Golden Square Area: South side, Nos 32-38

Pages 162-165

Survey of London: Volumes 31 and 32, St James Westminster, Part 2. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1963.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section

No. 32 Golden Square

At the partition of Gelding Close in 1675 Isaac Symball had agreed to take all the building sites fronting on to the north side of the square (fig. 18). In October 1685 he granted three separate leases of the sites of Nos. 32–34; each lease was for nine hundred years and was granted to William Pye of St. James's, carpenter, at a peppercorn for the first year and thereafter at annual rents of £12 15s. for each of Nos. 32 and 33 and of £12 10s. for No. 34. In each lease Pye covenanted to build a house uniform with that of (William) Gray in the square, with the same 'height of stories, ornaments to the front, scantlings and goodness of timber and substantialness of brickwork'. William Gray was the lessee of Nos. 20 and 21, to which the fronts of Nos. 32–34 as shown in Sutton Nicholls's engraving (Plate 120b) bore a close resemblance. Pye also covenanted to maintain the façade uniform with that of Gray's house throughout the nine-hundred-year term, to pave in front of the house with Purbeck stone and to pay towards the enclosure and maintenance of Golden Square garden. Three storeys were to be erected by Christmas 1685. (fn. 1)

Despite these elaborate provisions, Pye does not seem to have started to build and in 1688, three years after Symball's grant to him, he assigned his leases of the sites of Nos. 32–34 to Abraham Morison of St. James's, tallow chandler. Building work began soon afterwards, probably carried out by William Pye, but stopped through Morison's lack of funds. Various sums of money amounting to £475 were then borrowed by Morison on mortgage but he absconded without paying either principal or interest and without completing the erection of the houses. (fn. 2) It is not surprising, therefore, that No. 32 was still in building in 1691 and not occupied until 1693.

Colonel Bellcastle was the first inhabitant, living here from 1693 to 1695. Later occupants of note include the Countess of Montefelroy (1700), Sir George Savile (1702–22), Madam Savile (1724–34), Lady Cole (1735–7) and Admiral Hillsley (1756–7). (fn. 3)

In the early nineteenth century No. 32 was occupied as a bead warehouse and later by a surgeon and a solicitor. It housed the London Homoeopathic Hospital from 1851 to 1856 and a Turkish bath from 1861 to 1865. (fn. 4)

In 1865 the house was taken over as the Free Dispensary for Throat Diseases, now the Royal National Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital. The house (which is not known to have been rebuilt or greatly altered since its erection in the late seventeenth century), was demolished in 1882 and rebuilt for the hospital by the following year. The architect was C. L. Luck, and the builders were McLachlan and Sons, whose tender was for £7678. (fn. 5) The plaque on the Upper John Street front of the building commemorates the foundation of the hospital by Sir Morell Mackenzie, the throat surgeon, whose attendance upon the dying Emperor Frederick of Germany in 1888 had international repercussions. (fn. c1)

No. 33 Golden Square

The early history of this site has been described above under No. 32. No. 33 was not inhabited until 1695, when the first occupant was probably Mrs. Gore. Later occupants include Admiral Sir Stafford Fairborne (1716–27) and Dr. Charles Jernegan (Jerningham) (1728–53). In the nineteenth century the house was in commercial use until 1870 when it was occupied by the Masonic Council, which remained here until 1911. (fn. 4)

There is no indication that the original house was rebuilt until 1912. It was then demolished to allow the erection of a new extension to the adjoining Throat Hospital.

No. 34 Golden Square

The early history of this site has been described above under No. 32. No. 34 was first occupied in 1694, by Colonel Carpenter (1694–5), possibly the soldier George Carpenter who was created Baron Carpenter in 1719. Later occupants include Lady Temple (1702–7), Lord George Howard (1716–22) and Edward Ford (1780–91), the surgeon who later lived at No. 4. Towards the end of Ford's occupation the house underwent repairs. Later it was occupied by a solicitor (fn. 6) and in 1851 was purchased by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster, which then used the adjoining No. 35 as an episcopal residence. (fn. 7)

In 1866 No. 34 was taken over by Messrs. Gagnière, the firm of silk and woollen merchants which had occupied No. 21 since 1844. In 1856 the firm had moved to No. 35, and had taken over No. 36 in 1863 and No. 34 in 1866. No. 34 and the other two old houses remained standing and in the possession of Messrs. Gagnière until 1914, when all three were demolished. (fn. 3) A new office and warehouse block was then erected for the firm, to the designs of Leonard Stokes. The building is of steel frame construction and the façade was built in Crown Portland stone from Whitbed, with carvings by A. Broadbent of Fulham. The Westmorland green roof-slates were from the Tilberthwaite quarries. The builders were Messrs. Ashbyand Horner of Aldgate East. (fn. 8)

This is a good example of Stokes's highly idiosyncratic style (Plate 141c). Dominating the square, the Portland stone front is basically a neo-classical composition with restrained art nouveau detailing, sparingly and convincingly applied. The main face is divided into three strongly defined stages, the first of two storeys, and the second of three consisting of three wide bays containing three-light windows. The top stage, or attic storey, has six windows. At each end of the front is a tall and narrow pylon, or stair tower, just overlapped by the central face. The bays in the first stage, and the high segmental arches of the ground-floor windows, are defined or outlined by a ribbed framework, typical of Stokes, but the bays in the three-storeyed stage are divided by pilasters, with cartouches in place of capitals, and panelled shafts broken by a kind of rustication. These pilasters support an entablature, its cornice having a deep cavetto carved with formal shells and leaves, an ornament probably derived from the Georgian shell-and-dart enrichment. The cornice of the attic storey has a suggestion of the Doric. At the base of each stair tower is a doorway, its architrave frame finished with a cleft pediment, steeply pitched. The character of Stokes's work has been partly lost by removal of the many-paned casements from the windows.

The building was occupied by Messrs. Gagnière until 1958. (fn. 4) The present occupants, Granada Group Limited, rebuilt the back premises in 1960.

No. 35 Golden Square

The site of this house was the first to be developed on the north side of the square. A house was in building there in 1685, when it was in the possession of Captain John Staples, who seems to have also built a number of smaller (and possibly temporary) dwellings on other property of Isaac Symball in Gelding Close. (fn. 9) By 1689 No. 35 had been completed and was in the occupation of Esquire Gage, who remained until 1693. The next inhabitant, from 1694 to 1695, was Sir Philip Constable. From 1710 to 1724 Thomas Robinson occupied the house, (fn. 10) and according to Charles Burney 'established weekly concerts and assemblies in the manner of conversazione which were frequented by all such as had any pretentions to politeness and good taste'. (fn. 11) The chief attraction was Robinson's daughter Anastasia, the celebrated singer.

The house was rebuilt between 1732 and 1737 (fn. 3) by Richard Nicholson, the carpenter who was building many of the houses on the Craven estate at this time (see Chapter XII). Later inhabitants include Dr. Jernegan (Jerningham), who moved here from No. 33 in 1754 and for whom the house was said to have been rebuilt, and the second Baron Fortescue. The latter lived here from 1768 to 1780. (fn. 12)

In the nineteenth century No. 35 was the residence of the Roman Catholic vicars-general of the London district—the Rev. John Bramston from 1830 to 1836, the Rev. Thomas Griffiths from 1837 to 1847 and the Rev. Nicholas (later Cardinal) Wiseman from 1847 to 1855. (fn. 13) Messrs. Gagnière, silk and woollen merchants, moved into the premises in 1856 and later took over the adjoining Nos. 34 and 36. They demolished No. 35 in 1914 to allow the erection of the present building (see above, sub No. 34).

No. 36 Golden Square

In September 1688 Isaac Symball leased this site to Robert Tudor of St. James's, painter stainer, for nine hundred years. Tudor was possibly the nominee of John Angier, the builder who had previously worked at No. 18 St. James's Square; Angier had built two houses on the east side of Upper John Street and in 1737 his descendants owned the site of No. 36 Golden Square. (fn. 14)

The house seems to have been finished and occupied by 1692, when the Jacobite Lord Slane evidently lived here. In 1694 he was followed by Lady Dawney, the first Lord Haversham, then an influential politician (1699–1700), the Duchess of Wharton (1767–77), who died here, and Sir William Middleton (1778–88), for whom the house may have been partially rebuilt. (fn. 15) Rebuilding may have also taken place in the early eighteenth century. There is no documentary evidence of this but the front elevation of this house as shown in Sutton Nicholls's engraving (Plate 120b) is more akin to the style of the 1720's than to that of the late seventeenth century.

The house was in private occupation during the first half of the nineteenth century. It was used as an hotel from 1856 to 1863 and from then on by Messrs. Gagnière, the silk and woollen merchants who also occupied Nos. 34 and 35. (fn. 3) In 1914 No. 36 was demolished to allow the erection of Messrs. Gagnière's new building which now covers this and the two adjoining sites (see above, sub No. 34).

No. 37 Golden Square

The early history of this site can only be surmised for the first building lease and other allied documents of title do not seem to have been preserved. It is likely, however, that the site was leased in 1688 by Isaac Symball to the painter stainer Robert Tudor, who held similar leases of both the site to the east and that to the west. Furthermore Sutton Nicholls's engraving (Plate 120b) suggests that Nos. 37 and 38 may well have been the work of the same builder. John Angier, the building speculator associated with the development of the two adjoining sites of Nos. 36 and 38, was also probably concerned with No. 37. (fn. 16)

The house was finished by 1691 and probably occupied for three years by Esquire Bowles (? the soldier Phineas Bowles). Later occupants include Esquire Rolt (1694–6), Lady Ossulston (1698– 1700), Lady Cullington (1702–11), Sir William Abdy (1735–48), the physician John Clephane (1749–58), the piano maker Rice Jones, who was also apparently a coal-merchant (1798–1802), who then moved to No. 11, and the surgical writer Samuel Cooper (1803–11). (fn. 17) In the nineteenth century the house was occupied by a tailor from 1812 to 1835 and later by a music teacher, a professor of gymnastics and by various woollen firms. (fn. 4)

In 1927 the house (which does not seem to have been rebuilt or greatly altered) was demolished together with the existing No. 38 Golden Square and Nos. 4–7 (consec.) Upper John Street and Nos. 34–38 (even) Beak Street. The present building was then erected on this combined site and completed by 1929. The architect was Gordon Jeeves. (fn. 18)

No. 38 Golden Square

In May 1689 Isaac Symball leased this site to Robert Tudor, painter stainer, for nine hundred years at a rent of £14 10s. per annum. (fn. 19) Like the adjoining Nos. 36 and 37, the first house was probably built by Tudor in association with John Angier, the building speculator, who was evidently concerned in the development of all three sites. It was not completed until 1698. Lord Ossulston (1698–1700), whose mother lived at No. 37, was the first occupant. He was followed by Lord (1702–22) and Lady Lanesborough (1724–37), Joseph Mahoon, harpsichord maker (1742–63) and the Honourable George (or John) Hobart (1763–7), for whom the house may have been rebuilt in 1763. (fn. 15)

In the later nineteenth century the house was let to a number of commercial tenants and was demolished in 1927 for the erection of the present building to the design of Gordon Jeeves (see above, sub No. 37).


  • 1. Royal National Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital deeds, 28 Oct. 1685.
  • 2. Ibid., C8/431/4.
  • 3. R.B.
  • 4. R.B.; P.O.D.
  • 5. M.B.W. Minutes, 16 June 1882, p. 989; The Builder, 22 April 1882, p. 503.
  • 6. R.B.; D.N.B.
  • 7. Granada Group Ltd., deed of 9 May 1851.
  • 8. The Builder, 8 May 1914, p. 556.
  • 9. Royal National Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital deeds, 28 Oct. 1685; R.B.
  • 10. L.C.C.R.O., WCS 570/3; R.B.
  • 11. Charles Burney, A General History of Music, 1789, vol. IV, p. 246.
  • 12. R.B.; G.E.C.
  • 13. R.B.; P.O.D.; D.N.B.
  • 14. M.L.R. 1734/5/131; 1737/4/321.
  • 15. R.B.; D.N.B.; G.E.C.
  • 16. Ibid., 1716/3/120; 1731/5/539; 1737/4/431; L.C.C.R.O., WCS 44, p. 226.
  • 17. L.C.C.R.O., WCS 680/4; R.B.; D.N.B.
  • 18. B.A. 60147.
  • 19. M.L.R. 1731/5/539; 1741/1/151.
  • c1. Demolished 1987.