Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1966.
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Gerrard Place was formerly called Nassau Street. In 1732 the houses to the west of the Earl of Devonshire's house were demolished and a new street was formed from Gerrard Street to King Street. It was called Nassau Street in Whetten's Buildings, in honour of the forthcoming marriage of the Princess Royal to 'the Prince of Nassau-Orange'. (fn. 1) The houses in the street were largely the work of John Whetten, bricklayer, who took most of the leases of the houses built at this time and whose name survives on the plaque still in place on No. 3 Gerrard Street (see page 388). The street was renamed Gerrard Place in 1910.
In 1853 a house on the west side of Nassau Street, together with a piece of land in the mews behind, was purchased for a congregation of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists. (fn. 2) A chapel to accommodate two hundred persons was built at the rear in 1855–6 to the designs of R. H. Moore. (fn. 3) The house in front was let and the vault beneath the chapel was taken by a hotel-keeper. (fn. 2)
In 1884 the Metropolitan Board of Works purchased the house in Nassau Street and the chapel at the rear for the formation of Shaftesbury Avenue. (fn. 2) In 1887 the congregation moved to a new chapel in Charing Cross Road (see page 308). The site of the chapel is now covered by Egmont House in Shaftesbury Avenue.
No. 2 Gerrard Place
Formerly No. 11 Nassau Street
This house was probably built for Edmund Byron, an attorney who held mortgages on several of the houses built by John Whetten. (fn. 4) In November 1733 John Jeffreys, at Whetten's direction, granted a lease of No. 2 to Byron, (fn. 5) who occupied the house from 1734 or 1735 until 1775. (fn. 6)
No. 2 Gerrard Place appears to be the surviving house of a uniform group built in the 1730's, forming the west side of Nassau Street and continuing round into King Street. The front is three windows wide and four storeys high, the attic possibly an alteration from an original mansard garret. The ground storey, with two windows to the north of the entrance, has been faced with stucco, the windows being dressed with stepped architraves and the entrance with a doorcase composed of Doric antae supporting a plain frieze, cornice and blocking, all suggestive of a date about 1850. The upper part of the front is of yellow and pink stock bricks, the plain window-openings having stone sills and flat arches of gauged red brickwork. There is a stucco bandcourse at first-floor level, and a cornice of bold profile, in painted stucco or stone, below the attic storey, both members being returned round the plain pilaster that forms the south termination of the front. The attic has been largely rebuilt after war damage, the windows now having segmental arches, and a garret storey with two dormers has been added.
It is evident from the few surviving features that the interior was finished in a handsome style. The wide entrance passage is lined with plain panelling in framing moulded with an ovolo and an inside fillet, this panelling being finished with a moulded skirting, a dado-rail of cornice profile enriched with a key-fret band, and a dentilled box-cornice. In the middle of the south side is a segmental-headed recess, framed with a moulded architrave and containing a seat or shelf resting on plain consoles. Fluted Doric pilasters and an elliptical arch dress the opening to the stair compartment, which is panelled like the entrance passage. The dog-legged staircase has cut strings, ornamented with carved bracket step-ends, and the moulded handrail, beginning with a generous curtail, rests on plain Doric column-newels and square-section balusters turned as slender Doric columns on urn-shaped bases.