Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.
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East India And Sports Club
Architect for rebuilding, Charles Lee, 1865
This building occupies the site of two earlier houses, here given the numbers they would have borne in the present sequence.
This site was agreed to be granted in 1670 to St. Albans's nephew, Thomas Jermyn, at a small reserved ground-rent of only £3 per annum. (fn. 4) (fn. 1) By 1676 a house had been built by John Angier, who also built No. 7, and whose name was given to the access-street running at the back of the houses on the north side of the square (now Ormond Yard and Apple Tree Yard). (fn. 4) At No. 16 the usual procedure observed in the square was reversed and instead of a builder possessed of a grant from St. Albans selling a newly built house to a grandee, the grandee evidently sold the site in or after 1676 to the builder, and the Angier family retained the freehold until 1785.
John Angier was probably the builder of that name who in 1674, the same year in which No. 7 was agreed to be built, was paid by the Office of Works for carpentry at the Cockpit in Whitehall. (fn. 5) He may doubtless be identified with the John Angier the elder, of Westminster, gentleman, whose will dated April 1694 was proved in February 1694/5. (fn. 6) This shows that he was a native of Somerset, who lived in a leasehold house 'in the new palace' at Westminster. The sum of £160 was to be spent on his funeral. The will mentions twelve houses in Westminster and St. James's, and others in Arundel Street and Norfolk Street. It also mentions a debt of £1510 owed to him by Sir Robert Bacon. The bequests included £10 to the Governors of the Green Coat Hospital in Tothill Fields towards 'the building the other parte of the said Hospitall' and £5 'to be distributed amongst poore Carpenters and Carpenters' widows who wrought and workt with me'.
This John had a son John and a son Bernard, the latter perhaps the 'Barnard Angier, carpenter' who worked on the Guard House at Windsor Castle in 1685–6. (fn. 7) A grandson was named Burrage, and the elder John's will included a bequest of £10 to a daughter of Burrage Salter, deceased, doubtless the builder of that name who worked in the St. James's area.
The ownership of No. 16 descended from the elder John to his son John, of Northaw, Hertfordshire, thence to the younger John's nephew, Burrage Angier, esquire, sometimes described as of Northaw and sometimes as of All Hallows, Barking. From him it passed to his son, also Burrage, who sold the property. (fn. 8)
No. 16 was at first, like its neighbours to the north, held for rather short terms. The first occupant appears in 1676, when the duellist and rake, the so-called Lord Purbeck, was rated for the house at a figure so much higher than No. 14 or Halifax House (Nos. 17–18) as to suggest that he may have been assessed also for No. 15 and perhaps intended to occupy both. In 1678 he fought a duel in the square (fn. 9) and vacated the house in the same year.
In 1705 Sir John Germain took the house on lease, and after his death in 1718 his widow, Lady Betty Germain, lived here for another half-century: in 1730 her rent was £200 per annum. (fn. 10) The views of c. 1722 and c. 1752 (Plates 128, 130) seem to show what was externally still the original house. From 1783 it stood empty (fn. 11) and in January 1785 George Anson, who had inherited the adjacent No. 15, bought it for the low price of £3500 from Burrage Angier of Woodford, Essex, esquire, and others. (fn. 12) Anson's son Thomas, who succeeded him in 1789, pulled the house down in the following year, (fn. 11) immediately before carrying out the completion and embellishment of No. 15. A small part of the site of No. 16 was taken into the back premises of No. 15, but it is not known whether any more ambitious scheme for the use or incorporation of the site of No. 16 was considered. In June 1804 Anson sold the still empty and slightly reduced site for £4000 to the merchant Edmund Boehm. (fn. 12) A new house was built here by 1807. (fn. 11) Nothing is known of it beyond the representations in Ackermann's view of 1812 (Plate 131) and the print of Queen Caroline driving from No. 17 to the House of Lords in 1820, reproduced by Dasent. (fn. 13) These suggest that the front of the house was designed in the manner of the Wyatts. The 'Queen Caroline' print clearly shows part of the front, recording that the ground storey was treated as a rusticated arcade of four bays, the arches containing round-headed windows within plain margins and, at the south end, a doorway like that of No. 15. A balcony, projecting on plain trusses and furnished with a simple iron railing, extended across the front at second-storey level. The upper face of brickwork contained two tiers of four windows, casements below and sashes above, all set in plain openings with, presumably, flat gauged brick arches. Between the two tiers were sunk panels, which the Ackermann print suggests may have contained ornamental plaques. The simple crowning cornice was surmounted by a high parapet, partly concealing the dormers in the mansard roof. In 1820 Boehm's estates were sold, in consequence of his bankruptcy. (fn. 14) The house stood empty in 1844 (fn. 11) and was not again used as a private residence. In the following year it was taken by the Prince of Wales Club, and in 1847–9 was occupied by the Free Trade Club. (fn. 15)
The present occupiers, the East India United Service Club (now amalgamated with the Sports Club), which had been founded in 1849 to provide a rendezvous for officers of the East India Company on furlough and also for retired servants of the Company, (fn. 16) took the house on a lease from Lord Clanricarde at £600 per annum (fn. 17) and held its inaugural dinner in the house on 1 January 1850. (fn. 16) The membership consisted of 'the Company's servants, clerical, civil, military, naval and medical, together with officers of H.M.'s Army and Navy who had served in India, certain law officers in India, and ex-Captains of the Company's late maritime service'. (fn. 16) In 1861–2 the club bought the freehold of the site reaching back to Duke Street, from Lord Clanricarde for £18,750. (fn. 18) Having in 1863 bought No. 17 also, for £14,500 (see page 159), the club had the two properties rebuilt as a club-house in 1865 by George Myers and Sons under the direction of the surveyor or architect, Charles Lee of Golden Square. (fn. 19) The plan and the arrangement of the window openings suggests that part of the fabric of the more northerly house, No. 16, was retained. The cost is said to have been £25,188. (fn. 20) The total capital cost of the club-house thus amounted to £58,438. In 1939 the club amalgamated with the Sports Club, which had previously occupied No. 8. Two storeys were added, and 'much improved provision was made for lady guests, with a separate entrance in Duke Street'. (fn. 21) The amalgamated clubs continue to occupy the premises under the title of the East India and Sports Club.
The club-house now has a uniform stuccoed front, seven windows wide, which rises to a height of three storeys above a semi-basement (Plate 124a). Except for the similarity of the window arrangement to that of the former No. 16 there is nothing about it to suggest a date earlier than 1865, although the lofty storeys of the old No. 16 could easily have been adapted to a Victorian design. Lee designed, or redesigned, the front in the 'palazzo' style introduced by Barry for his club-houses, but with much less success and with the introduction of some un-Italian features of a heavy Victorian character. The round-arched windows of the ground storey, elevated clear of an area-balustrade, are deeply recessed between paired panelled pilasters which extend down below the windows to rest on a bandcourse at groundfloor level, the space immediately beneath each window being filled by a large sunk panel. The capitals of the pilasters are linked by a moulded impost band and from them spring heavily moulded archivolts, each one surmounted by a circular panel similarly moulded. The second window from the south is developed into a canted bay with narrow sidelights similar to the main one, but without circular panels over the archivolt. From the middle bay projects the entrance porch, its two fat square columns rising from the pedestals of the area-balustrade to support a round arch with a lightly moulded archivolt, the keystone of which is inscribed EI/SC and has immediately above it a plaque bearing a five-pointed star encircled by a wreath. Similar but narrower openings pierce the sides of the porch, and round its head runs a dentilled cornice. The outer faces of the columns and the spandrels of the arch were, until quite recently, covered with decorative panels, those in the spandrels each bearing an Asiatic figure, while the archivolt was more heavily moulded with a pair of supporting brackets and had over it a circular panel like those over the windows. (fn. 22) The second storey, which is about the same height as the ground storey, has square-headed windows enclosed by round-arched architraves, the arched heads of these being filled with stucco 'fans'. Each window is flanked by Corinthian pilasters and over them is an entablature finished with a triangular pediment, its apex almost touching the sill of the window above. Before the windows extends a continuous balustraded balcony, its deep projection slightly increased over the entrance porch. The second bay from the south end, like the one beneath it in the ground storey, is developed into a canted bay, but with extremely plain sidelights having over each of them a square sunk panel. The third storey is defined by a stringcourse at sill level, its windows having shouldered architraves each finished with an odd little frieze and cornice and separated by large sunk panels. The second window from the south end differs slightly in being flanked by narrow panels, a shouldered architrave enclosing the whole feature. Above it is an entablature with a cornice which breaks forward in the centre below a triangular pediment. Completing the elevation is an entablature of rather less than Italian grandeur, its frieze richly decorated and its dentilled cornice surmounted by a patterned balustrade.
The area covered by the building has been considerably increased by modern additions but the club-house as rebuilt by Lee seems to have consisted only of the present main block on to St. James's Square. The ground-floor plan of this block comprises an entrance hall, with the staircase compartment behind it, flanked to the south by the dining-room and to the north by a pair of smaller rooms, one behind the other, which are together known as the grill-room. The diningroom is large, running the depth of the building and taking up the whole width of the former No. 17. It is lit at either end by three windows, the centre one being built out as a canted bay. The easterly portion of the grill-room is lit by two windows but at the western end the original arrangements have been altered by the later addition of a single-storey building at the back. Leading off the grill-room to the south, behind the main staircase, is a small service room, and to the south of that again is a secondary staircase which, though entirely modern, probably replaces an older one. The southern part of the first floor is occupied by a large reading-room corresponding to the diningroom below, while to the north of it are two more rooms overlooking the square, a small committeeroom with one window and a room now used as a television-room with three windows. Behind the television-room, to the north of the staircase, is the library and leading off the library to the south is the small map-room. Bedrooms occupy the southern portion of the third floor but there is also a billiard-room and a card-room.
The rooms are decorated after the manner of the older club-houses, but with greater regard to economy and with an unpleasing Victorian heaviness. The dining-room and the readingroom are the most elaborate, with moulded beams supported by carved brackets, panelled doors and shutters, some of the latter with outsize egg-anddart mouldings, and ornate wooden chimneypieces. The division between the hall and the staircase compartment is marked by a moulded beam, and supporting this at either end is a pair of fluted composite columns with plain antae. The columns and antae are covered with marbled paint and have unusually high pedestals, giving them a rather foreshortened appearance. The staircase beyond them is built round an open well and has cast-iron balusters. The best feature of the interior is a series of white marble chimneypieces in the grill-room, the committee-room, the televisionroom, the library and the map-room. While these are of no special interest they do show a lightness of touch which is not found elsewhere in the building, and since they are all on the northern side of it they could be a survival from the former club-house. The first two are carved with fruit and flowers, while those in the television-room and the library have deep mantel-shelves supported by caryatids. The chimneypiece in the map-room has panelled pilasters and a fluted frieze, all with metal ornament, and the mantel-shelf has a reeded edge.
This house existed as an independent building only between 1726 and 1865. Before 1726 its site formed, with that of its southern neighbour, No. 18, the site of Halifax House, and from 1865 it has formed, with the site of its northern neighbour, No. 16, the site of the club-house of the East India and Sports Club.
The club-house has been dealt with under No. 16. The history of Halifax House is given here.
In October 1669 Henry Jermyn, acting on behalf of his uncle, the Earl of St. Albans, agreed with George Savile, Lord (later first Marquis of) Halifax, to grant him a site on the northern corner of the square and King Street (then called Charles Street), with an eighty-foot frontage to the square, reserving a rent of £24 12s. per annum. (fn. 23) In March 1669/70 the grant was made (fn. 24) on the same day as that to Lord Belasyse on the opposite side of the square. The rent was to commence from Midsummer 1670. (fn. 2) The house is first recorded in the ratebooks in 1673, when it was listed under King Street where the entrance was situated. Here Halifax had his town residence for the rest of his life, (fn. 25) and was succeeded in occupation of the house by his son, the second Marquis, who lived here until his death in 1700. The second Marquis's widow remarried and continued to live here with her second husband, the first Duke of Roxburgh, until 1719.
Little is known of the house, which Sutton Nicholls shows to have shared the mainly uniform appearance of the rest of the square. When it was offered for sale in 1724 its four floors were described as follows: 'The first contains 8 Rooms, with a Hall, and long Gallery 13 Foot high, a large Kitchen 19 Foot, a Servants-Hall and 3 other Rooms; the 2nd has 8 Rooms 15 Foot high, and 9 Rooms with 2 Galleries, between 9 and 10 Foot; the 3rd has 10 Rooms and 2 Passages 11 Foot and 6 Rooms about 8 Foot high; the 4th contains 9 Garrets between 8 & 9 Foot high. Closets on every Floor, 4 Stair Cases, large Cellars, and Offices for all manner of Business.' (fn. 26)
In 1719 an Act vested Halifax House in trustees for its sale. (fn. 27) An undated 'Proposal about Purchasing Hallifax-House' among the papers of Sir George Savile, a cousin of the second Marquis, records his willingness to pay £5200 for the house, being sixteen years' purchase at a valuation of £325 per annum. In this proposal the house was said to be Visibly in danger of falling' and to be in need of complete rebuilding. (fn. 28) On 29 February1 March 1723/4, however, the house was sold for £6500 to John Henry Merttins of London, jeweller, (fn. 29) who some years later probably contemplated buying Chandos House and in 1736 was the owner of No. 6 Park Place.
Sir George Savile immediately engaged in negotiations with Merttins for the repurchase of Halifax House. (fn. 30) These proved abortive, perhaps essentially because neither party had much confidence in the other, but overtly because of disagreement over the cost of obtaining a royal sign manual permitting the rebuilding of the site. This was thought to be necessary because of the proviso in the original Crown grant of the freehold to the Earl of St. Albans that any building should be according to the 'designe and plottes' approved by royal warrant (see page 58), which the prospective developers evidently considered might be held to apply equally to subsequent rebuilding. Two copies of Merttins's proposed petition for the sign manual survive, of March and April 1724, (fn. 31) the former asking for permission to rebuild 'as shall be most Conformable and Agreeable to the said Square of Building', the latter simply to rebuild 'as may be thought most proper and convenient' by the petitioner. On 29 September 1724 Merttins wrote to Savile, after a lapse in their negotiations, renewing his offer of the house and reporting that the Crown officers' preparation of the sign manual was so far advanced 'that they ask me for ye draught of my designe & then it will be complyd with if it is handsom: as I doe not intend nor think it nesicary for me to build I shall give none least it should prove an incumbrance to me, but if you please to send up your draught I can gett it past'. (fn. 32) In fact, however, the sign manual granted to Merttins bears the date of this letter. (fn. 33) It allowed him to build houseson the front to the square, with shops or other small buildings in KingStreet and Duke Street 'provided that the Houses to be built towards the Square be handsome Houses and not unsuitable to the other buildings in the said Square'. (fn. 3)
Merttins had meanwhile offered the house unsuccessfully for public sale in June and July (fn. 34) and the negotiations with Savile, who repeatedly accused him of 'triffling' and declared his determination not to surrender 'one hair of my Wigg more', also fell through. It was to the carpenter, Thomas Phillips of St. George's, Hanover Square, that Merttins eventually sold the property, as late as July 1726, seemingly at only a very small profit, for £6550. (fn. 35) Phillips had then already pulled down the old house and built two new soberly designed houses fronting the square, as well as four others in King Street. In doing so he was thought by the Trustees for the square to have made an encroachment of two feet with the front railings of the houses, and in the summer and autumn of 1726 he was warned about this, (fn. 36) with what result is not known. The debris resulting from his activities continued to give trouble to the Trustees in the following summer. (fn. 37)
In January 1726/7 Phillips granted leases of three of the four small houses built by him in King Street, on the back part of the site, to William Pickering, the painter-stainer of St. James's Street, John Mist of St. Anne's, Westminster, paviour, and Williams Ludbey of St. James's, Westminster, mason, respectively, for two hundred years at £13 per annum each. The westernmost, leased to Pickering, was on the corner of Duke Street. (fn. 38) In March 1727/8 Phillips sold his interest in these three houses outright to Martin Caulfield Basil of Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, esquire. (fn. 39) The fourth house, adjacent to the eastward, was occupied by Phillips himself in February 1733/4. (fn. 40) It thus seems possible that the three lessees in King Street were associated with Phillips in the rebuilding of the site.
The twin houses in the square are shown in perspective by Bowles, in his view published in c. 1752 (Plate 130), and in elevation by Banks in his engraving of 1820 (reproduced by Dasent), depicting Queen Caroline's daily progress from Lady Francis's house. The uniform fronts, each four windows wide and four storeys high, were simply designed and faced with brick, probably brown stocks, both fronts being bounded and separated by wide pilasters of brick, probably fine red rubbers, laid in rustic courses up to the main cornice, which extended below the attic storey. The windows had barred sashes, recessed in plain openings with stone sills on consoles and flat arches of gauged brickwork. By 1820 an iron-railed balcony had been added to the principal storey of No. 18, the windows having been lengthened and provided with casements. The doorway had also been removed to the side elevation in King Street, if Bowles is correct in showing that it originally balanced the doorway of No. 17, which is in the opening on the right of the middle pier, framed in a doorcase composed of an architrave and cornice. Banks shows a plain bandcourse above the ground storey, but this is not visible in Bowles's engraving.
It is quite evident that the two houses built by Phillips were designed with mirrored plans. Each house was composed of an almost square main block and a back wing, that of No. 17 lying against the north boundary of the site, and that of No. 18 against King Street. It was, therefore, of considerable advantage to both houses that the space between the wings was turned to account as a common courtyard or garden. (fn. 41)
The newly built house on the northern part of the Halifax House site (No. 17) was sold in June 1726 by Phillips to Mary, Countess of Bradford, for £5400. (fn. 42) The Bradfords occupied the house for some sixty-four years. An inventory exists of the furnishings in 1766 (fn. 53) when the house was occupied by Sir Henry Bridgeman, nephew of the fourth Earl of Bradford and himself later the first Baron Bradford. In the hall, where a 'Slate for Messages' was hung, stood a sedan-chair and poles. Throughout the house almost all the furniture was of mahogany, with a few japanned pieces. An Axminster and a Turkey carpet and three Wilton carpets are mentioned. Large pier-glasses and white and gilt girandoles gave brilliance to the rooms. The window curtains were of crimson or yellow silk on the ground floor, and of blue damask on the first floor, where the gilt furniture was also upholstered in the same material and three of the four rooms were hung with blue paper. On this floor the great drawing-room had a 'rich marble chimney piece' with jasper columns. A harpsichord and music desks stood in the same room, and a spinet in an upper room. Two large mahogany bookcases are mentioned, in the drawing-room and Sir Henry Bridgeman's dressing-room, one with a bust in the pediment and the other with five bronze figures on top. There were water-closets on the ground and first floors. The garden is not described but the 'Court' contained seventeen tubs and boxes and fifty-five 'pans' for shrubs and flowers. The windows to the square had external Venetian sun-shades in green. The furnishings, excluding paintings and china, were valued at some £1983 plus £375 for lookingglasses, lustres and so on.
In March 1790 Sir Philip Francis bought the house from Sir Henry Bridgeman for £5250. (fn. 44) The house was surveyed for Sir Philip by 'Mr. Craig', perhaps C. A. Craig of the Office of Works, and repairs costing upwards of £500 were carried out by E. Gray. (fn. 45) In April 1791 Sir Philip wrote to his friend Sir Robert Chambers of his removal to 'a very convenient house in St. James's Square. . . . The name of the situation sounds well, but you would be much mistaken in concluding that I lived in a palace or at all like a prince.' (fn. 46) The house was occupied for a time in 1820 by Queen Caroline. In 1837 the Francis's vacated the house (fn. 11) and in July 1839 sold it to John Howell of West Wickham, esquire, (fn. 47) later described as of Rutland Gate. (fn. 48) From that year until 1842 the house was occupied by the Colonial Club, (fn. 11) and from 1842 to 1862 by Howell who let out the rooms as 'Club Chambers'. (fn. 49) In 1845 they were said to be worth some £1500 per annum gross to him. (fn. 50)
In October 1863 the East India United Service Club, which occupied No. 16, bought the house from Howell and his mortgagees (fn. 51) and in 1865 its site was incorporated in that of the new club-house (see pages 155–6).