Survey of London: Volumes 31 and 32, St James Westminster, Part 2. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1963.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
No. 1 Golden Square
This corner site was one of the last to be developed in Golden Square. (fn. 2) On the partition of Gelding Close in 1675, it had formed part of the moiety allotted to Isaac Symball (fig. 18) but was still vacant at his death in 1695. In June 1697 the freehold of this site, of the adjoining sites of Nos. 2–4 Golden Square and of all the land on the east side of what is now Upper James Street, were sold by Symball's widow and son to Stephen Quynes of St. Martin's, tailor. (fn. 3) At some time in or before 1705/6 the latter granted a sixty-oneyear lease of the site of No. 1, probably to either Archibald Hutchinson or Thomas Jones, (fn. 4) the latter being described as of Jermyn Street, bricklayer. (fn. 5)
The house was first rated in 1706. Lord Mordaunt was then the occupant but could not have spent much time in the new house. He was with Marlborough's army in the Low Countries until June 1706 and spent only a few months in England before being sent to serve in Spain. In 1707 the house was taken by the fourth Lord Byron, who had recently married. He moved out within a few years, to be followed for another short period by Lady Brownlow. (fn. 6) (fn. 1)
In October 1709 the land which Stephen Quynes had bought in 1697, with No. 1 Golden Square and seven other newly built houses (together worth £55 10s. per annum) were sold by his widow and children for £1276 10s. to the parish vestry of St. Sepulchre's, Holborn, to which Richard Reeve had left a bequest for the education of the poor. Since that date Nos. 1–4 Golden Square and the adjoining houses on the east side of Upper James Street have formed part of the estate of Reeve's Foundation, which now provides scholarships for the children of St. Sepulchre's parish. (fn. 7)
Later occupants of No. 1 include William Talbot, Bishop of Salisbury (1716–21), Sir Francis St. John (1751–6) and his son-in-law Sir John Barnard or Bernard (1757). (fn. 6)
There is little indication that the house erected at the beginning of the eighteenth century was ever radically altered or rebuilt until 1927. From 1794 to 1861 the house was occupied by the well known firm of harpsichord and piano makers founded by William Stoddart. In 1795 he patented the upright piano and became one of Broad wood's most substantial competitors, 'with a new mechanism which combined the utility of a bookcase with the musical use of this odd piece of furniture'. (fn. 8)
After 1861 the house was used as a plate-glass warehouse and by various commercial firms, who in 1910 employed seventy-two persons there. In October 1913 the building was badly damaged by fire. (fn. 9) It was demolished in 1927 and the present building erected to the designs of R. H. Kerr and Son. (fn. 10)
No. 2 Golden Square
This site formed part of the parcel of vacant land which was sold by Isaac Symball's widow and son to Stephen Quynes in June 1697 and which was acquired by Reeve's Foundation in 1709 (see above). Between March 1699 (?/1700) and September 1701 Quynes leased the then vacant sites of Nos. 2–4 to Thomas Jones of Jermyn Street, bricklayer, for sixty-one years. By January 1701/2 'three large handsome houses' had been erected there and of these No. 2 was finished and occupied by 1702. (fn. 11)
The first occupant was Charles May, followed later by Lady Southcott (1705–7), Colonel Montague (1711, 1731–7), General Sir Charles Wills (1711–30) and Lady Fleming (1740). (fn. 12) The house was occupied by a firm of army agents from 1772 to 1823 and from 1824 to 1829 by Charles Pettit, a builder, possibly the C. A. Pettit who exhibited a 'Design for a Prison' at the Royal Academy in 1814. (fn. 13) The house was later occupied by a jeweller and from 1846 to 1912 as an hotel. (fn. 14)
The original house does not seem to have been rebuilt until the early twentieth century, but the ratebooks record a substantial increase in the asssessment of the house in 1760–1. In 1913 the house was demolished and on the vacant site of this and of the adjoining No. 3 (where the house had also been pulled down) the present building was erected to the designs of R. H. Kerr. The builders were C. F. Kearly Ltd., of Great Marlborough Street. (fn. 15) The building is now called Grafton House, possibly through the delusion that one of the earlier houses on this site had been the residence of the second Duke of Grafton. The Duke does not seem to have lived in Golden Square, though he did take No. 7 for the use of his grandmother in 1705.
No. 3 Golden Square
This site also formed part of the parcel of vacant land which was sold by Isaac Symball's heirs to Stephen Quynes in 1697 and which was acquired by Reeve's Foundation in 1709 (see above). Between March 1699 (?/1700) and September 1701 Quynes leased it for sixty-one years to Thomas Jones, the bricklayer who also built the adjoining Nos. 2 and 4. (fn. 16) The house was first occupied in 1702 by Colonel Leppell, who lived here until 1711. Sir John Norris (1732–40), Lady Jekyll (1742–4) and Sir Edward Hulse (1745–56) were among the later inhabitants of note. (fn. 17)
The ratebooks show that the original house was rebuilt in 1762–3. Later occupants were less distinguished, although General Lord Adam Gordon, who had earlier occupied No. 27, lived there for a year in 1788. The house was occupied by a surgeon at the beginning of the nineteenth century and from 1841 to 1861 was used as a girls' school. It then became an 'Italian Hotel' until 1867, and later served as offices for miscellaneous commercial firms and as an annexe to an hotel at No. 2. (fn. 18)
The house was demolished in 1913. This and the adjoining site of No. 2 were then amalgamated for the erection of the present office building, designed by R. H. Kerr. (fn. 19)
No. 4 Golden Square
This site was the most southerly of those on the east side of Golden Square which were allotted to Isaac Symball by the partition of 1675 (fig. 18). It was sold by his heirs in June 1697 to Stephen Quynes and was acquired by Reeve's Foundation in 1709 (see above). Between March 1699 (?/1700) and September 1701 Quynes leased it for sixty-one years to Thomas Jones, the lessee of Nos. 2 and 3. (fn. 20) John Vernon (1700–2) was the first occupant, and was succeeded by Lady Mallard (1704–11). Later occupants include Lady Ayton (or Eylton) (1716–24), Lieutenant-General Mackay (1778–9) and Edward Ford, surgeon (1791–1809). (fn. 2) The latter had an interest in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, which may account for his son, Richard Ford, becoming the first protector of the actress Mrs. Jordan, later the mistress of the future William IV. The two daughters born of this early connexion were established by their mother in 1805 at No. 30, a house immediately opposite that of their grandfather, Edward Ford. Meanwhile their father Richard had been awarded a knighthood and appointed a chief magistrate at Bow Street. (fn. 21)
Thomas Copeland, Edward Ford's nephew and successor in medical practice, continued to live at No. 4 until 1842, when the house was divided between various commercial tenants and lodgers. (fn. 22) No rebuilding is known to have taken place until 1935, when the original house was demolished to make way for the present shop and office block, erected to the designs of Brian L. Sutcliffe. (fn. 23)
No. 5 Golden Square
This site was the most northerly of those on the east side of Golden Square which were allotted to James Axtell by the partition of 1675 (fig. 18). As part of the agreement of February 1683/4 with Martha Axtell, Francis Batten, citizen and leatherseller, undertook the development of (among others) the sites of Nos. 5–12. The first house was built there by 1699, Isaac Tyrritt (Terwhitt) being the builder (fn. 24) and John Pershall the first occupant (1699–1700). Lady Lome was living there in 1702 and from 1704 to 1743 the house was occupied in turn by three generations of one family—Colonel John Wyndham (1704–25), his son-in-law Sir Edward Knatchbull, the politician (1726–30), and his grandson Sir Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham (1731–43), who then moved to No. 7 Golden Square. Lady Lequesne lived there from 1743 to 1746. (fn. 25)
In the nineteenth century the house was occupied by solicitors and by 1855 by a firm of jewellers. It was rebuilt in 1894 to the designs of A. J. Bolton as a northern extension to the office and warehouse block at No. 6. (fn. 26)
No. 6 Golden Square
In August 1684 Martha Axtell (acting for her daughters and together with Francis Batten who had undertaken the development of their property on this side of Golden Square) leased this site to Richard Naylor of St. Martin's, gentleman. The lease was for fifty-one years at a peppercorn rent for the first year and thereafter at a rent of £4 7s. 6d. per annum. Although it is likely that Naylor began erecting a house there in the first year of his lease to secure the peppercorn advantage, he did not re-assign the premises until 1693 (to Richard Hutchinson of St. James's, gentleman), by which time a 'large messuage' had been built. (fn. 27) The house was not occupied until 1698. (fn. 2)
The first resident was Lady Cartwright (1698–1711), followed by Colonel Armstrong (1716–21) and Sir Thomas Hales (1723–31). From 1732 to 1737 the house was the Russian legation and the residence of the Tsarina's minister Prince Cantemir. (fn. 28) William Wyndham, the statesman, is said to have been born in the house in May 1750, though according to the parish ratebooks Miles Nightingale was then the occupant. (fn. 29)
The ratebooks state that in 1780 the house was rebuilt. An old photograph in the possession of Messrs. Pendle and Rivett of No. 19 Golden Square shows that the front was in the urbane style associated with such architects as Thomas Leverton and John Johnson (Plate 134c). Four storeys high and three windows wide, it was a simple and dignified design with the plain rectangular openings carefully proportioned to the storeys. Built in stock bricks, ornament was restricted to the Coade rustics and keystone of the round-arched doorway, the plain first-floor bandcourse, the continuous sill-bands below the windows, and the fluted cornice below the attic.
In the nineteenth century the house was used as an hotel or lodging house and later by a firm of bagmakers. In 1881 the building was incorporated into a new office and warehouse block, parts of the back premises and the ceiling of the ground-floor front room (dating from the rebuilding of 1780) being retained. This work was undertaken by the building firm of Caroline Hatfield and Son of King (now Kingly) Street. (fn. 30)
The eighteenth-century ceiling is delicately decorated in low relief, with a trophy of thyrsi and an urn within an oval, set in the centre of a concave-sided lozenge filled with scrolled branches (Plate 146c). This lozenge impinges on a large oval frame, forming vesica-shapes each containing a motif of crossed shepherds' crooks with a wreath. Scrolled branches extend centrally and diagonally from the large oval frame.
No. 7 Golden Square
In September 1684 this site was leased by Martha Axtell (acting for her daughters) to Francis Batten for fifty-one years, at a peppercorn rent for the first year and at £5 4s. per annum for the remainder of the lease. Batten was one of the four 'undertakers' interested in the development of the Axtell family's moiety of Gelding Close and built a house on the vacant plot. In January 1685/6 he borrowed £200 from Elizabeth Carew on a mortgage of the premises. Shortly afterwards he was confined for debt in the King's Bench prison where, so he claimed, the marshall, Thomas Cook, of the Inner Temple, gentleman, obtained from him the equity of redemption of this mortgage and also forced from him a bond of £60, on pain of being confined a close prisoner. (fn. 31) The house was first occupied in 1694, by George Herlakenden of Woodchurch, Kent, esquire. (fn. 32)
From 1705 to 1707 the house was hired by Charles Fitzroy, second Duke of Grafton, and occupied by his grandmother, Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland. (fn. 33) Later occupants include Brigadier Gore (1717–31), Henry Worsley, the former Governor of Barbados (1732–7), who moved on to a newer and more fashionable house in New Burlington Street, Sir Wyndham Knatchbull-Wyndham (1743–9), who had lived at No. 5, Miss Knatchbull (1750–5), Lady Mary Scott (1763–78) and Sir Thomas Rich (1783–5). A substantial increase in the rateable value of the house in 1761–2 suggests that some rebuilding may have taken place then. (fn. 34)
For most of the nineteenth century the house was occupied by a succession of solicitors until 1903, when it was demolished and rebuilt in the following year as an extension to No. 6 adjoining, (fn. 18) to the designs of L. V. Hunt of Queen Street, E.C. (fn. 35)
The photograph of No. 6 mentioned above (Plate 134c) also shows part of No. 7 before the rebuilding of 1903–4. Its front had previously been rebuilt in the early 1760's to a simple late Palladian design in brick, with bandcourses of stone or stucco forming sills to the plain rectangular openings of the first- and second-floor windows, and a block cornice below the attic storey.
No. 8 Golden Square
The erection of the first house on this site was begun by Francis Batten, one of the four 'undertakers' interested in the development of the Axtells' moiety of Gelding Close, and completed by his mortgagee. The site was leased by Martha Axtell (acting on behalf of her daughters) to Batten in September 1684 for fifty-one years, at a peppercorn rent for the first year and then £5 per annum. Batten started building but in March 1685/6 he mortgaged the uncompleted house to Arthur Johnson, of St. James's, brickmaker, who had probably not been paid for his materials for the house. He in turn assigned the mortgage to William Sherwin of Gray's Inn, gentleman, who with Thomas Cook, another mortgagee of Batten, completed the house by 1691. (fn. 36)
Lord Kingston (1691–3) appears to have been the first occupant. After his death his widow retained the house and died there in 1698. Later inhabitants include Edward Jones, Bishop of St. Asaph (1702), John Evans, Bishop of Bangor (1703–11), Lord Guernsey (1716–18), Captain William Burrows (1723–35), Colonel Shute (1736), the deist Henry Dodwell (1747–84), who probably died there, and Andrew Plimmer (1794– 1805), the miniature painter who had previously lived at No. 28. (fn. 37) In the nineteenth century the house was occupied successively by a doctor, a solicitor and by various firms of tailors. (fn. 18)
The late seventeenth-century house (which does not seem to have been much altered) was rebuilt in 1925, when two further storeys were added and the back portion rebuilt. E. Keynes Purchase and Roland Welch were the architects. (fn. 38)
No. 9 Golden Square
The site of this house was in that part of the Axtells' moiety of Gelding Close which Francis Batten undertook to develop, but it is not known whether the lease, which was probably granted by Martha Axtell in the autumn of 1684 for fifty-one years, was to Batten or his nominee.
Corbett Henn (1689–94), and later his widow Dame Mary Beckford (1695), were the first occupants. (fn. 39) In November 1691 Henn made a successful application to the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers to be reimbursed for the money which he had laid out in making a sewer to his house in Golden Square from the common sewer in Lower James Street. Two of his neighbours had to pay him a total of £7 6s. 3d. for joining their drains to his new sewer. (fn. 40) Lady Stapleton was living here in 1702 and from 1704 to 1792 the house was successively occupied by four generations of one family—Lady Read(e) (1704–21), her sons Colonel George Read(e) (1723–42) and Sir Thomas Read(e) (1743–52), her grandson Sir John Read(e) (1763–73) and great-grandson Sir John Read(e) (1774–7), as well as the latter's mother Lady Read(e) (1778–92). From 1806 to 1895 the house was used by Messrs. Broadwood, the piano makers of Great Pulteney Street, as a warehouse. (fn. 18)
In 1923 the house was rebuilt as an office and warehouse block, some of the existing walls being retained. The firm of Norton, Trist and Gilbert of Cheapside, surveyors, may have been responsible for the design. (fn. 41)
No. 10 Golden Square
As in the case of No. 9, the site of this house was in that part of the Axtells' moiety of Gelding Close which Francis Batten undertook to develop, but it is not known whether the lease, which was probably granted by Martha Axtell in the autumn of 1684 for fifty-one years, was to Batten or his nominee.
William (or Richard) Dawson was the first occupant. In 1691 he was ordered to pay £5 19s. 2d. to his neighbour Corbett Henn at No. 9 for the cost of making a sewer from Lower James Street. (fn. 40) Lady Susanna Lort (1702–11), (Sir) Gilbert Elliot (1751–6, 1759–67) the statesman, philosopher and poet who lived at No. 20 in the intervening years, and Sir Hanson Barnard (1757–8) were among later occupants. (fn. 29) In the nineteenth century the house was occupied by a surgeon, then by a solicitor and from 1846 to 1858 it was used as an hotel. Baptiste Bertrand, a celebrated fencing master of the day, used part of the house as a school of arms from 1862 to 1869. The school was then known as the Salle Bertrand and became the premier fencing academy in England, producing a remarkable revival of interest in the art of the foil in late Victorian England. (fn. 42) From 1874 to 1879 the house was occupied by a French Protestant school.
No. 11 Golden Square
The site of this house was in that part of the Axtells' moiety of Gelding Close which Francis Batten undertook to develop, but the fifty-oneyear lease which Martha Axtell granted in August 1684 was to Batten's nominee, William Pye of St. Martin's, carpenter, the rent being a peppercorn for the first year, and thereafter £5 8s. per annum. A covenant was inserted in the lease binding William Pye to build a dwelling house on the site 'uniform in front and answerable in the building thereof to a messuage of Andrew Laurence fronting the Square'—i.e. to No. 23, which was built in the same year. Pye started building soon afterwards and in March 1684/5 he borrowed £300 from Arthur Johnson of St. James's, brickmaker, in order to finish the house. Johnson had presumably supplied materials for the house, as in the case of No. 8, where he had also advanced money to the principal builder on mortgage. The money secured on No. 11 was not repaid and Johnson obtained possession of the new house, which was said to be worth £800, but which had not been sold although 'several chapmen' had made offers for it. In 1689 the house was let to Lady Montjoy (Mountjoy) for £40 per annum. (fn. 45)
Lady Montjoy's successor in the house, John Dives or his landlord Arthur Johnson, was ordered to pay £1 7s. 1d. to his neighbour Corbett Henn at No. 9 for the cost of making a sewer from Lower James Street. (fn. 40) A later occupant of note was Viscount Blundell (1711–34).
In 1759 the ratebooks record 'a new backhouse built', and in 1778 the whole house was 'pulled down' and rebuilt. (fn. 2) From 1802 to 1812 it was occupied by Rice Jones, a piano maker who advertised himself as 'Upright, Grand and Square Piano-forte Maker to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales'. (fn. 46) Rice Jones appears also to have traded as a coal-merchant and it is under this calling that he appears in the directories for these years. Thereafter the house was chiefly in commercial occupation, a firm of cleaners and dyers occupying part from 1819 to 1927. (fn. 18) The whole house is now occupied by a firm of solicitors.
In 1954 the front wall of the house was discovered to be in poor structural condition. It was then rebuilt, with a stone cornice and decorated stringcourse of the same pattern as those of the former façade. Gordon Jeeves was the architect for these alterations. (fn. 47)
The front rebuilt in 1954 is a reasonably faithful copy of the original (Plate 134a, figs. 19, 20). Built in stock bricks, it is four storeys high and three windows wide, the sashes being recessed in plain openings proportioned to the storeys, with flat arches of gauged bricks, stone sills, and plastered reveals. The ground storey is finished with a bandcourse decorated with oval paterae between fluting, a plain sill underlines the firstfloor windows, and between the second- and thirdfloor windows is a frieze of circular paterae between fluting, and a cornice of narrow girth. These decorative features are of artificial stone, probably Coade, as is the doorcase, on the left of the two ground-floor windows. This doorcase is an unusual design in the Adam-Wyatt manner. The six-panelled door and plain fanlight are recessed in a tall straight-headed opening, flanked by pilasters of the same height as the door, decorated with guilloche ornament in the shaft panels and having fluted capitals. Above each pilaster is an attenuated frieze-block, decorated with a pedestal and an urn from which sprouts an anthemion. Flanking the pilasters are plain jambs, those inside wider than those outside, finished with an architrave which is continued to form the transom between the door and fanlight. Above each outer jamb is part of a concave-profiled altar, dressed with a ram's head and a curling leaf, and the frieze over the fanlight is ornamented with a lyre between husk garlands, festooned below paterae. A dentilled cornice, with the bed-mouldings returned round the frieze-blocks, finishes this doorcase.
The interior of the house is planned on orthodox lines (figs. 19, 20), with an entrance passage on the north side of the front room, leading to the staircase which is beside a back room with a canted bay containing, between a window and a fireplace, a door to the wing room. The stair, which rises and returns in equal flights separated by a narrow well, is of wooden construction with cut strings on which are planted the shaped bracket returns of the risers. The railing, however, is of wrought iron, with scrolled S-balusters between paired vertical bars. The ground- and first-floor rooms have dadoes with enriched rails, and delicately detailed cornices, some with narrow friezes, surround the ceilings. In the ground-floor front room the walls are decorated with raised mouldings, forming large panels, and on the chimneybreast is a plaster decoration composed of a medallion modelled with a vestal virgin feeding oil to a lamp on a pedestal, the medallion being framed by an oval wreath of corn and poppies, and placed between vertical branches that rise from foliated scroll-work (Plate 147e). The plain but elegant chimneypiece is of white and coloured marbles. Between the front and back rooms is a glazed screen with a door and a radial fanlight above it, apparently made up of late eighteenthcentury material.
The first-floor front room has an ornamental plaster ceiling, with a central medallion (of Poseidon and Amphitryte?) ringed with fan ornament and set in a circular panel (Plate 146d). Around this are festoons and pendants of husks, and in each corner of the ceiling is an oval medallion modelled with a female figure, set in a wreath of crossed olive branches from which foliage scrolls extend. The two doorways in this room are furnished with six-panelled doors of mahogany, set in doorcases of architrave, anthemion ornamented frieze, and enriched dentilled cornice. The very fine chimneypiece, imported from another house in the square, is of wood and composition, and has a narrow enriched architrave framing the marble slips, flanked by half-pilasters with tapered shafts and fluted concave shoulders below the Ionic capitals (Plate 147d). The fluted architrave and festooned frieze are broken by a central tablet with griffins flanking an urn on a pedestal, and the cornice-shelf has dentils and a cavetto enriched with paterae and fluting. There are good chimneypieces of wood and composition in the first-floor back room and the second-floor front room, the former having a griffin-and-urn tablet.
No. 12 Golden Square
The site of this house was in that part of the Axtells' moiety of Gelding Close which Francis Batten undertook to develop, but the fifty-one-year lease of this site and of the ground on the northern half of the east side of Lower James Street which Martha Axtell granted in July 1684 was to John James and Abraham Bridle. (fn. 48)
The Widow Finch (1689–90) was probably the first occupant. Dr. Sydenham, probably William Sydenham the son of the more famous Dr. Thomas Sydenham, also appears to have lived here in 1694–5. He was later followed by the fifth Earl of Salisbury from 1716 to 1723, and Dr. (William) Hollings, the physician, from 1726 to 1728. The house was probably put to commercial use as early as 1777, when it was taken by John Jack, tailor. This connexion with the cloth trade, the earliest of any house in Golden Square, persisted through the nineteenth century to the present day, though parts of the house were let off at various times to a surgeon and later to a hairdresser. (fn. 18)
In 1925 the early eighteenth-century house, which does not seem to have been greatly altered, was demolished for the erection of the present office and warehouse building, of which Gervase Bailey was the architect. (fn. 49)