Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1966.
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Upper St. Martin's Lane and Cranbourn Street Area: Salisbury Estate
The Salisbury estate on the west side of St. Martin's Lane and Upper St. Martin's Lane (fig. 79) consisted of three adjoining closes of land, all part of the great field known as St. Martin's Field (Plate 1a). It is possible to trace the boundaries of these closes on the Ordnance Survey map of 1869–74 (Plate 6), but many of them have since been obliterated by the construction of the Charing Cross Road.
All three closes were bought by Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, in 1609 and 1610, and subsequently all three were called Swan Close. A plan of the estate made in 1609 is reproduced on fig. 80. The name Swan Close had previously applied to only one of the three closes, that bounded on the east by St. Martin's Lane and Upper St. Martin's Lane, (fn. 1) on the south by the backs of the houses on the north side of Cecil Court, and on the west partly by Castle Street. This, the original Swan Close, had been purchased by Henry VIII from John Digby at some time between 1535 (fn. 17) and 1547, and was let as two acres of land belonging to the Swan Inn. It was sold by Queen Mary in 1554 to John Best and John Grene (fn. 18) and descended by inheritance and purchase (fn. 19) to John Kyme and William Mynterne (Minterne) in right of their wives, daughters of Richard Nightingale. In 1610 Kyme and Mynterne sold their respective moieties of Swan Close to Lord Salisbury. (fn. 20)
By the same conveyance of 1610 Salisbury also bought from Kyme and Mynterne the second of the three closes. (fn. 20) This lay to the west of the first close and its north and south boundaries are now marked by Newport Court (approximately) and Bear Street. (fn. 2) It was said to contain 3 acres 3 roods and 35 perches, (fn. 21) and this acreage is marked on the plan of 1609. Its earlier history is obscure, but at the time of Lord Salisbury's purchase in 1610 both closes were in the occupation of William Colbeche. (fn. 22)
The third of the three closes comprising the Salisbury estate was bounded on the north by the backs of the houses on the north side of Cecil Court, on the east by St. Martin's Lane and on the south by Hemmings Row. It was part of the five acres formerly called Beaumont's lands (see page 416), and was purchased in 1609 by Lord Salisbury from Sir Henry Maynard, (fn. 23) who had been secretary to Lord Salisbury's father, William Cecil, Lord Burghley. It was then described as the Two Acres Close and is marked on the plan of 1609 as containing 2 acres, 2 roods and 12 perches.
About half of the Salisbury estate was included in the new parish of St. Anne in 1686. The rest remained in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, and has been described in Survey of London, volume XX.
The Earl of Salisbury at once began to develop his new estate, and in November 1610 he agreed to lease land with a frontage of 759 feet to St. Martin's Lane to Francis Carter of London, carpenter. (fn. 24) In 1625, when a considerable amount of building had taken place, a dispute arose over the Earl of Salisbury's title to the moiety of the two closes which he had purchased from William Mynterne. The purchase of John Kyme's moiety of the closes had presented no legal difficulties, and the first Earl had bought it outright for £200. (fn. 25) But Mynterne's moiety had already been settled on William Mynterne's daughter Elizabeth, who had married Francis Leigh, son of Sir Oliphe Leigh of Addington. (fn. 26) The conveyance of this moiety had been made to the first Earl of Salisbury despite the fact that Elizabeth and Francis, to whom it rightfully belonged, were both minors. (fn. 27) According to Mynterne (whose word seems to have been supported by the second Earl's own legal advisers in 1627) (fn. 28) the first Earl had taken possession and built upon the land, but had paid nothing for it, knowing that the conveyance was not good in law, and that Mynterne could give him no indemnity form claimants. (fn. 27) Not unnaturally, Francis Leigh and his son Wolleigh Leigh, in 1625, and Sir Thomas Leigh, Francis's grandson, in 1662, attempted to obtain some recompense for their alienated inheritance and in 1677 James, third Earl of Salisbury, was forced to buy out Sir Thomas Leigh's interest for £2,000. (fn. 29)
Soon afterwards the Salisburys began the development of the western part of the estate, and Castle Street, Bear Street, Cranbourn Alley, Cranbourn Passage and Cranbourn Street were all laid out. The development of the area was completed with the building of Ryder's Court (now Leicester Court) in the 1690's.
In 1843 the second Marquess of Salisbury sold ground on the west side of Upper St. Martin's Lane and the south side of Cranbourn Street to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for the widening of both streets and the eastward extension of Cranbourn Street (fig. 81 on page 353), and in the 1880's, the third Marquess sold ground on the west side of Castle Street to the Metropolitan Board of Works for the construction of the Charing Cross Road (fig. 73 on page 298). Much of the area described in this chapter is now the property of the Salisbury Settled Estates.
Upper St. Martin's Lane
St. Martin's Lane is a highway of immemorial antiquity leading northward from Charing Cross and the Church of St. Martin in the Fields to Long Acre. There this highway turned north-westward along the modern West Street to the site of Cambridge Circus where it divided, two branches leading northward to St. Giles's. These roads are marked on the plan of 1585 (Plate 1a). Only the ground on the west side of St. Martin's Lane to the north of Great Newport Street formed part of the parish of St. Anne.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the ratebooks refer to this northern part of the lane as Cock Lane, a name which was evidently derived from the Cock and Pye Inn near its northern end. (fn. 30) Horwood's map (Plate 5) marks it as Little St. Martin's Lane and the Ordnance Survey map of 1869–74 (Plate 6) gives its modern name, Upper St. Martin's Lane. In 1843–6 the street was widened by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests, who set back the line of frontage of the west side (see fig. 81).
All of the ground on the west side of Upper St. Martin's Lane was included in a lease granted on 1 March 1612/13 by William, second Earl of Salisbury, to John Waller of I field, Sussex, yeoman, who in 1619 was described as 'late servant' to the Earl. (fn. 31) In 1650 Lord Salisbury bought from Waller's heirs the remainder of the forty-year term which he had granted in 1612/ 13, (fn. 32) and by two leases dated April 1653 and 18 December 1657 he let all the ground hitherto in Waller's occupation to Richard Ryder the elder. (fn. 33) (fn. 3)
After the grant of these leases some rebuilding of Waller's earlier higgledy-piggledy development took place, (fn. 34) and Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1681–2 (Plate 2) shows all of the frontage to Upper St. Martin's Lane built upon to the north of the gardens of the houses in Great Newport Street. In 1692 Richard Ryder the younger surrendered his late father's leases and obtained a new one from James, fourth Earl of Salisbury, for sixty years, provided that he laid out £400 in repairing and rebuilding within forty years. (fn. 33)
The progress of building in St. Martin's Lane in the seventeenth century caused frequent drainage difficulties. In c. 1608 James I had granted £100 towards making a sewer from St. Giles's along St. Martin's Lane so that the King's passage 'through those fields shall be both sweeter and more commodious', (fn. 35) but a number of complaints in the 1630's show that the problem had not been solved. (fn. 36) By 1655 the sewer was too small to carry the increased quantity of effluent (fn. 37) and in that year the second Earl of Salisbury was presented to the Commissioners of Sewers for not arching over the sewer in Cock Lane (i.e., Upper St. Martin's Lane). (fn. 38)
Aldridge's Horse and Carriage Repository, Upper St. Martin's Lane
In 1714 Judith Ryder, the widow of Richard Ryder the younger, agreed to assign the lease of the ground on the west side of Upper St. Martin's (then Cock) Lane to George Arnold, junior, of St. Anne's, chapman, for £1,221. (fn. 39) Arnold's father, George Arnold, senior, had occupied premises here from 1696 until his death in 1705, (fn. 40) but by 1714 George Arnold, junior, needed stabling for his cattle-dealing business, and the property which Judith Ryder eventually assigned to him in 1716 included coach-houses and a stableyard as well as seven dwelling houses. (fn. 41) In 1739 George Arnold, junior, now described as of St. Anne's, gentleman, obtained a renewal of his lease from James, sixth Earl of Salisbury, (fn. 42) and in 1750, when he was described as of Ashby St. Legers, Northamptonshire (where he had purchased an estate), esquire, he assigned this property to his son, Lumley Arnold of Lincoln's Inn, barrister at law. (fn. 43) Rocque's map of 1746 (Plate 4) shows 'Arnold's Yard' on the west side of Upper St. Martin's Lane.
In 1762 Lumley Arnold's premises included 'Horse Standings', a counting house, and a dwelling house where he lived, which were assessed for rates at £100—over five times as much as any other property on this side of Upper St. Martin's Lane. In 1766–8 he was succeeded as occupant by Nathaniel Bever. Subsequent occupants recorded in the ratebooks were James Aldridge, 1776–82, Thomas Aldridge, 1783–6, Joseph Aldridge, 1787–1826, John Morris, 1827–34, and Matthew Clement Alien, 1835– 1856. The latter was succeeded by his partner William Freeman in 1857, one of whose descendants is a director of the firm at the present time. The name Aldridge's persisted throughout these changes, the business being variously described as 'horse bazaar' or 'repository for horses and carriages'.
In 1843 the front of Aldridge's premises was compulsorily acquired by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests for the widening of Upper St. Martin's Lane, (fn. 44) and a new façade was erected in the following year to the designs of Charles Hatchard, surveyor (fn. 45) (Plate 45).
In 1895 Aldridge's was described as 'a well-known mart for nearly all kinds of horses, except racers. It is, however, specially famous for the sale of middle-class and tradesmen's horses. As soon as the West End season is over, the London job-master sells off his superfluous stock, and this market is the recognised medium for getting rid of the horses for which he has no further, or, at any rate, no immediate use. Many horses sold at this period are purchased by seaside men, whose harvest is about to commence.' The proprietors at this time were W. and S. Freeman. (fn. 46)
In 1907 the firm began to hold regular motor sales, and the last horse sale was held in 1926. (fn. 47) In 1940 Aldridge's repository was removed to William Road, St. Pancras, where it still exists, the firm now being described as motor and greyhound auctioneers and valuers. The buildings in Upper St. Martin's Lane were demolished in 1955–6, and their site is now occupied by Thorn House.
Aldridge's long frontage to Upper St. Martin's Lane was a pleasant Grecian design, carried out in painted stucco. The entrance was at the north end in a five-bay feature, two storeys high, the middle three bays being dressed with plain-shafted Doric pilasters supporting a plain frieze and mutule cornice, and forming a triumphal-arch motif. Each of the side bays contained a ground- and first-floor window, and in the middle bay was a wide and lofty archway leading through the building to a covered court. Above the middle bay was an attic pedestal flanked by scrollconsoles. The southern half of the front consisted of a windowless ground storey of horizontally channelled courses, and a plain upper face finished with a shallow cornice and blocking. This upper storey contained six windows, widely and evenly spaced, all dressed with a moulded architrave, narrow frieze and cornice.
Thorn House, Upper St. Martin's Lane
Thorn House, designed for Thorn Electrical Industries Limited by (Sir) Basil Spence and Partners, was completed in September 1959 (Plate 139d). The office accommodation is contained in a tower block of oblong plan, some 50 feet deep and extending east to west some 125 feet, which rises twelve storeys above a lofty and largely open ground storey, forming part of an extensive paved court. Placed partly beneath the east end of the tower, and extending south along the east front of the site, is a showroom range of two storeys. The main entrance hall, with four lifts and a staircase, is at the west end of the tower, and there is a lavatory stack and second staircase in the second bay of the north side. Ample ground parking space and an underground car park are provided.
The in-situ reinforced concrete structure uses two techniques of pre-stressed and self-finished concrete, and demonstrates the versatility of the material. The north and south faces of the office tower are divided into five equal bays, with sixlight windows extending in horizontal bands between aprons of flecked grey p.v.c. fabric. Above the twelfth storey is a lofty top stage, largely open and forming an aerial pergola. The tower's east and west faces are plain and windowless, the east forming a ground for a large metal sculpture by Geoffrey Clarke. Within, the most impressive features are the entrance hall, with its spectacular effect of lighting cylinders suspended from the concrete-beamed ceiling, and the showroom, which was designed by John and Sylvia Reid. The general contractors were Bovis Limited. (fn. 48)
Great Newport Street
This street was one of the earliest in the parish to be built up. It appears to have had its origin in the lease of 1612/13 (mentioned on page 341) granted by William, second Earl of Salisbury, to John Waller, variously described as of I field, Sussex, yeoman, (fn. 31) or (in 1619) as 'late servant' to Salisbury, (fn. 49) although it is possible that there was already a pathway here which connected St. Martin's Lane with the areas to the west. (fn. 50) It seems likely that this pathway was originally part of the Military Street (see page 361), but from 1649 onwards the street was known generally as Newport Street, (fn. 51) after Mountjoy Blount, Earl of Newport, whose house fronted another section of the Military Street, now known as Little Newport Street. The name Great Newport Street seems to have been used from the middle of the eighteenth century. (fn. 51) Only the northern side of the street is in the parish of St. Anne.
On 1 March 1612/13 the Earl of Salisbury granted a lease to John Waller for forty years at the rent of one peppercorn, a condition of the lease being that Waller 'would erect and sett up severall substantiall and well built dwelling houses'. (fn. 31) Waller's land amounted to one acre and one rood, part of the northern section of Swan Close, and abutted east on Upper St. Martin's Lane, north on Hog Lane (now West Street), and south on what became Great Newport Street. (fn. 52) Some time afterwards several houses were built on the land by John Waller 'whereof one front of howses were built towards the Streete called Newport streete'. Among the people who took leases from Waller was Sir Ralph Freeman of Beckworth, Surrey, knight, who had 'a great Messuage' with a frontage of forty-two feet; this was 'a faire and well-built house better then any other of the Messuages there built by the said Waller'. (fn. 32)
By 1650 many of Waller's houses were very much out of repair and in the hands of very poor tenants 'who suffered the same to goe to ruine'. In that year Lord Salisbury bought from Waller's heirs the remainder of the forty-year term which he had granted in 1612/13 (fn. 32) and by two leases dated 2 April 1653 and 18 December 1657 he let all the houses on the north side of Great Newport Street to Richard Ryder, the elder, who covenanted to spend a large sum of money on 'new building'. (fn. 33)
The ratebooks show that between 1656 and 1660 the north side of Great Newport Street was completely rebuilt by Richard Ryder the elder. The street began to attract members of the nobility and people prominent in public life, and became a fashionable place to live. A letter signed 'H.B.', written in 1672 to Viscountess Cranborne, recommends the Earl of Bolingbroke's house, one of the largest in the street: 'A freind of mine tells me of My Lord Bullingbrookes house in Newport Streete, wch they say he will let, yt will be in every way fit garden and all'. (fn. 53) In December 1666, during a lawsuit between himself and Sir Thomas Leigh (see page 341), Lord Salisbury employed a carpenter, John Angier, and a bricklayer, Maurice Emmett, (fn. 4) to take a view of the nine houses built by Ryder on the north side of Great Newport Street. They estimated that the cost of building the Earl of Bolingbroke's house, which included stables and two coach-houses, was £800, and that of Lord Crofts next door, £1,000. Altogether Angier and Emmett estimated that a total of £5,750 had been spent on the north side of the street. (fn. 54) The Earl of Bolingbroke's house stood at the east end of the north side of Great Newport Street, and was described as a 'City Mansion' by William Maitland in 1739. (fn. 55)
Between 1684 and 1692 the number of houses on the north side of the street increased from nine to fourteen. In the latter year Richard Ryder the younger of St. Anne's, gentleman, who had succeeded to his father's leasehold interest, obtained two new leases from James, fourth Earl of Salisbury, of sixty years each, provided that he laid out £2,500 in building within forty years. (fn. 33)
In 1720 Strype stated that 'the North Side which is in this Parish [of St. Anne's], hath far the best Buildings, and is inhabited by Gentry; whereas, on the other Side dwell ordinary Tradespeople, of which several are of the French Nation'. (fn. 56) In the second half of the eighteenth century, however, many of the inhabitants of Great Newport Street were associated with the arts. Of these the most famous were (Sir) Joshua Reynolds (see below) and Josiah Wedgwood, the potter, who had a showroom at the corner of Great Newport Street and Upper St. Martin's Lane. Wedgwood's premises were designed for him in 1768 by Joseph Pickford, (fn. 57) and he remained here until his removal to No. 12–13 Greek Street in 1774 (fn. 51) (see page 174). The building in Great Newport Street was demolished for the widening of Upper St. Martin's Lane in 1843–6. A description of the premises during Wedgwood's occupation of them is to be found in Eliza Meteyard's Life of Josiah Wedgwood, vol. II, 1866, pp. 35–7, 94–5. (fn. 5)
The houses on the north side of Great Newport Street were sufficiently large and important for Ogilby and Morgan to represent them by a pictorial symbol on their map of 1681–2 (Plate 2), where they appear as a fairly uniform terrace of six two-storeyed houses, set back within forecourts or gardens. Emslie's view of 1883 (Plate 57b) shows the backs of the westerly houses, by then subdivided and otherwise altered. A party wall exposed by demolition clearly shows that the demolished house, like its still-standing neighbour, contained a basement, two storeys, and garrets in the double mansard roof.
Notable inhabitants of houses on the north side of Great Newport Street include the following: Lady Everett or Everard, 1656–72; Lady Harris, 1659–69; Catherine, Viscountess Grandison, widow of John Villiers, third Viscount Grandison, 1659; Lady Harbert, possibly Herbert, 1660; Elizabeth, Countess of Holland, first wife of Robert Rich, second Earl of Holland, 1660–1; Lady Elizabeth Leake, 1660–2; Oliver St. John, second Earl of Bolingbroke, 1661– c. 1679; William Crofts, first Baron Crofts of Saxham, prominent Royalist in the Civil War and close personal servant to the royal family, 1662–71; Elizabeth, Lady Cornwallis, widow of Frederick, first Baron Cornwallis, and half-sister of Lord Crofts, 1662–73; Sir Maurice Bartlett, 1662; Robert Rich, second Earl of Holland, c. 1664; Sir Allen Ashby, 1666; Sir Philip Meadows, diplomat, 1666–71; Margaret, Countess of Carlisle, widow of James Hay, third Earl of Carlisle, 1666; Sir Daniel Harvey, 1669–c. 1673; Sir Kingsmill Lucy, 1669–76; Lady Dacre, 1669–c. 1685; John Creed, secretary to the Commissioners for Tangier and Fellow of the Royal Society, 1671–c. 1685; Charles Howard, first Earl of Carlisle, 1672–6; Charles Bertie, possibly a relative of the Earl of Lindsay, 1675–1713; Sir Thomas Slingsby, 1676–c. 1679; Lady Hamilton, 1679–c. 1685; Lady Hewett, possibly the widow of Sir Thomas Hewett, first Baron, of Pishiobury, Hertfordshire, 1679–c. 1685; Horatio, first Viscount Townshend, formerly M.P. for Norfolk, 1679; Mary, Countess of Exeter, widow of John Cecil, fourth Earl of Exeter, 1681; Sir Christopher Musgrave, fourth baronet and M.P. for Carlisle, 1684–c. 1685; William Harbord, Whig politician and Paymaster General, c. 1691; Elizabeth, Countess of Anglesey, widow of Arthur Annesley, third Earl, c. 1691–7; Sir Charles O'Hara, first Baron Tyrawley, general in the war of the Spanish Succession and afterwards commanderin-chief in Ireland, 1710–14; Charles Montagu, first Earl of Halifax, financier and sponsor of the Act for the establishment of the Bank of England, 1715; Christopher Wandesford, second Viscount Castlecomer, politician, 1717–19; Thomas Pelham, M.P., and first cousin of Henry Pelham and the Duke of Newcastle, 1720–35; John Roberts, possibly Henry Pelham's private secretary, 1724–7; Elizabeth Cooper, possibly the authoress, 1735–7; Jeremiah Davison, portrait painter, who painted Frederick, Prince of Wales, and Admiral Byng, 1738–9; Francis Vivares, engraver, 1753–80; (Sir) Joshua Reynolds, portrait painter, 1754–60; Thomas Vials, carver, 1754–66; Celeste Reignier, printseller, and third wife of Louis-Francois Roubiliac, the sculptor, 1755–72; Lady Anne Hamilton, 1757–c. 1779; John Bourke, seventh Viscount Mayo, 1757–9; John Eccardt, portrait painter, who painted Bentley, Gray and Mrs. Woffington, 1761; (fn. 58) John Wyatt, surgeon, 1764–80, brother of James and Benjamin Wyatt, architect and builder respectively, both of whom appear to have lived for an unspecified period with their brother John in Great Newport Street; (fn. 59) Nicholas Thomas Dall, landscape painter, 1768–76; Johann Zoffany, artist, 1779; Everett Home, probably (Sir) Everard Home, baronet and surgeon, 1786–7; James Pearson, possibly the glass-painter, 1788–95; Henry Spicer, miniature painter and painter on enamel to George IV, 1792–c. 1802. (fn. 59)
Some artists whose addresses are given as being in Great Newport Street in exhibition catalogues, but whose names do not appear in the ratebooks, are listed below, with the years in which they exhibited:—
H. Cornman, sculptor, intermittently 1799– 1815; P. Cornman, sculptor, 1788, 1790–2; Samuel De Wilde, painter, 1782, 1796–1800; Edmund Garvey, R.A., painter, 1797–1802; George Henry Harlow, painter, 1809, 1812, 1814; R. Harraden, painter, 1799; Frederick Christian Lewis, painter, 1824–6; John Frederick Lewis, R.A., painter, 1824–6; George Mullins, painter, 1770; Rev. William Peters, R.A., painter, 1776–7; Sir Robert Kerr Porter, painter, 1796–9; John Powell, painter, 1781, 1783–5; Henry J. Richter, painter, 1788–90, 1792; George Romney, painter, 1768–9, 1771–2; James Scouler, miniature painter, intermittently 1766–76; (fn. 6) and James Tassie, modeller, 1767–71.
No. 5 Great Newport Street
This, the one surviving house of the range on the north side of the street, has been most injudiciously altered and refronted, the present face of black faience tiling having been applied over a refronting of probably mid eighteenth-century date. Photographs show this to have had a stuccoed ground storey, with the doorway centred between two windows, all being set in a shop front trim of Regency Doric pilasters supporting a fascia (Plate 58a). The upper part of two storeys, each with four evenly spaced windows, was of plain stock bricks with a storey bandcourse extending above the flat gauged arches of the first-floor windows. The brick face was carried up to form a plain parapet in front of the two closely set dormers in the roof. (fn. 7)
The only important internal feature is the open-well staircase, furnished with a massive railing of symmetrically turned balusters, rising from moulded closed strings to support a broad handrail, both raking members housed into stout square newels having turned pendants. Unfortunately, this late seventeenth-century balustrading has now been cased in.
Nos. 6 and 7 Great Newport Street: The Arts Theatre
The Arts Theatre of London Limited was registered as a company in 1925. Shortly afterwards its directors acquired premises at Nos. 6 and 7 Great Newport Street for the establishment of a proprietary club whose objects were 'to create a social rendez-vous with all the amenities of a London club, and bring together in an artistic and congenial atmosphere those interested in the theatre from both sides of the curtain', and 'to found and support its own permanent Arts Theatre within the Club premises'. A private theatre of this kind would be unaffected by the censorship regulations, and the promoters hoped to encourage the works of new playwrights, producers and players. The new theatre was designed by P. Morley Horder and built by F. G. Minter Limited at a cost of over £18,000; it was opened on 20 April 1927 with Picnic, an intimate revue by Herbert Farjeon. (fn. 60)
In July 1933 the club was closed by a receiver in bankruptcy on the application of a number of creditors, but it re-opened on 28 February 1934, after redecoration to the designs of Basil Ionides, under new managers who had purchased the assets of the old club.
In 1942 the management was taken over by the Arts Theatre Group of Actors under the direction of Alec Clunes. During the next ten years a large number of plays were staged at the Arts Theatre, many of them having their first London production here. In 1953 the lease was acquired by Campbell Williams, (fn. 60) whose productions included Waiting for Godot (1955) and The Waltz of the Toreadors (1956). (fn. 61) In 1962 Nat Cohen bought the lease, and the theatre was used by the Royal Shakespeare Company for a while. The lease now belongs to Alfred Esdaile.
Nos. 10 and 11 Great Newport Street
(Sir) Joshua Reynolds occupied a large house on this site from 1753 or 1754 until 1760. (fn. 51) Reynolds came to London from Plymouth in 1752 and engaged rooms in St. Martin's Lane. He soon 'found his prospects so bright and extensive, that he removed to a large house on the north side of Great Newport-street'. (fn. 62) Here 'his practice increased so rapidly that it became necessary to obtain some assistance, and he engaged Mr. [Peter] Thoms, an artist of much ability, whom Hogarth used to call Reynolds's drapery man, to forward preparation of his pictures'. (fn. 63) Reynolds's first meeting with Dr. Johnson, in c. 1754, took place in Great Newport Street, at the house of the Misses Cotterell on the south side of the street. (fn. 64)
In 1760 Reynolds removed to No. 47 Leicester Square (see page 508). His house in Great Newport Street was rebuilt as two houses in 1767. (fn. 51)
Castle Street, which probably took its name from a public house, extended from Hemmings Row to Great Newport Street, and was entirely demolished in the 1880's for the formation of Charing Cross Road (fig. 73 on page 298). The ground on both sides of the southern half of the street, to the south of Bear Street, formed part of the estate of the Earls of Leicester, while that to the north of Bear Street was part of the Salisbury estate. Only the western side of the northern part of Castle Street was within the parish of St. Anne; the rest of the street, in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, was described in Survey of London, volume XX.
The divided ownership of the ground along Castle Street, which is first mentioned by name in the ratebooks in 1677, probably accounts for the break in the line of the street at its intersection with Bear Street (see fig. 79). It may be that the northern portion, on the Salisbury estate, was laid out first, and that the westward break was caused by the Earl of Leicester's need to allow sufficient depth of ground for building on the eastern side of his portion of the street. Ogilby and Morgan's map (Plate 2) shows that the development of the street was complete by 1681–2.
William Bull, trumpet-maker, came to live in Castle Street in 1700. (fn. 65) In 1714 Admiral Sir John Jennings was resident here, probably with his kinsman, David Jennings, doctor of physic, whose house was on the west side to the north of Bear Street. (fn. 66)
Only the north side of Bear Street is in the parish of St. Anne, and the street also formed part of the boundary between the Salisbury and Leicester estates. The street may have taken its name from a public house in the locality, or the name may indicate that Augustine Beare, glazier, worked here. Building began on the south side, on the Leicester estate, in 1671–2, (fn. 51) and at about the same time the houses and ground on the north side were said to be in the possession of Richard Ryder (probably the elder). (fn. 67) In 1681 William Edwards of St. Martin's held five messuages which he had lately built in Bear Street on lease from John Rossington, carpenter. (fn. 68)
Little Newport Street
In 1654 William, second Earl of Salisbury, sold the freehold ground on the north side of the modern Little Newport Street to the Earl of Newport (see page 362). Little Newport Street thus became the boundary between the Salisbury and Newport Ground estates. The history of the north side is described on page 378. Building on the south side seems to have been completed by 1695 (fn. 51) and was probably carried out under the auspices of the Ryder family (see page 349). A deed of 1715 mentions a 'meeting house' on the south side of Little Newport Street; (fn. 69) this may conceivably refer to the Ryder's Court Chapel. No other reference to a chapel in Little Newport Street has been found.
On the west side of what is now Newport Place, between the north side of Lisle Street and No. 9 Newport Place, there is an irregularly shaped piece of ground, a small island of what was the Salisbury estate wedged between three other estates: the Military Ground on the north, the Leicester estate on the west and Newport Ground on the east. It was on this piece of ground that the waterhouse, part of a scheme for supplying the neighbourhood with water from springs in Soho, was built.
In 1633 Charles I, by letters patent, granted to Francis, Earl of Bedford, William, Earl of Salisbury, Sir Edward Wardour and Sir Oliver Nicholas, a licence to make a watercourse from a spring in Colman Hedge, alias Soe Hoe, across a close late in the tenure of Anthony Wakers, and then across another close called 'Wardners Gravell Pitts' to the King's highway (King Street, now part of Shaftesbury Avenue). The watercourse was to pass through the Military Ground to the waterhouse, and thence by way of the Military Street to the upper end of St. Martin's Lane. (fn. 8) There the pipes were to divide, one pipe conveying water down St. Martin's Lane, and another, via Long Acre, to Covent Garden. Water was to be piped into the houses of those inhabitants who so desired. The licensees covenanted to build a great cistern to conserve the water in Swan Close, and to pay twenty shillings a year for the licence. (fn. 70)
The waterhouse was presumably built to contain this cistern, for in 1633 the Earl of Salisbury paid £100 'towardes Erectinge, or newe buildinge, of one Waterhouse, near unto the Millitarie Garden' and 'makeinge a Seasterne, there And layinge of water Pipes, And other workes'. (fn. 71) In May 1656 the Earl of Salisbury leased the waterhouse and the piece of ground which went with it to John Hodgskins of St. Martin's, gentleman, for forty-one years, at £8 per annum, provided Hodgskins spent £120 within two years in repairing or rebuilding the house. The plot of land is described as adjoining Leicester House wall on the west, (fn. 72) and Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1681–2 (Plate 2) shows a house in this position.
John Hodgskins's lease was acquired by Andrew Arnold of St. Anne's, to whom, in c. 1694, James, Earl of Salisbury, granted a new lease for sixty years, subject to payment of a fine of £300. (fn. 73) By this time water was being piped from other sources into the new houses which were being built in the neighbourhood, and the necessity for the waterhouse had passed. So it was demolished and on the site were built seven houses and the Huguenot chapel (fn. 74) (see page 351), which in fact stood on the northern arm of Ryder's Court. By 1732 (or possibly earlier) one of these houses had become a public house called the White Bear, (fn. 75) which still exists in rebuilt form at the corner of Lisle Street and Newport Place.
Two other houses, later numbered 5 and 7 Newport Place, which until their recent partial demolition stood on the site of the waterhouse, were designed in a simple Palladian manner to form a closure to the vista along Newport Court; they probably dated from the mid eighteenth century. Above the ground-storey shops was a brick face of two storeys, each house being three windows wide. The first-floor windows were uniform but the middle window of the second floor in each house was accented by an arched head. A plain bandcourse marked the attic storey, each house having one central window, that of No. 7 arched and rising into the tympanum of an open triangular pediment. The boldly modillioned cornice of the pediment was continued across the front of No. 5. (fn. 76)
Cranbourn Street, Passage and Alley: Earl's Court
Cranbourn Street, Cranbourn Passage and Cranbourn Alley all formed part of the Salisbury estate and take their names from the family's property at Cranborne in Dorset. Building in the area of these three streets appears to have begun in the late 1670's (fn. 51) and Ogilby and Morgan's map (Plate 2) suggests that it had been substantially completed by 1681–2. Unfortunately the street nomenclature was at that time and for many years afterwards so confused that it has proved impossible to disentangle the early development of the three streets individually. (fn. 9) It is, however, clear that the Ryder family were the principal developers of this area.
Cranbourn Street originally connected the north-east corner of Leicester Square with Castle Street, but in 1843–6 it was extended eastwards to St. Martin's Lane (see below). Cranbourn Passage and Earl's Court both connected the north side of Cranbourn Street with the south side of Little Newport Street; the former was entirely demolished in the 1880's for the formation of Charing Cross Road, and the latter was closed in 1897, its site being subsequently incorporated into that of the London Hippodrome, now called The Talk of the Town. Cranbourn Alley joins the south side of Cranbourn Street with Bear Street and still exists (see fig. 79).
The connexion between the Earls of Salisbury and Richard Ryder the elder dated back to at least 1647, when the latter was working at the manor house at Cranborne. (fn. 77) James, third Earl of Salisbury, evidently granted at least one lease of ground to the north of Cranbourn Street, to Richard Ryder the elder, for in his will, proved in 1683, the latter bequeathed the brick messuage in Swan Close in which he then lived and all the other messuages there which he held by lease from the Earl, to his wife Joan for her life. (fn. 78) Ryder's own house was in Cranbourn Street, near the entrance to Ryder's Court, for the formation of which it appears to have been demolished in c. 1693. (fn. 79)
In November 1682 Richard Ryder the elder sub-let part of this ground, in the vicinity of Cranbourn Passage, to John Hooper, variously described as of St. Martin's, or of Farnborough, carpenter. (fn. 80) He also granted at least four sub-leases of adjoining ground to John Rossington, carpenter, (fn. 81) whose unbusiness-like methods were later to bedevil the development of Cleveland House garden, St. James's. (fn. 82) John Stone, stone cutter, also held land here, probably under a sublease from either Richard Ryder the elder or younger. (fn. 83) In her will, proved in 1688, Richard Ryder the elder's widow, Joan, mentions half a dozen houses in Cranbourn Street, all on the north side. In 1692 Richard Ryder the younger leased a messuage in Cranbourn Passage to his brother, George Ryder, described as of Henley-on-Thames, gentleman, (fn. 84) and in his will, proved in 1709, the latter mentions three houses in Cranbourn Street and Passage as well as ground rents in Little Newport Street. (fn. 85) Richard Ryder the younger died in 1712. (fn. 86)
This fragmentary evidence suggests that the Ryder family held all of the land bounded by Little Newport, Castle and Cranbourn Streets and Ryder's Court on lease from the Earls of Salisbury, and that they were responsible for its development. Richard Ryder (probably the elder) was also possessed of ground on the north side of Bear Street, (fn. 67) and was therefore probably concerned with the triangular block on the south side of Cranbourn Street, bounded by Castle Street on the east and Bear Street on the south (and including Cranbourn Alley). In 1681 John Rossington, carpenter, held a lease of ground fronting Bear Street where five houses had lately been built by his sub-lessee, William Edwards, carpenter. (fn. 87) It is not known whether this ground was on the Salisbury estate on the north side of Bear Street or on the Leicester estate on the south, but Rossington worked elsewhere on the Salisbury estate and may therefore have also had a hand in the development of the ground south of Cranbourn Street.
In 1720 Strype recorded that Cranbourn Street 'hath a very handsome Freestone Pavement and an open Passage into Leicester Fields for Foot Passengers: Which great Thoroughfare makes it to be a Place of a very good Trade, both Sides being inhabited by Shopkeepers. Out of the North Side is Cranborn Alley, a narrow Place most taken up by Shoomakeepers.' (fn. 56) By the second half of the eighteenth century the shoemakers for which Cranbourn Street, Passage and Alley had all been famous were displaced by milliners' shops, and in the early nineteenth century 'Cranbourn Alley' (i.e., Cranbourn Street) had become a great mart for cheap bonnets. J. T. Smith, writing in 1846 when the south side of the street was in course of rebuilding, stated that 'Those who are ignorant of the town may be amused to learn that at every shop door in this alley, while it existed, a young woman of decent appearance was stationed all day long, on the watch for customers, whom it was her business to entice or to drag into the shop, and force to purchase, whether they would do or no. These young women were known by the name of "She Barkers" to distinguish them from the "He Barkers", who were stationed at the second-hand clothes-shops, and who acted the same annoying part towards the men. Woe used to betide the woman of the middle classes who passed through Cranbourn Alley with an unfashionable bonnet. It was immediately seen from one end of the place to the other, and twenty barkers beset her, each in turn, as she walked forward, arresting her course by invitations to inspect the ware that was for sale within. Many a one has had her cloak or shawl torn from her back by these rival sisters of trade, during their struggles to draw her within their den, each pulling a different way'. (fn. 88)
William Hogarth, who was born in 1697, was apprenticed at an early age to Ellis Gamble, goldsmith, for whom he designed a very fine trade card with the following inscription: 'Ellis Gamble Goldsmith, at the Golden Angel in Cranbourn-street, Leicester-Fields. Makes, Buys & Sells all sorts of Plate, Rings, etc. Jewells etc.' (fn. 89) (fn. 10) It has always been assumed that Hogarth designed this card while serving his apprenticeship, which ended in about 1718, (fn. 90) but the first reference to Ellis Gamble in the ratebooks for Cranbourn Street does not occur until 1724, by which year Hogarth had set himself up in business as an engraver on his own account. Recent unpublished research by the late Colonel William Le Hardy has shown that Hogarth was apprenticed on 2 February 1713/14 to Ellis Gamble, to whom he may have been related by marriage. Ellis Gamble had in the previous year become a freeman of the Merchant Taylors' Company, and had been described as an engraver of Blue Cross Street, Leicester Fields. (fn. 91) The ratebooks show that Ellis Gamble occupied a house on the south side of Blue Cross Street (now part of Orange Street) between Whitcomb and St. Martin's Streets from 1715 to 1723, (fn. 11) and it is therefore evident that Hogarth served most of his apprenticeship here.
In 1720 Hogarth designed a trade card for his own use, with the following inscription: 'W. Hogarth Engraver at ye Golden Ball ye Corner of Cranbone Alley little Newport Street Aprill ye 29, 1720'. (fn. 92) Hogarth's name is not recorded in the ratebooks for either Cranbourn Alley or Little Newport Street, and at this early stage of his independent career his workshop was possibly little more than a furnished lodging. One of Hogarth's earliest customers was his former master, Ellis Gamble, who in 1724 removed from Blue Cross Street to Cranbourn Street, (fn. 12) where he remained until 1732. (fn. 51) The trade card which Hogarth designed for Gamble 'at the Golden Angel in Cranbourn-street' must have been produced during these years.
Hogarth's biographer, John Nichols, writing in 1781, states that the artist's two sisters, Mary and Anne Hogarth, kept a linen draper's shop in Little Cranbourn Alley. (fn. 93) The ratebooks show that they occupied premises in Cranbourn Passage from 1739 to 1742.
Mathias Darly, architect, and Isaac Jehner, engraver, exhibited their works with addresses in Cranbourn Alley in 1765 and 1777 respectively. Henry Fuseli, the painter, on his arrival in England in 1763 'took lodgings in the house of a Mrs. Green, in Cranbourne Street, then called Cranbourn Alley. He lived here from prudential motives, those of economy'. (fn. 94)
Ryder's Court (Plate 57c) originally had a narrow entrance on the north side of Cranbourn Street and four arms arranged in a square (see Plate 4). The western arm of the court was beside the wall of the grounds of Leicester House and is called Portaville Passage on Horwood's map of 1792–9, the northern arm was incorporated into the extension of Lisle Street in 1791– 1795, and only the eastern arm now remains, widened, lengthened and since 1936 known as Leicester Court. The whole length of the court is flanked by the Warner Theatre on the west and by the London Hippodrome on the east.
Ryder's Court took its name from Richard Ryder (Rider) the younger, son of Captain Richard Ryder, master carpenter to Charles II. (fn. 78) Richard Ryder the younger, who is described as of St. Anne's, gentleman (fn. 95) or esquire (fn. 96) or, on one occasion, as Captain Ryder, (fn. 97) developed Ryder's Court for building under a sixty-year lease granted to him on 20 December 1692 by James, fourth Earl of Salisbury. (fn. 96) In May 1693 Ryder was negotiating for the construction of a drain with the Westminster Commissioners of Sewers, who had examined 'a Scheame of the houses intended to be built . . . (being about six and Twenty in number), (fn. 95) and in December of the same year he granted a number of fifty-year sub-leases of plots in Ryder's Court. (fn. 13) Two of the houses there were evidently built by Ryder himself. (fn. 96) The court first appears by name in the ratebooks in 1694, and seems to have been completed shortly afterwards.
In 1720 Strype described Ryder's Court as 'new built, and neat, with a Freestone Pavement, cleanly kept and well inhabited'. (fn. 56) Many of the early inhabitants were French, (fn. 51) and many of them were goldsmiths. Between 1699 and 1738 six goldsmiths (including Abraham and Jean Harrache), one jeweller and one plateworker (Paul Hanet), all evidently of French origin, are recorded as working in Ryder's Court. (fn. 98) Frederick Hintz, 'Guittar-maker to her Majesty and the Royal Family' was here in 1763, (fn. 99) and John Sartorius, painter, and W. Christopher Tate, sculptor, exhibited with addresses in Ryder's Court in 1768–74 and 1828–9 respectively.
In 1890 the third Marquess of Salisbury, the then owner of the freehold, and the Board of Works for the Strand District, began improvements in Ryder's Court, which had by then become a rather disreputable part of the parish. (fn. 100) The eastern arm of Ryder's Court was widened and extended straight through to Cranbourn Street, while the rest of the court was cleared to provide a site for Daly's Theatre, now the Warner Theatre (see page 355).
Ryder's Court Chapel
This French Protestant chapel stood at the north-west corner of Ryder's Court and is marked 'Pr M' (Protestant Meeting) on Rocque's map of 1746 (Plate 4). The chapel was probably opened in November 1700, the congregation being formed by the amalgamation of those in St. Martin's Lane and Newport Market. In the following year the congregation entered into a pastoral union with the Leicester Fields chapel, then in Orange Street. (fn. 101) There was never a large congregation at the Ryder's Court Chapel, which has been described as 'practically an annexe of Leicester Fields'. (fn. 102) By 1734 it had evidently ceased to exist, for in that year Dr. James Anderson, minister of the Scottish Presbyterian chapel in Swallow Street, (fn. 103) removed part of his congregation to the Ryder's Court Chapel. (fn. 14) Anderson died in 1739 and was succeeded as minister by Dr. John Patrick. By 1755, when the lease of the chapel expired, the owner was John Home, poulterer, father of John Home Tooke. Horne, whose quarrel with the Prince of Wales about a doorway between his property and the back premises of Leicester House is described on page 454, was 'a zealous Anglican' and refused to renew the lease. Patrick and his congregation therefore removed to Peter Street. (fn. 104) Nothing more is known of Ryder's Court Chapel, which (if it still existed) was probably demolished when Lisle Street was extended eastward in 1791–5.
New Coventry Street, Cranbourn Street and Upper St. Martin's Lane: Street Improvements
In August 1838 a Select Committee of the House of Commons on Metropolitan Improvements drew attention to the need for improvement of east-west communications in the Leicester Square area. The Committee noted that at that time both the main arteries of communication from the West End to the City (Oxford Street and Piccadilly-Coventry Street) came to an abrupt end at their eastern extremities, and much of its report was concerned with proposals for remedying this situation. The Committee stated that 'In order to improve and complete the line in Piccadilly and Coventry-street, the first alteration urgently required is not apparently very difficult of accomplishment, nor would it be attended with a very great expense . . . The sudden impediment presented to this line at the end of Coventrystreet—where carriages are obliged to diverge to the right or to the left, in order to find their way eastward, through narrow and tortuous streets . . . is proposed to be remedied by carrying a broad street into the North-western corner of Leicestersquare, and thence, from its North-eastern angle, in a direct line over the ground now occupied by Cranbourne-street, across Castle-street, and thence, south of Newport-street, to the junction of Long-acre with St. Martin's-lane.' From this point communication could be opened with the west end of King Street, Covent Garden and thence to Lincoln's Inn Fields. (fn. 105)
The Committee also suggested that Oxford Street should be extended to Holborn, and submitted other proposals for new streets east of the City. It recommended that all these improvements should be carried out by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests under the supervision of the Treasury. The Committee hoped that, whatever Parliament might decide, 'no objection or difficulty will be interposed to prevent the early adoption of that part of the plan which relates to the opening from Coventry-street through Leicester-square. The present obstruction at that point ought not to be permitted to continue longer.' (fn. 105)
The Committee's recommendations were largely based upon the evidence given by (Sir) James Pennethorne, one of the architects employed by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests. He had stated that the 'enormous' traffic in Coventry Street was 'principally stagecoaches and omnibuses, and also market-gardeners', and estimated the cost of forming the line from Coventry Street to St. Martin's Lane at either £45,000 or £63,400, depending on the need to purchase the houses on the south side of Sidney's Alley (formerly Sidney Street). (fn. 106)
In March 1839 another Select Committee recommended that a Bill should be introduced to empower the Treasury and the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to execute this and other improvements. (fn. 107) (fn. 15) An Act which received the royal assent in August of the same year empowered the Commissioners subject to the consent of the Treasury, to raise £200,000 out of certain funds derived from the duties on coal and wine entering the Port of London, including the 'Orphans Fund' and the 'London Bridge Approaches Fund', in order to construct the streets. The Commissioners were also authorized to make detailed surveys but not as yet to undertake actual construction. (fn. 108)
The surveys subsequently made by Pennethorne and his colleague Thomas Chawner showed that the cost of these improvements would be £638,000. (fn. 109) Another Select Committee was therefore appointed, which heard evidence in the spring of 1840. Pennethorne and Chawner had judged that it would be necessary to set back the south side of Coventry Street east of the Haymarket, because after an opening into Leicester Square had been made 'there would be so much more traffic brought to Coventry-street from all the different directions to which it would open, that it would be too narrow'. One of the plans which they had submitted to the Commissioners also required the purchase of three houses on the south side of Sidney's Alley and fourteen in Leicester Square—five on the west side, seven on the north and two on the east. (fn. 110) The cost of this plan was extremely high, and on 13 March 1840 the Commissioners (probably at the instance of the Select Committee) directed Messrs. J. W. Higgins and R. L. Jones, the latter being described in a later account as 'a person of great influence in the City', to examine Pennethorne and Chawner's proposals 'with a view to the reduction of those estimates, by cutting off every part of the plans, and portion of the purchases, which may not be indispensable to carry out the designs'. (fn. 111)
A few days later Higgins and Jones presented their estimate of the cost of the line from Coventry Street to St. Martin's Lane. It was, of course, far lower than that of Pennethorne and Chawner, but there would be no sites to let after the street had been made. The widening of Coventry Street was abandoned, and only three houses were to be taken to form the opening at the north-west corner of Leicester Square, where there was to be no footway on one side of the proposed new street. (fn. 112)
When Pennethorne was recalled to give the Select Committee his views on Higgins and Jones's proposals he succinctly stated the practical case against the folly of not buying enough ground on the sides of the street—a mistake nevertheless made in almost every nineteenth-century metropolitan street improvement except those executed by John Nash: Higgins and Jones merely proposed to 'purchase sufficient ground to form the street, without purchasing any to form building-ground on the sides of the street'. This policy had already been adopted in the formation of the northern part of Wellington Street, and had been 'a complete failure ... It is quite impossible that we can purchase the ground to form the street only, without also leaving little scraps of ground on each side, too small to be let for building-ground; and the consequence will be, that they will be hoarded in and covered with placards, and subject to every nuisance for 10 years, or more, to come, to the great injury of the neighbourhood, because, although the freeholder may be desirous to take advantage of the frontage, he will not be able to do so until the leases fall in . . . whereas we, by having power to compel them [the tenants] to give up, could secure the street being completed within a reasonable time.' (fn. 113)
Higgins had admitted before the Select Committee that by purchasing very little surplus land 'the façade of the line of the street may not be formed according to the desire of the Commissioners', (fn. 114) but Pennethorne seems to have made no comment on this aspect; the polyglot architecture of most nineteenth-century street improvements provides its own commentary on the importance of this point.
In June 1840 Pennethorne and Chawner produced the revised plan which was subsequently executed (fn. 115) (fig. 81). The widening of Coventry Street (fn. 16) and the acquisition of property on the south side of Sidney's Alley and the north side of Leicester Square were all abandoned, but four houses on the west side of the square were to be acquired, compared with five which Pennethorne and Chawner had originally proposed and three proposed by Higgins and Jones. No land was to be acquired on the north side of Cranbourn Street west of Castle Street, but on its south side, and on both sides of its extension to St. Martin's Lane, enough land was to be bought to provide building plots, though some of them were very awkwardly shaped. In Upper St. Martin's Lane, which was to be widened by setting back the west side, there was to be no surplus land.
In its report, dated 25 June 1840, the Select Committee recommended that the extra cost of the various improvements envisaged by the Act of 1839 should be met by a four-year extension of the period in which the duties on coal and wine might be levied. It also proposed that the improvements in other parts of London should be executed immediately, but made no recommendation for the line from Coventry Street to St. Martin's Lane, which would cost 'not less than £120,000'. (fn. 116) In August 1840 two Acts implemented these proposals. (fn. 117)
Another Act, passed in May 1841, authorized the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to construct the line from Coventry Street to St. Martin's Lane and make minor improvements elsewhere in the metropolis. The Commissioners were empowered for these purposes to charge the coal and wine duties with £214,000, and to purchase compulsorily some seventy properties between Coventry Street and Upper St. Martin's Lane. After the completion of the street the Commissioners were required to dispose of all the remaining surplus land, either by granting building leases and then selling the reserved rents, or by outright sale of the freehold. (fn. 118) No time limit was imposed for the completion of the sale of surplus land, and some of it was in fact never sold.
The freehold of all of the land required belonged to the Marquess of Salisbury and three members of the Tulk family. (fn. 119) The total cost of purchasing all the freehold and leasehold interests for the whole improvement was about £180,000, (fn. 120) of which the Marquess of Salisbury received £71,827. (fn. 121) Demolition of the existing buildings began in 1843, and paving work had commenced before the end of the year. (fn. 122) A small quantity of the surplus ground was sold freehold but in September 1844 the greater part of it was offered on lease by public tender in thirteen lots. William Herbert of Grosvenor Basin, Pimlico, builder, acquired six lots on eighty-year building leases, and Lancelot Archer Burton and William Dent of Newcastle Street, Strand, plumbers, jointly acquired two others on the same terms. John Hill of Albany Street, builder, George Healey of Cumberland Market, publican, Alexander Robb of St. Martin's Lane, baker, and Samuel Archbutt of Oakley Street, Chelsea, builder, each acquired one lot on forty-two-year repairing and improving leases. No bid was received for the last lot, a small fragment which was sold freehold, probably to the adjoining owner. (fn. 123)
In August 1845 the Commissioners reported that the new buildings were 'in rapid progress, and will very shortly be completed, and the whole line open to the Public'. (fn. 120) Most of the leases, which were not granted until the buildings were almost finished, were dated in 1845 and 1846, and in August of the latter year the Commissioners stated that 'The whole of the Buildings in the Coventry Street Line are now completed; and the new Street has for some time past been open, and affords a great accommodation to the Public.' (fn. 124)
Nos. 23–25 (consec.) on the north side of Cranbourn Street and Nos. 26–36 (consec.) on the south side survive to represent the original buildings in this street, and they illustrate the descending standards of 'Metropolitan Improvements' architecture. The fronts are of yellow stock bricks, dressed with stucco ornaments of a coarse Italianate character. Most of the houses are four storeys high and two windows wide, but those on the south-east side are grouped into fours between pavilion houses, flanked by rustic piers and having one wide and elaborately dressed window in each storey. The high attic storey of some of the houses on the south side is, perhaps, a later addition.
The total cost of the improvement was £206,093 (fn. 125) against which must be set the annual income of £1,649 derived from the rents of the surplus ground. The builders evidently experienced great difficulty in finding subtenants for their new buildings, and in April 1849 the arrears of rent due to the Commissioners amounted to £1,629. (fn. 126) A year later the arrears had declined to £1,155, (fn. 127) but Herbert and Burton, two of the Commissioners' lessees, were still asking unsuccessfully for concessions in their rents 'on the Ground of the disastrous state of the Speculation'. (fn. 128) It was probably this failure to find tenants for the new buildings that caused the Commissioners to postpone repeatedly the sale of the freehold ground rents. (fn. 129) Most of the ground on the south side of Cranbourn Street between Charing Cross Road and St. Martin's Lane still belongs to the Crown. (fn. 130)
Warner Theatre, Cranbourn Street
During its comparatively short career from 1893 to 1937 Daly's achieved a fame and prosperity unequalled by many longer-lived West End theatres. Its success was largely due to one man, George Edwardes, who built the theatre for Augustin Daly and who for twenty years preceding his death in 1915 presented a series of sparkling musical comedies which bewitched the playgoers of Victorian and Edwardian London. But in the more feverish 1920's and 30's the management lacked Edwardes's mastery, and although Daly's outlived both its great neighbours, the Empire and the Alhambra, it ultimately provided yet another victim for the then irresistible cinema.
Between 1884 and 1891 Augustin Daly, the American impresario, and his company had paid five visits to London, but when he planned a sixth visit no theatre was available. George Edwardes, who was running the Gaiety Theatre, offered to build a new theatre for Daly and lease it to him. (fn. 131) Negotiations with the Marquess of Salisbury for a building lease of the site now bounded by Lisle Street, Ryder's (now Leicester) Court and Cranbourn Street appear to have begun in 1889, (fn. 132) and in 1890 Ryder's Court was both widened and straightened.. (fn. 100) The foundation stone of the new theatre was laid on 30 October 1891 by Ada Rehan, the leading actress in Daly's company. (fn. 133) Edwardes's architect was Spencer Chadwick, assisted by C. J. Phipps. (fn. 134) The builder was Frank Kirk (fn. 135) and the total cost of the building, which was one of the first theatres in London to be built on the cantilever principle, was about £60,000. (fn. 134)
The new theatre occupied a site fronting some 70 feet south to Cranbourn Street and 130 east to Ryder's Court, the east-to-west width varying up to 85 feet. The excellent plan (fig. 82) must have been largely devised by C. J. Phipps, probably the leading theatre architect of his time. In the middle of the Cranbourn Street front was a shallow vestibule, five doors wide, leading to the spacious grand hall, its ceiling opening through an ovoid well into the domed foyer at first-floor level. The auditorium was well insulated from street noises by exit passages and staircases. Stalls and pit were at basement level, the pit extending back under the grand hall. The dress circle at ground level consisted of five stepped rows, following the curve of the semi-circular front row which extended to meet the stage boxes. The upper circle, also of five rows, was entered from the first-floor foyer, and above was a deep gallery with eleven steppings. The well equipped stage was 60 feet wide and 44 feet deep, with a range of dressing-rooms along the west side.
The Cranbourn Street front (Plate 40a), a French Renaissance design with elaborate detail and much figure carving, was executed in a yellow stone. The composition was symmetrical, with a five-bay centre flanked by narrow pavilions. Above the arcaded ground storey was a lofty principal storey dressed with a Doric order of fluted columns and pilasters, the middle three bays being accented with a pediment. The attic storey, with arched windows, was recessed between the end pavilions which contained richly dressed round windows, flanked by terms supporting segmental pediments.
According to The Times, the interior (Plate 40b) was 'rich in blendings of silver and gold and in fine inlaid woodwork'. The scheme was dominated by the deeply moulded gold arch of the round-headed proscenium, flanked by pedimented boxes above which pendentives extended to meet the saucer-dome of the main ceiling. The Times also recorded that 'A striking feature of the decoration is the number and variety of the figures shown in relief, in the moulding of which the plastic hand of Mr. Alfred Gilbert, R.A., is felt.' (fn. 136)
Daly opened the new theatre on 27 June 1893 with The Taming of the Shrew. (fn. 60) His company continued to play there intermittently during the next two seasons, but in 1895 he returned to America (fn. 137) and Edwardes took a sublease from Daly of his own house. (fn. 138) His first great success here was An Artist's Model (1895), and this was followed by the succession of popular musical comedies which continued until his death in 1915. Of these the most famous were San Toy (1899–1901), A Country Girl (1902–4) and The Merry Widow (1907–9). (fn. 60) Edwardes was succeeded by his daughter, assisted by Robert Evett, who continued the musical tradition, but in 1922 the theatre was bought by a property speculator, James White. (fn. 139) He continued, with diminishing success, to present musical comedy, but after his suicide in 1927 the fortunes of the theatre declined from grace, and revivals, variety and even pantomime began to find a refuge at Daly's. (fn. 140) In 1937 the theatre was bought by Warner Brothers, and the last performance took place on 25 September. (fn. 60)
The Warner Theatre (or rather cinema) which replaced Daly's was designed by E. A. Stone in association with T. R. Somerford, and was built by Griggs and Son. The new building was finished in September 1938, almost a year after the closure of Daly's Theatre, and it opened with a gala performance on 12 October 1938. Covering the original site of Daly's together with some premises fronting to Lisle Street, the new theatre was designed to seat 1,775. From Cranbourn Street, a wide range of doors, three on each side of a central paybox, opens to a spacious foyer. This, in plan, is a triangle with two concave sides, each containing a staircase to the balcony and paired doors to the stalls lobbies. Above the entrance foyer is a large lounge serving the circle. The auditorium, its parallel side walls converging in wide segmental curves to meet the proscenium, contains stalls seating at ground level and a single circle extending back over the foyer and lounge.
The Cranbourn Street front is faced with slabs of reconstructed marble bonded with granite concrete. It is a simple design, with a straight face containing a range of five tall windows, extending above the marquise that shelters the recessed entrance. This face impinges on two tall pylons, which are linked by a recessed concavecurving wall broken centrally by a taller pylon with a projecting vertical sign bearing the theatre's name. At the head of each side pylon is a panel with a figure carved by Bainbridge Copnal, one symbolizing Sound, and the other Sight.
Panelling of Empire woods decorates the entrance foyer and forms a high dado in the auditorium, where the walls are largely covered with small squares of asbestos quilting over a lining of acoustic material. The proscenium frame is formed in three stepped recessions, and is finished with a skeletal pediment of reversed curves. A series of concealed lighting troughs, incorporated in the main ceiling, runs parallel with the side walls. Blue, green and beige dominate the colour scheme. (fn. 141)
The Talk of the Town (Hippodrome Theatre Restaurant), Cranbourn Street
The Hippodrome was built in 1899–1900 by H. E. (later Sir Edward) Moss to provide 'a circus show second to none in the world, combined with elaborate stage spectacles impossible in any other theatre'. (fn. 60) Its site, which belonged to the Marquess of Salisbury, was until 1897 divided into two parts by Earl's Court, 'a resort of bad characters' which, under the terms of an agreement for a building lease between Lord Salisbury and Moss, was closed in that year. The northern side of the new theatre was set back a few feet to give Little Newport Street a width of forty feet. (fn. 142)
The Hippodrome was designed by Frank Matcham, and Messrs. Holliday and Greenwood were the general contractors; (fn. 143) it was opened on 15 January 1900 with a circus and an elaborate 'water spectacle', Giddy Ostend. The fronts to Cranbourn Street and Charing Cross Road were used for shops, offices, flats and a public house. Both the stage and the circus arena could be raised and lowered by hydraulic rams, and the arena, when sunk to its lowest level, provided a tank with a capacity of 100,000 gallons of water for the performance of aquatic entertainments (Plate 39a). When wild animals formed part of the circus programme the arena could be quickly enclosed by steel railings twelve feet in height. (fn. 60)
For nearly ten years elaborate and spectacular shows were presented at the Hippodrome. Redskins in canoes shot down artificial rapids into the tank, twenty elephants (which were kept in a stable in Lisle Street when not performing) 'caused shrieks of laughter by their ungainly and ludicrous antics in sliding down a steep incline into the water', trained cormorants were brought from China, a man was shot out of a cannon and is said to have attained a velocity of fourteen miles a minute, and in 1909 there were seventy polar bears in a programme entitled The Arctic. (fn. 60) But Moss's belief that the public was eager for a revival of the circus proved unfounded (fn. 144) and in April 1909 the theatre was closed for alteration. (fn. 60)
The main purpose of the changes was to enlarge the stage by advancing it and the proscenium wall several feet into the auditorium. Seats were installed in the arena, but they could be removed so that it and the stage could still be used conjointly. Frank Matcham was again the architect, and the theatre was reopened in August 1909. (fn. 60)
For the next three years the Hippodrome was given over to seasons of variety, (fn. 145) but in 1912 Albert De Courville presented Hello Ragtime!, the first of his long series of successful revues here. After 1926 musical comedy prevailed, although revue, ballet and pantomime were occasionally presented. In the 1950's there were musicals, revues, ice shows and variety, but on 17 August 1957 the theatre was closed and converted at a cost of £250,000 into a theatre-restaurant. It reopened on 11 September 1958 under its new name of The Talk of the Town, and provided 'a complete evening's entertainment, consisting of dinner, dancing and a full variety show'. (fn. 60)
The London Hippodrome occupies an island site fronting some 150 feet to Cranbourn Street, 90 feet to Charing Cross Road, 180 feet to Little Newport Street, and 170 feet to Leicester Court (fig. 83). The auditorium, with the stage at its west end, is contained in an oblong block some 78 feet wide, fronting to Little Newport Street, but the main entrance is at the south-east corner, with the booking hall and foyer placed diagonally between the ranges of shops and offices fronting Cranbourn Street and Charing Cross Road. The latter frontage incorporates an entrance to Leicester Square Station, and the Crown public house. As originally planned, the auditorium floor was divided into parterre and stalls in stepped rows arranged concentrically with the circus ring, 40 feet in diameter, which was placed immediately in front of the shallow stage. A range of private boxes ringed the stalls seating, which was recessed beneath a capacious grand circle. A second tier contained the amphitheatre and gallery, bringing the total capacity of the house to some 3,000. Flanking the proscenium were two large boxes, one for the orchestra and the other designed as an organ loft. It was originally intended to provide a glazed winter garden above the theatre, but this was omitted to allow a sliding dome over the auditorium well.
The fronts to Cranbourn Street and Charing Cross Road (Plate 39b) are uniformly designed in a free and florid Renaissance style, and built in red terra-cotta, now painted. The second- and third-floor windows are given prominence by being formed as shallow canted bays, resting on deep console-terms flanking the first-floor windows, and finishing with curving parapets in front of the top-storey windows, which are set in pairs, flanked by scroll motifs. The Cranbourn Street front has three bays on either side of a central feature, dressed with pilasters and surmounted by a pedimented attic, and a similar feature is placed off-centre in the Charing Cross Road front. Circular turrets mark the west and north corners of the building, and above the south-east entrance pavilion rises a skeleton dome of cast iron, supporting a chariot drawn by leaping horses, symbolizing the circus origin of the building.