Nos. 1 and 2, Whitehall Place

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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'Nos. 1 and 2, Whitehall Place', in Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, (London, 1935) pp. 194-196. British History Online [accessed 20 April 2024]

In this section


History of the Site.

The plan of 1670 shows the block of buildings between the entrance to Middle Scotland Yard and "Sr John Denhams New Building" as consisting of the house and office of the surveyor of works. It is probable that the house had formed the residence of the surveyor only from the Restoration. Simon Basil and Inigo Jones had lived in a house built by the former in the north-west corner of Scotland Yard (see pp. 213–4), and the first references to the official lodgings of the surveyor occur in 1661. (fn. n1) In that case the first surveyor to take up his residence there was Sir John Denham. Sir Christopher Wren certainly lived there, for in a lease, dated. 1737, of the adjoining house to the east, the latter is said to be bounded on the west by the house late in his possession. (fn. n2) Wren was superseded in 1718, and on 18th June in that year the Board of Works was informed "that Several Chimney pieces, Casements & Sundry other materialls are demollished and taken away from the Surveyors Lodgings at the removall of Sir Chr. Wren." It was therefore ordered "that the Secretary write to Sir Chr. Wren to know if they were taken away by his directions," and to require their return as Crown property. (fn. n3)

The office was in 1715 found to be in a "decayed condition," and expenditure of £100 was authorised to put it into proper repair. "But when the Workmen had laid open the Building… it was found in so ruinous a Condition that all Expenses had been lost upon it in repairs. This Occasioned it to be taken down to the Ground & wholly to be rebuilt with the like Conveniencys it had before." (fn. n4)

In 1782 the Board of Works was abolished, and in the following year, among the buildings which might profitably be disposed of were mentioned "the Buildings at present used for the office of Works and Mr Keene, the late Surveyor General's, 2 Houses adjoining them, in the 1st Scotland Yard, fronting the Street to the West about 50 feet in front & the 2 Scotland Yards North and South to the depth of about 80 feet, with Coach Houses & Stables belonging to 'em in the same Yard." (fn. n5) The proposal to sell was not carried out, but in 1795 it was decided to remove the Office of Works and use the "scite of the same and ground contiguous" (fn. n6) for the erection of a building for the surveyor-general of the land revenue. The new building was erected in the following year. (fn. n7) It did not cover the whole site of the office and houses of the surveyor, the frontage to Caddick's Row amounting to about 65 feet. No. 1 was the surveyor-general's house and No. 2 his office. In 1810 the departments of the land revenue and the woods and forests were united, and until 1830 No. 1 was used as the residence of the chief commissioner of the new department. After that date both Nos. 1 and 2 were used as offices. The houses were pulled down about 1909. The present office of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands covers the site of these and of adjoining premises to the north.

Description of Structure.

These two houses occupied the western corner of Whitehall Place with a return front to Whitehall. The general exterior consisted of a brick front of four storeys over a basement, with a moulded stone cornice and blocking course to the eaves, and a slate mansard roof containing an attic storey (Plates 96 and 97). The first-floor windows had an iron balcony at the floor level, and the entrance doorways were set in an arched recess with fanlights over.

No. 1 had a segmental front to Whitehall Place, and relief was afforded to the flank facing Whitehall by the central portion having a slight break forward and the middle window on the first floor being treated as the chief motif within an architectural setting executed in stone. The groundfloor stage had arcaded recesses, containing the windows. (fn. n8)

No. 2 had a small variation in the design, the cornice being treated as a pediment.

No records have been obtained of the interiors, but in all probability they were of a similar character to those of Nos. 3–8, Whitehall Place.

Historical Notes.

From the formation of the new department in 1810 until the use of No. 1 in 1830 in conjunction with No. 2, the former was the residence of five first-commissioners.

Sylvester Douglas, Baron Glenbervie, was born in 1743, and was educated at the Universities of Aberdeen and Leyden. He was admitted to Lincoln's Inn in 1771, was called to the Bar in 1776, and became K.C. in 1793. Soon afterwards he gave up a legal career and entered at first the Irish and afterwards (in 1795) the English parliament. In 1797 he was made a lord of the treasury, and in 1800 was appointed governor of the Cape of Good Hope, though he did not take up the appointment. At the end of the year he was created Baron Glenbervie of Kincardine in the Irish peerage. After serving as joint paymaster-general and vice-president of the Board of Trade, he was in 1803 and again in 1807 appointed surveyor-general of woods and forests, and on the office of the surveyor-general of the land revenue being combined with the former in 1810, became the first chief commissioner of the new department. He held the office until 1814. He died in 1823.

William Huskisson was born in 1770. From 1783 to 1792 he lived in Paris, where he was for some time private secretary to Lord Gower, the British Ambassador. In 1795 he became under-secretary at war, and in the following year entered parliament. He was appointed secretary to the treasury for the first time in 1804, and again in 1807. In 1810 he published a pamphlet on the Depreciation of the Currency, which earned him a great reputation. In 1814 he succeeded Lord Glenbervie at the woods and forests, and held the position until 1822. From 1823 to 1827 he was treasurer of the navy and president of the board of trade. In 1827–8 he was colonial secretary and leader of the House of Commons under Goderich and Wellington. In 1830 he received fatal injuries at the opening of the Manchester and Liverpool Railway. Huskisson was a supporter of free trade and Catholic emancipation, and his reputation, though considerable, is hardly in proportion to his great abilities.

Charles Arbuthnot was born in 1767. In 1793 he entered the public service as précis writer in the Foreign Office. After serving in various diplomatic capacities, he was in 1804 appointed ambassador-extraordinary at Constantinople, and superintended the forcing of the Dardanelles by the British fleet. From 1809 to 1823 he was one of the joint secretaries of the treasury. In the latter year he succeeded Huskisson at the woods and forests, a position which he held until 1827 and again for a few months in 1828. He died in 1850.

William Sturges, afterwards Sturges-Bourne, was born in 1769. He was educated at Winchester and at Christ Church, Oxford, and early formed a friendship with Canning. He was called to the Bar in 1793 and in 1798 entered parliament. On the death of his uncle, Francis Bourne, he inherited the bulk of the latter's wealth, subject to the condition that he should assume the name of Bourne. After serving in certain lower offices, he became home secretary in Canning's ministry in 1827. He resigned a few months later, when he became chief commissioner of woods and forests, resigning in January, 1828. In 1831 he retired from parliament and died in 1845.

William Lowther (afterwards 2nd Earl of Lonsdale) was born in 1787, and educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1808 he entered parliament, and in the following year became a junior lord of the admiralty. From 1813 to 1828 he was with short intervals a lord of the treasury, and in 1828 succeeded Arbuthnot at the woods and forests. In 1834–5 he was president of the board of trade, and in 1841 postmaster-general. He succeeded his father in the earldom in 1844, and in 1852 was president of the council. He died in 1872.

Lowther, Viscount Lonsdale

In the Council's Collection are:

(fn. n9) Elevation to Whitehall (photograph).
(fn. n9) Elevation to Whitehall (measured drawing).
Elevation to Whitehall Place (measured drawing).
Plan of basement floor (measured drawing).
(fn. n9) Plan of ground floor (measured drawing).
(fn. n9) Plan of first floor (measured drawing).
Plan of second floor (measured drawing).


  • n1. "Making a dormer about 8 fot wyde wth a window in it at the Surveyor of ye works his lodgings"; "Latheing & plastering the Sceeling and walls in one roome at the Surveiors of ye works his lodgs"—April, 1661. (P.R.O., Works, 5/2.)
  • n2. P.R.O., T. 55/4, p. 259.
  • n3. P.R.O., Works, 4/1.
  • n4. P.R.O., T. 56/18 (2nd July, 1717).
  • n5. P.R.O., Works, 6/20, p. 104 (20th March, 1783).
  • n6. P.R.O., Works, 6/22.
  • n7. The cost was estimated at £5,874 2s. 5d., but when the old building was demolished it was found that underneath was "one large and very deep Sewer, long disused and choaked up with Mud, and another communicating from the Canal in St. James's Park to the River Thames and which it was requisite should continue." These and other circumstances necessitated an additional expenditure of £475 7s. 11d. (Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, O. 4, pp. 330–1.)
  • n8. It is interesting to note that the buildings on the opposite corner of Whitehall Place as shown in the illustration on p. 182, bear a striking resemblance to those above described.
  • n9. Reproduced here.