Lincoln's Inn Fields: Nos. 53 and 54

Survey of London: Volume 3, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1912.

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'Lincoln's Inn Fields: Nos. 53 and 54', in Survey of London: Volume 3, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt I: Lincoln's Inn Fields, (London, 1912) pp. 77-80. British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

In this section


Ground landlord.

The London County Council.

General description and date of structure.

The original building on this site was the third of the three houses erected by David Murray in 1639 or 1640, and the first of the three to be occupied, it being already at the beginning of 1641 in the occupation of the Earl of Bath. (fn. 1) At this time the premises stopped short at what afterwards became the southern boundary of Duke Street, subsequently known as Sardinia Street. By indenture of that date, however, Newton sold to Murray the ground afterwards included in the forecourt of the three houses, and also granted him liberty "to erect and build 20 feet on and toward the north part of the Earl of Bath's messuage over a way, passage and street leading from Princes Street into the said feild there made and intended to be left, which with other buildinges intended to be erected by Will. Newton or his assign next adjoyning to the same, will make 36 feet. Under which there is to be a sufficient arch of brickwork or stone to be made, and one dooreway on each side of the said arch, at a proportionable charge of the said David Murray and William Newton or their assigns." The main portion of No. 53–4 was therefore certainly erected before the arch and buildings over it, and it is possible that the legend "Duke Street 1648," inscribed on the two stone tablets above the arch gives the correct date of the erection of that part of the structure. It may be, however, that the date simply refers to the naming of the street, and that the arch was actually erected in 1641, or shortly afterwards.

In 1688 the mob attacked the chapel in the rear of the house, and no doubt inflicted considerable damage on the latter. Plate 7 is a reproduction of the original design (fn. 2) for the medallion struck in commemoration of this event. People are shown in Purse Field gathered round and feeding a bonfire which is consuming Roman Catholic emblems, and the wrath of Heaven is depicted in the sky. The whole of the upper part of No. 53–4 and a portion of No. 55 are represented as in ruins, but there is good reason to doubt whether the designer did not considerably exaggerate the destruction done.

The house seems to have received considerable damage on the occasion of the disastrous fire of 1759, (fn. 3) which destroyed the adjacent chapel, (fn. 4) but in the Gordon Riots of 1780 it escaped with a single broken window. (fn. 5)

The evidence of the ratebooks shows that the house was divided into two (Nos. 53 and 54) about the year 1824.

No. 53 was demolished in the early part of 1912. None of the original features were existing at the time of demolition. The exterior, as seen on Plate 61 to the right and Plate 67 to the left, was of no merit.

The interior contained four flights of a staircase which appeared to be of early 18th-century workmanship, and was very similar in design to that in No. 52. It may have been the principal staircase when this and No. 54 were one house. The style of the other features of the house was confirmatory of the evidence of the ratebooks as to the division having taken place early in the 19th century.

The undermentioned articles were preserved by the Council, and are now in the London Museum:—

One iron bay to balcony.

Sample baluster of staircase.
Sample bracket of staircase.
Brass knocker with griffin's head and
Brass locks and handles on second floor.
Brass knocker with female head and
Brass finger plate on third floor.

The northern portion of No. 54 extended a little more than half way over the former Sardinia Street, and was supported by the archway which afforded access thereto. Over the front and rear of this arch were stone tablets bearing the legend "Duke Street 1648." The southern half of the later building formed the northern portion of the old mansion erected about 1640, and after the erection of the arch it became the central portion.

The exterior (Plate 67), which had been rendered and painted, together with the adjoining premises (No. 55), can be considered as approximately indicating the appearance of this portion of the original Arch Row. The Ionic capitals to the pilasters did not carry swags, and appear to have been reinstatements after the fire of 1759. The strap ornaments and bases (see No. 51) were original. The fact that the cornice and parapet were similar in character to those of No. 53 may indicate that they dated from 1824, when the premises were divided.

The rear of the archway and buildiug above are shown on Plate 68. The archway was about 11 feet high. Directly over the footway to the south was a small window (marked by an arrow) which afforded light to a space beneath the first floor, entered through a wall panel on the ground floor, and said to have been used as a secret place for observation and hiding during the various riots which took place in connection with the chapel at the rear.

So far as the interior is concerned, the architectural evidence demonstrated that the last material alteration took place near the beginning of the 19th century, and left the premises without interest. Miserable stairs, probably in substitution for the earlier service staircase, afforded access to the upper floors and passages leading, through openings in the main wall, to the northern wing over Sardinia Street, which was separated only by a wood partition from No. 55.

At the rear of the ground floor was a back entrance from Sardinia Street, with a hall connecting with the Chapel, and a staircase which led to the gallery level of the Chapel, and by which the Sardinian ambassador had access to his pew in the north-eastern corner of the gallery.

The house was demolished in the early part of 1912.

Historical notes.

The following is a list, taken from the rate-books, of the occupants of Nos. 53–4 until 1810:—

1700. "Don Lewis Da Cunha."
1703 and 1708. Portuguese ambassador.
Before 1723 to 1798. Sardinian ambassador.
1799 to 1807. The Rev. Charles Julian.
1808–9. Dr. Rigby.
1810— The Rev. R. Broderick.

To these may be added from other sources:—

Occupier. Authority.
(fn. 6) 1641–1654. Earl of Bath. Close Roll, cited on p. 77; Gillow's Biographical Dictionary of the English Catholics, s.v. Cross, John; Luttrell's Brief Relation of State Affairs, I., p. 427.
1654–1680. Countess of Bath.
1683. Lord Holles. (fn. 7) Jury Presentment List of 1683.
1687–8. The Order of Franciscans. Gillow's Biographical Dictionary (as above).

The particular Earl of Bath who is connected with this house was Henry Bourchier, the fifth earl, and his countess was Rachel, daughter of Francis Fane, Earl of Westmorland. (fn. 8) On the outbreak of the civil war he took the royal side, and by order of the Parliament was arrested in September, 1642, in his house in Devon. (fn. 9) He was committed to the Tower but was liberated some time before 27th January, 1644, (fn. 10) as on that date he signed with others a letter from the members of both Houses assembled at Oxford, declaring a treaty of peace. (fn. 11) Later on, in 1649, his estates were ordered to be sequestrated, but apparently the sequestration was suspended, (fn. 12) and in 1654 on his claiming the benefit of the articles of Dublin it was certified that he had not forfeited it by any new hostility. (fn. 13) On 15th August in that year he died. (fn. 14) On 1st May, 1655, the widowed countess married Lionel Cranfield, third Earl of Middlesex, (fn. 15) but the marriage does not seem to have been a happy one. (fn. 16) In March, 1661, she obtained a royal warrant to retain her precedency as Countess of Bath, the earldom of Middlesex being a more recent creation. (fn. 17) She died on 11th November, 1680, "at St. Giles-in-the-Fields," (fn. 18) that is, most probably, at No. 53–4, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where the Hearth Tax Roll shows her as residing in 1675.


In the Council's collection are—

* Exterior of Nos. 54 and 55, showing the arch to Sardinia Street (photograph).
* Rear of archway (photograph).
Interior of room showing wood cornice (photograph).
Interior of room showing wood cornice and panelling (photograph).
Interior of hall (photograph).
Staircase from the Rectory to the north gallery of the Chapel where the ambassador's pew was situated (photograph).


  • 1. Close Roll, 17 Charles I. (14). Indenture between William Newton and David Murray.
  • 2. See p. 17.
  • 3. See p. 82.
  • 4. Annual Register, Vol. II., p. 128.
  • 5. Historical MSS. Commission, Kenyon MSS., Report XIV., App. 4, p. 509.
  • 6. The Earl of Bath seems to have been in occupation of the house in 1640. Parton (St. Giles-in the-Fields, p. 348) quotes from the churchwardens' accounts: "1640. Pd for a shroude for a poore woman that dyed under the earl of Bath's wall, 2s. 6d." It is, however, just possible that the extract may refer to a previous residence of the Earl of Bath in St. Giles's parish.
  • 7. Lady Holles died in May, 1682, "in the house of her lord and husband in Lincoln Square, in Lincoln's Inn Fields" (Collins, Historical Collections, p. 162).
  • 8. Burke's Dormant and Extinct Peerage.
  • 9. Historical MSS. Commission. De La Warr MSS. Appendix to 4th Report, p. 304.
  • 10. He was still imprisoned on 20th June, 1643, see Ibid., Appendix to 5th Report p. 92a.
  • 11. Historical MSS. Commission. Capt. Stewart's MSS. 10th Report, Part IV., p. 64.
  • 12. Committee for Compounding, Calendar of Proceedings and Cases, pp. 1885–6.
  • 13. Ibid., p. 1886.
  • 14. Musgrave's Obituary.
  • 15. G. E. C[ockayne's] Peerage.
  • 16. "There was like to have grown a little breach between the late married couple, the Earl of Middlesex and his lady … it seems he does not well brook some of her servants." Letter, dated 14th July, 1655, from G. Ayloffe to John Langley in Historical MSS. Commission, Duke of Sutherland's MSS. Appendix to 5th Report, p. 183b. "His Highness has made Lord Pembroke and his lady friends, and I hear Lord Middlesex will endeavour the same, now he has sold all her plate, most of the household stuff and all Lord Bath's library; all goes in play and rioting." Letter, dated 13th July, 1658, from Lady Rachel Newport to Sir R. Leveson, in Ibid., p. 145b.
  • 17. G. E. C[ockayne's] Peerage. Lady Rachel Newport writes—"Our cousin Lady Bath hath got her place of being Lady Bath again, it cost her £1,200 … her lord is very angry at her changing her title; he says it is an affront to him." Historical MSS. Commission, Duke of Sutherland's MSS., Appendix to 5th Report, p. 146b. There were thus shortly two Countesses of Bath in the field, for on 20th April in the same year John Granville (already married) was created Earl of Bath.
  • 18. G. E. C[ockayne's] Peerage.