Soho Square Area: Portland Estate, No. 36 Soho Square

Pages 122-123

Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1966.

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No. 36 Soho Square

What is known of the early history of this house is described above under Nos. 33–34. Inhabitants have included Sir John St. Barbe, c. 1691–1712; Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Whitaker (previously at No. 25), 1713–35; Rev. Thomas Bennett, 1772–88; Charles Maynard, second Viscount Maynard, 1790–1, (fn. 1) who was married to Anne Parsons, otherwise Horton, described by Horace Walpole as 'the Duke of Grafton's Mrs. Horton, the Duke of Dorset's Mrs. Horton, everybody's Mrs. Horton'; (fn. 2) (Sir) John Burton, knight, 1802–11; George Routledge, publisher, 1843– 58, and John Russell Smith, publisher, 1858– 1888. (fn. 1)

The plan of this house, with the characteristic closet-wing at the rear (in this case behind the staircase) suggests that the fabric may be substantially of late seventeenth-century date. The house is of four main storeys and three windows wide. The front was refaced, probably in the late eighteenth century (Plate 93b). Its plainness is relieved by a first-floor storey-band where the long windows have bowed wrought-iron guards, the windows above having simpler flat ones. The brickwork has been coloured red. The stuccoed ground storey has two altered windows and a round-arched doorway with narrow side-lights and an ornamental fanlight over. The interior has been altered at different dates but particularly in the late eighteenth century, when the principal rooms were evidently refitted, most of them still retaining small enriched cornices and plain joinery of that date. It was probably at this time that the front room on the ground floor was extended at the expense of the room behind, the old dividing wall being replaced by a Doric colonnade. This arrangement has been partially changed and there is generally a good deal of modern partitioning and other alteration in the house. The ground-floor front room contains a good chimneypiece dating from the second half of the eighteenth century (Plate 129c). It is of white marble, inlaid with brown, and has flat consoles, key ornament in the frieze and a tablet carved with an urn. In the rear room, the slightly later chimneypiece is of wood with cast ornament and veined marble slips. The frieze is decorated with arabesques and putti, the stops having urns in relief; the cornice has carved mouldings and the jambs are decorated with panels containing drops. The hall is simple late eighteenth-century work and the early nineteenthcentury staircase is even plainer though spaciously planned. The stair rises on either side of an open well to finish at the second floor, receiving daylight from the large oval skylight in the flat ceiling. The first-floor rooms are now of little interest, but the now divided front room probably contained the fine chimneypiece that ornaments the south front room on the second floor (Plate 129e). In the late eighteenth-century Grecian taste, and of white statuary marble, it has pilasterjambs decorated with shaped pendants containing portrait medallions, below frieze stops carved with draped females, one holding a ship's rudder, and the other an anchor. The frieze is broken with a large carved tablet representing Britannia receiving bales and barrels of merchandise, just unloaded from a three-masted vessel.


  • 1. R.B.
  • 2. The Letters of Horace Walpole, ed. Mrs. Paget Toynbee, vol. VIII, 1904, p. 103.