Nos. 3-8, 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. 3-8, Whitehall Place', in Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, (London, 1935) pp. 197-202. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section


History of the Site.

The row of buildings shown in the plan of 1670 as extending for a distance of about 250 feet from the street to the open space east of 62 included, besides the house and offices of the surveyor of works, those belonging to the master carpenter, the poulterer, the comptroller of works, (fn. n1) the master mason and the master glazier. A plan of 1753 (fn. n2) shows that, with some variations in the size of the different buildings, the occupation was still the same, with the exception that in the place of the building allocated to the master carpenter, that between the surveyor-general's office and the poulterer's office was in the occupation of "Mrs Selwyn." (fn. n3)

The whole of the buildings in the row were demolished to make room for the new houses on the north side of Whitehall Place.

Nos. 3 and 4, Whitehall Place.—In 1812 John Garden, learning that it was "in contemplation to pull down several old Buildings on the North side of Middle Scotland Yard, for the purpose of affording an opportunity to build Houses on the Scites of them in continuation of Whitehall Place towards the River Thames," asked for a grant of a portion of the land.

A proposal was thereupon made to Mr. Garden that he should undertake the erection of all the houses (six in number) between the Office of Woods and Forests and the passage to Great Scotland Yard, but he expressed doubts as to the expediency of this, and finally obtained sufficient ground for the erection of the two westernmost houses. It was stipulated that the fronts should be faced with bricks resembling those used in the facing of the Office of Woods and Forests, and the roofs slated to correspond, and that the level of the ground-floors and the heights of all the storeys should be similar to those of the same building. (fn. n4) Garden accordingly built Nos. 3 and 4, encountering great difficulties in obtaining a solid foundation "on the Scite of an ancient Dock." One of the houses was ready for occupation at least in the early part of 1815 (which points to the building having been erected in 1814), and the other is shown in Garden's occupation in Boyle's Court Guide for January, 1816. It was not, however, until late in the latter year that Garden obtained (fn. n5) a 99 years' lease from 5th April, 1813, of the two, which were then in the occupation of the Netherlands Ambassador and himself. The houses are described as abutting east on ground or buildings "now or late in the tenure of the Commissioners for Auditing the Public Accounts," and west on ground or buildings in the tenure of the Commissioners of H.M. Woods, Forests and Land Revenues and containing in front next to Whitehall Place, 66 feet 7 inches.

Nos. 5 and 6, Whitehall Place.— These houses were erected by John Holroyd, "plumber to H.M. Office of Works," who on 12th January, 1819, obtained leases for 99 years as from 5th April, 1813 and 1815 respectively. (fn. n6) Both houses are said to be "lately erected," the one in the occupation of the Commissioners for auditing the Public Accounts and the other of William George Adam. No. 5 is described as abutting east on ground or buildings "now or late in the tenure of John Holroyd … or of Wm. George Adam, Esq., his undertenant" and west on ground or buildings in the tenure of John Garden and containing in front next to Whitehall Place 29 feet and in depth 108 feet 4 inches "of which said Ground the greater part was heretofore occupied by a certain House formerly enjoyed by Sir Wm. Chambers, the Comptroller of H.M. Works, and was afterwards in the occupation of John Jones, Esq., the Inspector under the Board of Works … and the residue of the said ground was heretofore part of the open area of Great Scotland Yard." No. 6 contained in front 28 feet and in depth 108 feet, "of which said Ground some part is part of the ground which was heretofore occupied by … a certain house formerly enjoyed by Sir Wm Chambers … and other part is part of the ground heretofore occupied by … a certain House heretofore inhabited by Kenton Couse, Esq., as Surveyor to the late Board of Works, and afterwards held by him as Examining Clerk of the Works and lately enjoyed by John Thomas Groves, Esq., Clerk of the works," the residue being part of the open area of Great Scotland Yard. (fn. n7)

No. 5 was erected in 1814, (fn. n8) but the site of No. 6 was not cleared at the end of February, 1815 (fn. n9), and the house does not appear in Boyle's Court Guide until the 1818 (April) issue.

No. 7, Whitehall Place.—On 28th February, 1815, the Office of Woods reported (fn. n10) that they had entered into an agreement with Robert Todd, master bricklayer to the Office of Works, for a lease of a plot of ground in Whitehall Place, but that he could not be put into possession of the plot until the site had been cleared. The actual lease granted to Todd was dated 6th April, 1820, and the house is described in the constat (fn. n11) as "all that Capital Messuage … now … in the Occupation of William Marsh, Esquire, Abbutting … Eastwards on a Messuage now or late in the tenure … of John Holroyd, and Westwards on a Messuage now or late in the tenure … of William George Adam, Esquire," and containing in front 28 feet and in depth 108 feet 2 inches "of which said Ground some part is part of the Scite of a certain House heretofore held by the Master Manson to the Board of Works … and the residue of the said Ground was heretofore part of the open Area of … Great Scotland Yard." The house first appears in the occupation of Marsh in Boyle's Court Guide for 1818. Both this house and No. 6 are, however, shown as "House lately built" in the plan of 1816 on which Plate 93 is based.

No. 8, Whitehall Place.—In November, 1822, instructions were given for a lease for 99 years from 5th July, 1818, to be granted to John Holroyd, the builder of Nos. 5 and 6, of a plot "situate on the North side of Whitehall Place, adjoining west to the Avenue intended to be made to lead to … Great Scotland Yard." (fn. n12) As the house first appears in Boyle's Court Guide for April, 1820, it was probably built in 1819.

Description of Structure.

These houses comprise the remaining portion of a terrace at the west end of the north side of the street. They have a brick front of three storeys over a basement, and a slate roof with dormers. Across the fronts of the houses at the first-floor level is a continuous balcony with a shaped wrought-iron railing. The entrance doorways are set in an arched recess with side lights and semicircular radiating fanlights over (Plate 101).

No. 3 has a segmental front with stone Doric columns to the entrance door supporting a pedimented head over a semicircular fanlight. This doorway was formed when Nos. 1–2, Whitehall Place were demolished.

Figure 36:

Lead rainwater head in Whitehall Place

Condition of Repair


The lead rainwater-head with the Royal monogram records the period of erection, and there are also preserved some old lamp brackets to the front railings.

There are no interior features of interest. The staircases are in stone with iron balustradings. Certain structural alterations have been carried out in connecting the houses, and some of the fireplaces have been blocked up.

Historical Notes.

The names of the occupiers of Nos. 3 to 8, Whitehall Place, according to Boyle's Court Guide, before the houses became used for offices, are as follows:

No. 3.
1815–24 Baron Henry Fagel (fn. n13)
1826–32 Earl of Kingston (fn. n14)
1833–34 Hesse Legrew
1835 Rt. Hon. H. Goulburn
1837–50 Swynfen Jervis
No. 4.
1816–23 John Garden
1824–27 Rt. Hon. Charles Williams Wynn
1828 Sir R. Vyvyan
In 1829 the Metropolitan Police Office was established here and remained until 1890, when it was removed to New Scotland Yard. As the house, though in Whitehall Place, backed on to Great Scotland Yard, the police headquarters became generally referred to as "Scotland Yard." (fn. n15)
No. 5.
This house was used as offices from the beginning, at first as the Audit Office, and afterwards as the Office of the Commissioners for French Claims and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
No. 6.
1818 Captain Lock, W. J. Adams, (fn. n16) John Drake
1819 Captain Lock, W. J. Adam, Charles Wynne
1820–33 Lord James Stuart
1834–37 J. Walbanke Childers
1838–59 Lord P. James H. Crichton-Stuart
No. 7.
1818–24 Arthur Marsh
1825–26 Arthur C. Marsh
1828–32 Sir C. Wetherell
1833–43 Mr. Sergeant Merewether
No. 8.
1820–32 Mr. Sergeant Cross
1833–42 Hon. Sir John Cross
1843 Lady Cross

Henry Goulburn was born in 1784, and entered Parliament in 1808. In 1810 he was appointed under-secretary for the home department, and in 1812 under-secretary for war and the colonies. On resigning in 1821 he was appointed chief secretary to the lord-lieutenant of Ireland, a post which he held until 1827. In the following year he became chancellor of the exchequer in the Duke of Wellington's administration, which lasted until 1830. In 1834–5 he was home secretary, and from 1841 to 1846 was chancellor of the exchequer for a second time. He died in 1856.

Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, politician and friend of the poet Southey, born in 1775, was the second son of Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, of Wynnstay, Denbighshire. He was educated at Westminster and Christ Church, Oxford, and was called to the Bar from Lincoln's Inn in 1798. In 1797 he entered Parliament as member for Old Sarum, but in '1799 was returned for Montgomeryshire, a seat which he retained until his death in 1850, when he was "father" of the House. He was under-secretary of state for the Home Department in 1806–7 and president of the board of control in 1822–8. For the greater portion of the latter period he was resident at No. 4, Whitehall Place, whither he had removed from No. 6, Whitehall (see p. 182).

Sir Richard Rawlinson Vyvyan, son of Sir Vyall Vyvyan, of Trelowarren, was born in 1800 and succeeded to the baronetcy in 1820. In 1825 he entered parliament, where he obtained a reputation as an extreme Tory. He remained a member (with one break of four years, 1837–41) until 1857, when he retired from public life. He was much interested in science and published several scientific works. He died in 1879.

Lord Patrick James Herbert Crichton-Stuart, son of John, Lord Mount Stuart, and brother of the second Marquess of Bute, was born in 1794. In 1817 he assumed by sign manual the additional surname and arms of Crichton. It seems probable that the entries in Boyle's Court Guide for 1820–23 of "Lord James Stuart" refer to Lord Patrick, who was certainly in residence at No. 6 in 1820, as he was one of the five "inhabitants of Whitehall Place" who signed a petition on 22nd April, 1820, for the thoroughfare to be 70 feet wide. (fn. n17) Lord Patrick died in 1859, and in the following year his son, Lt.-Col. James Frederick Dudley Crichton-Stuart, sold (fn. n18) the lease of No. 6, Whitehall Place, to Messrs. White, Barrett and White, a firm of solicitors, who, with other solicitors, are shown at the house in the Post Office London Directory for 1861.

John Walbanke Childers was son of Col. John Walbanke Childers and Selina, daughter of Sir Sampson Gideon, Baron Eardley. He was M.P. for Cambridgeshire in 1833 and for Malton from 1835 to 1852.

Sir Charles Wetherell, son of Nathan Wetherell, dean of Hereford and master of University College, Oxford, was born in 1770. In 1794 he was called to the Bar and in 1816 was made K.C. In 1817 he distinguished himself in his defence of James Watson, who was tried for high treason in connection with the Spa Fields riots. His parliamentary career lasted from 1812 to 1832, and was notable for his violent and extreme toryism. He became solicitor-general, and was knighted, in 1824, and in 1826 and again in 1828 was attorney-general. From this post he was dismissed on account of his bitter opposition to the Roman Catholic Emancipation Bill. His visit to Bristol in 1831 as recorder led to rioting, in the course of which he was stoned and only escaped from the city with difficulty. He died in 1846.

Wetherell was succeeded at No. 7, Whitehall Place, in 1832 by Henry Alworth Merewether. The latter was born in 1780. He was called to the Bar in 1809, and was created serjeant-atlaw in 1827. In 1842 he was elected town clerk of the City of London, relinquishing an income of £5,000 a year by taking up the post. He resigned in 1859 and died in 1864. His last appearance in respect of No. 7, Whitehall Place, in Boyle's Court Guide is in the issue of January, 1843, so that he apparently gave up the house shortly after his appointment as town clerk.

Sir John Cross, born in 1766, was called to the Bar in 1795 and appointed serjeantat-law in 1819. In 1827 he was made king's serjeant and in 1831 was appointed a judge of the court of bankruptcy and knighted. He afterwards became chief judge. He died suddenly at No. 8, Whitehall Place, on 5th November, 1842, on his return from his court at Westminster.

In the Council's collection are:

(fn. n19) General elevation of exterior (photograph).
(fn. n19) Sketch of lead rainwater head (drawing).
(fn. n19) Ground plan of Nos. 1 and 2 (1840) (copies of drawings in the possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands).
(fn. n19) Ground plans of Nos. 4 and 5 (1840) (copies of drawings in the possession of H.M Commissioners of Crown Lands).
First-floor plan Nos. 3 and 4 (1840) (copies of drawings in the possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands).
(fn. n19) Ground plan of No. 6 (1840) (copy of drawing in the possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands).


  • n1. In March, 1683–4, after the death of Hugh May, Charles II abolished the office of comptroller of works, and directed that the lodgings attached to the office should be given to Sir Charles Scarburgh, his principal physician, and be attached to the place of first physician ever afterwards. This was done, and Scarburgh spent a considerable sum in improving the house. William III on his accession restored the office of comptroller, and granted it to William Talman, who claimed the house, but on 10th October, 1689, the King confirmed Scarburgh in possession for his life (P.R.O., L.C. 5/151, p. 333). He died there in 1694. Vanbrugh lived there as comptroller, and on his dismissal in 1713 the house was occupied by "Mr. Auditor Godolphin" (see Report by Wm. Lowndes, 1st April, 1714., P.R.O., Works, 6/5). Sir William Chambers also held the house in right of his position. (See Report by H.M. Office of Woods to H.M. Treasury, 11th June, 1811—Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, U. 5, p. 129.)
  • n2. P.R.O., M.P.D. 79.
  • n3. This house in 1715 formed the subject of a petition (P.R.O., T. 54/23, p. 70) by Hugh Cholmley, surveyor-general of lands, as a result of which the master carpenter had to render possession of the premises. Two years later Cholmley represented (P.R.O., T. 54/24, p. 124) that the building "being mostly built of wood" was unsuitable for the housing of the records in his custody, and that he would be willing to erect a new building of brick to contain the records if he could obtain a 31 years' lease. The lease, which was granted on 30th April, 1717, came into the possession of Charles Selwyn, who in 1737 (P.R.O., T. 55/4, pp. 259 ff.) obtained a reversionary lease for 39 years. The only work carried out by Cholmley had apparently consisted in the erection of "some new rooms for the use of his office," and the building as a whole was reported to be "slight," and "chiefly of wood and plaister" (Ibid., p. 230). In 1770 the Board of Works reported (P.R.O., Works, 6/18, p. 226) that there was "an old Timber House … adjoining to and over a great part of the House belonging to His Majesty's Surveyor General of the Works, which said two Houses are so intermixed that no party Wall can be built between them," and there was a consequent danger from fire "so much the more as the said House is frequently let to dissorderly People." It was therefore suggested that the Government should purchase the remainder of the lease, and this was done. (Indenture, dated 7th August, 1770, Middx. Register, 1770, V, 357.)
  • n4. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, M. 6, pp. 267 ff.
  • n5. P.R.O., T. 55/31, p. 407.
  • n6. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, London Lease Book No. 7, pp. 70 and 82.
  • n7. The descriptions are taken from the constats for lease, P.R.O., T. 55/31, pp. 489, 492.
  • n8. On 17th May, 1814, the Commissioners for Auditing the Public Accounts wrote asking for "water to be laid on from the hard and soft water pipes to supply the House intended for the use of this Office at Whitehall Place" (P.R.O., Works, 6/27, fo. 152). The house is mentioned as "already built" on 28th February, 1815. (Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, M. 6, p. 1.)
  • n9. Ibid.
  • n10. Ibid.
  • n11. Ibid., P. 6, pp. 263–5.
  • n12. Ibid., T. 6, p. 72.
  • n13. Ambassador of the King of the Netherlands.
  • n14. George, the 3rd earl, b. 1771, d. 1839.
  • n15. "The use of the name … is generally thought to date only from 1842, when the detective branch was established in a separate building in Scotland Yard; but from the beginning we find the police headquarters referred to in official documents and in the public press, sometimes as 'Whitehall Place,' and sometimes as 'Scotland Yard.' " (Moylan's Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police, pp. 93–4.)
  • n16. Apparently a mistake for William George Adam mentioned in the leases of the house.
  • n17. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, R. 6, p. 28.
  • n18. Indenture, dated 11th August, 1860. (Middx. Register, 1860, XII, 690.)
  • n19. Reproduced here.