Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings). Originally published by London County Council, London, 1980.
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In this section
- CHAPTER XIX
South Street extends across the full width of the southernmost part of the estate and is bisected by South Audley Street. The north side west of South Audley Street is described in Chapter XVIII.
North Side east of South Audley Street
To the east of South Audley Street nearly half of the ground between that street and the boundary of the estate formed the return frontage of one of the blocks of land which in 1730 Sir Richard Grosvenor agreed to lease to the quadrumvirate responsible for building the Grosvenor Chapel (see pages 298–9).
The remainder of the ground on the north side of South Street was not taken until 1737, when Sir Robert Grosvenor agreed to grant it in several small takes to four undertakers each acting independently—Edward Scott and Charles Durham, bricklayers, Roger Blagrave, carpenter, and William Harrod of Kensington, gentleman. (fn. 2) They or their nominees (who included Joshua Lassell and Robert Lowd, bricklayers, Francis Ives, Henry Peat and John Spencer, carpenters, and Richard Aslat, joiner) (fn. 3) had completed building by about 1740. (fn. 4)
All of the land here backed on to the burial ground, and probably for this reason the houses were small and narrow. Behind their yards rear buildings abutted directly on to the graveyard, and at the east end of the range four very small houses called North Terrace were tucked in behind the houses in South Street, being approached by a covered archway. In 1756–60 Edmund Rush, a mason previously active at the west end of the street, had his yard on approximately the site of the present No. 39, (fn. 4) which in 1824 was leased to Charles Philliston, a bricklayer also active nearby. (fn. 5) In the following year Philliston sub-let the premises to John Elger, a builder active on the estate and in Princes Gate, Knightsbridge. (fn. 6) Elger had a house and workshop here until 1846, latterly with (Sir) John Kelk, the future builder of the Albert Memorial, who in turn remained until 1862, his main premises being in Commercial Road, Pimlico. Smith and Taylor (later George Smith and Company), who succeeded Kelk in his business, retained the workshops until their demolition in 1895. (fn. 7) In 1871 two of the houses were occupied by physicians and another by an army major; five others were lodging-houses, and the rest were inhabited by tradesmen or servants. (fn. 8)
All the leases had been synchronised by the Estate to expire in 1895. By this time the first Duke had undertaken to present a substantial site for the rebuilding of the parochial schools, (fn. 9) but the western portion of the now vacant land was ready for improvement by residential redevelopment.
Nos. 39–47 (odd).
In the summer of 1895 the Duke decided that this site should be set back so as to allow space for trees to be planted in front, and in August it was offered to the builder William Willett of Sloane Gardens, who was required to have J. J. Stevenson as his architect. (fn. 10) Willett had previously been compelled by the Grosvenor Board to have Stevenson as his architect in the building of Nos. 126–158 (even) Buckingham Palace Road in 1891, and although this enforced association had proved somewhat stormy, the Duke had evidently been satisfied with its results. (fn. 11) In South Street Willett did not favour the proposal to set back the frontage and wanted instead to put up a substantial range, but the Duke was determined 'to adhere to the small class of house proposed by Mr. Balfour' (the estate surveyor), and terms were ultimately agreed for the erection of five 'small private houses'. Stevenson's elevations were in due course approved, and building work took place in 1896–8. (fn. 12) By June 1898 Willett had sold all five of the houses.
This small development forms a terrace of original design which though not having a parallel in Mayfair, has a precedent in the mid-Victorian terraces of Kensington and Bayswater which turn their backs on the street and their fronts towards communal gardens. Here the principal rooms overlook St. George's Hanover Square Gardens (formerly the burial ground). But unlike the Kensington terraces this side, treated in a sober 'Queen Anne' manner, is less elaborate than the South Street front, where deep recesses, required to light the centrally placed staircases, break up the elevations into what looks like a group of two semi-detached pairs and a single house (Plate 95a). The individuality of the units resulting from this plan-form is emphasised by minor variations in the detailing, particularly of the entrance doorways. But the group as a whole is given unity by the repetition of the angular bays at the corners, the continuous balustraded balcony at first-floor level, the uniform treatment of the mullion-and-transom windows and the steep hipped roofs of Westmorland slate. The inspiration for the architectural treatment is widely eclectic, drawing on Gothic, François Premier, Jacobean and 'Queen Anne' sources to create an ensemble which contemporaries thought managed to suggest 'some examples of old French domestic architecture'. (fn. 13)
Internally the houses are arranged with one full-width room at back and front on all the main floors, with the staircase, circulation space and service rooms in the middle. They were provided with fireproof floors and 'all modern conveniences'. (fn. 13) As with the exteriors the seeming internal uniformity reveals minor variations on closer inspection. At No. 41, for instance, the space at the back of the area is used for service stairs whereas at No. 43 it forms a little balcony overlooking the area at first-floor level.
Occupants include: No. 41, Sir Percy Daniels, K.B.E., 1920–33. No. 43, Sir Albert Henry Stanley, latterly Baron Ashfield, Chairman of London Passenger Transport Board, 1918–40. No. 45, (Sir) William Wyndham Portal, latterly 2nd bt., 1898–1908.
St. George's, Hanover Square, Church of England Primary School
St. George's, Hanover Square, Church of England Primary School (Plate 95b). A school has existed on part of this site for well over two centuries. By his will of 1726 General William Steuart bequeathed £5,000 for the establishment of a school for twenty poor boys of the parish, and in 1742 his trustees bought a piece of freehold land in South Street just outside the Grosvenor estate, and built a school-house there. The land on which this school stood forms the south-eastern part of the site of the present school. (fn. 14)
In 1804 the St. George's United Day Schools of Instruction and Industry were established by voluntary subscription in leasehold premises elsewhere in South Street. These premises were evidently not very suitable, and in 1817 this and General Steuart's school were amalgamated, this united school being conducted in General Steuart's buildings, which were probably enlarged at this time. (fn. 15) Its site, adjoining the south-east corner of the burial ground, is shown on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey map of 1869–70.
In 1887 the first Duke of Westminster announced his intention to present a new site for this school, which was now evidently much overcrowded, and the western part of the site of the present school was provisionally designated for this purpose. But the Duke's leases of this land did not expire until 1895, and meanwhile James Innes, the owner of the ground to the east of the united school, was wanting to redevelop his property, the value of which could be greatly enhanced by widening the street there. In 1893, accordingly, the Vestry surveyor produced a plan for setting back the frontage and providing a passageway from South Street into St. George's Hanover Square Gardens (formerly the burial ground). (fn. 16) But the implementation of this scheme required complicated exchanges of land between the Duke, Innes and General Steuart's trustees (who still owned the freehold of the united school), and the concurrence of the official trustee of charity lands, the managers of the united school, the parish Vestry and the rector and churchwardens. The main obstacle was the determination of the Steuart trustees to retain their endowments for the provision of scholarships for poor boys of the parish, but with the help of the Charity Commissioners agreement was ultimately reached. Part of the site of the united school was sold to Innes (who shortly afterwards erected a block of mansion flats on his much-improved land); other parts were incorporated into the sites of the new school and of the new passageway into St. George's Gardens; and a small piece at the south end was used to widen South Street. The Duke presented a handsome site immediately to the west, worth over £9,000, all these complex dispositions being finalised by a single conveyance in 1898. (fn. 17)
By this time a public appeal for funds for the rebuilding had been opened and in 1896 a limited competition for the design of the new school was held, with J. Macvicar Anderson as the assessor.
The Duke, as usual, required red brick with stone or terracotta or moulded brick dressings, and the 'general style of the buildings' was 'to be assimilated to those recently erected' elsewhere on his estate. In due course Philip A. Robson (son of E. R. Robson, the architect to the London School Board) was declared the winner, but 'owing to certain revised requirements on the part of the Duke', Robson's first designs had to be greatly modified. The old school building was closed and demolished in 1897. (fn. 18) The new school was built in 1897–8 by Dove Brothers.
Philip Robson stated that his intention had been 'not merely to convey the impression of a school building, but that of a higher grade church school'. (fn. 19) In pursuit of this aim he adopted a red-brick and Portland-stone Jacobean style with Arts and Crafts detailing. It is not, however, so much the architectural style as the unusual plan which sets St. George's School aside from most late nineteenth-century schools and gives it its distinctive character. A compressed L-shape was adopted, with the tall main school block, lit by large mullion-and-transom windows, forming one stroke and the smaller flatted teachers' house forming the other. At the junction of the two is placed the stumpy circular latrine tower. The playground is sunk and makes the most of the site by extending partly under the main building.
South Side west of South Audley Street
In this part of the street all of the ground extending to Park Lane formed the return front of the large block of land having its main frontage to South Audley Street which was taken by the architect and plasterer Edward Shepherd in 1736. (fn. 20) The eastern part of the South Street front was quickly occupied by the garden of No. 71 South Audley Street and the back premises of Nos. 72–75 whose sites were so shaped as to abut northwards also on South Street. (fn. 21) The remaining ground to the west was, however, reserved until 1745 when stables and coach-houses were built on part of it by Shepherd's sub-lessees, including Roger Blagrave, carpenter, and John Hill, coachmaker. (fn. 22) Four years later Edmund Rush, mason, agreed to take all the rest of the South Street frontage extending to Park Lane and containing some 168 feet, from Shepherd's widow, Elizabeth, (fn. 23) who in 1749–51 granted leases to him or his nominees of six houses then built or in building. (fn. 24)
No. 2 (formerly No. 31)
No. 2 (formerly No. 31), the westernmost house, had a fine position overlooking Hyde Park. Leased to Edmund Rush in 1751, (fn. 25) it was first occupied in the following year, but its main claim to fame was its tenure by Louis-Philippe-Joseph, Duke of Orleans, from 1788 to 1793. (fn. 4) For some years he had been making frequent visits to England, (fn. 26) and in June 1788 he paid £5,000 for this house, which was described as 'already good'. (fn. 27) After the fall of the Bastille in July 1789 he enjoyed much short-lived popularity in France, but soon went into voluntary exile and, after a rough handling from the fish-wives of Boulogne, he reached South Street in October for what was to be his last visit. (fn. 28) He immediately took a lease of No. 3 Chapel Street, a house nearby at the west corner of Chapel and Portugal Streets which was evidently intended for his mistress, Madame de Buffon, and in November he was said to be building two additional rooms at his own house in South Street. (fn. 29) In December there was talk of extra offices and a servants' staircase with a wooden framework, the covering of which 'against the weather is canvas and papers, like Sir James Wright's'. (fn. 30) Two months later his agent was negotiating with Earl Grosvenor for a renewal of the lease and produced plans of 'new intended Buildings', (fn. 31) but when the formalities had been completed in June 1790, his visit was nearly over, for he returned to Paris in the following month. In March 1791, when he was expected back in England, the house was 'quite finished: his new carriage remains at Hatchett's, and his stud is still unsold', (fn. 32) but in January 1793 (before his arrest) the house was 'peremptorily' put up for sale by auction. It was then said to 'have recently been enlarged, and rendered extremely convenient, at a very considerable expence', (fn. 33) and £8,000 was bid for it, though whether this was accepted is not clear. Its owner, who was now named Philippe Égalité and had voted for the execution of his cousin, Louis XVI, was himself guillotined on 6 November of the same year. A few weeks later the house was bought by Mrs. Charlotte Wheeler for only £6,000, which was thought to be 'at least as much as it is worth', the interior being 'like the former owner . . . good for nothing'. (fn. 34)
In the autumn of 1842 the house was rented for one year by the Dowager Lady Holland, the famous Whig hostess, who had previously used No. 6 as a town house. (fn. 35) The owner (and occupant since 1832) was then Lord Kilmaine. In 1845 he asked for the lease to be renewed, but was told that his application was premature. (fn. 36) Shortly afterwards he sold the house to his brother-in-law, David Lyon, a West India merchant, who in 1851 agreed, as a condition for a new lease, to make alterations specified by the estate surveyor, Thomas Cundy II. The most important of these requirements were the addition of a square attic storey above the existing three storeys and basement, the construction of stone balconies to the first-floor windows on the south and west fronts and the addition of window dressings and a double Ionic portico. But when Lyon set about the work in 1852 he employed Sir Charles Barry, who sent in his own designs (much superior to those of Cundy, and less expensive) for the alteration of the three elevations. After some negotiations Lyon was allowed to omit the proposed new square attic, instead of which Barry raised the walls four feet to form a kerb roof behind a balustrade (Plate 94a: see also Plate 22b in vol. XXXIX). Above the second-floor windows a decorated frieze surmounted by a handsome projecting cornice extended round all three fronts, which were entirely clothed in stucco, and on the north side there was a double Ionic portico with balustrade to the principal doorway. (fn. 37) The builder was J. Scantlebury. (fn. 38)
David Lyon lived here until 1867, and thereafter his brother, Major William Lyon, until 1887. In 1897 the house was leased to the builder John Garlick. Later occupants included J. Pierpont Morgan junior (1900–1) and Katherine, Duchess of Westminster (1902–27), widow of the first Duke, shortly after whose removal the house was demolished. (fn. 39)
Nos. 4–12 even (formerly Nos. 32–36 consec.).
These five houses were built under leases granted by Elizabeth Shepherd in 1749–51 to Edmund Rush (Nos. 6 and 8), or his nominees, John Whitby, upholsterer and cabinet-maker (Nos. 10 and 12), and the Hon. Barbara Cavendish (No. 4). (fn. 40) Photographs taken in 1930, (fn. 41) shortly before their demolition, show the houses with a variety of altered fronts but all having projecting bays at the back which faced south over the garden of Dorchester House and had oblique views of the park (Plate 94a, 94b, 94c). Although of modest dimensions two of the houses (Nos. 8 and 10) were distinguished by having symmetrical façades with a central front door flanked by a window on each side. This particular arrangement was never widespread on the estate and only one or two examples have survived. At No. 12 there was a very fine eighteenth-century doorcase with an open pediment, high triglyph frieze and engaged Doric columns. In 1777 No. 8, then recently let to Lord Edward Bentinck for a hundred guineas a year, was described as 'a very pleasant habitation for a single gentleman or lady'. (fn. 42) In 1835 Lady Holland inherited No. 6 from her mother, Lady Affleck. Shortly afterwards she wrote that 'We shall occasionally come to the dear little house in South Street', which she described as 'no more than a closet and a cupboard so small are the rooms'. (fn. 43) In 1919 Detmar Blow thought that No. 6 'was one of the most charming houses on the Estate'. (fn. 44) By this time all five houses had, of course, been considerably altered, chiefly by the addition of extra storeys or attics, and of balconies at the back, and at No. 4 the front had been completely stuccoed in the Italianate style of the 1840's. (fn. 45)
The later history of all five houses was influenced by the long residence of Florence Nightingale at No. 10. Her brother-in-law, Sir Harry Verney, had lived at No. 4 (formerly No. 32) since 1859, and she had often stayed there; but in July 1865 she had taken No. 8 (formerly No. 34), furnished, for a year at a rental of £500. Almost immediately afterwards, however, the next door house, No. 10 (then No. 35), came on the market, and after prompting from her sister, Lady Verney, her parents agreed to pay £7,000 for the remaining twenty-one years of its lease. No. 8 was soon disposed of, and in October 1865 she moved into No. 10, where she remained until her death in 1910. (fn. 46) It was in the simply furnished back bedroom on the second floor, or in the smaller front room with which it communicated, that 'the greater part of Miss Nightingale's life for forty-five years was passed'. (fn. 47)
In 1876, when she was in her mid fifties, she applied through Sir Harry Verney to the Duke of Westminster for the renewal of her lease 'for as long as possible'. The Duke was told that 'the sanitary condition of the house has been improved', and 'she does not wish to be disturbed'. At the same time Sir Harry also applied for the renewal of his own lease of No. 4, and the Duke at once agreed that both Miss Nightingale and Sir Harry Verney could remain in their respective houses for life. (fn. 48) Later in the same year he made the same concession at No. 2 to Major William Lyon, then in his seventieth year, and in 1880 at No. 12 to the Earl of Lucan, then aged eighty, and to fit in with these arrangements he subsequently granted yearly tenancies of Nos. 6 and 8. (fn. 49) During negotiations over the rent to be paid by Florence Nightingale after the expiry of her lease in 1886 he at first stated that he 'had no intention of letting the house be occupied at less than the value', but when informed by Sir Harry Verney that the proposed rent of £400 would compel her to 'go to Onslow Gardens or South Kensington which would be a Public injury as she is mixed up with nursing etc.', he at once agreed to take only £150. (fn. 50)
After Florence Nightingale's death in 1910 the house had evidently fallen below the new standards of sanitation which she had herself promoted, for it was stated that 'all the drainage was bad ... the we's were in the centre ... and the hot water service should be carried upstairs and bath rooms provided'. In 1912 the second Duke, acting on a suggestion of the London County Council, erected a tablet to commemorate her long residence there. (fn. 51) The later history of the site of Nos. 4–12 is described on page 266.
Occupants include: No. 4, 9th Earl of Winchilsea, 1787–1826. Sir John Leach, Master of the Rolls, 1830–4 (previously at No. 12). Gen. Sir James Kempt, G.C.B., Governor General of Canada, 1835–43. 2nd Earl of Stradbroke, 1855–8. Sir Harry Verney, 2nd bt., M.P., 1859–90. Col. (latterly Lieut.-gen. Sir) George Henry Fowke, K.C.B., 1911–21. No. 6, 3rd Baron Holland, 1835–40: his wid., Elizabeth, Lady Holland, 1840–2. Algernon Grosvenor, son of 1st Baron Ebury, 1890–1907: his wid., Catharine Grosvenor, 1907–17. No. 8, 2nd Earl (later 1st Marquess) Cornwallis, later commander at Yorktown, 1766–8. Lord Edward Bentinck, son of 2nd Duke of Portland, 1777–8. Mrs. Elizabeth Armistead, successively mistress and wife of Charles James Fox, 1787–92: Fox was the ratepayer, 1793–8. Sir Thomas Clarges, 4th bt., 1811–34: his kinsman, latterly Lieut.-gen. Sir Richard Goddard Hare-Clarges, K.C.B., 1837 57. No. 10, Sir William Meredith, M.P., 3rd bt., 1753–5. Lord Harry Powlett, later 6th Duke of Bolton, 1756–61. Henry Skeffington, latterly 3rd Earl of Massereene, 1803–11. Charles Western, latterly Baron Western, 1830–44. Florence Nightingale, 1865–1910. Sir Alfred Lawrence, latterly Lord Chief Justice and 1st Baron Trevethin, 1912–27. No. 12, Sir John Leach, Master of the Rolls, 1818–30 (later at No. 4). Duke of Sussex, son of George III, 1832–43. Elizabeth, Countess of Cardigan, estranged wife of 7th Earl, 1856–8: his brother-in-law, 3rd Earl of Lucan, cavalry commander in Crimean war, 1862–88.
Nos. 14–20 even (formerly Nos. 37–40 consec.).
The leases of the stables to the east of No. 12 which had been built in 1745 were due for renewal in the 1820's, and in 1822 the Reverend John Sanford applied to take this ground, which had a frontage of 118 feet to South Street. Negotiations were conducted by Sanford's architect, J. P. Gandy (who in 1828 assumed the name of Deering), and in 1825 an agreement was signed with Sanford for the building on ninety-nine-year leases of 'first rate' houses here. (fn. 52)
The building of Nos. 14–20 by Spicer Crowe of George Street, Euston Square, who also built St. Mark's, North Audley Street, for Gandy Deering, (fn. 53) was carried out under the superintendence of James Gallier, a builder and surveyor who had been working at Huntingdon. In his autobiography Gallier states that 'I received an encouraging offer to return to London and superintend the building of a range of houses in South street, near Park Lane, agreeably to plans made by Mr. John Deering, architect; I accepted the offer, and returned to London with my family in June, 1828'. (fn. 54) Gallier also worked with Deering on the north side of South Street (fn. 55) and on his own account nearby, this work and his later career being described on page 331.
All four houses were leased to Sanford in 1829. None of them now survives, but in outward appearance Nos. 14, 16 and 18 were identical with No. 24 (Plate 94d: see also Plate 24c, fig. 12c in vol. XXXIX). They were large-scaled and austere of aspect in front with stuccoed ground storeys and shallow Greek Revival porches on square piers decorated only with guttae. At the back they had wide curved bows instead of the canted ones of the earlier Nos. 4–12 (Plate 94b). Inside, the formidable ceiling heights must in themselves have made the houses memorable. No. 20 (where Gandy Deering himself was the occupant from 1830 until his death in 1850) had a narrower two-bay front of nineteen instead of thirty-three feet, (fn. 56) and, latterly, a more conventional columned porch which could hardly have been original. In 1835 No. 14 was described as a 'Spacious and Elegant Mansion ... finished in the best taste', having a stone-floored hall, 'two stone staircases', and on the principal floor a drawing-room nearly thirty-five feet long with a fine prospect 'commanding the entire Park view'. (fn. 57) Lord Melbourne lived at No. 18 for many years, including his period of office as Prime Minister, when he did not take up residence at No. 10 Downing Street. In South Street he employed sixteen servants, 'all thievish and drunk'. (fn. 58) Nos. 16–20 were demolished in 1934 (fn. 59) and No. 14 in 1978.
Occupants include: No. 14, Baron Langdale, Master of the Rolls, 1836–48. Sir Thomas Colebrooke, M.P., 4th bt., 1859–90. Sir Albert Stern, K.B.E., banker, 1923–52. No. 16, (Sir) Alexander Matheson, M.P., China merchant, latterly 1st bt., 1849–83. 1st Baron Gerard, 1884–7. No. 18, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, Prime Minister, 1830–48. 3rd Earl of Clare, 1852–64. No. 20, J. P. Gandy Deering, architect, 1830–50. 4th Viscount Hood, 1868–72. Hugh Boscawen, son of 6th Viscount Falmouth, 1873–1908.
Nos. 22–26 even (formerly Nos. 41–43 consec.).
In the 1820's all of the ground between No. 20 South Street and the back of No. 71 South Audley Street still formed part of the curtilages of Nos. 72–75 South Audley Street, and was occupied by stables, and, in the case of the Portuguese Embassy at No. 74, a chapel (see page 309). In 1827 the local speculator John Feetham, who was probably a partner in the firm of John and Thomas Feetham, coal merchants, of Abingdon Street, Westminster, acquired No. 74 with the chapel in South Street, (fn. 60) and in 1831 he bought Nos. 72 and 73 and their stables. (fn. 61) He then demolished the chapel and stables and in 1833–4 built two sets of new stables on the site of the present Nos. 26 and 28 South Street. (fn. 62) At the same time he exchanged the new stables at No. 26 for adjacent ground to the west, which then belonged to Lord Dinorben, the occupant of No. 75 South Audley Street, (fn. 63) and by this arrangement he was able to build two first-rate houses, Nos. 22 and 24 South Street, in continuation of Gandy Deering's range at Nos. 14–20.
Nos. 22 and 24 were leased to Feetham in 1835, (fn. 64) and, being identical with their neighbours at Nos. 14–18, it seems certain that Gandy Deering was the architect. No. 22 was demolished in 1934, but No. 24 still survives, and is now used as offices by the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt (Plate 94d).
No. 26, also now occupied by the Arab Republic of Egypt, may also have been designed by Deering. (fn. 65) Originally it had only two storeys and an attic, with a covered entrance in the middle bay, leading to the stables at the rear. (fn. 66) At some time, probably around 1928, when it became the Egyptian Consulate, an extra storey was added and the ground-storey front given its present appearance, stuccoed and pierced by three large round-headed openings (Plate 94d).
Occupants include: No. 22, 8th Earl of Scarbrough, 1836–56. 8th Viscount Downe, 1873–80. (Sir) Reginald Hardy, latterly 2nd bt., 1882–93. 4th Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada, 1902–17. No. 24, Edward Strutt, latterly 1st Baron Belper, 1838–59. Herbert Jessel, latterly 1st Baron Jessel, 1915–43.
In 1898 Sir Cuthbert Quilter, the occupant of No. 74 South Audley Street, acquired the stables at No. 28 South Street, the lease of which was renewed to him in 1900 for twenty-eight years. In the following year he was thinking of building a house there for his son, with Detmar Blow as his architect. Blow's first plans evidently only provided for alterations which Eustace Balfour, the estate surveyor, considered 'so slight as to be unobjectionable'; (fn. 67) but as executed the work amounted to an almost complete rebuilding, a substantial house replacing the much smaller old stables here. The neighbours objected, and in April 1902 the Estate was threatening Blow with an injunction to make him stop the works (by Maple and Company) because he was not complying with the specification; and Sir Cuthbert was angry too when, after he had spent £10,000 on the house, the Estate quite reasonably refused to extend his lease, granted only three years previously. (fn. 68)
This was Detmar Blow's first substantial job on the estate, and although the front is clearly his work, some of the internal detailing was by his assistant and future partner, Fernand Billerey. The pretty brick-and-stone front is in the English vernacular style of the late seventeenth century with quoins, dormer windows, and a modillion eaves-cornice, but its two best features are a pedimented stone doorcase of refined Arts and Crafts sensitivity and the sophisticated, French-inspired, iron-work of the area railings (Plate 45a, fig. 23e in vol. XXXIX). The interior is not remarkable except for a wide wooden staircase in the late seventeenth-century manner. In one of the second-floor back rooms there is an imported marble fireplace in the Adam style of the 1780's. Like the preceding stable block the house is planned around a small internal courtyard of which the fourth side is the back wall of No. 72 South Audley Street.
Soon after its completion the house was let to Lord Dunglass, and his eldest son, the future Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, was born in it on 2 July 1903. (fn. 69) Sir Cuthbert Quilter may later have lived here for some years. His widow was the occupant from 1911 to 1920, and his son, Sir William Quilter, from 1929 for many years.
South Side east of South Audley Street: and Waverton and Hill Streets
The three 'takes' of land on the east side of South Audley Street upon which Nos. 9–16 in that street now stand all originally extended eastwards to the boundary of the estate in what later became Union Street and since 1886 has been called Waverton Street. The three undertakers here were Roger Blagrave and John Eds, carpenters, and William Singleton, plasterer, who all agreed for their respective plots in 1736; (fn. 70) and behind the houses on the principal front to South Audley Street they or their nominees afterwards built a number of mostly smaller houses and stables, coach-houses and workshops on the back land fronting South Street, Union Street and Hill Street. In the early years of the twentieth century almost all these buildings were demolished, the sole survivors (all much altered) being Nos. 30, 34 and 36 South Street and No. 40 Hill Street. Many of the original plots were then rearranged by the estate surveyor, Edmund Wimperis, and between 1915 and 1929 six very large houses were built in South Street, Waverton Street and Hill Street, backing on to a communal garden laid out on the site of the maze of outbuildings and yards which had hitherto occupied the centre of the block.
These outbuildings had included the workshops of (Sir) Richard Westmacott, the sculptor, who lived at No. 14 South Audley Street from 1818 to 1856. The curtilage of this house extended through to Union Street, and his back premises (which are described on page 295) may have included a casting pit for works in bronze as well as shops for the many pieces of marble statuary which he produced.
Nos. 30–36 (even) South Street
Nos. 30–36 (even) South Street (Plate 95d). No. 30 (formerly No. 43A) was first occupied as a separate house in c. 1757, (fn. 4) its site formerly being part of the curtilage of No. 16 South Audley Street which was leased to Roger Blagrave in 1736. (fn. 71) In 1914 it was taken by the local builders, Haywood Brothers, who probably renovated it. (fn. 72) No. 32, the site of which had been originally occupied by garden ground and later stables for No. 15 South Audley Street, was built in 1832 by the local speculator John Feetham to serve as stables and coach-houses for No. 74 South Audley Street, the occupant of which, the first Earl Cawdor, became Feetham's tenant here. (fn. 73) In 1907 the stables were converted to garages, and in 1915 the irregularly shaped plot was divided by Haywood, part of the back premises being transferred to No. 36 to provide that house with access to the communal garden then in course of formation. (fn. 74) No. 34 (formerly No. 43) dates from 1737, when it was leased to Roger Blagrave. (fn. 75) In 1924 the house was taken by Patricia, Countess of Cottenham, who spent £4,000 on it and lived here until 1937. (fn. 76) No. 36 (formerly No. 44) was also leased in 1737 to Blagrave, who lived here himself from at least 1744 to 1752. (fn. 77) In 1828 John Feetham acquired an interest in the house, which in 1886 was said to be 'very old and in poor condition externally and internally'. (fn. 78) In 1915 it was considerably enlarged by the addition of part of the site of No. 32, Haywood Brothers being the builders and A. E. Cockerell the architect of the extension fronting on to the new communal garden. At that time the house contained panelling in two rooms. (fn. 79)
By about 1900 the whole block was from the Estate's point of view ripe for improvement, and all the leases were therefore arranged to expire in 1914. But when the future treatment of the area was considered in 1907 the second Duke proved very averse to the proposed demolition of Nos. 9–16 South Audley Street, and rebuilding was therefore restricted to the South Street and Waverton Street frontages, the proximity of the latter to fashionable Hill Street making a very suitable site for the erection of large expensive houses. (fn. 80) Even here complete redevelopment did not take place, however, for the depleted financial circumstances of the tenant of No. 40 Hill Street led the Estate, on compassionate grounds, to accept the surrender of her interest and to grant a new long lease there in 1907, (fn. 81) while in South Street Nos. 30–36 were retained after 1914 because their back premises did not interfere with the plans for the rest of the block. (fn. 1)
The Estate's main object—the provision of half a dozen substantial building plots—was achieved in 1914 when all the other houses in South Street and Waverton Street, and the workshops and stables leading off the latter, were demolished, and the rear curtilages of the houses in South Audley Street greatly reduced in extent.
Nos. 40A and 40B Hill Street and 54 South Street
Nos. 40A and 40B Hill Street and 54 South Street (Plate 95c, 95e). In 1913 Captain J. E. H. Orr, who was already living on the site of the future No. 40B Hill Street, was negotiating with Edmund Wimperis, the estate surveyor, for one of the plots, and in November he introduced his friend, Dr. Percy Mitchell of 6 Eccleston Square and 90 Harley Street, as a prospective client for rebuilding next door (No. 40A). (fn. 82) On the corner site with South Street, Haywood Brothers wished to build one or two large houses, but eventually agreed to make do with one (No. 54 South Street), with a small office for their business tucked into the site between this and No. 40B Hill Street, their workshops, hitherto in a yard off Waverton Street, being transferred to a nearby site in Farm Street. (fn. 83)
But in February 1914 Wimperis decided to form a communal garden in the centre of the block, and this involved some re-arrangement of the plots to provide greater width and less depth. (fn. 84) Despite the outbreak of war in August 1914 work began in 1915 on Dr. Mitchell's No. 40A Hill Street, where Wimperis's partner, W. B. Simpson, was the architect and Prestige and Company the contractors, and on the Haywoods' No. 54 South Street, with A. E. Cockerell the architect and F. Foxley and Company the contractors. (fn. 85) At No. 40B, where Wimperis and Simpson were the architects, Captain Orr's absence abroad on war service compelled him to assign his building contract to A. C. F. Hill, a speculator also active in the Green Street district of the Grosvenor estate. (fn. 86) Hill quickly found a purchaser in a Mrs. Van Raalte, who asked for a small number of changes, the most important being between this house and No. 54 South Street. Haywoods had now decided against having their office here, and a small inconspicuous addition was therefore made on the north of No. 40B Hill Street. Work was completed by October 1916, and by this time Haywoods had completed and sold No. 54 South Street. Dr. Mitchell's No. 40A Hill Street was finished in February 1917. (fn. 87)
All three of these very large houses are in the reticent neo-Georgian style then prevalent on the estate. At No. 40B the hall has pine panelling, and both this and No. 40A are generally fitted out in the courteous manner of much of Wimperis and Simpson's work. The communal garden at the back, with a small fountain in the centre, was laid out in 1915–16 to designs by Wimperis, with Haywood Brothers the contractors (fn. 88) (Plate 95c).
No. 40 Hill Street
No. 40 Hill Street (Plate 95e). The two houses to the south of No. 40A Hill Street occupied sites facing obliquely into Hill Street and were originally much larger than their neighbours to the north. The site of No. 40 (formerly No. 20A Hill Street) was acquired by George Thwaits, gentleman, and the house here, which still stands, was built in 1752–3, probably by John Blagrave. (fn. 89) In the middle years of the nineteenth century a projecting portico of the type favoured by the second Marquess of Westminster was added to its four-storeyed brick front, and in 1894 the occupant, Joseph J. E. Senior, 'spent thousands of pounds on the house', much of the work being done by Thomas Ison, upholsterer. (fn. 90) In 1907 the Estate accepted the surrender of the lease from Senior's widow, who had been left 'practically unprovided for', (fn. 91) and very substantial alterations were made at the back by the next lessee, David Charles Guthrie, formerly M.P., whose builders were Smith Brothers of Northampton. (fn. 92) In 1914 the stabling was demolished for the formation of the communal garden, and in 1917 improvements were made to the now very visible rear elevation (Plate 95c) to designs probably by W. B. Simpson. (fn. 93)
Occupants include: James Beauclerk, Bishop of Hereford, 1754–5. John Talbot, M.P., son of Lord Chancellor Talbot, 1756. 2nd Viscount Powerscourt, 1758–61. Nathaniel Ryder, later 1st Baron Harrowby, 1762–70. Sir John Gresham, 6th bt., 1776–1801: his son-in-law, William Leveson-Gower, grandson of 1st Earl Gower, 1806–52. Gabriel Goldney, M.P., bank director, later 1st bt., 1868–80. Joseph J. E. Senior, 1886–1906. Captain Harold Ernest Brassey, grandson of Thomas Brassey the railway contractor, 1910–16. Sir Laurence Philipps, bt., company chairman, latterly 1st Baron Milford, 1919–41.
Nos. 42 and 44 Hill Street (formerly 20B).
This large house at the corner of Waverton Street has a frontage of some fifty feet (Plate 95e). Its site was leased in 1739 to John Blagrave, with Roger Blagrave and John Eds as consenting parties, and in 1750 John Blagrave was mortgaging the newly built house here. (fn. 94) A plan made in about 1806 shows that it was six windows wide and had a basement, three storeys and garrets. (fn. 95) In 1914 the architect and speculator F. W. Foster agreed to pay a premium of £5,000 and spend £10,000 on the house in return for a sixty-three-year lease, but the war intervened and in January 1919 Viscount Furness, the coal, steel and shipping magnate, acquired Foster's interest. (fn. 96) He also acquired the vacant land at the back hitherto occupied by stables, where he proposed to build underground kitchens with a tennis court on the flat roof. By June he thought that 'it would be far better to demolish this house entirely and rebuild', and in the following month his 'architect', W. Ernest Lord of the Mount Street decorating firm of Turner Lord and Company, presented himself to the Grosvenor Board with plans and elevations and 'also stated that No. 42 Hill Street has been pulled down'. After the furore evoked by this unexpected news had died down the Board tried to persuade Viscount Furness to employ 'some architect of position', and he did indeed employ Mewes and Davis, though in what capacity is not clear, for Lord later stated explicitly that he had been 'architect for the building of 42 Hill Street'. This grand but somewhat sombre brick house was built shortly afterwards, the extensive subterranean domestic offices at the back having a paved garden above instead of the tennis court originally proposed. The builder was W. F. Blay of Dowgate Hill, a contractor often used by Turner Lord. Viscount Furness's first wife died in 1921 and he seems never to have lived here. (fn. 97)
The house was severely damaged in the war of 1939–45 and in 1951 was reinstated to designs by C. Edmund Wilford. (fn. 98) The ground and first floors, now numbered 44 Hill Street and entered from the return front, are used for business purposes, and have an impressive hall lined with polished stone walls which leads to a stone staircase with a wrought-iron balustrade. The upper storeys are used as flats, and have a separate entrance at the front, still numbered 42 Hill Street.
Occupants include: General John Peirson, 1763–80. General James Patterson, 1781–1805. Sir William Abdy, 7th bt., 1810–68. Thomas Charles Bruce, M.P., son of 7th Earl of Elgin, 1871–90. Anthony de Rothschild, 1928–40.
No. 38 South Street.
Rebuilding on the South Street front of the block was not completed until 1929. In 1915 the Grosvenor Board decided not to deal with the remaining vacant land there until after the war, but in 1916 negotiations were afoot with Henry McLaren, the industrialist, later second Baron Aberconway, for a very large plot with a frontage of some ninety feet. (fn. 99) In 1917–18 Edmund Wimperis as estate surveyor was experiencing 'very great difficulty in getting Mr. McLaren to agree to the alterations which he has had to insist upon to get a decent elevation'. Wimperis and his partner W. B. Simpson were officially McLaren's architects, but in fact the house was almost entirely designed by the young John Murray Easton, soon to be a partner in the firm of Easton and Robertson (and later, through McLaren's influence, the architect of the Royal Horticultural Society's New Hall of 1926–8). The building contract was finally signed in June 1918, but building did not start until a year later, Trollope and Colls being the main contractors. The cost of the house was estimated at £40,000, but Wimperis thought it would 'cost more in the end'. (fn. 100) The McLarens had moved in by 1922, and remained here until 1943. In 1948 the house was taken by the J. Arthur Rank Organisation Limited, which still occupies it.
This was the last private house of great size to be built in Mayfair. Its restrained neo-Georgian elevations exude an air of good breeding, with tall sash windows, bland expanses of thin hand-made bricks and a steep pantiled roof (fig. 83: see also Plate 45c in vol. XXXIX). The symmetrical street front has stone pilasters and a projecting Ionic porch with a swan-necked pediment and cartouche. The garden front is less formal, having irregularly placed segmental bow windows of full height.
The same qualities of spacious simplicity pervade the interior (Plate 96: see also Plate 43b in vol. XXXIX). Both the ground and first floors contained only three rooms each: a full-width entrance hall, dining-room and morning-room, with a gallery, drawing-room (now board room) and music-room over. Indeed so spacious was this plan that the Estate was concerned that it might detract from the future letting value of the property. (fn. 101) The main rooms were devised as a setting for the owner's art collection, and their two dominant moods, English early Georgian and Italian quattrocento, reflect the fashionable character of the original contents. The Georgian work was presumably all from the hand of Murray Easton but the Italian decoration in the entrance hall and dining-room was devised by Harold Peto. (fn. 102) In the former the black marble chimneypiece, pilasters and floor are complemented by inlays and capitals of white metal, while the swirling cantilever staircase has a polished steel balustrade incorporating a shell pattern. In the dining-room (now subdivided) the decoration was partly carried out in Siena marble.
The other principal rooms all have more conventional painted pine panelling. Only the drawing-room has its panelling left unpainted and the floor, of ebony, introduces an exotic note. These rooms remain largely unaltered but the bedrooms on the second floor have been almost totally transformed with the exception of Lady Aberconway's room, now a dining-room, which retains something of its original neo-Adam flavour.
No. 40 South Street.
After McLaren had agreed for the site of his mansion, there was still one vacant plot left in South Street. In 1915 the Grosvenor Board had agreed with the London County Council to leave this as an entrance to the communal garden, but after Lord Furness had completed his building operations at No. 42 Hill Street the Board had agreed to keep the land in Hill Street west of Lord Furness's paved garden as an open space. In 1926 the L.C.C. therefore decided to forego the intended entrance from South Street, and in 1927–9 a four-storey house with double attics and basement was built here to designs by W. Ernest Lord. (fn. 103) In the first-floor back room there is an inlaid fireplace of Adam style and date.
Occupants include: Evan Morgan, later 2nd Viscount Tredegar, 1930–3.