Survey of London: Volumes 31 and 32, St James Westminster, Part 2. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1963.
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In this section
- CHAPTER IX
Brewer Street and Great Pulteney Street Area: Windmill Field and Knaves' Acre
The ground described in this chapter consisted of an irregularly shaped area which, together with other adjacent lands, was often loosely referred to as Windmill Field or Fields in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The plan of 1585 (Plate 1) shows that until its surrender to the Crown in 1531 and 1536 most of it had probably belonged to the Provost and College of Eton (as custodians of the Hospital of St. James) and one small piece to the Abbot and Convent of Abingdon. Under the ownership of the Crown the greater part of the demesne lands of the former Hospital of St. James continued to be leased as a unit known as St. James's Farm, and at some time before 1575 Thomas Poultney became the sub-tenant. In 1590 his namesake, probably his son, acquired the lease of the former Abingdon lands. In 1661 and 1668 their descendant, Sir William Pulteney, was granted reversionary leases extending his term in part of these lands, including all those to be described in this chapter, to 1722/3 (see pages 28–9).
A map of 1664 in the Public Record Office (fn. 1) shows that Pulteney's land here consisted of three closes—a rectangular parcel, known as the Laystall Piece or Knaves' Acre, at the eastern end of the south side of the modern Brewer Street; an irregularly shaped plot, comprising all the rest of the ground on the south side of Brewer Street and extending at its west end as far south as the junction of the modern Sherwood and Glasshouse Streets; and a rectangle on the north side of Brewer Street, of which Great Pulteney Street later formed the spine (fig. 2). Building work in this area began in the latter part of the 1660's.
In 1666 Sir William Pulteney granted a lease to Henry Batt, brickmaker, of part of Knaves' Acre or the Laystall Piece, which presumably owed this name to its previous use as a rubbish dump. Several houses were built along the south side of a narrow way leading from Soho towards the north end of what is now Great Windmill Street. (fn. 8) This way was called Knaves' Acre or Pulteney Street, and was subsequently known as Little Pulteney Street to distinguish it from Great Pulteney Street. It is now part of Brewer Street. Other leases of parts of Knaves' Acre were granted in 1671 to Isaac Symball, in 1672 to John Duglass, in 1674 to Richard Turpin, in 1676 to George Whiteing and in 1679 to William Hall. (fn. 9)
In 1670 Pulteney assigned the ground bounded (in terms of the modern layout) by Brewer, Sherwood, Glasshouse and Air Streets to Ralph Wayne, (fn. 10) in trust for Francis Sherard, (fn. 11) younger brother of Bennet Sherard, second Baron Sherard of Leitrim; (fn. 12) the later history of this area is described below under Sherwood Street.
A large part of the rectangular field on the north side of Brewer Street was leased in 1668 to Abbott Newell alias Hunt for forty-seven years. (fn. 13) Newell was a brickmaker and his kiln near Piccadilly is mentioned in the search books of the Tylers' and Bricklayers' Company in 1664. (fn. 14) He covenanted to build houses not less than 17 feet wide and 16 feet deep. (fn. 13)
Other leases were granted at about the same time to Thomas Hester, bricklayer, (fn. 15) John Scott, cordwainer, (fn. 8) Thomas Ayres, brewer (see page 118), and William Dean(e), carpenter. (fn. 16) The latter sub-let a piece of his land to Henry Davies, who built a brewhouse and sub-let other pieces of ground to Arthur Johnson, victualler, and Isaac Symball, both of whom covenanted to build houses. (fn. 17)
Blome's map of c. 1689 (Plate 4) shows buildings along the whole length of both sides of the modern Brewer Street and along the east side of Bridle Lane. The area to the east of the latter was still largely unbuilt, but a survey of 1693 shows that there were then 130 small houses on Windmill Field, fronting Brewer Street, Windmill Street (i.e. Little Windmill Street on the site of what is now Lexington Street), Bridle Lane, Peter Street, Silver (now Beak) Street and Gravel Lane. They were 'very weakly built, some of them uninhabited, others possessed by poor People'. The whole area (including the adjoining Pawlett's Garden) yielded only £67 per annum in ground rents, while Knaves' Acre, where there were 63 'poor' houses which would soon require rebuilding, yielded only £8 per annum. (fn. 18) The latter was described in 1720 as 'chiefly inhabited by those that deal in old Goods, and Glass Bottles'. (fn. 19)
After the death of Sir William Pulteney in 1691 Windmill Field was granted to his trustees in fee; (fn. 20) the greater part of this area lay between Bridle Lane and the modern Lexington Street, together with some adjoining land to the north of Beak Street and to the south of Brewer Street. In 1699 the trustees sold their leasehold interest in the ground on the south side of Brewer Street between Great Windmill Street and Wardour Street, Knaves' Acre, and a small piece adjoining, to John Rowley, Yeoman of the Guard. (fn. 9) The freehold of this land remained in the Crown's possession until recently, when most of it was sold.
The map of the parish published in 1720 in John Strype's Survey and reproduced here on Plate 5 purports to show that this first building development described above eventually covered the whole of Pulteney's land in Windmill Field. Peter Street, for instance, is shown extending as far west as the backs of the houses in Bridle Lane, but in his text Strype describes Peter Street to the west of Berwick Street as falling into 'waste, and unbuilt Ground', and 'not over well inhabited'. (fn. 21)
There can, however, have been relatively little, if any, open ground left when the rebuilding of this part of the Pulteney estate began. In July 1718 John Mulcaster, who was a servant to Henry Guy (fn. 22) and who appears to have acted in some legal capacity for William Pulteney, (fn. 23) applied, on Pulteney's behalf, to the Commissioners of Sewers to make a sewer for new buildings in Brewer Street and in a new intended street to run from Brewer Street to Silver (now Beak) Street through Red Lyon Yard. (fn. 24)
The latter was Great Pulteney Street, which also obliterated the streets named in the key to Strype's map (Plate 5) as Gravel Lane, Little Silver Street and Little Peter Street. All the leases for Great Pulteney Street were granted in 1719 and 1720, and all of them were due to expire around 1780. The east side of Bridle Lane and most of Little Windmill Street (the northern part of which was called Cambridge Street, and the whole of which is now Lexington Street), were also rebuilt. Except in part of Little Windmill Street the building agreements for Windmill Field were similar to those elsewhere on the Pulteney estate (see page 9), the new houses being required to be of the second of the four rates prescribed by the Act of 1667 for the rebuilding of the City after the Great Fire. In Little Windmill Street it was not always stipulated that the houses should fulfil these requirements, lead for the gutters etc., for example, being sometimes required to be at least 6 lbs. per foot instead of 7 lbs. per foot as elsewhere. (fn. 23) Some of the houses built at this time have survived, though many have been considerably altered, and are described below.
Those who entered into building agreements included Edward Collens of St. James's, carpenter; Thomas Cook of St. Anne's, carpenter; Mark Dixon of St. James's, carpenter; Nicholas Dubois of St. Martin's, esquire; John Legg of St. Martin's, carpenter; William Ludbey of St. James's, citizen and carpenter of London; Francis Martin of St. James's, coach-painter; Leonard Martin, junior, of St. Margaret's, brewer; Edward Mawle of St. Benet's, London, lime merchant; John Mist of St. Anne's, paviour; John Mulcaster of St. James's, gentleman; Richard Nicholson of St. James's, carpenter; Thomas Reading of St. James's, carpenter; William Robinson of St. James's, mason; Edward Shepherd of St. James's, plasterer; Peter Steel(e) of St. James's, bricklayer; Caleb Waterfield of St. Anne's, carpenter; and John Wilder of St. James's, coachmaker. (fn. 25)
Other tradesmen who took building leases (apart from those listed in the table below) were Thomas Abbott of St. Anne's, joiner; (fn. 26) Henry Avery of St. Martin's, bricklayer; (fn. 27) William Baker of St. James's, mason; (fn. 28) John Hironof St. Martin's, joiner; (fn. 29) the widow of John James of St. James's, carpenter; (fn. 30) Thomas Morton of St. James's, bricklayer; (fn. 31) Thomas Sams, joiner; (fn. 32) Thomas Steers of Greenwich, lime burner; (fn. 33) John Till of St. James's, bricklayer; (fn. 34) Richard Thornton of St. James's, bricklayer; (fn. 35) John Walker of St. Martin's, bricklayer; (fn. 36) and Thomas Whitford of St. Martin's, plasterer. (fn. 37)
During the progress of this rebuilding an Act of Parliament was passed enabling the Crown to grant to William Pulteney the freehold of part of the family estate, (fn. 38) and in February 1721/2 a rectangular plot on the east corner of Brewer and Sherwood Streets was granted to him in fee. (fn. 39) (fn. 2) The site of Ayres's brewery (see below) at the rear of the east side of Little Windmill Street, and the small triangular island of land at the western end of Brewer Street, bounded by Brewer, Glasshouse and Air Streets, were granted in 1830 to the trustees of the Sutton estate (on whom the Pulteney estate had by then devolved) as parts of a larger exchange of land between the Crown and Sir Richard Sutton. (fn. 40) The triangular island was sold by the Sutton estate in 1918. (fn. 41)
The whole of the south side of Brewer Street and the centre part of the north side were laid out across the Pulteney estate. The eastern end was constructed first and is shown on the map of 1664. (fn. 42) A few years later, when Sir William Pulteney was granting building leases in this part of Windmill Field, the road was continued westward. In 1670 the west end of Brewer Street was referred to as 'a New way' set out by Pulteney. (fn. 43) The southern side of the west end was included in Sir William Pulteney's assignment to Ralph Wayne in 1670, where building began immediately afterwards, while John Wells and others had begun building on the north side, which was part of Gelding Close, by 1684 (see page 165). Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1681–2 (Plate 3a) shows Brewer Street half built-up but does not name it.
The street is first mentioned by name in the ratebooks in 1675. In the early eighteenth century it was occasionally referred to as Wells Street, presumably from the building activities there of John Wells. (fn. 44) The street clearly owes its present name to the breweries on its north side, one built in c. 1664 and the other in 1671–4 (see below). Brewer Street and its immediate vicinity was evidently a centre for noxious trades, for the western end was at first sometimes called Gunpowder or Powder Street, presumably in allusion to the saltpetre house which stood at the other end of the street in Colman Hedge Close, (fn. 45) while Glasshouse Street nearby may suggest the existence of a glass manufactory there (see page 66). The eastern end of Brewer Street, which was originally called Knaves' Acre, was known as Little Pulteney Street until 1937, when it was renamed as part of Brewer Street.
The middle section of the street was rebuilt in the early part of the eighteenth century when the Pulteney estate was redeveloped. None of the houses built at this time has survived, but some are illustrated in Plate 126a and described below.
In about 1664, Thomas Ayres, brewer, built a brewery on the north side of Little Pulteney Street (now part of Brewer Street) on a site a little to the east of Lexington Street. (fn. 46) In 1675 he obtained a forty-one-year lease of the site direct from Sir William Pulteney, (fn. 47) and continued in business with his son Thomas until nearly the end of the century. (fn. 48)
By 1700, when the brewery had stood unused for several years, the expenditure of at least £1000 was required to put the building back into repair. (fn. 48) The Ayres found two brewing partners, Robert Billings and John Lanyon, to purchase the brewery, and themselves bought the leasehold interest which had been granted by the Crown in 1694 to the trustees of the Pulteney estate. (fn. 47) Billings and Lanyon apparently rebuilt some, if not all, of the brewery buildings and were granted a lease from the Ayres in 1700. (fn. 48) It was probably some of the buildings erected at this time which were described in 1925 by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. The houses and stables were generally of two storeys, with brick walls, and under the south-west range was a large barrel-vaulted cellar. (fn. 49) A nineteenth-century plan of the site shows an irregularly shaped yard approached half-way along by a narrow entrance on the east side of Little Windmill Street with a main entrance in Little Pulteney Street. A dwelling-house stood in the yard near the main entrance and the brewery buildings were ranged on either side of the yard. (fn. 50)
The brewery continued in use into the nineteenth century. (fn. 51) In 1826, the then owners, Messrs. Starkey, were declared bankrupt. Negotiations for a new Crown lease on the expiration of that granted to the Pulteney trustees in 1694 had been going on for some years and in 1829 a new lease was granted to Sir Thomas Harvie Farquhar, the banker, who held a mortgage on the brewery. (fn. 52) Farquhar covenanted to erect buildings of the third rate fronting Little Pulteney Street within two years and to complete the buildings behind for occupation within three years. (fn. 50)
Mayhew's survey of 1831–6 shows the site with small houses lining the east and west sides of an open court called William and Mary Yard, (fn. 53) presumably in commemorative reference to the date of the lease of 1694. Some of these houses evidently incorporated the buildings erected in c. 1700.
In 1830 the freehold of the site was granted to the Sutton estate, as part of an exchange of land between the Crown and Sir Richard Sutton. (fn. 40) The yard was closed in 1928 for the erection of the Lex Garage (fn. c1). (fn. 54)
About the year 1671 William Deane sub-let a parcel of Windmill Field on the north side of Brewer Street, which he held from Sir William Pulteney, to Henry Davis, or Davies. (fn. 17) This site lay on either side of the modern Lexington Street and adjoined Ayres's brewery. In February 1671/2 the inhabitants of the locality reported Davis to the Privy Council for building without licence, contrary to the royal proclamation of April 1671. He was, they alleged, erecting 'a Brewhouse there to the great annoyance of the Petitioners and the Neighbourhood'. (fn. 55) Davis was ordered to stop building the brewhouse, but it was nevertheless evidently completed by 1674. (fn. 17)
Towards the end of the seventeenth century the property formerly held by Davis came into the possession of George Meggott, a brewer, and a man of some substance. (fn. 56) He also obtained possession of an adjoining piece of property on the south side of Little Peter Street, which had been let to Abbott Newell. In May 1708 William Pulteney, the son of Sir William, agreed to let both pieces of property to Meggott, who covenanted to pull down the old houses fronting Brewer Street and to rebuild them. Meggott does not appear to have been required to rebuild the brewhouse, malt loft and ancillary buildings, which stood on either side of Little Windmill Street. (fn. 57) His lease was granted later in the same year. (fn. 58) He died in 1711, leaving part of his estate to his wife and part to his son, Robert. (fn. 59)
The existence of Davis's brewery was the cause of the very shallow plots allocated in 1719–20 to Nos. 4–8 on the east side of Great Pulteney Street (see fig. 14), for the brewery survived until about 1745. (fn. 60) In 1749 both parts of the site on either side of Little Windmill Street were taken on lease by John Starkey and William Sanders. (fn. 61) Starkey was the proprietor of Ayres's brewery (fn. 60) and Sanders may have been the mason of that name, whose address at this time was (? Little) Windmill Street. (fn. 62) Davis's brewery does not seem to have been incorporated with Ayres's by Starkey and no further trace of it occurs in the ratebooks.
Nos. 40–44 (even) Brewer Street
Formerly Nos. 3–5 (consec.) Brewer Street
These three houses stand on part of the ground let in 1708 by William Pulteney to the brewer, George Meggott, who covenanted to rebuild the houses then fronting Brewer Street. (fn. 58) It is possible, however, that the houses were not rebuilt until Meggott's lease expired in 1748; a new lease was granted in 1749 to the brewer John Starkey and the mason William Sanders (see above) and the existing houses may well be of this date. (fn. 61) Nos. 40 and 42 are paired houses, probably of early to mid eighteenth-century date but with plain brick fronts of early nineteenth-century character. Containing a basement and four storeys, each house is two windows wide, the modern sashes being set in plain segmentalheaded openings. No. 40 has a modern shopfront, but that at No. 42 is of early nineteenthcentury character, with plain pilasters supporting the deep entablature. The interior of No. 42 has the standard plan of two rooms, with a dog-legged stair on the west side of the back room. This stair is finished with a simple railing of thin square-section balusters, rising from a cut string with shaped bracket step-ends up to the second floor, and from closed strings above. The window on the first-floor landing is tall and round headed, with its original barred sashes, and some of the doors are of eighteenth-century date, with six panels set in ovolo-moulded framing.
No. 44 is a four-storeyed house of early to mid eighteenth-century date, with an early nineteenth-century front. Above the wood-framed shopfront is a face of yellow brick, with two windows in each storey, dressed with moulded architraves of cement, those of the first floor having friezes and cornices. Some eighteenth-century features remain inside—parts of a box cornice in the entrance passage, and a dog-legged stair with carved bracket step-ends and a railing of turned balusters between column newels.
No. 83–85 Wardour Street: The Round House Public House
From at least 1756 until 1862 this public house at the south corner of Brewer and Wardour Streets was known as the Blue Cross; in the latter year the name was changed to the Round House, (fn. 63) possibly in reference to the rounded north-east corner of the building. The present building was erected in 1892; (fn. 64) the corner still forms a rounded angle.
Nos. 1–35 (odd) Brewer Street, St. James's Residences and the Duke of Argyle Public House
The buildings on the south side of Brewer Street between Rupert Street and Great Windmill Street stand on what was until recently Crown land and were built in 1883–5. Those on the opposite side of Rupert Street (where the ground still belongs to the Crown) were erected a little later, in 1885–6. They were all designed under the auspices of Arthur Gates (who was then surveyor to the Commissioners of Woods and Forests) as one scheme, in order to avoid what he described as 'the absurd arrangement of separate houses of 18 or 20 feet frontage which seems to be the ultimate result of the London builder or tradesmen's ideas' (fn. 65) (Plate 139d).
As early as 1873 the Commissioners had considered clearing away the decaying property on the south side of Little Pulteney Street (as this part of Brewer Street was then called), which was then riddled with 'narrow, ill ventilated Courts and Alleys, some of them open to the sky, but others running under portions of houses'. The vestry too was anxious to make improvements in this part of the parish and envisaged a continuous wide thoroughfare from Rupert Street to Berwick Street. This entailed the widening of one of the courts on the Crown estate (Crown Court) and another on the north side of Little Pulteney Street (Walker's Court). In 1873 the vestry made a start by clearing the south end of Crown Court and laying the site into the north end of Rupert Street. (fn. 65)
Ten years later, when the expiry of the current leasehold interests was imminent, the question of improving the Crown estate was revived and, in collaboration with the vestry, Queen's Head Court and Great Crown Court were closed. The Commissioners also agreed to give up some Crown land to widen Little Pulteney Street, Great Windmill Street and Crown Court. (fn. 65) The widening of Crown Court extended Rupert Street to Little Pulteney Street but the proposed extension northwards was never carried out and the narrow Walker's Court still remains.
The Commissioners of Woods were under strong pressure from the vestry and other interested bodies to ensure that 'as large a portion as possible of the vacant ground in Little Pulteney Street [should be] reserved for the erection thereon of Artisans Dwellings adapted to the requirements of the respectable poor resident or engaged industrially in the vicinity thereof, since demolition had led to overcrowding in an already densely populated area. Arthur Cates considered that the area was essentially a 'Market locality' and that there was some obligation to re-establish the dispossessed tradesmen who had held leases under the Crown. He therefore suggested to Robert Sawyer, the architect acting for the tradesmen, that 'he should endeavour to devise an arrangement by which a single block could be erected . . . which would provide on the Ground Floor and Basement the accommodation required for the shopkeepers and on the upper stories afford a large number of rooms . . . for occupation as single rooms or in sets of two or three by persons whose business might require them to reside in the locality'. (fn. 65)
The vestry did consider putting its own funds into a model dwellings scheme on this site, but the idea was dropped and the money was presumably devoted to the building of St. James's Dwellings a year or two later (see page 137).
Cates's scheme was realized in the buildings designed by Sawyer. Most of the plots were taken on lease by dispossessed tradesmen: a grocer, (fn. 66) a provision dealer, (fn. 67) a baker (fn. 68) and a leather-cutter. (fn. 69) The builder, John Grover of Islington, himself took four plots, (fn. 70) and the block called St. James's Residences was built at the cost of John Rees, the leather-cutter. (fn. 69)
The contracts for building the front elevations in Little Pulteney Street stipulated a 'good architectural character' and a 'general uniform design', with shops below and dwellings above. (fn. 69)
As built, the elevation of the main block fronting Brewer Street is in eight main sections, the terminal pairs being lower but built to a more generous scale, so that, above shop-front level, they have four floors to the five in the intermediate sections. The four intermediate sections are each five windows wide and six storeys high, including garrets and ground-floor shops. A centred entrance archway in a one-window bay between the middle sections bears the name 'St. James's Residences', and leads to the rear block. The Brewer Street fronts are of red brick with terra-cotta dressings and rusticated pilaster-strips between sections; the section east of the central passage has been refronted after war damage. Each terminal pair of elevations, as indicated above, still retains the proportions of Georgian terrace houses. The corner building at Great Windmill Street, the Duke of Argyle (sic) public house, for which the architect was J. T. Wimperis, (fn. 71) reiterates the rustication of the pilasterstrips on either side of a projecting angular bay of superimposed three-light windows over the splayed entrance, topped by a bolder triple window like a belvedere. The corresponding angle on the Rupert Street corner, also splayed, is surmounted by terra-cotta ornament with a panel bearing the date 1884. The rear elevation and stair towers are of white bricks. The block at the rear called St. James's Residences, which was devoted entirely to dwellings, was also required to be built in white brick. (fn. 69) It is of five storeys, including garrets.
The features of the corner building on the east side of Rupert Street are identical to those on the other side of the street; the block behind it, on the south side of Tisbury Court, is not identical, but similar in character.
No. 55 Brewer Street: The Glasshouse Stores Public House
Formerly No. 45
The Glasshouse Stores public house has been so-called since 1876. From at least 1730 until 1875 the premises were known as the Coach and Horses. (fn. 63) The present building is of no interest.
Nos. 63–65 Brewer Street: Hickford's Room
Formerly No. 41 Brewer Street. Demolished
On 22 February 1717/18 William Pulteney agreed to let to Nicholas Dubois of St. Martin's in the Fields, esquire, a plot of ground on the south side of Brewer Street. Dubois covenanted to build by Christmas 1718 a messuage of the second rate as prescribed in the Acts of Parliament governing the rates of building. The terms of the agreement were similar to those obtaining on other parts of the Pulteney estate. (fn. 72) On 7 May 1719 Pulteney leased the plot to Dubois, together with the messuage 'then built by the said Nicholas Dubois' (Plates 24a, 126a). The site had a street frontage of 30 feet and a depth of 99 feet, and the term granted was for 60 years. At the south end of the plot a passage-way 9 feet wide led through Smith's Court to Great Windmill Street. (fn. 73) Dubois had a higher rate-assessment than anyone else on the south side of Brewer Street, (fn. 60) and this may perhaps indicate that the famous concert room which stood behind the house was built by Dubois at the same time as the house.
Dubois was an architect of French birth who had lived in England for some years, and who in 1719 was appointed Master Mason in the Office of Works. Some two years later he constructed a new staircase 'on a circular and self-supporting scheme' at Chevening, Kent, where the first Earl Stanhope was remodelling his house. A manuscript note, (fn. 3) probably by the second Lady Stanhope, suggests that Dubois owed this commission to the admiration which was felt for a similar staircase which he had already built at his house in Brewer Street. (fn. 74)
The ratebooks show that 'Monsieur Dubois' only remained in Brewer Street until 1721, when he mortgaged his lease. (fn. 75) In 1729 and 1730 the house was occupied by Henry Scott, first Earl of Deloraine, son of James Scott, Duke of Monmouth. Deloraine died on 25 December 1730. (fn. 76) He was succeeded by David Middleton, 1732–7, and he in turn in 1738 by John Hickford. (fn. 60)
Since 1696 the Hickford family had managed a dancing school in Panton Street. Owing to the popularity of public subscription concerts in the early eighteenth century, Hickford's principal room was frequently used for concerts. (fn. 77) There is no direct evidence whether John Hickford built the concert room which until 1934 stood behind No. 41 Brewer Street, or whether he moved there because the room was already in existence and suitable for his business. The evidence of the ratebooks is ambiguous.
Hickford's Room (Plate 24b, 24c) enjoyed its greatest fame in the 1740's and 50's, when it was the only concert room of note in the West End of London. (fn. 78) The winter series of subscription concerts were a recognized part of the fashionable London season, and works by Handel, Arne and Boyce were frequently performed there, sometimes, perhaps, in the composer's presence. (fn. 79) In retrospect the most noteworthy occasion in the long history of the concert room was the recital given on 13 May 1765 by W. A. Mozart, then nine years of age, and his sister. This was advertised in The Public Advertiser of 11 March as a concert of vocal and instrumental music for the benefit of the two children, the cost of tickets being half a guinea each. By 9 April the tickets had been reduced to five shillings, and the penultimate advertisement (on 10 May) read:
'For the Benefit of Miss MOZART of Thirteen, and Master MOZART of Eight [sic] Years of Age, Prodigies of Nature. HICKFORD'S Great Room in Brewer Street, Monday, May 13 will be A CONCERT of MUSIC With all the OVERTURES of this little Boy's own Composition'.
The work which Mozart and his sister played together is thought to have been the Sonata K. 19d. Other performers who took part in the recital were Signor Cremonini (singer), Mr. Barthélemon (violinist), and Signor Cirii (violoncellist). (fn. 80)
The Hickford family remained in Brewer Street until 1787. In 1748 James succeeded John Hickford. From 1756 onwards the ratebooks invariably give James 'Hugford', although advertisements in the newspapers continue to refer to 'Hickford's Room'. James Hugford continued as ratepayer until 1779, and was succeeded in the following year by Mary Hugford, who was probably the widow of his son Thomas. In his will, dated 3 November 1779 and proved on 25 February 1780, James Hugford described himself as of Horton, Buckinghamshire. (fn. 81)
The decline of Hickford's Room began in the 1760's, when the competition provided by Mrs. Cornelys's room in Soho Square (1760) and by Almack's in King Street (1765) first made itself felt; these were soon followed by the establishment of the Pantheon (1772) and, most formidable of all, the Hanover Square Concert Rooms in 1775. The room itself was too small for the orchestral concerts which became fashionable in the 1770's (fn. 82) and lectures and poetry readings supplemented the subscription concerts, some of which were, however, continued by J. C. Bach until the opening of the Hanover Square Rooms. (fn. 83)
From 1787 to 1791 the proprietor was William Rice. (fn. 60) He introduced balls, assemblies, 'English Readings' by a gentleman 'honored from his infancy with the friendship and acquaintance of the late Dr. Samuel Johnson', and an 'Evening Lounge' in which Mr. Kean presented his 'most favourite Theatrical and Senatorial Imitations'. Rice's most original idea was, however, his inauguration ('Under the Patronage of several Ladies of Distinction') of 'La Belle Assemblée', at which topics of importance were discussed by 'Publick Debate by Ladies only'. Gentlemen could attend, but they sat 'below the bar' and were not allowed to speak; 'Ladies [were] permitted to speak in veils.' Only two meetings, both in March 1788, are known to have taken place. At the first debate the 'Subject for Elucidation' was 'Do not the extraordinary abilities of Ladies in the present age demand Academical honours from the Universities, a right to vote at elections, and be returned Members of Parliament ?' The audience was 'numerous and polite; the debate a brilliant assemblage of wit, elegance, and pleasantry. The decision terminated in favor of the affirmative of the question'. At the second and apparently last meeting of La Belle Assemblée the question to be decided was 'which was more culpable in eating the forbidden Fruit, Adam or Eve?' The answer to this important problem is not recorded. (fn. 84)
In 1790 Rice advertised a performance at his 'Miniature Theatre' of 'The Triumph of Fidelity, An Operatical Pantomime'. (fn. 84) But, despite his enterprise, financial success seems to have eluded Rice, who is briefly described in the ratebooks of 1791 as 'Broke and run away'. (fn. 60)
In June of the same year the lease of the house and room was auctioned by Mr. Christie, whose advertisement was as follows: 'A Capital, exceedingly substantial, and convenient Leasehold Brick Messuage, and spacious, elegant, and well proportioned Ball and Concert Room behind the same, called Hickford's Concert-Room. Most centrally situate ... the House is adapted for the Accommodation of a numerous and genteel Family; the Concert-Room is large and finely proportioned, viz. 50 Feet long, 27 Feet 6 Inches wide, and 22 Feet high to the top of the Cove and Ceiling, fitted up and decorated with Taste and Elegance; and may at a small Expence be made one of the finest Dress-Rooms in the Kingdom, or converted into a Chapel or capital Lecture-Room; the Cellarage or Room under the Concert-Room of the same Length and Width, with the Right of Way for Carts and Carriages from Windmillstreet thereto . . . the Premises are substantially built at a great Expence, in perfect Repair, and held by Lease from William Pulteney, Esq. for 91 Years from Midsummer, 1787, at a nett Ground Rent of 80l per Ann.' (fn. 84)
Between 1791 and 1814 the ratebooks show a series of short tenancies; the building was sometimes empty and payment of the rates was often in arrears. (fn. 60) In 1793 there was a fencing match, in 1794–5 a series of charity concerts for the 'Society of French Emigrants', (fn. 85) and in 1797 lectures by 'one Jones and others of public notoriety' against religion and morality. (fn. 86) Two years later there was conjuring by Mr. Lowe, who demonstrated 'Various Acroamatical Experiments and Operations in Rhabdomancy, Rhabdology, Pallengenesia, Capnomancy and Aleuromancy'. (fn. 84) Between 1814 and 1821 G. H. Meek was the occupant; (fn. 60) he made an unsuccessful effort to promote assemblies. (fn. 84)
From the 1820's to the 1880's the house appears to have been used as a school or 'academy', while for much of this time the concert room was occupied by dancing teachers and was sometimes referred to as 'Willis's Rooms'. (fn. 87) (fn. 4) From 1881 to 1907 the premises were occupied successively by various clubs. Extensive subdivision then took place, many of the occupants being commercial or industrial firms. (fn. 51)
In 1912, when the Regent Palace Hotel was about to be erected on an adjoining site owned by the Crown, the hotel company foresaw that they would need more ground for the erection of staff accommodation. They persuaded the Crown to buy the freehold of Nos. 11–15 (consec.) Sherwood Street and Nos. 36–41 (consec., now Nos. 63–77 odd) Brewer Street from the trustees of the Sutton estate (on whom the Pulteney estate had now devolved), and to grant the hotel a building lease. (fn. 88) The hotel took over the occupation of No. 41 Brewer Street in 1916, (fn. 89) but rebuilding did not take place until 1934, when, with what the Encyclopaedia Britannica rightly described as a 'deplorable disregard of its unique interest and historical associations' the concert room was demolished to make way for the Regent Palace Hotel annexe (fn. 90) which was completed in 1937 to the designs of F. J. Wills.
A survey drawing of 1915 (fn. 89) shows that the house built by Nicholas Dubois fronted 30 feet to the south side of Brewer Street, and was 36 feet deep. It contained a basement, three storeys, and garrets in the double mansard roof. The ground storey had been greatly altered but its plan was probably very similar to that of the upper floors. These were divided by a transverse wall into two parts, about two-thirds and one-third of the total width. In the larger part to the east were two rooms, a front and a back, of equal size. The west part contained the large top-lit staircase, placed between front and back closets, the larger at the back having an angle fireplace. The staircase, although similar in form to that at Chevening, was not 'hanging on its own work' but appears to have been cantilevered from the curved wall of the D-shaped compartment.
The front was a simple and dignified design, built in brick and dressed, presumably, with stone (Plates 24a, 126a). An unsigned and undated drawing (fn. 91) suggests that the ground storey was originally arranged with a central doorway between two windows, that to the right having been replaced by the entrance to the concert room behind the house. The central doorway had a handsome doorcase of two Corinthian plain-shafted columns supporting an entablature, its cornice having modillions. The concert-room doorway was round arched and placed between paired Ionic plain-shafted pilasters, below a simple entablature. Later, the central doorway was replaced by a window, and the Ionic entablature was continued as a fascia across the front to rest on a single pilaster at the left extremity. Originally, a plain bandcourse underlined the upper face of brick in which there were two tiers of three windows, widely and evenly spaced. The window frames were of late eighteenth-century pattern, set in segmental-arched openings dressed with red brick and having moulded sills of stone or wood. The crowning cornice was of substantial girth and returned at each end of the front. Behind a low parapet of brickwork rose the steep face of the mansard in which there were three segmentalheaded dormers.
Between the back of the house and the concert room, and to the east of the linking lobby, was an area, 10 feet wide. Internally the concert room (Plate 24b) was some 49 feet long, 29 feet wide, and 23 feet high inclusive of the cove. In the south wall were three tall round-arched windows, and the survey drawing of 1915 shows that there were windows at the north end, where the shallow gallery projected. Except for a large fireplace centred in the east side, the long walls were unbroken. The room appears to have been lined with deal wainscot, arranged in wide and narrow panels above a plain pedestal, and finished with an entablature having a modillioned cornice. Above this was a deep plain cove, rising to the moulded frame surrounding the flat ceiling.
Site of Nos. 67–77 (odd) Brewer Street
Formerly Nos. 40–35 (consec.) Brewer Street. Demolished
On 10 July 1717 John Mulcaster, gentleman, entered into an agreement with William Pulteney to build on the corner of Sherard (now Sherwood) Street and Brewer Street houses of the second rate, pulling down the existing buildings after Michaelmas 1718 when the then existing lease expired. It was perhaps because this lease had not expired that Mulcaster was granted his lease in 1719 at a peppercorn rent for two years—the only instance found on the Pulteney estate of a building lease on these terms. (fn. 92) The names of the workmen employed by Mulcaster are not known; the houses are illustrated on Plate 126a.
Three of these houses, Nos. 38–40 (consec.), survived until 1934. Survey drawings prepared in March 1933 (fn. 93) show that Nos. 38 and 39 were built as a pair, each house being 20 feet in front and 33 feet deep. The survey suggests that changes may have been made to the fireplaces in some basement and ground-floor rooms, for the plans of the three upper storeys were almost exactly mirrored. Each house had a dog-legged staircase placed against the dividing wall, a large room in front, and a small room at the back leading to a closet in the projecting wing. A photograph taken in 1933 shows that the brick front shared by the houses was four storeys high, each house being three windows wide. Some windows retained flush frames in the segmental-headed openings, which were dressed with red brick. A plain bandcourse marked the first-floor level, and a moulded brick cornice the second. No. 39 had its original doorcase, with a cornice-hood resting on scroll-consoles.
No. 40 was a house of similar plan to the pair just described, but it was built on a much larger scale. The front of stock brick rose unbroken for four storeys, all, except the ground floor, having three segmental-arched windows, with red brick arches, jambs and lugged aprons, and stone sills. The doorway, on the left of the two ground-floor windows, had a doorcase with a cornice-hood on scroll-consoles.
The interior of this house was handsomely finished, on the evidence of a drawing by John Crowtherinthe Guildhall Library (fn. 94) (Plate 142b). This shows a landing on the staircase, which rose in parallel flights flanking a narrow well. The cut strings were decorated with carved bracket stepends, the balustrade was composed of elaborate turnings, with twisted or fluted shafts above elaborate bases, and the massive moulded hand-rail was ramped over paired newels formed like Composite columns with fluted shafts. There were respondent pilasters on the dado of raised-and-fielded panels, and the walls of the compartment were lined with raised-and-fielded panelling. The staircase balustrade and dado appear to have been of oak and/or mahogany, while the wall panelling was painted.
In 1767–9 David Hume lived with the Misses Elliott in Brewer Street; (fn. 95) the house can be identified as the former No. 40 which was occupied at this period by Ann Elliott. (fn. 60)
The present buildings on this site were completed in 1937 to the designs of F. J. Wills.
Nos. 63–77 (odd) Brewer Street
An eight-storey extension of the Regent Palace Hotel, with which it is connected at second-floor level by a covered bridge, was erected on this site at the east corner of Sherwood and Brewer Streets in 1934–7. F. J. Wills was the architect. The new work was faced with glazed terra-cotta and has grille-work and striped mouldings in a contemporary idiom on the bridge and on the Brewer Street front, both of which have steeply pitched roofs of green glazed tiles.
In 1670 Sir William Pulteney assigned the ground bounded (in terms of the modern layout) by Brewer, Sherwood, Glasshouse and Air Streets to Ralph Wayne, (fn. 96) in trust for Francis Sherard, (fn. 11) younger brother of Bennet Sherard, second Baron Sherard of Leitrim. (fn. 97)
Between 1670 and his death (heavily in debt) on 15 October 1680 Francis Sherard 'erected and caused to be erected divers messuages.' (fn. 11) Much litigation ensued (fn. 98) but the leasehold interest passed to Baron Sherard and then to his son, who became the first Earl of Harborough. It subsequently devolved on the latter's sister Lucy, who became the second wife of the second Duke of Rutland, and afterwards to her son, commonly called Lord Robert Manners. (fn. 99) In 1821, after the expiry of the last lease (granted in 1772 to the latter) the estate was not again leased as one unit until the building in 1912–15 of the Regent Palace Hotel, which now occupies the whole block. (fn. 100)
Sherwood Street first appears in the ratebooks in 1678, (fn. 101) its name being clearly corrupted from Francis Sherard's surname. (fn. 5) Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1681–2 gives Sheriff Street, and subsequent maps have described it as either Sher(r)ard and/or Sherwood Street. In 1708 Hatton stated that 'This is called Sherrard str. but Sherwood str. in leases.' (fn. 102) The corruption finally triumphed in 1862, when the Metropolitan Board of Works officially designated it as Sherwood Street. In 1720 Strype described it as 'a handsome, broad, well built and inhabited Place.' (fn. 19)
The buildings on the east side of Sherwood Street were not part of Sherard's estate, and are described on page 54.
Regent Palace Hotel
The Regent Palace Hotel occupies the whole of the block bounded by Brewer, Sherwood, Glasshouse and Air Streets. In 1910 Montague Gluckstein and Alfred Salmon signed a building agreement with the Crown as ground landlord, and the building was erected in 1912–15 to the designs of W. J. Ancell (who died on 20 January 1913), Messrs. Henry Tanner, and F. J. Wills. (fn. 103)
The Regent Palace Hotel was an amplified version of Ancell's earlier Strand Palace, the exterior of which had been faced in Doulton's 'Carrara ware', and the mansard roof covered in green Westmorland slates. (fn. 104) Similar exterior faience material had also been used by Ancell on the first Corner House, in Coventry Street (see page 43). For the Regent Palace 'Burmantofts Marmo' was used and the pavilion roofs and mansards were covered with green slates dressed with cast lead. Its ten storeys above ground include two storeys above the main cornice and two more in the steep mansard roof; there are also a lower ground floor, basement kitchens, and a subbasement for heating and ventilating plant. While reflecting the elevational scheme of Mewès and Davis's Ritz Hotel, that of the Regent Palace is of greater bulk with a multiplication of smaller units (the Glasshouse Street front, for example, is twenty-six windows long) and the important rooms on the ground floor were given little external expression. The somewhat congested exterior ornament consists mainly of giant pilaster-strips and great cartouches.
The original ground-floor series of interpenetrating spaces on the main axis from the south-east entrance, centred on the Winter Garden or Rotunda Court, has been much modified, and the dome over the Winter Garden, which was of stained glass, has disappeared. Of the original decoration, much of it by George Jackson and Sons Ltd. and the Bromsgrove Guild, little remains except a few stained-glass windows, some with allegorical figures, on Sherwood and Glasshouse Streets. Between the main entrance vestibule and the reception hall, there was a circular marble-lined lounge under a shallow dome enriched with plaster ornament. The main dining-room, called the 'Louis XVI Restaurant', had a recessed bow window, now covered up, at the Brewer Street end of the principal groundfloor axis. The plaster ceiling of the grill-room downstairs, it was said, 'follows Pergolesi', and there were writing-rooms and a drawing-room in a 'free treatment of the Adam style'. (fn. 105) The theme of marble piers with attached pilasters, in the grill-room, was to be repeated in Wills's extension of the Coventry Street Corner House in 1923. (fn. 106)
Great Pulteney Street
Great Pulteney Street was laid out during the general redevelopment of the Pulteney estate in the early eighteenth century (fig. 14). Between 20 March 1718/19 and 12 December 1720 Sir William Pulteney granted some thirty-six leases, all due to expire around 1780, to twenty lessees, most of whom were building craftsmen. Two more leases were granted on 27 August 1722. Only one lease was taken jointly by two lessees. Peter Steel(e), bricklayer, was granted five leases (of Nos. 4–9 Great Pulteney Street); Charles George, joiner, and William Ludbey, citizen and carpenter, each had four, and several others three. Most of the houses were first occupied in 1723, but a few were inhabited in 1720, and all by 1726; in only two cases was the lessee also the first occupant. All the leases are tabulated on pages below.
Many of the houses built at this time still survive (Plate 125, figs. 15–17). At Nos. 4–10 the plots were extremely limited in depth owing to the existence of Peter Street and the adjoining brewery buldings. The Street was never fashioable, nor has it ever been identified with any particular branch of trade or industry (as have Savile Row and Sackville Street), but there have been one or two famous musical instrument makers, notably Kirkman's, harpsichord and pianoforte makers, which was established here in 1739, and Broadwood's.
GREAT PULTENEY STREET (see fig. 14)
LEASES GRANTED BY WILLIAM PULTENEY
|No.||Date of lease||M.L.R. (fn. 6) reference||Term of years||Rent||Frontage||Lessee||Designation||Address||Associated builders or architects||First occupant||Period of residence|
|1–3 (with 44 Brewer Street)||15 September 1719||1729/6/133||60 from Christmas 1718||16||10||0||75' 4" (33' to Brewer Street)||John Wilder||coachmaker||St. James's||Charles George, joiner, sub-lessee (fn. 107)||
1. — Lamorris
2. Richard Diggs
3. John Aldworth
|4–7||7 July 1719||1719/4/111||60 from Midsummer 1720||3||0||0||30'||Peter Steele||bricklayer||do.||William Hymens||1724|
|5 August 1720||1720/2/148||do.||do.||29'||do.||do.||Widow Randall||1723–4|
|8||12 December 1720||1720/2/328||do.||do.||do.||do.||do.||Bridget Hill||1723–4|
|10||5 August 1720||1720/3/193||60 from Christmas 1719||4||0||0||35'||John Evans||joiner||St. Martin's||John Legg, carpenter, party to lease||J. du Portal||1723–4|
|11||do.||1720/6/219||do.||do.||19'||John Bates||do.||St. James's||do. under articles of agreement 3 April 1719 (fn. 108)||May or Mary Evans||1723–6|
|12||23 March 1719/20||1720/2/18||do.||5||0||0||do.||James Perry||sawyer||St. Martin's||do.||Benjamin Radcliffe||1723–35|
|13||do.||1720/2/16||do.||4||0||0||do.||John Evans||joiner||St. James's||do.||Nathaniel Taylor||1723|
|14||do.||1720/2/19||do.||do.||17'||James Perry||sawyer||St. Martin's||do.||— Lammery (? Paul de Lamerie, goldsmith)||1723–4|
|15||do.||1720/2/17||do.||do.||17' 4"||John Evans||joiner||St. James's||do.||Ann Roberts||1723–39|
|16||12 December 1720||1720/2/274||do.||2||0||0||20'||Elizabeth Roberts||widow||do.||do.||Ann Wilson||1723–36|
|17||23 March 1719/20||1721/1/20||60 from Christmas 1719||2||0||0||20' 10"||Richard Streatley (Streetly)||joiner||St. James's||John Legg, party to lease under articles of agreement 3 April 1719||Elizabeth Leach||1723–9|
|18||do.||1721/1/19||do.||3||0||0||do.||Caleb Waterfield and Thomas Cooke||carpenters||do.||do.||John Burton||1721–3|
|19||15 September 1719||1719/5/173||61 from Christmas 1718||4||0||0||20'||Robert Terry||plumber||do.||do.||Thomas Lawes||1723–8|
|20||7 May 1719||1719/5/82||61 from Mich. 1718||7||0||0||34' (18' 6" to Silver Street)||Edward Shepherd||plasterer||do.||Thomas Brooks||1721–35|
|(There is no No. 21)|
|22||27 August 1722||1722/4/156||58 from Mich. 1721||2||12||0||16'||Thomas Sams||joiner||St. Clement Danes||Edward Shepherd, party to lease||Alexander Macqueen||1723–7|
|23||do.||1722/4/160||do.||2||10||0||20'||Isaac Mansfield||plasterer||St. James's||do.||Isaac Mansfield||1723–35|
|24||12 December 1720||1720/6/292||61 from Christmas 1719||10||6||0||2l' 8"||Edward Mawle||lime merchant||St. Benet's||Lady or Dame Esther Grey||1726–33|
|25||do.||1720/6/290||do.||11||0||0||23' 2"||John Bates||joiner||St. James's||Edward Mawle, party to lease||Gabriel Bourdon||1724–30|
|26||do.||1720/6/291||do.||9||11||6||20' 2"||do.||do.||do.||do.||— Bealing||1723|
|27||28 November 1719||1719/5/217||60 from Mich. 1719||7||4||0||18'||Charles George||do.||do.||Francis Martin, coach-painter, and Richard Nicholson, carpenter, parties to lease||Major [George] Sawyer||1723–36|
|28–31 and part of 32||28 November 1719||1719/5/216||60 from Mich. 1719||7||4||0||18'||Charles George||joiner||St. James's||Francis Martin, coach-painter, and Richard Nicholson, carpenter, parties to lease||Mrs. Holmes||1723–6|
|13 May 1719||1719/3/117||61 from Mich. 1718||9||5||0||18' 6"||Richard Nicholson||carpenter||do.||Francis Martin, party to lease||Captain Hide||1721–6|
|do.||1719/3/116||do.||do.||do.||Francis Martin||coach-painter||do.||Richard Nicholson, party to lease||— Zollicoffer||1721|
|16 March 1719/20||1720/4/90||60 from Mich. 1719||7||4||0||19'||Richard Nicholson||carpenter||do.||Francis Martin, party to lease||Sarah Lewis||1723–7|
|7 March 1719/20||1719/4/351||do.||11||12||0||do.||Francis Martin||coach-painter||do.||Richard Nicholson, party to lease||Francis Martin||1720–34|
|part of 32 and Nos. 33–35||23 March 1719/20 or 5 August 1720||1720/1/10||61 from Midsummer 1718 or 60 from Midsummer 1719||8||0||0||do.||Michael Helme||victualler||do.||Daniel Thumond||1723–7|
|5 August 1720||1720/2/161||61 from Midsummer 1718||do.||do.||do.||do.||do.||Alexander Ross||1723–38|
|do.||1720/3/175||do.||6||0||0||19' 4"||John Till||bricklayer||do.||Michael Helme, party to lease||Colonel Darby||1723–33|
|do.||1720/2/162||do.||7||0||0||19' 6"||John Reyniere||carpenter||do.||do.||John Smith||1723–4|
|36||23 March 1719/20||1720/1/12||do.||7||14||0||22'||Charles George||joiner||do.||Henry Talbot||1723–30|
|38||15 September 1719||1719/3/176||60 from Christmas 1718||5||0||0||19'||William Ludb(e)y||citizen and carpenter||St. James's||Articles of agreement 17 March 1717/18 for 61 years from Christmas 1717 (fn. 109)||John Wymms or Wemiss||1720–3|
|40||do.||1719/3/174||do.||do.||do.||do.||do.||do.||do.||Mark Alpen or Halpenn||1720–8|
|41–43||20 March 1718/19||1719/5/30||61 from Christmas 1717||do.||43' (19' 2" to Brewer Street)||do.||do.||do.||do.||William Pryer||1719–58|
Occupants of note (fn. 110)
First occupants are listed in the table of leases above and are not included here.
11. Lady Buckworth, 1762–8.
16. Captain Rainsford, 1748, ? Charles Rainsford, general.
17. Jacob Kirkman, the founder of the firm of harpsichord and pianoforte manufacturers, 1739–50.
18. Joseph Haydn, the composer, stayed with Johann P. Salomon at No. 18 Great Pulteney Street in 1791–2. (fn. 111) Salomon's name does not appear in the ratebooks.
23. Thomas Sandby, 1751–3, ? the architect; the Prussian envoy, 1781–8.
24. Lady Conyers, 1734–40; Colonel (Lewis) Dejean, 1743–9.
25. Colonel (Francis) Fuller, 1738–43; Captain Peregrine Fury of the Paymaster-General's Office, Auditor of the North Parts in the Duchy Court of Lancaster, 1744–59 (see also Nos. 28–32, 37); General Melville, 1774–80, ? Robert Melville, antiquary.
26. Sir Richard Corbett, 1726–9; Lord Oliphant, 1758–70; General McLean, 1784–87, Allen McLean.
27. William Oram, 1737–40, ? the painter and architect (see also Nos. 32–35).
group 28–32. Captain Peregrine Fury, 1730–3 (see also Nos. 25, 37); John Clegg, 1737, ? the violinist.
Michael Christian Festing, musician, 1747– 1752.
Major-General Henry Harrison, 1738–48.
group 32–35. Burkat Shudi, harpsichord-maker, 1742–74,
founder of the firm carried on by his son-in-law, John Broadwood, which continued to
occupy these premises until 1904.
Lieutenant-General (James) Flemming, 1747– 1749; Colonel James Montresor, 1760–1; Dr. Wintringham, 1762, ? Sir Clifton Wintringham, physician.
Lady Scott, 1759–62; Colonel (William) Roy, 1765–79.
William Oram, 1747–9 (see also No. 27).
37. Captain Peregrine Fury, 1734–43 (see also Nos. 25, 28–32).
40. Abraham Kirkman, a member of the harpsichord manufacturing family, 1759–70.
Great Pulteney Street is among the broader and pleasanter of the complex of streets lying east of Regent Street and the slight bend half-way up gives it additional interest (Plate 125a). The original houses seem to have varied considerably in quality, but those on the west side were not much inferior to the houses on the east side of Sackville Street, a more fashionable part of the Pulteney estate. Many have now been demolished and replaced by large warehouse-type blocks, but thirteen survive, Nos. 8–13, 23 and 35–40.
Nos. 8–13 are all four-storeyed houses with basements, the fourth storey probably being an addition replacing a garret. The houses on the very shallow sites have broad fronts, Nos. 8 and 9 being four, and No. 10 five windows wide, while of the remainder No. 11 is two, and Nos. 12 and 13 three windows wide. The fronts have all been refaced in yellow brick in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries, except for No. 9 which has been stuccoed and given giant flanking pilasters in the early or mid nineteenth century. The front of No. 8 looks original at first sight, but the flush frames and the Georgian-type shop-front are in fact of very recent date. The interiors of all six houses have been greatly altered, and No. 12 was gutted during the war of 1939–45. Nos. 8 and 9 are only one room deep with a staircase compartment in the second bay from the south, although the two houses have now been combined and the staircase at No. 8 removed altogether. Fragments of panelling remain, most of it entirely plain with a simply moulded dado-rail and a small wooden cornice, but there is ovolo-moulded panelling, some of it raised-and-fielded, in the first-floor rooms of No. 8. No. 10 is almost as shallow as Nos. 8 and 9, but it seems originally to have had four tiny rooms on each floor with a central staircase compartment running from east to west. The first-floor south front and back rooms have almost identical moulded plaster ceilings, consisting of a square centre panel with an oblong at each end. The frames of the panels are adorned with C-scrolls, the square panel in the front room also having festoons. In both rooms this panel contains a boss of acanthus leaves surrounded by C-scrolls and there are flowers in the oblong panels. The original panelling seems to have been quite simple with ovolo-moulded framing. No. 11 was probably refashioned internally in the mid nineteenth century, but substantial remnants of ovolo-moulded panelling suggest that it was not completely rebuilt. Each floor now has a front and a back room divided by a narrow staircase compartment, and on the ground floor the entrance passage runs the depth of the house. Nos. 12 and 13 have, or rather had, mirrored plans of the standard type with two rooms to a floor and a staircase compartment beside the back room, although No. 13 alone seems to have had a closet projecting at the back. At No. 13 the hall and front rooms on the ground and first floors retain substantial portions of ovolo-moulded panelling finished with box-cornices, while the back rooms and all the rooms on the second floor have plain panelling. There are fluted pilasters at the junction of the hall with the staircase compartment. The staircase is doglegged with cut strings, carved step-ends, turned balusters and column newels, the upper flights, starting from the half-space landing above the first floor, having closed strings and a different type of baluster and column newel.
No. 23 was until lately part of a group with Nos. 24–27, now demolished, which seem to have been among the finest houses in the street (Plate 125b); Nos. 23–26 probably had the additional amenity of their own stables at the back, opening on to Bridle Lane. All are, or were, three windows wide, and contained a basement and four storeys, the top storey being probably a later addition. Generalizations about Nos. 25 and 26 are, however, only tentative, since at the time of recording they were already in ruins after bombing in the war of 1939–45. No. 23 has been altered and stuccoed externally, probably in the late eighteenth century, and the only feature of interest in its front is the round-arched doorway with a rusticated architrave. Nos. 24, 25 and 26 all had fronts of pale yellow stock brick, the windows having segmental arches of red gauged brick. No. 24 had the additional features of red brick jambs to the windows and aprons with a fringe of guttae. The ground storeys had all been stuccoed, but the doorways remained, with moulded wooden architraves and cornices on carved consoles. The fronts of Nos. 25 and 26 mirrored each other exactly with doorways at opposite ends of their respective fronts, while the adjacent doorways of Nos. 24 and 25 had continued cornices. (fn. 112) No. 27 also had a front of yellow stocks, but here the windows had flat gauged arches, the sole elaboration being that the centre voussoirs were raised and extended to resemble triple keystones. In plan the houses were similar, with the standard arrangement already described at No. 13. No. 24, however, and to judge by what remained No. 25 also had a secondary staircase inserted between the back room and the closet (fig. 15). The interior finishings at No. 23 are well preserved and so were those at Nos. 24 and 27, those at No. 24 being almost complete. The panelling on the ground and first floors was ovolo-moulded, being raised-and-fielded, except in the back rooms of the more modest No. 27, and finished with a box-cornice. At No. 24 the beam between the hall and the staircase compartment was supported by fluted pilasters, and at No. 23 a similar feature has been replaced by plain-shafted Ionic pilasters. The chimneypieces were of marble, entirely plain except for slight mouldings on the inner and outer edges. The staircases were similar in type, although those at Nos. 23 and 24 had very narrow wells while that at No. 27 was dog-legged. The first three flights had cut strings with carved step-ends, turned balusters and column newels, the newels being fluted at Nos. 24 and 27, while the upper flights had closed strings and a different type of baluster and column newel. At No. 24 the main staircase served only three storeys. The secondary staircase was a cramped dog-legged one with turned balusters on a closed string.
Nos. 36–40 form an almost uniform terrace (Plate 125c, fig. 17), each house three windows wide and containing a basement and four storeys, the topmost storey being almost certainly a later addition. As far as stuccoing and resurfacing permits a generalization, the fronts are of pale yellow stock brick with red brick jambs and flat gauged arches to the windows, the second storeys being finished with a bandcourse of red brick, the two upper courses of which have a slightly greater projection. Nos. 30 and 37 still retain their original doorways with moulded wooden architraves and cornices on carved consoles, while No. 38 has a mid or late eighteenth-century round-arched doorway between Doric columns, each carrying an entablature-block, and the whole finished with an open triangular pediment. No. 35 corresponds exactly to the other five houses except that its front has been stuccoed and remodelled, the bandcourse, if there ever was one, having disappeared. The interiors are arranged on the plan already described at No. 13. The original finishings have been badly mutilated and in the case of No. 36, which was partly destroyed by bombing, have entirely gone. In general the first two storeys have ovolo-moulded panelling, sometimes raised-and-fielded, finished with a box-cornice, and the third storey has plain rebated panelling; but some houses, No. 39 for example, have plain rebated panelling throughout the ground storey. The chimneypieces, where they survive, are plain marble ones with simple mouldings on the inner and outer edges. The beam between the hall and the staircase compartment is supported by fluted pilasters and the staircases are dog-legged, usually with cut strings, carved step-ends and column newels in the lower storeys and closed strings above, but sometimes with closed strings from top to bottom.
Nos. 1 and 41–43 are matching four-storeyed houses of yellow brick, Nos. 41–43 having been built in 1831 and let to Thomas Adams, upholsterer and cabinet-maker. (fn. 113) No. 1 was probably built at the same time. Each has a return front two windows wide to Brewer Street, and a rounded and recessed angle, thus forming a uniform feature at the southern end of the street.
Nos. 2–3, which were erected in 1888–90 by Benjamin John Green, builder, (fn. 114) comprise a four-storeyed warehouse building with a lavishly glazed front. The wide centre is set between narrower, slightly projecting wings, the latter being flanked by yellow brick pilasters.
No. 20 is a public house called the Sun and Thirteen Cantons, which has existed on this site since at least 1756. (fn. 115) The present red brick building was erected in 1882 to the designs of Henry Cotton. (fn. 116) Its main feature is a steep gable with a pointed window framed by a series of stepped orders in cut brick.
The general history of this street is described in Chapter X.
Nos. 50–54 (even) Beak Street, 37–39 (odd) Lexington Street and 19 Great Pulteney Street
This block, five storeys high, with its upper part divided into bays by piers of green glazed bricks, was built in 1904–5 by Alfred Grace, builder. (fn. 117)
Nos. 65 and 71 Beak Street
Formerly Nos. 6 and 5 Silver Street
These two houses were built on part of a plot of land agreed to be let on 27 October 1718 to Richard Powell, carpenter, (fn. 118) and leased to him on 26 January 1719 and 3 December 1719 respectively. (fn. 119) No. 65 is a four-storeyed house, probably of early eighteenth-century date but much altered. In the ground storey is a wood-framed shop-front of about 1840, with slender plain-shafted pilasters having pseudo-Corinthian capitals, supporting the simple entablature. On the right of the shop-front is an open passage leading to the house door and to back premises numbered 67 and 69 Beak Street. The upper part of the front has a mid eighteenth-century character and is of yellowish brick. There are two windows in each of the three storeys, placed so that the wall face on the right is wider than that on the left. The modern sashes are recessed in plain openings, with stone sills, plastered reveals, and flat arches of gauged brick, now coloured red.
No. 71 also has a shop-front with pseudo-Corinthian pilasters dividing the display window from the flanking doorways. The upper part was probably similar originally to that of No. 65, but the brickwork has been dressed with stucco enrichments. There are moulded architraves to the windows, those of the first floor having plain friezes and cornices resting on consoles, and the front is finished with a cornice extending between large console-stops.
Nos. 73–79 (odd) Beak Street
Formerly Nos. 4–1 (consec.) Silver Street
These houses were built on part of a plot agreed to be leased to Caleb Water field and Thomas Cook, carpenters, on 18 September 1718. (fn. 118) They were all let on 13 May 1719, No. 73 to Waterfield and Cook; (fn. 120) No. 75 to Nymphus Osborne, of St. Anne's, bricklayer; (fn. 121) No. 77 to William Bignell of St. Anne's, glazier; (fn. 122) and No. 79 to James Turner, of St. James's, victualler. (fn. 123)
No. 73, wider than its neighbours, has a plain shop-front of early nineteenth-century character and an upper face of yellowish brick, three storeys high, each containing two windows and a narrow recess, perhaps a window originally, on the right (Plate 138a). The modern sashes are recessed in plain openings, with stone sills, plastered reveals, and slightly cambered arches of brick, now stained red. The recently rebuilt parapet is finished with a narrow frieze and a thin coping, probably of cement.
No. 75, formerly the Three Compasses public house, was the meeting place of a masonic lodge to which Edward Oakley, an architect, belonged in 1728. (fn. 124) It was rebuilt in 1847 and let to F. J. McGregor. (fn. 125) It ceased to be a public house in 1886–7. (fn. ) The front is a vigorous neo-Jacobean design, carried out in red brick and lavishly dressed with stone or stucco, now painted. The ground storey is divided into three bays by terminal pilasters, and the first floor, with two round-arched windows, is dressed with paired Ionic pilasters supporting a bracketed entablature. The two second-floor windows, also round-arched, have elaborate tabernacle frames finished with cleft pediments, and the third-floor windows are more simply dressed with enriched architraves. It is regrettable that the strapwork-decorated gable, with its large cartouche of the Three Compasses, has been stripped down to a mere pediment.
No. 77, a four-storeyed house of early eighteenth-century date, has been much altered and was probably refronted later in the century. Above the plain shop-front of about 1840 is a brick face containing three tiers of two windows, all with barred sashes set in plain openings, with stone sills, plastered reveals and flat gauged arches. A slightly Victorian effect has been imparted by staining the brick arches red and linking them, and the sills, by similarly stained courses.
No. 79 has an elegant shop-front of about 1850, with a delicately arcaded display window, and except that there are only two windows in each storey, the upper face is similar to that of No. 77.
Until 1885 the northern part of this street was known as Cambridge Street, while to the south of Beak Street it was called Little Windmill Street. In that year both these names were replaced by the present one, which is presumably an allusion to the extinct title formerly held by a member of the Sutton family. In 1645 Robert Sutton was created Baron Lexinton (sic) of Aram, and his collateral successors, as inheritors of the Pulteney estate, subsequently became the owners of much of this area of London. (fn. 126)
Little Windmill Street does not appear in the ratebooks by name until 1686, although the land on either side of the southern part of the street was built on in 1671–4 by Henry Davis, who erected a brewhouse and ancillary buildings. On the map of 1720 (Plate 5) this part of the street is named Walker's Court. The northern part of the street is shown on the map of c. 1710 (Plate 3b) as Swallow Street, a name otherwise unrecorded and very possibly incorrect.
During the redevelopment of the Pulteney estate all the street was rebuilt except for the brewery buildings in the southern part which had recently been newly let (see page 119). Those who entered into contracts with William Pulteney in 1718–19 were Caleb Waterfield and Thomas Cook, John Legg, Mark Dixon and Edward Collens, all carpenters, and William Robinson, mason. Waterfield and Cook engaged to build between Broad Street and Silver Street; Legg between Silver Street and Peter Street; Dixon, Collens and Robinson engaged to build on the east side of the street. The agreements, with the exception of that with Waterfield and Cook, did not prescribe any of the statutory rates of building, but did specify good bricks and mortar. Waterfield and Cook's agreement specified buildings of the second rate, as in other agreements relating to the estate elsewhere (fn. 23) (see page 9).
Lexington Street is now a narrow and rather drab street, lined for much of its length by late nineteenth- or twentieth-century warehouse blocks. Such of the original houses as remain in the street are of the plainest quality.
Nos. 41–53 (odd), 44 and 46 Lexington Street
Formerly Nos. 14–8 (consec.), 3 and 4 Cambridge Street
The lessees of the original houses were: Caleb Waterfield and Thomas Cook, of St. Anne's, carpenters (Nos. 41, 49 and 53); (fn. 127) John Walker of St. Martin's, bricklayer (No. 43); (fn. 128) John Hiron of St. Martin's, joiner (No.45); (fn. 129) Andrew Andrews, sashmaker (No. 47); (fn. 130) Thomas Whitford of St. Martin's, plasterer (No. 51); (fn. 131) and Mark Dixon and Edward Collens, of St. James's, carpenters (Nos. 44 and 46). (fn. 132) All these houses, with the possible exception of No. 46, were let on 13 May 1719.
Of the existing houses it has been possible to identify Nos. 44, 46, 47, 49 and 51 as original, although the front and back walls have been almost entirely rebuilt (Plate 126b). Nos. 41, 45 and 53 may also date from the early eighteenth century, but their fronts have been resurfaced and it has not been possible to investigate their interiors.
Each house contains a basement and four storeys, the fourth storey doubtless being a later addition, and their brick fronts are two, or at Nos. 47 and 49 three, windows wide. At Nos. 47 and 49 the original first-floor windows with finely gauged segmental arches have survived.
The interiors of Nos. 44, 46, 49 and 51 have been investigated and these have the common plan of a single front and back room to each floor with a dog-legged staircase to one side of the back room, all except No. 51 having a small closet projecting at the back. Such panelling as remains is of the plainest sort, except for the first-floor front room of No. 46, where it is ovolo-moulded. This room also has a stone chimneypiece, bead-moulded on the inner edge and with a shaped lintel. Nos. 49 and 51 have staircases with moulded closed strings, turned balusters and column newels, but the staircase at No. 46 is slightly superior in quality, having cut strings with shaped step-ends.
No. 47 has a shop-front of some interest, probably inserted in the early or mid nineteenth century. The projecting display window is set between two doorways, each flanked by narrow pilasters with a kind of anthemion flower on the necking, the northerly pair having fluted shafts. Above is an entablature, breaking forward over the window, with a curious reeded architrave, a frieze with shaped ends, and a prominent cornice enriched with C-scrolls on the soffit.
Nos. 15–23 (odd) Lexington Street
Formerly Nos. 33–29 (consec.) Little Windmill Street
Nos. 15–21 form a uniform terrace of houses which was probably built in 1858–9, and was let in the latter year to William Campbell, bootmaker. (fn. 133) The practice of resurfacing the fronts of houses, of whatever age, a dark grey with red painted window-arches has, however, given the terrace a deceptively Georgian appearance. Each house contains four storeys and has a front two windows wide. The windows have flat gauged arches and contain barred double-hung sashes in concealed frames, the only ornament to the elevation being a red brick crowning cornice like those at Nos. 3–5 and 6–10. In the ground storey is a uniform series of shop-fronts, each with a pair of doorways placed alternately north and south of the display window and separated by paired pilasters carrying an entablature. The doors are four-panelled with tall fanlights over, and some of the display windows retain their original eight-paned arrangement. The houses have the same plan as the earlier ones already described, the wooden staircases being very simple with thin square balusters on a closed string, the slender handrail being continued over equally slender column newels. The back walls are of purple and yellow brick with segmental-headed windows. No. 23 was let on 11 March 1872 to John Green, builder. (fn. 134) It is in most respects similar to Nos. 15–21, but its segmental-headed windows disclose its separate origin. The shop-front has no pilasters but, instead, carved bracketstops to the fascia.
No. 13 Lexington Street
Formerly No. 34 Little Windmill Street
When Lexington Street was rebuilt in 1718–19 this site behind No. 9 Great Pulteney Street was left open as the western end of Peter Street (see fig. 14). It is not known when No. 13 was built but within living memory a passage ran under the southern part of the building on the line of Peter Street, and this is confirmed by the cellar beneath it having a barrel vault.
The house is three-storeyed with a brick front two windows wide which has been resurfaced a dark grey and the window-arches painted red, so that there is nothing, apart from the fact that the storey-heights are lower, to distinguish it from the mid nineteenth-century terrace of houses adjoining it on the north.
Nos. 3 and 5, 6–10 (even) Lexington Street
Formerly Nos. 38, 37, 3–5 (consec.) Little Windmill Street
Nos. 3 and 5, on the west side of the street, were built in 1874–6 and let in 1876 to Alexander McKenzie, coachmaker. (fn. 135) Nos. 6–10, on the east side, were built in 1876–8 and let in 1878 to William Frederick Williams, jewel-case maker. (fn. 136) Each group comprises a four-storeyed warehouse building with an austere brick front characterized by continuous bands of windows, vertically arranged at Nos. 3 and 5 and horizontally at Nos. 6–10. At Nos. 3 and 5 the lintels in the first three storeys are supported at intervals by iron columns with medieval-style capitals and are finished with small cement cornice-mouldings. The fourth storey is treated as a loggia with round gauged arches springing from iron columns, while above is a cornice of stepped and diagonally set red brick. Nos. 6–10 have classical horizontal divisions, with cement entablatures at first- and third-floor levels, and the fourth storey is finished with a red brick cornice like the one at Nos. 3 and 5.
Part of Ingestre Place formed the boundary between Windmill Field and Colman Hedge Close; the general history of the street, and of the buildings on the east side, are described on page 229.
No. 7 Ingestre Place
This block of model lodgings was built in or about 1850 on the site of Nos. 19 and 20 New Street (as this part of Ingestre Place was then known), out of voluntary contributions. It is not known who designed the building. It was transferred to the St. James's vestry in 1886 and the accumulated surplus rents were appropriated towards the cost of building St. James's Dwellings. (fn. 137)
Four storeys high and three windows wide, with loftier rooms than the later working-class dwellings nearby, this building has a late-Georgian plainness that is saved from meanness by ample proportions. The front is faced with pink and yellow stock bricks, it has a broad stuccoed bandcourse between ground and first floors, and widely spaced windows, segmental-arched. The centred entrance has a plain opening like a cottage door. The scale of this early lodging house is still more domestic than institutional, compared with the 'model' buildings then being erected by the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes in London. (fn. 138)
St. James's Dwellings, Ingestre Place
This block of industrial dwellings (Plate 139c) was erected by the St. James's vestry in 1886–7 on the site of Nos. 3 and 4 Silver Place and Nos. 9, 10 and 11 Ingestre Place. The vestry financed the scheme out of funds mainly derived from the sale of the parish burial ground in Hampstead Road. The architect was H. H. Collins and the builder was Mark Gentry. The four-storey L-shaped building comprised twenty-three single-room tenements, twelve two-room tenements and a general wash-house and work-room. (fn. 139) It has its main frontage to Ingestre Place, but the entrance and staircase, leading to open access galleries along the back, are at the extreme west end of the shorter frontage in Silver Place. Both elevations are in yellow stock brick with copious red brick and terra-cotta dressings, designed in an endeavour, according to The Builder, to make the architectural features 'pleasing, but not ornate' and 'as homely in appearance as possible'. These features include wide pilaster-strips, cornices above ground and top storeys, and a parapet with sections of brick and terra-cotta alternating with sections of iron railings. Decorative iron guard-rails in front of each window were intended 'to encourage a taste for window gardening'. The sanitary arrangements were all centrally placed around a small area off the access galleries on the back. (fn. 140)