The Piazza: Sites of No. 37 Henrietta Street and No. 1 King Street

Pages 95-96

Survey of London: Volume 36, Covent Garden. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1970.

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Sites of No. 37 Henrietta Street and No. 1 King Street

All the early views of the west side of the Piazza show on either side of the church and churchyard two houses, which Sir John Summerson has described as 'of obviously Jonesian proportions', and which were clearly an integral part of the original architectural scheme (see page 70 and Plates 11, 12, 13a, 26). (fn. 5)

In July 1633 the fourth Earl of Bedford granted to Edward Palmer, citizen and girdler of London, a thirty-six-year lease of the site at the south-east corner of the churchyard upon which Palmer had already built two new houses—one facing the Piazza (No. 37 on fig. 45) and the other in Henrietta Street (No. 36). (fn. 2) When the first leases for the building up of Henrietta Street were granted in 1631 it appears that all or part of the site subsequently leased to Palmer had been reserved for a vestry house, but this plan was evidently not carried out. (fn. 6) The house on the corner was first occupied in 1633. (fn. 4)

In 1729–30 No. 37, in common with most of the north side of Henrietta Street, was demolished and replaced by a house of the best second rate. The articles of agreement for the rebuilding specify a four-storey house in which the height of the rooms on the ground storey were to be 9 feet, on the second storey 9 feet 6 inches, on the third storey 8 feet 6 inches and on the garret storey 7 feet. The front of the house was to be faced with grey stock bricks and the parapet coped with stone (fn. 7) (see Plates 15b, 29b). By this time a licensed victualler was the occupant, (fn. 8) and from then until its demolition in 1888 to make way for the present building (now No. 34), the house was a tavern, which by 1743 was called the Unicorn. (fn. 9)

The site at the north-east corner of the churchyard, like that at the south-east corner, was a double one. In March 1632/3 the fourth Earl granted a thirty-six-year lease of the site to Thomas Turney of St. Martin's in the Fields, bricklayer, upon which he had already built two messuages, one facing the Piazza (No. 1 King Street on fig. 45) and the other in King Street (No. 2). (fn. 1) The lease ends with a clause in which Turney 'warrants and assures' the Earl that he 'hath erected and builte the said two messuages and tenements well and sufficiently and in all things suitable and like for height and strength and for thicknes of Brickworke and scantlings of timber and good workmanshipp to the two messuages and tenements builte by William [sic] Palmer att the South east corner of the said Churchyard and fronting towards the Piaza'. (fn. 1) No. 1 was first occupied in 1635. (fn. 4)

Unlike No. 37 Henrietta Street, No. 1 King Street did not survive into the eighteenth century. In August 1689 the fifth Earl granted a building lease of the site to Richard Bentley of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, stationer. (fn. 3) The new house, which was built to conform with the specifications of the 'best Second Rate', was five bays wide with a steeply pitched roof and did not reproduce the Jonesian style or scale of the original (see Plates 28a, 30a).

In 1753–4 No. 1 King Street was rebuilt again. In August 1753 the fourth Duke granted a building lease to Samuel Smyth, orange merchant, but the house itself was apparently designed and built by John Tinkler, carpenter, of St. Paul's, Covent Garden (Plate 29b). (fn. 10) Tinkler's estimates provide for a four-storey house in which the height of the rooms on the ground storey were to be 9 feet 6 inches, on the second storey 10 feet, on the third storey 8 feet and on the garret storey 7 feet. Most of the rooms were to have wainscoting 3 feet 6 inches high, a single cornice and a Portland stone chimneypiece. The dining-room on the first floor was to have wainscoting with ovolo-moulded and flat panels 'and Ioneck Cornice fully Inricht'. The back parlour on the ground floor was to be wainscoted to the top with ovolo and flat panels and a double cornice: both these rooms were to have veined marble chimneypieces. The ground storey was to contain a shop front. It was estimated that the cost of rebuilding this house, together with No. 2, which was also being rebuilt by Tinkler, would be £900. (fn. 11)

The house was demolished in 1883–4 to make way for the present building, which is described on page 153. (fn. 12)


  • 1. Ibid., King Street, lease of 3 March 1632/3 to T. Turney.
  • 2. Ibid., Henrietta Street, lease of 19 July 1633 to E. Palmer.
  • 3. E/BER, King Street, lease of 20 Aug. 1689 to R. Bentley.
  • 4. R.B.
  • 5. Sir John Summerson, Inigo Jones (Pelican Books), 1966, p. 92.
  • 6. Strype, op. cit., p. 87.
  • 7. E/BER, Henrietta Street, lease of 18 March 1729/30 to H. Ethersey; B.O.L., Contract Book 2, pp. 37–8; R.B.
  • 8. R.B.; G.L.R.O.(M), LV(W), 1730.
  • 9. B.O.L., Annual Report, 1888, p. 176; G.L.R.O. (M), LV(W), 1743.
  • 10. E/BER, King Street, lease of I Aug. 1753 to S. Smyth; Misc. Estate Papers, estimates of J. Thinkler 1753.
  • 11. Ibid., Misc. Estate Papers, estimates of J. Tinkler, 1753.
  • 12. B.O.L., Proposal Book 1883–96, no. 8.