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, Existing Buildings
No. 61 St. James's Street
No. 61 St. James's Street was reconstructed in 1933, the architects being Messrs. T. Jay Evans and Son of Victoria Street, in collaboration with William Walcot of Tite Street (Plate 277b). The designs were exhibited at the Royal Academy in the spring of 1933. (fn. 5)
For the front of the building, Portland stone was used for the ground storey and for dressing the brown brick upper face. A wide and shallow bay window, metal-framed, projects from the ground storey, with metal-framed glass doors on the right, and the old doorway to No. 62 on the left. The design of the two-storeyed upper face reflects, in a curiously distorted manner, the central feature of Boodle's front, nearly opposite. In the middle of the second storey is a wide bow window of shallow projection, divided into three lights—wide between narrow—by simple Doric pilasters which support a fluted architrave and a frieze carved with a figure subject in low relief, in a sunk panel flanked by lion-head stops. Over the bow is a squat semi-circular arched window of the same width, its brick arch having a female mask keystone. On each side of the second-storey bow window is a plain sashed window with a gauged flat arch, and above is a circular light, radially glazed. The narrow return front to Park Place has a metal-framed bay window rising through the semi-basement and ground storey, recessed between stone piers, and in each upper storey is a single flat-arched window (that in the third storey a recent addition).
No. 63 St. James's Street
The present building at No. 63 St. James's Street (Plate 276d) was erected upon the site of Fenton's Hotel between 1886 and 1888. The architects were Messrs. Davis and Emanuel of Finsbury Circus, and the builders were Messrs. Colls and Sons of Moorgate Street. (fn. 6)
The building was designed to house the Meistersingers Club, whose rooms on the first and second floors comprised a concert hall with dressing-rooms, a smoking-room, small diningroom, drawing-room and billiard-room. They were reached by a separate staircase from the passageway to Blue Ball Yard which ran through the southernmost bay of the building. The ground floor and basement were to be used as business premises, and were originally entered through a doorway in the central bay of the street front. The doorway in the northernmost bay provided a separate entrance to the bachelor chambers on the third and fourth floors. The fifth floor housed service rooms for the chambers on the floors below. (fn. 7)
The carving on the façade was by Gilbert Scale of Thurlow Street, Walworth. (fn. 7) The cast-iron chimneypieces in the club rooms were made by the Coalbrookdale Iron Company; one was designed by Alfred Stevens and another by Maurice B. Adams. (fn. 8) The building was completed in July 1888. (fn. 7)
The Meistersingers Club occupied the building for only a few years and was followed in 1894 by the Royal Societies Club, which remained there until about 1941. (fn. 9) In 1935 the central doorway on the street front was replaced by a bay window. (fn. 10) In 1945 the building was taken over for use as offices by John Walker and Sons, distillers. (fn. 11)
The front of this building rises for five lofty storeys, all with round-arched windows, the first four storeys being divided into five bays, and the fifth reduced to three with the middle one surmounted by a two-light dormer, backed by a steep pavilion roof crested with ironwork. The second and fourth bays are strongly accented, by canted bay windows rising through the second and third storeys to finish with equilateral pediments, and by Corinthian pilasters embracing the fourth and fifth storeys to support Baroque entablatures. The wide middle bay is treated with some reticence in the second and third storeys, but in the fourth and fifth is a great moulded arch enclosing a bay window below a three-light lunette. The two-light dormer above is flanked by inverted consoles and crowned with an equilateral pediment having a spiky finial. But no description can give a true idea of the ingenuity and perverted taste displayed in this extraordinary front, which looks rather like a late Victorian music-hall designed by a latterday disciple of Dietterling, although its vulgarity is somewhat redeemed by the use of Portland stone throughout.
Blue Ball Yard
In 1741–2 Charles Godolphin's heir, Lord Francis Godolphin, had wine vaults and stables built at the rear of his houses in St. James's Street. In 1742 and in subsequent years he was rated for these at £105 per annum. (fn. 12) They are almost certainly the picturesque L-shaped range of buildings of two storeys on the south and west sides of Blue Ball Yard (Plate 266c). The lower storey contains the coach-houses and is fronted by a series of large double-doors, mostly modern. About half-way along the south range rises a stair which branches left and right, giving access to the external galleries serving the second storey. This contains the living accommodation and its simple front of whitened brick has an irregular sequence of doors and windows, some segmental-arched and some straight-headed. The tiled roof has a slight overhang and its western part contains a dormer window which, with the three-light window in the storey below, was probably inserted during the tenancy of Mr. Louis de Soissons, the architect.
Nos. 66–67 St. James's Street and No. 1 St. James's Place
The block of residential chambers and business premises at Nos. 66–67 St. James's Street and No. 1 St. James's Place (Plate 276a) was built in 1899–1900 from the designs of Robert J. Worley, of Lincoln's Inn Fields. The ground floor was originally divided into three shops. In 1921 the shop at No. 66 was taken over by the London Joint City and Midland Bank and a number of alterations were made to the shop-front shortly afterwards. (fn. 13)
The building is a hotch-potch of 'Elizabethan' motifs, a typical work of R. J. Worley who also designed Nos. 31–35 Bury Street and Nos. 19–21a Ryder Street (see page 315), where the materials are similar to those used here—hard red brick and unglazed terra-cotta of an unpleasant orange hue. (fn. 1) The brickwork is set in a flush framework of terra-cotta quoins and bands, and all the windows are divided by mullions and transoms of terra-cotta, this material being used also for the cornices, balconies and battlements.
The ground storey is arcaded and fairly orthodox, but the four-storeyed superstructure is extravagantly modelled. In the short length of the St. James's Street front there is a recessed face, with two windows in each storey opening to heavy balustraded balconies, between a tower-like bow on the north, with a five-light window in each storey and a conical roof, and a tall square tower on the south corner of the building, corbelled out from the ground storey and having one window per storey in each face, its top storey crested with corbelled battlements and a tourelle projecting from its north-east angle, rising to a high finish with battlements surrounding an 'extinguisher' roof. The front to St. James's Place (where Worley's original intentions were frustrated by the requirements of the London County Council) is longer, with the design of the main front repeated, but the central bow has only two storeys, there are no balconies at fourth-floor level, and the western bow serves only the third storey, being finished with a conical roof merging into the wall face above. (fn. c1)
No. 68 St. James's Street
Messrs. Chubb and Sons have occupied No. 68 St. James's Street since about 1875. In 1900–1 they rebuilt the premises as a shop and residential chambers from the designs of Charles H. Mileham of Lincoln's Inn Fields. (fn. 14)
Mileham's building, of bright red brick, echoes, with early Georgian overtones, the design of its predecessor as shown by Tallis in 1839. Again there is a canted bay window, now rising through the second, third and fourth storeys, the last two flanked by Ionic pilasters which rise from the continued sill of the third-storey windows, with scrolled cartouches below to act as corbels. Each pilaster carries a full entablature, the modillioned cornice of which is carried round the bay and surmounted by a pedestal parapet. The attic storey has three round-arched windows, with plain imposts and archivolts, and above the top cornice is a pedestal parapet with recessed sections above each window, giving the attic a Vanbrughian appearance. In sharp contrast with the superstructure the shop-front is entirely Victorian with five slender cast-iron columns, having spirally banded shafts and Corinthianesque capitals, dividing the four bays, and supporting the painted glass fascia.
Nos. 69–70 St. James's Street: the Carlton Club
At a meeting held on 8 May 1811 at No. 16 St. James's Street it was resolved 'That a New Club be forthwith established, to consist of 300 Members.' It was also resolved that the subscription should be fifteen guineas for the first year and subsequently ten guineas, and a committee was established to manage the affairs of the club, which took the name of Arthur's. This committee consisted of eleven noblemen and gentlemen, of whom six were Scots—Lord Montgomerie, the Hon. Archibald Macdonald, the Hon. James Macdonald, Sir David Hunter Blair, baronet (son of Sir James Hunter Blair, the banker and friend of Robert Burns), (fn. 15) his brother James Hunter Blair (later M.P. for Wigtonshire), and Thomas Harvie Farquhar, a member of the banking firm of Herries and Co., at whose premises in St. James's Street the meeting was held. (fn. 16) The other five members of the committee were LieutenantColonel John James, tenth Earl Waldegrave, the Hon. Thomas Brand, M.P., William Jones, Sir Charles Burrell, baronet, M.P. for Shoreham, and Walter Burrell, both members of the Sussex landowning family. The first ballot for the election of members was held on 12 May 1811, when eightyseven members were elected. On 1 June a secretary, John Davall, was appointed, and on 1 November 1811 No. 69 St. James's Street was opened for members' use. (fn. 17)
The meeting held on 8 May 1811 is of cardinal importance in the history of the West End clubs of London, for the society then established appears to have been the first members', as opposed to proprietary club, i.e., a club owned and entirely managed by the members or their employees, and in its constitution Arthur's may therefore be regarded as the forerunner of all the other great members' clubs subsequently established in the neighbourhood. (fn. 2)
The choice of name, Arthur's, has led some writers to believe that the new club was founded very much earlier than 1811. (fn. 18) There is, however, no evidence of any connexion between it and Miles's, or between Miles's and White's (or Arthur's as it had sometimes been called), both of which had previously occupied the site of No. 69, and the name appears to have been adopted as a reminiscence of Robert Arthur, the celebrated former proprietor of the club-house. In the early nineteenth century most West End clubs were named after their proprietors or former proprietors (e.g., White's, Brooks's, Boodle's); as the new club had no proprietor it was not unnatural that its members should hark back for a name to earlier days when the house had been kept by Robert Arthur.
For some years the club occupied the house built after the fire of 1733 (see page 464). The Crown lease, which had been renewed to Sarah White in 1775 and had subsequently been assigned by her to William Ogden, was due to expire at Michaelmas 1824, (fn. 19) and in 1821 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests decided not to renew the lease to Ogden's representatives. (fn. 20) This decision was probably caused by the Commissioners' wish to sort out the confused intermixture of Crown land and privately owned land behind No. 69. The bow at the back of the house had been built (probably during Miles's tenancy) on freehold land formerly part of the Pulteney estate (which by the nineteenth century had passed to Sir Richard Sutton) and, so long as the house stood on land belonging to two different ground landlords, its rebuilding would be a matter of some complexity. In 1821 the club applied to the Commissioners for a building lease, but the latter shortly afterwards embarked upon negotiations with Sir Richard Sutton for the exchange of a number of pieces of land intermixed in the neighbourhood, and in consequence they were not able to make any long-term arrangements. This delay evidently caused dissatisfaction amongst members of the club, some of whom in December 1824 summoned a general meeting 'to consider of the necessity of taking immediate steps for purchasing or building a more suitable House for the accommodation of . . . Members'. By the summer of 1826 the club had possessed itself of the leases of No. 70 St. James's Street, which stood on Crown land, and of a number of small houses and yards behind Nos. 69–70 which had hitherto belonged to Sir Richard Sutton (fn. 20) and in July the Commissioners' negotiations with the latter were sufficiently advanced for them to offer the club terms for a ninety-nine-year lease. (fn. 21) The deed of exchange with Sir Richard Sutton was not finally completed until 1830, (fn. 22) and by an oversight on the part of the Commissioners the club did not receive its lease until 1842. (fn. 23)
The whole of the site on which the new clubhouse was built belonged to the Crown, and had a frontage of 49 feet to St. James's Street and a depth of some 165 feet. Thomas Hopper's plans for the new club-house were submitted to the Commissioners in July 1826, the building materials of the old houses were sold by auction at the end of the month, and the club found temporary quarters at 'Wirgman's late house' in St. James's Street. (fn. 20) (fn. 3)
Hopper's designs (Plate 66a) for the elevation were considerably modified at the suggestion of the Commissioners' architects, Thomas Chawner and Henry Rhodes. Hopper proposed a building of two principal storeys, the lower being a five-bay arcade of rusticated stonework. The entrance in the most northerly bay had a Roman Doric porch, which was repeated in front of the southernmost window, the entablature with its decorated frieze being continued across the ground storey. The upper storey had an engaged order of fluted Corinthian columns supporting an entablature having above its modillion cornice a balustrade divided by plain dies. The tall first-floor windows had pediments, alternately triangular and segmental, supported on brackets. In front an ornamental balustrade extended between the columns. (fn. 24)
The Commissioners' architects took exception to Hopper's proposal for 'a Garret Storey in a lofty Kirb Roof above the Ballustrade', and to the Doric columns at ground-floor level. In their first report on the design they stated that the garret storey 'appeared to us objectionable, and thinking at the same time, that the general proportions of the elevation would allow of its being raised so as to screen the garret windows, and that the detached columns on the entrance storey might be dispensed with, as apparently intercepting the view from parts of the front Coffee Room; we drew out and transmitted to the Surveyor of the Club, the elevation . . . We understand from him, that finding himself enabled to dispense with the garret windows, and to lower the Roof, that the Club are desirous of leaving the elevation as it was originally presented, with this alteration only'. (fn. 20) On 27 November the Commissioners gave their consent to the amended designs. The columns on the ground storey are not mentioned; they were not built. (fn. 25) A contract for the erection of the building for £17,235 had been signed in September with Mr. Martin, perhaps Thomas Martin, builder, of Osnaburgh Street. (fn. 26)
In December a misunderstanding arose between the Commissioners and the club over the omission or inclusion of the Doric columns on the entrance storey, and the former wrote to the club saying that they had heard that deviations were being made and asking for revised plans. A new elevation with the columns omitted was submitted in January 1827. (fn. 20) Chawner and Rhodes then suggested that the pediments to the windows of the principal storey should be omitted and a 'plain Blocking over the Cornice of those windows be substituted'; they also suggested that 'the Balustrades in front of the Windows should be detached from the Shafts of the Columns [on the principal floor] as Basket Balconies with rounded corners'. (fn. 27) Shortly afterwards Hopper conferred with Chawner and Rhodes and agreed to detach the balconies from the columns; the objection to the pediments over the windows appears to have been waived. (fn. 20)
The front as it was finally built, of Portland stone, is much better than might have been expected (Plate 66b). Omission of the Doric order certainly improved the ground storey, now finished with a plain cornice, the entrance being merely one of the five similar arched openings in the rusticated face. The balustrades to the firstfloor windows are simpler than those first intended: they are contained by rectangular dies. The basement is entirely below ground level and the railings to the front area, with their two lamp standards, are exceptionally plain. The lack of any sort of emphasis at the entrance or in the centre of the building is remarkable.
The plan (fig. 78) provides two main rooms on each floor, one in front and another in a wing at the rear. There is a large, central staircase hall with a service stair to the north of it and a small room at the back of that. The entrance hall is little more than a wide passage and passes beside the front room and then behind it. It is divided into six nearly square compartments which reduce its apparent length. The first two are separated by a glazed screen and the third contains a plain chimneypiece of grey marble. The two compartments behind the front room are separated by semi-circular arches and have groined vaults; the other compartments have flat panelled ceilings.
The front room, intended as the coffee-room, is plainly but effectively decorated. The walls above the chair-rail are divided into panels with recessed mouldings; there is a modillion cornice and a ceiling with deeply sunk panels. The simple chimneypiece is of gold-veined black marble. The doors, like those to all the principal rooms, are of mahogany.
The large back room is also panelled above the chair-rail, this time with enriched mouldings. The ceiling is beamed, and both it and the entablature to the room are richly ornamented, the frieze having a pattern of vine leaves. The doorcases have architraves decorated with rosettes and are corniced; there are fine but heavy chimneypieces of gold-veined black marble, the piers being decorated with ram heads linked by festoons of vine, and ending with lion-paw feet.
The small rear room has a segmental bay window, divided into three lights by pilasters. The decoration is similar to that in the last room and the entablature is overlaid with ivy and vine leaf decoration. The chimneypiece, again of goldveined black marble, has Roman Doric columns supporting a very plain architrave and corniceshelf. Both the rear rooms, which were originally dining-rooms, are reached through a small groinvaulted lobby.
In the main staircase hall the lower walls are plain with round-arched openings. A gallery runs across at first-floor level, supported on simple brackets, and Hopper originally intended the stair to ascend in single flights against the walls. As built, it consists of two flights which meet, continue in a single flight and then divide again (the Army and Navy Club staircase is similar). It is constructed of stone with a mahogany handrail supported on a cast-iron balustrade of undistinguished design, which may have been heightened. The newel posts at the bottom of the stair are remarkably clumsy. The upper walls are panelled and the three-light window is framed by pilasters supporting a pediment, a feature which is repeated opposite to frame the door to the service staircase. There is a richly decorated frieze below the cornice and both the flat ceiling and the dome are divided by plain ribs into coffers containing rosettes (Plate 67a).
In the library (the front room on the first floor, Plate 67c) the walls are divided into bays by Corinthian pilasters with plain shafts of scagliola imitating Siena marble. The frieze of the entablature has rich scroll decoration and there is a modillion cornice, the ceiling being divided by guilloche-decorated beams into oblong and square compartments. The two monumental chimneypieces are of the same dark marble as those on the ground floor. Between the pilasters are tall pedimented bookcases of mahogany, the doorcase being finished in the same manner. Both the front and rear rooms are approached through small rectangular lobbies which have low, elliptical domes.
The rear room (Plate 67b), formerly the drawing-room, has plain walls, the three-light window being dressed with Corinthian pilasters having plain shafts of 'Brocatello' scagliola. There is a richly decorated frieze and above the cornice is a small cove with a free-standing border of anthemion and rosettes, surrounding the ceiling, where a large rectangular panel is filled with a pattern of light mouldings and other enrichments arranged in a radial pattern. The two chimneypieces are of white marble and have pilasters at the sides and scroll ornament in the frieze. The small rear room has a similar but plainer ceiling and is fitted in a simple manner. The chimneypiece of red and black veined marble has a shelf supported by brackets.
The detail of the interior decoration of the club is mostly taken from Greek sources, the plaster work having been carried out under Hopper's direction by Francis Bernasconi. (fn. 28) There is a certain amount of painted marble and graining which may perpetuate the original decorative finish.
In 1925–6 very extensive renovations, including the provision of bedrooms, were undertaken, the roof being raised to a height considerably greater than that which had been objected to in the original design of 1826. The architect was E. Turner Powell.
Arthur's finally closed its doors in the spring of 1940; (fn. 29) the building has been occupied by the Carlton Club since shortly after the destruction of that club's premises in Pall Mall by enemy action in October 1940. None of the original furniture of Arthur's Club now remains in the building.
Nos. 71–73 (consec.) St. James's Street
The site of Nos. 71–73 (consec.) St. James's Street and 3–6 (consec.) Little St. James's Street was cleared in 1908, and a new block of buildings completed in the following year. (fn. 30) The architects were William Woodward and Sons of Southampton Street, Strand, and the builders Messrs. Perry and Co. Ltd. of Bow. The upper floors were designed as residential chambers and the ground floor and basement as a shop for Rumpelmayer's celebrated confiserie. (fn. 31)
This building was designed in the 'François Premier' style, perhaps to suit Rumpelmayer's salons-de-thé. The firm of Prunier have since modernized the ground-storey windows for their restaurant, but the northernmost shop-front and the whole upper part of the building is unchanged. This upper part contains three storeys of equal height in the stone-faced fronts, and two storeys within the tall slated roof. The composition of the St. James's Street front is curiously similar to that of Worley's 'Elizabethan' building at Nos. 66–67, with a recessed centre, two windows wide, between a canted bay on the north and a flat bay on the south, with balconies linking the bays, and an octagonal oriel projecting from the southern corner of the building. The treatment, however, is far more elegant, each storey being underlined by a gently articulated pedestal, with panelled dies carved with lion-head roundels below the windows, which are flanked by Corinthian pilasters, their shafts panelled with lozenge-shapes in the centre. The balconies linking the bows are of stone, with slightly bowed fronts furnished with ornamental iron railings, and every window in the oriel—there are three to each storey—is furnished with its own segmental iron-railed balcony. The front is finished with a full entablature, having a modillioned cornice, and above each bay rises an elaborate stone dormer, its round-arched window flanked by pilasters and finished with an entablature. Over the recessed centre are two dormers with triangular pediments, and there is an upper range of three plain dormers. The front towards Little St. James's Street is divided into two bays per storey, the eastern one plain and the western containing two windows.
In January 1935 the Parisian firm of Prunier opened their London restaurant on the ground floor of these premises. (fn. 32) The street front and interior had been re-designed for them by J. P. Mongeaud of Paris, in collaboration with Messrs. W. Henry White and Sons of Cavendish Place. Messrs. W. Curtis Green and Partners were also concerned in the work as architects to the head lessees. The contractors were the Bartlett Trust Ltd. (fn. 33) The marine decorations which formed a distinctive feature of the interior were the work of Colette Geuden of Paris. (fn. 34)
No. 74 St. James's Street
Previous history of this site is described on pages 466–8 The existing building was formerly occupied by the Conservative Club. In 1950 the Conservative Club merged with the Bath Club, which continued to occupy it until 1959
The first recorded meeting of the provisional committee of the Conservative Club was held on 29 July 1840 at No. 20 Curzon Street, Mayfair, the house of Quintin Dick, member of Parliament for Maldon, who took the chair. This committee had evidently had at least one previous unrecorded meeting, and the negative answer which was sent a few days later to an enquirer who asked 'if this Club be the same that was set on foot two years ago' indicates that there had been an earlier attempt to found a new political club. (fn. 35)
Those present at the meeting held on 29 July 1840 were Quintin Dick, Viscount Castlereagh, W. S. Blackstone, the Hon. Captain Duncombe, Thomas Hawkes, W. A. Mackinnon and John Neeld (all members of Parliament), and P. D. Pauncefort Duncombe, Charles Hopkinson and Thomas Walford. At this meeting Lord Ingestre was elected to the committee and Edward Charles Hampton was appointed secretary; a sub-committee was established to find temporary quarters for the club. (fn. 36)
The Conservative Club has been described as 'an ancillary society designed for those who were unable to gain admission immediately to the crowded membership of the Carlton. It is clear, however, that it also possessed something of the nature of a dissident opposition body and was regarded as such by the party managers.' In September 1840 it included only ten members of the House of Lords and twenty-seven of the House of Commons, and 'with two ducal exceptions hardly a man among them of even average influence'. (fn. 37) Of those present at the meeting on 29 July 1840, only one, W. A. Mackinnon (1789–1870), member of Parliament for most of the period 1830–65, is mentioned in The Dictionary of National Biography. W. S. Blackstone was an ultra-Tory who represented Wallingford and was noted for his intransigent independence; John Neeld represented Cricklade and was a member of an influential landowning family in Wiltshire, and Viscount Ingestre had similar connexions with Staffordshire, the southern division of which he represented. (fn. 38)
The next meeting of the committee was held on 4 August 1840 at the Lansdowne Hotel in Dover Street, which appears to have been used as a temporary home for the club. In October the committee agreed with C. G. English for the purchase of the lease of his hotel at No. 88 St. James's Street (the Royal Hotel or St. James's Royal Hotel, see page 470) and the club moved into this house on 1 January 1841. The first general meeting, at which the rules of the club were approved, was held in May. (fn. 39)
A few months earlier, in August 1840, negotiations began for the acquisition of the site on which the Conservative club-house was later erected. (fn. 40) It included property with a frontage of about 90 feet to St. James's Street which had been leased by the Crown to the Grosvenor family in 1810, and on which stood the Thatched House Tavern, most of Thatched House Court and six small shops in front of the tavern. (fn. 41) Between the north side of this property and the south side of Little St. James's Street (previously Catherine Wheel Yard or Street) stood two houses with a frontage of 50 feet to St. James's Street. (fn. 42) About 20 feet of this frontage was taken into Little St. James's Street. (fn. 43) The rest was taken by the Conservative Club, together with some land in the rear which had been part of the Pulteney estate but had come into the possession of the Crown by exchange in 1830. (fn. 44)
The ground which the Conservative Club sought to purchase thus had a frontage to St. James's Street of 118 feet and a depth on its north side of 171 feet and included the greater part of Thatched House Court. Two of the subsisting Crown leases had unexpired terms of some length and the acquisition of all the interests involved proved so complicated that Decimus Burton was called in to advise the club. (fn. 45) The possibility of erecting a new building on the site of the club's temporary premises at English's hotel at the corner of St. James's Street and Cleveland Row was considered, (fn. 46) and in August 1841 the committee investigated 'the probability of obtaining the present Carlton Club House' in Pall Mall. (fn. 8) However, the purchase of the Thatched House Tavern and adjoining premises was completed early in 1842, when the Commissioners of Woods and Forests agreed to grant a new lease of the whole site. (fn. 47)
At a general meeting of the club held on 5 February 1842 it was decided that the choice of the architect of the new club-house should be left to the committee. The committee decided to invite not more than six architects to send in plans from which the final selection should be made. William Ormsby Gore, member of Parliament for Shropshire, who had played a leading part in the management of the club, then refused to have any share in the selection, 'as there had been various insinuations of jobbing going on in this appointment'; he advocated the employment of Decimus Burton, who had arranged for the purchase of the site and was 'standing architect of three among the principal Clubs of the Metropolis'. (fn. 4) Burton, however, refused to enter the proposed competition or to send in an account for the services which he had already rendered to the club, and when Ormsby Gore was asked to settle with Burton, he too refused 'in consequence of his considering that Gentleman as very ill used'. (fn. 48)
On 8 March the committee decided to invite George Basevi, Thomas Hopper, William Railton and Sydney Smirke to submit designs. While the plans were being prepared the committee received a letter from the Carlton Club asking 'whether any arrangement could be made for the acquisition by the Carlton Club of the ground in St. James's Street late the Thatched House Tavern'. (fn. 49) The request was evidently refused.
The choice of architect was made at a meeting of the committee held on 16 June 1842. Seventeen members were present, and the absentees had been permitted to vote by proxy. It was resolved 'that in the first instance, two out of the four [architects] should be selected, and afterwards the two selected should be again put for ballot'. At the first ballot (in which proxy votes were included) Smirke received thirteen votes, Basevi ten, Railton six and Hopper two. At the second ballot (in which there were no proxy votes) Smirke and Basevi each received eight votes and were therefore appointed joint architects. A building committee was then established. It consisted of Lord de L'lsle, Quintin Dick, Joseph Neeld, Pauncefort Duncombe, Brereton Trelawny, Thomas Walford and the trustees of the club; William Ormsby Gore subsequently became chairman. (fn. 50)
The contractors for the new building were Messrs. Baker and Son, whose tender was for £28,670. In May 1843 the committee decided that the exterior should be faced with Caen stone in preference to the more expensive Portland, a decision which provoked the inhabitants of Portland to address a petition to the committee 'praying that Stone from that Town might be employed in the erection of the New Building in lieu of Foreign Materials'. (fn. 51) Caen stone, the use of which subsequently proved so disastrous at the Carlton Club in Pall Mall, was nevertheless used (fn. 52) and as early as 1866 a substantial sum had to be spent on repairs to the external masonry. (fn. 53) The foundations were laid in June 1843 (fn. 54) and the clubhouse appears to have been opened for members' use early in 1845. (fn. 55) The design of the exterior is said to have been the joint work of both architects. The interior decorations of the ground floor are said to have been 'exclusively furnished from Basevi's designs and the first floor from those of Smirke', (fn. 56) but there is no evidence in the building: itself of this supposed division of labour (Plates 108, 109, 110, 111, figs. 79–80).
The comments of contemporary journals on the new building were, in general, favourable. (fn. 57) The Builder admired the exterior (fn. 58) and the kitchen ('far more spacious than that of the Reform Club') was also commended. (fn. 59) The main point of interest was, however, the encaustic painting by Messrs. Frederick Sang and Naundorff of the main hall or saloon, and the staircase (Plates 109, 110a) which, according to The Illustrated London News, presented 'a most graceful composition of some of the most exquisite beauties of nature, and the most admired forms of classic art'. (fn. 59) The Builder reluctantly admitted that Sang had 'shewn considerable ability', but deplored the employment of foreigners and stated that upon detailed examination Sang's work was found 'to consist of the most common and hackneyed forms; and when you are close to the work you see that the execution of it would disgrace a tea-garden. It is, in fact, scenepainting; and there are several men engaged in our theatres at this time who would do it better.' The mosaic pavements were the work of Mr. Blashfield. (fn. 58) In April 1845 Basevi and Smirke were made honorary members of the club (fn. 60) and their success was attested in the following month by their election as joint architects for the extension of the Carlton club-house.
In 1857 Mr. Daines 'operated' on a portion of the cornice in an attempt to preserve the external stone (fn. 61) and in 1866 £3500 was spent on repairs to the masonry, apparently carried out in Portland stone. (fn. 53) According to S. C. Ramsey (writing in The Architectural Review in 1914) Sang's work in the lower part of the hall was discarded 'in favour of plain white marble', but something very close to the original designs appears to have been subsequently restored by Sang. (fn. 62) In 1910 two new floors providing bedrooms were added; the architect was Maurice Webb. The addition is behind the crowning balustrade and is virtually invisible from the street. In 1923 the club purchased from the Duke of Sutherland's trustees the Crown lease of Stafford House stables, which stood immediately behind the club-house, and in 1924–6 a large annexe containing residential suites, bedrooms and public rooms was constructed on this site, the architect being Edwin J. Sadgrove. (fn. 63)
In 1941 members of the Bath Club were, as a temporary measure, accommodated at the Conservative Club. In 1950 the two clubs merged under the name of the Bath Club. In order to provide more accommodation for members the grand staircase was removed in 1951, the space which it had occupied being divided by two newly constructed floors. In 1959 the Bath Club removed to premises which it had previously occupied in Brook Street. The future of the building, which is now (April 1960) unoccupied, is uncertain.
The site having only two open frontages, east and north, necessitated an irregular plan (figs. 79–80), its core being the large square central saloon, with each side divided into three bays. The middle bay of its east side contains the doorway opening centrally in the long side of the morningroom, which overlooks St. James's Street and is a large oblong room with a screen at its south end opening to the smaller compartment in the south pavilion. This last is balanced by the entrance hall in the north pavilion, which is linked by a small lobby off its south side to the central saloon. The middle doorway in the north side of the saloon originally opened to the great coffee-room of three compartments. The three bays of the west side of the saloon were left open, the side bays to lobbies and the middle bay containing the first flight of the grand staircase, which divided at the second landing and returned in parallel flights to the upper storey of the saloon. This storey opens to the lower through a large circular well, and is lit by a domed skylight. The ground-storey arrangement was repeated on the principal storey, with the great drawing-room over the morning-room, and the library over the coffee-room.
The stone front to St. James's Street consists of two well-defined storeys and has a central face of five equal bays flanked by slightly projecting pavilions, each of one wide bay (Plate 108). The smooth masonry of the ground storey is coursed with V-jointing and the five windows in the central face have flat arches of V-jointed voussoirs. Against each end pavilion stands a porch formed by two widely spaced Doric columns, the north porch serving the entrance and the south framing a segmental bow window of three lights. The ground storey is appropriately finished with a Doric entablature, with brackets replacing some of the triglyphs to support the farprojecting cornice which, surmounted by a balustrade, forms a balcony at first-floor level. The lofty principal storey is adorned with a plainshafted Corinthian order—three-quarter columns in the central face and conjoined groups of three pilasters flanking each end pavilion. The windows in the middle five bays are richly dressed with eared architraves, frieze tablets carved with festoons, and triangular pediments. In each end pavilion is a three-light window dressed with pilasters and columns of a plain-shafted Composite order, with a pulvino-frieze and a triangular pediment above the middle light. Further enrichment is provided in this storey by the band of richly scrolled foliage ornament extending between the Corinthian capitals. The crowning entablature, which breaks forward over the pilasters flanking each end pavilion, is surmounted by a stone balustrade with pedestals above the columns and pilasters. The basement area is screened by a stone pedestal-parapet with inset panels of latticepatterned ironwork. Cast-iron flambeau-standards rise from each stone die, and the entrance steps are flanked by projecting pedestals supporting heavy but well-designed lamp-standards of cast iron.
The entrance hall is simply decorated, with its walls coursed to represent stonework. A short flight of steps rises to a landing at the back, behind a screen of three bays, wide between narrow, of fluted Roman Doric columns. In the back wall of this landing is a round-arched shallow niche, and on the left is the cross-vaulted lobby leading to the central saloon (Plate 109b). Here, each side is divided by wide pilasters into three round-arched bays, groined into a deep cove that surrounds the spandrels of the flat ceiling, pierced by the large circular well opening to the upper storey. The doors are framed by marble doorcases of architrave, plain frieze and triangular pediment, and above the massive chimneypiece of black marble is a tall mirror. The floor is of mosaic, and remarkably strong in colour; there is a deep skirting of veined black marble, and the woodwork is of oak. The piers and the vaulting are decorated with painted arabesque ornament executed by Sang and Naundorff. The work is competently carried out and includes portraits of poets and painters in roundels, but the manner in which it is disposed, and more particularly the painted architectural framing round it, does not enhance the design of the saloon itself.
The long front morning-room (Plate 110b) is finely but not elaborately decorated. The square, pilastered compartment at the south end, lit by the bow window in the south pavilion, is screened by an Ionic colonnade formed of two pairs of columns, the outer ones being square and attached to the wall, and both being supported on a pedestal which is a continuation of the dado running round the room. The colonnade is repeated at the other end of the room against the wall. The central doorway has smaller, attached Ionic columns, again on pedestals, supporting an entablature with a blocking-course above. At either end of the room there is a plain chimneypiece of black marble with a tall gilt mirror above it, topped by an eagle. The walls are divided into wide and narrow panels, the entablature has a modillion cornice, and the ceiling is decorated with rectangular and circular panels enclosed by heavy enriched mouldings, somewhat in the English late seventeenth-century manner. The columns and pilasters are of Siena-marbled scagliola except those to the doorway which imitate pink granite: the bases are painted bronze and the caps are gilt. All the woodwork is of oak and so was the furniture, a great deal of which was contemporary with the building and of considerable distinction. It was designed by Henry Whitaker, one of the small chairs and the long tables supported by pairs of griffins being illustrated in plates 1 and 65 respectively of his book The Practical Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Treasury of Designs, House-Furnishing and Decorating Assistant, 1847. (fn. 64)
The dining-room is divided into three equal parts by Roman Doric colonnades, disposed in a similar manner to those in the front room. The finishings also are generally similar, though the scagliola columns are of a pinkish-brown colour and the chimneypieces are of a gold-veined black marble. The three hanging light fittings, of bronze and glass, are almost certainly original.
The main staircase (removed in 1951, Plate 110a) had treads and risers of white marble with a massive balustrade of multi-coloured scagliola, the pedestals on the half-landing carrying carved marble lamp supports of Corinthianesque design. In each side wall were three round-arched niches, each containing a plaster cast from an antique female statue, with roundels in the lunettes above them. The fiat ceiling was surrounded by groined vaulting similar to that in the hall below and was similarly decorated.
The upper storey of the saloon (Plate 109a) continues the style of the lower storey, and has arcaded walls, a full entablature with huge brackets coming down into the spandrels of the arcaded walls, and a ribbed and groined cove rising to the flat spandrels surrounding the glazed dome. The painted arabesque decoration is here confined to the upper part of the walls and the groined cove, the panelled piers of the arcades being of coloured scagliola, as is the massive balustrade surrounding the circular well. All the principal doors are of mahogany, generally framed in simple architraves, and in the central arches of the north and south sides are large mirrors. The four dies of the circular balustrade formerly supported ornamental lamp-standards, and in the segmental balcony overlooking the staircase stood a life-sized statue of the Earl of Beaconsfield, signed by Count Gleichen and dated 1883. A bust of Queen Victoria, formerly on the half-landing, is by Onslow Ford and is dated 1898.
The front drawing-room (Plate 111a) on the first floor is remarkably fine. At each end is a screen of Corinthian columns and pilasters without pedestals, supporting an entablature with a frieze modelled with a repeating pattern of roses, thistles and shamrocks. Above it a cove rises to the flat ceiling which is surrounded by a moulded beam and decorated with painted ornament of a 'Pompeian' character, as competently carried out as the work in the saloon. The woodwork appears to be maple, the flat surfaces being of the 'bird'seye' variety, and the brackets and other carvings on the pedimented doorcases are of oak. The very simple chimneypieces are of Siena and white marble, and the columns and pilasters are of scagliola imitating Siena. Some of the furniture must again be by Henry Whitaker and the tables are decorated with a pattern executed in marquetry, taken from the main frieze to the room. It is not certain whether there is any connexion between this formalized naturalistic decoration and Whitaker's publication of 1849 entitled Materials for a New Style of Ornamentation consisting of Botanical Subjects and Compositions drawn from Nature.
The library (Plate 111b) is divided in the same manner as the dining-room below it, this time by square, panelled Corinthian columns on pedestals. The doors are of mahogany but the bookcases and other woodwork are of oak, and even the heavily beamed ceiling is grained in imitation. The columns and their pedestals are of multi-coloured scagliola with gilt mouldings. The chimneypieces are of a yellowish-green marble with mirrors above them in pedimented wooden frames.
Nos. 85–86 St. James's Street: the Union Club
In December 1861 J. Haynes, solicitor, of Palace Chambers, St. James's Street, the lessee of Nos. 85 (then occupied by the Thatched House Tavern) and 86 St. James's Street, requested the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to grant him a long lease in order that he might pull down the existing houses and erect 'a new Building for a Club House and for Chambers'. His application was granted, and the demolition of Nos. 85 and 86 began in February 1862. Haynes was apparently acting on behalf of William Woodgate of Princes Street, Hyde Park, to whom the lease was later granted. The site of No. 3 Russell Court was included in that of the new building, which thus gained additional street frontage on the south and west, the frontage to St. James's Street being relatively narrow. The architect of the new building (Plate 272c) was James Knowles, junior. (fn. 65)
From 1866 to 1869 the building was occupied by the Civil Service Club, with residential apartments known as the Civil Service (or Thatched House) Chambers on the upper floors. In 1870 the Thatched House Club became the occupiers, and the chambers were thereafter known as the Thatched House Chambers. (fn. 66) The aim of the Thatched House Club, which was established in 1865, was 'to facilitate the association of gentlemen wishing to enjoy the advantages of a Club without political bias', (fn. 67) and it may have incorporated the Civil Service Club. It continued to occupy Nos. 85–86 St. James's Street until 1949; it removed shortly afterwards to the Junior Carlton Club in Pall Mall. In the following year the club disposed of the building to the Union Club, whose club-house at No. 10 Carlton House Terrace (where it had been accommodated since 1925) was required by the Government for other purposes. After the building had been renovated the Union Club moved in in November 1951, and still remains there. (fn. 68)
The architect, James Knowles, junior, designed a tall building with four storeys above a basement, and a garret in the roof. The front to St. James's Street is of stone, probably Bath, and the style is 'Grosvenor Hotel' Italianate. Pedestals and entablatures define the storeys, and all the windows have round-arched openings except those in the third storey. There are four openings evenly spaced in the first and fourth storeys, and five in the second and third, the middle three contained in a canted bay corbelled out from a column attached to the central pier of the first storey. Four segmentalpedimented dormers break the panelled parapet above the crowning entablature, and tall rusticbanded chimney-stacks flank the steeply pitched roof. Coarse foliage ornament, carved by J. Daymond, fills the spandrel-headed panels on the first-storey piers, the spandrel panels in the second and fourth storeys, and the dormer pediments.
The plan is undistinguished: a narrow entrance hall leads to a central staircase rising only to the first floor and lit from the south. There is a front room, a small room behind it, a large dining-room at the rear, facing south, and another, smaller rear room. This arrangement is repeated on the first floor, with a single large room in front. A considerable part of the interior was redecorated early in this century and what remains of the original work is commonplace in character. The staircase is the most successful feature, being of stone, with an open well, and an iron balustrade in the English mid eighteenth-century manner: the walls at firstfloor level are arcaded.
In the dining-room there is a fine chimneypiece of white marble dating from the early nineteenth century, which was brought from the Union Club's premises at Carlton House Terrace. It is not known if it had originally come from the club's previous building in Trafalgar Square. It is in the Grecian taste, with a pair of draped female figures supporting a frieze carved with rosettes and scroll decoration emanating from the tails of sphinxes, and has a central tablet bearing a female mask.
Nos. 87–88 St. James's Street
In 1901 the Commissioners of Woods and Forests began to negotiate with their lessees at Nos. 87–89 St. James's Street for the rebuilding of the property. The lessees' architect then was William Woodward. During the course of the negotiations the option on the new building lease was taken over by the Alliance Assurance Co. Ltd., together with a previously arranged commitment to re-house the Post Office which had formerly occupied No. 89 St. James's Street. The company widened the scope of the original rebuilding plans, and retained Richard Norman Shaw and Ernest Newton as their architects. Because of the proximity of St. James's Palace, the plans were submitted to King Edward VII. The height of the new building (Plate 272c) was restricted to 51 feet, and the southern boundary of the site set back in order to widen Cleveland Row. (fn. 69)
Building work appears to have begun in 1904 and been completed at the end of 1905. The builders were Messrs. Trollope and Sons and Colls and Sons. The ground floor was divided between the Post Office and a suite of offices for the company, while the upper floors were designed as bachelor flats with their attendant service quarters. A drawing showing the main elevations to St. James's Street and Cleveland Row was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1906. (fn. 70)
Although it lacks the exuberant splendour of the Piccadilly Hotel, and the powerfulness of the ever-lamented Gaiety Theatre, the Alliance building is, on the whole, the most perfectly coordinated and finely handled of Norman Shaw's late 'Baroque' designs, and the simple lines of its composition stand in striking contrast to the complexity of his earlier 'Flemish Renaissance' building opposite.
The exterior is entirely faced with Portland stone, and the three fronts are perfectly related by their sharing the salient stringcourses and crowning entablature. The principal front to St. James's Street is composed of three stages, defined by moulded stringcourses. The first stage is a lofty rusticated arcade of three wide bays. The second stage is less high and contains five richly dressed windows evenly spaced in a plain ashlar face bounded by long-and-short quoins. The third stage is a low attic, also with five windows, finished with a full entablature which is, however, omitted above the middle three windows where the front rises for another storey, containing three windows, and is crowned with an open-bedmould triangular pediment. The slated roof sweeps down to a concealed gutter and is broken on each side of the pedimented feature by a four-light dormer. Shaw's detailing is masterly. The rustic arcade is built up in channel-jointed courses, flat and pulvinated alternately, the piers rising from moulded bases and the voussoired arches springing from a moulded impost. The middle arch contains the entrance, flanked by widely spaced Doric columns with blocked shafts, supporting a simple entablature, and the two side arches frame large windows lighting the ground storey and the mezzanine. The stringcourse below the second stage is broken by the segmental-fronted stone balconies of the five windows, each furnished with an ornamental iron railing of bombé profile. Each window is divided by a mullion and transom, and dressed with a moulded architrave and a segmental pediment resting on consoles. The moulded stringcourse below the attic storey is broken forward beneath each window to form a sill resting on plain blocks. These windows have plain jambs and the openings break the architrave of the crowning entablature, its frieze forming the flat-arched window heads, each slightly accented with a raised keystone. Each side window of the three in the secondary attic is quite plain, but the middle one is dressed with a moulded architrave, eared and having a segmental head broken by plain voussoirs and a corniced keystone, while the circular light in the pediment tympanum is framed in an even more Baroque fashion with a blocked archivolt rising from profile consoles above a moulded sill.
The front towards Russell Court repeats the design of the main front, with the all-important omission of the pedimented secondary attic, but the long front to Cleveland Row is simple in character, no doubt in deference to St. James's Palace opposite. The composition consists of a central face having five evenly spaced windows in each of its four storeys, set slightly recessed between the rusticated returns of the east and west fronts, these return faces having one window in each storey above the windowless ground storey. The rusticated lower stage of the central face is clearly articulated as two storeys, divided by a stringcourse continuing the impost of the east and west arcades, and the windows of the second stage are without pediments.