Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.
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Park Place, South Side
Nos. 8–14 (consec.) Park Place and Nos. 61–62 St. James's Street occupy the site of a tenement called the Antelope (I on fig. 81) which was one of the pieces of the Pulteney estate acquired c. 1668–70 by the Duchess of Cleveland. (fn. 1) The Duchess's trustees had purchased the under-lease from John Collup, the royalist writer, (fn. 2) and tenant of Sir William Pulteney. (fn. 1) The latter's interest in the property was not due to expire until 1702, (fn. 3) but in 1690 the Duchess's son, the Duke of Grafton, obtained a grant from the Crown of the freehold (see below) and probably purchased Sir William's interest. It may be assumed that the Duchess and her trustees were responsible for the development of the property.
By 1680 the Antelope had been 'for the most part demolished', (fn. 4) and shortly afterwards Park Place was laid out, the south side on the site of the Antelope and the north side on the southern edge of the Six Acre Field. The boundary between the two properties coincided with the parish boundary which runs along the centre of the street, and the houses on the north side, being in the parish of St. George, Hanover Square, are not described in this volume.
The south side of Park Place was built up first. There is a reference in January 1681/2 to 'Mr. Rossington's new buildings' which can be identified with houses on the south side of Park Place, the north side clearly being unbuilt at that time. (fn. 5) Rossington presumably held a lease from the Duchess of the Antelope site and was almost certainly the John Rossington (fn. 6) who later purchased other parts of the Cleveland House estate. There are several references to John Rossington and Robert Rossington in the minutes of the Commissioners of Sewers, recording their building activities in Park Place in association with George Lane, carpenter, William Stroud, bricklayer, and Edward Martin, plasterer. (fn. 7) Rossington built six houses on the south side of the street and all were occupied by 1683. (fn. 8) Building on the north side appears to have been in the hands of Richard Frith and his associates, and the two groups co-operated in the laying of drains. (fn. 9)
The Antelope site was among the six pieces of land granted in fee by the Crown to Henry, Duke of Grafton, in 1690 (see page 493) and was the only piece to be retained by the Duke after 1693. (fn. 10) The property descended to his son Charles, Duke of Grafton, (fn. 11) who in 1732 granted a life annuity of £300 to his son, Charles Fitzroy, issuing out of 'all his messuages in Parke Place'. (fn. 12) The Duke had conveyed five messuages on the site of the Antelope to Thomas Gibson and John Jacob in 1728, (fn. 13) but evidently retained his title to the property.
In 1736 he secured for himself, his tenants, and their successors, a passageway from Park Place into St. James's (now Green) Park by agreement with John Henry Merttins. (fn. 14) Merttins was the owner of the house at the end of Park Place (No. 6, in the parish of St. George, Hanover Square), which he was then letting for rebuilding, (fn. 15) and a passage three feet six inches wide was left on the south side of the new house for the private use of the residents of Park Place. The Duke covenanted that a rent of £14 a year for this privilege would be charged on No. 8 and Merttins covenanted to maintain the iron door leading into the park and to pave the passage. (fn. 16) The passage can be seen on the map reproduced on Plate 7, running along the south side of No. 6 (Over-Seas House).
In 1742 the Duke of Grafton obtained an Act of Parliament vesting his 'very old and ruinous' houses in Park Place in trustees in order that they might be sold. The money arising out of the sale was to be applied towards the purchase of an estate in Suffolk near the Duke's seat at Euston. (fn. 17) The houses, which included Nos. 8, 9 (which had been in the Duke's own occupation since 1734), 10 and 11 (then a single house), Nos. 12, 13 and 14 Park Place and Nos. 61–62 St. James's Street, were sold by the Duke and his trustees in November 1742 to Samuel Clarke, of St. George's, Hanover Square, for £6000. In the same month Clarke granted a thousand-year lease of each house to Joseph Dunning, peruke maker, who had provided £2100 of the purchase money. (fn. 18) Dunning appears in the ratebooks at No. 13 in 1749–50 and 1754–9. (fn. 8)
Nos. 7–8 Park Place
The existing building on this site was erected in 1891–2 (see below) in place of two houses. No. 7, the westerly house, was described in 1742 as a house in Rosamund (a corruption of Rossington?) Court, (fn. 19) and until 1808 it was rated in St. James's Place. (fn. 8) It had been built on the northeast corner of Cleveland House garden—not the Antelope site—and was accessible from both Park Place and St. James's Place (see fig. 81).
No. 8, the most westerly house erected on the Antelope site, had several occupants of note. They included Charles Stanhope, politician, 1731–60; Edward Weston, didactic writer, 1761–6; Earl Percy, M.P. for Westminster 1763–76, later second Duke of Northumberland, 1767–9; Robert Palk,? Sir Robert Palk, Governor of Madras, who was created a baronet in 1772, 1772–5, 1779; General Thomas Gage, Governor of Massachusetts, 1776–8; Admiral Hugh Pigot, 1780–92; (fn. 20) Thomas Creevey, politician, 1804–9; (fn. 21) Frederick John Robinson, later Viscount Goderich and Earl of Ripon, Prime Minister, 1816–17, ? 1821–2; and Lieutenant-General Jonathan Peel, politician and patron of the turf, 1844–71. (fn. 22)
The present Nos. 7–8 Park Place, now known as Old St. James's House, was built in 1891–2 by Stanley George Bird from the designs of Hyman Henry and Marcus Evelyn Collins of Old Broad Street (Plate 276b). (fn. 23) The building might be described as a fantasy on the medieval French château, though executed for the most part in the heaviest Victorian manner. An L-shaped site made a symmetrical composition almost impossible and the architects concentrated on filling the vista from St. James's Street with a romantic cluster of bay windows and turrets. The building is of red brick lavishly dressed with stone and contains four storeys raised high upon a semi-basement. Granite columns divide the wider windows, and wroughtiron railings decorate it at every available point, while the blank wall on the east is covered with elaborate panels of moulded brickwork. Dominating the main front, towards the north, is a three-storeyed bay window, the ground storey of which has a cumbersome porch projecting on four granite columns. From the northernmost pair of columns springs a round arch with carved spandrels and keystone and above it runs a tall carved frieze and a cornice surmounted by a pair of urn finials. The angle of the L is filled with a turret rising through the second and third storeys, and on the eastern angle of the building is another turret, perhaps the only elegant feature of the design, its top storey being arcaded, with round arches springing from slender granite columns, and its roof a tall cone decorated with Gothic tracery.
No. 9 Park Place
This was the largest and architecturally the most interesting house in Park Place. Occupants have included Charles Boyle, Lord Clifford, 1683–7; (fn. 24) the Duchess of Cleveland, after her return from residence in France, 1698–9; the Duke of Leinster, later third Duke of Schomberg, 1691–3; and General Henry Lumley, Governor of Jersey, 1702–22. (fn. 20) Charles Fitzroy, second Duke of Grafton and grandson of the Duchess of Cleveland, as Lord Chamberlain, used the house as his office from 1734 to 1742, (fn. 25) when he disposed of his estate in Park Place. The house was subsequently occupied by Sir John Hynde Cotton, the Jacobite member of Parliament, 1747–51. (fn. 20)
This brick-built house (Plate 266b) was set some sixteen feet back from the general building line of the street, and comprised a basement, four storeys and a garret. That it occupied the site of the original house is clear from Blome's map of 1689, but drastic alteration, including the addition of an extra storey and the rebuilding of the back wall, had left little more of the original than the staircase and, possibly, some portions of the front wall. The front elevation had five flat-headed windows in each storey, the doorway being central in the ground storey, and raised stuccoed bandcourses marked the first-, second- and third-floor levels. The windows contained modern sashes in concealed frames and any evidence of reconstruction had been obscured by the addition of rusticated stucco to the ground storey and red paint to the brickwork above. The area-railing, with urn finials to the standards, suggested that the house was altered in the mid eighteenth century, and other alterations had taken place in the early nineteenth century when the Doric porch was added.
The ground-floor plan consisted of two equalsized rooms flanking a wide entrance hall, beyond which, built out at the back, was a staircase wing. The hall was divided from the western room by a structural wall which was carried up to the first floor where there were again two rooms, the eastern being the larger and having three front windows. The staircase was constructed round an open well and originally extended only to the second floor. The first flight of five treads had an open string with three balusters to a tread and the handrail voluted over a group of balusters clustered round the bottom newel. The rest of the staircase had closed strings, twisted balusters and a handrail ramped up over square newels at each landing. The interior of the house must have been largely redecorated in the early nineteenth century, but more recent changes had left little of note save two marble chimneypieces of 'Louis Seize' character in the western rooms on the first and second floors.
Nos. 10 and 11 Park Place
This site was originally, as now, occupied by a single building. Two occupants of the first house on the site were John Vaughan, Earl of Carbery, M.P. and Governor of Jamaica, 1687–90, and General Lord George Hamilton, Earl of Orkney, 1698–9. (fn. 20) In 1799–1800 the single house was replaced by two, Nos. 10 and 11, which were occupied by (No. 10) Thomas Wallace,? Baron Wallace, politician, 1801–6; William Wadd, surgeon, 1807–30; John Cooper,? actor, 1844– 1852; and (No. 11) Charles Kemble, actor, 1837–9. (fn. 22) In 1852 No. 10 was converted by Mrs. Mary Croxton into a lodging-house or hotel to which No. 11 was subsequently added. This establishment later became known as the Park Hotel. (fn. 26)
Nos. 12 and 13 Park Place
No. 12 was first occupied by John Pulteney, the son of Sir William, who lived here from 1683 to 1690. Between 1748 and 1792 the house was occupied by the Calmell family. (fn. 8) Peter Calmell paid the rates for the house from 1750 until his death in 1790; (fn. 27) during the early part of his period of residence he was engaged in the erection of Hammersmith Terrace. (fn. 28) Nineteenth-century inhabitants included Sir William Elford, banker, politician and amateur artist, 1805–9; and William Crockford, the proprietor of Crockford's Club, 1815–20. (fn. 20) From 1845 to 1886 the house was used as part of Fenton's Hotel. (fn. 26)
No. 12, although its front has been altered in the first half of the nineteenth century to give it a superficial resemblance to Nos. 13 and 14 (Plate 266a), is in carcase a brick-built house of the late seventeenth century. Containing a basement, three storeys and a garret, it has a stuccoed front three windows wide, the doorway occupying the eastern opening in the ground storey. Raised bandcourses mark each floor level and all the windows contain box-frames, although probably not the original ones. Apart from the stucco the nineteenth-century additions consist of a plain area-railing, a widened, round-arched doorway, and a first-floor balcony with an anthemionpatterned cast-iron railing. The back wall is similar to the front, with bandcourses at first- and second-floor levels, and its windows have boxframes. The house has a standard plan of two rooms to each floor with a closet wing projecting on the east, behind the staircase compartment. The entrance hall is unusually wide, but this may have been altered in the nineteenth century. The finishings are of no particular interest, being of the plainest early nineteenth-century type.
It is impossible to see whether No. 13 has ever been completely rebuilt, since its front has been stuccoed, probably in the first half of the nineteenth century, and its back wall replaced in modern yellow brick. The basement windows, however, contain box-frames and this does suggest that at most the walls can only have been rebuilt above ground level. The proportions of its front correspond to those of No. 12, except that the third-storey windows are slightly taller and there is a fourth storey instead of a garret. The ground storey is rusticated, with a decorative area-railing in front of it, and the door has a reeded wooden frame. In the upper storeys all the windows have moulded architraves and there is a first-floor balcony similar to the one at No. 12, while the thirdfloor level is marked by an entablature. The plan of the interior is identical with that of No. 12, except that there is no projecting closet wing. The first-floor rooms could not be investigated but the remainder of the interior, which has been much altered, is plainly finished in an early nineteenth-century manner.
No. 14 Park Place: Pratt's Club
No. 14 has been occupied since about the middle of the nineteenth century by Pratt's Club. It is said that in 1841 the Duke of Beaufort, being bored with his usual haunts of amusement, took some friends one night to the house in Park Place where his steward, Pratt, lived and let rooms. They spent the evening gaming and drinking in Pratt's kitchen. Repetition of this practice hardened into custom and even after the rooms above stairs became available, club members still preferred to use the basement for their convivial evenings. (fn. 29)
William Nathaniel Pratt first appears at No. 14 in the ratebook for 1841. Until 1856 the premises were listed in the directories as a private hotel, but from 1857 onwards as Pratt's club-house. (fn. 30) After Pratt's death in 1860 (fn. 31) the club was carried on by his widow, Sophia, and then by his son, Edwin. The Pratt family's connexion with the club ceased in 1908. It is still privately owned and since 1926 the proprietor has also owned the freehold of the house. (fn. 32) The present owner is the Duke of Devonshire. (fn. 29)
Although the building has been much altered it remains basically a town house of the most modest type, forming a terrace along with Nos. 12 and 13 (Plate 266a). It was probably renovated in the 1840's when the club was founded and not much work of an earlier date remains. However, the front basement windows do still contain boxframes and the back wall is wholly timber framed, a feature which is common to the small late seventeenth-century houses built by the Rossingtons in St. James's Place. The stuccoed front is similar to that of No. 13, but elaborated with a few extra details. The second-storey windows have cornice-hoods supported by consoles, and before the third-storey windows, resting on the cornicehoods, are guard-rails cast in a wheat-eared pattern. There is no fourth storey and instead the entablature at third-floor level is finished with a balustrade.
The plan of the house is identical with that of No. 13 and the interest of the interior lies in its decorative features. These, though individually good, do not form part of any general design and are confined to the ground floor and the basement where most of the club's activities take place. The two ground-floor rooms have been made into one, now the billiard-room, the southern end being partially screened off by two fluted Ionic columns of wood, and the entrance hall is separated from the staircase compartment by a pair of heavy double doors, each with six raised-and-fielded panels in ovolo-moulded frames enriched with egg-and-dart moulding, having a simple traceried fanlight over them. The atmosphere of the basement, divided into dining-room and kitchen, derives mainly from the aged leather-upholstered chairs, stuffed fishes in glass cases and other relics which crowd the rooms, all of them effectively set off by dark-red wallpaper and dim lighting. Against the dividing wall on the kitchen side are two wooden three-quarter columns similar to those on the floor above. There are two good white marble chimneypieces, the one in the kitchen large enough to hold a range. Both chimneypieces have pilasters inlaid with green marble applied to their jambs and the lintels are carved in low relief, with Grecian figures in the dining-room and reminiscently Etruscan ones in the kitchen.