Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1966.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
Nos. 27–28 Soho Square: Nascreno House
This office block (fig. 6) was erected in 1937–8 to the designs of the architects Douglas and J. D. Wood. (fn. 1) It is a straightforward brick-faced building of five main storeys with three more stepped back above. The windows are of horizontal proportions with plain artificial stone surrounds.
Nascreno House occupies the site of two former houses, Nos. 27 and 28 Soho Square. The latter had been erected in 1773–5 on the eastern part of the site of Monmouth House and is described on page 113.
In June 1684 Cadogan Thomas, to whom Frith and Pym had evidently leased this site, sublet the house, still unfinished, to Gerrard Wayman or Weyman, a Dutch merchant trading in London. (fn. 2) In 1691 he in turn sub-let it for three years to Charles, Viscount Granville of Lansdown, later Earl of Bath, at a rent of £170 per annum. Granville was not satisfied with the house as he found it and spent £125 of his own money there, which his landlord refused to refund. He then left at Lady Day 1692 without paying half a year's rent. Wayman sued him in the Court of Common Pleas, but in June 1694 Granville brought a counter-suit in the Court of Chancery in which he complained 'That One Gerrard Wayman haveing a New built house within the Parish of Saint Anns in the County of Middlesex and wanting a Tenant for the same takeing notice that your Orator was newly Married Recommended the said House to your Orator as fit for his Habitation, that your Orator upon Veiwe thereof found many defects therein and alsoe the Roomes and parts of the house and Garden very disadvantageously contrived insomuch that your Orator disliked the same, but the said Gerrard Wayman being a Dutchman and your Orators then wife a lady of that Country, hee the said Gerrard Wayman pretending great Honour for her, declared that if your Orator would become his Tenant hee would submit to what Alteracons, Repaires, Beautifyings or Embellishings your Orator and his wife should thinke fitt to make and that hee would allow for the same out of your Orators Rent'. (fn. 3)
Charles Howard, third Earl of Carlisle, was living here in 1693. (fn. 4) Some time before 1700 the staircase ceiling in this house was painted by the decorative artist Henry Cooke and his partner, a house painter. According to George Vertue 'this Ceiling Sir Godfrey Copley saw by Mr. Luttrells recommendation which pleased him so well that he Engag'd Mr. Cook to paint for him at his house in Yorkshire which he was then Building and agreed with Mr. Cook for 150 pounds and then paid him down five guineas as earnest because the place was not yet ready for him to work'. (fn. 5)
Other inhabitants include Henry Yelverton, Viscount de Longueville, who was living here in 1703; Other Windsor, second Earl of Plymouth, who later lived at No. 34, 1710–11; Paul Docminique of Gatton, Surrey, esquire, 1712–14; Charles Bennet, first Earl of Tankerville, who had previously lived at No. 30, 1715; John Cochrane, fourth Earl of Dundonald, one of the Scottish representative peers, 1716–20, and Lord Fitzwilliam (i.e., either Richard, fifth Viscount Fitzwilliam, or John, second Earl Fitzwilliam), 1721. (fn. 4)
In 1723 the house was taken by another decorative artist, Herman Vander Mijn, a Dutchman said by Vertue to be 'a very Laborious neat painter' of portraits and life-size historical studies; but who according to Bryan's Dictionary of Painters carried 'minuteness to excess'. He lived at No. 27 for five years but 'his affairs did not answer and put him under difficulties to support the character and a great house in Soho Square' and in 1728 he gave up the house. (fn. 6)
Later occupants of the house include William Bradshaw, the prominent upholsterer and tapestry maker, 1732–47; Arthur St. Leger, third Viscount Doneraile, 1748–50; John Howe, second Baron Chedworth, 1752–5; Sir Francis Knollys, first baronet, M.P., 1757–72, and Lady Knollys, his widow, 1772–91. (fn. 4)
By 1790 the house had been subdivided into two separate dwellings which in 1791 or more probably 1794 appear to have been rebuilt by Richard Pace, builder and architect of Lechlade in Gloucestershire, for Robert Hervey Gage or Gedge, linen draper. (fn. 7)
In 1803 the house 'at the north-west corner of Greek Street, being the house on that side the street nearest Soho Square' (i.e., part of the rebuilt No. 27 Soho Square) provided a temporary refuge for Thomas De Ouincey. Although the house appears to have been rebuilt some ten years previously, De Quincey described it as having 'an unhappy countenance of gloom and un-social fretfulness, due in reality to the long neglect of painting, cleansing, and in some instances of repairing'. In 1821, when he was again passing the house, he saw that it was cleaner and less gloomy and 'in the occupation of some family, apparently respectable'. (fn. 8) According to the ratebooks, Joseph Gandy, the architect, lived in this portion of No. 27 fronting on to Greek Street from 1812 to 1824.