Soho Square Area: Portland Estate, No. 10 Soho Square

Pages 63-64

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

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No. 10 Soho Square

This is one of the two surviving original houses in Soho Square, the other being No. 15. No. 10 was first erected as two separate houses which were united in 1696. In September 1681 Frith and Pym sub-leased both houses to John Steele of St. Marylebone, yeoman, for a term of forty-seven and a half years from the ensuing Michaelmas, at rents of £6 10s. per annum each. Both were also charged with rents of ten shillings for the upkeep of the garden in the centre of the square. (fn. 1)

At about this time Steele also held a sub-lease of the eastern part of Millfield (now the site of Great Marlborough Street), and by 1684 he was evidently using this land to dig for brick-earth. (fn. 2) Very probably he supplied Frith with bricks for the latter's new buildings in Soho, receiving in exchange the sub-lease of these two houses.

The two houses were probably not finished by Frith and Pym, and had to be finished by Steele, who appears to have leased them to yearly tenants. The first known occupants were living here in 1691, 'Mr. Roosoe' in the western house and Lady Cole in the eastern house. Both these tenants remained until 1693. 'Mr. Roosoe' can probably be identified as Jacques Rousseau, a Huguenot decorative painter who specialized in the production of 'ruin pieces and perspectives'. He probably died in the house and was buried in St. Anne's Church on 22 December 1693. (fn. 3)

In October 1693 John Steele sold the subleases of both houses to Craven Howard of Revesby, Lincolnshire, esquire (who had previously lived at No. 12), for £670. By 1696 Howard had converted them into one dwelling house and lived there himself until his death in June 1700. (fn. 4)

By 1703 the property had passed into the possession of Vincent Cutter 'then captain of His Majesties ship of war the Newcastle'. Captain Cutter, or his agent William Mathews, citizen and clothworker of London, leased the house for £130 per annum rent, first to William Duncombe in 1703 and 1704, and from 1706 to 1710 to Sir Thomas Littleton, third baronet, formerly Speaker of the House of Commons. Captain Cutter died in April 1710 leaving the house to his sister Elizabeth Albery of Chichester, (fn. 5) widow, who assigned it in May 1711 to James, third Earl of Berkeley, for the residue of the two forty-seven-and-a-half-year terms originally granted by Richard Frith to Steele in 1681. (fn. 6) In May 1713 Lord Berkeley obtained a further lease of the house from the second Earl (and later first Duke) of Portland, which extended his leasehold interest to 1769. Lord Berkeley lived here until 1716, but in March 1716/17 he sold the house to Elizabeth Brydges, spinster, (fn. 7) who occupied it until 1729. Lady Buckley lived here from 1730 to 1732, and Lady Montague in 1734. (fn. 8) In 1746 Elizabeth Brydges's executors sold the lease of the house for £840. (fn. 9) Later occupants include James Adair, M.P., serjeant-at-law, 1764–82, and Messrs. Arrowsmith, a family of map-makers of whom Aaron and John Arrowsmith are best known, 1808–60. (fn. 8)

No. 10 (fig. 4) does not seem to have been completely rebuilt since its adaptation from two separate dwellings in the 1690's. It is shown as two houses in Sutton Nicholls's view of the square (Plate 68a), with the original doorcase of the westernmost of the two houses still in position. It remains six windows in width and only three main storeys in height though with another in a high mansard roof. The discoloured stock brick of the front may be in part original but the proportions of the square-headed window openings have been altered by the lowering of their sills and the painted pilasters and moulded storey-bands are an addition, as is the parapet to the roof. The present appearance of the ground storey is entirely modern both inside and out, it being little more than an approach to a large hall at the rear. On the first floor, some idea of the original arrangement can be gained. There are two large rooms in front and two others at the rear with a closetwing to the west and, rather surprisingly, an almost complete original staircase to the east. This is of dog-legged construction, parallel to the back wall of the house and with an open flight turned towards the entrance at the bottom, though this may be an alteration. The newels, moulded strings and handrail are all plain and heavy, as are the turned balusters, now mostly enclosed by boarding. No other original fittings survive. Of later work only a first-floor ante-room is of interest. This must have been formed in the first half of the eighteenth century and although divided still has four plain but impressive pedimented doorcases (Plate 128c), some wide and narrow panelling and a moulded cornice, all in wood, and an incomplete Venetian window. Other features mentioned by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in 1925 are now missing. (fn. 10)


  • 1. P.R.O., C10/261/35.
  • 2. Survey of London, vol. XXXI, 1963, pp. 250–1.
  • 3. Edward Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537–1837, vol. I, 1962, p. 258; R.B.
  • 4. P.R.O., C10/261/35; R.B.
  • 5. P.R.O., C7/230/68.
  • 6. M.L.R. 1711/5/45.
  • 7. Ibid., 1717/6/11–12.
  • 8. R.B.
  • 9. Ibid., 1746/1/168.
  • 10. Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England), West London, 1925, p. 144.