Survey of London: Volumes 31 and 32, St James Westminster, Part 2. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1963.
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The part of the parish of St. James lying north of Piccadilly and Coventry Street has a more fragmented and diversified character than the formerly aristocratic faubourg described in volumes XXIX and XXX of the Survey of London. In lying astride Nash's great artery of Regent Street it also lies across the dividing line of western central London. Within its boundaries are the comparatively large and orderly developments to the west and the more variegated and intricate layout of the larger eastern portion, where pieces of spacious and deliberate planning are lost in the unarticulated maze of old inner London. The function of Regent Street in 'damming up Soho' (fn. 4) is well known, and it is significant that the popular notion of Soho includes a considerable part of St. James's parish east of Regent Street as well as the parish of St. Anne. (fn. 1)
Inevitably much of the visual and social character of the area is of comparatively recent origin. The choice of Swallow Street for the line of Regent Street both recognised and intensified the decline of areas once residentially attractive, like Golden Square, Great Marlborough Street and the now forgotten Argyll estate, while the Quadrant and Shaftesbury Avenue dislocated such coherence as the streets here once possessed. The effect of location at the centre of a great city is also inevitably strong here, and the appearance of part of the area has for some eighty years reflected merely the English manifestation of the nocturnal diversions of a great metropolis. Proximity to the metropolitan centre has subjected the area to other influences that are, in a sense, fortuitous: on the one hand to miscellaneous redevelopment profiting from the unceasing concourse at the 'heart of the Empire' and on the other to the tendency of trades or occupations near such a centre to congregate accumulatively in a known and convenient locality.
The influence of a past remoter than the first buildings raised in the area is not, however, wholly obliterated. In two respects the use and ownership of land here in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries conditioned the distinctive general features of this compared with other adjacent areas. These two factors tending towards disjointed development were the greater physical division by enclosure and the wider dispersal of ownership in detached pieces of property than in adjacent parts of old St. Martin's in the Fields.
Like the southern part of St. James's, almost all this area passed into the possession of the Crown in 1531–6 as part of the Bailiwick of St. James. It had previously been divided in the possession of Eton College, the Convent of Abingdon, the Hospital of Burton St. Lazar and the Mercers' Company. A plan of the area prepared for a law suit in 1585 (Plate 1) indicates the scattered nature of these estates. It also indicates some physical subdivision, which in places may show vestiges of open-field cultivation. Considerable enclosure had in fact taken place in St. Martin's in the Fields between 1485 and 1549. Within the part discussed here enclosure for pasture or (on one known occasion) for brickfields went on gradually during the sixteenth century, both on the land of Crown tenants and on private freeholds, and in 1592 the parishioners of St. Martin's demonstrated forcibly against the consequent obstruction of the customary Lammas pasturage of the parish. In the early seventeenth century the practice grew up of paying the parish for the right to build on this Lammas land, although it appears to have died out with the coming of extensive building in the 1670's. The degree to which the area had been physically divided at the time when significant development began is indicated in a plan of 1664, (fn. 5) and in the field names by which the various estates appear in the title deeds of the period. Compared with the adjacent eastern part of old St. Martin's parish, and the western part not shown on the 1585 plan, or with the greater part of southern St. James's, where a certain largeness of disposition was possible within the limits of St. James's Field, the constriction of field boundaries is still indirectly perceptible in various parts of the area here dealt with. By comparison, the streets of Soho to the east and those in the neighbourhood of Albemarle Street to the west, though first laid out at about the same time as northern St. James's in the late seventeenth century, are more coherent in plan. This comparatively disjointed growth derives also from the history of land ownership here from the sixteenth century onwards.
Unlike southern St. James's, about half the area passed out of the Crown's ownership within some thirty years of its acquisition, when Queen Elizabeth granted scattered parcels of land in 1560 to a William Dodington. By June 1561 they had passed to Thomas Wilson, a brewer of St. Botolph without Aldgate. In 1619 and 1622 sales by Wilson's son Richard divided this property into the separate possessions of Robert Baker and William Maddox, 'tailor' and 'merchant tailor' respectively. By the time building began at all extensively, after the Restoration, these two properties, both of which also consisted of scattered parcels of land, had been further divided in ownership among lessees or other freeholders and neither the Baker nor the Maddox families seem to have been then directly responsible for any building in the area.
The Baker property was built up by four main developers. In the Piccadilly and Great Windmill Street area building development, in the 1660's and 1670's, was the work of lessees under a somewhat formidable speculator, Colonel Thomas Panton. In Gelding Close the imposing enterprise, Golden Square, was launched in the 1670's, rather strangely by two speculators working independently—James Axtell, bricklayer or carpenter, and Isaac Symball, a man of energetic virtuosity in his undertakings. Another piece of ground (later Pesthouse Close) was taken on lease in 1665 and bought outright in 1671 by the first Earl of Craven, who established pesthouses where Marshall Street and the western part of Broadwick Street were later to be laid out. The fourth piece, Little Gelding's Close, was acquired in the 1670's from the heirs of Robert Baker by Sir Benjamin Maddox and developed by the lessee, a cook turned speculator, James Pollett and his executors, by whom Poland Street was made.
The Maddox property acquired from Wilson still survives fragmentarily as a freehold estate. But again the first building operations were undertaken by various hands. A sixtytwo year lease of the property to a 'gentleman', James Kendrick, in 1670, occasioned some desultory building under sub-lessees. The important developments, however, did not take place until the eighteenth century under three separate interests. The Great Marlborough Street area was developed by Joseph Collens, in the first decade of the century, and the Burlington estate by the third Earl of Burlington between 1718 and 1739 (both under leasehold interests) while the estate of the second Duke of Argyll was laid out in the 1730's on freehold land which he had bought from the Pollen family as heirs of the Maddox estate.
West of Wardour Street one piece of ground was never Crown property. Purchased by Sir Edward Wardour in 1631, Colman Hedge Close was slowly developed after the Restoration by lessees of that family, including James Pollett and his associates.
The parts retained by the Crown in 1560 remained in its possession for another century, but the sixty years or so after the Restoration saw the dispersal of much of the remaining freehold for building. In 1664 Stone Conduit Close was granted by the Crown to the Earl of Clarendon, and the part within the area here dealt with (now the site of Burlington House, Burlington Arcade, Albany and Sackville Street) was immediately sold by him to Sir John Denham and Sir William Pulteney, who built upon it. Grants were made in 1676 to the Earl of St. Albans (who sold the land to speculators by whom Rupert Street was laid out), in 1694 to the Pulteney family (of two parcels of land where Great Pulteney Street was built and where a burial ground and workhouse were established), and in 1698 to the Earl of Portland in reversion from 1734 (when his family rebuilt the D'Arblay Street-Noel Street area). In 1722 the Pulteney family obtained the freehold of the Heddon Street area, which they then rebuilt, and in the following year William Lowndes obtained that of the Carnaby Street area, where a market formed part of the new layout.
Where the post-Restoration building development took place on ground still owned by the Crown it was usually unambitious, partly because of the comparatively short term of the leases that could be granted. Soon after the Restoration the area around the southern end of Swallow Street and Glasshouse Street was developed under a Crown lease by trustees for the Earl of St. Albans. The most prominent Crown lessees were, however, the Pulteney family. The Brewer Street-Great Pulteney Street area, the Kingly Street-Carnaby Street area, and the Heddon Street area were first developed by their lessees or sublessees.
The occurrence of Pollett or his executors as developers of adjacent plots held under various freeholders or head-lessees indicates that this dispersion of ownership did not necessarily interpose insuperable barriers to a coherent integration of layouts where reasonable lengths of tenure could be secured. Nevertheless, reference to eighteenth-century and modern maps will reveal the area as one of ancient topographical divisions not wholly obliterated.
The relationship of the boundaries on the 1585 plan to the present street layout is shown on fig. 2. Nearly four hundred years have inevitably obscured some of the correspondences both on the map and on the ground. It is not now apparent that the original continuation of Glasshouse Street (which in part follows the medieval Shugg Lane) was not westward along the line of Vigo Street and Burlington Gardens but northward on the line of the present Warwick Street, where the western corner with Beak Street represents the turn of the 1585 route round Mulghay Close on the way to the Oxford road. Further east, the curiously set-back frontage where the north side of Brewer Street joins Wardour Street can be seen on Rocque's map of 1746, but maps of 1720, 1681–2 and 1664 suggest that it may be related to the even earlier configuration of this corner of Colman Hedge Close shown on the 1585 plan. The difference in level on the north and south sides at this end of Brewer Street can perhaps be accounted for in part by the fact that it represents the 1585 boundary between two fields. One peculiarity of layout can more definitely be traced back to 1585 and earlier, and visibly demonstrates a seventeenth-century determination to squeeze two street-frontages within an already old boundary. Foubert's Place, between Carnaby Street and Kingly Street, has noticeably small and shallow buildings on its north side. These were contrived within the northern limit of Six Acre Close and their progressively constricted north-south dimensions still perpetuate the medieval boundary between the lands of the Convent of Abingdon and the Mercers' Company (Plate 159).
In the southerly part of the area the tendency of the 1585 property divisions to run north and south is still just perceptible on the modern map, where the superior length of the north-south streets suggests the greater facility for the development of passage-ways on this orientation. In the east-west streets the obstructive effect of the 1585 property divisions is still sometimes apparent. The abrupt western termination of Peter Street marks the boundary of Colman Hedge Close, which as a property division explains the lack of communication with Great Pulteney Street. Further north the boundary between Doghouse Close and Little Gelding's Close is marked by the break in frontage at the western end of the south side of Noel Street: on the north side of this street its lack of alignment with Great Marlborough Street is being eliminated only at the time of writing. The diminished breadth of Broadwick Street west of Lexington Street marks the property boundary between Little Gelding's Close and Pawlett's Garden.
Nevertheless, Broadwick Street, although built across four freehold properties, exists as a wide street not essentially impaired by a discontinuous building history. It was begun at the east end in 1686 by James Pollett under a lease from Edward Wardour, its great width west of Berwick Street probably being occasioned by Pollett's intention to establish a market here; in 1703–4 it was continued westward by Pollett's executors under a lease from Sir Benjamin Maddox, westward again in 1718–23 on the freehold of the Pulteney family, and finally reached its present western extremity in 1734–6 on the freehold of Lord Craven. This final extension was made possible by an explicit agreement between William Pulteney and Lord Craven for the removal of a barrier at the boundary of their respective lands. Similarly the rather splendidly wide Great Marlborough Street was laid out on three properties between 1704 and 1737.
The historical foundations of the area in its present aspect are in fact an intertwining of particular causes, small and large, where the prospect of great economic reward has only partly obliterated the boundaries and alignments established at a lower level of economic exploitation. Predominantly, limited, small-scale development has seemed to justify sites economically to their owners.
The main period of development was from c. 1660 to c. 1740. The 1585 plan marks highways to Oxford Street on the Glasshouse-Warwick-Beak-Regent Street line and along Wardour Street (then Colman Hedge Lane) but only one or two buildings, including a windmill on the site of Ham Yard. In about 1612 London was given its most famous place-name, when Piccadilly Hall was built in the southern part of the modern Great Windmill Street by the tailor, Robert Baker. But the Parliamentary survey of 1651 and Faithorne and Newcourt's map published in 1658 show how little of the area had then been developed. By the later sixteenth century brickfields and gravel pits had been introduced under the impulse of the city's physical growth, and agricultural and industrial activities were being carried on alongside in the mixed usage characteristic of London's outskirts. In 1670 the lease of Ten Acre Close for its first desultory development contained provisions for the maintenance of orchards or pasture where building was not intended, and for 'garden or nursery ground' to be attached to such houses as were built. At about the same time, part of Six Acre Close was laid out as a market garden: another part was taken on lease apparently for farming, but this lease became ineffectual and soon houses appeared here. Elsewhere in the area at this time, when extensive building was beginning, some fields continued to be dug for gravel or brick-earth, and it may be that the fall in level from Oxford Street to Hills Place and Ramillies Street is a vestige of excavations for this purpose. Other uses peripheral to a great city are found here: Doghouse Close in the 1680's and Millfield in the early eighteenth century had their bowling-greens.
Some of the uses subordinate to the city's life were inevitably noxious and their establishment here before building began doubtless lessened the residential appeal of much of the area, communicating to it a surviving character in some ways curiously like the area east of Aldgate. Before the middle of the seventeenth century a brewery was established in Colman Hedge Close, and two others followed in Brewer Street in about 1664 and 1671. Metal was melted for guns just north of houses in Piccadilly in 1693. Saltpetre houses were set up, in Peter Street in about 1656, and in the vicinity of the ground at the back of Burlington House later in the century: hereabouts the seemingly related tasks of collecting night refuse, boiling for saltpetre and making glass combined to render the neighbourhood unattractive.
A more effective deterrent to building was the pesthouses established in the area, by the parish of St. Martin's in Colman Hedge Close in 1630, and by Lord Craven at the time of the Great Plague of 1665. The latter lazaretto occupied an extensive and fearsome area around the western end of Broadwick Street and the northern part of Marshall Street, where building was not thought medically safe until the 1730's.
Long before these heterogeneous activities were discontinued the spread of streets had begun. This, as might have been expected, was initially at the southern end, and also at the outer parts of the area fronting on existing highways, particularly on the west side of Wardour Street.
The 1660's saw building going forward immediately northward of the Coventry StreetPiccadilly line, around Great Windmill Street, in Swallow Close and Round Rundles, and in Mulghay Close and Stone Conduit Close. Almost all of this building was in streets or embryo-streets of houses, but on the western part of the last close were erected three mansions, two of which were built by the freeholders, Sir Thomas Clarges and Sir John Denham (the latter being almost immediately replaced in ownership by the Earl of Burlington). Further northward building began in Windmill Field and Knaves' Acre, particularly, it seems, towards the eastern end of Brewer Street. In the following decade followed the construction of Panton Square about 1673, the extension of Brewer Street and the making of Sherwood Street, the laying out of Rupert Street and the development of the southerly part of Wardour Street, and the commencement of the important residential area of Golden Square. The 1680's saw development further north, along Kingly and Carnaby Streets in Six Acre Close, and at the eastern end of Broadwick Street and in Berwick and Peter Streets in Colman Hedge Close. Further south, Vine Street was laid out in this decade, and in the west of the area some slight building development began on Maddox property in Ten Acre Close, evidently at the instigation of the head-lessee, Lord Burlington. In 1687 the progress of building in this part of the recently formed parish of St. James's was recognized when the Rector set up a temporary wooden tabernacle in Kingly Street. This was replaced in 1702 by a permanent structure, which survives as St. Thomas's, Kingly Street. In the last decade of the century fewer new enterprises were begun although the development of the Golden Square area continued, as did that of Six Acre Close and the westward extension of the streets in Colman Hedge Close, and building on the Oxford Street frontage of Millfield.
The work executed at this period was often of poor quality. In 1693 the Surveyor General thought that the houses on the eastern half of Six Acre Close, built within the previous ten years, would hardly endure for the remaining thirty years of the lease.
The first decade of the eighteenth century saw the impressive development of Great Marlborough Street and also that of Poland Street. The lines of this part of St. James's were thus sketched in, although towards the north there were still undeveloped areas to be shown on the 1720 map, and Great Marlborough Street had communication westward only by the awkward entry into Carnaby Street on an adjacent property. By this first decade of the century the growth of the area had caused another Anglican chapel to be set up, further to the east, in Berwick Street (later St. Luke's Church).
In the 1720's building became more extensive again, and by the late 1730's the fabric of the area was completed. Much of this activity, however, particularly on the Pulteney properties, was in rebuilding seventeenth-century structures. At this time the area was touched by the aesthetic revivalism of the third Earl of Burlington. His alterations to Burlington House about 1717–20 and the design of houses on his estate built between 1718 and 1739 on Ten Acre Close have a significance in architectural history beyond that of London. The Pulteney redevelopment began at the same time as Lord Burlington's enterprise—in about 1718 in Brewer Street and Great Pulteney Street, continuing in the 1720's in Heddon Street, Broadwick Street and Dufour's Place, and finally in 1730–2 in Sackville Street. On other properties, much of Rupert Street and part of Wardour Street were rebuilt in the 1720's and 1730's. During the 1730's the unbuilt parts in the north of the area were filled in by the development of Pesthouse Close, around Marshall Street, by Lord Craven, and the laying out of the Argyll estate by the second Duke of Argyll with the aid of a distinguished architect-builder triumvirate. In 1735 the rebuilding of the Duke of Portland's property in Doghouse Close began, and with its conclusion a few years later the eighteenth-century fabric of the area was completed. Much of the reconstruction after about 1720 exhibited the visual dignity and regularity characteristic of early Georgian London. But although the westernmost extension of Broadwick Street and the relationship established between the Argyll estate and Great Marlborough Street gave more coherence to some parts of the area the constricted physical limits of ownership forbad any over-all re-alignment. On Rocque's map of 1746 the area looks, in this respect, more old-fashioned than the late seventeenth-century layouts to east, south and west.
The character of building here had been influenced by the last attempts of the Stuart governments to limit London's growth, and early attempts, in default of limitation, to control its quality by legislation.
Even before extensive building had begun Mary Baker (the widow of Robert Baker, the builder of Piccadilly Hall) provoked drastic enactments against her by the Court of Star Chamber in 1638, when her building activities in the vicinity of what is now Great Windmill Street threatened to pollute the springs supplying water to Whitehall. This proximity to the centre of government seems to have brought the area under particularly anxious notice, perhaps sharpened by the piecemeal and speculative character of the post-Restoration building here.
In 1668 Sir William Pulteney's activities in digging clay for building on land held of the Crown provoked 'vexatious suits' brought against him by the Surveyor General of Works (and his former associate), Sir John Denham. (fn. 6) In March 1668/9 Denham was succeeded by Wren, (fn. 7) whose appointment was quickly followed by extensive development in the area; and it was building here which occasioned the last attempt by the government to limit the growth of London. In 1671 Wren petitioned the King for a proclamation to control 'these growing inconveniencyes'. (fn. 8) His petition recited that 'there are divers buildings of late erected and many foundations laid, and more contrived in Dog Fields, (fn. 2) Windmill Fields, and the Fields adjoining to So Hoe, and severall other places without the Suburbs of London and Westminster, the builders whereof have no grant or allowance from Yr. Majesty and have therefore been prohibited, and hindered by yr. Petitioner as much as in him lieth, yet notwithstanding they proceed to erect small and meane habitations, wch. will prove only receptacles for the poorer Sort, and the Offensive trades, to the annoyance of the better Inhabitants, the Dammage of the Parishes already too much burthened with poor, The rendering the Government of those parts more unmanageable, The great hindrance of perfecting the City buildings, and others allowed by yr. Majesty's broad Seale, the Choaking up the Aire of Yr. Majesty's Pallace and Parke, and the houses of the Nobility, The infecting or total Losse of the waters, which by many expencefull Drains and Conduits have formerly derived from these fields to yr. Majesty's Pallace of Whitehall, and to the Mewes.' (fn. 8)
On 7 April 1671, a proclamation forbad unlicensed building in 'Wind-Mill Fields, Dog-Fields, and the Fields adjoyning to So-hoe' and elsewhere, upon pain of destruction of such buildings and imprisonment of the offender. (fn. 9) The builders apparently desisted from their work, but within a few days Wren seems to have changed his standpoint and was pointing out to the King that 'the leaving of houses in this manner halfe finished proves not only a great Dammage to the Owners but a much greater to poor Artisans working upon Contracts, And that the Obstructing of the waies with Scaffolds and Materialls, and the open houses being a receptacle for ill people in the night may prove a greater nuisance then the houses built after the worst manner could possibly prove if they were finished.' He therefore asked for authority to inspect the unfinished buildings and in suitable cases to permit their completion. For the future, he wished that no one should be allowed 'to build any house upon a new foundation' without licence. (fn. 10)
The outcome of Wren's representation is not entirely clear. When it was considered by the Privy Council on 26 April he was ordered to have workmen who contravened the proclamation imprisoned, (fn. 11) and in May measures were taken, at the request of Lord Burlington, against building behind his new house, in Millfield (or Kirkham Field), Crabtree Park, Dog Fields and Windmill Fields. (fn. 12) But in the same month Colonel Panton was licensed to complete his buildings on the east side of the Haymarket (outside the area discussed here), (fn. 13) and at some other time in 1671 he and two builders were permitted to erect houses in the vicinity of (Great) Windmill Street and Queen (now Denman) Street. (fn. 14)
Unlicensed building was still proceeding in Windmill Fields, Dog Fields and fields adjoining Soho to accommodate 'noysome and offensive Trades' and 'meane and disorderly people', as Lord Burlington and Lord Cornbury complained in September. (fn. 15) The builders were ordered to pull down by 1 November all the cottages, stables and coach houses erected since the proclamation of the previous April. (fn. 16) One offender, Richard Bull, appears to have ignored these measures, for in May 1672 he was ordered before the Council and ultimately Wren was told to imprison his workmen if he proceeded with his building on the site of the west side of the modern Sackville Street. (fn. 17)
In Gelding Close, now the site of Golden Square, the proclamation of 1671 does appear to have produced buildings of good quality laid out in conformity with a plan possibly devised by Wren himself. In November 1671 John Emlyn, brickmaker, and James Long (a nominee of James Axtell, who was probably a bricklayer) petitioned the Privy Council, without effect, for licence to build 'such houses as might accommodate Gentry'. (fn. 18) In 1673 the petition was renewed and on 4 September, after Wren and his assistants had viewed the ground, letters patent were granted to Emlyn and Barnabas Holley (another nominee of Axtell) enabling them to build 'according to the modell, form, . . . designe, draught, mapp or charte' annexed to the patent. The grant contained a number of covenants designed to safeguard the quality of building, (fn. 19) and the 'modell' or plan, which is still in existence (fn. 20) and may well have been the work of Wren or his assistants, is almost identical with the present layout of Golden Square.
Within twelve months of its publication the furore caused by the proclamation of April 1671 appears to have subsided, and in December 1672 John Harrison, one of the builders in Dog Fields and Crabtree Field who were subjected to the Privy Council's prohibition in September 1671, was permitted to continue the building begun before the proclamation. (fn. 21) By the 1690's the restrictive policy of the Crown towards new buildings had so far lapsed as to allow the lessees of Six Acre Close 'full and Free Licence and Authority . . . to erect and build . . . soe many houses or Edifices as they or any of them shall thinke fitt'. (fn. 22)
By this period such governmental control as was exerted was directed towards maintaining an adequate standard of building. An early instance of this had been in 1664 when Sir John Denham and Sir William Pulteney had been licensed to build in Stone Conduit Close not more than twelve houses costing at least £1000 each. (fn. 23) In the 1670's attempts at limitation of building in this area had, as has been seen, merged into some control of the character of building when licences were granted. This kind of control was that which private estate owners might have some interest in fostering, and developers here sometimes utilized in their covenants with lessees the categories or 'rates' of building and the specifications laid down by the government in the Act of 1667 for rebuilding the City after the Great Fire (fn. 24) and the London Fire Prevention Act of 1708. (fn. 25) In Golden Square and Beak Street the controlling influence of Wren's licence was respected in the 1680's when some lessees were required to build their houses (according to the second 'rate' of 1667) uniform with others already existing and to maintain this uniformity throughout the long terms of the leases.
On the Pulteney estate the reconstruction begun about 1718 followed standards contained in the articles of agreement into which builders or speculators were required to enter with William Pulteney. Houses on the principal streets were to be of the second of the four rates (the first rate being the lowest) prescribed by the Act of 1667, and all buildings were to comply with the regulations laid down for fire prevention by the Act of 1708. Pulteney required the use of well burnt bricks (usually best grey stocks) and good mortar; all timber was to be yellow fir, except sills for doorcases and window frames, which were to be of 'good English oak'. Other requirements included rubbed returns, rubbed and gauged arches, 'proper' ornaments for cornices of brick or stone, and the lead for gutters was to weigh 7 lbs. to the foot. For houses on the east side of Little Windmill Street (now Lexington Street) the second rate was not prescribed and the lead for gutters was to be 6 lbs. per foot. Such old materials from the houses to be pulled down as were sound could be re-used. The houses were to occupy the whole frontage of the plots, and paving, laying of sewers and maintenance of party walls were all specifically mentioned in the agreements. The letting of houses for the practice of noxious trades without licence was forbidden. Pulteney's surveyor—possibly Thomas Dance, plasterer (fn. 3)—was to be given access to buildings to inspect the quality of workmanship and materials, and the houses in Mulghay Close (in the neighbourhood of Swallow Street) were to be built in accordance with the directions of the surveyor 'to answer a Pattern for uniformity'. Builders were to be fined if rubbish was left in this neighbourhood for six days after notice had been given by the surveyor to clear it away. They were also to be fined if the houses were not finished by the date mentioned in the agreements. (fn. 26) A few of the houses erected under these covenants still survive, notably in Great Pulteney Street.
There is not comparable evidence for the nature of the building agreements made by the Earl of Burlington on his estate in Ten Acre Close developed in 1718–23 and 1732–9. At a few sites built upon in the first phase Colin Campbell is known to have exercised a supervision sufficiently exacting to deter Alexander Pope from building a house here, but no over-all exterior uniformity was enforced in the part of the estate laid out in this phase. On the later part of the estate the covenants written into the building leases became more exacting and prohibited the alteration of the fronts of houses without permission. No supervising surveyor is mentioned, but a high degree of uniformity was achieved. Specific designs of Burlingtonian origin are known to have been enforced in subsidiary buildings and gateways, where careless development perhaps most needed to be guarded against.
The very diverse kind of person undertaking the sponsorship of building in this area has already been indicated: the nobleman, the professional builder and the jack-of-all-trades each occurs. Sometimes the sponsor would be the freeholder, as in Golden Square, or on the Portland estate in the 1730's, sometimes the head-lessee, as on the Burlington estate, and sometimes a sub-lessee, as in Mulghay Close in the 1670's. In each instance the housesites would commonly be let to building tradesmen, though if the developer was himself a builder he might retain some sites. In the 1720's and 1730's the leases were usually for sixty-one or sixty-two years (a little longer on the Argyll estate) with a peppercorn-rent building period of one year (as on the Pulteney estate) or two years (as on the Burlington estate). The capital needed by the developer would not seem to have been large, as the task of providing labour and materials would have been discharged by the building lessee of individual sites, who would often himself mortgage his lease to raise capital. The freeholder would receive little immediate benefit if he had made a long lease before development. When Ten Acre Close was laid out in streets in the eighteenth century the freeholders, the Pollen family, received only the £40 per annum exacted in Sir Benjamin Maddox's lease of 1670 until the expiry of the leasehold interest in 1809, although by then the head-lessees received some £10,400 per annum in ground-rents.
In one part of the Maddox estate, where Great Marlborough Street was built in the first decade of the eighteenth century, the freeholder was associated with his head-lessee in the grant of reversionary sub-leases of sites: no doubt this was remunerative but the financial background is not known.
The increase in the value of the area by the first building cannot be assessed, but a few sums of money may be mentioned to indicate something of the monetary dimensions involved. By 1674 an intending developer had bought half (three acres) of Gelding Close for the building of Golden Square, for £1150; in about 1680 the three speculators who had built Rupert Street sold some or all of the three and a half acres of the site for £3600; at the same period the cost of redemption of half the recently developed five-acre Mulghay Close was estimated at £2000; and in 1714 the six-acre Colman Hedge Close, whose slow building-up had recently been completed, was bought freehold for £5000.
The total rental on some of the estates built in the 1720's and 1730's is known. On the Pulteney estate, the 38 sites leased in Great Pulteney Street in 1719–20 brought in about £226 per annum; the eight sites leased in Broadwick Street and Dufour's Place in 1720–1, some £90; and the 48 sites in Sackville Street and Piccadilly in the 1730's, very nearly £500. On the Burlington estate, the 145 or so sites leased between 1719 and 1739 brought in about £1810 per annum. On the Argyll estate, the 39 sites leased in 1737–40 brought in £463. In addition, the developer would often have received a lump sum in 'fines', or premiums, when the leases were granted. In Sackville Street this amounted to over £2500, or upward of five times the annual rent.
One feature of leasing policy, though not peculiar to this area, may be remarked. Despite the tendency towards greater visual regularity in the 1720's and 1730's the frontage of individual sites remained infinitely various and quite unrationalized in terms of a bay-unit or other dimensional norm. Apparent regularity was attempted by unobtrusive adjustment in the spacing of recurrent architectural features.
The tradesmen who took building leases of individual sites seem usually to have combined resources in the erection of a number of houses, and thereafter assigned their leases to the occupant or to a mortgagee. A general characteristic of the area is, however, the large number of individual building lessees involved, and the limited range of their operations. There were some prominent builders like Benjamin Timbrell who worked extensively in the West End. But comparatively few of the building lessees occur on more than one estate. Most were Westminster men, often of St. James's, although in the 1730's some notable builders from the newer areas of London occur, particularly from St. George's, Hanover Square, in the later streets of the Burlington estate and in Sackville Street, and from St. Marylebone on the Argyll estate.
The economic success of the building lessee in this part of London can hardly be assessed on the fragmentary evidence available. In the post-Restoration period it seems generally true that both in ambitious projects like Golden Square and in much humbler developments building went on slowly. In the 1720's and 1730's the actual work of construction may generally have proceeded a little more purposefully. But at this period it seems that the subsequent disposal of new houses often took much longer than the term of the builder's peppercorn rent. This does not seem to have been strikingly different from other areas of London but sales did perhaps go a little more tardily here, whence fashion was rapidly moving west and north.
In the late seventeenth century the area eastward of Swallow Street was often respectably inhabited. As has been seen, the projected building in Gelding Close in 1671 was intended for 'gentry' and Golden Square had some notable inhabitants in its early years. Much of the subsequent history of its adornment and maintenance in the eighteenth century is not unlike that of the great aristocratic square of southern St. James's. But the sites here were smaller and more numerous, and the very prolonged building period extending into the eighteenth century no doubt told against it as a place of fashionable residence. In the early eighteenth century the streets east of Swallow Street contained some 'good addresses', from Argyll Street and Great Marlborough Street in the north to Panton Square in the south. Further east, in Poland Street, there were foreign legations which continued into the later eighteenth century. But the proximity of humbler streets and of the various parochial establishments set up here was perhaps becoming more of a deterrent than such juxtapositions had been in the previous century. Lord Burlington's estate attracted westward some former residents in Golden Square and elsewhere, and itself lost something in appeal compared with the streets and squares of Mayfair and Marylebone.
The existence of a pesthouse in the area until the 1730's has already been mentioned. Adjacent to it a burial ground had been established by the parish in 1693 and was extended in 1733. The parish had accommodated its poor in houses in this northern part of the parish in 1688 and in 1725–7 a workhouse was built in a corner of the burial ground, where the poor were housed in lamentable conditions. It was closed in 1742 but re-opened in 1762 and by the 1780's had extended over all the burial ground which was replaced by another in St. Pancras. At about the same period the children from the workhouse were placed in the parish school of industry established in 1782 in Kingly Street.
Other schools connected more or less closely with the parochial authorities were located in the area by this time. Since the late seventeenth century a boys' school had been attached to Tenison's chapel in Kingly Street, and a girls' school, founded by the Rector, Doctor William Wake, in Carnaby Street in 1700, had moved to the Burlington estate in the 1720's. The parish boys' school was moved from St. James's churchyard to Vine Street in the late 1760's. Lewis Maidwell's fashionable private school maintained in Kingly Street for some twenty years from 1687 perhaps detracted less than the others from the residential amenities of the area, but it was succeeded by the less aristocratic riding school of the Fouberts and this by the parish school of industry mentioned above.
The other common adjunct of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century domesticity in London, the chapels of nonconformity, did not proliferate here as much as in some other parts, but for some years around 1700 there were at least five in the area, including three Huguenot churches. One of the latter continued until the late 1760's, and during the eighteenth century there were generally two or more nonconformist chapels here. None of these survives, but one non-Anglican church, the Roman Catholic church in Warwick Street, is a unique survivor of the eighteenth-century churches of that faith in London. It was built in 1789–90 on the site of the chapel of the foreign embassies maintained here since 1724.
The existence of Huguenot churches, like that of the embassy chapel, indicates that a foreign element in this part of St. James's is not of recent date. In the 1690's the newly built Carnaby Street contained houses 'filled with french Protestants' and in 1720 Berwick Street was said to be 'much inhabited by the French'.
A number of artists lived here, some of them foreigners. Among the painters were Verrio, Amiconi, Goupy, Canaletto, Angelica Kauffmann, Paul Sandby, Malton, Blake (who was born in Broadwick Street), Northcote and Haydon. The architects included (in addition to Kent and others who frequented Burlington House) Leoni, Dubois, Matthew Brettingham, Chambers, Samuel Wyatt, the Cockerells, P. F. Robinson and Basevi, as well as a number of more recent architects who lived in Great Marlborough Street. Scheemakers, Sheraton, Paul de Lamerie and Charles Bridgman were others who lived in this area.
Other aspects of the arts had their place here. From an early period the area contained places of public entertainment. A notable early concert hall was in Brewer Street where Hickford's Room, established in 1738, was the scene of some memorable performances: from the 1770's, however, its history was that of the faintly grotesque miscellany of lectures, debates, balls, operettas and rarity-shows popular in late Georgian London. By the last quarter of the eighteenth century a number of other such places of mixed entertainment were established in the area, including the Casino in Great Marlborough Street (c. 1774–1781) and the Great Room in Piccadilly (c. 1778–1817), while the 'Theatre of Anatomy' in Great Marlborough Street (c. 1786–98) and Weeks's Museum in Tichborne Street (1784–1834) were no doubt intended to astonish as well as to instruct.
Finest of all the places of amusement, both in its fashionable fame and in its architecture, was James Wyatt's Pantheon built in 1772 in Oxford Street. It focuses the highly developed decorative taste and the vivid social delights of its period, but in a general account of this area it need only be noted as an episode in the development of metropolitan entertainment. Lord Barrymore's short-lived private theatre in Savile Row was also a fashionable success in the 1790's and was visually pleasing, but no record of its appearance survives. The first Argyll Rooms, in Little Argyll Street (1806–30), similarly promoted by a well born scallywag, seem also to have had some of the decorative distinction still at this time thought appropriate to the pursuit of pleasure.
During the working day the area was at this period, as it still is, a place where objects were made as well as sold, and it has remained on the whole a place where trade is wholesale or in small shops. This is conspicuously untrue of the great artery excluded from consideration in these volumes, but in contrast to the shoppers' streets of Regent Street, Piccadilly and Oxford Street the business of most of this area has been in small manufactories, wholesale or organizational headquarters, or a type of retailing that is neither local nor metropolitan: the fabric has for the most part neither the self-consciously preserved aspect of some of London's wealthier 'villages' nor the magnified masonry of the famous 'shopping' streets that border or traverse it. The part of Oxford Street in St. James's does preserve many of the small frontages of the original sites but the shop-fronts shown in Tallis's views have been almost wholly improved into the visual squalor general on the south side of that street.
Two, rather different, pieces of deliberate design for shopping survive, both from the years, so felicitous for such architecture, around 1815–20. From the same period the minute and splendid contrivances of Savile Place and old Regent Street have disappeared. But the shops of the Newburgh Street-Carnaby Street area still exhibit the unpretentious layout created by the Craven estate to replace the eighteenth-century Carnaby Market, and in the different world west of Regent Street the Burlington Arcade demonstrates the success in speculative and architectural enterprise of Lord George Cavendish and Samuel Ware.
Burlington Arcade is the one materialization of schemes of the Devonshire family for the redevelopment of its Burlington House site. These projects, mostly for fine residential streets, had first been considered about 1770 and were revived in the first decade of the nineteenth century, doubtless to replace the substantial revenue that would cease to be received from the leasehold estate immediately northward in 1809. Some of the proposals would have lessened the rather sombre seclusion of Lord Burlington's streets but would probably not have effected any very radical change in the 'circulation' of this northern part of St. James's. About the same time a similar project for the York House site had been relinquished in favour of the desirable privacy of Albany.
The period when the redevelopment of the Burlington House site was first considered, in the 1770's, had been one when a good deal of the fabric of the area was beginning to revert into the immediate tenure of the estates or families by whom the early eighteenth-century building leases had been granted. This process was very partial and gradual, and it cannot be said that the falling-in of original leases was responsible for any identifiable turn of the fabric towards neglect or renewal. It may be noted, however, that the one deliberate policy of repair that is known to have been pursued had been on Lord Burlington's estate by his heir, the Duke of Devonshire, when leases expired in the 1780's and 1790's. The new leases then granted required a total of some £25,000 to be spent on the houses by lessees despite the short period of head leasehold ownership then remaining to the Devonshires and the diminution of rent that was presumably involved. The motive no doubt arose from the Devonshires' freehold ownership of the adjacent Burlington House with its possibilities for occupation or redevelopment: their residence at Devonshire House also perhaps strengthened an interest in the continuing respectability of this part northward of Piccadilly.
Further east in the area, none of the estate owners seem to have had such reason for close personal interest in the preservation of 'amenity' during or after the term of their proprietorship. Here the history of the fabric in the nineteenth century was one of deterioration. The pressure of a poor semi-industrial population on the Georgian streets and courts gave the area some resemblance to the inner East End; in fabric the two areas are not dissimilar. The causes and changing degrees of relative poverty in this part of St. James's cannot be investigated in these volumes. It was no new phenomenon, but there was a relative increase of the poorer element in the population of this northern area. The tendency of the prosperous tradesmen to move from inner London was felt before the middle years of the nineteenth century in the declining numbers and wealth of the congregation of Tenison's chapel (now St. Thomas's, Kingly Street). The increasing pressure of poverty was greater further east, where it had been exacerbated in the 1830's by the movement into the area of a depressed stratum of London's population displaced by the clearances in St. Giles's parish. By 1833 the St. James's vestry was complaining of the 'uncontroulable turbulance and profligacy' of the inhabitants around Peter Street which deterred 'respectable families' from attending the Berwick Street chapel of ease. (fn. 27)
At that time the vestry wished to remove the chapel to 'a more eligible spot', but the Church Building Commissioners would only support a rebuilding on the same site, and St. Luke's Church was consecrated in 1839, being assigned an ecclesiastical district in 1841. The 1860's saw two other Anglican places of worship established in the area: St. Peter's, Great Windmill Street (consecrated 1861, district assigned 1865), and St. John's, Great Marlborough Street (district formed 1865: temporary accommodation until 1885), while Tenison's chapel was assigned an ecclesiastical district, as St. Thomas's, Kingly Street, in 1869. The creation of these new churches was impeded by difficulty in raising money. The supporters of St. Peter's, Great Windmill Street, found that the aristocratic residents in southern St. James's were willing to subscribe, but that the middle, commercial classes of northern St. James's, often living elsewhere, were uninterested. (fn. 28) The vicar of St. Luke's, Berwick Street, the Rev. Harry Jones, noted the lack of local interest in the new church compared with the continuing local feeling for the early eighteenth-century parishes of East London. Preaching when the congregation consisted very largely of the National School children crowded into the gallery at the west end was like 'addressing a rookery across a field'. (fn. 29)
As the century progressed considerable subdivision of the old houses took place. Some small industrial premises were run up in back yards and narrow courts, but much of the work done here required the internal alteration rather than any extensive replacement of the old fabric. The early nineteenth-century spread of lodging houses and hotels and of the offices of professional men had a similar effect. In Nicholas Nickleby Dickens has celebrated Golden Square's moustachioed musical lodgers and the more mundane diversity of occupation in the neighbourhood in the 1830's:
'In that quarter of London in which Golden Square is situated, there is a by-gone, faded, tumble-down street, with two irregular rows of tall meagre houses which seem to have stared each other out of countenance years ago. The very chimneys appear to have grown dismal and melancholy, from having had nothing better to look at than the chimneys over the way. Their tops are battered, and broken, and blackened with smoke; and here and there some taller stack than the rest, inclining heavily to one side, and toppling over the roof, seems to meditate taking revenge for half a century's neglect, by crushing the inhabitants of the garrets beneath.
'To judge from the size of the houses, they have been at one time tenanted by persons of better condition than their present occupants, but they are now let off by the week in floors or rooms, and every door has almost as many plates or bell-handles as there are apartments within. The windows are for the same reason sufficiently diversified in appearance, being ornamented with every variety of common blind and curtain that can easily be imagined, while every doorway is blocked up and rendered nearly impassable by a motley collection of children and porter pots of all sizes, from the baby in arms and the half-pint pot, to the full-grown girl and half-gallon can.
'In the parlour of one of these houses, which was perhaps a thought dirtier than any of its neighbours; which exhibited more bell-handles, children and porter pots, and caught in all its freshness the first gust of the thick black smoke that poured forth night and day from a large brewery hard by [probably the Lion Brewery in Broad Street], hung a bill announcing that there was yet one room to let within its walls, although on what storey the vacant room could be—regard being had to the outward tokens of many lodgers which the whole front displayed from the mangle in the kitchen-window to the flower-pots on the parapet—it would have been beyond the power of a calculating boy to discover.'
On the Burlington estate lodging houses and hotels for wealthier occupants were increasing in numbers at this period: enough seclusion and respectability remained for this to become in the first half of the nineteenth century also the favoured quarter of successful doctors. Fashionable tailors were already prominent in Sackville Street in the early years of the century and soon became even more notably associated with the streets of the Burlington estate: Savile Row's fame in this connexion seems to date from the 1850's.
By the middle of the century the Berwick Street subdistrict of St. James's was one of the most thickly populated in London. Containing 15 per cent of the area of the parish it had about 30 per cent of the population, at 432 persons per acre. (fn. 30) The old intricate fabric was incapable of sustaining its occupants in decently healthy conditions and the uncoordinated nature of its historical development doubtless worsened the shortcomings of the drainage and sanitary contrivances. In 1854 a particularly serious outbreak of cholera in the Broadwick Street area caused the death of some 700 people, 127 dying in a single day in September. (fn. 31) Most of the old houses still standing between Poland Street and Marshall Street must have been visited by death during the outbreak. In London's history its importance is the substantiation it gave to Doctor John Snow's belief that cholera was water-borne. The reputedly innocuous Broadwick Street pump was found to be a serious source of infection. (fn. 31) It was made unusable, and although the local authorities promptly made it available again (fn. 32) and it remained in use at the time of a later outbreak in 1866, (fn. 33) the implications of Doctor Snow's investigations found general acceptance.
Enquiry into living conditions here during the epidemic needed all the pertinacity possessed by the early collectors of social statistics. The leader of a 'fierce detachment of Irishmen' who rushed upon sanitary investigators in a court off Berwick Street, crying 'I'll have no writing down in my place—I'll have no writing down in my place—not a divil amongst you shall write anything down here' was doubtless moved in part by fear of dispossession from hard-found living space. (fn. 34) One response of the public authorities to the evil conditions was indeed that common throughout the congested parts of inner London, the replacement of decaying houses by blocks of 'artisans' dwellings'. Less was done here than in east or south London, but in the 1850's two blocks were built in Ingestre Place. At the same period the parish vestry was among the first to set up public baths and washhouses.
The old courts and alley-ways where 'in calm weather the stagnation of the street atmosphere must be almost complete' (fn. 34) encouraged crime as well as disease. A number of the culs-de-sac or interconnecting passages shown by Rocque appear also on the Ordnance Survey map of 1870, like that 'hot-bed of disease' and 'nursery of crime', Duck Lane. (fn. 35) Further south, Great Crown Court formed until 1873 a virtual cul-de-sac between Brewer Street and Rupert Street while being also part of the obscure line of communication between Wardour Street and Smith's Court shown by Rocque. In that year an attempt was made by the Metropolitan Board of Works, at the instigation of the vestry, to reduce the criminality of this part of the area and 'cut the cancer right through the middle.' (fn. 36) Rupert Street was opened northward into Brewer Street. But the old property divisions seem partially to have prevailed: the opening was at first only a foot-way; and on the other side of Brewer Street no continuation was effected into Peter Street, which remained a 'disgrace to humanity.' (fn. 37) Ten years later the expiry of leaseholds permitted a more thorough clearance on the south side of Brewer Street, and the erection of St. James's Residences on Crown land by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. The former vicar's ambition to see the old squalid domestic fabric replaced by 'lovely ugly houses in flats' (fn. 38) was thus partially realized. A quite different motive was one also beginning to affect the rebuilding of inner London elsewhere. This was expressed in the determination of the Commissioners' surveyor, Arthur Cates, to supersede 'the absurd arrangement of separate houses of 18 or 20 feet frontage which seems to be the ultimate result of the London builder or tradesmen's ideas'.
Shaftesbury Avenue, constructed by the Metropolitan Board of Works and opened in 1886, is hardly more attractive than the new Brewer Street buildings of that period. It had been authorized in 1877 when the completion of the line of new streets from Shoreditch to Bloomsbury seemed likely to bring more traffic to the West End. Like Charing Cross Road, made at the same time and in the same circumstances, Shaftesbury Avenue was cut through much poor and degenerated property, and the statutory responsibility to find other accommodation for the population displaced from land purchased for the new street was an embarrassment to the Board in the economical performance of the work. The high cost of land combined with the legal restrictions on the Board's power to retain freeholds were further strong deterrents to the acquisition of ground. Many sites fronting on the street were not acquired at all and others were too confined to permit satisfactory redevelopment. The Board's own administrative competence was low, as was the honesty and alertness of some of its officers.
The making of Shaftesbury Avenue destroyed the shape of Piccadilly Circus. The uncompleted story of subsequent attempts to restore some visual harmony here is told in these volumes. The chief obstacle has been the division of ownership, between the Crown estate, the London County Council and private freeholders. The associated rebuilding of Regent Street, effected in the 1920's, was not subject to the same difficulty but was significantly influenced by the unwillingness of the Treasury to permit any risk of diminution to the revenue from the Crown estate.
Shaftesbury Avenue is now a centre of the London Theatre, and the period of its opening saw this southern part of the area acquiring the characteristics of a quarter catering for pleasure-seekers from most parts of the world. The old musical associations of the area had continued throughout the nineteenth century. Music publishers and instrument makers occupied premises here, and from 1858 to 1905 the St. James's Hall was London's principal concert hall. From 1894 Great Marlborough Street contained the Salle Erard (to 1910) and the London College of Music (to the present day). But the 'theatreland' of Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly Circus has few historical links with the amusement places of the early nineteenth century. In 1882 the Trocadero Music Hall was established and by 1889 the Swallow Street Music Hall. Both of these have disappeared but other theatres still surviving appeared about the same time—the London Pavilion in 1885 (succeeding a music hall of the same name) and the Lyric in 1888, followed by the Apollo (1900–1), the Globe and the Queen's (both 1904–7), the Palladium (in 1909, on the site of the Corinthian Bazaar and Hengler's Circus), the Piccadilly Theatre (1928) and the Windmill (1932).
The usage and aspect of the area in these more recent times has been very mixed. Westward of Regent Street a certain quietude is preserved by Albany and by the Royal Academy and learned societies at Burlington House: the old streets are almost wholly turned to subdued if profitable commercial use, containing a number of shops without being obtrusively shopping-streets. East of Regent Street much of the area still exhibits beneath the ephemera of eating-house exoticism the ordinary fabric of eighteenth-century domesticity and nineteenth-century commerce. Some features recall an earlier period. Ham Yard and Smith's Court are recognizable on late seventeenth-century maps; the oblique frontage of Doctor William Hunter's house to Great Windmill Street perhaps carries back to the early seventeenth century; and Kingly Court is noteworthy not only for the unusual galleried form of its industrial layout but for the fact that the open area was probably preserved from building in the seventeenth century to give access to a windmill. The communication of D'Arblay Street with Livonia Street through Portland Mews, like the passage-ways winding down unobtrusively from Oxford Street, can be seen on Rocque's map. In its present form, however, the curious cul-de-sac of Oxford Circus Avenue, though occupying the line of an eighteenth-century stable yard, is of late nineteenth-century date and other parts, particularly some rather mean industrial premises, are not as old as they seem. Some of the area is still given over to small-scale industrial occupation. Activities accessory to the women's clothing trade are very prominent, particularly around Great Marlborough Street. Another daytime feature is the street market in Berwick Street and Rupert Street. Other parts, particularly in and around Golden Square, contain offices of large firms of textile wholesalers or the headquarters of television companies: Wardour Street, celebrated in the nineteenth century for the sale of 'antique' furniture, has been associated with film companies since the period between the wars. Southward, and bordering Regent Street, reconstruction since the end of the nineteenth century, for theatres, hotels and department stores, has made some old streets rather depressingly the backs of other streets. After working hours many are deserted. Others then become animated; but the generally low level of the architecture of pleasure in the last eighty years has given some of these the morning aspect of a late sleeper surprised by the coming of day.
The decline of the residential use of the area is reflected in the removal of the Burlington School to Shepherd's Bush in 1937 and the closure between 1935 and 1953 of three district churches, leaving the curiously hidden-away church of St. Thomas's, Kingly Street (perhaps itself to be demolished), as the only Anglican parish church between Regent Street, Oxford Street, Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue.
Little alteration has been made in recent times to the old street layout. Immediately before and after the 1939–45 war Savile Row was carried northward to Conduit Street but the greatest visual changes have been in the usual replacement of small buildings by larger. The houses on the Argyll estate have disappeared almost completely since the 1920's, while most of the visual distinctiveness of Lord Burlington's estate, including the few buildings of his own designing, has been destroyed, mainly since 1935.
Despite high land values a good deal of the humbler old building does survive in the eastern part of the area, often in poor condition. It may be conjectured that there has been a causal relationship between the unrenovated character of some of the fabric near Wardour Street and the profitable use of premises for various manifestations of commercialized eroticism.
The foregoing section of the general introduction has attempted to show how the area under review came to be built up into a complex pattern, a patchwork composed of a few well laid out estates set in a complexity of small streets, passages and courts. The lack of order in the earlier development is perpetuated in the broken frontages and odd alignment of the streets and courts around Great Windmill Street. Golden Square was the first of the spacious and well planned layouts, followed first by Great Marlborough Street, and later by the Burlington estate.
Nothing survives of pre-eighteenth-century date except the carcase of Burlington House, immured by its Palladian and Victorian exterior, and a few much altered houses in and around Golden Square. Of these No. 24 Golden Square (Plate 123b) can be recognized as a building originally similar to that shown in Plate 122a, which represents a fashionable house once standing on the north side of Broadwick Street, and conforms to a type that must have been fairly common in the better parts of the neighbourhood. It is, in fact, the typical post-Fire house perfected (if that is the right word) by Nicholas Barbon and his associates. Three storeys high and usually three windows wide, these fronts were of stock bricks with fine red bricks used for the storey bandcourses and to dress the openings containing the flush-framed sash windows. The doorway was graced with a pediment, often swan-necked as here, and above the modillioned eaves-cornice of wood rose a roof containing garrets with dormer windows, generally dressed with pediments. The view of Golden Square by Sutton Nicholls (Plate 120b) shows that it was almost completely lined with houses of this standard, and the few exceptions were probably the result of alteration or partial rebuilding. Most of these houses were intended for the aristocracy, the influential and the wealthy. Sutton Nicholls also shows, perhaps less accurately, the streets to the north, east and west of the square, with some four-storeyed houses of a type and size intended for tradesmen and their tenants. Some of these houses survive, although their shoddy fronts have generally been rebuilt. Such a house is No. 41 Beak Street, once tenanted by Canaletto (Plate 131a).
Great Marlborough Street was another fashionable centre, having some of the largest and finest terrace houses in the northern part of the parish. Unfortunately, only one of the more modest houses has survived, No. 12 on the north side (Plate 124b), but records show how spacious and finely carved were the staircases, and how handsomely panelled were the rooms in the greater houses, of which No. 54, built in c. 1710, was probably typical (Plate 142a, figs. 52–3). The layout of this estate is simple but excellent, with the spacious main street lying east-west near the southern boundary, having an unbroken terrace of houses on its south side, and its north side divided about half way by a secondary street extending north and giving access to a double mews parallel with Great Marlborough Street.
Although it has lost most of its finest houses, and has suffered the introduction of some highly incongruous buildings, the Burlington estate is still one of the most interesting elements in the composition of London's West End. Until the 1930's it presented a symposium of early Georgian architectural taste. Although some of the houses were typical of the more conservative house-carpenter, and little different to those being built in neighbouring estates, Burlington's ground was also the exercising field for the rival talents of the neo-Palladians, Campbell, Leoni, and probably Kent and Flitcroft, while their patron and leader, the third Earl of Burlington, himself designed two of the most important houses and possibly a school.
The layout of the streets is simple and not well related to Burlington House, unless it was intended that the return of the west range of Old Burlington Street should form an axial feature, which is most unlikely. Such a layout seems less like the work of an architect than the contrivance of a surveyor or agent anxious to obtain the maximum number of building plots consistent with the character of the estate. The parish map, published in Strype's edition of Stowe in 1720 (Plate 5), appears to anticipate the development for it shows two parallel streets, with houses on both sides, extending northwards from Glasshouse Street (Burlington Gardens) and stopping against an east-west street opening off New Bond Street. Eventually, the two north-south streets materialized as Cork Street and Old Burlington Street, and the east-west street as Clifford Street. The completed development of the estate provided three parallel north-south streets, the middle one being Old Burlington Street. This had houses on both sides, with their gardens extending to the flanking east and west streets, Savile Row and Cork Street, which originally had houses on one side only. Access to these streets was provided by the existing lane at the south end of the estate, and by two streets near the northern boundary. The more important of these, Clifford Street, was entered from New Bond Street, formed a stop to Cork Street, and continuing east across Old Burlington Street was stopped by Savile Row. Another east-west street, New Burlington Street, linked Savile Row to Swallow Street, now absorbed into Regent Street (fig. 78).
There was apparently no attempt to establish a basic unit when leasing the frontages, and there is little evidence of any attempt to impose uniformity of style on the builders until the last stage of the development, Savile Row and New Burlington Street, was undertaken. Elsewhere, the houses vary considerably in their size, quality and style. For one example there is the north side of Clifford Street, where an impressive group of houses, three with fronts of a decidedly Baroque cast, were built near to some small-scaled houses with fronts that are severely plain (fig. 80). The most uniform group of houses (excluding the later Savile Row and New Burlington Street) was at the southern end of the west side of Old Burlington Street, where Colin Campbell combined four houses of differing width behind a simple Palladian front, rather similar to his Rolls House (fig. 92). Immediately north of this group stood the two houses designed by Lord Burlington, No. 30 with its simple but imposing front broken slightly forward from Campbell's front, and No. 29, General Wade's house (Plates 82, 83, 84, 85), having its principal elevation facing west across a garden towards Cork Street, where a handsome gate gave entrance. The question arises whether the curious disposition of these buildings was a deliberate reminiscence of Vicenza, where the Palladian palazzi form no part of any formal scheme but occur as individual elements in the street composition. A few houses to the north of General Wade's had simple Palladian fronts, good but unremarkable, but to the north of Clifford Street the rest of this side consisted of ordinary carpenters' house-fronts. The east side of Old Burlington Street began with the return face of Leoni's Queensberry House (Plates 75, 76, 77) with its garden wall and an arched gateway by Burlington, this being followed by a terrace of handsome but conventional early Georgian houses. No early buildings survive in Cork Street, but the evidence suggests that the houses were conventional and unremarkable. Enough remains of Savile Row, however, to show that to the north of No. 2 it was a perfectly regular terrace in the simple Palladian style generally affected by Flitcroft, and New Burlington Street was very similar, both streets belonging to the last phase of the development in the 1730's. Perhaps the most important feature of the Burlington estate was the closure of each street by a feature—Cork Street by the boldly designed front of No. 8 Clifford Street, Old Burlington Street by the Burlington School with its handsome doorcase, Savile Row by the charming triple-pedimented house so reminiscent of one of the wing buildings at Holkham, and Vigo Lane (now Burlington Gardens) by the formerly pedimented front of No. 1 Savile Row. Even Clifford Street and, probably, New Burlington Street were axially terminated by the obelisk-flanked doorcases of houses in Savile Row. Unfortunately, demolition or alteration has been responsible for the loss of all these effective closing features save for No. 8 Clifford Street, at the north end of Cork Street.
Redevelopment of the estate has meant the demolition of most of the important houses and the school, and the disruption of the uniform terraces. Among the survivors are Nos. 31 and 32 Old Burlington Street, the former having a very fine interior and the least changed front in Campbell's group (Plates 81a, 88, 89). In Clifford Street Nos. 5 and 18 have good standard fronts and excellent staircases (figs. 80–2, 88–90), No. 8 contains a staircase compartment painted in Thornhill's manner (Plates 95, 96, 97), and No. 9 has a hall with a branching staircase of fine quality (figs. 85–7). Several houses survive in Savile Row, Nos. 3 and 14 being outstanding, with excellent internal features (Plates 104, 107).
The street pattern of the area was completed by the 1740's, with the redevelopment after 1718 of part of the Pulteney estate, lying east of Golden Square, the building in the 1730's of Sackville Street, off Piccadilly, the development about 1736 of the Argyll estate, north-west of Great Marlborough Street, and the general rebuilding, about the same time, of the Portland estate, east of Great Marlborough Street. The Pulteney estate east of Golden Square has its crooked spine in Great Pulteney Street, a mixed development of first- and second-rate houses of which several representative examples survive (Plate 125). Behind this street's east side is a street of secondary importance and behind the west side a stable lane. Sackville Street was fashionable, broad and straight with houses of differing sizes and types, all fairly uniform externally. The finest houses, including No. 36 by Flitcroft, were built on the better situated west side. Unfortunately, this handsome street is now in the last stages of a rebuilding that has completely changed its character (Plate 128). The houses of Argyll Street were very uniform with fronts of a severe Palladian character that gave little indication of the splendid decorations often to be found within (Plates 143, 144, 145, 147). Here again, rebuilding has brought about a complete change. The builders working on the Portland estate catered for the less well-to-do, and the houses there were of modest size and rather old fashioned in style. A few typical houses remain in D'Arblay Street (Plate 130a). There can be little doubt that the conservative taste of the average house-carpenter was responsible for the fact that Nos. 48–58 Broadwick Street (Plate 126c), a handsome terrace built in 1722–3, show no trace of the Palladian taste already in evidence nearby.
It is fair to state that the Burlington estate was the nursery of Palladianism, and that the movement was cradled in Burlington House. The mansion itself was refronted in 1719–20 by Colin Campbell, whose work there had been preceded by that of James Gibbs, who also designed the stables and the famous colonnade in the forecourt. Now all that survives to be seen is Campbell's front, altered in 1872–3, and a few interiors of which the saloon is outstandingly important. Even so, Burlington House has been more fortunate than the other great seventeenth-century houses in this area. Immediately east of Burlington House stood Sir Thomas Clarges's house of c. 1670, later Sunderland House, which was replaced in the 1770's by Melbourne House, designed by Sir William Chambers and remodelled in 1802–3 by Henry Holland as the nucleus of Albany (Plates 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119). Adjacent to Sir Thomas Clarges's house was another mansion of the same period, demolished in 1730 to make way for part of Sackville Street. On the Burlington estate, General Wade's and Sir Michael Newton's fine houses in Old Burlington Street (Nos. 29 and 30) were destroyed in the 1930's, but Leoni's Queensberry House survives as part of Uxbridge House, now the Royal Bank of Scotland. The London Palladium in Argyll Street covers the site of Argyll House (Plates 132, 133a), a plain and rambling mansion of the 1730's, noteworthy only for its great library apartment.
At the other end of the scale were the little houses with shops in Foubert's Place, some apparently of early eighteenth-century date. Here and there, in Berwick Street, and until recently in Carnaby Street, a small house was given some stylistic distinction by the use of a Venetian window at first-floor level, but in general the minor houses were very plain. The most orderly of the smaller building schemes dates from the 1820's, centering on Newburgh Street with its uniform terraces of plain but attractive shops and houses, built to replace the old Carnaby Market (Plate 136b, 136c). A few more terrace-house groups were built around the 1850's, for example Nos. 15–21 Lexington Street, whose fronts have the utilitarian simplicity of late Georgian work, but after that time 'flatted' artisans' dwellings became more general. There are some typical examples in this area, all fairly close together, ranging from the very plain No. 7 Ingestre Place of c. 1850 to the forbidding range of St. James's Residences, built in 1883–5 and dominating the south side of Brewer Street (Plate 139).
Early in the nineteenth century it had been proposed to demolish Burlington House to make way for a new private street, a project possibly inspired by Holland's successful conversion of Melbourne House into Albany. This 'Paradise in Piccadilly', with its attractive Ropewalk, has been scrupulously maintained, and now lacks only the charming flavour of chinoiserie originally imparted by Holland's details and colouring. This delightful piece of early nineteenth-century speculation was shortly followed by another, the Burlington Arcade, built in 1818–19 to the design of Samuel Ware to insulate Burlington House from the back of Old Bond Street, and to provide a covered promenade lined with elegant shops, emulating the Palais Royal in Paris (Plate 74).
In 1854 Burlington House was purchased by the Government, whose final decision after much deliberation was to alter and add to the existing house, providing accommodation for the Royal Academy and its schools, for the learned societies, and for London University. These considerable changes of structure and function have given the place a semi-official air, making of it, as might have been expected, a Victorian Somerset House. The architects responsible were R. R. Banks and C. Barry, for the Piccadilly front and court-yard ranges housing the learned societies; Sydney Smirke, for the alterations and addition of exhibition galleries to the old mansion for the Royal Academy; and (Sir) James Pennethorne, for the University building, later the Civil Service Commission, in Burlington Gardens (Plates 54, 55, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73).
Only two churches remain in the area, neither having much of architectural interest. St. Thomas's, in Kingly Street, was built in 1702 as Tenison's Chapel, and may shortly be demolished. It is a galleried meeting-house type of building, with a very plain exterior and a simple classical interior (Plate 10a, 10b, figs. 24–5). The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady, in Warwick Street, was originally the Bavarian Chapel and dates in its present form from 1789–90. The front is plain and almost domestic in character, and the galleried interior is interesting chiefly on account of some decorations by J. F. Bentley (Plates 12c, 13). The demolished churches include St. Luke's, Berwick Street, by Edward Blore (1838–9), St. Peter's, Great Windmill Street, by Raphael Brandon (1860–1), and St. John's, Great Marlborough Street, by (Sir) Arthur Blomfield (1885). Each building was typical of its designer's approach to Gothic architecture (Plates 11, 12b). The only nonconformist chapel worth mentioning here is the former Craven Chapel in Foubert's Place, a large and plain Grecian building now greatly altered for commercial use (fig. 27). The school buildings that remain are likewise few and unimportant. The Pulteney School in Peter Street is a plain early work of E. R. Robson for the London School Board. St. Peter's Schools in Great Windmill Street is a utilitarian Gothic building (Plate 12a), and the former French Protestant School in Noel Street is an insignificant early work of Sir Aston Webb, in brick and terra-cotta.
The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century concert halls of this area have vanished, Hickford's in Brewer Street, the Argyll Rooms in Regent Street, and the St. James's Hall in Piccadilly; all had famous musical associations (Plates 24, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31a). The great architectural loss, however, is the Pantheon, the early masterpiece that raised James Wyatt to the front rank of his profession (Frontispiece, Plates 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23). As a poor compensation the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have contributed the theatres of Shaftesbury Avenue and the London Palladium (Plates 32c, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37). These are of small account architecturally, although the Lyric Theatre does incorporate the much altered front part of Dr. William Hunter's house in Great Windmill Street, designed by Robert Mylne in 1767 (Plate 135).
The cleavage between the north-east and north-west parts of the parish was accentuated by the building of Regent Street in the 1820's, and the ever growing importance of Piccadilly Circus was correspondingly effective in changing the architectural character of its neighbourhood. The first radical change here came with the formation of Shaftesbury Avenue in the 1880's, bringing a rash of tawdry buildings to companion the surviving parts of Nash's elegant design, already mutilated by Pennethorne and others. A more hopeful sign was the building of the Piccadilly Hotel in 1905–8 as the first instalment of a new Quadrant and Circus designed by Norman Shaw. His grand conception was, however, violently criticized by shopkeepers and finally abandoned in favour of a compromise scheme devised by Sir Reginald Blomfield (Plates 148, 149, 150, 151). This, in its turn, has been superseded, with the Quadrant and only the western half of the Circus completed to the Shaw-Blomfield design, and it now seems probable that the eastern half will be remodelled and rebuilt in general conformity with Sir William Holford's proposals, which include Venetian echoes in the 'campanile' for electric signs, and the raised piazza where Gilbert's Eros is to preside.
Apart from the Quadrant, the twentieth-century buildings in the area are more remarkable for size than distinction. Glazed terra-cotta, whether white or coloured, is at best an unyielding material, and its use adds to the hard and commonplace character of the large hotels and restaurants near the Circus. Equally commonplace are most of the commercial buildings that now line Great Marlborough Street and Golden Square, although the latter has at least one distinguished building in Nos. 34–36, by Leonard Stokes (Plate 141c). The large new blocks at the north end of Savile Row are of a better quality, but too diverse in style, and the area has at least one good modern building, with suavely detailed marble-plated fronts to Cork Street and Old Burlington Street, by Gollins, Melvin and Ward. At the south end of Berwick Street is a tall block of commercial and residential accommodation, soon to be echoed by a similar tower at the west end of Broadwick Street.