Soho Square Area: Portland Estate, No. 7 Soho Square

Pages 59-60

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

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No. 7 Soho Square

The first known occupant of this house was Colonel Robert Cecil who lived here from 1691, or earlier, to 1693. Other inhabitants include Lady Windham,? widow of Sir William Windham, first baronet, 1695 to at least 1697, and Charles Townshend, second Viscount Townshend, statesman, who was here in 1703. (fn. 2)

Although there is no difference apparent between this house and its neighbours, as shown on Sutton Nicholls's view of the square reproduced on Plate 68a, it is clear that No. 7 was a large house where a succession of aristocratic inhabitants lived until well into the mid eighteenth century. The Countess of Leicester, widow of the fourth Earl, lived here from at least 1706 until her death in 1709. In September 1711 her second son, the sixth Earl, leased the house for ten years and eight months to Richard, second Earl of Bradford, at the unusually high rent of £190 per annum. A schedule attached to the lease shows that the house was handsomely fitted, many of the rooms having wainscot (the dining-room in cedar wood) and marble chimneypieces. The fixtures in the great parlour included 'a marble Chimney peice and slips, a whole slabb in the foot pace … two marble slabbs upon four Iron Scroles, two large marble slabbs on blackwood frames with a marble slipp, a marble Cistern and marble stand with marble flags underneath in the floor, a large China fountaine and Cover with a brass Cock, a large China Bason'. (fn. 3)

After the expiry of the Earl of Bradford's lease in 1722 the house was occupied from 1723 to 1744 by William Luckyn, first Viscount Grimston, (fn. 2) who in June of the latter year assigned his lease to George Weston of Gerrard Street, plasterer. (fn. 4) In March 1744/5 Weston was granted a reversionary lease of the premises by the second Duke of Portland, subject to a fine of £150, a ground rent of £25 per annum and a garden rent of £1 per annum. (fn. 5)

The house was rebuilt, presumably by Weston, between 1745 and 1748. (fn. 2) The new brick and stone front (Plate 94a), which survived until 1929, was a striking and handsome composition in the late Palladian manner, close in style to the work of Sir Robert Taylor. (fn. 1) The ground storey contained the centrally placed doorway, dressed with a doorcase of Doric columns supporting a triangular pediment above a plain entablature which was returned and continued above the small flanking windows, to rest on pilasters. The twostoreyed upper face was boldly treated as a great arch of shallow recession, containing the Venetian window of the first floor and the three-light lunette window of the second floor. The brick arch rose from a plain stone impost, and the front was effectively finished with a triangular pediment having a stone cornice and a brick tympanum. The Venetian window was finely detailed, with a balustraded apron, and Ionic plainshafted columns and antae supporting entablatures below the moulded archivolt of the middle light.

Weston's new house was not occupied until 1749, when it was taken by the Spanish ambassador. No. 7 remained the Spanish embassy until 1761 (fn. 2) (the embassy was later at No. 21), and during this period a building behind the house was used as the ambassador's Roman Catholic chapel. A report in The General Advertiser of 11 October 1749 states that 'A House is taken in Soho-square, for the Reception of his Excellency the Spanish Ambassador, and a Chapel is building behind the said House, towards Oxford-Road, for the Use of his Excellency and Family; all which it is thought will be finished by the Beginning of next Month, by which Time he is expected hither'. The ambassador's chapel may probably be identified with the building later occupied from 1818 to 1887 by a congregation of Baptists. The chapel was rebuilt in 1835, (fn. 6) and the Ordnance Survey map of 1869–74 (Plate 6) shows that it was then approached by a passage from Oxford Street. From 1890 to 1893 it was occupied by the Huguenots during the building of their new church at Nos. 8 and 9 Soho Square.

Charles Boone, M.P., of Barking Hall, Suffolk, and Lee Place, Kent, lived at No. 7 from 1765 to 1787. (fn. 2) In 1793 the house was taken by John Trotter, the army contractor who rebuilt Nos. 4–6 as a warehouse for military stores in 1801–4 and later established the Soho Bazaar there. At first No. 7 was retained as Trotter's private house and office and in 1815 the Rev. Joseph Nightingale noted 'the neatness and elegance of its furnishings. The fine sculptured chimney-piece, of white marble by [Sir Henry] Chere, is a piece of exquisite workmanship, every way worthy of that eminent artist. Over it in the pannel, is an excellent painting by Canaletti'. (fn. 7) Shortly after Trotter's death in 1833 the house was incorporated into Nos. 4–6 and formed part of the Soho Bazaar. (fn. 2)

The house built by Weston in the 1740's remained standing until 1929 when it was demolished to make way for the present sevenstorey commercial building, which has a strong vertical emphasis to its rendered front, and extends westward to Dean Street. The architects were Messrs. North, Robin and Wilsdon. (fn. 8)


  • 1. The new front is shown, very inaccurately, in the revised version of Sutton Nicholls's view of Soho Square which was published in the 1754–5 edition of John Strype's Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster.
  • 2. R.B.
  • 3. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Pl DM 37.
  • 4. M.L.R. 1746/2/273.
  • 5. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book.
  • 6. W. T. Whitley, The Baptists of London, N.D., pp. 134–5.
  • 7. Rev. Joseph Nightingale, London and Middlesex, 1815, vol. III, part II, p. 666.
  • 8. B.A. 64651.