Scotland Yard: Introduction

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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'Scotland Yard: Introduction', Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, (London, 1935), pp. 158-164. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

. "Scotland Yard: Introduction", in Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, (London, 1935) 158-164. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

. "Scotland Yard: Introduction", Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, (London, 1935). 158-164. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,


In his book on Whitehall (fn. n1) Sheppard states that "the situation and extent of Scotland Yard are clearly defined in old maps." What maps Sheppard had in mind is not very clear. The plan of 1670 (Plate 92) shows, indeed, a well-defined northern boundary, though it is incorrect as not including that portion of Scotland Yard which lay to the north of Denham's Buildings and the Clock House, but no southern boundary is shown either on that plan or on any other maps which have been consulted in the course of the preparation of this volume. Only the northern portion of the area later known as the "three Scotland Yards" is marked "Scotlande" on Norden's map of 1593 and "Scotland Yard" in Faithorne and Newcourt's map (p. 5), and in the plan of 1670 the southernmost of the three is called "The Court." (fn. n2) It is therefore possible that Scotland Yard formerly included only the area afterwards known as Great and Middle Scotland Yards, or was even confined to the former.

The usually accepted derivation of the name "Scotland" (the former appellation of Scotland Yard) is that given by Stow. He says: (fn. n3) "On the left hand from Charing Cross bee also divers fayre Tenements lately builded, till ye come to a large plotte of ground inclosed with bricke, and is called Scotland, where great buildings hath beene for receipt of the kings of Scotland, and other estates of that countrey; for Margaret Queene of Scots and sister to King Henry the eight, had her abiding there, when she came into England after the death of her husband, as the kings of Scotland had in former times, when they came to the Parliament of England." (fn. n4)

An earlier account is contained in Nicholas Bodrugan's pamphlet, entitled An Epitome of the title that the Kynges Maiestie of Englande hath to the sovereigntie of Scotlande, printed in 1548 as evidence for Edward VI's claim to the Scottish throne. The passage runs: "This Edgar [A.D. 959–975] enioyned this Keneth [Kenneth II, A.D. 971–995] there kyng ones in every yere, to repaire unto him into England for the makyng of lawes, which in those daies was by the noble men or piers accordyng to the order of Fraunce at this daie: to whiche ende this Edgar gave him a piece of grounde liyng beside the new palace of Westminster, upon whiche this Keneth builded a house, whiche by him and his posteritie was enioyed untill the reigne of kyng Henry the seconde, in whose tyme upon rebellion by Willyam then kyng of Scottes, it was resumed into the kyng of Englandes handes; ye house is decayed, but the ground where it stode is called Scotland to this day." (fn. n5)

Certain of these details must be fictitious, for, although there may have been some kind of recognition by Kenneth of Edgar's overlordship on that occasion, (fn. n6) the origin of "Scotland" certainly does not go back that far (see below). The general outline of the story was, however, by no means new in Bodrugan's time. More than a century earlier (in 1436), in an inquisition (fn. n7) taken before the escheator of Middlesex, twelve jurors of Westminster stated that a piece of land, 14 perches in length along the street leading from Charing Cross to Westminster and 6 perches in width from the said street towards the Thames, had been given by a former king of England to a former king of Scotland, in order that the latter might build a house there in which to lodge when attending parliament, but that owing to the hostilities between the two kings the land had not been built on. They added that a certain Richard Scarburgh received the profits of the ground, but they were ignorant of his title to do so. The escheator's account (fn. n8) for this year states that he had taken the ground into the king's hand because of the outbreak of war with Scotland. In the following year the custody of the ground was granted to John Prud (fn. n9), and it is then described as a parcel of ground formerly belonging to the king of Scotland, lying between the "hospicium" of the Archbishop of York on the south and the chapel of St. Mary Rounceval on the north, the river of Thames on the east, and the street on the west.

The tradition thus vouched for in 1436 by a responsible official of the Exchequer, in terms which suggest that the question was then a "live" one, must have arisen since 1296, for when in that year the king addressed a writ to the Sheriff of Middlesex ordering him to seize any land or property in the county belonging either to the King of Scots or his subjects, the sheriff returned the writ (fn. n10) endorsed with a note that neither the King of Scots nor anyone "de regno Scocie" held property in Middlesex, except John Balliol, who held the vill of Tottenham.

The above represents one side of the history of "Scotland," but there is another. It would appear that in early times the hermitage at Charing was a part of "Scotland." Thus in 1462, when "Scotland" was again in the King's hands, a grant (fn. n11) was made to Edmund Tankard of the custody of that ground, together with the Hermitage of St. Katherine "super eandem terram." Now in the accounts of the warden of St. Mary's Chapel, Westminster, (fn. n12) there is an annual entry of a receipt of 2d. "de heremitagio apud Charying." The series of accounts is incomplete, but from 1413 to 1519 the persons noted as responsible for the payment for various years were:—Alice "Boterwyk," (fn. n13) Elizabeth Roote, John "Prowe" (1439–40), the heirs of Richard Scarburgh (1447–8), Robert Scarburgh (1449–50), Thomas Bradshawe, David Selly, Nicholas "Clivelee," Alvered "Crainford" and Lionel "Crainford." In 1468 David Selly, when transferring to William Dixon some land on the west side of the road (see p. 3), mentioned that he had obtained it as part of a purchase from Thomas Bradshagh and others of all those lands and tenements on both sides ("ex utraque parte") of the high road, formerly belonging to John "Boterwyk." (fn. n14) Selly's property passed to his widow, "Cicilie," who by her will dated 10th August, 1472, (fn. n15) bequeathed to her daughter, "Cicilie" Crawford, all her land, meadow and gardens "called Scottes grounde with the apportenaunces beside Charinge Crosse." The younger "Cicilie" married twice, for, in an indenture dated 1482 relating to property on the west side of the road, (fn. n16) she is referred to as the wife of Nicholas Cleveley, a fact that accounts for the inclusion of the latter's name above. It is probable that Alvered and Lionel "Crainford" were her sons by her first husband. The descent of the property from circa 1400 to circa 1500 is therefore tolerably clear, though there are several points still requiring explanation. We do not know how John Butterwick became possessed of "Scotland," nor do we know exactly what rights he had in it. From a Chancery suit (fn. n17) it is evident that there were some legal difficulties concerning the descent of the property of Richard Scarburgh in the middle of the fifteenth century, and this may be the explanation of the property being taken into the King's hands about that time. Lionel "Crafford" died in 1511, leaving (fn. n18) to his wife Elizabeth all his property apart from certain small legacies. No details are given, and we cannot therefore be certain that he still held "Scotland."

The above constitutes a rather difficult problem. The two sides of the history are not entirely consistent, and the tradition does not read very convincingly. It will have been noticed that the earliest record of it which has been found is in 1436, at a time (that is) when the feudal relation of the Scottish and English crowns was a matter of considerable interest. John Hardyng, the chronicler, had a few years before busied himself in collecting evidence to prove the subservience from the earliest times of Scotland to England. Many of the copies which, as he alleged, he had made of original documents are still extant, and have been pronounced by Palgrave and Kingsford to be forgeries. Is it not possible that the story of "Scotland" as an item in the English claim to suzerainty was also one of Hardyng's fairy tales? Some such suggestion as this would account for the very detailed statement by Bodrugan. His pamphlet was published by Grafton, whose access to documents of Hardyng is proved by the fact that five years previously he had published two editions (differing considerably one from the other) of Hardyng's Chronicle. If, however, the possibility be admitted that the traditional account has no foundation in fact, we are reduced to conjecture for a solution of the origin of the name "Scotland." (fn. n19)

In 1519 "Scotland" was again in the King's hands. On 10th November in that year Henry VIII granted (fn. n20) it to Cardinal Wolsey in frank almoigne, under the description of "a parcel of land which formerly belonged to the King of Scotland, in the County of Middlesex, with all appurtenances thereto belonging, as it lies between the inn of the Lord Archbishop of York on the south and the chapel of the Blessed Mary of Runcevall on the north and the water of Thames on the east and the royal way which leads from Charyngecrosse to Westminster on the west, now being in our hands."

On Wolsey's fall in 1529 "Scotland" presumably passed again into the King's hands. The accounts for the building of Whitehall contain four references to it: (fn. n21) (i) "To William Byrde … for viij loodis of Edders and Stakys … whiche … were imployed … for the hedgeing and encloosing of a certeyne grounde, annexid unto the saide manor [of Westminster], callid Skottelande, for Sauffe Custodie of parcell of the tymbre of the houses takyn downe"; (ii) "working of a vaulte or water corse crossing the highwaye leeding from Charing crosse towardes Westm' directlye ayenste a certeyne grounde callid Scotteland adjoynyng unto the said manor"; (iii) "a newe docke caste and made within a grounde, annexid unto the saide manor, callid Scottelande, for the Easye Receipte of stuffe there, whiche docke cont' in length xxv Roddis di' in bredith xxiiij fote, and in depth ix fote"; (iv) "paied for the Rente of a wharfe adioynyng unto a newe wharfe made within a certeyne parcelle of Grounde, annexid unto the kinges manor aforsaid, callid Scottelande."

From the above it seems evident that "Scotland" was at the time merely a vacant piece of ground. (fn. n22) Item (iii) obviously refers to the dock known afterwards as Scotland Dock, which we thus see was formed by Henry VIII.

A reference to the plan of 1670 (Plate 92) shows that the garden of Northumberland House (not named upon the plan, but lying behind "the Deale Yard" and the open space including the "shed" and the "sawpit") if continued to the river, would include the wharf and the dock, and this suggests that the grounds of the Hospital of Rounceval (which preceded Northumberland House), like those of the great mansions on the south side of the Strand, did extend to the river, but that a portion was added by Henry VIII to "Scotland." The suggestion is supported by other considerations. An Act, passed in 1536 (28 Henry VIII, cap. 32) to confirm certain grants made to the King, mentions inter alia a grant made by "John Henbury, Maister of the Hospytall of oure Lady of Rounsidevall, Willyam Jenyns and Thruston Mayer, Wardeyns of the same Hospitall," of "iij \?\tents and a wharf wyth thappurtenances." (fn. n23) In 1539 the tenements and wharf in question were leased to John Rede at a rent of £5 10s., (fn. n24) but on the King desiring "to take and resume to his gracys handes" all the property contained in the lease "for c'tayn his gracys affayres there to be done," Rede released the premises, and, though still continuing to pay the rent of £5 10s., received from the King the sum of £12 6s. 8d. yearly for the remainder of his term. (fn. n25) The "wharf" included in the property seems to have been that referred to as "rented" in item No. (iv) quoted above.

Pending a detailed investigation into the history of the Hospital of Rounceval, the above can only be regarded as a more or less probable conjecture, but it seems to fit the facts. It may be mentioned that another alteration to the northern boundary was made in 1611, when a portion of "Scotland" was granted to the Earl of Northampton, but this would be more conveniently dealt with in an account of Northumberland House.

Notices concerning "Scotland" or Scotland Yard (the earliest mention of the latter that has been traced is in 1603–4 (fn. n26) ) in the century following the death of Henry VIII are scanty. The maps of "Agas" and Braun and Hogenberg show buildings on most of the street side and by the water side (one of the latter, named in the second map "Beere howse," corresponding with the later "Small Beer Buttery"). It seems probable that Scotland Yard had already (circa 1572) more or less taken the form so clearly marked in the plan of 1670, the relevant portion of which is reproduced in Plate 92. (fn. n27) It is well here to repeat the caution given in Vol. XIII that the plan is only a ground plan, and gives no information as to the use to which the upper floors of the buildings were put. Many of these were occupied by lodgings. (fn. n28)

The great fire of 1698 (fn. n29) penetrated some distance north of the eastern half of Whitehall Court, but Scotland Yard as a whole suffered little. Considerable alterations and rebuilding, however, took place from time to time, and leases were granted of portions of the property. Before 1698 a large part of the area had been occupied by the offices, workshops and residences of the Board of Works, (fn. n30) and the remaining buildings were chiefly used by the different officers and servants attendant upon the Palace. After the conflagration, when the Court had been removed to St. James's, most of the latter ceased to be employed for the service of the Royal Household, but continued in the possession of different officers in the appointment of the lord chamberlain and lord steward, and were in many cases let to private individuals.

By an Act of 1782 (22 Geo. II, cap. 82) several of the offices in connection with which houses and other buildings had been held were abolished, and in 1787 a further Act (27 Geo. III, cap. 22) was passed authorising the sale of more than twenty houses. It was afterwards realised, however, that the alienation of these houses would be a great hindrance to the improvement of the rest of the Crown property in Whitehall, and in 1794 (34 Geo. III, cap. 75) the provisions of the 1787 Act were repealed. Steps were now taken to improve Scotland Yard, and in 1816 a report (fn. n31) on the subject was submitted to H.M. Treasury by Lt.-Col. B. C. Stephenson, William Dacres Adams and Charles Bicknell. The Office of Woods was asked to suggest the best method of dealing with the property. The entrance to Middle Scotland Yard had recently been widened, and the chief item in the plan suggested by the Office of Woods was the formation of a new street (Whitehall Place) from that point eastwards, terminating in a crescent to the river. It was, however, suggested that the construction of the crescent, which would entail the formation of an embankment, and the cost of which, including the purchase of the Duke of Northumberland's interest (see p. 207) in the ground at the eastern end used for wharves, was estimated at about £30,000, should be deferred until that interest expired. The crescent was in fact never constructed. The scheme also provided for the purchase of a small triangular strip of the Duke of Northumberland's garden, required to continue the direct line of carriage-way from Great Scotland Yard to the end of Northumberland Street. The cost of the scheme (excluding the crescent) was estimated at £10,200, and it was thought that the rents to be obtained from the new houses to be erected would amount to £1,246 a year. (fn. n32) The improvement was duly carried out, and details are given in chapters 29 and 30. The further extension of Whitehall Place to the Victoria Embankment formed a portion of the scheme for the construction of the latter thoroughfare and was carried out in 1871.

A comparison of the plan of Scotland Yard in 1816 reproduced in Plate 93 with the plan of 1670 (Plate 92) shows the alteration in the area which had taken place in the interval. An account will now be given of the buildings lettered on the former plan, including those on the north side of Whitehall Court. (fn. n33)


  • n1. The Royal Palace of Whitehall, p. 105.
  • n2. In the versions of the plan preserved by the Society of Antiquaries and in the Crace Collection it is entitled "The Court Yard."
  • n3. Survey of London (Kingsford's edition), II, p. 101.
  • n4. The statement concerning Margaret is incorrect. Stow himself says in another place (Annales, 1615 edition, p. 505) that Margaret was at first lodged at Baynard's Castle. She afterwards joined the Court at Greenwich, and all the items concerning payments on her behalf (except the last general item "for the dischardgyng of ye Quene of scottes expences in London & other places") are headed "Grenewyche." (Book of Household expenses of Henry VIII—B.M. Addl. MS. 21481.)
  • n5. It may be noted that a similar pamphlet printed in 1542 as evidence for Henry VIII's title, makes no mention of the house at Westminster.
  • n6. "According to a somewhat doubtful authority, Edgar, the English king, granted Lothian to Kenneth on condition of being recognized as his superior, and in view of Kenneth's doings in that territory it is not improbable that such a grant was really made." (P. Hume Brown's History of Scotland (1911), I, p. 32.)
  • n7. P.R.O., E. 153/1026.
  • n8. P.R.O., E. 136/97/10.
  • n9. P.R.O., C. 60/245. Similar grants were made to John Gourney (C. 66/447, m. 12) in 1440 and to John Dylrune (C. 60/248) in the following year.
  • n10. P.R.O., E. 199/25/1.
  • n11. P.R.O., C. 66/500, m. 19.
  • n12. Westmr. Abbey Deeds, Nos. 23201 et seq.
  • n13. For John and Alice Butterwick and their connection with Elizabeth Roote and the Scarburghs see Survey of London, VI, pp. 5–6.
  • n14. P.R.O., Ancient Deed 1520A.
  • n15. P.C.C., 16 Wattys, proved 18th July, 1474.
  • n16. See Survey of London, XIV, p. 4.
  • n17. P.R.O., C. 1/24/82.
  • n18. Will, dated 1st November, proved 8th November, 1511. (P.C.C., 4 Fetiplace.)
  • n19. There are other places called Scotland. On these J. E. B. Gover remarks (Place-Names of Devon, Part I, p. 212) that "land so called was probably subject to some payment or customary tax. For such use of scot v. New English Dictionary." See also "absolutum … ab omni colleccione census qui geld vel Danegeld seu Scot Anglice nominatur" (Westminster Abbey Domesday Book, fo. 36). It should also be noted that the expression "called Scottes grounde" in the will of Cicely Selly rather suggests that the land had previously belonged to a person named "Scot." If so, this must have been before Butterwick held the property at the end of the fourteenth century, and in this connection it is interesting to note that the Prior of St. Mary Rounceval in 22 Edward I (1293–4) claimed from Adam, son of Walter Scot, a toft with appurtenances in the neighbourhood (P.R.O., J.I. 1/544 (Assize Roll) m. 21). The possibility that "Scot" was a personal name cannot, therefore, be entirely ignored.
  • n20. P.R.O., C. 82/482.
  • n21. Westmr. Manor, Payments for works, etc., 22–23 H. VIII. (P.R.O., E. 36/251–2, pp. 98, 247, 639 and 642.)
  • n22. See also the description in 1550 of a lane leading from a part of Rounceval to "vacuam parcellam terre vocatam Scotland." (P.R.O., C. 66/824—Grant of Rounceval to Sir Thos. Cawarden.)
  • n23. In 1542 a grant was made to the Master and Wardens of the St. Mary Rounceval Brotherhood of The Ship in St. Clement Danes and the field called Cup Field (see Survey of London, III, p. 6) in compensation for the three tenements and wharf. (P.R.O., C. 66/706.)
  • n24. P.R.O., E. 315/212, fo. 37.
  • n25. Decree of the Court of Augmentations, 10th September, 1545. (P.R.O., E. 315/104, fo. 150.)
  • n26. "Repairing of a pale betweene Scotland yard and old Mr Cookes." (P.R.O., E. 351/3239.)
  • n27. For details as to the origin, etc., of this plan (generally, but inaccurately, known as Fisher's Plan of 1680) see Survey of London, XIII, pp. 41 ff.
  • n28. For example: (i) "Putting up 8 Ceiling Joysts 9 foot long a peece in Mr Jacksons Lodge over ye greate bakehowse"—March, 1676–7 (P.R.O., Works, 5/27); (ii) "deliver … unto Sir Winston Churchill the roome adioyning to his lodging over the great Buttery"—10th July, 1668 (P.R.O., L.C., 5/139, p. 369); (iii) "washing, stopping, whiting and blacking twelve roomes for the Two Treasurers over the Urey"—July, 1660 (P.R.O., Works, 5/1); (iv) "to Sir William Sanderson by him laid out for workemanshipp in repaireing his lodging over ye Fish Larder"—March, 1672–3 (P.R.O., Works, 5/21).
  • n29. See Survey of London, XIII, pp. 38–40.
  • n30. In 1690 William Killigrew suggested that the western half of the northern portion, where the buildings, etc., of the Board of Works were concentrated, should be leased to him for 99 years, in order that the same might "bee built into stately houses, which will beautifye that yard, and make a uniform squaire." In his report (P.R.O., T. 1/7, No. 78) on the proposal Wren stated that "although at this present the stores are more Empty than ever they were wont to be and soe may seem useless … yet the ground and store houses in Scotland yard have often been too little for the service, particularly when the late Building was erected next the privye Garden, not only Scotland Yard, but the Peble-court was then filled with the Timber and floores that were framed, & had that roome been wanting the worke must have been longer in performance and much dearer. This yard is for the stores not only of Whithall, but of St. James, Westminster, and the Tower, and all sudden occasions, and for the Stone that mends 30,000 yards of Publick paving." Killigrew's proposal was not adopted.
  • n31. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, M. 6, pp. 161 ff.
  • n32. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, M. 6, pp. 154 ff.
  • n33. It is hoped that nothing of importance has been omitted, but it has been impossible to bring all matters of mere interest under the scheme adopted. Two of the latter may be mentioned here. There is the note by the Board of Green Cloth to Sir Christoper Wren on 8th November, 1689: "Wee have great occasion to use a considerable quantity of New laid Eggs daily for his Mats own eating, which cannot be supplyed but by keeping a great Number of Henns to lay them; and haveing directed ye Officers of his Mats Scalding house to provide ye said Henns, Wee desire you will inclose before the said Scalding house at Whitehall such a quantity of Ground as will be necessary for performeing the said Service" (P.R.O., L.S. 13/105). Again, when the officers of the Crown were trying to get possession of certain houses in Scotland Yard in 1790, difficulty was experienced in connection with one (in the range of buildings between Middle and Great Scotland Yards, and towards the eastern end) of which Mr. Priddle "an Attorney, had by some means got possession and kept possession thereof for many Years, without ever paying any Rent." When, after some delay, they had managed to get in touch with Priddle's assignee, William Richardson, they proceeded to the house, and on arrival "found a padlock on the door, which Mr. Richardson tore off and with his key opened the house door." Amongst other discoveries which they made in one of the rooms "was a leaden coffin, which by the inscription upon it was supposed to contain the body of Mrs. Priddle, who died on the 10th June, 1787, aged seventy-four Years. … The Churchwardens not choosing to take charge of the Coffin on a supposition of the uncertainty of its contents; and if a body, whether murdered, or dying a natural death," the house was again locked up, and the officers asked for instructions how to proceed. (P.R.O., Works, 6/22–10th December, 1790, and 7th January, 1791.)