Cadogan House and Cromwell House

Survey of London: Volume 13, St Margaret, Westminster, Part II: Whitehall I. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1930.

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'Cadogan House and Cromwell House', in Survey of London: Volume 13, St Margaret, Westminster, Part II: Whitehall I, ed. Montagu H Cox, Philip Norman( London, 1930), British History Online [accessed 25 July 2024].

'Cadogan House and Cromwell House', in Survey of London: Volume 13, St Margaret, Westminster, Part II: Whitehall I. Edited by Montagu H Cox, Philip Norman( London, 1930), British History Online, accessed July 25, 2024,

"Cadogan House and Cromwell House". Survey of London: Volume 13, St Margaret, Westminster, Part II: Whitehall I. Ed. Montagu H Cox, Philip Norman(London, 1930), , British History Online. Web. 25 July 2024.

In this section


Ground Landlords.

The premises are the freehold of the Crown and are used for the purposes of the Ministry of Transport.

History and Description of Structure.

In 1721 Sir George Byng applied (fn. n1) for a grant of a piece of waste land between Whitehall Court and the house then in course of erection by Mr. Hanbury (on the site of Malmesbury House), but finding afterwards that a portion of the ground had been included in the latter's lease, amended his application accordingly. (fn. n2) In the report on his memorial, (fn. n3) the ground is said to have comprised "part of an old Cellar and an old Building called the Cowhouse and some other small parts of Ruins thereto adjoyning," abutting north on Whitehall Great Court, east in part on a way or passage leading to the lodgings in the possession of Mrs. Darcy and in other part on the ground leased to Hanbury, south on the latter, and west partly on the Privy Garden and in part "on a building dividing the said Privy Garden from Whitehall Great Court." The dimensions were: at the north end 76 feet, at the east end (to a break of 12 feet fronting the south) 58 feet, then again to the east 20 feet, to the south 32 feet, to the west 53 feet, then to the south 33 feet, and to the west 25 feet.

The plan of 1670 shows that the "old cellar" referred to was the royal wine cellar. This had not been totally destroyed in the fire of 1698. The Board of Greencloth wrote (fn. n4) to Sir Christopher Wren on 25th November, 1698: "Mr. Dalton and the rest of the officers of his Mats Cellar have represented unto us, that a part of his Mats great cellar which was preserved from the late dreadfull fire at Whitehall, doth lye exposed to raine, and the wine lodged therein may receive much damage if timely care be not taken. Wee therefore desire you will give speedy order for making such a cover to the said Cellar (fn. n5) as may precerve it and ye said wine from the danger of the weather." Another reference to it occurs (fn. n6) in February, 1701–2: "taking downe the old walls in & about the old Guard chamber (fn. n7) over the wine cellar which were in danger of falling."

The lease to Byng (then Viscount Torrington) was granted on 26th June, 1722, for thirty-one years. In 1739 his son, the 2nd Viscount, obtained a reversionary lease for a further thirty-six years. Twenty years later the latter's widow applied for another extension, and desired the inclusion of a small strip of land between her house and the ground leased to Lady Catherine Pelham, 53 feet 10 inches long by 34 feet 2 inches wide. The house was on that occasion reported to be "a substantial building in very good repair." (fn. n8) A lease was granted on 28th April, 1759, and was subsequently acquired by Charles Sloane Cadogan, who in 1773 obtained a new lease to expire on 26th August, 1823. In the report (fn. n9) on his memorial it is stated that the "messuage … is now divided into two which are in good repair, now … in the tenure of James Martin, Esqr., and the Memorialist." The division had evidently been carried out after 1768, when Cadogan had acquired the original lease (see p. 150).

The most remarkable feature of these premises is situated at the south-west end, and consists of the remains of a vaulted undercroft (the "old cellar" above referred to), which evidently formed part of the ancient York Place. The walls are constructed of small bricks, with stone ashlar of later date to the exterior facing Whitehall Gardens. The room (Plates 54, 55, 56) is two bays in width and four complete bays in length, with two incomplete bays at the southern end. Each bay has a quadripartite vault of brick, with chamfered brick ribs springing from octagonal stone piers ranging down the middle with moulded capitals, while the side ribs spring from shaped wall corbels also in stone. At some time the room was plastered, but a portion of the plaster has been removed, exposing the jointing of the red brickwork to the vaulting and the main walling.

The present floor is slightly below the road level, but according to Smirke, (fn. n10) the original floor was about 5 feet 4 inches lower. His drawing also indicates that the central piers have octagonal moulded bases.

In the east wall of the northern bay is a stone doorway, which has moulded jambs and a four-centred arch in a square head, with the spandrils on its eastern face occupied with carved shields and foliage. The shields are reputed to bear the ancient arms of the see of York impaling Wolsey, but the stonework has suffered very much from weathering, and is almost undecipherable (Plates 55 and 57). It should be noted that the vaulting ribs cut into the splay mouldings of the inner face of the arch, suggesting that the vaulting is of later date than the doorway. The south-western bay has a much deeper reveal than the others, with a break forward on the external face, which bears a strong resemblance to a similar break shown on the plan of 1670 indicating a bay window to this vaulted chamber. In the east wall at the southern end is a shallow recess with chamfered jambs and a fourcentred head.

The room is at present used as a staff luncheon-room.

The premises above the cellar, which were erected about 1722, comprise two storeys. The exterior to Whitehall Gardens (Plate 64) is in plain brickwork down to the level of the first floor, with keyed segmental arches to the fenestrations, the sashes being divided into small squares. The first-floor level is marked by a projecting stone band, and the walling below (which embraces the vaulted cellar) is faced in ashlar, with segmental arches to the windows and plain blocks in slight relief to the keys and springing. The north and east fronts overlooking Horse Guards Avenue are similar in character, but with an attic storey (Plate 48). The entrance to the portion known as Cromwell House was approached by a flight of stone steps leading from Whitehall Yard, which have now been supplemented by extra steps on account of the new levels. The doorway has stone dressings with blocked quoins, and a keyed head finished with a moulded pediment, typical of the style of Kent (Plate 52). The entrance doorway in Horse Guards Avenue to the part known as Cadogan House is adversely affected by the new pavement level, which is above that of old Whitehall Yard. The doorway has a moulded eared architrave, flanked with ¾ diameter Corinthian columns, which support an entablature with a modillion cornice, all executed in stone (Plate 52).

Figure 22:

Balustrading to Staircase.

The premises contain some decorative features which are attributed to Kent. The staircase to Cromwell House continues around three sides of the hall to the first floor, and has wrought-iron bar balusters, ornamented alternately with scrolls and leafage, and a moulded mahogany handrail. The stair-treads are in stone, with shaped outside ends and soffits. At the firstfloor level is a band with the wave ornament, which is carried round the wall of the staircase.

Room No. 78 has a deeply recessed window which corresponds with the bay to the undercroft below. The walls are panelled, while the wood mantelpiece is carved and has marble slips to the opening.

The panelling to Room No. 79 has carved mouldings, and is finished with an enriched modillion cornice (Plate 58). The north side contains a large central panel with a doorway on each side. The panel is formed by a moulded and carved architrave, with the top ramped over the centre with scrolls and swag enrichment. The door-casings have carved and moulded linings with heads comprising a pulvinated frieze and a moulded cornice decorated with egg-and-tongue ornament. The doors are double margin, six-panelled, the panels being "raised and fielded." The window reveals are also panelled, and the chair-rail and skirting moulded. On the east side of the room is a series of three semicircular arches springing above moulded and enriched imposts to shallow pilasters. The latter form the responds of piers, which, with the vaulted arcading to the passage outside (Plate 53), were originally a feature of the room. The Trial of the Pyx formerly took place here, and a view of the ceremony in the Illustrated London News for 16th December, 1854, shows the arcading as part of the room.

The chimneypiece to this room is very ornate, and, with the exception of the moulded jamb linings, which are in marble, is executed in carved pine. The moulded and enriched mantelshelf is supported on consoles containing eagles' heads, which have a length of guilloche ornament suspending from their beaks and finishing on their claws; the frieze contains a lion's head and forepaws between festoons of oak leaves. Above the shelf on a plinth with the crest ornament is a broad panel, formed by an architrave of the egg-and-leaf ornament, and having a decorative frieze to the head surmounted by a moulded pediment. On the outside of the frame on each side is a fringe of husk ornament with a scroll terminal.

Room No. 80 has the walls panelled as in Room 78, and a marble mantelpiece (Plate 59).

Room No. 81 originally had a carved wood mantelpiece, which is now in Room No. 25 of Pembroke House.

The walls of Room 82 are panelled, and finished with a modillion cornice. The lower part of the chimneypiece is in statuary marble, with an egg-and-leaf architrave lining to the fireplace, flanked with sculptured female Hermae supporting a moulded shelf. The frieze contains a central tablet with a conventional urn between swags, and on each side is a roundel above a festoon of oak leaves. Above the mantelshelf on a fretted plinth is a richly carved wood frame in which is a painting of the Toilet of Venus. A Mephistophelean mask in a shell crowns the frame. The whole design is typical of the style of Kent and his period (Plate 53).

Between the last two rooms is a stone staircase the full depth of the block. It starts from the entrance in Whitehall Yard and continues to the second floor, with semicircular landings and winders around an open newel. Some of the rooms on the floor above are panelled, with cornices in wood, and with bolection moulded architraves to the doors and windows.

Room 97 (Plate 58), which overlooks the entrance yard to Cromwell House, still retains the substantial sash-bars which, it is probable were originally in most of the sash windows in these premises.

Condition of Repair.


Historical Notes.

The occupiers of these two houses, so far as they can be ascertained, were as follows:

1725–9 Viscount Torrington
1730–1 — Byng, Esq.
1732–3 Col. Byng
1734–9 Viscount Torrington
1739–41 (fn. n11) Capt. Mordaunt
1742 Viscount Torrington
1743–4 (fn. n11) Capt. Mordaunt
1746–50 Viscount Torrington
1751–56 Lady Torrington
1756–8 Rt. Hon. Wm. Pitt
1758–9 Lady Torrington
* * * * * * * * * *
Cadogan House Cromwell House
1773 Chas. Sloane Cadogan (Earl Cadogan)
1773 James Martin
* * * * * * * * * *
1792–5 Evan Nepean 1792–1824 Sir William Lemon
1825 The Misses Lemon

George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington, was born in 1663. His career at first wavered between the army and the navy, and he actually held commissions in both services. In 1688 he was entrusted with the task of canvassing the navy captains in the interests of the Prince of Orange, and obtained the latter's goodwill. Soon after this he gave up his commission in the army, and devoted himself to service afloat. By 1703 he had risen to the rank of rear-admiral. He took part in 1704 in the capture of Gibraltar and the Battle of Malaga, and was knighted for his services. In 1705 he was made vice-admiral, and in 1708 admiral, and in the latter year repulsed the Pretender's fleet. In 1715 he was made a baronet. In 1718 he was promoted Admiral of the Fleet, and in the same year gained the notable victory of Cape Passaro, in which he entirely destroyed the Spanish fleet. On his return to England in 1721 he was appointed Rear-Admiral of Great Britain and Treasurer of the Navy, and was created Baron Southill and Viscount Torrington. In 1725 he was made K.B., and in 1727 became First Lord of the Admiralty. He died on 17th January, 1732–3. He was father of the Admiral Byng who was executed in 1757.

Byng, Viscount Torrington.

He seems to have entered into occupation of the house in Whitehall Yard in 1724 (being shown there in the 1725 ratebook), but apparently did not reside there after 1729.

Colonel Byng, who lived at the house from 1732 (perhaps 1730) to 1733, was probably his son Edward.

Pattee Byng, 2nd Viscount Torrington, Paymaster-General in Ireland, died on 24th January, 1746–7," at his House in Whitehall." (fn. n12) His residence there had been intermittent. In the intervals the house seems to have been occupied (though the evidence of the ratebooks is not entirely clear) by Capt. Mordaunt.

The 2nd Viscount left his "house at Whitehall, with all the pictures, furniture and household goods of whatever kind" to his widow (fn. n13) Nevertheless the ratebooks show that he was succeeded at the house by his brother, the 3rd Viscount, and this is to some extent confirmed by the latter's will, which refers to certain of his books "at my late Brothers House at Whitehall." (fn. n14) He died on 7th April, 1750, at Southill, and the dowager viscountess (fn. n15) entered into occupation of the house.

The ratebooks show that from Christmas, 1756, to 1758, she let the house to William Pitt.

For details of the life of William Pitt, afterwards Earl of Chatham, the reader is referred to the standard biographies, which, however, contain no particulars of his residence at this house. His correspondence, on the other hand, includes a number of letters about this period, addressed from "Whitehall." It is worthy of note that when Pitt in February, 1757, was pleading with the King on behalf of Admiral Byng he was living in the house belonging to the family and rented from the admiral's sister-in-law.

The dowager viscountess died on 17th March, 1759. By her will (fn. n16) she left her house "situate in the Palace of Whitehall … now in my own Occupation" to her executors for the use of "the Person who for the time being shall be Viscount Torrington and Intitled to the capital Seat at Southill, . . belonging to the Torrington Family."

It might be presumed that George, the 4th Viscount, succeeded his aunt at once in the occupation of the house, but it is impossible to confirm this from the ratebooks, which (incorrectly) show Lady Torrington still there until 1762 (the last book containing any entries for Whitehall Yard). Moreover, he was only just of age at his aunt's death, and did not marry until 1765. It was perhaps in connection with the latter event that on 22nd April, 1765 (three months before the marriage) Lady Torrington's executor sold (fn. n17) the remainder of the lease to the viscount. (fn. n18)

On 24th February, 1768, the latter disposed of (fn. n19) the property to the Hon. Charles Sloane Cadogan.

Charles Sloane Cadogan, 1st Earl Cadogan, son of Charles, 2nd Baron Cadogan, was born in 1728. From 1769 to 1784 he was Master of the Mint. He succeeded to the Barony in 1776 and in 1800 was created Viscount Chelsea and Earl Cadogan. He died on 3rd April, 1807, still in possession of the lease, of which he had obtained an extension.

Cadogan, Earl Cadogan.

It is known that by 1773 (see p. 146) the house had been divided into two (Nos. 2 and 3, Whitehall Yard), which were occupied respectively by Cadogan himself and James Martin. In the absence of any ratebook evidence for this period, it is not possible to say how long Cadogan remained at No. 2; but in 1792 Evan Nepean was in occupation.

Evan Nepean was born in 1751. In 1782 he became Under-Secretary of State in the Shelburne ministry, and after holding several other offices he was in 1795 appointed Secretary of the Admiralty. He was created a baronet in 1802. In 1804 he was for a few months Chief Secretary for Ireland, and then returned to the Admiralty for about eighteen months as Lord Commissioner. From 1812 to 1819 he was Governor of Bombay. He died in 1822.

He is shown in residence at No. 2 Whitehall Yard in the second (but not the first) edition of Boyle's Court Guide for 1792, (fn. n20) and he may therefore be presumed to have entered into occupation in that year. The last issue showing him at the house is that for 1795, so that he probably removed thence on his appointment to the Admiralty. The house does not appear to have had another tenant.

Although the lease of the premises did not expire until 1823, the house was used at least as early as 1803 (see Plate 47) as the office of the Comptroller of Army Accounts. (fn. c1)

The issue of Boyle's Court Guide for 1792 shows Sir William Lemon in occupation of No. 3, and he continued in residence until his death in 1824, (fn. n22) but there is nothing to indicate the date when his "term" in the property began. (fn. n23) The lease had expired in 1823, after which Lemon had continued as tenant at will, and according to the Government records was succeeded for a time by his son, Sir Charles Lemon, (fn. n24) but Boyle's Court Guide for 1825 shows the "Misses Lemon" there. In 1826 the premises were taken over and used as an office for the auditor of the Civil List.

In the Council's Collection are:—

(fn. n24) General exterior of premises to Horse Guards Avenue (photograph).
(fn. n24) General exterior of premises to Whitehall Gardens (photograph).
(fn. n24) Detail of entrance doorway to Cadogan House (photograph).
(fn. n24) Detail of entrance doorway to Cromwell House (photograph).
Detail of entrance doorway to Cromwell House (measured drawings).
Detail of iron stair balustrading, Cromwell House (measured drawings).
(fn. n24) Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawings).
(fn. n24) View of undercroft looking north (photograph).
(fn. n24) View of undercroft looking south (photograph).
(fn. n24) Detail of arched doorway in east wall to undercroft (photograph).
(fn. n24) Detail of arched doorway in east wall to undercroft (measured drawing).
(fn. n24) Plan of undercroft (measured drawing).
Room No. 77, detail of marble mantelpiece (photograph).
Room No. 78, detail of wood mantelpiece (photograph).
Room No. 79, general view looking north (photograph).
(fn. n24) Room No. 79, detail of chimneypiece (photograph).
Room No. 79, general view showing arcading (photograph).
(fn. n24) General view of arcading in passage (photograph).
Detail of arcading in passage (measured drawing).
(fn. n24) Room No. 80, detail of marble mantelpiece (photograph).
Room No. 82, detail of chimneypiece (photograph).
(fn. n24) Room No. 97, general view of panelling and windows (photograph).


  • n1. P.R.O., T. 1/235, No. 32.
  • n2. Ibid., 55/10, p. 1.
  • n3. Ibid., 54/27, p. 87.
  • n4. P.R.O., Works, 3/1.
  • n5. But in 1721 it is referred to as "an old Cellar without a Roof." (P.R.O., Ind., 4624, p. 48).
  • n6. P.R.O., Works, 5/52.
  • n7. The 1721 document mentioned above describes Byng's property as including "part of the ruins where the stairs went up to the Guard Chamber."
  • n8. P.R.O., T. 55/11, p. 96.
  • n9. Ibid., 55/17, p. 287.
  • n10. Archæologia, 1834.
  • n11. Uncertain.
  • n12. The Penny London Post.
  • n13. This was recommend to me by my Father out of his great and just regard for her, and is intirely agreable to my own disposition." (P.C.C., 25, Potter.)
  • n14. P.C.C., 131, Greenly.
  • n15. Charlotte, daughter of Charles, 1st Duke of Manchester.
  • n16. P.C.C., 312, Arran.
  • n17. Indenture between the Rt. Hon. Sir George Pocock, K.B., and Viscount Torrington. (Middx. Memls., 1768, I, 431.)
  • n18. George, 4th Viscount Torrington, married Lady Lucy Boyle, only daughter of John, 5th Earl of Cork and Orrery. He died on 14th December, 1812.
  • n19. Middx. Memls., 1768, II, 90.
  • n20. From 1785 to 1788 he had been at No. 13 Great George Street. (Survey of London, Vol. X, p. 35.)
  • n21. "At his seat at Carclew, Cornwall, aged 76, Sir William Lemon, bart., 50 years representative in Parliament for that county." (Annual Register, 11th December, 1824.)
  • n22. By his will dated 24th November, 1813, he left "unto my said Wife all that my dwelling house … situate at Whitehall … to hold … for … the term of her natural life, if the Term … which I have therein shall so long continue." (P.C.C., 208, St. Albans.) As a matter of fact, his wife predeceased him, dying at the house in Whitehall on 16th June, 1823. (Annual Register.)
  • n23. Crown Lands: Returns relating to the Woods, Forests and Land Revenues of the Crown, 1831, pp. 200–1.
  • n24. Reproduced here.
  • c1. In the PRO is a transfer of a house in Whitehall Yard, dated 27 June 1808, from the executors of the will of Lord Cadogan to the Comptrollers of the Accounts of the Army; this obviously refers to Cadogan House. See Survey of London, volume XIV, The Parish of St Margaret, Westminster (Part 3), 1931, p.170.