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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CHAPTER 7: VI—NOS. 39 TO 41, CHARING CROSS (DEMOLISHED) AND SITE OF THE TIMBER YARD
History of the Site.
Reference has already been made (see p. 45) to the grant to Thomas Browne of a piece of waste land formerly used as a timber yard, the greater part of which was resumed for its original use in 1560, and to the circumstances in which the southern portion, with a width fronting the street of 152, or more correctly 148, feet, came to be used for the erection of Wallingford House, and a further strip 70 feet wide for the formation of Wallingford Garden.
From 1653 the northern boundary of the timber yard was Kirke House, and the length of the frontage is said in that year (see below) to be 84 feet. A century earlier, however, the ground did not extend so far northwards, for in 1557, when the grant was made to Browne, the boundary in that direction was the house of John Kempe. On 12th June, 1551, Kempe had received a grant of a messuage, with garden adjoining, for a term of 21 years at a rent of 20s. (fn. n1) In 1566 the Ministers' Accounts contain a note to the effect that the house had been demolished and its site, with the garden, had been, in 1561, reduced to one piece of land for the Queen's "Tymbre yarde." (fn. n2) It would seem, however, that the land was not at once actually included in the timber yard, for from the figure of 182 feet given in 1572 as the frontage of the timber yard remaining after the deduction of the 90 feet granted to Sir Francis Knollys (fn. n3) it would appear that the frontage north of the site of Wallingford Garden was only 54 feet, (fn. n4) instead of 84 feet. This leaves 30 feet for Kempe's frontage. On 8th May, 1607, a grant was made to Simon Basil, the surveyor of works, and others, of the piece of land called "le tymber yarde" with certain houses called "workehowses," enclosed with a wall of stone and burnt brick on the highway leading from Westminster to Charing Cross, between the stone wall of St. James's Park towards Spring Garden on the west, and the highway on the east, abutting on the north on a house in the tenure of Dame Anne (sic) Cheke and a house or inn called "le Roose," and on the south on the house and garden in the tenure of Lord Knollys. The measurements are given as 210 feet in length from south to north and 120 feet in width. (fn. n5) The grant was for 40 years and the rent 5s. Basil and those joined with him (fn. n6) in the grant were all officials of the Board of Works, and as the grant was to them and their successors in office, it is evident that this was a purely official transaction. The description of the property is, however, very puzzling, Lady Cheke's house lay beyond Kirke House, which was apparently on the site of The Rose (see p. 82), and the measurement of 210 feet, after deducting 70 feet for the site of Wallingford Garden, granted to Knollys four years later, is irreconcilable with the figure of 84 given in the parliamentary survey made in July, 1653. (fn. n7) This runs as follows:
"All that Messuage … and parcell of ground scituate … over against Scotland Yard, Consisting of two Lower Roomes and one Entery, whereof one of them is now divided into three small Roomes; Two Chambers over Head, And the one of them is alsoe divided into three small Roomes; Three little Garretts, a Little Paved Yard, An house of Office and a small shead, One Stable with a Hay Lofte over the same, Two Workehouses and a Large Plott of ground thereunto Adioyning, Butting upon the streete Leading from the muse to White Hall East, and West upon the Old Bowling Greene, Adioyning to St. James Parke, And Bounded with Wallingford house south and Kirke house North; Conteyning in Length 120 Foote and in breadth towards the streete 84 Foote, in the midle 79 Foote and a halfe, And at the West end 46 Foote and a halfe, All which wee value to be worth by the yeare Twenty Pounds. Memorandum, the aforesaid premises are not under Demise But in the present Possession of the State."
Six months later the trustees for the sale of Crown Lands sold (fn. n8) the property for £400 to Hugh Peters "of the Citty of Westminster Esqr," no doubt the well-known preacher of that name who on 16th October, 1660, was executed at Charing Cross, only a few yards away.
At the Restoration the sale was regarded as invalid, and a few days before Peters' death the Earl of Manchester applied for a lease of the property, on which four houses had recently been built (no doubt by Peters), "each of them two roomes on a floore, all worth … about 120l. per annum." (fn. n9) There was some difficulty as to the rent to be charged to the earl. On 22nd November, 1660, the lord treasurer wrote (fn. n10) that in spite of his desire to please his lordship he felt obliged to urge that the rent should be £40. On 28th November, 1660, the attorney–general was informed that "It is his Mats pleasure that this grant shall passe at the rent of 20li"; and in the royal warrant for the preparation of the grant the sum was further reduced to £5. Possibly even this was too much, for the earl does not seem to have obtained the property, which on 26th January, 1660–1, was leased to Deniel O'Neale for 31 years at a rent of £20. (fn. n11)
The site of the timber yard was included in the manor of Westminster, which was, with many other properties, on 30th June, 1665, assigned to trustees on behalf of Queen Catherine, as her jointure. In 1678 two leases of the manor were made. The one, on 17th July, was by the King to Joseph Sheldon and Nicholas Charlton on behalf of John Hall for a term of 80 years from Christmas, 1676; the other on 23rd December was by the Queen to the same individuals for 78¾ years. On 17th July, 1688, John Hall sold the remainder of the terms of the two leases to Sir Humphrey Edwin for the sum of £1, 645. (fn. n12)
Edwin died in 1707 and his property was subsequently divided. In 1738 the site of the timber yard was for the greater part in the possession of Humphrey Edwin (grandson of Sir Humphrey) and his sister Martha (afterwards married to Sir Hew Dalrymple), while the rest was in that of John Edwin, and his sisters, Anne, Hannah and Susannah. From the constats drawn up in that year for leases to John and Humphrey Edwin (fn. n13) it appears that the street frontage was occupied by four houses in the respective occupations (reckoning from south to north) of John Bowles, James Nagle, Samuel Ansell, and Widow Moorwood. In the space between them and Spring Gardens, with frontages on that street, were the premises of the Charitable Corporation (fn. n14) The Ship Tavern, (fn. n15) the latter lying to the north of the former and having a passage to the main street between the houses of Ansell and Nagle.
The occupier of The Ship at that time was Thomas Clark, (fn. n16) whose predecessors had been Benjamin Barnes (1717–30), Mary Spoyle (1715–16) and William Rogers (1708–14), and from a deed of 1712 we find that the house of Rogers was then known as The Crown. (fn. n17)
The ratebooks show that Nagle's house was occupied from 1741 to 1750 by Charles Thom, a fact which enables us to identify it with The Fleece. (fn. n18)
Ansell's premises were from 1710 to 1714 in the occupation of Isaac Colsten (Costin), and the deed of 1712 mentioned above shows that the latter's house was then known as "the Blew Posts Eating house," probably the Blue Posts in Spring Gardens, where Charnock and his gang met on the day fixed for the assassination of William III (1696).
At an earlier date one of the houses on the site of the timber yard was "Lambe's Ordinary." In the London Gazette for 19th-23rd January, 1681–2, is a notice by "Richard Girling, who some time kept the Ordinary near Charing Cross, commonly called Lamb's Ordinary." The ratebook for 1675 shows "Lambe's Ordinary" as one of the "timber yard" houses, that for 1677 gives the name "Patrick Lambe" in respect of the house, and in that for 1678 the entry runs: "Mr Gurling and partnr."
It is possible that one of the several "Rummers" at Charing Cross was also a "timber yard" house. In 1683 The Rummer is mentioned in the evidence of Hugh Mainwaring given in connection with the escape of Lord Grey. (fn. n19) It is said to have then been in the occupation of Mr. Lawrence. Lawrence does not appear in the ratebooks in respect of any of the houses in the neighbourhood, but "Thos. Laurenson" is shown next to "Hugh Manwaring" as occupying a house on the site of the timber yard, and this is confirmed by a deed of 1678. (fn. n20) It would seem from Mainwaring's evidence that he was himself a resident at The Rummer.
The Crown lease was not due to expire until Christmas, 1756, but in 1738 two reversionary leases of 30 years were granted to Humphrey and John Edwin at rents of £89 3s. 1d. and £48 3s. 9d. respectively. (fn. n21) In 1758 the Westminster Bridge Commissioners purchased the four houses on the street frontage, as well as The Ship, and another house which had previously formed part of The Ship. (fn. n22) The remaining house on the Spring Gardens front was not purchased. The Crown's interest in all the houses on the site of the timber yard was acquired on 25th September, 1765, at a cost of £2,960 15s. (fn. n23) An extant plan of The Ship and its passage (fn. n24) in 1758 shows that the distance between Spring Gardens and the main street was then 125 feet, indicating that the street widening effected by the commissioners at this point was about 25 feet. (fn. n25) On the new frontage of 83 feet four houses were built (the later Nos. 39 to 42, Charing Cross) and leased to Kemble Whatley for a term of 64½ years from Lady Day, 1766, at a rent of £68. (fn. n26) Of these Nos. 39, 40 and 41 survived until recently (see Plate 81). Their sites are now occupied by the premises of Glyn, Mills and Co., while the southern half of Martin's Bank covers the site of No. 42.
Description of Structure.
Nos. 39 to 41, Charing Cross, were three-storey buildings, with attics above, and the ground floor adapted as shops. Their fronts were originally in plain brick, but efforts were made in later years to treat Nos. 40 and 41 in a more decorative manner, and their general wall surfaces have been given a coat of plaster. At a still later date the roof of No. 40 was raised. (fn. n27) The ground-floor front of No. 41 was also altered in character.
The following are lists of occupiers (taken from the ratebooks) of Nos. 39–41 from the time of the erection of the houses until 1840:
|1759–71||Nathaniel Law (fn. n28)|
|1833–||W. and W.O. Mitchell|
|1760–62||Mary Ann Barnesby|
|1765–76||Mary Ann Jackson|
|1803–16||Hy. Thos. Hardacre|
|1827–||(Sir) Jas. N. McAdam (fn. n30)|
|1810–13 (fn. n29)||John Horseman|
|1814–17 (fn. n29)||Frances Horseman|
|1818–31 (fn. n29)||Frances Holland|
|1832– (fn. n29)||John Hill.|
No. 42, with which No. 41 was combined in 1810, was the Salopian Coffee House, (fn. n31) and the appellation was afterwards attached to the joint establishment. "The Salopian" is of interest from its connection with Thomas Telford, the eminent engineer, who for 21 years made it his headquarters in London. His presence attracted a host of visitors, and he came to be considered a fixture of the establishment, to be bought and sold with the goodwill of the business. When he resolved to take a house of his own, and gave notice of his intention of leaving, the landlord, who had but recently entered into possession, almost stood aghast. "What! leave the house!" said he, "Why, sir, I have just paid £750 for you." (fn. n32) The story is a good one, but unfortunately the ratebooks do not confirm a change in tenancy about the date (1823) required.
In the Council's collection are:
(fn. n33) General elevation of Nos. 37 to 41, Charing Cross (photograph).
(fn. n33) Elevation to Charing Cross (copied from a drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).
Plans of ground, 1st and 2nd floors (copied from a drawing in the possession of H.M. Office of Works).