Cork Street and Savile Row Area: Clifford Street, South Side

Pages 482-488

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

Clifford Street, South Side

This is much the less interesting side of the street and the group of three original houses which remain, Nos. 16, 17 and 18, lack the special architectural features found in the houses opposite (Plate 92a). No. 18, however, which is larger and of better quality than the other two, is an unusually complete specimen of builder's design. The buildings at either side of this group are all late nineteenth century, being four-storeyed blocks of offices or apartments. Nos. 15A–D and 15E are in red brick with vaguely Jacobean details in stone, while No. 19 is in a plainer classical style with a facing of cement marked to imitate stone.

No. 16 Clifford Street

The building lease of this site bore the same date, 26 March 1723, as the others of the group of four houses between Cork Street and Old Burlington Street, and like them allowed the unusually long building period of four years at a peppercorn rent. Like them also it was to a building tradesman. This was Joseph Stallwood, bricklayer, who was co-lessee of the site of No. 18 with Benjamin Timbrell who was also the lessee of No. 15 (now 15E). (fn. 1) Stallwood mortgaged his lease to the same Joseph Hayes who was mortgagee of No. 9. (fn. 2) In December 1725 the lease was assigned to the first occupant of the house, Samuel Sandys of Ombersley, Worcestershire, Member of Parliament, later Chancellor of the Exchequer, who paid £1950 for the lease. (fn. 3) Sandys was evidently already in possession of the house in the month in which he obtained the lease. (fn. 4) He remained here until shortly before his creation as Baron Sandys in 1743. He had been a constant opponent of Walpole, and earned the disapprobation of Horace Walpole who recorded that he 'never laughed but once, and that was when his best friend broke his thigh'. (fn. 5)

Architectural Description

This house is well preserved externally, the only major alterations having been the widening of the windows in the ground storey and the lengthening of those in the second storey, where balconies with wrought-iron railings have been added (Plate 92a). The front is of resurfaced stock brick which was probably plum-coloured originally, and comprises a basement and three storeys. The windows, four to a storey, are widely spaced with segmental gauged arches and stone sills, the arches and jambs being carried out in red brick. All except those in the ground storey have flush frames, but only in the basement are the frames original, containing double-hung sashes with thick glazing-bars. Above each storey is a raised bandcourse of red brick, the topmost one being finished with a small stone cornice, and at the western end is a narrow pilaster-strip with the stone cornice breaking forward across it. The pilaster-strip is now covered with cement, but it formerly had red-brick quoins. A parapet with a stone coping finishes the front, but both this and the mansard roof behind it have been reconstructed. The doorcase is of painted wood, consisting of a moulded architrave flanked by half-pilasters, above which are carved consoles supporting a cornice. The door has six raised-and-fielded panels and is recessed within similarly panelled reveals; there is a plain fanlight above it. The area-railing has urn-finials to the standards and attached to it, at either side of the doorway, is a wrought-iron foot-scraper. The back wall, now heightened by a fourth storey, is of plum-coloured brick with a bandcourse of red brick above the second storey. The windows are segmentalheaded with dressings of red brick and they contain flush frames; the window lighting the second half-space landing of the staircase differs, however, in being tall and round-headed. The projecting closet-wing is treated like the back wall, but its quoins are also in red brick.

Little can be said about the plan of the ground and first floors, which have been drastically altered, but probably there was the common arrangement of two rooms and a closet to each floor, the staircase lying to the west of the back room. The second-floor plan, however, is unaltered save for the insertion of a few subpartitions. There are four rooms, two at the front and two at the back, the east back room having a closet projecting beyond it. All the rooms are of equal size except for the west back room which is no more than a closet on the east side of the staircase compartment. A lobby opening directly on to the staircase landing gives separate access to both back rooms, and a second lobby immediately to the north of it performs the same function for the two front rooms.

On the ground floor only the entrance passage has finishings of interest, the floor being paved with large black and white slabs set diagonally and the walls lined with two heights of raised-andfielded panelling in one-fillet ovolo-moulded framing. There is a moulded dado-rail, but the cornice has been removed. At the end of the passage, framing the entrance to the stair compartment, are two fluted pilasters supporting a round arch with a moulded archivolt. There is now a patterned fanlight in the arch and double doors below, but these are probably later. The staircase, which runs from basement to second floor, is of wood, being built round a narrow well. The steps have moulded nosings and their outer ends are decorated with imitation shaped brackets, each one carrying three turned and twisted balusters. The slender mahogany handrail is ramped up over column newels at each landingand voluted at the bottom over a cluster of balusters. Above the first floor there are only two rather thick square balusters to a tread, perhaps renewals of a later date. The garret is reached by a cramped little open well stair rising from the top landing of the main staircase. It has moulded closed strings, column newels and turned balusters, except tor the uppermost flight which again has the thick square ones. No original finishings survive on the first floor, but on the second floor very little has been destroyed. The rooms and lobbies are panelled with two heights of sunk panelling having one-fillet ovolo-moulded framing and being finished with moulded dado-rails and boxcornices. Two exceptions to this are that the front rooms have no dado-rails and the closetwing only plain frames to the panels. The shutters are panelled like the walls and so are the four-panelled doors, where they survive. The fireplaces in the east front and back rooms have carved wooden architraves and in the closet is a simple wooden chimneypiece with moulded edges.

No. 17 Clifford Street

This site was leased under similar conditions to that of No. 16, by lease dated in March 1723, to William Pickering, painter, (fn. 6) who in December 1724 assigned the lease for £1100 to the first occupant, Charles Wither of Hall in the parish of Deane, Hampshire, Member of Parliament, (fn. 7) who lived here until his death in 1731. Wither was Surveyor General of Woods and Forests, and something of a connoisseur of the arts with an interest in landscape gardening. (fn. 8) He was a subscriber to books of architecture by Kent and Gibbs in 1727–8.

In 1784 a lease for the rest of the Devonshires' term was granted by the Duke to Doctor John Moore, the physician and author. (fn. 9) As in other Devonshire leases there was a requirement to repair the house. The amount to be spent was only £226 in the first year, but the first year and a quarter of the term was at a peppercorn rent, conceivably to allow for some reconstruction. (fn. 10) Dr. Moore lived here until 1799 and during this period his son, General (Sir) John Moore, sometimes stayed in the house. (fn. 11) Doctor Moore was succeeded in the house by another eminent physician, (Sir) Alexander Crichton, who lived here from 1800 to 1804. (fn. 9) By 1826, however, the house was occupied by a tailor.

The third or attic floor was in existence in 1836. (fn. 12)

Architectural Description

This is the smallest house of the group. It contains a basement, four storeys and a garret, and has a brick front three windows wide (Plate 92a). The brickwork has been resurfaced but perhaps it was originally a pale yellow in colour. The fourth storey is probably a later addition and the ground storey has been entirely altered, the brickwork having been covered with channelled stucco and the basement-area covered in. The segmental-arched windows are dressed with red brick and have prominent stone sills on brackets, similar to those across the road at Nos. 5–7 and probably original despite their Victorian window-box holders. Above the second storey is a raised bandcourse of red brick and above the third storey a stuccoed bandcourse with a stone cornice. At either end of the front is a pilaster with red brick quoins and, above the third storey, a simplified capital with a capping of stone. The back wall has been rebuilt in purple-yellow brick.

The plan is the common one of two rooms and a closet to each floor, except that the closet is larger than usual with two windows in each storey. The finishings on the ground and first floors are surprisingly complete, although the front and back rooms on the ground floor have been knocked into one. Some of the work, however, is probably imitation, particularly in the first-floor rooms, which now form part of No. 18 (Buck's Club). The panelling is raised-andfielded with one-fillet ovolo-moulded framing, and is finished with moulded dado-rails and boxcornices. In the entrance passage the panelling is complete, and at the end, flanking the entrance to the stair compartment, are two plain-shafted Doric pilasters. The staircase is dog-legged, rising to the fourth storey where there is a gallery-balustrade. The lower part has cut strings with carved stepends, each tread carrying three turned balusters, and at the landings are column newels with the moulded handrail extending over them. The upper flights differ in having moulded closed strings and a different type of turned baluster. The compartment is panelled like the rest of the house, the third storey having only plain rebated panelling and the topmost flight only a dado.

No. 18 Clifford Street: Buck's Club

This house differed from almost all the others on the Burlington estate in that the first occupant, John, Lord (later first Earl) De La Warr, seems never to have held the lease, either direct from Burlington or from the building lessee. The lease, bearing the same date in March 1723 as those of the other three sites east of Cork Street, was granted to two builders, the carpenter Benjamin Timbrell and the bricklayer Joseph Stallwood, (fn. 13) who in the following year mortgaged it to Joseph Hayes (see above) to secure £1200. (fn. 14) Ratebook entries are not available for this part of the street in 1725 or 1726: Lord De La Warr appears as occupant in 1727 and continued to pay the rates until 1740. The rainwater-head lettered GR may well have been placed on the front of the house by this soldier and courtier to celebrate George II's accession in 1727, perhaps the year he himself entered the house, but the accompanying date 1717 is certainly inapplicable to the first building of the house: it is conceivably a mistaken restoration of the date 1727. Lord De La Warr's diplomatic and military career did not preclude an interest in the arts: he subscribed to Leoni's Palladio in 1715, and to Gibbs's Book of Architecture in 1728, and participated actively, as an opponent of Handel, in the musical factions of the day. In 1733 he was chosen, with Lord Burlington and others, a Director of the Opera, (fn. 15) A caricature of his features appears among others of Burlington's acquaintances in William Kent's sketch-books at Chatsworth.

Buck's Club was founded here in June 1919 by Captain H. J. Buckmaster 'and a number of fellow officers of the Blues'. The adjacent premises in Old Burlington Street were acquired in 1925 or 1926 and converted into a Ladies' Annexe in 1932: the site had originally been part of the yard or garden behind the house. In September 1940 the house was badly damaged by enemy action. (fn. 16)

Architectural Description

This house contains a basement, three storeys and a garret, with fronts to Clifford Street and Old Burlington Street each five windows wide, although towards Clifford Street the windows are much more closely spaced (Plate 92a, fig. 89). The fronts, which retain most of their original character, are of a resurfaced pale yellow brick with dressings of red brick to jambs, arches, bandcourses and quoins. The main front to Clifford Street has windows with segmental gauged arches, stone sills and recessed box-frames, the latter containing modern barred sashes. There are raised bandcourses above the ground and second storeys and a pilaster-strip at the eastern end. The doorcase is of painted wood, consisting of a moulded architrave and a cornice on carved consoles, while before it, springing from an arearailing with urn-finials to the standards, is an over-throw lampholder containing a nineteenthcentury lamp. There are two old lead rainwater pipes, one with a head inscribed 17 GR 17 although the documentary evidence makes it clear that the date cannot be original. The mansard roof, and possibly also the parapet in front of it, have been reconstructed. The Old Burlington Street front has very much the same character except that the windows have flat gauged arches and many of them are blind, whilst there is a pilaster-strip at each end. The wall is carried up for a fourth storey, perhaps a later addition, and at the southern end it has been rebuilt in new brick following bomb damage in 1940. There are two doorways; one, opening directly on to the service stairs, has a modern surround and hood; the other, in the second bay from the south and now out of use, has a stone doorcase, perhaps original, composed of a shouldered architrave flanked by panelled pilasters, being finished with a cornice on carved consoles. At the southern end of this front is the Ladies' Annexe of Buck's, a single-storeyed brick building quaintly fronted with imitation timber-framing with a bow window at one end.

Figure 88:

No. 18 Clifford Street, plans

Figure 89:

No. 18 Clifford Street, section and elevation

The plan of the house seems to have retained its original form almost unchanged, although, since the back wall has been entirely rebuilt, it is difficult to be certain of this (figs. 88–9). On the ground and first floors the front part of the house is divided between a large room, with three windows on to Clifford Street, and the main staircase compartment, the latter being replaced by a second room on the second floor, where a small lobby gives separate access to both front rooms. Behind the west front room is another large room, extended in the second and third storeys by a later canted bay window supported on iron columns. Behind the main staircase lies the secondary staircase and behind that in turn lies the east back room, projecting slightly at the back and having the south-west angle splayed. Beyond it projects a small closet, to which a bay window has been added in the second storey. In the courtyard a single-storeyed wing of later date links the west side of the house with the Ladies' Annexe. On the ground floor the front room and the west back room have been joined together to form the dining-room, while the east back room is used as a cloak-room and the closet as a wash-room. There seems originally to have been an angle chimneypiece in the cloak-room like that on the second floor, but it has been removed at some date to make room for a porch to a later doorway and the panelling now encloses a telephone-box. On the first floor the east wall of the front room has been removed to make a lounge opening directly on to the main staircase. The west back room is the lounge bar and the east back room and the closet have been thrown together to make a snack bar, an angle chimneypiece having been removed in the process. The three first-floor rooms of No. 17 also belong to the club, the front room forming a reading-room and the back room a card-room. The closet is sub-divided between a televisionroom and a telephone-room.

The rather plain original finishings of the house are remarkably complete, although some of the panelling has been restored. However, some of the details, in particular the carved overdoors and the moulded plaster ceilings, are rather crude imitations of early and mid eighteenth-century work. The ground- and first-floor rooms generally have raised-and-fielded panelling in two heights with one-fillet ovolo-moulded frames to the panels, moulded dado-rails and box-cornices, the doors and shutters being similarly panelled. The second floor is treated in the same way except that the panels are not raised and fielded. The chimneypieces are mostly of marble and in a variety of styles, dating from the nineteenth century or later. However, there are two which are probably original, in the ground-floor closet and the second-floor west front room. Both are of white marble, the former with simply moulded edges, the latter with panelled jambs and lintel and slight imposts, the lintel being shaped on the underside. The main staircase is a fine piece of workmanship and the best feature of the house (fig. 90). It rises round three sides of the compartment with a gallery on the west side at firstfloor level. The cut strings are decorated with architrave-mouldings and have unusually fine carved step-ends in high relief, the moulded nosings of the treads being carried round above them. The turned and twisted balusters, three to a tread, support a moulded handrail which is ramped up at the landings over fluted, Composite column newels and voluted at the bottom. The panelled dado is ramped to follow the curve of the handrail, and attached to it are pilasters echoing the newels. The simple secondary staircase is dog-legged with closed strings, turned balusters, moulded handrail and column newels.

Figure 90:

No. 18 Clifford Street, staircase balustrade


  • 1. M.L.R. 1724/6/340 (where the date is wrongly given as 1724); Chatsworth MSS., counterpart lease, 30 July 1784 (information kindly supplied by Miss M. H. Mackenzie).
  • 2. M.L.R. 1724/6/364.
  • 3. Ibid., 1725/2/417.
  • 4. Worcestershire Record Office, Sandys records, 18 Dec. 1725, Martin Sandys to Samuel Sandys (information kindly supplied by Mr. E. H. Sargent).
  • 5. G.E.C.
  • 6. M.L.R. 1724/3/145; counterpart lease in Chatsworth MSS. (information kindly supplied by Miss M. H. Mackenzie).
  • 7. M.L.R. 1724/1/374.
  • 8. See The Saturday Review, 1, 8 Feb., 7 March 1908, G. A. B. Dewar, An EighteenthCentury Gentleman: Charles Wither, M. P., where, however, Wither's death is wrongly dated 1732 (cf. the probate of his will, P.C.C., 317 Isham); see also Rev. R. F. Bigg-Wither, Materials for a History of the Wither Family, 1907, pp. 73–6.
  • 9. D.N.B.
  • 10. Chatsworth MSS., counterpart lease, 30 July 1784 (information kindly supplied by Miss M. H. Mackenzie).
  • 11. James Carrick Moore, The Life of Lt. Gen. Sir John Moore, K. B., 1835, vol. 1, pp. 32, 37, 104, 108, 171, 232.
  • 12. W.P.L., D1835 A.
  • 13. M.L.R. 1724/3/144; Chatsworth MSS., counterpart lease, 13 July 1780 (information kindly supplied by Miss M. H. Mackenzie).
  • 14. M.L.R. 1724/5/164, 274; 1732/5/591.
  • 15. Deutsch, op. cit. (123 above), pp. 303–4, 380.
  • 16. Country Life, 19 March 1948, p. 598; information kindly supplied by Captain H. J. Buckmaster.