No. 5 Great George Street

Pages 22-23

Survey of London: Volume 10, St. Margaret, Westminster, Part I: Queen Anne's Gate Area. Originally published by [s.n.], [s.l.], 1926.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section

VII—No. 5 GREAT GEORGE STREET: (Demolished).

General Description and Date of Structure.

Among the leases granted to Horne and Wilkinson on 4th November, 1755, was one of a parcel of ground and messuage with other erections intended to be built, being the 15th house from King Street on the south side of the way. (fn. n1) The plot is described as containing in front and rear 25 feet, on the east side 79 feet, and on the west side 76 feet. The house was first occupied in 1758. In 1910 it was demolished for the purposes of the new building of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

The premises consisted of a plain brick front of four storeys over a basement, with a wood pedimented doorcase (Plate 25). The latter is now at the Geffrye Museum, Shoreditch, on loan by H.M. Office of Works.

The front room on the ground floor had wood panelling and a carved mantelpiece and overmantel, while the doors had moulded overdoors with carved pulvinated friezes. The chair-rails, skirtings and window linings were similarly carved, and the room was finished with a decorated modillion plaster cornice. The whole room has been set up at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and is a fine example of craftsmanship of the latter half of the 18th century (Plates 26, 27, 28, 29). The rear room had a wood mantelpiece with enriched consoles and responds, supporting a moulded shelf, while the frieze was decorated with a design of carved, foliated scrollwork. The first-floor rooms had plain panelling, and the mantelpieces were in wood, with enrichments in composition.

An ornamental lead cistern in the house bore the date 1768.

Historical Notes.

The occupiers of this house before 1840, according to the ratebooks, were (fn. n2) :—

1758–62 Thomas Tyrwhitt.
1762–69 Thomas Bradshawe.
1770–81 Thomas Parker.
1783–1810 Francis Jenks.
1811–12 Executors of Francis Jenks.
1813–16 Bodychon Sparrow.
1817–18 John Campbell (in Boyle's Court Guide "George" Campbell).
1819–25 Montague Gosset.
1826–31 Richard Penn.
1832–34 William Horne.
1835– William Whateley (fn. n3)

Thomas Tyrwhitt was the well-known commentator, who, among other things, produced the (to that date) most scholarly edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, and demolished the pseudo-Rowley poems of Chatterton. He was born in 1730, the eldest son of the Rev. Robert Tyrwhitt, then rector of St. James, Westminster, and was educated at Eton and Queen's College, Oxford, becoming a fellow of Merton in 1755. From 1756 to 1762 he was deputy-secretary at war. In the latter year he became clerk of the House of Commons, and gave up No. 5 Great George Street, which the ratebooks show him to have occupied for the previous four years. In 1768 he retired from his official position. He died in 1786. Besides his works mentioned above he published many editions and emendations of classical authors, as well as Elsinge's Manner of Holding Parliaments and Observations … upon some Passages of Shakespeare.

Montague Gosset was born in 1792. Against his inclination he entered the navy in 1806, but after three years' service he was invalided home from the West Indies in a very bad state of health. Having had enough of the sea, he resolved to take up the study of surgery. He, therefore, joined Guy's Hospital, where he obtained his diploma in 1814. With the exception of two years spent in Scotland he remained at Guy's until 1819, "when he commenced practice as a consulting surgeon in Great George Street, Westminster. Thence he removed to the City." (fn. n4) He died in 1854. According to the Dictionary of National Biography, he practised in the City for 34 years, which implies that he left Great George Street in 1820–21. The ratebooks give his name in respect of the house until 1825, but it should be noted that in Boyle's Court Guide, while "Montague Gosset" is shown for 1820 and 1821, his place is taken by "Mrs. Gosset" in the issues for 1822 to 1825.

Richard Penn, who followed Gosset in the occupation of the house, was the younger son of Richard Penn, colonist, and great-grandson of the founder of Pennsylvania. He was born in 1784. He is known for his humorous works of Maxims and Hints for an angler, for a chess-player and on shooting. He was employed in the Colonial Office, and in 1829 published a pamphlet On a new mode of secret writing, illustrating a cipher which he had arranged for use in despatches. He died in 1863.

In the Council's Collection are:—

General exterior of premises (photograph).
Entrance doorway (on loan at the Geffrye Museum) (photograph).
Chimney-piece to front room on ground floor (photograph).
General view of doors and panelling on ground floor (photograph).
Mantelpiece to rear room on ground floor (photograph).
Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawings).
(fn. n5) Entrance doorway (measured drawings).
(fn. n5) General view of panelling to front room on ground floor (measured drawings).
(fn. n5) Details of panelling to front room on ground floor (measured drawings).


  • n1. Middlesex Memorials, 1757, I., 589.
  • n2. In Boyle's Court Guide for the years 1792 to 1798 the house is referred to as No. 4.
  • n3. Boyle's Court Guide adds Lady Spencer Churchill.
  • n4. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • n5. Reproduced here.