Survey of London: Volume 5, St Giles-in-The-Fields, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1914.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
XL.—GREAT QUEEN STREET CHAPEL (Demolished).
General description and date of structure.
Before its destruction in 1910 the Wesleyan Chapel in Great Queen Street occupied the greater portion of the sites of three houses with their gardens. These were Nos. 66 to 68, intervening between Conway House and the stream which divided Aldwych Close from Purse Field.
The land on which these three houses were erected was roughly the shape of a truncated right–angled triangle, the base of which was represented by Great Queen Street, the perpendicular by the line of Middle Yard, and the hypotenuse by the course of the stream. The land in question was leased (fn. 1) by Newton to Peter Mills (fn. 2), of Christchurch, London, bricklayer, and it would seem that at that date (15th September, 1639) no houses had been erected thereon. (fn. 3) The building was therefore carried out probably in 1640; at any rate No. 66 is known to have been occupied in December, 1641. No information can be gleaned from the ratebooks as to when the three houses were rebuilt, but at least one (No. 67) seems to have been still standing at about 1817, when an illustration of it was included in Parton's Hospital and Parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
The first reference that has been found to the building of a chapel of ease for the parish occurs in the Vestry Minutes under the year 1693: (fn. 4) "Ordered, to inquire of the gentry in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which of them will take pews in case a chappell should be erected in the neighbourhood of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and report to be made to the next Vestry." It was, however, left to private enterprise to provide such a building.
In 1706 a Mr. Baguley took a house (apparently No. 67) (fn. 5), built a chapel in the rear, and seems even to have officiated therein, although not in Priest's orders. Naturally enough, he soon got into trouble with the Rector of St. Giles, who, as Baguley affirmed, (fn. 1) induced the vendor of the house and land to break off his agreement with Baguley, and sell to "one Burges, a coachmaker." According, however, to the ratebooks the house occupied by Burges was No. 68. Between 1720 and 1723 the assessment of No. 68 also dropped. Whether this implies an extension of the chapel over a portion of the ground in the rear of that house is uncertain, but it will be seen that when the chapel comes, as it were, into the light of day, at the beginning of the 19th century, it covers nearly the whole of the rear of both houses.
The whole of its early history, however, is shrouded in obscurity, and no reference to it or to the services held therein has been found between 1728 (fn. 2) and its acquisition by the Rev. Thomas Francklyn. Even the date at which this occurred cannot be definitely stated. The chapel seems to have been in his hands in February, 1758, for on the 17th of that month he preached a sermon there, which he published in the same year. (fn. 3) In 1759 his name appears in the parish ratebook in connection with the chapel. (fn. 4) His residence at the house (No. 67) does not seem to have begun until 1761. On Francklyn's death in 1784, his executors appear to have carried on the work of the chapel. On 19th July, 1798, Mrs. Francklyn's executors sold to the Society formerly carrying on the West Street Chapel, Seven Dials, their leasehold interest in the two houses and the chapel for £3,507 Ios. (fn. 5)
The chapel was at that time, says Blott, (fn. 6) a very homely structure; it was dark, and, lying below the level of the street, could not easily be kept clean, and the entrance to it was by a passage through a dwelling house. The surrounding houses overlooking it were at times a means of annoyance during service. Negotiations were therefore entered into with the owners of No. 66, and on 14th March, 1815, a purchase was effected of the whole of the back part of the premises, bounded by Middle Yard on the one side and the old chapel on the other, and having a length of 102½ feet and a breadth of 31 feet. (fn. 7) The new chapel was opened on 25th September, 1817. (fn. 8) Alterations were carried out in 1840, when an improved frontage and new portico were constructed. (fn. 1)
The elevation to Great Queen Street (Plate 32) was of brick faced with stucco, the lower part having a portico of four Greek Ionic columns the full width of the building, executed in Talacre stone from North Wales. (fn. 1) Above this, in the main wall of the chapel was a three-light window with Corinthian columns and pilasters supporting an entablature, over which was a semi-circular pediment and tympanum. Crowning the whole was a bold modillion cornice.
The interior (Plate 33) had a horseshoe gallery supported by Ionic columns; above the back of the side galleries were other smaller galleries. Facing the entrance was an apse ornamented with Corinthian columns, pilasters and entablature carrying an elliptical arch. Covering the whole area was a flat ornamental ceiling.
There is preserved by the West London Mission a measured drawing of the elevation of the Chapel to Great Queen Street with the adjacent buildings by R. Payne, Architect, June 21 (18)56, and an internal view in perspective drawn with ink and coloured, probably executed by the same hand and about the same date. Both these drawings agree with the illustrations taken in 1906, and reproduced in Plates 32 and 33. The premises were demolished in 1910, and new buildings erected. The room over the portico was used at first as a day school room, but in 1860 the school was removed to new premises in the rear.
The first occupant of No. 66, of whom any record has been found, was the Countess of Essex, who was there in December, 1641. (fn. 2) This was Elizabeth, the daughter of Sir William Paulet, who, in 1631, became the second wife of Robert Devereux, third Earl of Essex. The marriage turned out very unhappily, and eventually a separation took place. Subsequently she married Thomas Higgons (knighted after her death), who survived her. She died in 1656. (fn. 3)
The Subsidy Roll for 1646 contains the item: "The Lord Kensingston in the Countes of Essex house." This was presumably Robert Rich, son of Henry Rich, first Earl of Holland, the latter having been created Baron Kensington in 1623. The former in 1673 succeeded his cousin Charles, as fifth Earl of Warwick.
In 1665 and 1666 Magdalen Elliott is shown at the house, and in 1673 Lady Porter. The entries in the Hearth Tax Rolls, Jury Presentment Rolls and sewer ratebook from this time until 1700 vary between "Lady Porter," "Lady Diana Portland," and "Lady Ann Porter." There can be no doubt that they all refer to the same individaul, viz., Lady Diana Porter. She was a daughter of George Goring, Earl of Norwich, and married (I) Thomas Covert, of Slaugham, Essex, and (2) George Porter, (fn. 4) eldest son of Endymion Porter, royalist and patron of literature. George Porter served as lieutenant-general in the western royal army, under the command of his brother-in-law, Lord Goring. The latter described him as "the best company, but the worst officer that ever served the king." Porter died in 1683.
The ratebook for 1703 contains the name "Ralph Lane" crossed out, and "Wortley" substituted. This seems to point to Lane having recently moved and "Wortley" taken his place. The "Ralph Lane" in question is no doubt the person of the same name, who had in the previous year purchased the house to the west of Conway House (see p. 74). His residence at No. 66 could not have lasted more than about two years. The "Wortley" of the 1703 ratebook is expanded in the records of 1709 and 1715 to "Wortley Montague, Esq." and "Sidney Wortleyals Montague, Esq." This was Sidney, Second son of Edward Montagu, first Earl of Sandwich, who married Anne, daughter and heir of Sir Francis Wortley, Bt., and assumed the surname of Wortley. His eldest son, Edward Wortley Montagu, married Lady Mary Pierrepont, the famous Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Sidney Montagu died in 1727.
After Montagu's residence the occupiers of No. 66 seem to have been as follows:—
"Augusti" Arne is almost certainly Thomas Augustine Arne, the celebrated composer. He was the son of Thomas Arne, an upholsterer, and was born in 1710. On leaving school he was placed in a lawyer's office, but his love of music overcame all obstacles, and eventually his father was induced to allow him to cultivate his talent in this respect. His first work, a setting of Addison's Rosamond, was produced at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre in 1733. This proving successful, it was quickly followed by the Opera of Operas and Dido and æneas.In 1738 he established his reputation by his music to Comus, and in 1740 he wrote the music to Thomson and Mallet's Masque of Alfred, containing Rule Britannia. His later works included the songs Where the bee sucks, Under the greenwood tree, Blow, blow, thou winter wind, the oratorios Abeland Judith, and the opera Artaxerxes. In 1769 he set to music the ode by Garrick, performed at the Shakespeare jubilee at Stratford on Avon. He died in 1778.
No allusions have been found to his residence at No. 66, Great Queen Street. He is stated to have been living "next door to the Crown in Great Queen Street," in 1744 (fn. 1) but that must refer to a different house. The sewer ratebook for 1734 shows a "Mr. Arne" resident at No. 34, Great Queen Street, but there is no proof that this was the musician. His residence at No. 215, King's Road, Chelsea, has already been mentioned. (fn. 2)
Early records of the residents at No. 67 are wanting. The first mention of the house occurs in the Hearth Tax Roll for 1665, which gives "Lady Thimbleby" as
the occupier. This was Elizabeth, one of the six daughters of Sir Thomas Savage and Elizabeth, Countess Rivers (see p. 67). She married Sir John Thimbleby of Irnham, in Lincolnshire. (fn. 1) How long she had been at No. 67 in 1665 is unknown, but it is permissible to suggest that she was there while her mother was still living three doors away. It seems likely that during Lady Thimbleby's stay here, her sister, Henrietta Maria, who had married Ralph Sheldon, of Beoley, (fn. 2) also came to live close by, for the Jury Presentment Roll for 1683 shows "Ralph Sheldon," in occupation of No. 69. Another sister, Anne, who had married Robert Brudenell, afterwards second Earl of Cardigan, was also only a short distance away, on the south side of Lincoln's Inn Fields. (fn. 3)
Lady Thimbley's residence lasted until between 1700 and 1703, and in the latter year the name of John Thimbleby appears in respect of the house. He had left before 1709, when the house is shown as empty. The occupiers after that date were as follows:—
|1720.||Mr. Froude. (fn. 4)|
|Before 1723 until 1734.||Mary Forrester.|
|1761–84.||The Rev. Thomas Francklin.|
|1795–98.||Francis Const. (fn. 5)|
Thomas Francklin, son of Richard Francklin, a bookseller of Covent Garden, was born in 1721. He was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge. For some time he found employment as usher in his old school, and in 1750 he became Greek professor at Cambridge, a position which he held until 1759, when he was presented to the vicarage of Ware. At the same time he was fulfilling other clerical duties in London. As early as 1749 he seems to have held a chapel in Bloomsbury, for in June of that year he performed the marriage ceremony for Garrick there. (fn. 6) By 1758 he had obtained the lectureship at St. Paul's, Covent Garden, and was installed in the Great Queen Street Chapel. He was appointed King's chaplain in 1767, and ten years later he vacated the living at Ware for the rectory of Brasted, in Kent. Through the influence of Dr. Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds, he was appointed chaplain to the Royal Academy, and on the death of Goldsmith in 1774 he obtained the professorship of ancient history. His literary output was consider able. In 1757 he brought out a periodical paper called The Centinel, which only lasted two years. He wrote four plays, the most important of which was The Earl of Warwick. His translations were numerous, those of Sophocles' tragedies being long considered the best in the English language. After a laborious life he died in his house in Great Queen Street (fn. 1) in March, 1784. His widow died in 1796. (fn. 2)
In the case of No. 68 also, no records of the names of any occupiers exist before the Hearth Tax Roll for 1665. In that document the occupant's name is given as "Sir Willm. Hartupp." This seems to have been Sir William Hartopp, of Rotherby, son of Sir Thomas Hartopp, of Burton Lazars. Sir William married Agnes, daughter of Sir Martin Lister. (fn. 3)
The Hearth Tax Roll for 1666 shows the house "Empty," and that for 1672, "Empty—Mr. Bradshaw owner." It seems probable that between these dates occurred the joint occupancy of Lord Roos and Lady Chaworth, if indeed that can be referred to this house at all. An item in Lord Roos's expenditure under date of 25th February, 1667–8, runs: "Paid Major Seales for Sir William Hartopp for one quarter's rent for the house in Queen Street, beginning the 18th October, when his Lordship had the keyes, at 80li per annum, Lady Ch[aworth] is to pay the next quarter, 20li. (fn. 4) That Sir William Hartopp's house in 1667 was the same as that in 1665 is probable, but unfortunately cannot be considered certain. Assuming, however, that such is the case, Lord Roos's occupation is seen to have commenced on 18th October, 1667.
John Manners, third son of the eighth Earl of Rutland, was born in 1638. On the death of his two elder brothers, he assumed, apparently without right, (fn. 5) the title of Lord Roos. (fn. 6) His first marriage, in 1658, to Lady Anne Pierrepoint, was unhappy, and he was divorced from her by Act of Parliament in 1670. In 1677 he was made Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire. He succeeded to the earldom in 1679. At the coronation of James II. in 1685 he bore the Queen's sceptre, but he does not seem to have been in favour and in 1687 was dismissed from his lord lieutenancy. He supported William at the Revolution, and was soon after restored to his office. In 1703 he was created Marquess of Granby and Duke of Rutland. He died in 1711.
His sister Grace married Patricious Chaworth, third Viscount Chaworth. (fn. 7) Apparently the expenses of the house in Great Queen Street were shared equally between her and her brother, for numerous items such as the following occur in the
Accounts of Lord Roos's Expenditure contained in the Duke of Rutland's MSS.:— (fn. 1)
"1670. April 21. For the repaires of the parish church and maimed soldiers, etc., this Queene Street house is taxed 5s., whereof Lady Chaworth paying ½, his lordship ½, comes to 2s. 6d."
"To the beadle for watching the Queene Street house ending the above said Christmasse  4s; Lady Cha[worth] paying ½, his lordship other ½, comes to 2s."
"July 3, 1669. The hire of paper windowes last year, 1668, to save the hangings in the dining roome and drawing roome, the ½ of cost, Lady Cha [worth] payes the other half, 5s."
Some indication of the reason that influenced Lady Chaworth in setting up housekeeping with her brother may be afforded from a letter dated 25th June, 1670, from Lord Chaworth to his wife, at Lord Roos's house in Great Queen Street, requesting her to return to him, and offering to receive her with respect and affection. (fn. 2)
In the Hearth Tax Roll for 1673, the house is shown as "Empty." Two years later "The Lady Morpeth" is shown in occupation. This was Elizabeth, dowager lady Berkeley, wife of Edward Howard, Viscount Morpeth, afterwards second Earl of Carlisle. It was in this same year that her eldest son Charles, afterwards third earl, was born. Later occupants of the house were:—
|1683.||Sir Edward Mosen.|
|Before 1698 until after 1709.||Mrs. Eleanor Complin.|
|Before 1715 until after 1720.||Thomas Burges.|
|Before 1723 until 1732.||Ashburnham Froude and Thomas Burges. (fn. 3)|
|1740–44.||Madame Pain (Paign).|
|1758–70.||Thos. Brock (Brooke).|
In the Council's collection are:—
(fn. 4) Exterior (photograph).
Side entrance in Middle Yard, erected 1859–60 (photograph).
Interior from the gallery (photograph).
Interior looking south (photograph).
Interior looking north (photograph).
Fanlight under stairs (photograph).
Lantern light over staircase (photograph).
Loculi in crypt (photograph).
Two silver chalices dated MDCIIIC, originally presented for use in West Street Chapel (photograph).