The Pitt Estate in Dean Street: No. 76 Dean Street

Pages 228-235

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

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No. 76 Dean Street

For the building of this house see the table on page 250. Although altered it retains much of its original imposing aspect (Plates 102, 103b, 108, 109, 110, figs. 57–59). The first occupant entered in the parish ratebooks was James Hamilton, seventh Earl of Abercorn, a Fellow of the Royal Society and author of a work on magnetism. His name occurs, evidently as tenant of the builder, Thomas Richmond, from 1735 until 1742, when he removed to Cavendish Square. (fn. 2) It is possible, however, that an occasional occupant was, as Mr. Christopher Hussey has suggested, the Earl's second son, the Hon. John Hamilton. (fn. 3) This spirited and capable naval officer was promoted lieutenant in March 1735/6, and distinguished himself later that year at the wreck of the Louisa. He was appointed captain of the Deal Castle in 1741 and of the Kinsale in 1742. His profession probably explains the presence of an eighteenth-century battleship among the fantastic seascapes painted on the walls of the staircase hall (Plate 108b).

Succeeding occupants of the house were Jonathan Cope, of Orton Longueville, Huntingdonshire, 1743–7; George Jennings, 1748–50; and Edward Barker, 1751–8. From 1759 to 1770 the occupant was Judge the Hon. Henry Bathurst, later second Earl Bathurst, before his appointment as Lord Chancellor. He was succeeded by the Hon. Edward Stratford, Irish M.P., later second Earl of Aldborough, 1771–4; John Mason, 1776–9; and William Birch, 1780–97.

From 1798 to 1801 the house appears empty in the ratebooks, although in 1799–1800 it was intermittently occupied 'by 300 Women at work for the Army'. (fn. 4) In August 1800 the remaining thirty-three-year term of the lease was bought for £850 by the united, pauper-ridden parishes of St. Giles in the Fields and St. George, Bloomsbury, to accommodate the poor children removed from their workhouse. (fn. 5) The parish of St. Anne protested to the vestry of these neighbouring parishes that the house might become 'a common receptacle for your promiscuous poor' and threatened legal action. (fn. 6) No obstacle in law appearing, however, the united parishes proceeded to repair the house for their use, at a cost of £700. (fn. 7) It was occupied from 1802 as a school of industry for between 110 and 200 boys and girls, until their removal in 1809 to a new building in Broad Street (now High Holborn). (fn. 8)

In 1810 the united parishes sold the lease for some £1,207 to Philip Rundell, (fn. 9) of the firm of Rundell, Bridge and Rundell. Thenceforward it was occupied together with No. 75 by that firm of goldsmiths or its associates (see page 222). In the years 1818–23 No. 76 is given as the address of E. H. Baily, who was employed by the firm as designer and modeller; and in 1824–6 as that of William Theed, junior, who worked in Baily's studio. (fn. 10) In 1821–4 Baily's address is elsewhere given as No. 75. (fn. 11) Possibly his residence was there and his studio at No. 76, where by 1833 most of the rooms of the house were used as workshops or storerooms. (fn. 12) In 1833 the freehold was bought from the Crown for £2,000 by John Bridge. (fn. 13)

In 1835 the premises were let to George Marley and Joseph Clark, formerly of Bear Street, curriers and leather cutters, by whom the free hold was bought in 1847. (fn. 14) This firm, as Joseph Clark and Sons, still occupies the premises.

Figure 57:

No. 76 Dean Street, plans

Figure 58:

No. 76 Dean Street, elevation

Figure 59:

(facing page). No. 76 Dean Street, section

Architectural Description

Despite its past use as poorhouse and manufactory, the house, although altered, retains most of its important internal features. With a frontage of 37 feet and an outside depth of 48 feet, it contains a basement and four storeys, the top being a mansard garret at the back and an attic in front, evidently the original arrangement. A substantial north-south wall of brickwork separates the front range, 21 feet deep, from the back, 20 feet 6 inches deep, and each range is divided by partitions of studwork and panelling (figs. 57, 59). On the ground floor there are two south rooms, each 20 feet wide, the front having two windows to the street, a chimney-breast centred in the south party wall, a doorway balanced by a respond in the north side, and a wide opening, originally a recess, in the west side. The back room has been altered but was generally similar to the front, except that there was a door to the south-west closet as well as two windows to the garden. North of the front room is the entrance hall, 15 feet wide, a two-storeyed compartment containing the principal staircase. Behind this, in the back range, is the service staircase, and, before alteration, a small back room with two windows to the garden. The first floor has the same arrangement except that the front room is 24 feet wide, with three windows, and the width of the staircase compartment is consequently reduced to 10 feet 6 inches. On the second floor there are two front rooms, each having two windows, the south room being 19 feet wide and the north 14 feet excluding the cupboards flanking the chimney-breast. The back range has the same arrangement as the floors below.

The front is an austere design carried out in stock bricks, originally varying in colour from yellow to pink but now stained black, with fine red brick dressings to the jambs and segmental arches of the windows (Plate 102, fig. 58). In many similar house fronts these red bricks were also used for the plain bandcourse at first-floor level, and for quoining the giant pilasters that mark the party walls. Here, these features are now finished with painted stucco, as are the plain frieze and cornice below the attic storey. Unlike the former No. 75, the fenestration pattern varies with each floor. In the ground storey there are two windows widely spaced on the south side of the doorway, and one close by on the north. The straight-headed doorway is dressed with a wooden doorcase consisting of two plain-shafted pilasters with angle-voluted Ionic capitals, supporting an entablature having a moulded architrave, a plain flat frieze, and a bracket-modillioned cornice (Plate 103b). There are no perceptible signs of there having been a pediment, as at No. 75. The deep reveals and soffit of the opening are wood-lined, each face having a single panel sunk in ovolo-moulded framing, whereas the front door has eight bold moulded-and-fielded panels in ovolo-moulded framing. The four first-floor windows are separated by piers of equal width, but the second opening from the south end is wider than the rest and its elliptically arched head rises higher. Here the openings are dressed with chamfer-edged rustic jambs, long and short, rising from sills resting on paired block-brackets, the segmental arches being finished with shaped lintels broken by keyblocks, whereas the elliptical arch has long-and-short voussoirs. These painted stucco dressings, despite their curiously Vanbrughian effect, are evidently later additions. The four second-floor windows, all of the same size and form, are centred over the ground-storey openings, as are the windows of the attic storey. All the windows have sashes in concealed frames, recessed within reveals now stuccoed. Glazingbars of the original stout section survive only in the southern pair of attic windows; elsewhere the sashes have bars of a lighter pattern. The front area is guarded by the original iron railing, of plain design except for the standards which have finials in the form of gadrooned urns.

Before the recent formation of a lobby, the street door opened directly to the entrance hall, a deep oblong compartment where the principal staircase rises in three flights (short, long, short) against the west, north and east sides, to arrive at a landing gallery across the south side (Plates 108b, 109a, fig. 59). This staircase, which is 4 feet 6 inches wide and of very easy ascent, appears to be constructed of deal with a balustrade of oak. The deep cut strings are faced with an architrave, raking below the carved scrollbrackets that end the steps. The railing consists of stout square-section balusters turned as fluted Doric columns on urn bases, evenly spaced with two to each tread, between the larger Doric column-newels. The broad moulded handrail begins with a generous voluted curtail and ramps up to break over each newel. The matching dado is formed of long panels sunk in ogee-moulded framing, finished with a moulded rail that breaks forward above the fluted Doric pilasters serving as responds to the newels. To give added width, the landing gallery is broken forward with a quadrant curve at the head of the stair; the floor fascia is plain but for a narrow moulding along each edge, and the gallery railing is entirely composed of turned balusters.

The east and south walls of the ground-floor stage are lined with deal wainscot, comprising a plain dado, having a moulded skirting and a cornice-profiled rail, below tall moulded-andfielded panels set in ovolo-moulded framing. The south wall has one wide between two narrow panels and, at each end, a door framed by a wide stepped architrave, eared at the head. The east door has been altered, but the west, which is only a respond, has six moulded-and-fielded panels. Above each doorway the panelling is set flush with the framing. The door and window embrasures in the east wall are finished simply with a staff bead. In the west wall, under the landing gallery, is a wooden archway with panelled Doric pilasters and a moulded archivolt broken by a corniced keyblock. Within this arch, below a simple fanlight of radial pattern, was a sixpanelled door now replaced by one with a large glazed panel (Plate 109a). All of this panelling is finished with a generous box-cornice, ornamented with dentils.

Apart from the panelling just described, the landing-gallery dado, the eared architrave of the door to the first-floor front room, and the roundheaded architrave of the door to the secondary staircase, the walls of the compartment are plastered and painted in oil colours. The spandrel shapes below the first-floor stage, now plain, were originally decorated with painting in warm brown tones to simulate rusticated masonry, finishing at first-floor level with the existing deep band imitating carved stonework. This consists of a bold key-fret between mouldings enriched with egg-and-dart ornament. The entire upper stage is painted, with little finesse and with some noticeable lapses of perspective, to represent a loggia with fluted Corinthian columns, squareshafted and round, spaced out to frame views of classical ruins and seascapes (Plate 108). On the long north wall, filling the wide middle and narrow side intercolumniations, is the scene of a harbour with shipping, bounded on the right by a ruincrowned headland, and on the left by a high and ruinous wall from which projects a lofty Ionic archway. Around this are some pedestals, one still surmounted by a bronze statue, and a confusion of column-drums, all adding to the fantastic scene which is fitfully lit by the sun on the horizon of a heavily clouded sky. The ruins continue across the west wall, dominated by a triumphal arch in front of which stands an equestrian group on a high pedestal. The south wall, with one wide intercolumniation, has a single early eighteenthcentury battleship seen against a cloud-flecked sky. Above the front-room doorway is a trompe I'œil composition of an urn, raised on a concave pedestal and flanked by garlands of fruits and flowers, and similar pendants decorate the panels flanking the window in the east wall. Finishing the walls is an enriched entablature painted in trompe l'œil, its frieze decorated with scroll-work and its modillioned cornice extending over the coved junction of the walls and ceiling. Unfortunately, the ceiling decoration was badly damaged and has now been obliterated.

These wall decorations, though striking, have been crudely retouched in the past, and seem originally to have been more probably the work of a scene-painter than a marine artist. The closest surviving parallel is the stair compartment at the Cowdray Club, in Cavendish Square, a much more competently painted scheme attributed to John De Voto by Mr. E. Croft-Murray.

Although the ground-floor rooms have been considerably altered, particularly those at the back, much of the original finishing remains (fig. 59). The painted deal wainscot in the front room is generally similar to that in the entrance hall, but here the dado rail is enriched with carving, as are the architraves to the two doors in the north side, which reflects the south side of the hall in its general scheme. The box-cornice, too, has not only dentils but three carved mouldings. There is a marble chimneypiece of simple design, with an architrave-surround flanked by plain jambs below the moulded consoles that support the cornice-shelf; the frieze and plain central tablet are of blue-grey and yellow marble, the rest being of veined white. The plain central face of the chimney-breast was probably intended to be decorated with an overmantel, but each recessed flanking face has a narrow panel and its return is similarly panelled. The dominating feature of the room is the wide opening in the west wall, framed by fluted Doric pilasters supporting a triglyphed entablature. The panelled lining of the reveals suggests that this was originally a recess, probably for a sideboard.

In the large back room, the deal wainscot is simpler, the panels are plain, the door architraves are not enriched, and the box-cornice has only dentils and an ornamented bead below the cymatium (Plate 110a). The chimneypiece, however, is a fine one in the style of Kent, of well-carved woodwork with slips of veined white marble. The ovolo architrave, carved with scallops and darts, is eared at the head and flanked by inverted consoles in profile, carved with acanthus. Smaller profile-consoles stop the frieze, which is carved in high relief with a female head between drapery swags and, at each end, three acanthus buds. The cornice-shelf has dentils and egg-anddart ornament below the plain corona, and leaf ornament on the cymatium. In this room, the projecting face of the chimney-breast is plain, as are the narrow flanking faces.

Apart from the temporary partitions now dividing the front room, the first-floor rooms show surprisingly few signs of change. As is customary, the large front room has the best panelling in the house. The general scheme is similar to that in the room below, but here the cornice-profiled chairrail has two carved members, and a plain frieze is interposed between the top rail of the panelling and the box-cornice (Plate 110c, fig. 59). This last has its bed-mouldings elaborated with leaf ornament, dentils, and egg-and-dart; the corona is supported by bracket modillions, and the small cyma-reversa above is carved with a formal leaf ornament. Each of the three surviving doors has six moulded-and-fielded panels set in ovolomoulded framing, and each opening is finished with a wide stepped architrave, eared at the head, the mouldings being enriched with carving. The window shutters are panelled to match the doors, but the embrasures are simply finished with a plain staff-beading. The marble chimneypiece is composed of a wide stepped architrave, eared at the head and surmounted by a frieze broken by a central tablet and stopped by moulded consoles supporting the cornice-shelf. Veined white marble is used for all but the frieze, which is of blue-grey and yellow marble. A mottled green marble frames the central tablet, which is finely carved with a representation of the Stanley legend displayed in the Derby crest. The tablet shows the finding of a Stanley heir in an eagle's tree-top nest, by the distracted parents and two hunters with gun and dogs. (fn. 1) The wooden overmantel is possibly an importation, as it does not correspond fully with the marble chimneypiece and its fixing lugs are visible. It is, however, a well-executed design in the manner of Kent, with an upright gadrooned picture-frame flanked by acanthus pendants on plain grounds, recessed between thin pilaster-strips ornamented with fruit-and-flower pendants hanging from scallop-shells. The entablature frieze, which breaks forward over the frame and the pilaster-strips, is carved with flowers, acanthus scrolls and a Rococo shell in the centre. A swan-necked pediment emphasizes the central break.

As on the ground floor, the large back room on the first floor is less elaborately finished than the front (Plate 109c). There are no carved enrichments on the chair-rail and the door architraves, and the modillioned main cornice is simpler. The frieze is omitted so that the panelling, which is plain and recessed in ovolo-moulded framing, rises to the cornice. Like that in the room below, the chimneypiece is of wood and in the style of Kent (Plate 110d). The veined white marble slips are framed in an ovolomoulded architrave carved with scallops and darts, eared at the head and flanked by inverted consoles in profile, scrolled and enriched with acanthus leaves. The frieze of ogee profile is carved with formal acanthus leaves, and the cornice-shelf has an egg-and-dart ovolo below the plain corona, and a leaf ornament on the cymatium. The south-west closet has an angle chimneypiece and is lined with plain ovolo-moulded panelling, finished with a plain box-cornice.

The north-west back room is lined with plain ovolo-moulded panelling in two heights, finished with a moulded skirting, a moulded chair-rail, and a plain box-cornice that has a coved soffit to its corona (Plate 110b). The fireplace is furnished with a Kentian chimneypiece of wood, framing marble slips and consisting of an ovolomoulded architrave carved with egg-and-dart ornament, eared at the head and surmounted by an enriched cornice-shelf similar to that in the south-west room. The chimney-breast, which is centred in the north wall, is treated with one large panel.

The second-floor and attic rooms are reached by the secondary staircase, which is of dog-legged form and furnished with a railing of squaresection balusters, turned as plain Doric columns above superimposed urns, rising from the moulded closed strings to support a broad moulded handrail, these raking members being housed into the plain square newels (Plate 109b). Each half landing is set back free of the north wall and finished with a balustrade, thus permitting the staircase to receive daylight from the skylight in the roof.


  • 1. The reason for the presence of this carving in the house is not known. It may be noted, however, that an Edward Stanley, esquire, lived nearby, at No. 82 Dean Street in 1743–7 and at No. 10 Richmond Buildings in 1748–50.
  • 2. Westminster Public Library, St. Marylebone branch, ratebooks.
  • 3. Christopher Hussey, 'Painted Staircases at 8 Clifford Street and 76 Dean Street, London', Country Life, 14 March 1947, p. 471.
  • 4. Camden Borough Library, Joint Vestry Minutes of St. Giles in the Fields and St. George, Bloomsbury, 3 Dec. 1800.
  • 5. Ibid., 19, 26 July 1800; M.L.R. 1800/5/521.
  • 6. W.P.L., A.2204, 10 Dec. 1800, 2 Jan. 1801.
  • 7. Camden Borough Library, Joint Vestry Minutes, etc., 4 June 1801.
  • 8. Ibid., 31 March, 7 July 1800, 7 May 1808, 22 March, 28 July 1809; R.B.
  • 9. Camden Borough Library, Joint Vestry Minutes, etc., 15 June 1810.
  • 10. Annals of the Fine Arts, 1818–19, ed. James Elmes; Graves; Gunnis.
  • 11. Boyle's Court Guide.
  • 12. P.R.O., CREST 2/831, sale particulars, 7 June 1833.
  • 13. Deeds in the possession of the Eagle Star Insurance Company, 12 Oct. 1833.
  • 14. M.L.R. 1847/11/47; P.O.D.
  • 15. R.B.