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, West Side, Past Buildings
No. 63 St. James's Street: the Bagnio and Fenton's Hotel
The freehold of the site of No. 63 St. James's Street (J on fig. 81) belonged to the Crown until 1697. (fn. 11) In 1686/7 the lease of the ground and buildings had been assigned to Thomas Robson. (fn. 12) He in turn bequeathed it, together with his other properties, to his wife Mary, (fn. 13) charged, however, with a debt of about £4500 owed to Sir Edwin Stede of Stede Hall, Kent. The latter's executor, Thomas Freke, then became entitled to the premises in St. James's Street for the remaining forty-six years of the Crown lease and in March 1697 he petitioned the Crown for an extension of his interest. The house was then said to be ruinous. (fn. 14)
In his report on this petition the Surveyor General described the house as an old single tenement, 18 feet deep and consisting of two rooms with chambers over them. The whole site, including both house and garden, had a frontage of 51 feet towards St. James's Street and a depth of 236 feet. He concluded that 'the Buildings now standing on this peece of ground are very meen and not answerable to ye other houses now built in ye same street'. (fn. 14)
In April 1697 Thomas Freke obtained a grant from the Crown of the freehold of the whole property. (fn. 11) The usual procedure would have been to grant him only a building lease, but in this instance the property was granted in perpetuity, possibly because by this time the Crown had already disposed of the freehold of all its property on the west side of St. James's Street from Piccadilly to St. James's Place. Freke paid a fine of £100 and the property was charged with an annual rent of 6s. 8d. for ever. (fn. 11)
The existing old tenement was then demolished and three new houses fronting St. James's Street were built, probably by Joseph Rossington, the speculative builder. (fn. 15) Immediately behind the three new houses, on what had once been Robson's garden, a substantial building was also erected; it and the northernmost of the three houses facing the street were used as a bagnio or Turkish bath (fn. 16) from 1700 to at least 1748. (fn. 17)
In the early eighteenth century there was another bagnio on the opposite (i.e. east) side of St. James's Street on the site of No. 19. The date of its establishment is uncertain, but from 1702 to 1716 the house was occupied by Peter Persoad. (fn. 18) In his New View of London, published in 1708, Hatton mentions that 'Pierautl's [sic] Bagnio is situate in St. James's Str. where are Conveniences for Sweating, Bathing, etc. It was set up about the Year 1699, the charge of going in is 5s. If lie all Night 10s. each. Here is also a Cold Bath, for which they take 2s. 6d. each Person.' (fn. 19) In the 1720's the ratebooks give Peter Delescot (Delisco) as the occupant of the bagnio on the east side of the street. A marriage settlement dated 5 January 1733/4 shows that the bagnio was still in existence then and that Benique Delescot, widow, married Thomas Norris, gentleman. (fn. 20) The later history of the establishment is not known.
In 1710 the German traveller, Von Uffenbach, visited one of these establishments, which was kept by 'an old Frenchman'. (fn. 21) The ratebooks describe the keeper of the bagnio on the west side of the street as 'Omilley' (in 1700), 'Bertr. Aumaithay' (in 1706), and 'Peter De Omelai' (in 1707). In his description of the bagnio which he visited Von Uffenbach says that it was 'much smaller than the Royal Bagnio [in Newgate Street] . . . but much cleaner, the walls being covered with porcelain tiles. Above the hot baths they have also a large cold one, that is constantly flowing in and out. It is of graduated depth so that one can be covered as far as one wishes. In the middle hangs a rope, by means of which one can pull oneself along and roll about in any direction wished.' (fn. 21)
A deed of 1724 which describes the bagnio on the west side of the street states that some of the rooms were hung with tapestries or else 'wainscotted round', the hot rooms were lined with Dutch tiles, and the floors and seats were made of marble. (fn. 22)
In 1733 the then keeper of the bagnio at No. 63 St. James's Street increased the size of his establishment by taking over the adjoining house, that is, the middle one of the three houses built by Rossington. (fn. 18) In 1748 William Stevens was keeper of the bagnio and his widow remained in occupation until 1757; (fn. 17) but it has been impossible to discover from the trade directories the calling of the various people who occupied the premises between 1757 and 1800, when Francis Fenton took over the three old houses as an hotel. (fn. 18)
Fenton's Hotel evidently prospered, for in 1823 he purchased the freehold of the property. (fn. 23) In 1824 the old houses were demolished and a large building was erected on their site; it is shown in Tallis's view (pocket, drawing C), and was completed by 1825. (fn. 18) The name of the architect is unknown. The building contractor was Henry Peto, whose bill amounted to £20,944. (fn. 23)
The front of Fenton's Hotel was six bays wide and had three storeys below the main cornice and an attic storey and a garret above. The lowest storey formed a rusticated base with semi-circular arched openings for windows and doors, the third from the north being the main entrance and the most southerly (which was wider than the rest and therefore elliptical) a passage entrance. Narrowly spaced and unfluted Corinthian pilasters, presumably with pedestals (though these would have been obscured by a continuous iron balcony railing), rose from this base through the second and third storeys, the windows of which were set in plain square-headed openings. There were basket balconies to those of the third storey. The windows in the attic storey were also squareheaded, and were separated by plain attic pilasters. The garret was lit by square-topped dormers behind a parapet.
In 1828 Fenton was declared bankrupt and his new hotel was assigned to trustees for his creditors, the most considerable being probably Henry Peto. The property passed to the latter's representatives and in 1854 was assigned by them to his nephew and former business associate, Thomas Grissell, (fn. 23) one of whose descendants, Lieutenant-Colonel T. D. Grissell, is the present owner.
Fenton remained as tenant of the new building, which continued to be used as an hotel until 1886. (fn. 24) It was a place of fashion and there are frequent contemporary references to it. (fn. 25) Nevertheless a foreign visitor wrote in 1858 that 'though Fenton's was a fashionable [hotel], our rooms were small and dark, furnished like a common lodginghouse. . . . I had to write my letters on my knees or on the window-sill, or on the top of a box, as there was no table. The dirt and darkness of these rooms was most repulsive.' (fn. 26)
F. H. Fenton, presumably the son of Francis, was in charge from 1835 to 1865; he was succeeded by Mrs. Ann Fenton, who remained until 1881. From 1845 to 1886 No. 12 Park Place, which immediately adjoined the back premises of No. 63 St. James's Street, formed part of Fenton's Hotel. (fn. 27) In 1886–7 the hotel was demolished to make way for the present building (see page 472).
Blue Ball Yard
A deed dated 1700 mentions a new-intended stable yard which was to be approximately in the position of the present Blue Ball Yard, (fn. 28) but the first entry in the ratebooks for a stable yard in this position does not occur until 1719 and the name Blue Ball Yard does not appear until 1754. (fn. 18) Access to the yard is through two covered ways separated from each other by a wall which marked the boundary between Thomas Freke's ground (see above) on the north and Charles Godolphin's on the south (see below). About 1700 rebuilding was taking place on both these sites and it seems likely that the yard was formed jointly by Freke and Godolphin at this period.
Sir John Duncombe's Estate
In 1672 there were four houses on the site of the present Nos. 64–68 (consec.) St. James's Street, with gardens extending westwards as far as the wall of Cleveland House garden (J on fig. 81). From north to south they were occupied by Edmund Waller, Charles Pickar, Sir John Duncomb(e) and Jane Beard. (fn. 29) Blue Ball Yard and St. James's Place did not then exist. In that year Sir John Duncombe, Chancellor of the Exchequer, successfully petitioned the Crown for the grant of the freehold of all four houses. (fn. 30)
Edmund Waller, the poet, lived in the northernmost house from 1657–8 to 1687, the year of his death, (fn. 31) having taken a lease from Duncombe in 1672 and purchased the freehold from him in 1681. (fn. 32) The house was burnt down in 1696, when occupied by Lady Luttrell, (fn. 18) 'the lady herself narrowly escaping, and 'tis said she lost in plate, jewells, etc. to the value of 10,000l'. (fn. 33) Two years later, in 1698, the poet's son, another Edmund Waller, sold the site to Charles Godolphin who occupied No. 16 St. James's Place. (fn. 34) In 1702–3 Godolphin erected three houses (fn. 1) on the front part of the site, two facing St. James's Street and one in their rear, (fn. 35) and the southern half of Blue Ball Yard was probably laid out behind them at about this time.
In 1703 Charles Godolphin vested the two houses facing St. James's Street in trustees to receive the rents for such charitable uses as his wife Elizabeth might direct. The rents were used to help persons in reduced circumstances until 1852 when, by an order of the Court of Chancery, the charity was vested in trustees for the establishment of the Godolphin School, Hammersmith. (fn. 36) The site of this property is now covered by No. 64 (which was for many years occupied by the Cocoa Tree Club, see below), No. 65 St. James's Street and the southern half of Blue Ball Yard.
The sites of the houses occupied by Charles Pickar, Sir John Duncombe and Jane Beard were acquired by the Devisscher family towards the end of the seventeenth century (see page 511) and are now covered by Nos. 66, 67, 67a, and 68 St. James's Street and Nos. 1–10 and 32, 33, 39–46 (consec.) St. James's Place.
No. 64 St. James's Street: Weltje's and the Cocoa Tree Club
The first known reference to the Cocoa Tree chocolate house is in 1698. During its long career it occupied three different houses in Pall Mall and then moved to No. 64 St. James's Street. At some unknown date it ceased to be a place of public resort and became first a proprietary and then (probably) a members' club. When it ceased to exist in 1932 it was, apart from White's, the only West End club whose ancestry could be traced back to the chocolate houses of the late seventeenth century.
In 1698 there is a reference among the manuscripts of Earl Cowper to 'the Cocoa Tree in the Pell Mell'. (fn. 37) The house which it then occupied stood on part of the site later occupied by Cumberland House and now by the Royal Automobile Club, (fn. 38) and the ratebooks indicate that the proprietor was Sol De Lafoy, who occupied the house from 1692 (perhaps the date of the first establishment of the Cocoa Tree) until 1700–1. De Lafoy was succeeded by Isaac Narsaw (Narso), who occupied the house until 1716 and is mentioned in connexion with the Cocoa Tree chocolate house in a recital in a lease of 1733. (fn. 38) The ratebooks show that the house in question was subsequently occupied from 1717 to 1722 by Matthew Field, from 1723 to 1729 by Martha Field, from 1729 to 1744 by John Cartier(e), and from 1744 to 1756 by Charles Soleirol. Several of the latter's recognizances as the licensed victualler of the Cocoa Tree chocolate house have survived from 1747 to 1752. (fn. 39)
The Cocoa Tree is mentioned as a popular resort in the first number of The Spectator—'my face is likewise very well known at the Grecian, the Cocoa-tree, and in the theatres, both of Drury-lane and the Haymarket'. It appears to have been frequently patronized by Swift (fn. 40) and by 1722 it was evidently regarded as a favoured Tory rendezvous, (fn. 41) a reputation which it continued to enjoy for about the next half-century. At the time of the rebellion of 1745 its habitues were clearly suspected of Jacobite sympathies, for in a letter written shortly after the battle of Culloden Horace Walpole relates that 'the Duke [of Cumberland] has given Brigadier Mordaunt the Pretender's coach, on condition he rode up to London in it. "That I will, Sir," said he, "and drive till it stops of its own accord at the Cocoa Tree." ' (fn. 42)
The ratebooks show that in 1757 Charles Soleirol moved from the south side of Pall Mall to a house on the north side, the site of which is now occupied by No. 46 (the Army and Navy Club annexe). In these new premises he remained the proprietor until 1764, when he was succeeded by Thomas Griffiths, (fn. 18) who continued as proprietor until at least 1787. (fn. 43)
As the recognized Tory meeting-place in the St. James's neighbourhood the Cocoa Tree's period of greatest political importance was probably during the early years of the reign of George III. It was probably also at about this time that the establishment ceased to cater for all comers and followed the example of White's in becoming a proprietary club. In his Journal for 1762 Edward Gibbon relates how he 'dined at the Cocoa-tree with Holt. . . . We went thence to the play . . ., and when it was over, returned to the Cocoa-tree. That respectable body, of which I have the honor to be a member, affords every evening a sight truly English. Twenty or thirty, perhaps, of the first men in the Kingdom, in point of fashion and fortune, supping at little tables covered with a napkin, in the middle of a Coffee-room, upon a bit of cold meat, or a Sandwich, and drinking a glass of punch. At present, we are full of Privy Counsellors and Lords of the Bedchamber; who, having jumped into the Ministry, make a very singular medley of their old principles and language, with their modern ones.' (fn. 44) The Whigs' dislike of the club's influence at this time is illustrated in a letter written by Earl Temple, who after criticizing the responsibility of the Cocoa Tree set in obtaining the inclusion of the King's mother in the Regency Act of 1765, continues 'it is well they have not given us a King, if they have not; for many think Lord Bute is King'. (fn. 45) Within a few years, however, the club appears to have become a favourite resort for high gambling rather than for political influence, Horace Walpole relating in 1780 that 'Within this week there has been a cast at hazard at the Cocoa Tree, the difference of which amounted to an hundred and fourscore thousand pounds.' (fn. 46)
The Griffiths family continued to keep a wine shop at No. 46 Pall Mall until the second half of the nineteenth century. Amongst the licensed victuallers' recognizances for 1793 there is, however, one which gives Thomas Hitchcock and William Newton as the proprietors of the Cocoa Tree in Pall Mall, (fn. 47) and the ratebooks show that No. 64 Pall Mall (on the north side, then at or near the corner of St. James's Street) was occupied from 1790 to 1794 by Thomas Hitchcock, in 1795–6 by Hitchcock and Newton, and in 1797–8 by Newton, The Cocoa Tree must therefore have moved from No. 46 to No. 64 Pall Mall between 1787 (when Griffiths is known to have been the proprietor) and 1793. It did not, however, remain there long, for in 1799 William Newton removed to No. 64 St. James's Street, where the club remained for the rest of its existence. (fn. 18)
No. 64 St. James's Street had previously been occupied from 1774 to 1784 by Lewis Weltje (Weltie, Weltze, Welche), and from 1785 to 1787 by Christopher Weltze. (fn. 18) Lewis Weltje subsequently became clerk of the Prince of Wales's kitchen and general factotum in the early days of the Brighton pavilion. In 1781 a club 'consisting of young men who belong to Government' had been lately formed at Weltje's. This club soon became noted for gambling and extravagant entertainment, and in a letter of 11 February 1782 to the Earl of Carlisle, James Hare commented that 'A young Club at Weltje's begins to alarm us [i.e. Brooks's], as they increase in numbers, live well, and are difficult in their choice of members; it is almost entirely a Ministerial Club as Brookes's is a Minority.' (fn. 48) From 1787 to 1795 the house was kept by James Daubigney, in 1795–6 by John Baxter, and in 1797–8 by Baxter and Bell, who in 1799 were succeeded by William Newton. (fn. 18) It may therefore be inferred that in the latter year the' Club at Weltje's' amalgamated with the Cocoa Tree, both clubs having the same political loyalties.
After the eighteenth century, however, political views do not seem to have been of much importance at the Cocoa Tree, for the Prince of Wales, Sheridan (fn. 49) and Byron (fn. 50) were all habitués, and in the early nineteenth century the club seems to have been chiefly noted for heavy drinking. William Newton remained proprietor until 1810, when he was succeeded by R. Holland, who remained until 1817. From 1818 to 1831 the proprietor was John Raggett, and from 1832 to 1835 John Parton Raggett, (fn. 18) who were presumably relations of George Raggett, the proprietor of White's.
The later history of the club is very obscure. Whitaker's Almanack for 1872 gives the date of its establishment as 1853, which may perhaps be the date of its reconstitution as a members' club. Later editions of Whitaker's Almanack give the date of establishment as 1746, which has sometimes been given as the approximate date of its conversion from a chocolate house to a proprietary club. (fn. 51) In the twentieth century the greater part of the ground floor of the house was occupied by a gunsmith's shop (fn. 52) and in 1926 the club's premises were severely damaged by fire. (fn. 53) The club closed its doors in 1932. (fn. 54)
Tallis's street view of c. 1839 (pocket, drawing C) shows that the house had three main storeys and a garret, with a continuous iron balcony railing at first-floor level and a bandcourse at the level of second-floor sills. The bottom storey was irregular, having a modest square-headed front entrance door between a wide square-headed passage entrance on the north, leading to Blue Ball Yard, and a three-light sash window on the south. Three round-headed windows, the central one emphasized by being placed in a shallow roundheaded recess, gave light to the second storey. This central motif was repeated on a smaller scale in the third storey, where it was flanked on either side by a single square-headed window. The result was to over-emphasize the centre, and give a slight touch of pretentiousness to an otherwise modest front. Tallis shows an inscription—Universal Literary Cabinet—immediately below the second-floor bandcourse. The house was refronted at the end of the nineteenth century (fn. 55) and was completely rebuilt shortly after the club's demise. (fn. 53) A feature of the club was the large ornamental golden tree in one of the principal rooms. (fn. 56)
No. 67A St. James's Street: Wirgman's
The house at the southern corner of St. James's Place and St. James's Street was occupied from 1761 to 1822 by successive members of the Wirgman family. (fn. 18) They were jewellers and goldsmiths, but were also known in the eighteenth century as 'toymen'.
In April 1778 James Boswell accompanied Dr. Johnson in a hackney coach to Wirgman's to buy a pair of silver shoe buckles. They had some difficulty in finding the shop, for, as Johnson complained, ' "To direct one only to a corner shop is toying with one." . . . This choosing of silver buckles was a negociation: "Sir, (said he,) I will not have the ridiculous large ones now in fashion; and I will give no more than a guinea for a pair." Such were the principles of the business; and, after some examination he was fitted.' (fn. 57)
No. 69 St. James's Street: White's chocolate house: Miles's Club
White's was established as a chocolate house in St. James's Street in 1693; the first reference to a club there is in 1736, and White's therefore possesses a longer continuous history than any other West End club, its nearest rivals being Brooks's and Boodle's, both of which were established in 1764. Since the demise of the Cocoa Tree Club in 1932 it has also been the only surviving West End club which originated as a chocolate house.
In 1693 the ratebooks show Francis White as the occupant of a house on the east side of St. James's Street, on or very near the site of the present Boodle's club-house. He remained in this house until 1696. The ratebooks of 1697 are missing, but in 1698 they show that he removed to the west side of the street to a house later numbered 69, whose site was occupied after 1826 by the northern part of Arthur's club-house (now the Carlton Club). This ground was (and still is) Crown land and had been leased to the Earl of St. Albans's trustees. (fn. 58) In 1701–2 the ratebooks show John Arthur, who was Francis White's servant, (fn. 59) as the occupant of the adjoining house on the north side, now numbered 68. The freehold of the site of this house had been granted by the Crown in 1672 to Sir John Duncombe, subject to the existing lease (see page 460).
In his will, dated 14 June 1708 and proved on 27 February 1710/11, Francis White described himself as of St. James's, Westminster, gentleman, weak and infirm. To his aunt Nicoletta Tomati at Genoa he left £15, to his brother-in-law Tomaso Casanova, also at Genoa, £25, and to his sister Angela Maria Casanova, £100. To his four children, Bartholomew, Elizabeth, Frances and Francis he left £600 each, and a further £200 each if their mother should remarry. To his wife Elizabeth he left his plate, jewels and residuary estate, and appointed her sole executrix. (fn. 59)
The will suggests that Francis White was a prosperous man—in 1702, when he was described as 'the Chocolatt Man in St. James Street', he had been able to afford to pay a fine in order to avoid serving as a parish overseer of the poor. (fn. 60) It also suggests that he was of Italian extraction. (fn. 2)
Shortly after Francis White's death the sublease of the house was assigned to his widow Elizabeth, (fn. 58) who remained the occupant until 1729. (fn. 18) At some date before 1724 she remarried, for in that year her second husband, Major George Skene (Skreen), who had a house at Chelsea, died intestate and letters of administration were granted to his widow, described in The Daily Post as 'Mrs. White that keeps White's Chocolate House, St. James's Street'. (fn. 61) The ratebooks refer to her successively as 'Widow White', 'Mrs. White' and 'Madam White', and Swift, Steele, Gay, Pope and others all referred to her establishment. Tickets for balls at the King's Theatre in the Haymarket were sold at the chocolate house in St. James's Street, (fn. 62) and 'Masquerade Habits' could be hired or bought at Widow White's 'House in Little Wild Street, and at the Opera Coffee-house next Door but one to the Opera-House'. (fn. 62)
Elizabeth White's connexion with the chocolate house ended in 1729, (fn. 18) which was probably the date of her death. In that year Bartholomew White of St. James's Street (presumably one of her sons) was granted a victualler's licence. (fn. 63) Elizabeth White died intestate and letters of administration were granted to her daughter Frances. In September 1730 the latter's brother, Francis White, petitioned the Crown for a new lease, describing the house as 'an olde decayd Messuage' which had 'been erected many yeares and by reason thereof is grown so weak and out of Repair that without rebuilding, it will scarce stand out the term in being'. The house had a frontage to St. James's Street of 30 feet 6 inches and it and its yard or garden had a depth of 84 feet. A new lease expiring in 1780 was shortly afterwards granted to Francis White. (fn. 58)
After Elizabeth White's death John Arthur appears to have taken over the business. The ratebooks for 1730, 1731 and 1733 give him as the occupant of No. 69, as well as of the adjoining house to the north, No. 68, which he had occupied since 1701–2; in 1731 he also appears as the occupant of the adjoining house to the south (No. 70), (fn. 18) hitherto a bookshop 'known by the Sign of the Bible' and for many years occupied by John Graves. (fn. 64) The ratebook for 1732 mentions his son Robert Arthur for the first time; it also gives Barth[olomew] and Francis White as joint occupants with Robert Arthur of No. 69. In 1752 Robert Arthur was said to be Francis White's sub-tenant at No. 69 (fn. 65) and it is probable that the White family had no active concern in the business between 1732 and 1756. In 1731 'John Arthur. Cho[colate]' was the licensee. (fn. 66)
On 28 April 1733 the three houses were burnt down. The fire began early in the morning 'in White's Chocolate House in a gaming room called Hell', (fn. 67) and burned so fast that 'Young Mr. Arthur's Wife leap'd out of Window a pair of Stairs upon a Feather-Bed without much Hurt'. (fn. 68)
The King and the Prince of Wales 'were present on Foot for above an Hour . . . and encouraged the Fireman and People at the Engines to work'. (fn. 69) Another account says that 'Mr. Arthur had insured his Goods to the Value of 400l. since last Lady Day' but that he had lost over £200 in plate and £100 in cash, (fn. 70) and Sir Andrew Fountaine's 'fine Collection of Paintings' was also destroyed. (fn. 68) On 3 May 1733 Arthur advertised in The Daily Post that he had 'removed to Gaunt's Coffee House, next St. James's Coffee House in St. James's Street, where he humbly begs they [his customers] will favour him with their company as usual'. (fn. 71) The calamity of the fire and the establishment's temporary removal to the south end of the west side of St. James's Street were commemorated by Hogarth in the final version of the engraving of Plate IV of the 'Rake's Progress', where a flash of lightning is seen descending upon a house marked 'White'. (fn. 3)
The ratebooks for 1735 show that the houses destroyed by the fire had been rebuilt, and that Robert Arthur was the occupant of No. 69, a plan of which, made in 1752, is reproduced on fig. 77; the adjoining houses on either side were no longer occupied by members of either the Arthur or White families.
Until the fire of 1733 White's appears to have been primarily a popular gaming resort patronized by very mixed company. (fn. 72) The first set of cluþ rules is dated 30 October 1736 and is entitled 'Rules of the Old Club at White's'. In his History of White's Algernon Bourke says that this club 'was no new institution in 1736, but had met at the Chocolate House for many years before that date'. (fn. 73) No club is, however, mentioned amongst any of the copious contemporary references to White's before 1736, and it seems more probable that it was of relatively recent origin. The club consisted of eighty-two members, and owing to its exclusiveness another club entitled the 'Young Club at White's' was formed in 1743. The rules of the two clubs were almost identical, and the Young Club 'soon became a place of probation, in which men waited for admission to the charmed circle of the old society'. (fn. 74)
An anonymous pamphlet entitled The Polite Gamester: or, The Humours of Whist and published in 1753, refers to the club at White's as 'a select Company above Stairs, where no Person of what Rank soever is admitted, without being first proposed by one of the Club'. It is clear that at that date the chocolate house still formed part of the business. (fn. 75) But the accommodation available was probably inadequate, for in 1754 and 1755 Robert Arthur is shown in the ratebooks as the occupant of No. 68, the adjoining house to the north, as well as of No. 69. In the latter year he purchased from Sir Whistler Webster of Battle Abbey, Sussex, the freehold capital messuage on the east side of St. James's Street which is now numbered 37–38. The ratebooks for 1756 show him as the occupant of this house, which has remained the club's home ever since.
After Robert Arthur's migration to the other side of the street, the ratebooks for 1756–61 give the occupant of No. 69 as 'White', 'Mr. White' or 'Mrs, White'; from 1762 to 1773 they give 'Fr[ancis] White', for 1774 John White, and from 1775 to 1784 Sarah White. It is not known for what purpose the house was used between 1756 and 1784. (fn. 4) Francis White was possibly the son of the original founder of the chocolate house, and Sarah White was his wife; (fn. 76) in 1778 she was described as of Twickenham, widow. (fn. 77)
In 1785 Sarah White assigned her lease, which was due to expire in 1824, to William Ogden of St. James's Street. (fn. 76) In the same year Richard Miles 'became possessed of the house. Miles had been Nicholas Kenney's partner in the management of the short-lived Savoir Vivre Club, for which the building now occupied by Boodle's had been erected (see page 441). After the demise of the Savoir Vivre in 1782 Miles was apparently 'left in the lurch', and he therefore took No. 69 St. James's Street, which he described as 'of considerable magnitude, originally called White's Chocolate House', and after spending two thousand pounds on improvements he established there 'a club of the first importance . . ., which flourished for thirty years' [sic] under his management. (fn. 78) The ratebooks for 1785 give Miles and Evans as the occupants; nothing is known of Evans, who does not appear in the ratebooks after 1788.
Richard Miles remained the occupant until 1810. (fn. 18) William Wilberforce was a member of the club, (fn. 79) which was apparently noted for its high play. In about 1807 the members of the Union Club, which was then at No. 21 St. James's Square, (fn. 80) began to indulge in heavy gambling and many of Miles's members migrated thither. Miles found that he was losing seven or eight thousand pounds a year, and he therefore dissolved his club at the end of 1809. In 1834 he was living in retirement at Harwell, Berkshire, and in a piteous appeal which he wrote in that year he stated that he was still owed over eleven thousand pounds, and that he had two daughters unprovided for. (fn. 78)
No. 69 St. James's Street was subsequently occupied by Arthur's, by whom the present building (which also occupies the site of No. 70) was erected in 1826–7 (see page 474). Arthur's came to an end in 1940 and the building is now occupied by the Carlton Club.
Sir William Pulteney's House
The site of Sir William Pulteney's house, which had a frontage of about one hundred feet to St. James's Street, lay between a house on the corner of Stable Yard (now Little St. James's Street) on the north and Sir Henry Henne's house, on the corner of St. James's Street and Cleveland Row, on the south. (fn. 81) A survey of c. 1667 shows that the house was a conglomeration of buildings, the chief of which was separated by a passage on its south side from several low buildings, 'redie to falle'. (fn. 82) In 1670 the site was divided into two; the low buildings on the south were probably demolished and a new house erected in their place. (fn. 18)
The part of the house on the north side of the passage consisted of a hall, kitchen, parlour, dining-room, 'Ladies Clossett', six chambers and three garrets; (fn. 82) it continued to be occupied by Sir William Pulteney until his death in 1691, and then by his widow, Dame Grace Pulteney. (fn. 83) It continued as part of the leasehold estate held by the Pulteney family under the Crown. After Dame Grace's death the house was let and became known as the Thatched House Tavern (see below). The site on which the new house had been built in 1670 also remained vested in the Pulteney trustees but it was part of the estate which was granted to the trustees in fee in 1722 and reverted to the Crown by exchange in 1830 (see page 28).
The site of the part of Pulteney's house which he retained for his own use is now occupied by part of the site of the former Conservative clubhouse (No. 74 St. James's Street, see page 478); the site of the other part on the south is now occupied by the northern half of Nos. 85–86 St. James's Street (see page 484).
The Thatched House Tavern
In June 1704 or 1705 William Pulteney, esquire, son of Sir William, leased his 'Great Messuage' on the west side of St. James's Street, and its garden ground, to Arthur Goffe, vintner, for sixty years at an annual rent of £200; Goffe also convenanted to pay Pulteney another £10 per annum 'or Two Dozen Bottles of Burgundy wine'. Goffe intended to convert part of the 'Great Messuage' into a tavern and to build several new houses in the garden. He mortgaged the property and spent some three thousand pounds on improvement. In February 1707/8 he concluded articles of agreement with William Ludbey of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, carpenter, whereby he covenanted to grant the latter a building lease of the garden ground, which extended some 160 feet west of the house, but he omitted to mention the mortgage. In May 1708 Goffe became a bankrupt and Daniel Russell of Skinners' Hall, gentleman, obtained possession of the premises. (fn. 84) Subsequently Russell granted leases to Ludbey who, by about 1709, had erected a row of small houses on the south side of a stable yard (fn. 5) behind the Thatched House Tavern. (fn. 85)
Between 1709 and 1712 several Chancery suits were in progress between the various parties, and also the Countess Dowager of Bridgwater, who occupied Cleveland House and considered that it would be 'much incommoded' by Ludbey's building operations. In July 1712 Goffe was said to have died intestate. (fn. 84)
The Thatched House Tavern appears to have been established in 1704 or 1705, (fn. 6) either in Pulteney's 'Great Messuage', or in a new house built on its site. In December 1711 Swift refers to it in The Journal to Stella: 'I entertained our Society at the Thatched House Tavern to-day at dinner; but brother Bathurst sent for wine, the house affording none.' (fn. 86)
In or about 1720 the ground-floor frontage to St. James's Street was divided into six small shops, access to the tavern being through a passageway. (fn. 87) The main body of the house may also have been rebuilt or altered at this date. Tallis's view of St. James's Street (pocket, drawing C) shows that the tavern may then have consisted of four houses each four storeys high and two windows wide, fronting the street and set back from the building line. Except for a cornice at third-floor level and iron basket balconies to the second-floor windows, they were devoid of ornament in the three upper storeys. The original form of the bottom storey is unknown, since it was obscured in Tallis's time by single-storey shops of varying frontages (the largest being a hatter's at the north end) built out over the forecourt. The shop windows were divided into small panes. An entry, immediately to the north of the middle of the row, led to the tavern and to Thatched House Court.
From 1716 (or perhaps earlier) until 1731, Thomas Buck or Bourke was the proprietor; the tavern was then empty for several years, but from 1736 Morgan Davies, and then his widow, were the occupants. (fn. 18) In 1744 John Townsend was the licensee (fn. 88) and in 1755 John Atwood. (fn. 89) The latter was succeeded in 1765 by Benjamin Frere, who in 1770 was succeeded by James Willis, by whose family the tavern was managed for the rest of its existence. (fn. 18)
On 18 August 1768 James Willis, described as of the parish of 'Wingleham' in Surrey, had married Elizabeth Tebb, niece of William Almack, senior, club proprietor and founder of Almack's Assembly Rooms in King Street. (fn. 90) In 1768 the Thatched House Tavern had been sub-let by Mary Skynner of Walthamstow, widow, (fn. 7) to James Chauvel of St. James's Place, esquire, and Robert Mackreth of Cork Street, esquire, for a term of thirty years. They had agreed with William Waller of Lincoln's Inn, esquire (who was probably acting on behalf of Dorothy Bathurst of Horsmonden, Kent, spinster), to share the rents of the Thatched House Tavern, (fn. 91) and they evidently sub-let the house to James Willis, who at the time of his death in 1794 held it for an unexpired term of four years. In his will James Willis described himself as a tavern keeper and vintner; his wife and two eldest sons, James and William, assisted him in the business, James as a waiter. (fn. 92) Elizabeth and her son James Willis, junior, managed the two businesses at the Thatched House Tavern and the Assembly Rooms in King Street until 1797; in the following year Elizabeth was succeeded by her second son William. (fn. 18) The two brothers continued in partnership until the death of William Willis in 1839. (fn. 93)
In 1810 the Crown lease of the tavern, the six shops in front of it, and of the houses on the south side of Thatched House Court, was renewed to Major-General (later Field-Marshal) Thomas Grosvenor, nephew of the first Earl Grosvenor, (fn. 94) and other members of that family, for forty-five years commencing in 1822. (fn. 95) (fn. 8) The Willis family remained the managing proprietors of the tavern, but in 1842 they moved the business to the adjoining house (No. 85) on the south side (previously occupied by Saunders's chocolate house and latterly by the Albion Club) to make way for the Conservative club-house, the southern part of which was shortly afterwards erected on the old site (see page 478). James Willis, junior, retired in 1842 and died on 2 January 1847 at his house in Somers Place, Hyde Park Square. (fn. 96) After his retirement the business was carried on jointly by his son Frederick, and by William Willis's son Charles until 1861; (fn. 97) the building was demolished in the following year to make way for the present building, now occupied by the Union Club. (fn. 98)
The Thatched House Tavern was much used as a meeting-place for clubs and societies (Plate 52a). The Literary Club met there, (fn. 99) as did the Society of Dilettanti, whose pictures were kept there from 1811 until 1861. (fn. 100) The Noblemen and Gentlemen's Catch Club also met there in 'a very spacious room'from 1767 to 1814. (fn. 101) The inaugural meetings of the Architects' Club (1791), (fn. 102) the Yacht Club (1815, later the Royal Yacht Squadron), (fn. 103) the United Service Club (1815) (fn. 104) and the Carlton Club (1832) (fn. 105) were all held at the Thatched House Tavern. The first trustees of Albany, Piccadilly, were chosen at a meeting at the tavern held in 1803. (fn. 106)
No. 85 St. James's Street: Saunders's chocolate house
The house which had been built in 1670 on the southern part of the site of Sir William Pulteney's house was occupied for many years by Henry Guy, politician, (fn. 107) one of the trustees of the Pulteney estate.
In 1765 Saunders was succeeded by Richard John Atwood (fn. 18) (fn. 9) and Edward Gibbon, writing in 1772, mentioned 'Atwood's, a new Club into which I have been chose'. (fn. 110) In 1774 Atwood took over the house on the south side (later No. 86). He was succeeded in both houses by Bartholomew Atwood from 1775 to 1779 and then by Joseph Parsloe, vintner, from 1780 to 1785. (fn. 18) In the latter year both buildings, described as 'a subscription house', were burnt down, and 'entirely consumed before any water could be got to extinguish the flames'. The Thatched House Tavern which stood on the north side of the house was also damaged. (fn. 111) Parsloe obtained a new lease of the site of Henry Guy's house shortly after the fire and covenanted to build a house of the first rate on the site. (fn. 112) The new building (later No. 85 St. James's Street) was completed in 1786. (fn. 18)
Tallis's view of St. James's Street (pocket, drawing C) shows that it was a slightly inept version of the central portion of Boodle's Club. It had a raised ground floor with a central square-headed window (once perhaps a door) framed within a pilastered porch-motif and flanked by round-headed windows, that on the south having apparently been converted into a door. A somewhat meaner version of the Boodle's Venetian window gave light to the second storey, which occupied the space of two normal storeys and was surmounted by a third storey, rising above the neighbouring parapets. This had a wide central square-headed window, framed within a slightly projecting feature, and flanked by narrower square-headed windows, one on each side. The whole appears to have been crowned by a balustraded parapet.
No. 86 was apparently rebuilt at the same time, but was given up by Parsloe in 1786. (fn. 18) He remained proprietor of the subscription club at No. 85, which continued to be licensed under the name of Saunders's' coffee house, (fn. 113) until 1810. (fn. 18) Both the Literary Club and the Society of Dilettanti held their meetings at Parsloe's, the latter keeping their pictures there from 1801 to 1810. (fn. 114)
In 1811 John Giles became the occupant of the premises, which he renamed the Albion Club. (fn. 18) In 1842 this club appears to have come to an end and its premises were occupied by the Thatched House Tavern from 1842 to 1861. (fn. 27) The house was demolished in 1862 to make way for the present building (see page 484). (fn. 98)
Sir Henry Henne's House
This house and garden stood at the corner of St. James's Street and Cleveland Row. (fn. 81) Its site is now covered by the southern half of Nos. 85–86 and by Nos. 87–88 St. James's Street.
In 1663 Sir William Pulteney granted his leasehold interest in Sir Henry Henne's house and garden to (Sir) Goddard Nelthorpe. (fn. 115) The house, which was separated from St. James's Street by a courtyard, consisted of an old timber building with a brick addition. The garden lay on the south side of the house and fronted on Cleveland Row. (fn. 82)
In 1670 Sir Goddard Nelthorpe, described as of St. James's, Clerkenwell, employed Thomas Perkesur, bricklayer, and Edward Karby, carpenter, both of St. Martin's in the Fields, to add an extra storey on the brick building and to build another house, probably on the site of the old timber building. (fn. 116) These two houses survived until the latter half of the eighteenth century; Nos. 86 and 87 St. James's Street (since demolished) were built on their site.
In 1673 Sir Goddard Nelthorpe granted a sublease of the garden of Sir Henry Henne's house to Richard Frith, citizen and bricklayer and tiler of London, who convenanted to build two houses. (fn. 117) Frith built one house in St. James's Street and one in Cleveland Row, (fn. 118) and some timber buildings were also erected later on the corner of St. James's Street and Cleveland Row. (fn. 119) It is not possible to follow the changes subsequently made to these houses, but it is certain that the St. James's Hotel and coffee house, and the later St. James's Royal Hotel (all since demolished) stood on the site let to Frith.
No. 86 St. James's Street: Williams's coffee house
At some time between 1707 and 1715 a coffee house was established on this site by Roger Williams, coffeeman. (fn. 120) In 1719 Williams covenanted with the Crown lessee, Henry Nelthorpe, to rebuild the house at a cost of £800. (fn. 121) Williams built a 'substantial' house and in 1736 obtained a new lease direct from the Crown. (fn. 122) He occupied the coffee house until 1747. Two years later it was taken over by James Rowles, (fn. 18) coffeeman and vintner. (fn. 119) It may be that the use of the premises as a wine shop or public house, as it is shown to be in the ratebooks of the early part of the nineteenth century, dates from Rowles's occupancy of the premises. He re'mained in occupation until 1768, and for most of this period he also occupied the adjoining coffee house on the south (No. 87). From 1770 to 1772 No. 86 was occupied by Talbot Condon, (fn. 18) the proprietor of the Smyrna coffee house in Pall Mall. At Michaelmas 1772 and in 1773 James Goostree was the occupant. In 1774 Richard John Atwood, the tenant of the adjoining coffee house on the north (No. 85), took over No. 86 which continued as an adjunct of No. 85 until 1785. (fn. 18)
No. 86 was apparently destroyed by the fire which consumed No. 85 in that year and was rebuilt in 1786. Tallis's view (pocket, drawing C) shows that the new building had a modest front of three storeys and a garret. The bottom storey had a four-light window divided into small panes and occupying, with the door at the south end, the whole width of the frontage; and the second and third storeys had each two square-headed windows, those in the third storey having basket balconies. The whole was surmounted by a plain parapet, behind which were the two dormer windows of the garret.
In 1817 No. 86 ceased to be a public house and for a year served as the temporary home of the Union Club. (fn. 18) From 1820 until shortly before its demolition in 1862 the house was occupied by Gary's, the map-sellers. (fn. 27) It and No. 85 were demolished in 1862. The history of the present building on the site is described on page 484.
No. 87 St. James's Street: the St. James's coffee house
The St. James's coffee house appears to have been established by John Elliott in 1705 at a house on the site of the later No. 87. In that year he succeeded Arthur Goffe, (fn. 18) the vintner who founded the Thatched House Tavern. The coffee house is first mentioned by name in 1710. (fn. 123)
It was a Whig resort, (fn. 41) but Swift often went there. On 9 September 1710 he records that with Lord Radnor 'we talked treason heartily against the Whigs, their baseness and ingratitude', but a month later he added, 'I am not at all fond of St. James's Coffeehouse, as I used to be.' In November he 'christened our coffeeman Elliott's child; where the rogue had a most noble supper, and Steele and I sat among some scurvy company over a bowl of punch'. (fn. 124) In No. 403 of The Spectator Addison describes a visit: 'That I might begin as near the fountain head as possible I first of all called in at St. James's, where I found the whole outwardroom in a Buzz of Politics. The Speculations were but very indifferent towards the Door, but grew finer as you advanced to the upper end of the room, and were so very much improved by a knot of Theorists who sate in the inner Room, within the steam of the Coffee Pot, that I there heard the whole Spanish Monarchy disposed of; and all the line of Bourbons provided for in less than a Quarter of an Hour.' (fn. 125)
John Elliott continued proprietor until 1722, when he was succeeded by his widow, Thomasin; the house remained in her possession until 1746. (fn. 126) In 1747 James Rowles, coffeeman and vintner, succeeded Thomasin Elliott. He apparently continued the coffee house at No. 87 and in 1749 he also became the tenant of the adjoining coffee house on the north (No. 86), which he probably turned into a tavern.
In 1765 the Crown lessee, Dame Elizabeth Nelthorpe, agreed to let to Rowles the St. James's coffee house, the house adjoining it on the south, two small timber buildings on the corner of the street and a 'great' messuage in Cleveland Row. (fn. 127) The increase in the rateable value in 1765 suggests that Rowles rebuilt the St. James's coffee house, which he vacated the following year. He continued as tenant of No. 86 until 1768. (fn. 18)
Tallis's view (pocket, drawing C) shows that No. 87 was a modest building of three storeys and a garret in height and three windows in width, finished at the top with a meagre cornice and a parapet. Window and door openings were all plain and square-headed, and there was a continuous iron balcony-front at first-floor level.
From 1767 to 1776 the coffee house was continued by Thomas Stapylton (fn. 18) (fn. 10) and there is a reference in the latter year to heavy gambling at 'Stapleton's'. (fn. 128) The house was still in use as a coffee house in 1795 when James Carr was the occupant. (fn. 129) Carr was succeeded in 1802 by William Graham. Thereafter the house was described in turn as a public house, an hotel and a clubhouse. (fn. 27) In 1850 The Builder suggested that Graham's Club and the houses to the south should be demolished in order to create a piazza in front of St. James's Palace. (fn. 130) No. 87 was ultimately demolished to make way for the present building, which was erected in 1904–5 (see page 485).
No. 88 St. James's Street: Gaunt's coffee house and the St. James's Hotel
The house on the site of No. 88 St. James's Street, like its neighbours on the north, was a coffee house from an early date. In 1733 it was known as Gaunt's coffee house, and after the fire at White's chocolate house in that year it was temporarily occupied by Mr. Arthur, the proprietor of White's. (fn. 71) Gaunt's name does not appear in the ratebooks but William Rutter, who occupied the house up to 1732, first appears in 1716. (fn. 18) The coffee house may therefore have been established here at least by 1716.
In 1784 Stephen Phillimore became the tenant of the coffee house and also of a house in Cleveland Row with which it communicated in the rear. Between the fronts of these two houses stood the buildings at the corner of Cleveland Row and St. James's Street, which consisted of a large house facing Cleveland Row (taken over by Phillimore in 1789) and a small shop facing St. James's Street (No. 89). A plan of all these premises made in 1795 describes the two houses in Cleveland Row as an hotel and the house in St. James's Street as a coffee house. (fn. 129)
In 1801 Phillimore was succeeded as proprietor of the hotel and coffee house by Samuel Miller, proprietor of the hotel in Jermyn Street which bore his name. The business changed hands quickly after Phillimore's departure, (fn. 18) and in a lease of 1811 was referred to as the 'St. James's Hotel and Coffee House'. (fn. 131) It was presumably here in 'a miserable little den' that the officers of the Guards used to congregate. In consequence of the 'Unseemly broils and quarrels' which often took place there, and which were 'caused mainly by the admission of (or rather the impossibility of excluding) Irish bullies and persons of fashionable exterior but not of good birth or breeding', the Guards formed their own club in 1812, (fn. 132) with rooms in St. James's Street next door to Crockford's.
In 1813 a fire demolished the St. James's Hotel and coffee house and the music shop on the corner. (fn. 133) By 1815 a new hotel, incorporating a music shop on the ground floor at the south-east corner (known as No. 89 St. James's Street), had been built; the hotel was let to Edward Barr Dudding, vintner. (fn. 134)
Tallis's view (pocket, drawing C) shows that No. 88 had four main storeys and an attic, and was four windows wide above the lowest storey. This was rusticated and irregularly pierced by a segmental-headed window, a round-headed main entrance door, and a square-headed passage entrance, in that order from north to south. A continuous iron balcony-front divided the bottom storey from the next, which had round-headed windows with label mouldings continued as impost mouldings on the intervening piers. The window openings of the remaining three storeys were plain and square headed, the attic storey being divided from those below by the main cornice. Tallis shows an inscription, C. G. ENGLISH, between the second and third floors, followed by ST. JAMES'S ROYAL HOTEL between the first and second.
In 1840 the proprietor, C. G. English, assigned his lease to the Conservative Club, which occupied the hotel until the completion of its permanent club-house in 1845. (fn. 135) The building was subsequently demolished to make way for the present Nos. 87–88, erected in 1904–5 (see page 485).