The Lottery Office

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

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'The Lottery Office', 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 20 July 2024].

'The Lottery Office', 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 20, 2024,

"The Lottery Office". Survey of London: Volume 13, St Margaret, Westminster, Part II: Whitehall I. Ed. Montagu H Cox, Philip Norman(London, 1930), , British History Online. Web. 20 July 2024.


Immediately south of the Banqueting House, and occupying the site of portions of the Privy Gallery (including the Lord Keeper's rooms as shown on the plan of 1670, and the Adam and Eve staircase) and Privy Garden, was the building which, at least as early as 1722, (fn. n1) was known as the Lottery Office. (fn. n2) On the widening of the road between the Banqueting House and King Street Gate, and the removal of the gun-platform, in 1723, the Lottery Office came to front the newly-widened thoroughfare. A good view of the building in 1746 is contained in Plate 7.

In 1732, when the old Treasury was pulled down for the erection of Kent's new building, the Treasury Commissioners removed temporarily to the Lottery Office. (fn. n3) The new Treasury was finished in 1736, and in 1742 it was decided to fit up "the rooms in the Privy Garden where the Treasury was lately kept" as an office for the secretary of state. It was at first suggested that a room, 56 feet long, on the ground floor, should be provided with presses and shelves, and that the articles belonging to the Lottery Office should be cleared away, but it was finally decided, on the score of expense, to omit the item, and allow "the wheels & other things belonging to the Lottery Office" to remain there. (fn. n4) The wheels (fn. n5) were subsequently removed to sheds on the south side of the building (see p. 223).

The premises remained in the occupation of the Secretary of State until 1771. (fn. n6) In December of that year Peter Burrell obtained a grant of the ground adjoining, on which the lottery wheels had been stored, and in January, 1772, orders were given for them to be placed in the building. (fn. n7)

In 1788 Henry Holland, architect to the Duke of York, applied (fn. n8) on the latter's behalf for permission to purchase "the house in Privy Gardens lately used as an office for the Commissioners of the Lottery," and to enclose a small piece of Privy Garden lying to the east. The report on the application stated that "the lower part of the building is still in the possession of the Commissioners … whose officers state that they have no other place for the custody of the lottery wheels until the new Lottery Office in Somerset Place shall be ready." About four years later the duke renewed his application (fn. n9) in connection with a request for a new lease of the house (afterwards Dover House) which he had purchased, on the other side of the road. The application was granted, and the duke forthwith pulled down the old building and erected stables on the site. A view of them is given in the illustration of the Banqueting House on p. 127. They lasted until 1893. On 6th June in that year the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII) laid the memorial stone of the new premises of the Royal United Service Institution, and on 20th February, 1895, opened the building. (fn. n10)


  • n1. See plan attached to report, dated 17th November, 1722, on the petition of Wm. Vanhulls. (P.R.O., Treasury Papers, CCXL, 77.)
  • n2. "From 1709 to 1824 the Government annually raised considerable sums in lotteries authorised by Act of Parliament. The prizes were in the form of terminable or perpetual annuities." (Encylc. Brit.) During the latter part of this period the Government's average annual profit was £346, 765. An interesting record of the use made of the lottery system in meeting liabilities is the following, dating from 1703, before the lotteries were annual: "Dorothy Ireland, semstress to her late Maty Queen Mary having received 8 Maule Lottery Ticketts in part of her Arrears due for Sallary, which Ticketts were lost when Whitehall was burnt, prays an Order for paymt of the Interest of the said Ticketts." (P.R.O., Ind. 4622, p. 77.)
  • n3. "3rd August, 1732. Agreed to the Estimate [£450] … of the Charge of fitting up & making accommodations at the Lottery Office in Whitehall for the Reception of their Lordships, the present Building of the Treasury Office being in a very dangerous Condition." (P.R.O., Works, 4/5 (Minutes).)
  • n4. P.R.O., Works, 6/16, pp. 40–2.
  • n5. "These are two Wheels about six Feet in Diameter, and twelve or eighteen Inches thick, so that the Sides, being thin, reserve a sufficient Cavity for containing the Tickets; they have also convenient Openings in the Sides for putting in the Hand to draw them, and are suspended on their Centers in a Manner very convenient for shaking or mixing them … The Wheels being placed at a convenient Distance from one another, on the Hustings … a Boy (generally taken from Christ-church Hospital in London) is stationed at each Wheel to draw the Tickets, and a Clerk stands between each of them and the Managers to receive and proclaim the Numbers drawn; one Boy drawing a Ticket from the Wheel, containing the Numbers, and the other, the same Instant, one from that of the Prizes and Blanks, and whatever Ticket of the latter, whether a Prize or a Blank, comes up against the Ticket which contains the Number, is filed with it … and recorded by the other Clerks, as the Fate of that Number … Thus the Drawing is continued from Nine in the morning till Two in the Afternoon … till all the Prizes are drawn, and one of the Blanks, which Blank is to be considered as last drawn Ticket, and intitled as such to the Prize in the Scheme." (The Lottery display'd, or the Adventurer's Guide, 1771, pp. 18–20.) The drawing took place at the Guildhall, the wheels being moved there from Whitehall a day or two before.
  • n6. The petition of the inhabitants of Privy Garden in February, 1771, relative to the erection of Peter Burrell's house (see p. 223) mentions as an alternative site "that spot of ground on which the Northern Secretary of State's office now stands (which office they are informed is to be removed)."
  • n7. "7th January, 1772. Read Letter from Edward Johnson, Secretary to the Commissioners of the Lottery, desiring that orders may be given to the Board of Works to make such alterations in the late Secretary of State's office, as that the Lottery Wheels may be removed into the Hall there." Directions were given accordingly. (P.R.O., T. 29/41, p. 408.)
  • n8. Woods and Forests Entry Book, K.4, p. 145.
  • n9. P.R.O., T. 55/22, p. 287.
  • n10. The Times, 21st February, 1895.