Soho Square Area: Portland Estate, Nos. 23-25 Soho Square, Stuart House

Pages 82-83

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

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Nos. 23–25 Soho Square: Stuart House

This building (fig. 5) was erected in 1938–9 to the designs of Gordon Jeeves (fn. 2) on the site of three houses, Nos. 23, 24 and 25 Soho Square. It has seven storeys, with two more stepped back at the top. The front is a discreet but somewhat impersonal design in buff brick, with an artificial stone facing to the ground and first storeys.

No. 23

Madam Graham was living here from at least 1691 to 1693; she was succeeded by Sir John Thompson, Whig politician, who had previously occupied No. 6 and lived at No. 23 from 1694 until 1696, when he was created Baron Haversham. (fn. 3)

This house and the adjoining No. 24 were both rebuilt in 1734–5 by James Surman (who had paid the rates for both houses since 1728) and John Hoare of St. Andrews, Holborn, carpenter. (fn. 4) Later inhabitants include Colonel Peter Solegar (Sullenger), who had previously lived at No. 15, 1738–49; Colonel Samuel Cleveland, 1779–87, and H. D. Jones, surgeon, 1840–61. (fn. 3)

Tallis (fig. 5) shows the front of No. 23 to have been four storeys high and three windows wide. The sash windows were recessed in plain openings having flat arches of gauged brickwork, and decorative interest was confined to the Regency Grecian doorcase framing the arched doorway, and the elegant bowed balcony and tent-roofed veranda projecting from the first-floor middle window. A drawing by Hanslip Fletcher (Plate 70a) shows the doorcase and veranda in some detail, and is evidence that the plain windows shown by Tallis were subsequently dressed with stucco architraves, some accented with cornices.

No. 24

The first known occupant of this house was Reynold(s) Colethrop,? Reynolds Calthorpe of Elvetham, Hampshire, esquire, who was living here in 1691. (fn. 3)

In 1734–5 this house and the adjoining No. 23 were rebuilt by James Surman and the carpenter John Hoare. In May 1734 the latter obtained a new lease of No. 24 from the Duchess of Portland for sixty-five years. The rent was a peppercorn for the first year and £24 per annum thereafter, with a garden rent of fifteen shillings a year. No fine was exacted by the Duchess, in consideration of Hoare's building expenses. (fn. 4) Like the adjoining Nos. 23 and 25, this house was demolished in 1937.

Two drawings by Hanslip Fletcher convey the character of this house. The front (Plate 70a) was typical of the 1730's, a plain brick face, four storeys high and three windows wide, bounded by slightly projecting piers rising unbroken to the parapet coping. The sash windows were recessed in segmental-arched openings, and at the fourthstorey level a boldly profiled cornice extended between the projecting piers. The Doric porch, with square-shafted columns, and the first-floor balcony with its cast-iron railing, were probably of early nineteenth-century date. The first-floor front room (Plate 98a) was noteworthy for its handsome plasterwork, an enriched modillioned cornice and a Palladian ceiling with Baroque ornamentation contained in a geometrical arrangement of panels—a central oval set with four spandrels and four long panels in a large oblong frame, its corners incurved to accommodate a quadrant panel in each angle of the ceiling.

No. 25

The first known occupant of this house was Jeffrey Palmer, who lived here from c. 1691 to 1693, (? Sir Geoffrey Palmer, M.P.). Later residents included Lady Wallop, 1703; Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Whitaker (later at No. 36), 1711–12; Colonel Crosby, 1720–31; Dr. George Lawson, 1748–54, and Dr. Lagorce, 1755-7. (fn. 3)

In February 1758 Sir William Robinson of Newby Hall, Yorkshire, baronet, purchased the lease of No. 25 for £330. (fn. 5) In the following month he obtained from the Duke of Portland an extension of this lease to 1854 on payment of a fine of £120. (fn. 6) The new lease allowed Robinson to demolish the existing house, to take away from the south side of the cleared site a strip of ground two feet three inches in width and to add it to the adjoining site of No. 26, which he had also lately bought and cleared for building. (fn. 7) On this rearranged site he planned to build two new houses —a 'Great House' on the enlarged southern site (No. 26) and a 'Little House' on the reduced northern site (No. 25).

The demolition of the original No. 25 began in January 1758 and the construction of the new house in the following April. By October 1759 the house was finished and advertised for sale, (fn. 8) (fn. 1) and in June 1760 Robinson assigned his leasehold interest in the completed house and adjoining stables in George (now Goslett) Yard to another baronet, Sir Thomas Palmer of Carlton, Northamptonshire. (fn. 9) The latter occupied No. 25 (Plates 70a, 94b) until his death in 1765 and in 1767 the house passed into the possession of Lord Pigot, the occupant of No. 26. Nos. 25 and 26 were occupied as one residence until 1799 when they reverted to separate occupation. No. 25 was later occupied by the Rev. Joseph Jefferson, 1800–05; Francis Const, lawyer, 1807–29, and Thomas Barnes, (fn. 3) editor of The Times, who died here, 1837–41. (fn. 10)

In 1937 No. 25 was demolished to make way for the present office block, which extends over the combined sites of Nos. 23-25.


  • 1. The papers relating to the erection of the new Nos. 25 and 26 are in the Archives Department of Leeds Central Library. They contain much valuable information not only on these two houses but also on general building practice in the mid eighteenth century. Unfortunately it has been impossible to distinguish the builders' accounts for No. 25 from those for No. 26. As the latter was the larger house, all the detailed information on the course of construction, the tradesmen employed and the building costs for both houses has been included in the account of No. 26 (see below).
  • 2. T.P. 8837.
  • 3. R.B.
  • 4. M.L.R. 1734/4/200; G.L.R.O., WCS 701; R.B.
  • 5. Leeds Central Library, Archives Dept., NH 2787A.
  • 6. Nottingham University, Portland MSS., Soho lease book.
  • 7. M.L.R. 1760/3/233.
  • 8. Leeds Central Library, Archives Dept., NH 2785A, 2787A, 2882.
  • 9. M.L.R. 1760/3/233–4.
  • 10. The Gentleman's Magazine, 1841, part II, p. 96.