Between No. 66, Charing Cross and the Cockspur Street entrance to Spring Gardens

Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1935.

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'Between No. 66, Charing Cross and the Cockspur Street entrance to Spring Gardens', in Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, (London, 1935) pp. 141-145. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]


Before 1759 the entrance from Cockspur Street to Spring Gardens (fn. n1) was very narrow (see Plate 80) and the Charing Cross frontage to the west of the site of No. 66, now only 24 feet long, was about 54 feet in length. At the time of the street improvement the space between this frontage and Spring Gardens was occupied by six houses, brief particulars of which are as follows.

(a) The easternmost of these is described in 1713 (fn. n2) as "all that Messuage … commonly called … the Kings head (fn. n3) (now the Queens Head) sometime in the Tenure … of Mary Evans … since … of Gabriell Kunholt, Bookseller (fn. n4) … and since that … of Henry Collier … late … of Anthony Blount (fn. n5) and now of John Vaughan." The sign was subsequently changed to The St. Andrew (fn. n6), or St. Andrew's Cross. The premises seem to have come into the hands of Francis Plumer, who sold them to the commissioners for carrying out the improvement. (fn. n7)

(b) In 1706 Samuel Browne and Anne his wife sold to Joseph Locker a messuage, with appurtenances, in the parish of St. Martin's. (fn. n8) Ten years later Locker sold (fn. n9) the house to John Walker under the description of "all that Messuage … thentofore in the tenure … of Samuell Browne, afterwards of Thomas Kelley, Vintner, Since in the tenure … of Robert Winter, Cook … and now or late in the tenure … of Thomas Affleck, Victualler … and is Commonly called … the Thisle and Crowne, Scituate at or near Charing Cross … and is Adjoyning towards the west to a Messuage then or late in the occupacion of Michaell Bidell, Gunnsmith, and … East to a Messuage then in the tenure … of Robert Vincent, Victualler." The sale of the premises to the commissioners was not completed until some time after the house had been pulled down, owing to the death of Walker, but on 27th March, 1765, they bought (fn. n10) from the representatives of Walker and of his mortgagee the ground "and the Messuage … Erected thereon situate … on the South Side of the High Street … called … Cockspur Street (fn. n11) … late in the tenure … of Thomas Bright, Barber, and abutting Northwards on the said Street … Southwards on a Messuage … called … Brown's Coffee house … Eastwards on a Messuage … commonly called … Saint Andrews Cross Alehouse … and Westwards on a Messuage late in the Occupation of Mary Piddock, and containing in Front … at the North End … thirteen Feet and Six Inches … And at the South End thirteen feet And in depth forty two Feet and Six Inches."

(c) The next three houses to be mentioned were, when purchased by the commissioners, in the ownership of Zachary Pearce, Bishop of Rochester. (fn. n12) The one next to the Thistle and Crown was described (fn. n13) as a messuage "heretofore called … the Blue Bell Alehouse … now in the tenure of Mary Piddock, widow, and abutting Northwards on the said Street [Cockspur Street], Southwards on a Messuage … now in the tenure … of Joseph Dugdale, Haberdasher, Eastwards on a Messuage … in the possession of Thomas Bright, Barber, and Westwards on a Messuage … in the possession of John Adams, Pastry Cook, and containing in Front … from East to West … both at the North and South Ends … Eight feet and four Inches … and in Length from North to South both on the East and West Sides … thirty seven feet and Six Inches." The ratebooks show that the house was from 1665 to 1672 in the occupation of Middleton Harrington, and there is record of a token issued by him at The Blue Bell. (fn. n14)

(d) and (e). In 1692 John Cooke "of Burton upon the Woulds" sold (fn. n15) to his mother, Jane, the reversion, expectant on her death, of "all that Messuage, built with brick, knowne by the name of the Signe of the Spread Eagle Taverne, Scituate … neare … Charing Crosse … heretofore in the possession of Sarah Hazle, Widdow, and now or late in the occupacion of John Rawlins, Esqr … being on the South side on the High Streete … leading towards St. James's, betweene a tenemt heretofore in the occupacion of Middleton Harrington on the East, and a way or passage leading into … the Spring Garden on the West." The ratebooks show that "Widdow Hassell," who succeeded her husband, John, in 1663, was followed in 1665 by Andrew Hinder (fn. n16) who continued until 1675. From 1676 to 1691 John Rawlins was at the house, and he was followed by Robert Winter, (fn. n17) who continued until 1714. At about this time the house was divided, one portion occupying the street frontage, while the other was situated in the rear, facing the Spring Gardens passage. On 30th October, 1728, Tracey Pauncefort, who had bought the premises from Jane Cooke in 1696, (fn. n18) assigned them (fn. n19) to Richard Eardnell and William Vavasour under the description of "All that Messuage … built with Brick and formerly known by the name … of the Spread Eagle Taverne, but now divided into Two Messuages … one of them formerly called — Coffee house and the other called … the Three Pidgeons, but the one is now the Dundee Arms and the other a Pastry Cooks," and in the following year the premises were purchased by Thomas Pearce. (fn. n20) In 1758 the Westminster Bridge Commissioners received authority to widen the entrance from Cockspur Street to Spring Gardens, and for that purpose to purchase the freehold "of all and every such Building … as they … shall think necessary … within the bounds … following, that is to say, situate … adjoining to the said … street … on the east side thereof, as far as a certain messuage … now in the occupation of Robert Taylor, statuary … and abutting north on Cockspur Street and south on Spring Gardens." (fn. n21) The two houses mentioned above had now passed to Thomas Pearce's eldest son and heir, Zachary, Bishop of Rochester. (fn. n22) In the sale (fn. n23) to the commissioners they are described as two messuages "one of which … is now in the tenure … of … John Adams, And is situate … on the South side of Cockspur Street … abutting … southwards on a Messuage … in the Occupacion of … Joseph Dugdale, Eastwards on the … Messuage … in the Occupacion of … Mary Piddock … and Westwards on the … Street … leading from Cockspur Street to the … Passage in Spring Garden, and containing in Front on the North End … thirteen feet and Eight Inches … And at the South End … twelve feet … and in Length … on the East and West Sides … thirty seven feet and Six Inches … And the other … is now in the tenure … of the said Joseph Dugdale, and is Situate … on the East Side of the above mencioned Street or Avenue leading from Cockspur Street to the said Passage in Spring Garden, and Abutting Northwards on the … Messuages … now in the Tenures … of … John Adams and Mary Piddock … in part and on the … Messuage … in the possession of … Thomas Bright of the other part, and Southwards on a Mesuage … called Brownes Coffee house now in the Occupacion of Thomas Brown, Eastwards on a Mesuage … in the possession of … Thomas Bright in part and on a yard belonging to the said Mesuage … in the Occupacion of the said Thomas Brown in other part, and Westwards on the said Street leading from Cockspur Street … and containing in front … at the West End … nineteen feet and three Inches … and in the Rear at the East End … Eleven feet … and on the North side … twenty feet and four Inches … to a Break of four feet from North to South, and in further Length on the … North Side … Eastwards ten Feet … and … on the South Side … thirty feet."

(f) The remaining house was Brown's Coffee House. (fn. n24) This seems to have been the only part of the Bowyers' freehold (see p. 123) which in the middle of the eighteenth century was still in the possession of the family. On 21st July, 1758, the commissioners purchased from John Astle of Harlington, nephew, devisee and sole executor of Lettice Bowyer, "the Messuage … called … Brownes Coffee house … Situate … at the South East corner of a certain Street … leading from Cockspur Street to the passage in Spring Garden … Abutting Southwards on Spring Garden, Eastwards on a Messuage … now in the Occupacion of Robt Taylor, Statuary, Northwards on three severall other … Messuages now in the several possessions of William Plivey, Victualler, Thos Bright, Barber, and Joseph Dugdale, Haberdasher, and westwards on the said Street … and containing in front on the South side … next Spring Garden … Forty five feet … and on the … North Side thereof from the aforesaid Avenue Eastwards thirty feet … to a Break of Ten Feet from South to North, and from that Break further Eastwards Fifteen Feet … And in Depth from North to South nineteen feet … from the said Avenue to the aforesaid Break, and from thence further Eastwards to the said Messuage now in the Occupacion of … Robert Taylor twenty nine feet." (fn. n25)

In the early part of 1759 all six houses had been demolished, and on 13th March in that year the commissioners sold the surplus land, containing 24 feet in length and 70 feet in depth, to Francis Plumer, subject to his erecting thereon not more than four brick houses "with Regular and Uniform Fronts according to an Elevation" agreed. (fn. n26) Plumer built three houses on the site (fn. n27) : (i) with a frontage to Cockspur Street (now Charing Cross), afterwards Farrance's noted confectionery and ice shop (fn. n28); (ii) fronting on the widened street; and (iii) facing Spring Gardens. The last mentioned became the Spring Garden Coffee House. (fn. n29) The whole site is now covered by the premises of the National Provincial Bank.


  • n1. It is possible that the entrance originated as an approach to The Red Lion (see p. 147). An account of the formation in 1699 of the public passage from Spring Gardens at this point to St. James's Park lies outside the scope of this volume, and will be contained in a subsequent volume of the Survey of London dealing with inter alia the Spring Garden and the Park.
  • n2. Indenture, dated 14th July, 1713, between John Rawlins and Margaret Jordan. (Middx. Register, 1713, III, 58.)
  • n3. "This is to give Notice to all Persons of Quality, Gentry and Others, That there is now to be seen at the King's-Head over against the Mews-Gate at Charing-Cross, the greatest Wonder in the World, being an Hermaphrodite, Eighteen Years of Age … Note. There is a Paper Lantern over the Door, with these Words upon it, The Hermaphrodite is to be seen here without a Moments loss of time." (British Museum, Advertisements of Curiosities.)
  • n4. Gabriel Kunholt succeeded Bryan Mortimer (see p. 139) at the house in 1677, and continued until 1685. He is mentioned in H. R. Plomer's Dictionary of Booksellers as at "the King's Head over against the Muse."
  • n5. In 1706 Rawlins brought a suit against Blount alleging that he had broken his agreement of tenancy of the "messuage … Scituate … at or neare Chairing Cross … formerly in the tenure … of Henry Collier, Sword Cutler," together with all the "Signe Irons, rack Irons, press bed, Shelves and hangings" for which Collier, "being minded … to leave the said house and follow some other advantageous employ," had no longer any use. Blount also was a sword cutler, and conceived that he would save money by not having to fit the house up for his trade. (P.R.O., C. 5/331/59.)
  • n6. See indenture, dated 13th February, 1734–5, between (1) James Vaughan, (2) Adrian Moore, and (3) Thomas Elliott and John Bladwell, concerning "All that Messuage … late commonly called … the Kings Head, since of the Queens Head, and now of St. Andrew, and now or late in the possession of Robert Vincent" (Middx. Register, 1734, V, 319). Vaughan was the husband of Elizabeth, only daughter of Francis Rawlins, son of John Rawlins.
  • n7. These statements are unfortunately not confirmed. The commissioners certainly bought the property, though the record of the transaction has not been found, but the only purchase by Plumer that has been traced is a mortgage in the shape of a 1000 years' lease. (Indenture, dated 25th January, 1737–8, between (1) Adrian Moor, (2) James Vaughan, and (3) Francis "Plomer"—Middx. Register, 1737, IV, 561.)
  • n8. Final concord, Mich., 5 Anne (P.R.O., C.P. 25(2), 945). The warranty is against the heirs of Anne.
  • n9. Indenture, dated 10th November, 1716. (Middx. Register, 1717, IV, 199.)
  • n10. Indenture between (1) Timothy Prosser, (2) Thomas and Henry Kynaston, and (3) Samuel Seddon and John Simpson. (P.R.O., C. 54/6165, No. 10.)
  • n11. At this time a small portion of Charing Cross east of the entrance into Spring Gardens was treated as part of Cockspur Street.
  • n12. It is not known how Pearce obtained the freehold of (c), but it seems likely that it was purchased by his father Thomas from Bowyer in 1707. (Final concord between Thomas Pearse quer: and William Gamble alias Bowyer deforc: concerning one messuage with appurtenances in St. Martin's—Easter, 6 Anne. (P.R.O., C.P. 25(2), 946.)
  • n13. P.R.O., C. 54/6017, No. 20.
  • n14. "Midleton Harinton at y. Blu [Bell] at Charing Cross, M.A.H." (London Tokens of the Seventeenth Century, by A. W. Frank, 1862.)
  • n15. Indenture, dated 16th February, 1691–2. (P.R.O., C. 54/4741, No. 10.)
  • n16. William Boyne (Tokens issued in the Seventeenth Century) records a token of Hinde. "Andrew Hind over against [a hind] the Muse, his half peny [a double-headed spread eagle]."
  • n17. In 1711 John Rawlins brought a suit against Winter in the course of which he stated that on 27th September, 1698, he leased to him "All that New Brick Messuage … containing Two Rooms on a Floor Situate … in the Great Street leading from Charing Cross unto Pickadilly." (P.R.O., C. 5/370/71.)
  • n18. Indenture, dated 5th August, 1696. (P.R.O., C. 54/4805, No. 14.)
  • n19. Middx. Register, 1728, IV, 398.
  • n20. Indentures, dated 19–20th December, 1729, between (1) William and Jacob Morland, (2) Richard Eardnell, (3) Tracy Pauncefort, (4) Zachary Pearce, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and Mary his wife, and (5) Joseph Adams and Thomas Pearce the elder, of Little Ealing. (Middx. Register, 1729, V, 372.)
  • n21. 30 Geo. II, cap. 34.
  • n22. Zachary Pearce, born in 1690, was the son of Thomas (not John as in the Dict. Nat. Biog.) Pearce, a distiller, and was educated at Westminster and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was ordained deacon in 1717 and priest in 1718. In 1719 he became rector of Stapleford Abbots, and in 1724 vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. In 1739 he was made Dean of Winchester and in 1748 Bishop of Bangor, from which see he was in 1755 translated to Rochester. In the following year he also received the deanery of Westminster. He died at Little Ealing in 1774.
  • n23. P.R.O., C. 54/6017, No. 20.
  • n24. "Stray'd out of St. James's Park … a middle siz'd Spaniel, strong made and fat, with a thick short Head, his Ears partly Liver-colour'd and partly mottled, with two or three broad Livercolour'd Spots on his Body, his Tail not long but thick, something of the Pointing Breed. Whoever will bring him to Browne's Coffee-house in Spring Garden near Charing-Cross … shall receive half a Guinea Reward." (The Daily Post, 29th February, 1732.)
  • n25. P.R.O., C. 54/6017, No. 19. There is evidently something wrong with the latter part of this description.
  • n26. P.R.O., C. 54/6037, No. 9. The amount paid was £1,260 plus £200 in respect of the old materials. (P.R.O., Works, 6/35, pp. 114–5.)
  • n27. Francis Plumer "laceman" left to his wife, Susanna, for life his "three Freehold Messuages … situate on the South side of Cockspur Street and in the passage leading to Spring Gardens." (P.C.C., 516 Rockingham.)
  • n28. See indentures, dated 7th-8th July, 1809, between Francis Dinely and Thos. Farrance, "pastrycook and confectioner," of the reversion expectant on the death of Susannah Plumer of the "Messuage at the North end of a Street or Passage leadg from Cockspur Street … into Spring Garden, now in the occupan of the said Thos. Farrance." (Middx. Register, 1809, V, 581.)
  • n29. See indenture, dated 16th June, 1792, between Susanna and Francis Plumer and Charles Biggar, leasing "All that Messuage … called … the Spring Garden Coffee house … at the South end of a Street … leading from Cockspur Street … into Spring Gardens lately enlarged … adjoining Eastward to a House lately in the Possession of Sir Robert Taylor, knight, deceased, fronting Westward the said now enlarged Street … fronting Southward Spring Garden, etc." (Ibid., 1793, V, 259.)