749, Heidegger bequeathed to Arthur 'my Repeating Watch of Tompion and my Gold Snuff Box given me by the present Emperour'. (fn. 105) Arthur held the post of Gentleman of the Wine Cellar in the royal household, (fn. 106) and at the time of his death in 1761 he possessed five leasehold houses, one in Jermyn Street, two on the west side of St. James's Street and two in St. James's Place, as well as the freehold house in which White's was accommodated (fn. 107) and a pew in St. James's Church. (fn. 108)
Shortly after the removal of the club to its new home on the east side of St. James's Street, Robert Arthur transferred the management of White's to Robert Mackreth, vintner, (fn. 109) who had formerly been a waiter at the club and chocolate house. (fn. 110) Arthur's name appears in the ratebooks until 1758, when he was succeeded by Mackreth. At the time of Arthur's death in 1761 'a treaty of marriage' was 'in agitation' between Mackreth and Arthur's daughter and heiress, Mary. (fn. 107) The marriage subsequently took place and Mackreth became the proprietor of White's.
'White's Chocolate House' appears to have come to an end when Robert Arthur removed the club from No. 69 on the west side of the street to 'the great house' on the east side in 1755. For some ten years after the removal the club was sometimes referred to as White's, and sometimes as Arthur's. Robert Mackreth evidently considered re-naming the club and discussed the matter with George Selwyn, 'saying that he was afraid "Bob's Coffee House" would sound rather queerly. "Oh, no," said George, "Just the thing; for then it will be Bob without, and robbing [Robin] within." ' (fn. 4) In Horace Walpole's correspondence the last reference to Arthur's is dated 20 January 1765 ; (fn. 111) thereafter the club has always been called White's.
In the 1760's most of the heavy gambling for which White's had formerly been famous was removed to Almack's. (fn. 112) The prosperity of the club seems to have declined in the 1770's (fn. 113) and in 1781 the Old and Young Clubs at White's (see page 465) were amalgamated. (fn. 114) In 1797 the membership of the club was limited to four hundred. (fn. 115)
From 1759 to 1771 the ratebooks give Robert Mackreth as the occupant of White's, but in a letter or circular dated 5 April 1763 and addressed to George Selwyn he stated that 'Having quitted business entirely, and let my house to the Cherubim, who is my near relation, I humbly beg leave . . . to recommend him to your patronage.' (fn. 116) Who the Cherubim was has not been discovered. Mackreth rose rapidly, owned slaves in Granada, (fn. 117) a house in Cork Street, (fn. 118) and from 1774 to 1802 he was a member of Parliament. (fn. 119) In 1778 he took advantage of the debts of a minor to acquire extensive estates by underhand methods, (fn. 120) and after a court action he had to repay some £17,000; he subsequently challenged the judge (later Lord Eldon) to a duel and in 1793 was sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment and a fine of £100 for causing a breach of the peace. He was knighted in 1795 and died in February 1819, aged ninety-four. His wife, Robert Arthur's daughter, had predeceased him in 1784. (fn. 121)
In 1772 John Martindale succeeded Mackreth as the master of the house; he remained in charge until 1798. The ratebooks for 1787–9 describe the house as 'empty' for some eighteen months; in August 1789 Mackreth sold to Martindale (described as of Cookham, Berkshire, esquire) for £20,000 both the freehold of the house in St. James's Street and the Crown lease of the premises behind (now No. 59 Jermyn Street). (fn. 122) It is likely that the club-house was largely rebuilt at this time (see below). From 1789 to 1798 the ratebooks give John Martindale and Edward Fitch or Fitz as the occupants. In 1795 Martindale was heavily in debt (fn. 123) and in 1799 he was bankrupt. (fn. 124) In that year the ratebooks give Benjamin Martindale, to whom the club-house was conveyed in 1800 by John Martindale's assignees in bankruptcy. (fn. 125) In 1812 Benjamin Martindale was also bankrupt and was succeeded in 1813 by George Raggett. (fn. 8) Some alteration to the fabric of the club-house was made c. 1811–13 (see below) and in 1814 Martindale and his creditors (who included John William Burt of Swallow Street, bricklayer) sold both the freehold club-house and the leasehold premises at the back to George Raggett, described as of St. James's Street, vintner, for some £22,000. (fn. 126)
George Raggett remained proprietor of the club until his death in 1844. (fn. 5) He was succeeded by his son Henry Raggett, who remained in charge until his death in 1859. (fn. 127) The house then passed to Raggett's sisters, who leased it to H. Percival as manager for twenty-one years. (fn. 128) In 1871 the freehold was put up for auction and bought by Mr. H. W. Eaton, M.P. (later Lord Cheylesmore), for £46,000; (fn. 129) a representative of the club bid £38,000. In 1876 Percival obtained a new lease from Mr. Eaton, and after his death in 1882 the management passed to his son. Six years later the conduct of the club was taken over by a member, the Hon. Algernon Bourke. (fn. 130) The freehold of the house was purchased by the club from Lord Cheylesmore's grandson in 1927. (fn. 131)
Building history and architectural description
There is no direct evidence that the 'very fair house' erected by Colonel Villiers in 1674 has ever been completely rebuilt; indirect evidence suggests, however, that at least partial rebuilding took place in 1787–8. The ratebooks show that the house was empty for some eighteen months in 1787–8, (fn. 8) and in 1788–9 John Martindale, the proprietor, temporarily occupied a house on the south side of Clifford Street. (fn. 132) 1787 is also the date inscribed on a group of unexecuted drawings by Robert Adam for a palatial rebuilding of 'White's Chocolate House'. When Martindale returned to St. James's Street in 1789 the rateable value of the house was raised from £225 to £300. In the same year he bought the house from Mackreth and the occupants are given in the ratebooks as John Martindale and Edward Fitch or Fitz. This evidence may reasonably be interpreted to mean that the club was temporarily removed to Clifford Street while extensive building work was in progress, and that in order to meet the cost of this and the purchase of the house, Martindale took in a partner. The imposition of an entrance fee of ten guineas in 1788, and the experiment in 1791 of not limiting the number of members (repealed six years later when the maximum was fixed at four hundred) (fn. 115) could be construed in the same way.
In the event, Adam's costly design was set aside and a much less ambitious scheme of rebuilding or remodelling appears to have been carried out, resulting in the present building (Plates 56, 57, 58, figs. 74–6), which retains much of its late eighteenth-century character despite later alterations. The architect is not definitely known, but in 1852 The Builder stated that 'the original front of the building . . . was designed by James Wyatt'. (fn. 133) Certainly, much of the building suggests Wyatt, who is named as the designer of the decorations for the great ball given in 1789 by White's and held in Wyatt's own Pantheon, (fn. 134)
Before attempting to describe the club-house after its 1787–8 transformation, it is as well to consider the drawing reproduced in Algernon Bourke's History of White's, facing page 116 of volume 1, which purports to represent White's in its earlier form and shows a plain three-storeyed front, five windows wide, with a central porch of paired Doric columns and a continued balcony of trellis-patterned ironwork at first-floor level. This drawing also appears in E. Beresford Chancellor's West End of Yesterday and Today (1926) (fn. 135) where it is captioned 'from a contemporary drawing, dated 1811' although the drawing reproduced is unsigned and undated. The draughtsmanship, however, suggests a late nineteenth-century hand and the source might well be the curious view of White's and Brooks's clubs given by John Timbs in his Clubs and Club Life in London (1872). (fn. 136) This, in turn, is probably derived from Gillray's satirical print 'Promis'd Horrors of the French Invasion' (fn. 137) published in 1796, that is some nine years after White's had received its new 'Wyatt' front. Gillray's print has no topographical value, for his representation of Brooks's is totally inaccurate, and the Bourke drawing, if derived from this source, must be disregarded.
The 1787–8 plan was simple, the ground floor having three rooms of similar size in front, the middle one being an entrance hall leading to a smaller ante-room at the back, with a room on the north side and the stair compartment on the south. The back court was flanked by wings, the south much wider than the north, each containing a service stair and a room. The coffee-room occupied the whole front portion of the first floor, and behind it was an oblong dining-room with a screened apse at its north end, and the stair compartment.
Discounting the nineteenth-century embellishments, the front (Plate 56, fig. 75) can be seen as a typical 'James Wyatt' design, composed of a simply rusticated ground storey, originally of smooth-faced V-jointed stones, with two plain rectangular windows on each side of the central doorway, and a lofty upper stage dressed with plain-shafted Ionic pilasters, dividing the front into five bays, with paired pilasters flanking the wide middle bay. This last contains a roundarched window divided into three lights below a lunette, originally fan-glazed, the two windows on either side being tall rectangular sashes originally set in plain openings. Just above the crown of the round-arched window is a guilloche band, continued between the pilasters, and in the upper face is a series of panels, an oblong in the middle and tall ovals in the side bays, the latter being draped with laurel festoons. Tallis's elevation of c. 1839 (pocket, drawing C) shows that the decoration in the central oblong panel, a flat vase between acanthus scrolls, is original, and suggests that the ovals in the side bays were large fluted paterae. Above the crowning entablature is a balustrade, with panelled pedestals over the Ionic pilasters. As to materials, Portland stone was used for the ground storey and for the pilasters, entablature and balustrade of the upper storey, but it is quite possible that the wall face between the pilasters, now of channel-coursed stone, was originally of brick as at Brooks's club-house.
In 1811 it was 'resolved to remove the entrance lower down, by converting the second window from the bottom of the house into a door, and to enlarge the morning room by taking in the old entrance hall. This gave room for an additional window. The old doorway was utilised for this purpose, and the famous "Bow Window at White's" was built out over the entrance steps.' (fn. 138) It is divided into three lights by Doric pilasters with Soanic incised frets on the shafts, and the entablature frieze is decorated with wreaths, placed over the pilasters.
The central bow window, the new doorway on its south side, and the long first-floor balcony with its scroll-patterned iron railing, are all shown in Tallis's elevation of 1839. These changes may have been effected by two architects, other than J. B. Papworth, who appear to have worked at White's during the first half of the nineteenth century—John Goldicutt (1793–1842) (fn. 27) and 'Mr. Higgins'. (fn. 139) In 1842 J. B. Papworth carried out 'repairs and decorations' at White's; (fn. 140) the library of the Royal Institute of British Architects possesses two of Papworth's drawings showing proposed alterations to the back premises and a design for railings to the front area.
The Builder records that 'in the autumn of 1850, certain improvements being thought necessary, it came to be considered that the front was of too plain a character, when contrasted with the many elegant buildings which had arisen up around it, Mr. Lockyer (fn. 6) was consulted by Mr. Raggett as to the possibility of improving the façade; and under his direction it has been made to take the appearance' (fn. 141) which (apart from the subsequent addition of an attic storey) it still possesses. The alterations apparently included the heavy cast-iron railings to the front area with their stone dies and the somewhat over-exuberant lamp-standards flanking the entrance, and also the vermiculation of the originally plain rusticated blocks surrounding the ground-storey windows. The upper wall face was horizontally channelled and the first-floor windows were given elaborate frames with deep, ornamented friezes and pediments supported on carved brackets, all in a mannered Renaissance style. The oval panels above, however, were carved by George Scharf, junior, with representations of the Four Seasons which are by no means out of character with the original design. These works were executed by Messrs. W. Cubitt and Co., and the interior of the building was redecorated by Mr. Morant. (fn. 141) It may have been at this time that the glazing-bars were removed from all the windows.
The Crown lease of the buildings at the back of the club-house was due to expire in 1883, and the Commissioners of Woods and Forests intended to let the site on building lease. These premises had been used for kitchen offices and a billiard-room. In the autumn of 1882 a new kitchen was constructed at the back of the second floor of the main building, and several of the members' rooms were re-arranged; the architect was Thomas Milbourn. (fn. 142) Further re-arrangement of several rooms was carried out in 1892. (fn. 143)
The present entrance hall has plain modern decoration and calls for no comment. The morning-room, in front, was probably redecorated when the bow window was formed and the two rooms were thrown together, the dividing wall being replaced by a Doric colonnade of three bays (Plate 57a). The caps of the columns and of the pilasters which decorate the walls have a necking of anthemion ornament. Later work includes the doorway to the hall with its three-fold mahogany door, very much in the manner of Papworth, and the two massive chimneypieces of Siena marble, with carved brackets supporting the shelves, are probably of the same provenance.
The central rear room was opened to the staircase during the alterations in the 1880's, and is now remarkable only for its eighteenth-century chimneypiece. Probably rather earlier than the rebuilding of the house, it is of white marble and jasper, and has a lugged architrave and a frieze carved with a representation of La Fontaine's fable of the fox and the stork. Also in the 1880's a large billiard-room was formed by roofing over a large part of the courtyard, the rooms in the adjoining wings being opened to it through Ionic colonnades. The southern part contains a chimneypiece of dark marble, with decorated panels in the pilasters and frieze, which could well be by Papworth.
The D-shaped stair compartment (Plate 57b) is reached through a three-bay screen of Doric columns. The stair is of stone and the mahogany handrail is supported on square iron balusters with a formal acanthus-leaf enrichment, probably the original late eighteenth-century design. It is possible that the staircase originally rose in a single flight round the rear wall, the present central flight, branching half-way up, having necessitated the cutting away of part of the architrave and frieze of the Doric colonnade to give adequate headroom. Before the changes in the 1880's this colonnade supported a solid wall with a fireplace on the floor above; the landing is now open, and has a bowed front, and the stair is lit by a plain oval rooflight.
The coffee-room has considerable distinction although it is not elaborately decorated (Plate 58a). In each end wall is a fireplace, flanked by shallow, round-arched recesses, the front wall contains the five windows to St. James's Street, and in the rear wall are two large doorways. The ceiling is a segmental vault.
Apart from the carved skirting and chair-rail the walls are without ornament. The two-leaf doors are of mahogany, the doorcases being pilastered and corniced, with a repeating vesica pattern in the pilasters and festoons in the frieze. The identical chimneypieces were probably inserted at the time of the alterations in the 1850's. They are of white marble inlaid with green and the frieze decoration is painted in near monochrome.
The main cornice to the room is rather small and has enriched mouldings. The frieze below it is decorated with scroll ornament intesrpersed with panels containing festoons. The ceiling is divided by single guilloche bands longitudinally, and by pairs laterally, into three main panels flanked by six small ones on either side. The large panels are decorated with three connecting wreaths of oak leaves, the bigger central ones containing a roundel filled with radiating flutes or acanthus leaves. The side panels contain octagons, in which are laurel wreaths enclosing paintings of sculptured classical heads, alternating with trophies. These paintings are probably original, but other painted decoration appears to date from the middle of the last century. Some of it has been covered over in recent years but it still exists in the three panels in the tympanum at either end of the room, between the pairs of lateral guilloche bands and at the corners of the octagons.
The rear room originally had a segmental apse at the north end behind a screen of Corinthian columns, and from one side projected a large bay window with solid curved sides, probably an addition. In the 1880's the apse was cut off to form a servery, the colonnade becoming half-embedded in the wall, and the bay window was replaced by a wide segmental bow with attached Corinthian columns of a different order, rising from a low plinth. The carved skirting and chair-rail are similar to those in the coffee-room and the ceiling is plain, but with most of the original entablature, the friexe being decorated with urns and wreaths. The marble chimneypiece is in the French Rococo style.
The only other room with original decoration is in the south wing (Plate 58b). The corniced doorcase and all the mouldings are plain and the chimneypiece of white marble is of the same date as those in the coffee-room. The modillion cornice is of an earlier type though the frieze below it, with anthemion and other ornament, seems to be of the late eighteenth century. The ceiling has a large central panel surrounded by double guilloche bands which cross at the corners to form eight subsidiary panels. The decoration in the centre is similar to that in the coffee-room, the wreaths being of laurel instead of oak, and the smaller ones having open ends and containing roundels of acanthus leaves.
The Adam design of 1787
The Adam design for rebuilding 'White's Chocolate House' consists of eight drawings, now in Sir John Soane's Museum—plans of the basement, ground, principal and attic storeys, three sections, and a front elevation—all inscribed 'Robert Adam' and dated 1787 (Plate 59). (fn. 144)
The design is for a building comprising a low basement for kitchens and service rooms, a moderately high ground storey and a lofty principal storey containing the club's apartments, and an attic with residential accommodation, presumably for the proprietor. The layout is generally symmetrical and monumental in effect. A three-bay portico, projecting from the centre of the front, leads to a deep oblong hall with an office on its south side and a 'chocolate room' on the north, both rooms being oblongs, 18 feet wide and 25 feet deep. Beyond the hall, and entered through an apsidal ante, is the D-shaped stair compartment where the staircase rises in a single semi-circular sweep to a straight landing-gallery. North of the stair compartment is a billiard-room, a straightsided oval in plan, 18 feet by 25 feet, and to the south is an octangular ante-room, 15 feet 6 inches by 17 feet, leading to a writing-room and bowfronted parlour in the south wing. The front part of the first floor, or principal storey, is filled by a 'great card room' consisting of a domed rotunda, 20 feet in diameter, opening north and south to cross-vaulted oblong compartments, each 18 feet by 25 feet. North of the stair landing is an apseended eating-room, 18 feet by 29 feet, leading to the circular 'hazard room' in the north wing. South of the landing is an octangular ante, serving the bow-windowed 'great eating room' in the south wing. All the rooms in the principal storey are linked by centrally placed doorways for use en suite. The decorations are designed with Adam's usual sense of climax. The ground-floor rooms are quite simple, the stair compartment bold and impressive, and the 'great card room' is magnificent, with Ionic three-bay screens in the arched openings between the four main piers of the rotunda, where the ceiling is a ribbed and banded dome enriched with diapers, festoons and medallions.
The plan is truly expressed in the front elevation, a monumental and boldly modelled design introducing several of Adam's favourite motifs. The three bays of almost equal width correspond with the internal divisions, and the floor levels are marked by the entablatures of the ground and principal storeys. In each side bay of the ground storey is a Doric three-light window, flanked by boldly projecting piers with a rusticated face between the pedestal and the simple Doric entablature. In the middle bay is the round-arched entrance, flanked by niches and fronted by a threebay portico with Doric plain-shafted columns on double pedestals, supporting a simple entablature and balustrade. In the principal storey each side bay contains a large segmental-arched window, divided into three lights and a fan-glazed lunette by an Ionic screen, and above the projecting rustic piers rise free-standing pairs of Corinthian plain-shafted columns, standing on pedestals and supporting projecting sections of the main entablature. Two more columns, widely spaced and paired with pilasters, form a concave curving screen in front of the recessed and concentrically curving face of the middle bay, where a window similar to those in the side bays serves to light the rotunda. Above the main entablature of the curved middle bay is a balustrade, behind which rises the recessed attic, its front divided by Doric pilasters into three bays, each containing a window, and finished with a triangular pediment, linked to the pediments of the return faces by the stepped base of a lead-covered saucer-dome. The attic of each side bay is lower, with a large fanglazed lunette set in a plain face bounded by paired pilasters and finished with a small-scaled entablature. The blocking-course is broken by a plain pedestal supporting a sphinx, facing away from the centre of the front.