Davies Street Area: Davies Street, East Side

Pages 69-76

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

Davies Street: East Side

Bourdon House:

No. 2 (formerly No. 33) consists of two quite distinct parts. On the west, with a return front to Davies Street, is a much-extended and enlarged earlyGeorgian house built in the 1720's (Plate 18a), and to the east and south-east is a substantial Edwardian wing built in a matching style, with fronts to both Bourdon Street and Grosvenor Hill. The principal south-facing front of the old house, and the west front of the wing building enclose two sides of a small paved garden. Alterations and additions have rendered the appearance of the old house a rather imperfect guide to its building history, obscured as that is by the scarcity of documentary evidence especially for the eighteenth century. Particularly regrettable is the absence of any internal plan earlier than 1909.

The name Bourdon House appears to have been adopted only in the 1860's, (fn. 3) Bourdon being the surname of the original lessee and first occupier of the house, about whom little is known. In contemporary sources he is often described as Captain William Bourdon, but no captain of that name is recorded in either the Army or Navy Lists, though a Lieutenant William Bourdon, commissioned into one of the regiments of foot guards in 1708, was still drawing half pay in 1722. (fn. 4) Bourdon was clearly a man of some standing, being both a Justice of the Peace for Middlesex, and one of the Vestrymen of the new parish of St. George's, Hanover Square. (fn. 5)

The house was originally erected under a sub-lease to Bourdon, then of St. Margaret's, Westminster, from the estate surveyor Thomas Barlow, dated 7 November 1723. (fn. 6) It must have been finished, or nearly so, by December 1724, when Edward Shepherd and others were required to make a survey of it on behalf of the Westminster Fire Office, (fn. 7) and was first occupied in 1725. (fn. 8) Whether, as seems likely, Barlow himself, a carpenter by trade, was the builder, is not known for certain, nor whether an architect was involved.

Bourdon's house was a detached brick building of five bays by two (plus a small wing at the rear), with strong brick quoins, and a slightly projecting pedimented centre of three bays on the south side, also defined by quoins. This much is still recognizable in the present house, but originally there were only two storeys under a hipped mansard roof with dormer windows. The earliest known illustration (a drawing of 1841 by John Buckler reproduced as Plate 12a in volume XXXIX and here reproduced in outline as fig. 20) shows the two dormers in the south front to have had a markedly Baroque form, their oval windows contrasting with the staid Englishness of the body of the house: nevertheless they were probably original. A pedimented doorcase in the centre of the south front dresses what was originally the front entrance, now supplanted by a later doorway in Davies Street made when the house was extended northwards after 1737.

Figure 20:

Bourdon House and (far left) No. 4 Davies Street (demolished) in 1841. Sketch based on a drawing by John Buckler

Figure 21 indicates the presumed extent of the house as first built. The original internal planning is, however, uncertain. Between the front door in the centre of the south front and the staircase compartment there was presumably a passage, one side of which may be represented by the east wall of the ante-dining-room. (fn. 1) The lowest flight of the main staircase has evidently been moved and was no doubt originally ascended from the south. In the absence of any plausible site for a secondary staircase within the limits of the original house it may be conjectured that the stairs, now terminating at the first floor, rose higher, round an open well.

The house originally occupied the north-west corner of a large plot of ground, just over a hundred feet square, bounded on the west by Davies Street, on the east by Grosvenor Mews (now Hill), and on the south by a narrow passage into the mews some forty feet to the south of the present Bourdon Street. (fn. 9) Although on this side the site has been curtailed, a part survives as the present front garden which is entered from Davies Street by the squat gateway set in a brick wall shown in Buckler's drawing, and doubtless original. The style is again Baroque but here of a Vanbrughian rather than a Continental character. On the north side Bourdon's plot abutted on ground sub-leased in 1728 to the plasterer, William Mantle, (fn. 10) who built the next house northwards in Davies Street (latterly No. 4), leaving, however, a narrow twelve-foot strip of vacant land on the south side of that house. (fn. 11) Most of the ground subleased to Bourdon was probably laid out as his garden, but along the east side, next to Grosvenor Mews, there was a range of stabling for more than thirty horses, and a small house, both, however, separately tenanted. (fn. 12)

Bourdon occupied his house only until 1727 (fn. 8) when it was taken by Bacon Morris, Governor of the Landguard Fort in Suffolk and previously the occupant of No. 23 Grosvenor Street, who lived here until his death in 1744. (fn. 13)

Sometime between 1737 and 1779 the house was extended northwards. (fn. 14) This was made possible by Morris's purchase from Mantle, in 1737, of a lease of the twelve-foot-wide strip of vacant ground between the northern boundary of his own plot and No. 4 Davies Street, (fn. 15) and it seems likely, therefore, that the work was carried out for Morris himself. But whether this extension was intended as such from the first is open to question. Visually it was quite unrelated to the original house, as can be seen in the Buckler drawing, and to the passer-by in Davies Street its simple brick elevation of three storeys and two bays, with a heavy, pedimented doorcase, could quite easily have been mistaken for that of a small independent house, nothing being done to harmonise the two disparate halves of the Davies Street façade until at least 1864. It is, however, clear that the extension never was independently occupied. (fn. 8)

With the building of this extension the front door was presumably moved from its original position in the centre of the south front to its present position in Davies Street, where it opens into a small entrance hall formed in the angle between two of the original outer walls. On the south side of the hall the extraordinarily thick former outer wall has been cut through to make a doorway into the antedining-room, and on the east side an arched opening leads into the main staircase compartment (Plate 18d). It seems reasonable to assume that the rearrangement of the original stairs is contemporary with the extension. On the ground floor the first flight, which clearly once stood against a wall, was moved to its present, rather awkward position in the centre of the staircase compartment, opposite the opening into the hall, allowing a door to be made into the northern end of the dining-room. This has a handsome, open pedimented doorcase which rather draws attention to its very cramped position. Above the first floor the rest of the (putative) original staircase was removed, its function being taken over by a new staircase in the extension.

Figure 21:

Bourdon House, south elevation and plans of main block in 1975. On the floor plans the black represents what is thought to be the original house and the hatching later work. The room names are those in use in 1909. The block plan illustrates the growth of the house and the broken line indicates the northern boundary of the original plot

After Bacon Morris's death (fn. 16) Edward Bayntun Rolt, M.P. for Chippenham and groom of the bedchamber to the Prince of Wales, occupied the house from 1744 until 1746. (fn. 17) The succeeding occupants were Henry Tillson in 1747, James Tillson esquire, 1747–50, and John Tillson esquire, 1750–64. (fn. 8) The house then passed into the hands of Timothy Caswall, M.P. and later a Commissioner of Excise, who lived here from 1764 to 1767 and again from 1772 until his death in 1802, the Dowager Countess of Berkeley, widow of the 4th Earl, having been the occupant between 1767 and 1772. (fn. 8) Caswall's wife, through whom he had acquired an estate at Sacombe Park in Hertfordshire, was a niece of Edward Bayntun Rolt. (fn. 18)

Though they had not previously lived in the house the Caswall family had been the leasehold owners of it since 1737, when Timothy's grandfather, the banker Sir George Caswall, had bought up the leases from Bacon Morris's mortgagees. (fn. 19) Some of the present internal features probably date from Timothy Caswall's occupation, but although he claimed to have 'completely repaired' the house in c. 1799, (fn. 20) there is no conclusive evidence. Caswall certainly employed Henry Holland as his surveyor, (fn. 21) and in the mid 1780's there are payments to both Holland and his father recorded in Caswall's bank account, though whether for work at this house is unknown. (fn. 22) One evidently late eighteenth-century feature which was not there in Caswall's day is the fine doorcase in Davies Street, inserted after 1841.

Caswall bequeathed Bourdon House to his unmarried daughter Diana (fn. 23) who lived here from 1802 until her death in 1830. (fn. 8) During that time the curtilage of the property was substantially reduced. Under the terms of a new fiftyfour-year lease negotiated in 1810–11, but not effective until the expiry of the old one in 1820, Miss Caswall lost the southernmost forty feet of the property for a new road (now part of Bourdon Street) between Davies Street and Grosvenor Mews, and also gave up the separately tenanted stabling on the east side of the reduced site. (fn. 24) When the new street was laid out in 1820 the south side of the shortened garden was enclosed by a brick wall. (fn. 25)

In 1825 extensive but evidently rather routine repairs were begun under the direction of Miss Caswall's surveyor, Mr. Rhodes (perhaps Henry Rhodes), and continued until 1827. Miss Caswall remained in the house and her diaries record the daily activities of the workmen, who usually arrived at six o'clock in the morning. (fn. 2) During the rebuilding of the main cornice in September 1825 part of the scaffolding collapsed with 'a tremendous noise', and three workmen were hurt. On the Davies Street front the brickwork was repointed and the outside of the house repainted. Inside all the plaster ceilings were pulled down and refloated. (fn. 26)

Under the terms of Miss Caswall's will the house passed to her niece Susan, wife of John Round of Danbury Park, Essex, M.P. (and grandmother of the historian J. H. Round), and apart from a few years in the 1830's when it was sub-let the Rounds occupied the house as their London home from 1830 until 1845. (fn. 27) John Round's diary for January 1837 mentions unspecified alterations in the drawing-room and dining-room, but costing only £140. (fn. 28)

In 1845 the Rounds sold the house for £1100 to Dr. John W. Woodfall, a physician, who lived here until 1853. (fn. 29) He was succeeded by another physician, Dr. Edmund S. Symes, and yet another physician, Dr. John Elliotson, shared the house with Symes for a few years in the 1860's. (fn. 30) Elliotson, who had pioneered the use of the stethoscope in the diagnosis of heart and lung diseases, died here in 1868. (fn. 31)

In 1864 Dr. Symes submitted a design for an 'improved Elevation' which he proposed to undertake on being granted a new lease by the Estate. But this application was turned down by the second Marquess of Westminster and his surveyor, Thomas Cundy II, who planned to have the house completely rebuilt when the old lease expired in ten years' time. Symes, nevertheless, said he would go ahead with his intention to add an extra storey, and that this was, in fact, carried out seems to be confirmed by a rise in the rateable value between 1864 and 1865. (fn. 32) No more is heard of the proposed rebuilding, however, and in 1871 the third Marquess agreed to grant a lease to Miss Julia Leslie, a sister of Sir John Leslie of Glasslough, County Monaghan, who wished to 'make considerable outlays and particularly to improve the Servants' offices'. (fn. 33) She also undertook to 'wash, colour and draw' the brickwork of the whole of the exterior, and to repoint it. (fn. 34) These works were carried out in 1872 by Humphrey and Cairns, builders, of Charles Street, Berkeley Square, and were followed by a substantial rise in the rateable value. (fn. 35)

The various alterations made in the 1860's and '70's can be seen by comparing the Buckler drawing of 1841 with a watercolour of 1882, preserved in the Grosvenor Office, in which the house appears looking more or less as it does today. But which of the changes were due to Miss Leslie and which to Dr. Symes it is impossible to say. The most important were the replacement of the quaintly dormered mansard roof by the present third and fourth storeys, and the harmonization of the two disparate parts of the Davies Street front. Quoins were added to the north-west corner, next to No. 4, the main cornice was extended across the two northern bays, and the whole building was capped with a unifying balustrade of half tiles. Most of the visual evidence of the two separate eighteenth-century building periods was, of course, largely obliterated, though the survival of the old quoins, most inappropriately, in the centre of the Davies Street façade, remains an important clue (Plate 18a). By 1882 the first-floor windows in the south front had been lengthened and fitted with iron balconettes, plate glass substituted for small panes in the Davies Street windows, and the doorcase in Davies Street replaced by the present one. It also appears that the plane tree in the front garden, which is today such a prominent feature of this part of Davies Street, was planted in the mid nineteenth century.

Julia Leslie, who lived here from 1873, (fn. 8) shared the house with her youngest sister, Emily, but according to their great-nephew, Sir Shane Leslie, they had few friends or interests in common and seldom even met. When they gave simultaneous parties 'their guests passed each other on the stairs without speaking and were received in different rooms'. Having been 'disappointed or disappointing' in love the sisters never married, and to the young Shane it seemed that Bourdon House ('that greenumbraged omphalos of Mayfair') was 'consecrated to virginity'. (fn. 36) After Julia died in 1891 Emily continued to live there until her own death in 1909. (fn. 37)

At that time the house still lacked bathrooms and electric lighting, but this seems not to have deterred the many would-be occupants who applied for the lease after Miss Leslie died. (fn. 38) Nor was it just prospective lessees who showed an interest. During 1909 the house was photographed by the London County Council, visited by the Princess of Wales (later Queen Mary), and surveyed for The Architectural Review, which published an illustrated article parading the name of Isaac Ware as its probable architect. (fn. 39) The Council's photographs show that in the principal rooms the woodwork and panelling was stained and varnished rather than painted. (fn. 40) They also show one or two features which do not survive. In the drawing-room, for example, a pair of fluted Ionic columns marked the division between the northern and southern sections, and the flat-arched opening between the eastern and western compartment was ornamented with large wooden cartouches and swags.

At the Grosvenor Office it was not so much the architecture as the quite mistaken belief that 'the house had always been associated with the owners of the Estate' which weighed with the second Duke of Westminster's advisers, and persuaded them to seek his 'personal instructions' before dealing with any applications for reletting. (fn. 41) After visiting the house, where he admired the inset decorative panels of the ante-dining-room chimneypiece, the Duke ordered general repairs and the building of extra accommodation, to comprise five bedrooms, a garage and chauffeur's quarters. (fn. 42)

This work was carried out at the Estate's expense in 1909–10 under the direction, and to the designs, of the estate surveyor, Eustace Balfour. In order to save time it was decided not to invite tenders but to place the building contract in the hands of Vare Brothers of Spring Street, Paddington, who had executed minor alterations to Balfour's design at No. 22 Upper Grosvenor Street in 1902. (fn. 43) The remnants of the old stables were demolished and a new three-storey wing in a self-effacing neoGeorgian style, carefully matched to that of the old house, was erected at the corner of Bourdon Street and Grosvenor Hill to provide the extra accommodation required. At the same time extensive repairs were made to the old house, where 'the plastering of most of the ceilings had to be entirely renewed on new laths', (fn. 44) and Balfour took this opportunity to have the Victorian plate-glass windows in Davies Street replaced by small panes of the correct 'period' size. (fn. 45) Two 'nice' chimneypieces were brought here from No. 56 Grosvenor Street in 1910, probably to be installed in the new wing. (fn. 46)

The Duke had apparently envisaged Bourdon House as a town residence for a member of the Grosvenor family, (fn. 47) but even as the works which he initiated were getting under way, he agreed to let the house to the seventh Earl of Essex, whose American-born second wife, Adela, was a great friend of the Duke's mother. (fn. 48) According to The Lady the Earl and Countess would occupy the house during the Season, 'but it is nonsense to talk about their giving receptions and entertaining there, for the house, delightful as it is, is quite a small one, and they are going to use it simply as a London "pied de terre", leaving their children at Cassiobury Park'. (fn. 49) Lady Essex nevertheless required alterations to the works already in hand (the firstfloor windows in the west front of the new wing being cut down at her request 'to correspond with those in the old house' (fn. 50) ), and parts of the interior were redecorated, perhaps under the superintendence of a Mr. Foster whom she had instructed 'to attend to the decorations'. (fn. 51) In the hall and staircase compartment black and white marble squares were laid over the old wooden floor, and the walls painted in grisaille, probably by Marcel Boulanger of Paris, with panels of arms and other trophies in the hall, and with architectural scenes on the staircase. (fn. 52)

In 1911 the house became fully detached again when a strip of land on the north side, then being cleared for redevelopment, was taken into the curtilage of Bourdon House. (fn. 53) John Garlick, the builder, was called in to underpin and tidy up the newly exposed north wall to a design by Balfour's partner, Thackeray Turner. (fn. 54)

Lord and Lady Essex occupied the house from November 1911 under a yearly agreement. In the minutes of the Estate Board they figure as rather unco-operative tenants. Though generously treated by the Duke, who had acceded to and paid for most of Lady Essex's requirements, and had allowed them a rent well below the market value, (fn. 55) they refused to pay for laying out a garden on the newly acquired north side, and the design which Balfour and Turner had prepared for this was abandoned. (fn. 56) Lord Essex said he 'would rather give up the space than spend money on it'. (fn. 57) Its neglected state soon drew angry complaints from nearby residents ('little better than a rubbish heap'), and the situation was not improved when Lord Essex took to keeping chickens there in 1916. (fn. 58) In September of that year, however, he died, and his widow decided, or was persuaded, to leave Bourdon House, which was then retained by the Duke for his own occupation, Grosvenor House having been let to the Government for war work. The Duke began to live here in 1917, (fn. 59) and he so liked it that when Grosvenor House was released by the Government in 1920 he decided not to return there. Bourdon House remained his London home for the rest of his life.

After the Duke's death in 1953 the Duchess stayed on until 1957, (fn. 60) but the house subsequently passed into commercial use as an antique shop and has undergone many small though often telling changes. In 1974–5 a small single-storey office was added to the north side of the old house, and a two-storey store-room was built at the back adjacent to the Edwardian wing with a two-bay front to Grosvenor Hill. (fn. 61) In the principal rooms of the old house all the woodwork, including the mahogany doors on the first floor, has been painted with light colours, mostly creamy-yellow or grey-green. New doorways have been opened and others closed. The arched opening between the east and west halves of the former drawing-room has been filled in. The grisaille paintings have gone. Fireplaces have been blocked, and in the former dining-room a handsome stone chimneypiece with a vigorously carved wooden overmantel which the second Duke had altered to hold Hoppner's portrait of Colonel Thomas Grosvenor, has been replaced by a plain marble chimneypiece in the neo-classical style. Recently (1975) two showrooms have been opened on the first floor of the wing building which are entered from the south-east corner of the old drawingroom by way of a small shell-studded vestibule (by Gordon Davies). (fn. 62)

Bourdon House is a delightful survival in an otherwise rather uninteresting part of Davies Street, but for all its charm the interior is a little disappointing, particularly in comparison with the finest surviving early-Georgian houses on the estate. Of the panelled rooms in the old house by far the best is the former ante-dining-room where the north wall has a fairly elaborate treatment with fluted Ionic pilasters supporting a deep entablature with a pulvinated frieze of carved oak leaves (Plate 10b in vol. XXXIX). In the two end bays of this three-bay composition are arched recesses with double doors, one pair of which is false. On the other walls the panelling is more simply treated, but the open-pedimented doorcase leading into the former dining-room repeats the oak-leaf motif in its frieze (Plate 18c).

The chimneypiece, which dates from the second half of the eighteenth century, has two fluted Composite columns at the sides and three small panels let into the frieze which are painted with figures in the style of the 1780's. It was these panels which attracted the attention of the second Duke in 1909. (fn. 63) In The Architectural Review they were, perhaps inevitably, attributed to Angelica Kauffmann. The chimneypiece itself is made of 'compo'. (fn. 64)

Though rearranged the main stair is doubtless original and has simple turned wooden balusters, three per tread, and carved step-ends. It is now toplit but may not have been so originally. On the second and third floors the staircase well has been filled in except for two circular openings directly under the skylight. The identical wrought-iron balustrades which protect these openings are in a late eighteenth-century style. On the third floor there is a crane dating from the second half of the nineteenth century which operated through these openings, allowing heavy objects to be lifted from the ground floor to the top of the house.

In the former library on the first floor the panelling is very plain but there are two unusual doorcases evidently of the late eighteenth century, each of which rises up to frame a round-headed niche above the door (Plate 18b). The doors themselves are concave in plan which perhaps suggests that they (and the doorcases) were not originally intended for these positions but rather for some roundended room. The room over the library, formerly a bedroom but now used as a dining-room, is similarly panelled but here the woodwork has been left unpainted.

In the Edwardian wing the original decoration was evidently fairly simple except in Lady Essex's bedroom on the first floor overlooking the garden, where the four corners are splayed and fitted with doorcases imitated from those in the former library. The chimneypiece in this room has been removed.

Nos. 4–26 (even) Davies Street, The Manor, and Nos. 55–57 (consec.) Grosvenor Street

Nos. 4–26 (even) Davies Street, The Manor, and Nos. 55–57 (consec.) Grosvenor Street were built in 1910–12 as one composite scheme to the designs of Edmund Wimperis and J. R. Best and consist of a block of flats (The Manor) with ground-floor shops at Nos. 4–12 Davies Street, four houses and shops at Nos. 14–26 Davies Street and three houses at Nos. 55–57 Grosvenor Street. Plans for the redevelopment of this large site had been first drawn up by Eustace Balfour, the estate surveyor, in 1905, but it was not until 1908 that negotiations were opened with a prospective builder, John Garlick. In the following year, however, Lieutenant-Colonel Clifford Probyn, a chemist who had taken over a shop at the corner of Davies Street and Grosvenor Street in c. 1875 and had since become a J.P. and a member of the London County Council, asked to take all of the frontage to Grosvenor Street and part of the return frontage to Davies Street. This was agreed and contracts were concluded with Probyn and Garlick during the winter of 1909–10, but shortly afterwards John Garlick died and his executors assigned the southern part of the site to Courtauld Thomson (later Baron Courtauld-Thomson), a financier who subsequently built Norwich House in Dunraven Street. William Garlick, John Garlick's son, was apparently prepared to take the central part of the Davies Street frontage and new contracts were concluded with all three parties by November 1910, but Garlick immediately divided his plot between Probyn and Thomson. Garlick's firm were Thomson's builders for Nos. 4–20 Davies Street and Foxley and Company built the houses in Grosvenor Street and, presumably, Nos. 22–26 Davies Street. (fn. 65)

The composition is divided into three parts (Plate 47a in vol. XXXIX). The southernmost, consisting of The Manor and the ground-floor shops numbered 4–12 Davies Street, is a symmetrical block of five full storeys with a restless façade sporting bays, canted and bowed, iron balconies at all floor levels, and a crowning balustrade in which Wimperis's typical honeycombing is interspersed with areas of solid brickwork having attached segmental pediments. The houses and shops at Nos. 14–26 Davies Street have four storeys and attics with dormer windows, and here the gently rounded contours and relative simplicity of the bow fronts look forward to the more straightforward neo-Georgian style of Wimperis's firm in later years. In contrast Nos. 55–57 Grosvenor Street are sharply angular, with canted bays and additional features such as a Doric colonnade on the Grosvenor Street façade and a heavy portico on the Davies Street side at the entrance to No. 55. The three elements in the design of the whole group are tied together by the use throughout of brown bricks with red-brick dressings, similar stone dressings to the first-floor windows, and a deep modillion cornice above the fourth storey.

Claridge House:

Nos. 28–36 (even) Davies Street and 25 Brook's Mews, built in 1924 by Kirk and Randall to the designs of S. Gordon Jeeves, is a seven-storey block of flats with shops on the ground floor in the red-brick neoGeorgian idiom favoured on the estate at this period. (fn. 66) Here such features as slightly projecting bays at each end and a cornice with bold egg-and-dart mouldings between the bays help to give the building a coherent form, and, unusually, the long return frontage to Brook's Mews is also fully treated in the manner of the Davies Street façade.

Nos. 46 and 48 Davies Street

Nos. 46 and 48 Davies Street see page 4.

Nos. 50–54 (even)

Nos. 50–54 (even), consisting of the Running Horse public house at the corner of Davies Mews and two adjoining houses (now converted into one), were built in 1839–40 by Joshua Higgs (Plate 24b in vol. XXXIX). (fn. 67) They are an attractive group of four-storey buildings of stock brick with stuccoed ground floors and extensive stucco dressings including consoles and hoods to the first-floor windows and a strong linking cornice at third-floor level. No. 52 has a portico with Greek Doric columns which are fluted in their upper parts; a similar portico at No. 54 was removed during reinstatement after war damage in 1948–9 when Nos. 52 and 54 were joined together. (fn. 68) Higgs also built a workshop and stabling in Davies Mews which were demolished in 1902. The workshop communicated with No. 54, where Higgs and his son, Joshua Higgs junior, had their building firm between 1839 and 1861. (fn. 30)

There had been a tavern called the Running Horse on this corner site since 1738, (fn. 69) and, as rebuilt by Higgs, it was one of the few public houses to survive the reforming zeal of the first Duke of Westminster and is now the oldest on the estate.

The architect Frederick Etchells, who was active on the estate during the inter-war years, had his office at No. 52 from 1930 to 1940. (fn. 60)

No. 56.

In 1889 this site, which was formerly occupied by the southern part of Grosvenor Market, was made available to the St. George's Rifles for a new headquarters and drill hall. The St. George's was one of the Rifle Volunteer Corps formed in 1859, but it also claimed descent from the St. George's Volunteers of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars who had used the site now occupied by St. Mark's Church in North Audley Street as a parade ground for several years. (fn. 70) The demolition of Grosvenor Market was desirable from the Estate's point of view, especially as its inhabitants might be rehoused in newly built model lodging-houses in Mount Row, and the Duke of Westminster granted a new lease at a peppercorn rent for ninety-nine years, a term which he subsequently extended to two hundred years. (fn. 71)

The building, which was erected to the designs of Charles Herbert Shoppee by E. Lawrance and Sons at a cost of some £16,000, was opened by the Duchess of Westminster on 6 December 1890 (Plate 19c). It included a drill hall, armoury, gymnasium, mess room and officers' rooms. A terracotta statue of St. George and the Dragon, modelled by Lieutenant G. E. Wade, sculptor brother of the architect Fairfax Wade, and a former officer in the corps, was placed on the pediment over the entrance. (fn. 72) Shoppee's lively elevation of red brick and stone, with its curious copper-covered cupola, was a prominent feature of Davies Street until the building was almost totally destroyed by bombing in 1940.

The present drill hall (Plate 19e) was built in 1950–2 by James Miller and Partners to the designs of Trenwith Wills (fn. 73) for the Queen Victoria's Rifles (King's Royal Rifle Corps) which had been formed from the amalgamation of the St. George's with the Victoria Rifles and other battalions. Its restrained neo-classical elevation in stone, rusticated on the ground floor with smooth ashlar facing above, is in marked contrast to its predecessor and pays decorous respect to its early-Victorian neighbours at Nos. 52–54 (which had been taken over by the Q.V.R. in 1949 (fn. 68) ). As a result of further amalgamations the buildings are now occupied by the Fourth (Volunteer) Battalion of the Royal Green Jackets.

No. 58

No. 58 was built in 1889–91 to the designs of J. T. Wimperis and Arber for John Bolding and Sons, the firm of sanitary engineers and manufacturers (Plate 21). Boldings had been founded in 1822 in South Molton Street and had since expanded to take in several nearby premises, including, from about 1870, a workshop in Grosvenor Market. In the 1880's the firm was looking for a plot which would be large enough to bring together its various activities under one roof, and the Grosvenor Board offered the northern part of the site of Grosvenor Market. Wimperis's designs for a building which would combine retail premises, showrooms and a factory, were approved by the Duke of Westminster, who thought that 'the elevation would be a great ornament to Davies Street'. Boldings' lease contained the express provision that the building could be used for 'works incidental to the business of a manufacturing sanitary engineer and founder including the erection and use of one twelve horse power Gas engine and three small tool forges'. (fn. 74)

Wimperis's essay in an early northern Renaissance style owes much of its effectiveness to the materials used— sandy red and buff terracotta (supplied by Clark and Lea of Wrexham). The builders were Wall Brothers of Kentish Town for the foundations and lower parts and Messrs. Pattinson of Sleaford for the remainder. (fn. 75) In 1932 Darcy Braddell remodelled the entrance hall in an art-deco manner using thick fluted quarter-columns at the angles and a jazzy cornice (Plate 21c), but of this nothing now survives. (fn. 76) After Boldings had vacated the premises the interior was altered in 1976–7 to the designs of T. P. Bennett and Sons to house an antique market on the ground floor and offices and workshops above. In the conversion most of the florid ornamentation of the exterior has been preserved and enhanced by cleaning, but on the ground floor the mullioned-and-transomed windows have been replaced by large areas of plate glass and, in the southernmost bay of the Davies Street front, by a new entrance.


  • 1. The room names are those in use in 1909.
  • 2. The workmen mentioned by Miss Caswall include: bricklayers, Avery (and his men), Bird, Milner; builders, Messrs. Feetham; painter, Armstrong;plumber, Barber; stonemason, Charlton; and Mr. Rhodes' clerk, Bushill.
  • 3. Ibid., 14/527: P.O.D.
  • 4. English Army Lists … 1661–1714, ed. Charles Dalton, vol. VI, 1707–14, p. 246: H. Avray Tipping, 'Bourdon House, Mayfair' in Country Life, 22 Oct. 1921, p. 516.
  • 5. G.L.R.O.(M), Middlesex Sessions Rolls, transcripts, vol. 13, April 1722-Feb. 1726/7, ff. 190–2, 320, 322–3: W.C.L., C766, pp. 37, 85, 147.
  • 6. M.D.R. 1723/2/286.
  • 7. W.C.L., WBA 343/3, 3 Dec. 1724.
  • 8. R.B.
  • 9. Williams and Glyn's Bank, Bishopsgate, Glyn Mills archives, Bird v. Lefevre papers, manuscript site-plan, [1779].
  • 10. M.D.R. 1728/1/341.
  • 11. Glyn Mills archives, manuscript plan, ut supra: M.D.R. 1737/2/68.
  • 12. E.H.P., box 77/2, 'A Particular of Ground-Rents, and other Leasehold Premises, Late the Estate of Mr. Richard Barlow, deceased': W.C.L., WBA 343/3, 3 Dec. 1724: M.D.R. 1793/4/183: Glyn Mills archives, Bird v. Lefevre papers, copy of surveyor's report on property held by T. Caswall, 1792.
  • 13. R.B.: J. H. Leslie, The History of Landguard Fort, in Suffolk, 1898, pp. 104, 114.
  • 14. M.D.R. 1737/2/240: Glyn Mills archives, Bird v. Lefevre papers, Mr. Powsey's survey of part of the estate of Elias Bird, 24 Sept. 1779.
  • 15. M.D.R. 1737/2/68.
  • 16. The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. XIV, 1744, p. 108.
  • 17. Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke, The House of Commons 1754–1790, 1964, vol. II, pp. 69–70.
  • 18. Ibid., vol. II, pp. 197–8: Victoria County History of Hertfordshire, vol. III, 1912, p. 137: The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. LXXII, pt. 2, 1802, pp. 180–1.
  • 19. M.D.R. 1737/4/584: Namier and Brooke, op. cit., vol. II, pp. 197–8.
  • 20. GBM 3/148.
  • 21. Glyn Mills archives, Bird v. Lefevre papers, copy of surveyor's report on property held by T. Caswall, 1792.
  • 22. Royal Bank of Scotland, Drummonds Branch, ledgers, 1783–6, sub Caswall.
  • 23. P.R.O., PROB 11/1380/675.
  • 24. GBM 5/77, 138, 164: GA, lease of 20 May 1811.
  • 25. GBM 8/208.
  • 26. Essex R.O., D/DRh F. 26.
  • 27. P.R.O., PROB 11/1784/206: Essex R.O., D/DRh F. 11, notes on Rounds: R.B.
  • 28. Essex R.O., D/DRh F.25/19.
  • 29. M.D.R. 1845/1/622: Victoria and Albert Museum Library, Holland and Sons ledgers, 1843–5, O-T, f. 247r.: R.B.: P.O.D.
  • 30. R.B.: P.O.D.
  • 31. D.N.B.: The Illustrated London News, 8 Aug. 1868, p. 139.
  • 32. GBM 14/527: R.B.
  • 33. GBM 17/221.
  • 34. Ibid., 17/202.
  • 35. Ibid., 17/402: D.S.R. 1872/8: R.B.
  • 36. Sir Shane Leslie, The Film of Memory, 1938, pp. 122–3.
  • 37. P.O.D.: P.P.R., index to wills, 1891, 1909.
  • 38. GBM 37/213–14.
  • 39. Ibid.: The Architectural Review, vol. XXVI, Nov. 1909, pp. 214–18; vol. XXVII, March 1910, pp. 131–5.
  • 40. See also The Architectural Review, vol. XXVII, p. 132.
  • 41. G.O., Duke's instruction book, 1909–11, pp. 19, 29.
  • 42. GBM 37/215–18.
  • 43. Ibid., 37/219–20: D.S.R. 1902/282; 1909/322.
  • 44. GBM 37/222.
  • 45. Ibid., 37/221–2.
  • 46. Ibid., 36/527.
  • 47. Tipping, op. cit. (ref. 22), p. 521.
  • 48. GBM 37/219–20: G.E.C.: information kindly supplied by Mr. Guy Acloque.
  • 49. The Lady, 20 Jan. 1910, p. 86.
  • 50. GBM 37/219–20, 235–6.
  • 51. Ibid., 37/220.
  • 52. Tipping, op. cit. (ref. 22), p. 518: GBM 37/220.
  • 53. G.O., Duke's instruction book, 1909–11, pp. 65, 106: GA, tenancy agreement of 25 Nov. 1911.
  • 54. D.S.R. 1911/409: GBM 37/235–6, 398.
  • 55. GBM 38/475–6.
  • 56. Ibid., 38/477, 522: G. O., Duke's instruction book, 1912–14, p. 1; improvement account book no. 3, 23 Nov. 1912.
  • 57. GBM 38/477.
  • 58. Ibid., 38/477, 522; 42/182.
  • 59. Ibid., 42/182.
  • 60. P.O.D.
  • 61. Information kindly supplied by Mallett at Bourdon House Ltd.: date tablet on store-room.
  • 62. Information kindly supplied by Mallett.
  • 63. GBM 37/215–16.
  • 64. The Architectural Review, vol. XXVII, March 1910, p. 134.
  • 65. GBM 32/525; 36/521, 524, 526–30; 38/247–54: P.O.D.: B.A. 35485: D.S.R. 1911/21: documents in the possession of John Garlick and Son.
  • 66. B.A. 52470: D.S.R. 1924/70.
  • 67. GBM 11/417, 422–3.
  • 68. B.R. 12551.
  • 69. G.L.R.O.(M), LV(W) 51/7.
  • 70. Survey of London, vol. XXXIX, 1977, pp. 42–3.
  • 71. GBM 23/252; 24/109, 155–7, 523: Major C. A. Cuthbert Keeson, The History and Records of Queen Victoria's Rifles 1792–1922, 1923, pp. 527–36.
  • 72. B. 24 Oct. 1896, pp. 332–3.
  • 73. Information from tablet inside building.
  • 74. GBM 23/7, 344, 477; 24/269–70: D.S.R. 1889/232: 'A History of John Bolding & Sons' in The Plumber and Journal of Heating, July 1962: P.O.D.: GA, lease of 15 May 1891.
  • 75. B. 4 July 1891, p. 15: B.N. 27 June 1890, p. 923.
  • 76. D.S.R. 1932/799: information kindly supplied by Mr. Alfred Goddard of Boldings.