Soho Square Area: Portland Estate, No. 38 Soho Square

Pages 53-55

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

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No. 38 Soho Square (fn. 1)

No documentary evidence about the first building of the two houses which stood on the adjoining sites now numbered 38 and 1 Soho Square has been found, but it is likely that they were completed by the mid 1680's, and that both Cadogan Thomas of Lambeth, timber merchant, and Thomas Taylor of St. Martin's, gentleman, were involved in their construction. At this time they were both also concerned in the building of Kensington Square, (fn. 2) and by 1718 the lease of both No. 38 and No. 1 Soho Square was in the possession of Thomas Taylor, described as of Kensington, esquire. (fn. 3) Robert Ormes, the first known occupant of No. 38, was living here in 1691. (fn. 4)

In 1696 the lease of No. 38 was purchased for £860 by Sir Samuel Grimston, the third baronet, a Hertfordshire landowner and M.P., who had previously rented No. 30 on the south side of the square. The money was paid to a Mr. Caesar, possibly an intermediate lessee whose name appears as 'Saser' in the sewer ratebooks for 1695. Another £25 were paid to 'Mr. Rossington for brokeridge' and £2 4s. 'To Mr. Bowes for his advice on the title'. In 1700 a painter named Richard Parker was paid £7 for work on the parlour, closet and staircase. (fn. 5)

Sir Samuel Grimston probably lived here until his death in 1700. Other inhabitants include Lord George Howard, c. 1703–12; Richard Newport, second Earl of Bradford, 1723, who had previously lived at No. 7 and died here at No. 38; the Countess of Bradford, his widow, 1724–6, and Charles Hayes,? mathematician and chronologist, 1731. (fn. 4)

In 1735 the house was demolished and rebuilt by John Sanger of St. James's, carpenter, to whom a lease of the property had been granted by the daughters and co-heiresses of Thomas Taylor, one of whom was married to the diarist William Byrd of Westover, Virginia. (fn. 6) At the same time Sanger was also rebuilding the two adjoining houses to the north, Nos. 1 and 2 Soho Square, and the present No. 19 Carlisle Street to the west. By 1744 Sanger had been declared bankrupt. Two of his assignees in bankruptcy were Isaac Eles and Francis Jackman, both timber merchants, who had presumably supplied the timber for the three new houses. (fn. 7)

Later inhabitants include Sir Robert Smith, 1739–43; Welbore Ellis, M.P., later first Baron Mendip, 1744–7; Joseph Gulston, M.P., financier, 1751–66, and Charles Mordaunt, fourth Earl of Peterborough, 1768–74. (fn. 4)

There is no evidence that Sanger's house has ever been rebuilt but it has been so greatly altered that scarcely a vestige of old work remains inside. It is a building of four main storeys with another in a mansard roof (Plate 93d). The frontage to the square is three windows in width and the long return to Carlisle Street is similar to No. 37 opposite, but at No. 38 the two-storeyed bay is supported on Doric columns at street level. The brickwork of the fronts is greatly discoloured, but some of it, at least, can be seen to be of a rough texture and red in colour. The partially painted crowning entablature is ill-proportioned and of comparatively recent date. The only feature of any considerable interest is a mid nineteenthcentury shop front of wood facing the square and returned into Carlisle Street (fig. 7). This has six engaged Corinthian columns supporting an entablature with a carved modillion cornice, but the existing windows and also the entrance, set in a narrower central intercolumniation, are later work. The curved wall at the angle of the front is in stucco but apparently with the wooden entablature continued above it.

Figure 7:

No. 38 Soho Square, elevation of shop front


  • 1. No. 38 Soho Square stands at the north corner of Carlisle Street. Its neighbour to the north is No. 1 Soho Square, and from there the houses are numbered clockwise round the square, ending with No. 37 on the south corner of Carlisle Street and No. 38 on the north corner (see fig. 2 on page 28).
  • 2. Kensington and Chelsea Public Library, deeds 935–6.
  • 3. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book.
  • 4. R.B.
  • 5. Hertfordshire Record Office, Gorhambury MSS., XI, 21; G.L.R.O., WCS 677/1.
  • 6. M.L.R. 1735/4/285; The Writings of 'Colonel William Byrd', ed. John Spencer Bassett, 1901, p. lxxvii.
  • 7. M.L.R. 1744/2/62.