Leicester Square, East Side: Leicester Estate, Nos 17-30 Leicester Square and Irving Street (formerly Green Street)

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

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'Leicester Square, East Side: Leicester Estate, Nos 17-30 Leicester Square and Irving Street (formerly Green Street)', in Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho, ed. F H W Sheppard( London, 1966), British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols33-4/pp488-503 [accessed 21 July 2024].

'Leicester Square, East Side: Leicester Estate, Nos 17-30 Leicester Square and Irving Street (formerly Green Street)', in Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Edited by F H W Sheppard( London, 1966), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols33-4/pp488-503.

"Leicester Square, East Side: Leicester Estate, Nos 17-30 Leicester Square and Irving Street (formerly Green Street)". Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Ed. F H W Sheppard(London, 1966), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols33-4/pp488-503.

In this section


Leicester Square, East Side: Leicester Estate

All of the ground on this side of the square is in the parish of St. Martin (fig. 94 on page 417), but its history has been included in the present volume in order to provide a complete record of the whole square.

The frontage of the houses on the east side of Leicester Square represents, approximately, the boundary between Leicester Field and Swan Close. The whole of the ground on the east side as far back as Castle Street (now Charing Cross Road), including the south side of Bear Street and both sides of Green (now Irving) Street, was built on a part of Swan Close referred to as 'the Bowleing Greene'. (fn. 5)

When Lord Leicester purchased Swan Close in 1648 it was encumbered with a lease granted some years earlier. He was therefore unable to prevent one of the under-tenants of Swan Close making a bowling-green, shortly before 1658. (fn. 6) He had apparently opposed a similar venture earlier in Leicester Field, for on 5 March 1634/5 a correspondent wrote to the Lord Deputy in Ireland (Thomas Wentworth, later Earl of Strafford) that 'There was a Difference like to fly high betwixt my Lord Chamberlain and my Lord of Leicester about a Bowling-Green, that my Lord Chamberlain had given his Barber [Simon Osbaldeston] Leave to set up, in lieu of that in the common Garden, [Spring Garden, closed in 1634] in the Field under my Lord of Leicester's House'. (fn. 7) Leicester Field was still open ground at this time, but Lord Leicester evidently thwarted Osbaldeston's scheme and later in 1635 the barber opened two new greens 'in the Fields behind the Meuse', (fn. 8) i.e., on a site on the south side of Coventry Street between Haymarket and Whitcomb Street. (fn. 9)

The site of Swan Close was parcelled out for development and let by Lord Leicester between 3 June 1670 and 14 August 1672. Twelve leases were granted of plots facing the square (most of which extended eastward across the whole site to Castle Street) and a total of sixteen houses were erected between Bear Street and Green Street, six under leases to building tradesmen and ten to speculators. The numbers by which these houses are referred to below were allocated in 1902.

Most of the original house-plots were 20–22 feet wide, but No. 18 had a frontage of 28 feet, No. 28 of 30 feet, No. 17 of 31 feet, and No. 25, the largest, of 37 feet.

As the ratebooks are incomplete for this period it is not always possible to be sure when a house was first occupied or who was the first tenant. Some of the houses were certainly completed by 1673.

By the certificate of partition of 1788 all of the ground on the east side of Leicester Square (plot F on fig. 94) was awarded to the Tulk family. After the death of Charles Augustus Tulk in 1849 plot F and plot G (the latter outside the area covered by this volume) were divided amongst his seven children (see page 423). The subsequent ownership of these seven separate holdings has not been traced, but part of plot F was in the possession of the Tulk family until 1947. (fn. 10)

Nos. 17 And 18 Leicester Square: Samuel Whitbread Public House

The original site on the corner of Bear Street and Leicester Square was let on 20 April 1672 to John Parsons of St. Martin's, plasterer, for forty and a half years at £2 5s. per annum. He covenanted to build two houses, one in Bear Street and one in Leicester Square. (fn. 11) The latter, No. 17 Leicester Square, was first occupied by Thomas Streeter, painter, from 1673 to 1692. (fn. 12) For the next fifty years or more it was an 'upholder's' (fn. 1) shop. (fn. 13)

No. 18 was built under a lease granted on 14 August 1672 to George Seagood of St. Michael Royal, loriner, (fn. 2) for forty years at £3 10s. per annum. (fn. 14) The earliest traceable resident was Rowland Greenwood, 1678–97. Later occupants included (fn. 15) Sir Thomas Cane, 1704, ? Sir Thomas Cann of Bristol, knighted 1680; (fn. 16) Henry Worsley, former Governor of Barbados (1723–31), (fn. 17) 1732; the maids of honour to the Princess of Wales, 1745–51; Emma, widow of James Bulkeley, sixth Viscount Bulkeley of Cashel, and wife of Sir Hugh Williams, eighth baronet of Penrhyn, (fn. 18) 1760–1; and Sir Hugh's cousin, Anne, widow of Sir Thomas Prendergast, second baronet, (fn. 19) 1762–3.

In 1834 Dominique Deneulain opened a boarding house at No. 18. (fn. 20) Shortly afterwards part of the site of No. 17 (then the Bedford Arms) was required for the widening of Cranbourn Street (fig. 81 on page 352), and in 1843 John Joseph Dominique Deneulain agreed with Charles Augustus Tulk, the ground landlord, to refront the remainder of No. 17 and incorporate it with No. 18 in exchange for a new lease. (fn. 21) From 1845 to 1868 both houses were known as the Hôtel de Provence, and from 1869 to 1892 as the Hôtel Sablonière et de Provence. In 1890 the hotel was about to be rebuilt to the designs of W. T. Farthing. (fn. 22) From 1893 until it closed in 1919 it was known as the Hôtel Provence. (fn. 23) The present building, the Samuel Whitbread public house, was erected in 1956–8 to the designs of T. P. Bennett and Son. (fn. 24) Its smart contemporary front consists of a screen of narrow windows with green glass aprons, ranged between projecting metal fins, or ribs, and extending round the wide curved corner between two stone pylons. The ground-storey windows and doors are framed in hardwood, and the first-floor windows project in a continuous band below the upper face of three storeys.

No. 19 Leicester Square

George Seagood also had a lease of this site at the same date and for the same term as No. 18. (fn. 25) The first occupant was probably Madam Drake, 1674–7, (fn. 15) followed by the Dowager Lady Howard, 1678–1716 (? Jane, daughter of — Drake, d. 1716, who in 1677 married Thomas Howard, second Baron Howard of Escrick, d. 1678); (fn. 26) Grey Neville, Whig M.P., (fn. 27) 1717– 1718 or 1719; and Pierre or Peter Dutens, jeweller to the Princess of Wales, 1734–48. Dutens, who drew up his bills in French, previously had a shop in Chandos Street, St. Martin's, at the sign of the Golden Cup. He moved in 1748 to No. 53 on the west side of the square. (fn. 28)

The house was occupied from 1792 to 1796 by Sir Benjamin Tebbs, sheriff of London, (fn. 16) and from 1831 to 1834 by Dr. James Manby Gully, who specialized in the hydropathic treatment of disease and subsequently practised at Malvern. (fn. 27) From 1836 to 1879 a bookseller and stationer carried on his family business here, and subsequently there were oyster rooms. (fn. 29) The building was severely damaged during the war of 1939–45, and was rebuilt in 1958 as an extension of Nos. 20 and 21. (fn. 30)

No. 20 Leicester Square

This site was let on 20 July 1672 to Stephen Seagood of St. Sepulchre's, loriner, for forty and a half years at £4 per annum. (fn. 31) The lease was assigned for £310 in the following year to Edward Fox alias Tatterdale of St. Martin's, gentleman, who spent another £300 on finishing the house, which he occupied from 1674 to 1696. (fn. 32) George Desnoyers, who was dancingmaster to the Prince of Wales's children and was in attendance at the Prince's death, occupied it in 1745–60. He apparently produced the plays which the children performed for their parents and Bubb Dodington records in his diary that he accompanied the Prince and Princess to a fortune-teller 'who was young Des Noyers, disguised and instructed to surprise Madame de Munchausen, which he effectually did'. (fn. 33) Desnoyers formerly occupied No. 37.

No. 20 was occupied by James Tassie, the modeller, from 1778 until his death in 1799, and by his nephew William, also a modeller, until 1837. (fn. 34) John Wilson, a seal engraver who exhibited at the Royal Academy, lived here from 1838 to 1858. (fn. 35) In 1864 the house became a hotel and restaurant, which in 1880, under the management of Oscar Philippe, expanded into No. 21. Both houses were subsequently known for many years as the Hôtel Cavour. (fn. 23) The premises were severely damaged by enemy action in the war of 1939–45, and reinstated in 1950. (fn. 30)

No. 21 Leicester Square

The sites of Nos. 21–23 Leicester Square were let on one lease to Samuel Hunt of St. Martin's, carpenter, (fn. 36) whose name is commemorated by Hunt's Court at the rear. In 1674 the lease of No. 21 was purchased by Thomas Lucas who began to build a house and nearly completed it. He sold the lease in January 1674/5 for £250 to Francis Smith of St. Martin's, woodmonger, agreeing to provide Smith with lime, mortar, tiles, stone, timber, boards, lead, iron and glass for the finishing of the house; Lucas continued to work on the house until August of that year. (fn. 37)

The first occupant of No. 21 was probably Robert Leke, Lord Deincourt, later third Earl of Scarsdale, (fn. 18) 1676–8. (fn. 15) Matthew Prior, the poet and diplomatist, occupied it in 1699–1700. (fn. 34) He was followed, from 1700 to 1709, by Thomas Sadler, gentleman, who was possibly the painter of that name. (fn. 38) Colonel, later Brigadier-General, John Pocock was the occupant in 1710–32, and Madam Pocock continued until 1744 or 1745. (fn. 15)

In the 1840's the house was occupied by a number of medical practitioners, but by 1862 was in commercial use. (fn. 29) In 1880 it was incorporated into the hotel and restaurant at No. 20 (see above).

No. 22 Leicester Square

The first occupant of the house on this site, which was leased with Nos. 21 and 23, was Lady Herbert, 1676–98, (fn. 15) probably the widow of Sir Henry Herbert, master of the revels, who had died in 1673. (fn. 27) Their son Henry, who was created Baron Herbert of Cherbury in 1694, also lived at No. 22 until 1703. (fn. 39) Charles D'Agar, the portrait painter, described as a gentleman and 'limner', (fn. 40) succeeded Lord Herbert as occupant from 1704 to 1723 (fn. 15) (with a break in 1719–20, see No. 29). He was the son of Jacques D'Agar, a French Huguenot painter at the Danish court. Charles's widow, Constance Susannah, occupied the house after his death in 1723 until 1730. (fn. 41)

From 1831 until 1866 the house was occupied by James Haward and William Thomas Nixon, builders, (fn. 29) whose contracts included Batty's Hippodrome, Kensington Road (1851), the Swiss Protestant Church in Endell Street, St. Giles (1855), and the conversion of the Holland Chapel, Brixton Road (1855). (fn. 42) From 1892 to 1932 the occupants were George Withers and Sons, musical-instrument makers. (fn. 23)

No. 22 has interest as the only surviving building of domestic character in the square. Four storeys high and three windows wide, the stucco-faced front is plain but for a bandcourse at second-floor level and a cornice below the parapet.

Nos. 23–27 (consec.) Leicester Square


The site of these five houses is now occupied by the Odeon Theatre, built in 1937. The site of Nos. 24–27 was previously occupied by the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art and the Alhambra.

No. 23

The original house on this site, which was leased with Nos. 21 and 22, was first occupied from 1675 to 1679 or 1680 (fn. 15) by Sir Thomas Lynch of Rixton Hall, Lancashire, who was Governor of Jamaica in 1674–6 and 1682–4, (fn. 27) and then by Sir Henry Lyttelton of Hagley Park, Worcester, second baronet, M.P., (fn. 19) in c. 1681. The next occupant was Sir John Chardin, the orientalist, author and jeweller, from 1682 or 1683 to 1695. (fn. 15) He was a French Huguenot who came to England to avoid persecution and in 1681 was appointed court jeweller and knighted. He had travelled, made a fortune in the East, and published accounts of his voyages. During the time he owned the house in the square he was employed as envoy to Holland. (fn. 27)

According to deeds of 1708 and 1711 the house was then in the possession of Sir John Cotton, baronet, (fn. 43) probably as a sub-tenant since his name does not appear in the ratebooks. He was either Sir John Cotton, fourth baronet, of Conington, Huntingdonshire (died 1731), descendant and heir of Sir Robert Cotton, whose library he transferred to the nation in 1702; or Sir John Cotton, second baronet, of Landwade, Cambridgeshire (died 1716), who was M.P. for Cambridge in 1689–1708. (fn. 44)

The ratebooks give Stephen Penson, upholder, as the occupant from 1707 to 1711. In 1709 he purchased a reversionary lease of the house, then called the Golden Phoenix, together with a workshop at the rear in Hunt's Court. (fn. 45) Later tenants in the eighteenth century included a doctor and a cabinet-maker. (fn. 46)

No. 23 was occupied from 1836 to 1872 by James Charles Edington, silversmith, and from 1873 to 1930 by a Turkish bath establishment. (fn. 47) The site was later incorporated into that of the Odeon.

No. 24

John Parsons of St. Martin's, coachmaker (described sometimes as a plasterer), took a lease of the site of Nos. 24 and 25 on 20 June 1670 for forty-two years at an annual rent of £21. (fn. 48) No. 24 was first occupied in 1675 and then by Lady Elizabeth Pelham in 1697–1700; by Lord Leicester (John, sixth Earl) in 1718–24 (the Prince of Wales was living at Leicester House at the time); and by Harbottle Grimston Luckyn in 1761–6. (fn. 15) In 1806 the house was incorporated into the hotel kept by Louis Brunet at No. 25.

No. 25

The original house on this site was the largest on the east side of the square; its frontage measured thirty-seven feet. (fn. 49) The first occupant, from 1675 to 1688, was a Frenchman, Jeremy or Jeremiah Nepho. (fn. 15) The Comte de Barbi lodged with him in 1686. (fn. 50) From 1700 to 1706 Lord Abergavenny was the occupant. (fn. 15) George Nevill, thirteenth Baron Abergavenny, succeeded to the title in 1695. He had formerly lodged at a house in Leicester Fields (it is not known where) and being 'taken' with his landlady's daughter, who 'made a tolerable figure' and was 'bred up … modestly', he married her. (fn. 51) Lady Geer and Lady Walter were rated for the house in 1707–8 and William Aikman, the Scottish portrait painter, lived there from 1728 until his death in June 1731. (fn. 52)

In 1731 the lease of No. 25 was purchased by Sir Philip Parker Long, third baronet, of Erwarton Hall, Suffolk, (fn. 53) former M.P. for Harwich, who was son of Sir Philip Parker and great-grandson of Sir Walter Long, first baronet, of Whaddon, Wiltshire. On inheriting his great-grandfather's estate he had changed his name to Parker-a-Morley-Long, although the shorter form is the one more usually found. (fn. 19) Sir Philip employed James Gibbs to rebuild No. 25 for him (fn. 54) and moved in, from No. 2 Leicester Square, at Lady Day 1734. (fn. 15) The house built by Gibbs stands out clearly in Bowles's view of the square in 1753 (Plate 46b). It contained a basement, three lofty storeys and a garret, and its broad front was four widely spaced windows in width. The front was entirely plain, except for a pedestal-course below the windows in the second storey and a full entablature above the third storey. The entablature was finished with a parapet, behind which were visible the tops of the four dormer windows. Apart from this, the most prominent feature of the building was the entrance porch, its columns carrying an entablature and triangular pediment.

Sir Philip died in 1740 and left the house to his widow, Martha, daughter of William East, and after her death, or remarriage, to their daughter Martha. (fn. 55) Lady Parker Long continued to occupy the house in Leicester Square until her death. Her daughter Martha, who had been provided with a fortune of £40,000, was married to John Thynne Howe, second Baron Chedworth. Lord and Lady Chedworth occupied No. 25 until their respective deaths in 1762 and 1775. (fn. 56)

The next occupant of note was Sir Henry Dundas, later first Viscount Melville, 1783–5. Sir Henry began his career as an advocate and entered Parliament in 1774. He was a privy councillor and treasurer of the navy whilst he lived in Leicester Square. The last private occupant of note was James Maitland, eighth Earl of Lauderdale, 1792–9. In 1800 the house was taken by Louis Brunet, hotel keeper. (fn. 34)

No. 26

Claude Sourceau of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, esquire, took a lease of this site on 20 June 1670, for forty-two years from Christmas 1669 at a rent of £77s. (fn. 48) The first known occupant was the artist and engraver, David Loggan. His name appears in the ratebooks from 1675 to 1694, but in December 1691 Loggan's house in Leicester Fields, presumably this one, was taken by Sir William Trumbull who had just returned from serving as envoy at Constantinople. (fn. 57) Sir William moved to Gerrard Street in 1693 (see page 401), one of the dates given for Loggan's death. (fn. 27) 'Widow Loggans' appears in the ratebooks for the period 1695–9. The only other occupant of note was James Hamilton, sixth Earl of Abercorn, in 1719.

In 1807 the house was added to the hotel already established by Louis Brunet at Nos. 24 and 25. (fn. 15) Brunet's Hôtel was 'justly considered as one of the first in this metropolis' on account of 'the elegance and convenience of the internal arrangements, which are equally suitable for the reception of persons of the first rank and fortune, and of families that require neatness, comfort, and quiet'. (fn. 58) From 1815 to 1838 the hotel was kept by Francis Jaunay, and was latterly known as Jaunay's Hôtel.

No. 27

The lease of this site was granted on 20 June 1670 to William Burges of St. Martin's, gentleman, for forty-two years at £7 14s. per annum. (fn. 48) The first occupant was Balthazar (or Belshazar) Flushiere or Fulshiere, 1673–85, (fn. 15) who appears to have kept lodgings under the sign of the Golden Head. (fn. 59)

In 1707 the house was taken by Lewis Watson, third Baron Rockingham, who became first Earl of Rockingham in 1714; (fn. 18) he occupied the house until his death in 1724 and Lady Margaret Watson was rated for it in 1725. (fn. 15)

No. 27 was subsequently converted into a bagnio by Roger Lacey. This establishment achieved notoriety within its first year of existence when Nathanael St. André, the anatomist, brought the notorious Mary Tofts, who claimed to have given birth to rabbits, to lodge here in December 1726. (fn. 27) He notified Sir Hans Sloane of her arrival at the 'bagnio in Leicester-fields, where you may if you please have the opportunity of seeing her deliver'd.' (fn. 60) Lacey was rated for No. 27 from 1726 to 1733 and was succeeded by Richard or William Skelton, bagnio keeper, from 1733 to 1755. (fn. 46) The house was occupied in 1800–1 by Antoinetta La Sablonière. (fn. 15)

The Casino

In 1839 Nos. 24–27 were all empty. In the following year Samuel Beazley, the architect of the St. James's and several other theatres, exhibited at the Royal Academy a 'View of the Casino, Promenade Concert Room, à la Musard, about to be erected' (Plate 33) on the site of Nos. 24–27 Leicester Square, (fn. 61) which were demolished shortly afterwards. By about 1842 this proposal had been superseded by one 'to build a new theatre, on a grand scale, to be devoted to the encouragement of English authors' and other native artists. The promoters of this project were Benjamin Webster, actor, dramatist, and lessee of the Haymarket Theatre from 1837 to 1853, and J. B. Buckstone, also an actor and dramatist, who succeeded Webster in the management of the Haymarket Theatre. In 1847–8, however, Webster lost £8,000 at the Haymarket, (fn. 62) and this project was in its turn superseded by one sponsored by the proprietor of a provincial menagerie for the erection of a circus. (fn. 63) After the death of the ground landlord, Charles Augustus Tulk, in 1849 the estate was in Chancery for over two years (see page 423), and it was not until July 1851 that agreement was reached for a sixty-year lease of the site to the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art. (fn. 64)

The Royal Panopticon of Science and Art

The short tragi-comic career of the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art began on 21 February 1850, when a royal charter of incorporation was granted to Edward Marmaduke Clarke and to all such other persons as had or might become shareholders in the company, whose capital was to be £80,000. (fn. 65) Clarke was an Irishman who in 1826 had helped in the formation of the first Mechanics' Institution in Ireland, and had subsequently been concerned with exhibitions of science and art in London and Edinburgh. He was the founder of the London Electrical Society, and with him 'solely originated the idea of the Royal Panopticon', of which, after its incorporation, he became managing director. (fn. 66)

The Royal Panopticon was 'An Institution for Scientific Exhibitions, and for Promoting Discoveries in Arts and Manufactures'. In the far from brief handbook which was published in 1854 the promoters described how they had 'felt persuaded that the time had arrived for the establishment of some additional, but more energetic, source of diffusion of knowledge,—some other culminating point from whence the discoveries of an age prolific in inventions, might secure ready outlet.' At the Panopticon 'the artisan and mechanic may learn how to avail themselves of the discoveries and inventions of the master-minds … The artist may take the initiative from the admirable works around him … The manufacturer … will be better prepared to meet that competition which, though the very life of commercial enterprise, is ever fatal to the indulgence of inactivity and ignorance', while 'the agriculturist' could determine 'the value of the thousand-and-one species of manure offered to his notice as the acme of perfection'. (fn. 67)

The management of the Panopticon was regulated by a deed of settlement dated 18 December 1850 which was drawn up in pursuance of the terms of the charter. The council of the institution consisted of a group of for the most part relatively undistinguished men under the presidency of Gerard Noel Hoare, a member of the banking family, who had fought at the Battle of Navarino in 1827. (fn. 68) He appears to have been quickly succeeded as president by Samuel Gurney, junior, (fn. 69) a member of the wealthy Quaker family, founder of the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association, and later M.P. for Falmouth. (fn. 70) Other members of the council included Thomas James Arnold, a metropolitan magistrate, Frederick Marrable, later superintending architect of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and General Sir John Wilson, who had served during the Peninsular War. (fn. 71)

The first public meeting of the institution was held in October 1851, by which time agreement for a sixty-year lease of the site on the east side of Leicester Square had been obtained. (fn. 72) The council gave much thought to the style to be employed for the design of their building, and ultimately decided to use the Saracenic, or Moorish, idiom 'as a novelty'. (fn. 73) E. M. Clarke was the originator of this strange proposal, and the institution's architect, T. Hayter Lewis, had at first 'entertained very strong objection to it'. But then he had realized that by using this style he would 'obtain a tolerably free scope in working out the design', for (as he candidly admitted in an address to the Royal Institute of British Architects) 'the Saracens had not been in the habit of building Panopticon institutions'. (fn. 74) There were besides very few precedents for the use of this style in England, and even those Continental buildings which had escaped 'the destructive agencies of time and political turbulence' had never been used 'for purposes at all analogous to those which gave rise to the formation of this Institution'. With the erection of the Royal Panopticon, claimed the handbook of 1854, 'a new era in street-architecture has been ushered in, and an affirmative given to the question, whether, with certain modifications, the architecture of a southern climate may not be adapted to a northerly one'. (fn. 75) Whatever the justification for these sweeping claims may be, the earnest promoters of the Panopticon certainly did not foresee that their Saracenic building was to provide a perfect setting for the frothy light entertainment later associated with the Alhambra Theatre.

The Royal Panopticon had a frontage of 104 feet to Leicester Square, the two wings being used for office and residential purposes. The plan (fig. 106) was simply arranged, the central entrance in the Leicester Square front giving access through a lobby and a vestibule to the great hall. This was a rotunda, 97 feet in diameter and height, with a ring of sixteen slender iron columns forming an aisle surrounding the central space, and supporting two galleries, the lower octagonal in plan, and the upper sixteensided (Plate 34b). The top ring of columns sustained a series of horseshoe arches below a saucer-domed ceiling, pierced with a ring of starshaped lights and a large central skylight. Two bays of the upper gallery, on the east side, were broken back to accommodate the large and elaborate organ-case, rising from the lower gallery. Ascent to these galleries was by twin staircases, the first flights ascending to meet above the main entrance doors. Nearby was the 'Ascending Carriage', a hydraulic lift designed to look rather like a domed birdcage. Below the organ were steps leading from the ground floor to the amphitheatre and gallery of the large lecture hall, a theatre-like hall planned on a north-south axis, with a top-lit platform behind a tall horseshoe arch. A smaller lecture hall to the north, top-lit and oblong in plan, was arranged with stepped seating in front and on each side of the platform, and in a shallow gallery at its west end. The corresponding space to the south of the large lecture hall was allotted to a boiler- and engine-room.

The rotunda was modestly described in the Illustrated Handbook as 'the most splendid room ever appropriated to scientific and artistic purposes'. In the centre stood a fountain made by G. H. Stevens and supplied with water from an artesian well on the premises. (fn. 76) The walls were lined with Derbyshire alabaster, (fn. 77) and there were other decorations in enamelled slate with glass mosaic enrichments. The flat ceiling paintings were executed by Messrs. Harland and Fisher, but all the other decorations were designed by Hayter Lewis himself. The principal contractor was John Willson. (fn. 78)

Figure 106:

Royal Panopticon of Science and Art, Leicester Square, plan in 1854. Redrawn from a plan in the Middlesex Land Register

The building was lavishly embellished with copies of well-known statues. (fn. 77) The octagonal 'Ascending Carriage', which was designed 'to obviate the necessity of making the ascent to the Photographic rooms by the staircase', (fn. 79) and the organ by Messrs. Hill and Company, which exceeded 'in actual power, although not in the number of stops, any organ ever built', (fn. 74) have already been mentioned. There was also 'a complete series of engineering working machines, sent up in the most liberal way by Messrs. Whitworth of Manchester'. (fn. 77)

The 'Saracenic' façade struck an exotic note, even more out of tune with its sober Georgian neighbours than the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly (Plate 34a). It was, however, basically a composition of three house fronts, respectively three, five and three windows wide, skilfully dressed up with Moorish details to suggest 'an enchanting palace in a city of the sternest realities'. (fn. 80) The central feature of the front was divided into two lofty stages, the lower dominated by the large horseshoe-arched entrance to the Panopticon, flanked by windows of similar form. In the upper stage was a range of five arch-headed recesses, tall and narrow, each containing two windows, the upper one divided by a slender colonnette and having a traceried head. Above extended an attic storey with a range of nine cusped arches. The wings, or side houses, were similarly treated though on a slightly smaller scale, and rising behind each was a slender minaret of three stages, crowned with an onion dome. The roof of the great rotunda was originally envisaged as a huge onion dome, but finished as a low sixteen-sided cone rising to a flat skylight surrounded by a railing of crested ironwork.

Much of the front was decorated with tiles made by Minton's. (fn. 74) An array of decorative shields, illustrative 'not of deeds of blood, rapine, or anarchy' but of the various fields of human endeavour with which the institution was concerned, included the arms of Henry Purcell, Sir Humphry Davy, Sir Isaac Newton, Oliver Goldsmith, Sir William Herschel, 'the immortal bard of Avon', James Barry, James Watt and Sir Francis Bacon, as well as the royal arms and the armorial bearings of the Panopticon itself—the apple of Newton, the egg of Columbus and the lamp of Galileo. The entrance to the building was guarded by a cast-iron portcullis made by Messrs. Grissell and 'modified to adapt it as the chief mode of protection to the building under description'.

The Royal Panopticon was opened to the public on 18 March 1854, and within a month there were one thousand visitors a day. (fn. 81) Nevertheless one writer had already commented that the promoters had 'failed to produce a single illustration of their purpose' and that there was 'a want of proper management, or, indeed, of any management whatever'. (fn. 82) A later writer, who had been connected with the Panopticon in some way, attributed its failure to clerical influence: 'A total, irretrievable failure resulted from the unnatural alliance, not of science and religion, for they are inseparable, but of religious profession and commercial enterprize'. (fn. 83) In August 1856 the premises were advertised as for sale by auction, (fn. 84) and in May 1857 they were bought by E. T. Smith. (fn. 85) The cost of building and furnishing the Panopticon was estimated at over £80,000, (fn. 84) but Smith only paid £9,000. (fn. 86)

The Alhambra

E. T. Smith was an 'eccentric and remarkable showman' who in the course of his career was the lessee of Drury Lane, Her Majesty's, the Lyceum, Astley's, and Cremorne Gardens. (fn. 87) He disposed of the Panopticon machinery, sold the organ to St. Paul's Cathedral, (fn. 3) and constructed a circus ring, but left the rest of the building 'in all the grandeur and colour of Moorish garniture'. (fn. 88) On 3 April 1858 the 'Alhambra Palace (late Panopticon)' (fn. 4) was opened with a spectacular display by Howes and Cushing's American circus. (fn. 89)

Smith evidently intended to use the Alhambra as a theatre, for he subsequently applied to the Lord Chamberlain for a licence, but was refused owing to the structural unsuitability of the building. (fn. 90) In October 1858 he obtained a magistrate's licence for music and dancing, (fn. 91) and subsequently presented ballet (fn. 92) and variety (fn. 88) but by October 1861 he had sold the Alhambra to William Wilde, junior, (fn. 93) of Norwich, 'a son of the old electioneering manipulator'. (fn. 94) Wilde, who had also bought the Great Globe in the garden of Leicester Square (see page 437), spent over £7,000 on the improvement of the Alhambra, (fn. 93) and managed it 'indiscriminately as a music hall and as a circus'. (fn. 95) He also exhibited a number of dioramas which he had bought from James Wyld, the former proprietor of the Great Globe, (fn. 93) and it was during his management that Blondin, fresh from his crossing of the Niagara Falls (where, it is said, he had offered to carry the watching Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, with him on his back), performed at the Alhambra. (fn. 96)

In December 1864 Frederick Strange, formerly a successful refreshment contractor at the Crystal Palace, became the manager. (fn. 92) He established a limited liability company for the management of the Alhambra (an early example of the use of this device in the field of entertainment) and by 1866 had spent £25,000 on the embellishment of the building. (fn. 97) Tables at which drinks were served were ranged across the pit, and unescorted ladies were admitted to the promenades, (fn. 98) where 'neatly fitted-up bars and stalls, presided over by the most civil and obliging demoiselles, offer inducements for the lounger to indulge himself' in wine or spirits. It was probably at this period that a fourth gallery was added, to the designs of Hayter Lewis. (fn. 83)

Strange immediately inaugurated the spectacular ballets which were presented at the Alhambra between 1864 and 1912. The lavish but inartistic ballet for which the Alhambra, the Empire and other music halls were famed in the latter part of the nineteenth century filled the gap between the Romantic ballet of the 1840's and the advent of the first Russian companies in about 1910. (fn. 99) During this period the London opera houses ignored ballet, which could only be seen at the music halls. Of these Sir Osbert Sitwell has said that the Alhambra was 'the best house in the capital in which to show ballet'. (fn. 100)

In the 1860's the legality of the performance of ballet under a music and dancing licence was extremely doubtful, and in January 1865 a group of lessees of London theatres, anxious to preserve their privileged position as holders of licences from the Lord Chamberlain for the performance of 'stage plays', obtained a summons against Strange. The Marlborough Street magistrate decided that the Alhambra ballets involved 'pantomimic action' and were therefore 'stage plays' which required a licence from the Lord Chamberlain, and imposed a nominal fine, but this decision was reversed on appeal to Quarter Sessions. (fn. 101) In 1866 a Select Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to examine the state of the law on theatrical licences, and in the evidence which he gave to the committee in April Strange stated that he had recently been summonsed three times and had won his case each time. The committee recommended that it was 'not desirable to continue the existing restrictions which prevent music halls from giving theatrical entertainments', (fn. 102) but no change was made in the law until many years later, and the 'perpetual series of conflicts' at the Alhambra to which Strange had referred in his evidence continued. (fn. 103)

Despite these difficulties more improvements to the building were made. The lobbies, staircases and saloons were entirely reconstructed to the designs of James Henry Rowley, Architect to the Alhambra Palace Co. At least one of the saloons now commanded a view of the stage, while from other vantage points it was possible for a promenader 'to take a view of his fellow-spectators, which is totally unlike anything to be found in an ordinary theatre'. (fn. 104) In 1866 the company paid a dividend of 17½ per cent, and The Times commented that the Alhambra was 'the only real home of the ballet in modern London'. (fn. 105)

In December 1866 Strange presented a ballet entitled Where's the Police?, which was described in the press as 'to all intents and purposes, the comic scene of a pantomime'. Fresh summonses were granted against him, the Marlborough Street magistrate decided that this piece was a pantomime, and in June 1867 Strange was fined £240. (fn. 106)

Ballet continued to form part of the Alhambra's productions (although 'pantomimic action' was presumably excluded), (fn. 107) but at the Middlesex Sessions in October 1870 the police opposed the renewal of Strange's music and dancing licence on grounds of indecency. They alleged that five ladies had 'danced the Parisienne Quadrille, or ordinary "Can-Can" '; one of the performers had raised her foot 'higher than her head several times towards the public', an action which had been 'much applauded'. Despite the fact that the Prince and Princess of Wales had previously witnessed the cancan at the Lyceum without complaint, the magistrates agreed with the police and the licence for dancing was not renewed. (fn. 108)

Strange immediately presented a series of promenade concerts. The Franco-Prussian War was still proceeding and when two Germans sang Die Wacht am Rhein they were greeted by cries of À bas les Prussiens! 'A vigorous contest of voices ensued', and a French couple then sang the Marseillaise with much the same result, 'but the English, who represented about three-fourths of the audience, drowned the opposition of both sides in rounds of applause' and ultimately the performance was concluded by a Frenchman singing Rule, Britannia and waving a Union Jack. The entertainment was regarded as 'highly successful', (fn. 109) but in January 1871 Strange was again fined at Marlborough Street Police Court for infringement of the licensing regulations. (fn. 110)

In April 1871 Strange obtained a licence from the Lord Chamberlain for the performance of 'stage plays', (fn. 111) and until the recovery of the music and dancing licence in 1884 the Alhambra became the home of comic opera interpolated with ballet. The refreshment tables in the pit were replaced by seats. (fn. 112) In 1871 Georges Jacobi became musical director of the Alhambra, and during his reign, which lasted for some twentysix years, he wrote the music for a large number of ballets. (fn. 113) Strange's connexion with the theatre ended in 1872. (fn. 94)

Towards the end of 1881 the Alhambra was closed for several weeks for structural alterations which included the widening of the proscenium by the removal of two of the iron columns supporting the main roof. The architects for this work were Messrs. Perry and Reed and the contractor was W. Brass. (fn. 114)

Plans submitted to the Metropolitan Board of Works in November 1882 show how the Panopticon building had been finally adapted to function as a music hall (figs. 107–8). The two eastern bays of the rotunda were demolished to provide a proscenium opening to the deep but narrow stage, formed out of the large lecture hall. In the auditorium the ground floor was divided into fauteuils, stalls, pit and an extensive promenade. A range of twenty-four boxes was constructed as a mezzanine below the first gallery, this becoming a balcony with five stepped rows of seats. The second gallery was provided with five stepped rows of benches, and behind the horseshoe arches of the rotunda, an upper gallery of three rows was constructed, giving a steep and restricted view of the stage.

On 7 December 1882 the theatre was largely destroyed by fire. (fn. 115) The proprietors took advantage of this disaster to acquire the freehold of the site, (fn. 116) and the building of a new theatre began on 23 April 1883, the same architects and contractor being employed as in 1881. (fn. 117) The Alhambra was re-opened on 3 December 1883. (fn. 118)

The new theatre retained the original front to Leicester Square, but the party walls were largely rebuilt and a more efficient stage block was constructed, with a working area some 62 feet wide and 39 feet deep. The surviving iron columns and horseshoe arches of the rotunda were incorporated in a system of partly cantilevered tiers strongly constructed in iron and concrete, and the public parts of the house were largely built of incombustible materials. The auditorium (Plate 35) now contained three lyre-fronted tiers—a dress circle of five rows with seven boxes in each arm, an upper circle with five rows in the centre and three in each arm, and a balcony of two rows below a gallery of three, with five more rows in a central extension at the back. Seats were provided for 1,800, but the extensive promenades round the stalls and the first two tiers brought the total capacity of the house up to 4,000.

The old interior was deliberately recalled by the Saracenic decorations of the new auditorium, in the elaborate geometrical-fret panels of the balcony fronts, the slender cast-iron columns with their honeycomb capitals and elaborate brackets above, and in the ring of horseshoe arches supporting the ceiling, now formed with a cove below the perforated drum of a large saucerdome, its centre opening to a lantern skylight.

In October 1884 the managers successfully applied to Middlesex Sessions for a music and dancing licence (fn. 119) and the theatre reverted to a music hall. Ballet became the main feature in programmes of spectacular variety, (fn. 120) and from 1887 the Alhambra faced keen competition from the Empire, which in that year became a theatre of variety. (fn. 121) In 1897 the eastern façade of the building, which now provided access from the recently formed Charing Cross Road, was rebuilt in the Moorish style to the designs of W. M. Brutton. (fn. 94)

After the arrival of Russian dancers in London in 1910 ballet did not survive for long at the Alhambra, and under the direction of André Charlot the theatre turned from variety to revue in 1912. (fn. 94) A great success came in 1916 with The Bing Boys are Here, in which Violet Loraine and George Robey achieved fame with 'If You Were the only Girl in the World.' (fn. 122) This was followed by two more Bing Boys shows, less successful than the first. The Alhambra returned to variety again, (fn. 123) but the most important event was the return to London of the Diaghilev Ballet, their 1919 season including premières of La Boutique Fantasque and Le Tricorne. In 1921 Diaghilev staged his magnificent but ill-fated revival of The Sleeping Beauty. 1933 brought De Basil's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo for a season intended to last three weeks, but successfully extended to four months, during which Massine's symphonic ballets, Les Présages and Choriartium, were given. (fn. 124) The theatre was also used for the exhibition of films, and in 1933 a 'straight' play was performed at the Alhambra for the first time. In 1936 the building was bought by Oscar Deutsch, head of the Odeon circuit of cinemas, and its final use was on 8 October as a film set. It was demolished shortly afterwards. (fn. 94)

Figure 107:

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, plan in 1882. Redrawn from a plan in the possession of the Greater London Council

Figure 108:

The Alhambra, Leicester Square, section in 1882. Redrawn from a drawing in the possession of the Greater London Council

Nos. 23–27 (consec.) Leicester Square: The Odeon Theatre

This cinema was built in 1937 on the site of the Alhambra, and incorporated that of No. 23 Leicester Square as well. It was designed by Andrew Mather and Harry Weedon and was opened on 2 November of that year. (fn. 125) It is simply but expertly planned on conventional cinema-theatre lines. The main entrance in Leicester Square has three pairs of double doors leading through a shallow vestibule into a large foyer of oblong plan, with the circle staircase at its northern end. Opposite to the entrance screen are paired doors opening to the stalls promenade, flanked by pay-boxes. The cigar-shaped auditorium seats 2,300 in ground-level stalls and a circle, and there is a fully equipped stage.

Whatever its faults, the exterior is simple and has the merit of expressing the building's functions in a design that features a large oblong sign frame above the lofty entrance recess. At the north end is a tower, 120 feet high, which is faced, like the rest of the front, with slabs and slightly raised bands of polished black granite. The interior is lavishly decorated, with ribbed bands rising from a walnut dado and crossing the elliptically arched ceiling to conceal a series of lighting troughs. On each concave-splayed side wall the panelling ends in a whorl below a symbolic group of figures, modelled in high relief. This scheme probably derives, through the Saville Theatre, from Serge Chermayeff's remarkable Cambridge Theatre interior.

No. 28 Leicester Square

Thomas Ba(t)chelor of St. Martin's, saddler, was granted a lease of this site on 30 June 1670 for forty-two years at a rental of £10 10s. (fn. 126) The house was first occupied in 1673 by Charles North, fifth Baron North, commonly called Lord North and Grey, (fn. 18) who lived here until his death in January 1690/1. The house continued to attract a wealthy class of tenant and subsequent occupants included (fn. 15) Colonel Russell, 1691–2; Lord Westmorland, 1693–4 (? Vere Fane, fourth Earl, died December 1693, or Vere Fane, fifth Earl, died May 1698); John Somers, Baron Somers (who had been Lord Chancellor in 1697– 1700) from 1701 to 1716, the year of his death; (fn. 27) Sir Christopher des Bouverie, knight, a director of the South Sea Company, (fn. 16) 1717–33; two of the sons of Frederick, Prince of Wales—William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland, who occupied No. 29 as well as No. 28, 1760–6; James O'Hara, Baron Kilmaine and second Baron Tyrawley, fieldmarshal and diplomatist, who died in 1773, 1767–73; and John Singleton Copley, the elder, portrait and history painter, who came from Boston, Massachusetts, and settled in England in 1776, 1776–83. (fn. 27)

John Hunter, the famous Scottish surgeon (1728–1793) occupied the house from 1783 until his death in 1793. (fn. 15) Hunter had previously lived in Jermyn Street, but his collection of physiological specimens having become too large 'to be contained in his dwelling-house, he purchased the lease of a large house on the east side of Leicestersquare, and the whole lot of ground extending to Castle-street, on which there was another house. In the middle space between the two houses he erected a building for his collection'. (fn. 127) Although the lease had only twenty-three years to run (fn. 128) he spent over £3,000, (fn. 127) or according to another authority 'more than £6,000', (fn. 129) in building accommodation for his specimens, and in altering the two existing houses in Leicester Square and Castle Street. The principal room of the museum was fifty-two feet long and twenty-eight feet wide, top-lit, and had a gallery all round. Below there were two rooms, one for lectures and the other 'with no particular destination at first, but afterwards made use of for weekly meetings of medical friends during the winter'. The house in Castle Street was 'used for the different branches of human and comparative anatomy' (fn. 130) and latterly also for the private press and three printers whom he employed to produce his own publications in order to prevent 'pirate' editions. (fn. 131) The building of Hunter's museum was finished in April 1785, and his brother-in-law, (Sir) Everard Home, records that he 'devoted the whole of the summer to the object of assisting him in moving his preparations, and arranging them in their proper order.' (fn. 132)

Hunter's establishment in Leicester Square consisted of some twenty-nine people, including his family, pupils and employees (fn. 129) and he also had another house at Earl's Court. (fn. 133) He was constantly purchasing more specimens for his collection, so that after his death in 1793 his family was left in comparatively straitened circumstances. (fn. 134) In his will he provided that his collection should be offered for sale 'in one entire Lot to the Government of Great Britain', or in case of refusal, to 'any foreign Government or State', or finally in one lot in such manner as his executors (Matthew Baillie and Everard Home) might decide. (fn. 135)

The executors' first petition to the House of Commons, in March 1794, was unsuccessful, William Pitt being unwilling to spend money on anything unconnected with the war with France. (fn. 136) A second petition, in February 1796, was referred to a committee, but no action was taken on the ensuing report (fn. 137) and it was not until June 1799 that the House of Commons voted £15,000 for the purchase of the collection. (fn. 138)

After Hunter's death the house in Leicester Square had been let, while the museum and house in Castle Street had been occupied by a housekeeper and a curator of the collection. (fn. 139) In December 1799 the Corporation (now Royal College) of Surgeons accepted custody of the collection from the Government, but the museum remained in Castle Street until the expiry of the lease in 1806, when it was removed to the Surgeons' premises in Lincoln's Inn Fields, where it still remains. (fn. 140)

In 1835 and 1836 No. 28 and the premises at the rear were occupied by the Museum National of the Mechanical Arts, (fn. 141) or National Repository of Arts, (fn. 142) and from 1836 to 1841 by the Zoological Society, whose collections were housed here. (fn. 143) No. 28 is shown as it was in 1853 on Plate 34a. The premises were subsequently put to commercial use and subdivided; from 1864 to 1876 the First Middlesex Volunteer Artillery had its headquarters here, and later occupants included Riviere and Hawkes, music sellers.

In 1897 the old buildings were demolished, (fn. 144) and the present building, with a frontage to Charing Cross Road (No. 19) as well as Leicester Square, was erected to the design of J. P. Crosby. (fn. 145) The tall and narrow front of six storeys, facing the square, is built of stone and glazed white bricks, in a style vaguely reflecting Norman Shaw's neo-Baroque manner, with a crowning gable flanked by window features having pilasters and broken segmental pediments.

Nos. 29 and 30 Leicester Square

The building which now stands here was erected in 1953–4 to the designs of de Metz and Birks. (fn. 146) It is an office block of seven storeys, all but the ground floor having two metal-framed windows, respectively three and seven lights wide, set flush in a face of artificial stone, diaperpatterned with incised V-joints. Surrounding the diapered face is a framing of polished black slate or marble slabs, narrow on the left side and at the top, but wide on the right side where it is inset with two-light windows. The site was formerly occupied by three houses, Nos. 29, 30 and 31.

No. 29

This site was let to Thomas Robson of St. Martin's, gentleman, probably for the same term of years as the others on this side of the square. (fn. 147)

Henry Sidney, later Earl of Romney, was rated for the house in 1679–81. He is known to have occupied it in 1678 (fn. 148) but from 1679 to 1681 he was engaged on a diplomatic mission to The Hague. Other occupants of note were: (fn. 15) Sir Nicholas Crispe, second baronet, of Hammersmith and Squerryes, Kent, c. 1683–6; Sir Richard Mauleverer, fourth baronet, of Allerton Mauleverer, Yorkshire, 1688–9 (died); his widow, who married John Arundell, second Baron of Trerice, 1689–95; (fn. 19) Henry Temple, M.P., later first Viscount Palmerston, 1696–8; (fn. 27) and Charles D'Agar (see No. 22), 1719–20. From 1760 to 1766 No. 29 was rated with No. 28 and occupied by Prince William Henry and Prince Henry Frederick, the sons of Frederick, Prince of Wales.

No. 30 (formerly Nos. 30 and 31)

This site was let to Dennis Connor of St. Martin's, gentleman, on 3 June 1670 for forty-two years at £15 8s. per annum. (fn. 149) The two houses built on it were the models for the other houses which were built fronting the square (see page 425).

Occupants of No. 30 included: (fn. 15) Sir Gabriel Silvius, knight, (fn. 16) 1681–4, 1691–8; Lord George Douglas, first Earl of Dunbarton, gentleman of the bedchamber to James II, (fn. 18) 1685–8; Lady Silvius, 1698–1707; Lady Selby, 1708–12; Lady Howard, 1732–3; and William Hogarth, 1733–64.

Hogarth came to live in Leicester Square a few years after his marriage to Jane, daughter of Sir James Thornhill. Despite his long residence in this house, where he produced his most famous prints (A Rake's Progress in 1735, Marriage à la Mode, 1745, Industry and Idleness, c. 1747, Beer Street and Gin Lane, 1751, and An Election, c. 1754), (fn. 150) Hogarth depicted little of the area covered by this volume. His one contribution to the topography of St. Anne's, an engraving which depicts the French Church in Crown Street, is reproduced on Plate 16a.

Two goldsmiths who lived in St. Anne's employed Hogarth as an engraver: Ellis Gamble, to whom he had been apprenticed, (fn. 151) who lived in Cranbourn Street (see page 349), and Paul de Lamerie, (fn. 152) who lived at No. 40 Gerrard Street (see page 407). Hogarth also engraved a trade card for his sisters, who kept a shop in Little Cranbourn Alley. (fn. 153)

A few of his contemporaries in the parish can be identified as subjects in Hogarth's drawings. The ballet-dancer, Desnoyers, who lived at Nos. 20 and 37 Leicester Square, was satirized in The Charmers of the Age, 1742, (fn. 154) and probably in The Analysis of Beauty, published in 1753, (fn. 155) and the magistrate Sir Thomas de Veil, who lived at No. 40 Leicester Square, was alleged to have been portrayed in Night and in A Woman Swearing a Child to a Grave Citizen. (fn. 156) The Five Orders of Perriwigs at the Coronation of George III was published in 1761, the year before 'Athenian' Stuart brought out The Antiquities of Athens, but it was quite clearly aimed at Stuart's projected work and Stuart himself acknowledged this when he showed visitors a copy of the plate stuck on a fire-screen at his house in Leicester Square (No. 35). (fn. 157) The fraud of Mary Tofts, which was associated with the bagnio at No. 27 Leicester Square and took place some years before Hogarth came to live at No. 30, was also ridiculed by the artist, in Cunicularii. (fn. 158)

By far the most notable of his neighbours whom Hogarth depicted was Thomas Coram, who lived on the north side of Spur Street in 1750. (fn. 15) Coram established the Foundling Hospital and Hogarth was one of the governors. (fn. 27)

Hogarth, and after his death his widow, sometimes advertised his prints for sale at 'the Golden Head'. (fn. 159) According to J. T. Smith 'This head he cut out himself, from pieces of cork glued and bound together, I well remember that it was placed over the street-door'. (fn. 160) On the resignation of his brother-in-law, John Thornhill, Hogarth was appointed serjeant-painter to the King in 1757, a post which he held till his death (fn. 54) at the Golden Head on 25 October 1764. His widow continued to occupy the house until her death on 13 November 1789. (fn. 161) During her widowhood Mrs. Hogarth apparently let lodgings to artists; Ozias Humphry, Henry Leake, Richard Livesay and Alexander Runciman all gave this address in exhibition catalogues. One of Hogarth's admirers complained some years later, when dining in the hotel to which the house had been converted, 'I remember the place when it was Hogarth's, … these d—d fellows have put a billiard table in the very room my old friend built to paint in'. (fn. 162)

Part of Hogarth's house can be seen at the lower right-hand edge of Bowles's view of the square in 1753 (Plate 46b). It contained a basement and four storeys, and later views of the Sablonière Hôtel (Plate 50a, 50c) show that it had a front three windows wide. The extremely plain front was broken only by band-courses above the ground and fourth storeys, but there was a rather more elaborate doorway with flanking pilasters and a cornice-hood on carved consoles. Bowles's view shows clearly Hogarth's 'Golden Head', resting on top of the cornice-hood.

The former No. 31 began as a peruke- or perriwig-maker's shop, occupied by John Vallance or Vallancy (probably father and son) from 1675 to 1714. (fn. 163)

The Sablonière Hôtel

From 1788 to 1867 Nos. 29–31 are associated chiefly with the Sablonière Hôtel, which was described in 1816 as a French house where 'a table d'hôte affords the lovers of French cookery and French conversation, an opportunity for gratification at a comparatively moderate charge.' (fn. 58) The ratebooks record 'La Sabloniere' as the occupant of No. 29 from 1788, of No. 30 from Christmas 1790, and of No. 31 from 1792. The ratebook for 1798 records that 'Antoinetta La Sabloniere' was bankrupt in January 1796, and in 1797 she vacated No. 29. In 1799 the other two houses were occupied by Louis Jaquier, and until 1835 they remained under various managements in joint occupation as a hotel. (fn. 15) From 1836 to 1862 No. 31 was occupied by a stationer's business, and from 1863 to 1865 by a hairdresser, before returning in 1866–7 to use as part of the Sablonière, now known as the Sablonière Foreign Hotel Company; (fn. 29) it may be that the upper floors of this house were occupied by the hotel throughout these years.

The hotel is shown in an undated watercolour in the Guildhall Library by C. J. Smith, at a period when it occupied only Nos. 30 and 31 (Plate 50a). No. 30 had evidently been altered considerably since it was depicted by Bowles in 1753 (see above). It now formed a matching pair with No. 31, both being four-storeyed buildings with fronts three windows wide. The fronts seem to have been rendered with cement, and were plain, apart from the second storeys, which had continued sills and band-courses above the arches of the windows. There was an iron-railed balcony before the southern window of No. 30 and the two northern windows of No. 31, and on the shared parapet were three raised panels, the wide centre one bearing the name of the hotel.

Archbishop Tenison's School

In 1869 the lease granted by Charles Augustus Tulk to the then manager of the hotel, Charles Joseph Pagliano, expired (fn. 164) and on 19 August 1869 the freehold of Nos. 30 and 31 was purchased for £5,700 by the trustees of Archbishop Tenison's School. (fn. 165)

Archbishop Tenison's School had been founded by a deed of 9 December 1697, which recited that the archbishop had erected a library and school in the new churchyard of St. Martin's. In 1861 the school trustees had, with the approval of the Charity Commissioners, sold the library, and in 1868 the site of the school was compulsorily purchased by the Commissioners of Works and Public Buildings for the enlargement of the National Gallery. (fn. 166)

The Sablonière Hôtel was demolished in 1869 (fn. 167) and the new building for Archbishop Tenison's School was erected shortly afterwards. The architect was Frederick Marrable, formerly superintending architect to the Metropolitan Board of Works, and the contractors were Dove Brothers. (fn. 168) The cost of the building, which was originally intended to accommodate some two hundred boys, was £5,167. In 1896 the lofty hall on the first floor was divided horizontally and thereafter there were five classrooms and on the top floor a science laboratory. (fn. 169)

Marrable's dignified building had a handsome front of red brick and stone, convincingly designed in the Wren-Hawksmoor style (Plate 51b, extreme left). The ground-storey face contained four segmental-headed windows, having eared architraves with keystones, evenly spaced to the left of the segmental-pedimented doorcase. A stone pedestal underlined the lofty upper face, where five tall round-headed windows were framed in eared architraves finished with straight cornices. Above were five circular windows, and the front was finished with a bold cornice and an open balustrade, broken centrally by an arched bellcote, crowned with a segmental pediment.

The school remained in Leicester Square until its removal to its present premises at Kennington Oval in 1928. (fn. 23)

The ground immediately to the east of Archbishop Tenison's School, with a frontage to Castle Street, had been conveyed, also on 19 August 1869, to the trustees of the Hemmings Row Parochial Charity School for Girls. This school (originally for both boys and girls) had been established (not by Archbishop Tenison) in Hemmings Row in 1699, and its site had also been compulsorily purchased for the enlargement of the National Gallery in 1868. (fn. 170) In 1928 the school, now known as St. Martin's High School for Girls, was removed to Tulse Hill, where it still remains. (fn. 23)

Irving Street

Formerly Green Street

The building of Green Street as part of the Leicester estate is described on page 426. The opening of Charing Cross Road in 1887 greatly increased the amount of traffic entering Leicester Square through Green Street. Between 1890 and 1897 all of the houses on the north side of the street were acquired and demolished by the vestry of St. Martin in the Fields, with financial help from the London County Council; the line of frontage was then set back so as to widen the street by some fourteen feet. (fn. 171) The existing buildings on the north side were erected between 1895 and 1897. (fn. 172)

At the junction with Leicester Square projecting houses on the south side of Green Street and the square still made a very awkward turn for traffic and between 1895 and 1897 these too were acquired by the vestry and set back. (fn. 173)

Nos. 1 and 2 Green Street


The southernmost house on the east side of Leicester Square was numbered in and was presumably entered from Green Street. It was built with the adjoining house (No. 2 Green Street) on a site let on 20 June 1670 to Dennis Connor for forty-two years at a rent of £6 6s. per annum. (fn. 48) Both Nos. 1 and 2 were demolished when Green Street was widened in 1890–7.


  • 1. Dealer, maker or repairer of small wares, e.g., clothing, furniture; upholsterer; undertaker.
  • 2. Bit-maker, spurrier.
  • 3. The organ was afterwards removed to Clifton.
  • 4. The Alhambra has at various times been known as the Royal Alhambra Palace, the Royal Alhambra Theatre, the Alhambra Theatre, the Alhambra Theatre Royal, the Alhambra Theatre of Varieties and (in 1912) the New Alhambra Theatre.
  • 5. P.R.O., C66/3127, no. 25.
  • 6. W.P.L., F.2003, p. 184.
  • 7. W. Knowler, The Earl of Strafforde's Letters and Dispatches, 1739, vol. I, p. 377.
  • 8. Ibid., vol. I, pp. 433–6.
  • 9. Survey of London, vol. XX, 1940, p. 102.
  • 10. Legal and General Assurance Society Ltd., deeds of No. 17 Charing Cross Road.
  • 11. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 557, deed of 20 April 1672.
  • 12. R.B.; P.R.O., C7/101/49.
  • 13. R.B.; M.L.R. 1716/2/32–3; W.P.L., The Westminster Poll, 1749.
  • 14. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 557, deed of 14 Aug. 1672.
  • 15. R.B.
  • 16. W. A. Shaw, The Knights of England, 1906.
  • 17. Survey of London, vols. XXXI–XXXII, 1963, pp. 149, 553.
  • 18. G.E.C.
  • 19. G.E.C. (Baronetage).
  • 20. R.B.; Directories.
  • 21. M.L.R. 1844/9/787.
  • 22. The Builder, 20 Dec. 1890, p. 487.
  • 23. P.O.D.
  • 24. T.P. 13859; G.L.C., Dept. of Architecture and Civic Design, Theatres Section records.
  • 25. M.L.R. 1718/4/176.
  • 26. G.E.C.; M.L.R. 1718/4/176.
  • 27. D.N.B.
  • 28. Windsor, Georgian Papers, 55422, 55460; Sir Ambrose Heal, The London Goldsmiths 1200–1800, 1935.
  • 29. Directories; P.O.D.
  • 30. T.P. 7977.
  • 31. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 557, deed of 20 July 1672.
  • 32. Ibid., bundle 557, deeds of 26 Aug. 1673, 26 Dec. 1702; P.R.O., C8/309/85; R.B.
  • 33. Windsor, Establishment Book E30, pp. 58–9; D.N.B., sub George II; R.B.; Duchy of Cornwall, vol. XVII, p. 486; The Diary of the late George Bubb Dodington, Baron of Melcombe Regis, 1784, p. 65.
  • 34. R.B.; D.N.B.
  • 35. R.B.; Directories; Graves.
  • 36. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 556, deeds of 3 June, 20 June 1670; ibid., bundle 557, deed of 20 July 1672.
  • 37. P.R.O., C8/309/85.
  • 38. W.P.L., Deed 67/12; R.B.; D.N.B.
  • 39. H.M.C., Fitzherbert MSS., 1893, p. 34; Cal. Treasury Papers 1702–1707, p. 180; R.B.
  • 40. W.P.L., Deeds 67/6, 49.
  • 41. E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire … des Peintres, 1911–; G.L.R.O., Harben deeds X145; R.B.
  • 42. The Builder, 10 May 1851, p. 298; 3 March 1855, pp. 106–7.
  • 43. W.P.L., Deed 67/6; M.L.R. 1711/5/48.
  • 44. G.E.C. (Baronetage); D.N.B.
  • 45. G.L.R.O., Harben deeds X146.
  • 46. R.B.; W.P.L., The Westminster Poll, 1749.
  • 47. R.B.; Directories; P.O.D.
  • 48. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 556, deeds of 20 June 1670.
  • 49. W.P.L., Deed 67/41.
  • 50. Cal. Treasury Books 1685–1689, p. 765.
  • 51. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1698, p. 329.
  • 52. R.B.; Walpole Society, vol. 22, 1934 (George Vertue Note Book III), p. 51.
  • 53. M.L.R. 1731/4/240.
  • 54. Colvin.
  • 55. P.C.C., 48 Spurway.
  • 56. G.E.C. (Baronetage); R.B.
  • 57. H.M.C., Downshire MSS., vol. I, part I, 1924, p. 391; Cal. Treasury Books 1689–1692, p. 1444.
  • 58. John B. Papworth, Select Views of London, 1816, p. 54.
  • 59. Walpole Society, vol. 18 (George Vertue Note Book I), 1930, pp. 97–8; H.M.C., Seventh Report, 1879, p. 794; ibid., Downshire MSS., vol. I, part II, 1924, p. 648; Cal. Treasury Books 1685–1689, p. 67.
  • 60. Anecdotes of Hogarth, [1780?], p. 46 (B.M. pressmark C40.i.17).
  • 61. Royal Academy Catalogue, 1840, no. 1067.
  • 62. The Theatrical Journal, 6 Dec. 1845; 6 June 1846; D.N.B.
  • 63. W.P.L., Leicester Square Scrapbook, vol. I, p. 39.
  • 64. M.L.R. 1854/7/178–9.
  • 65. P.R.O., C66/4891, no. II.
  • 66. Illustrated Handbook of the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art, 1854, p. 10 (B.M. pressmark 7956 b 36).
  • 67. Ibid., pp. 6, 9–10.
  • 68. Deed of Settlement of the Corporation called the Royal Panopticon of Science and Art, N.D. (B.M. pressmark 08229 h 51); Burke's Landed Gentry.
  • 69. Illustrated Handbook …, 1854, later ed. (incomplete copy in G.L.C. Print Collection).
  • 70. Burke's Landed Gentry.
  • 71. Deed of Settlement … ; Illustrated Handbook … (B.M. copy); D.N.B.
  • 72. The Builder, 18 Oct. 1851, p. 657; M.L.R. 1854/7/178–9.
  • 73. Illustrated Handbook … (B.M. copy), p. 13.
  • 74. The Builder, 7 May 1853, pp. 290–1.
  • 75. Illustrated Handbook … (B.M. copy), pp. 13– 14.
  • 76. Ibid., pp. 15–18, 21, 23–5.
  • 77. The Builder, 14 May 1853, pp. 308–9.
  • 78. Ibid., 18 March 1854, p. 137.
  • 79. Illustrated Handbook … (B.M. copy), p. 36.
  • 80. Ibid., p. 15.
  • 81. The Builder, 18 March 1854, p. 137; 1 April 1854, p. 173.
  • 82. Ibid., 25 March 1854, p. 153.
  • 83. The Illustrated Handbook of the Royal Alhambra Palace, by the Author of the Illustrated Handbook of the Royal Panopticon [W. White], N.D. (B.M. pressmark 10349 bb).
  • 84. The Builder, 9 Aug. 1856, p. 440.
  • 85. Ibid., 9 May 1857, p. 267.
  • 86. Ibid., 30 Oct. 1858, p. 735.
  • 87. John Hollingshead, The Story of Leicester Square, 1892, p. 60.
  • 88. Charles Douglas Stuart and A. J. Park, The Variety Stage, 1895, pp. 81–2.
  • 89. The Illustrated London News, 3 April 1858, p. 338.
  • 90. P.R.O., LC7/14, f. 6; Report and Minutes of Evidence of the Select Committee on Theatrical Licences and Regulations, 1866, vol. XVI, p. 25.
  • 91. The Times, 9 Oct. 1858.
  • 92. Report … on Theatrical Licences, etc., p. 71.
  • 93. G.L.R.O.(M), M and D 3/16.
  • 94. Enthoven Theatre Collection.
  • 95. H. G. Hibbert, Fifty Years of a Londoner's Life, 1916, p. 84.
  • 96. Harold Scott, The Early Doors, 1946, pp. 157–8.
  • 97. Report … on Theatrical Licences., etc., p. 71; Hibbert, op. cit., p. 86.
  • 98. Ivor Guest, The Alhambra Ballet, 1959, p. 7.
  • 99. Ibid., pp. 5, 10, 51, 54.
  • 100. Osbert Sitwell, Laughter in the Next Room, 1949, p. 14.
  • 101. The Times, 5, 12 Jan., 9 May 1865.
  • 102. Report … on Theatrical Licences, etc., pp. 3, 71–9.
  • 103. The Times, 18 April 1866.
  • 104. Ibid., 1 Jan., 16 Nov. 1866.
  • 105. Ibid., 14 July 1866; 4 Feb. 1867.
  • 106. Ibid., 2, 17, 23 Jan., 29 April, 8 June 1867; Hollingshead, op. cit., p. 62.
  • 107. The Times, 27 Dec. 1867.
  • 108. Ibid., 14 Oct. 1870; Hibbert, op. cit., pp. 104–5.
  • 109. The Times, 10 Nov. 1870.
  • 110. Ibid., 16 Jan. 1871.
  • 111. P.R.O., LC7/15, p. 326.
  • 112. Hibbert, op. cit., p. 105.
  • 113. Guest, op. cit., pp. 16–17; Katherine Sorley Walker, Georges Jacobi and the Alhambra Ballet, in Theatre Notebook, vol. I, no. 6, Jan. 1947, pp. 82–3.
  • 114. The Builder, 3, 10 Dec. 1881, pp. 707, 739.
  • 115. Ibid., 9 Dec. 1882, p. 761.
  • 116. Hollingshead, op. cit., p. 70.
  • 117. The Builder, 16 June 1883, p. 810.
  • 118. The Times, 4 Dec. 1883.
  • 119. Ibid., 10 Oct. 1884.
  • 120. Guest, op. cit., pp. 24–5.
  • 121. Hibbert, op. cit., p. 107.
  • 122. The Oxford Companion to the Theatre, ed. Phyllis Hartnoll, 1951, p. 19; W. Macqueen-Pope, The Melody Lingers On, [1958], p. 180.
  • 123. Guest, op. cit., pp. 55–6.
  • 124. G. B. L. Wilson, A Dictionary of Ballet, 1957, pp. 61, 201, 249, 266.
  • 125. The Times, 24 Sept., 3 Nov. 1937.
  • 126. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 556, deed of 30 June 1670.
  • 127. John Hunter, A Treatise on the Blood, Inflammation, and Gun-Shot Wounds, with a short account of the author's life by Everard Home, 1794, p. xxix.
  • 128. Ibid., loc. cit.; see also P.R.O., C12/979/14, schedule.
  • 129. James Finlayson, 'Account of a MS. Volume by William Clift, relating to John Hunter's Household and Estate', British Medical Journal, 29 March 1890, pp. 738–40.
  • 130. Hunter, op. cit., p. xxx.
  • 131. British Medical Journal, loc. cit.; Drewry Ottley, The Life of John Hunter, F.R.S., 1835, p. 102, 102n.
  • 132. Hunter, op. cit., p. xxxi.
  • 133. Ibid., p. xxxvii.
  • 134. Ottley, op. cit., p. 137.
  • 135. P.C.C., 533 Dodwell.
  • 136. Journals of the House of Commons, vol. XLIX, 4 March 1794, p. 290; Ottley, op. cit., p. 137.
  • 137. Journals of the House of Commons, vol. LI, 29 Feb. 1796, p. 450, 16 March 1796, pp. 512–17.
  • 138. Ibid., vol. LIV, 12 June 1799, p. 620, 13 June 1799, pp. 642–3.
  • 139. George C. Peachey, A Memoir of William and John Hunter, 1924, p. 232.
  • 140. Ottley, op. cit., pp. 142, 145.
  • 141. Directories.
  • 142. Ottley, op. cit., p. 85.
  • 143. P. Chalmers Mitchell, Centenary History of the Zoological Society of London, 1929, pp. 59, 100.
  • 144. P.O.D.; Notes and Queries, 8th Series, vol. XI, 1897, p. 445.
  • 145. L.C.C. Minutes, 3 Dec. 1901, p. 1649; deeds in the possession of the Legal and General Assurance Society Ltd.
  • 146. T.P. 13121.
  • 147. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 556, deeds of 3 June 1670 (to Connor), 30 June 1670 (to Batchelor).
  • 148. B.M., Add. MS. 32683, ff. 105–10.
  • 149. De L'Isle deeds, bundle 556, deed of 3 June 1670; De Lisle MSS., 1133(d).
  • 150. B.M., Exhibition Catalogue, William Hogarth, 1697–1764, 1964.
  • 151. Ibid., no. 190.
  • 152. Ibid., nos. 195–6.
  • 153. J. Nichols, Biographical Notes of William Hogarth, 1781, p. 135.
  • 154. B.M., Dept. of Prints and Drawings, 1858–4–17–569.
  • 155. B.M., Egerton MS. 3013, ft. 41–2.
  • 156. Nichols, op. cit., pp. 100, 140.
  • 157. Ibid., pp. 127–8; J. T. Smith, Nollekens and his Times, vol. I, 1828, p. 38.
  • 158. Nichols, op. cit., p. 78.
  • 159. B.M., Dept. of Prints and Drawings, 1868–8– 22–1534; Catalogue of Hogarth's Original Works, 1784 (B.M. pressmark 1876 e.9); W.P.L., Leicester Square Scrapbook, vol. I, p. 63.
  • 160. Smith, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 209.
  • 161. T. Clark, The Works of William Hogarth, 1810, vol. I, pp. 24–5.
  • 162. The European Magazine, June 1801, p. 442.
  • 163. R.B.; W.P.L., Deed 67/4.
  • 164. M.L.R. 1838/1/397.
  • 165. Endowed Charities (County of London), 1903, vol. V, p. 429.
  • 166. Ibid., pp. 408, 411, 428–9.
  • 167. The Builder, 18 Sept. 1869, p. 756.
  • 168. Ibid., 26 Feb. 1870, p. 174.
  • 169. Endowed Charities, op. cit., vol. V, pp. 429, 434; The Builder, 7 Nov. 1896, p. 386.
  • 170. Endowed Charities, op. cit., vol. V, pp. 409, 438–9.
  • 171. L.C.C. Minutes, 28 Jan. 1890, p. 47; 18 Feb. 1890, p. 141; 23 Feb. 1892, p. 176; 6 June 1893, p. 588; 15 Jan. 1895, p. 21; 14 May 1895, p. 442.
  • 172. Inscribed stones on buildings.
  • 173. L.C.C. Minutes, 14 May 1895, p. 442; 23 Feb. 1897, p. 194.
  • 174. The Illustrated Handbook …, [1869].