Ryder Street

Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.

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'Ryder Street', in Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1, (London, 1960) pp. 317-321. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols29-30/pt1/pp317-321 [accessed 12 April 2024]

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Ryder Street

Ryder Street (fn. 1) may take its name from Captain Richard Rider (d. 1683), Master Carpenter to Charles II. His will (fn. 3) shows that he had been engaged in speculative building in Russell Street and Suffolk Street, both in the parish of St. Martin, and in Newport Street in the parish of St. Anne; Ryder's Court, at the northeast corner of Leicester Square, probably takes its name from him. (fn. 4)

Edward Stanton, carpenter, who was granted leases of several plots in Ryder Street in 1671 and 1674, (fn. 5) was associated with George Plucknett the elder, gentleman; (fn. 6) the latter may have been the father of George Plukenett, junior, who witnessed Rider's will. No other connexion between Richard Rider and Ryder Street has been found. (fn. 2)

All of the ground on both sides of Ryder Street formed part of the land leased in 1661 by Henrietta Maria's trustees to the Earl of St. Albans's trustees for thirty years; subsequent grants extended this term to 1740. 'Rider Street' first appears in the ratebooks of St. Martin's parish in 1674, but the layout of a street there had probably begun some years earlier, for on 1 April 1661 the Earl of St. Albans's trustees had granted to Judith Horseley a twenty-one-year lease of three houses in St. James's Street and 'the north End of the passage there leadinge to Burye Street'. On the same day they had also granted a similar lease to Valentine Stuckey of 'One Long Slipp of Ground of 155 Foott in Front in the Passage goeing out of St. James Street to Bury Street'. (fn. 7) These two grants probably covered the whole of the ground on the north side of the street between St. James's Street and Bury Street. No further leases are recorded until 1671, when six were granted; one further lease was granted three years later. The principal lessee was Edward Stanton of St. Martin in the Fields, carpenter, who received four leases of ground with a total frontage to Ryder Street of over seventy feet. (fn. 8) He was probably a member of the same Stanton family which produced several prominent masons and sculptors in the seventeenth century. (fn. 4)

The ratebooks of St. Martin's parish for 1674 list four names in Ryder Street, and in 1676 seventeen; those for the newly formed parish of St. James record twenty-six in 1686, by which time the building of houses along both sides of the street had been largely completed. In 1675 representatives of the Earl of St. Albans acquired the lease of the house standing on the south corner of St. James's Street and Ryder Street and shortly afterwards demolished it. Only a small part of the site of this house appears to have been subsequently leased again by the Earl and his agents and trustees, and it seems likely that the rest of the site was used to widen the western extremity of the street, which in the two leases granted in 1661 had been described as a passage. (fn. 9) The main development of Ryder Street, which had previously hung fire, certainly dates from about 1675.

In 1738 Thomas Ripley, Comptroller of the King's Works, was granted a forty-seven-year Crown lease, commencing at Michaelmas 1740, of two houses in Great Ryder Street, one on the south side and the other directly opposite on the north side. The houses were described by the Surveyor General as 'in so ruinous a Condition that they will not be of any profit . . . till pull'd down and rebuilt', and it may therefore be presumed that Ripley did rebuild them. (fn. 10)

Like Bury Street, the freehold of the whole of Ryder Street still belongs to the Crown, and all the existing buildings have been erected during the course of the last hundred years. Old photographs in the Crown Estate Office show that the previous buildings consisted for the most part of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century terrace houses, narrow fronted and lofty, with orderly fronts generally four storeys high, the flushframed sash windows closely spaced in brick faces, sometimes covered with stucco. Some Georgian shop-fronts broke the monotony of doors and windows, there being a very fine example (fig. 56) on the north-west corner of Ryder and Bury Streets, with round-headed windows between Doric pilasters, and a corner entrance between columns. The backs, however, were a picturesque confusion of plaster-faced gables, projecting closet wings of brick or weather boarding, and tall irregular chimney-stacks (fig. 57).

Figure 56:

Ryder Street (left) and Bury Street. Drawn from a photograph of 1878 in the Crown Estate Office

A list of distinguished residents and lodgers in Ryder Street is contained in the Appendix.

Nos. 1–5 (odd) and 11 Ryder Street And No. 43A Duke Street

The building now occupied by the Eccentric Club at No. 11 Ryder Street (Plate 276c) was built at three different periods between 1865 and 1911. Until 1914–15 it was the premises of Dieudonné's Hotel. The block of shops and residential chambers adjoining to the east, Nos. 43a Duke Street and 1, 3 and 5 Ryder Street, were built by the proprietor of the hotel in 1902–1903.

In 1864 Christie's purchased the Crown leases of what had been Nos. 12 and 13 Great Ryder Street. The two houses were described at this time as being small and old, with rebuilt fronts. Christie's first aim in acquiring the site was to provide a trade entrance from Ryder Street to the back part of their King Street premises, and an extension to their auction rooms. This scheme was abandoned in favour of one for a single residential building with a back entrance to Christie's through the easternmost bay.

The architect of the new building was John Norton of Old Bond Street. His design was for a block of residential chambers in red and blue brick with terra-cotta balconies and ornaments. It was described by James Pennethorne (acting for the Office of Woods and Forests) as being in a style 'not such as I would have proposed, but which you may not deem it necessary to object to in a secondary street'.

Figure 57:

Ryder Street, backs of houses on north side. Drawn from a photograph of 1880 in the Crown Estate Office

Building work began in the winter of 1864–5 and was completed by the end of 1865. (fn. 11) In 1866 Christie's received an eighty-year lease (fn. 12) and having failed to let the new building as residential chambers, it was opened as an hotel (fn. 11) (later known as Dieudonné's Hotel). (fn. 13) It was taken over in about 1895 by C. P. Guffanti, (fn. 14) who embarked on a programme of improvement and expansion. (fn. 15) In February 1900 he concluded a building agreement with the Office of Woods for all the ground between his hotel and the corner of Duke Street. He was to proceed at once with rebuilding on the site of the old house immediately to the east of the hotel, and to rebuild the remaining houses as soon as the current leases (which were to expire in 1904) could be acquired. (fn. 16)

The designs for the single site adjoining the hotel were approved by the Office of Woods in September 1900, and the new building was completed in the summer of the following year. (fn. 17) The architect, William Woodward of Southampton Street, Strand, (fn. 16) carefully repeated the design of Norton's façade, adding two further bays to the east of the existing hotel. The ground floor formed a large, double-arched entrance and loading-bay for Christie's, their former doorway being converted into a blind window. (fn. 17)

Rebuilding on the remainder of the site began in the early part of 1902 and was completed in the spring of the following year. William Woodward was again the architect, and the builders in both cases were Messrs. Lea and Grace (H. & E. Lea) of Warwick Street, Regent Street. The façade of the new Nos. 1, 3 and 5 Ryder Street and 43a Duke Street was designed in a different style from that of the adjoining hotel. There were shops on the ground floor, with residential chambers above. These were known as Ryder Street Chambers. (fn. 18)

Guffanti had purchased the lease of the house to the west, then numbered 13 Ryder Street, in 1900, and commissioned William Woodward to incorporate the existing building with the hotel. (fn. 17) He subsequently acquired a building lease from the Office of Woods and Forests of this and the adjoining house, then No. 15 Ryder Street, and in September 1909 Woodward submitted plans for a new building as a further extension to the hotel. After considerable delay a modified plan was finally accepted in 1910, and the new block (now numbered as part of No. 11), was completed early in 1911. (fn. 19) At the same time another attic storey was added to the roof of the main hotel building. (fn. 20) Once again, Woodward did not duplicate Norton's façade in his new work.

In 1914–15 Guffanti assigned his leasehold interest in both the hotel and the adjoining Ryder Street Chambers to the Eccentric Club, which had formerly occupied premises in Shaftesbury Avenue. The club had been founded in about 1890, many of its members being connected with the arts. (fn. 21)

The building was severely damaged by enemy action in 1941, when a large part of Christie's adjoining premises were destroyed. The older part of the hotel premises was completely gutted but the brick façade survived. Post-war repairs and restoration were completed in 1953.

Four storeys high and six bays wide, the front (Plate 276c) is designed in a style that is best described as 'North Italian Gothic'. The ground storey contains two windows and a doorway with round arches rising from granite colonnets, set in a red brick face between the wide segmentalheaded club entrance on the west, and the twin doorways to Christie's loading-bay on the east, the latter being framed by straight-sided segmental arches resting on clustered-shafted piers. A long balcony of painted terra-cotta, its front divided into panels pierced with two quatrefoils, projects from the second storey where there are six roundarched windows set with plain margins in a face of red bricks, patterned with blue bricks to form an impost-band, decorate the arches, and diaper the spandrels. The third storey is similarly treated, except that each of the six windows has its separate balcony, with a perforated front and sides of geometrical design. Narrow bands of coloured tiles divide the three upper storeys, the fourth being underlined by a diaper-patterned pedestal and having in each of its six bays a pair of small windows, their round arches springing from moulded terra-cotta imposts above colonnets. The front is finished with a plain parapet resting on a corbelled cornice.

The west extension of the club has a front of red brick and stone, designed in a mannered Renaissance style. The ground storey is divided into three bays, each containing a wood-framed bow window, by rusticated Doric piers which support a plain entablature. There are three windows in the second storey and in the third, a canted bay of three lights on each side of a single light, both tiers being united by their stone setting. The three fourth-storey windows break through the parapet to form pedimented dormers, segmental flanking triangular.

The east extension has shops on the ground floor, three storeys above, and a garret in the steeply pitched roof. The exterior, which has a simple early Renaissance character, is of stone except for the red brick faces adjoining the slim octagonal corner turret, which rises an extra storey and is finished with a conical roof. Each storey is defined by an entablature of sorts, the main entablature being below the fourth storey. The red brick face to Ryder Street is plain, but that to Duke Street contains one window to each storey and alongside is a three-storeyed canted bay of stone. In Ryder Street there are two such bays, flanking a gabled and pedimented feature with a three-light window in each storey.

No. 22 Ryder Street and No. 30 Bury Street

Formerly Nos. 18–22 (even) Ryder Street and Nos. 32–34 (consec.) Bury Street

In the spring of 1878 the Office of Woods demolished the existing buildings at Nos. 32, 33 and 34 Bury Street and Nos. 18, 20 and 22 Ryder Street. (fn. 22) The site was then let for a new building, which was begun in the latter part of 1878 and completed in the autumn of the following year. The architect was Walter S. Witherington of Leadenhall Street, and the builders were R. F. Sandon and A. G. Sandon of Mark Lane. The building was designed as a block of flats, and was known as St. James's Palace Chambers. In 1928– 1930 the ground floor was re-arranged to provide a range of shops in Bury Street. (fn. 23)

The building was damaged during the war of 1939–45, but by 1952 it had been fully repaired. Since 1947 the premises have been the offices of the Economist Newspaper Limited.

The building is fronted with brick and stone, and comprises four storeys set upon a high semibasement. Each front is divided into five bays by tiers of broad pilasters supporting an entablature at each floor level, and the splayed angle forms a further, narrower bay. Although the composition has early Renaissance echoes, the fussy detail which adorns the pilasters, and the weak entablatures with their over-ornate friezes are distinctively Victorian. Two-light mullioned windows fill the bays in the ground and fourth storeys, and in the bays of the second and third storeys are set shallow canted bay windows, those of the second storey having round-arched centre lights. In the Ryder Street front emphasis is placed on the narrower middle bay, the ground storey of which has a heavily enriched, round-arched doorway, while each of the upper storeys has a canted bay window, the whole being crowned by a large segmental pediment. Rusticated pilasters and a fruit-filled segmental pediment frame the doorway and the bay windows are elaborated with a curious mesh of mullions and transoms.

No. 24 Ryder Street

When the leases of Nos. 24, 26 and 28 Ryder Street expired in 1871, the Office of Woods and Forests decided to demolish the existing houses and redevelop the site. Part of the land formerly occupied by No. 28 Ryder Street was added to the adjoining premises at Nos. 23 and 25 St. James's Street, while the remainder of the site was divided into two equal plots. At first it was proposed to build two houses, but this scheme was abandoned in favour of a larger single block of residential chambers. Building work appears to have begun late in 1871 and been completed by the summer of the following year. The architect was John Wimble of Walbrook.

During extensive alterations made in 1930 an ornamental balustrade was removed from the fourth floor, and the ground floor was fitted up as the premises of the 1900 Club. (fn. 24) The building suffered some damage during the war of 1939–45. It is now used as offices.

Built of a yellowish stone, probably Bath, this pleasant and well-composed front has an early Venetian Renaissance flavour, although much of the precisely carved detail is decidedly Victorian. The four storeys diminish in height, and all except the ground storey have a regular pattern of four windows evenly spaced between wide piers. The ground storey is divided into nine equal bays by slender panel-shafted Corinthian pilasters, rising from a pedestal and supporting a delicately carved entablature. The doorway is in the middle bay, the second and third from either end contain windows, and the rest are solid, each with a panelled face whose incised decoration forms a border and surrounds a central boss. The secondstorey windows are round-arched, with rich frames composed of panelled pilasters, moulded archivolts and panelled spandrels, all ornamented with carving. Each intervening pier is horizontally channelled up to the level of the fretted impost-band, above which is a high-relief portrait head projecting from a roundel dressed with festoons and pendants. This storey is finished with an entablature, which breaks forward over each window with a carved panel in the frieze, the cornice forming a sill for the third-storey windows. These are rectangular and have enriched architraves, scrolled at the feet and surmounted by triangular pediments, rising against the panelled aprons of the fourth-storey windows. These are also rectangular and their enriched architraves are surmounted by carved frieze-blocks supporting breaks in the bedmouldings of the crowning cornice. The thirdand fourth-storey piers are panelled like those in the ground storey, but without the ornamented bosses. The crowning cornice has dentils and enriched modillions, and is surmounted by a low parapet behind which rise the four luçarne dormers in the diagonally slated roof.


  • 1. Until 1863 the west arm was Little Ryder Street and the east arm Great Ryder Street.
  • 2. In his Memorials of St. James's Street, 1922, pp. 69–70, E. Beresford Chancellor states that Ryder Street 'received its name from that of a Captain Ryder, who had, in 1660, set up gates on the Parish Lammas Lands', and cites 'Rate Books' as his authority. An unsuccessful search to verify this reference has been made, but the ratebooks of 1660 could not contain information about the origin of the name of a street not yet in existence, and the connexion between Captain Ryder and the street therefore remains unsubstantiated.
  • 3. P.C.C., 61 Drax.
  • 4. Colvin.
  • 5. B.M., Add. MS. 22063, items 305–6, 308, 3152.
  • 6. P.R.O., C103/193.
  • 7. B.M., Add. MS. 22063, items 63, 95.
  • 8. Ibid., loc. cit., items 282, 305–6, 308, 312, 316, 352; P.R.O., C103/193.
  • 9. Lincolnshire Record Office, Sheffield D/1/28.
  • 10. P.R.O., LRRO63/44, pp. 304–6, 317–20.
  • 11. C.E.O., file 10443.
  • 12. Ibid., file 16749.
  • 13. Ibid., file 15299; P.O.D.
  • 14. P.O.D.
  • 15. C.E.O., file 13007.
  • 16. Ibid., file 14403.
  • 17. Ibid., file 15130.
  • 18. Ibid., file 15130; P.O.D.
  • 19. C.E.O., files 15535, 15299.
  • 20. Ibid., files 10443, 16749, 15299.
  • 21. Ibid., files 15299, 16749; P.O.D.
  • 22. C.E.O., file 13078.
  • 23. Ibid., files 12002, 13418; P.O.D.
  • 24. C.E.O., file 11958A.