No. 1, Whitehall

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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'No. 1, Whitehall', in Survey of London: Volume 16, St Martin-in-The-Fields I: Charing Cross, (London, 1935) pp. 220-221. British History Online [accessed 2 March 2024]

In this section


History of the Structure.

The history of the southern portion of Denham Buildings has already been traced to 1745 (see pp. 209–11). In 1770 the premises are said to consist of "an Old Brick Building, in but indifferent repair, now in the occupation of the Commrs of the Royal Hospital at Chelsea," (fn. n1) and a plan (fn. n2) illustrating a survey made in the same year shows the property ("in possession of the Commissrs for the Sick of Chelsea College") extending from the Office of Works on the south to Wills' Coffee House on the north for a distance of 80 feet, including 10 feet 7 inches on the north side of the 10-feet carriageway to Great Scotland Yard. According to Robert Adam, the building about this time was "almost in a ruinous condition," when he was ordered by Richard Rigby, the paymaster-general, to "put it in repair, and to bestow some decorations on the front towards Whitehall." (fn. n3) Adam accordingly prepared a design (Plate 98) which was carried out with but minor variations. On 3rd March, 1772, the building was included in a reversionary lease for 33 years from 5th January, 1787, granted to Lewis Way and Thomas Corbett in trust for Elizabeth, only daughter of Charles Dalrymple, who had married Elizabeth Edwin, only daughter of John Edwin. In a plan of 1783 the premises are shown as the "Invalid Office," and they continued in the occupation of Chelsea Hospital until they were taken over by the commissarygeneral of musters.

In 1808 the Earl of Balcarres, who had married Elizabeth Dalrymple, applied for a fresh lease of that portion of the Manor of Westminster which had been granted to John Edwin, but it was decided in 1814 that in any new lease of the property the house, then still occupied by the commissary-general, should not be included, being required for the public service. (fn. n4)

The house was vacated by the commissary-general in that year and taken over by the "Special Board of General Officers for the inspection of the Cloathing and Accoutrements of the Army," a part of the basement and entrance storey, however, being added to the Office of Woods. (fn. n5) In 1818 the portion over the gateway to Great Scotland Yard was removed in connection with the reconstruction of the gateway. (Plate 99) shows the gateway as existing at that date, and the proposed elevation of the new gateway as designed by Leverton and Chawner. The premises, including the gateway, were demolished in 1909, and most of the site is now occupied by the northern part of the office of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands.

Description of Structure.

The front elevation of this building was carried out from the designs of Robert Adam, and formed an admirable example of his employment of stucco and brick.

The general façade as illustrated in Plate 96 and 97 represented an architectural composition of three vertical bays, obtained by the application of composite pilasters the height of the first and second floors. A decorative entablature continued across the width of the front at the third-floor level with a stage above. The central bay was occupied by the entrance doorway with side lights grouped in an architectural setting and completed by a high three-light window divided by Corinthian columns, which supported an entablature with a large semicircular window over with radiating bars.

Upon comparing the design as originally prepared by Robert Adam, illustrated in Plate 98, with that in Plate 96 showing the premises before their demolition in 1909, it will be noticed that the top storey differs in height and details of design. It is possible, therefore, that the alteration to the top storey, with the addition of a pediment, may have been carried out when the gateway leading to Great Scotland Yard was heightened. The rooms over this gateway were included in these premises, and when the archway was raised the rooms over on the first floor were consequently sacrificed (Plate 99).

Upon general examination of the plans, it is considered that Robert Adam in all probability retained the existing walls of the former premises and only rebuilt the main front.

No records have been obtained respecting the interior of the building.

In the Council's collection are:

(fn. n6) General elevation of front (original rendered drawing by Robert Adam).
(fn. n6) General view of front (copy of photograph in the possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands).
View of Gateway to Great Scotland Yard (during demolition, 1909) (photograph).
Plan of basement floor (measured drawing).
(fn. n6) Plan of ground floor (measured drawing).
(fn. n6) Plan of first floor (measured drawing).
Plan of second floor (measured drawing).
(fn. n6) Elevation to Whitehall (measured drawing).
(fn. n6) Elevation of Gateway to Great Scotland Yard in its then state and as proposed, 1818 (sketch).


  • n1. P.R.O., T. 55/15, p. 363.
  • n2. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, P. 3, p. 227.
  • n3. The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam, Vol. I.
  • n4. Records of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands, R. 6, pp. 294–5.
  • n5. Ibid., M. 6, p. 211.
  • n6. Reproduced here.