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Full text of "The private palaces of London past and present"

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THE PRIVATE PALACES 
OF LONDON 




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THE PRIVATE 

PALACES (?/ LONDON 

PAST AND PRESENT 



BY 



E. BERESFORD CHANCELLOR, M.A. 

F.R. Hist. Soc. 

AUTHOR OF "THE HISTORY OF THE SQUARES OF LONDON," ETC. ETC. 



'■ A good house is a great comfort , . . and among the few felicilies 
thai money nu'di procure." — Mrs. Montagu. 



WITH FORTY-FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS 



LONDON 
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRUBNER Gf CO. L'^'' 

DRYDEN HOUSE, GERRARD STREET, W. 
1908 



•^<f> 



The rights of translation and of reproduction are reserved 



Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson &> Co. 
At the Ballantyne Press, Edinburgh 



LIBRARY 

UNivrpnivv c; California 

SANTA BARBARA 



TO 

R. T. PORTER, Esq. 

WITH AFFECTIONAIE REGARD 
FROM 

THE AUTHOR 



PREFACE 



IN this work I have endeavoured to rehabilitate in some way the 
characteristics of the more important of the famous London houses 
which have long since passed away, as well as to give an account of 
the annals of those which still remain ; together with references to 
the notable people who have, from time to time, been connected with 
them. So far as existing mansions are concerned, I have also attempted 
to give some idea of the beautiful objects which are contained in them — 
particularly the pictures, without setting down mere lists of painter's 
names and subjects treated ; and I have tried, by producing, where 
possible, some interesting provenance, or by connecting these works of 
art with some interesting figure, to avoid making my account of them 
a merely bald catalogue which, valuable as such a compilation is in itself, 
is rarely very exhilarating to the general reader. 

The difficulty, which it would be mere affectation to ignore, of doing 
this has been so largely modified by the generous help extended to me 
by the owners of the great mansions I have described, that I feel that 
if I have attained any measure of success it is due to their kindness, and 
to the interest they have shown in this work. Many of them have 
afforded me personal help ; many have placed at my disposal privately 
printed catalogues, and have permitted documents to be searched for 
the elucidation of some obscure point in the history of their mansions, 
and have, besides, given me other aids to accuracy of description ; 
while all of them have permitted me to see all I wanted to see, and to 
describe all I have attempted to describe ; and I here most gratefully 
acknowledge their many kindnesses. 

My thanks are also due to many of the private secretaries and other 
representatives of these owners, who have also aided me in my researches. 

With regard to the chapter on the old houses in Whitehall, I have, of 
course, largely based it on that portion of Canon Sheppard's The Old Royal 
Palace of Whitehall which specifically deals with them, and is par- 
ticularly rich in its record of old leases and other documentary evidence, 
without which it would have been impossible to give in many instances 
a connected genealogy of these interesting residences. I have browsed 



viii . PREFACE 

much here, and with a Hght heart, because I received the author's generous 
and ungrudging permission to do so. 

So far as the past private palaces, other than those in Whitehall, are 
concerned I have made use of the rich topographical hterature dealing 
with London which we possess ; but, as usual, to no one work am I 
more indebted than to Mr. Wheatley's London Past and Present. 

Waagen and Passavant, Smith and Mrs. Jameson, have helped me 
much with regard to the great picture collections I have had occasion 
to deal with ; while from innumerable other works on art and artists 
I have culled here and there a fact which has often enabled me to say 
something more about a picture than to merely set down the name of 
its painter or the nature of its subject. 

I am only too well aware that I might have done better — but I have 
done as well as I could, and above all I have endeavoured to " set down 
nought in malice " ; and if among my readers there be some to whom 
what I try to describe is well known, and therefore vieux jeti, I would 
ask them to remember that my chief aim has been to make known to 
those who may not be so familiar with these great houses, the beautiful 
things that are contained in them, and the intrinsic interest that centres 
in each. 

With regard to the illustrations of this book the first ten are repro- 
ductions from old prints and drawings in the Grace Collection ; those 
of the three pictures in the Bridgewater House Gallery are from 
photographs taken by Mr. J. F. Hollyer of 9 Pembroke Square, 
Kensington ; while those of the interiors and exteriors of the various 
houses are reproduced from photographs taken by Messrs. Bedford 
Lemere & Co. of 147 Strand, W.C, Mr. H. N. King of 8 Avenue 
Road, Shepherd's Bush, and Mr. Reginald Haines of 4 Southampton 
Row. All these photographs are copyright, and I wish to associate 
myself with my publishers in acknowledging the courtesy of the above- 
named gentlemen in allowing these reproductions to illustrate so 
graphically my pages. 

E. B. C. 

Sept. 15, 1908. 



INTRODUCTION 

IF we sought for one particular feature distinguishing London from 
the other capitals of Europe, apart from its immense proportions, 
it would probably be found in the number of its large houses many 
of which are indeed the private palaces that I have here called them. 

The chief streets of the Metropolis are easily equalled and excelled 
by those in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna ; its churches, numerous as they are, 
and, in many cases, architecturally fine, can hardly compare with those 
in many of the lesser continental towns ; its parks and open spaces do 
not greatly excel in beauty those of Brussels or Paris ; but its great houses 
are, as they have always been, a distinctive note in the picture, and, 
mutatis mutandis, may, in many cases, compare with those palaces for 
which Venice was once famous. But there is this difference between 
these mansions on the banks of the Thames and those on the shores of the 
Adriatic ; the latter have in most instances passed from their once high 
estate to more utilitarian uses, and their chief glory lies in the beauty of their 
exteriors ; whereas, if the majority of the London palaces cannot lay claim to 
such outwardly striking attributes, nearly every one of them contains such 
a wealth of beautiful objects — pictures, furniture, china, and a thousand 
and one objets d'art — that they may defy comparison with the chateaux of 
France, and even with Venetian palazzi in the days of their prosperity. 

In many cases, too, these old houses remain in the hands of the great 
families whose names have been associated with them for generations, 
and where this is not the case, they have been lucky enough to pass into 
the possession of those whose instinct and pride it seems to be to preserve 
intact the past traditions connected with them. 

Here and there, indeed, we find some great mansion which has had a 
later genesis in the accumulation of wealth ; others that have passed 
into alien hands ; but in either case, as if a tutelary deity had guarded the 
ghosts that haunt its stones or the spot on which it has been raised, its 
owners have either emulated the spirit of an earlier day by filling it with 
the precious relics of antiquity, or have preserved with reverent care its 
former characteristics, and have, in many cases, restored to their old home 
those treasures of art which formed, in a bygone age, its chief adornment, 
and which in the course of time had been alienated, for a period, from it. 



X INTRODUCTION 

Subject to the inevitable fate which it would seem must almost 
necessarily overtake even the finest buildings of this kind in a great and 
growing city like London, some of the great houses that have remained 
till within our own recollection in private hands, have either passed away 
or have been converted to alien, if so far as the general public is concerned 
better, uses. Harcourt House in Cavendish Square, which is to-day repre- 
sented by a huge, and considering its position in such a " quadrate," incon- 
gruous block of residential flats, and Ashburnham House, once at the 
corner of Hay Hill and Dover Street, have been subjected to such a trans- 
formation ; the wonderful Northumberland House at Charing Cross is now 
almost forgotten, so entirely has the remembrance of its Jacobean fa9ade 
and its famous Lion been effaced by building development, and the con- 
struction of the street that by its name alone preserves its fleeting memory ; 
while many of the great houses in Whitehall have either entirely dis- 
appeared or have been transformed into portions of Government offices, 
curiously intermixed with more modern and elaborate erections, so that 
they have the air of some human relic of an earlier period, who has 
" out-stayed his welcome while," and still wears the garb of a day that 
is gone. 

But besides these which we have ourselves seen pass away or suffer 
a change as startling as it seems inevitable, there remains to be recorded 
a large number of great houses which are known to us merely by the 
pencil of the artist or the pen of the topographer. 

In the first place there is the remarkable series of noble mansions 
which once existed in the heart of the City itself. These old private 
palaces, or Inns as they were formerly called, once shed lustre over streets 
now so wholly commercial as the Minories or Aldersgate Street, and 
districts now so unfashionable as Clerkenwell and Holborn ; then there 
was that long line of palaces which extended on the south side of Fleet 
Street and the Strand, from Devonshire House which occupied a large 
portion of the site of the present Devonshire Square, to York House 
the magnificent residence of the briUiant Buckingham the memory of 
whose more than royal establishment is to-day preserved only by the 
names of the streets that exhaust the words of his chief title. Where 
now are Bedford House and Montagu House, in Bloomsbury, which 
in their day were so much the wonders of London, that foreigners 
were wont to be taken to see them as among the great sights of the 
capital ? Where is Clarendon House, which, immemor sepulcri, the great 
Chancellor raised at infinite pains and expense, and could hardly be said 
to have inhabited, and which in the eyes of popular indignation was a 
concrete proof of his time-serving and apostacy ? " Where are the 



INTRODUCTION xi 

snows of yester-year ? " You shall as soon find them as you shall Troy, 
or the traditional Maypole of the Strand ! 

And then there are those great mansions that either exist in the shape 
of more recent erections on their sites ; or those which have, by a process 
of rebuilding, lost their original characteristics, and have become identified 
with other usage. Of the former, there comes to mind Berkeley House, 
the splendid forerunner of the present Devonshire House, and old 
Montagu House, Whitehall, on the site of which the far more magnificent 
present Montagu House now stands ; among the latter may be men- 
tioned Burlington House, over which the architect-earl who built it took 
such infinite pains, and which is now, with its added Piccadilly front, the 
home of the Royal Academy, and the headquarters of several learned 
societies ; and Melbourne House, once the home of Lord Melbourne (not 
the Prime Minister but his father), and afterwards exchanged by him with 
the Duke of York for York House, Piccadilly, which is now known to all 
Londoners as " The Albany," from the Royal Duke's second title. Then 
there is Newcastle House in Lincoln's Inn Fields, the former town resi- 
dence of the eccentric Duke of Newcastle, the hero of half-a-hundred 
stories, but now the splendid legal offices of a well-known firm ; and 
Uxbridge House, in Burlington Gardens, the fine work of Vardy and 
Bonomi, to-day occupied as the Western Branch of the Bank of England ; 
and, to mention but one more instance, there is Schomberg House, Pall 
Mall, of which but a fragment remains, but which is sufficient to enable 
us to realise how imposing must have been the entire building before 
the War Office alienated its centre and east wing. 

But, notwithstanding all these, and how many others, that have 
passed away or have been converted by the exigencies of time into other 
uses, so many great mansions are still with us, most of them fraught 
with historic memories, most of them haunted by the ghosts of the great 
and beautiful of a past day, all of them filled with such a wealth of 
splendid objects the outcome of the artistic endeavour of all ages and 
of all countries, that London, as I began by saying, may still glory in the 
possession of an unrivalled series of private palaces. 

Nothing helps to show more clearly the vagaries of fashion in the 
matter of residential locality, or the unhasting, unresting flow of citizens 
westward, than the relative position occupied to-day by these great 
houses, with that occupied by their forerunners. As we have seen, the 
City was naturally, when we remember the limitations of London in 
those days, the first fashionable quarter ; as time went on some more 
daring spirits ventured so far westward as Charing Cross and the Strand ; 
others selected the open country of Bloomsbury ; and yet others found 



xii INTRODUCTION 

their way into Lincoln's Inn Fields ; but with the reign of Charles II. 
and the inception of St. James's Square by Lord St. Albans, the inaugura- 
tion of the west end, somewhat as we know it to-day, began, and the 
great houses of Piccadilly sprang into existence. Later still, when Sir 
Richard Grosvenor commenced the development of the immense property 
now covered by Mayfair, which had come to him through Mary Davies, 
an impulse was given to the erection of fine houses in this quarter, and 
even the magnificent Chesterfield — the glass of fashion and the mould of 
form — did not disdain to erect the splendid mansion which luckily still 
exists although shorn of its ample gardens, in a spot where, as he once 
humorously said, thieves and murderers so abounded that he would be 
obliged to keep a watch-dog. 

Nowadays, however, the case is very different. The private palaces 
of London cluster together, if not within that circumscribed radius 
which Theodore Hook considered the quintessence of fashion, at least 
within what we, in our enlarged ideas, are apt to regard as the centre 
of fashionable life. Piccadilly and Park Lane, and the area known as 
Mayfair of which these famous thoroughfares form two sides, and their 
immediate vicinity is where we must now look for the residences of the 
wealthy and the great. True there are some splendid houses north of 
Oxford Street ; there is Portman House, in Portman Square, and Hertford, 
formerly Manchester, House in Manchester Square, although this is now, 
of course, a public gallery, to name but these ; there is Montagu House 
in Whitehall, and there are the magnificent dwellings in Belgravia ; but, 
so far as the great mansions with which I here deal are concerned, it is 
in the more restricted area that we shall chiefly find them. 

And this brings me to the subject of the selection I have made. In 
the first place, it was obviously impossible to be exhaustive ; I mean, 
to deal with every great house in London which, either from its associa- 
tions, or from the beauty and interest of its contents, might seem to have 
claimed a place in these pages. 

With regard to the mansions which are no longer in existence, 
I have endeavoured to say something about the most interesting and 
the most important of them, but I have not said anything about those 
that once congregated together in Chelsea, for two reasons ; in the first 
place because, although many of them were fraught with interest, they 
were none of them of such magnitude as to be considered exactly as 
palaces, although parenthetically I am aware that in the case of some I 
have included, a somewhat wide extension of this term has been necessary ; 
and secondly because they were in former days looked upon as suburban 
residences, many of their owners at the same time alternately occupying 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

houses in London itself ; while their sites have only become incorporated 
with the City by its extraordinary extension in more recent days.^ For 
the same reason, as well as for the better one that it has had a book 
specially devoted to it, I omit the beautiful and particularly interesting 
Holland House from this work. 

Again there are a number of great houses in Belgravia, which from 
their size at least might have been thought appropriate for inclusion 
here ; but it is only their size that would under any circumstances give 
them a claim to be included in these pages, for necessarily from the re- 
latively recent development of the ground on which they stand, they 
can pretend to no historic interest, and such splendid piles as Seaford 
House, Belgrave Square, and Cadogan House, Chelsea, must therefore 
be passed by with this bare allusion. 

Then in Piccadilly, Bath House, and No. i Stratton Street, so long 
associated with the Baroness Burdett-Coutts ; Hope House, and Hertford 
House, now clubs and both bearing the name of former illustrious owners, 
as well as Lord Rothschild's fine mansion next to Apsley House, could hardly 
be included, splendid as they are, because had they been, then Curzon 
House," and Alington House ; No. 9, Chesterfield Gardens, Lord Lecon- 
field's London mansion ; and Bute House, to mention but these, could 
not have been left out ; and had these been dealt with, there would 
then have been innumerable important mansions in the great squares 
with equal claims to be considered, and there would have been no end 
to the book or its draft on the patience of its readers. 

Selection in such cases is always rather a difficult matter ; if, as I 
hope, I have avoided its being an invidious one, I may reckon myself 
lucky. To evolve a logical definition of what may be rightly included 
in a book dealing with Private Palaces is, I fear, almost impossible ; the 
relative size of a house, though in itself alone obviously no certain criterion, 
must at least be considered ; historic, personal or intrinsic interest should 
also be present, while due weight must be given to architectural features, 
and the beauty of internal decorations and value, monetary as well as 
sentimental, of the contents ; and although it is of course a fact that 
there are thousands of fine mansions in London fulfilling some one or 

' Those who are interested in the matter will find details of the old Chelsea houses in 
L'Estrange's Village of Palaces. 

^ I have been sorely tempted to make an exception in favour of this beautiful mansion, not 
only because of the charm of its interior with its splendid hall and mahogany staircase, where 
hang two pieces of superb tapestry for which great sums have been offered ; its fine rooms with 
their lovely marble mantelpieces and their thousand and one objects of interest and value ; 
pictures and decorative furniture, and bric-a-brac; but also because Lord Howe has kindly 
extended every facility to me for examining the house and its contents ; but unfortunately the 
scheme of this work makes it impossible for me to do more than merely allude to it in this 
slight way. 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

more of these conditions, the great houses I deal with are, I venture to 
think, those alone that combine them all. 

So far as their beautiful contents are concerned all of them are notable ; 
some, such as Bridgewater, Stafford and Dorchester Houses, particularly 
so, on account of the wonders of artistic achievement which hang on 
their walls or are scattered about within their vast rooms ; some are 
pre-eminently noticeable on account of their architectural features such 
as Chesterfield House, Lansdowne House, and Spencer House, and to 
mention more modern instances, Dorchester House, and Montagu House ; 
others, if less ambitious, have still some claims in this respect, and are be- 
sides hallowed by personal memories ; and of these are Apsley House 
and Devonshire House, Norfolk House and Portman House. 

But these I have named are merely special examples of characteristics 
which are more or less present in them all, and it is because they are en- 
dowed with such attributes that it has seemed to me that such a title as 
that of Private Palaces is not inappropriate to any of them. 

In dealing with these splendid mansions of the past and the present, 
a reflection inevitably forces itself upon the mind ; a reflection, I am 
bound to admit, which is not altogether a pleasant one. We have seen 
how many of those great houses which our forefathers erected with such 
loving care and at such vast expense, and each of which no doubt they 
considered aere -perennius, have passed away, and how heavily " Time's 
destroying hand " has dealt with them. What then are we to suppose 
will be the fate of some of those which to-day would seem to be armed so 
as to defy Time ? Some we know are held on leasehold tenure, and 
when their term has run, may be ruthlessly demolished ; others stand 
proudly in the midst of ever-changing conditions of building develop- 
ment ; will they be, in their turn, attacked, and if so — what then ? 
And lastly, if a century and a half ago the westward movement began 
to carry fashion into what then seemed the outskirts and wilds of the 
Town ; may not a lesser space of time be sufficient to accentuate this 
movement so much that what to us are now the unfashionable portions 
of greater London may become the centre of the fashionable life of the 
future, as select as Mayfair and more sought after than Belgravia ? 

This is, of course, but daring conjecture ; but what has been, may 
well be again ; and if such a day does ever come, and books continue to 
be read, as it is not improbable they still even then may be, the 
equivalent to Macaulay's New Zealander will perhaps be glad to learn 
something of the grandeur of these great houses, and will wonder at the 
wealth and artistic beauty that was accumulated within them. 



CONTENTS 



PREFACE 
INTRODUCTION 



PAGE 

vii 



IX 



CHAP. 

I. Past Citv Palaces 

Devonshire House, Northampton House, Bridgewater House, Aylesbury 
House, Albemarle House, Petre House, Thanet House, Westmoreland 
House, Northumberland House, Shellty House, Lauderdale House, 
Sharrington House, Crosby Place, Abergavenny House, Warwick 
House, Brooke House, Southampton House, Hatton House, Winchester 
House, Salisbury House. 

II. Great Houses of the Strand ....... 

Essex House, Arundel House, Worcester House, Cecil House, York House, 
Exeter House, Bedford House, Northumberland House. 

III. Burlington House and Others ....... 

Burlington House, Clarendon House, Buckingham House, Montagu House 
(Bloomsbury), Southampton or Bedford House. 

IV. Leicester House, &c. ......... 



Leicester House, Drury or Craven House, Harcourt House, Monmouth 
House, Ashburnham House, Marlborough House, Schomberg House, 
Uxbridge House, Cambridge House, Melbourne House (The Albany), 
Hertford House, Newcastle House. 

V. Whitehall Houses ......... 

Richmond House, Pembroke House, Gwydyr House, Carrington House, 
Portland House, Fife House, Dover House, Stanhope House, Rochester 
House, Wallingford House, Ashburnham House (Westminster). 

VI. Apsley House 
VII. Bridgewater House 
VIII. Chesterfield House 
IX. Crewe House 

X. Devonshire House 
XI. Dorchester House 



27 
S8 

95 

136 

170 
189 
207 
221 
231 
249 



xvi CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

XII. Grosvenor House 260 

XIII. Lansdowne House 275 

XIV. Londonderry House . 291 

XV. Montagu House 299 

XVI. Norfolk House 313 

XVII. PoRTMAN House 324 

XVIII. Spencer House 337 

XIX. Stafford House 347 

XX. WiMBORNE House 365 

INDEX 373 

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LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



Chesterfield House, Mayfair 

From a photogfaph by Messrs. BEriFOKD I^i!:MKKl!; & Co. 



To jnce Title 



Shaftesbury, FORMERLY Thanet, House, Aldersgate Street To face p. i 

From an original drawing in the Grace Collection. 



Ely House, afterwards Hatton House, Holborn 

From an old print by R. GODFREY. 

Arundel House, Strand ....... 

From a rare print by Hoix.XR, dated 1646. 

Northumberland House, Charing Cross .... 

From an old engraving. 

Burlington House, Piccadilly ...... 

From a print by J. KiP, about 1700. 

Clarendon House, Piccadilly ...... 

From a print by Wise, 

Montagu House, Bloomseury ...... 

From a print by SUTTON NiCHOLLS. 

Leicester House, Leicester Fields ..... 

From a drawing in tlie Crate Collection. 

Marlborough House, from the Mall .... 

From a print by John Harris. 

View of Whitehall from St. James's Park 

From a print by J. Kip. 

Carrington House, Whitehall ...... 

Frojn a photograph taken shortly before its demolition, by t>\essrs. BEDFORD 

Lemere & Co. 

xvii 



20 

27 
51 
58 
67 
80 

95 

109 
136 
147 



xviii LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Grand Staircase, Carrington House . . . To face p. 148 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 

The Waterloo Chamber, Apsley House ... „ 170 

From a photograph by Mr. H. N. King. 

The Piccadilly Room, Apslev House .... „ 180 

From a photograph by Mr. H. N. King. 

The Great Hall, Bridgewater House. ... ,,189 

From a photograph by Mr. H. N, King. 

Titian's "Diana and Calisto," in the Bridgewater 

House Collection ....... » '95 

From a photograph by Mr. F, HoLLYER. 

" Men playing at Tric-trac," by Ostade, in the 

Bridgewater House Collection .... „ 198 

From a photograph by Mr. F. HoLLYER. 

"View of the Maese near Dort," by Cuyp, in the 

Bridgewater House Collection .... „ 202 

From a photograph by Mr. F. HoLLYEK. 

The Drawing-room, Chesterfield House ... „ 207 

From a photograph by Messrs. BEDFORD Lemere & Co. 

The Library, Chesterfield House . . . . „ 211 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 

The Red Drawing-room, Crewe House . . . „ 221 

From a photograph by Mr. R. HAINE.S. 

The Ball-room, Devonshire House .... ,,231 

From a photograph by Messrs. J. RUSSELL & Sons. 

The Red Drawing-room, Devonshire House . . „ 242 

From a photograph by Messrs. J. Russell cS; Sons. 

The Grand Staircase, Dorchester House ... „ 249 

Fro7n a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS xix 

The Red Drawing-room, Dorchester House . . To face p. 254 

From a p)wtograph by Messrs. REKl'dRD LicMERE & Co. 

The Dining-room, Dorchester House .... „ 257 

From a flwlograpit by Messrs. Bedford Lemeke & Co. 

The Drawing-room, Grosvenor House .... » 260 

From a photograph by Messrs. BEDFORD Lemere & Co. 

The Rubens Room, Grosvenor House .... » 273 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 

The Drawing-room, Lansdowne House ... „ 27s 

From a photograph by Messrs. J. RussELL & SoN.S. 

The Sculpture Gallery, Lansdowne House ... ,,281 

From a photograph by Messrs. J. RUSSELL & Sons. 

The Grand Staircase, Londonderry House ... „ 291 

From a photograph by Mr. H. N. King. 

The Drawing-room, Londonderry House ... „ 295 

FroTii a photograph by Mr. H. N. King. 

The Saloon, Montagu House » 299 

From a photograph by Messrs. J. RussELL & Sons. 

The Drawing-room, Montagu House .... „ 305 

From a photograph by Messrs. J. Russell & Sons. 

The Ball-room, Norfolk House ..... » 3^3 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 

The Blue Drawing-room, Norfolk House ... „ 323 

From a photograph by Messrs. BEDFORD LEMERE & Co. 

Portman House, Portman Square ..... „ 324 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 

The Saloon, Portman House ..... „ 335 

From a photograph by Messrs. BEDFORD Lemere &. Co. 

Spencer House (West Front) >, 337 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 



XX LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Painted Room, Spencer House .... To face p. 342 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedfokd Lf.MERE & Co. 

The Great Hall, Stafford House .... „ 347 

From a photograph by Messrs. Bedford Lemere & Co. 

The Great Gallery, Stafford House . . . , . „ 357 

From a photograph by Messrs. BEDFORD Lemere & Co. 

The Ball-room, Wimborne House .... „ 365 

From a photograph by Messrs. BEDFORD Lemere & Co. 



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THE PRIVATE PALACES 
OF LONDON 

CHAPTER I 
PAST CITY PALACES 

CONSIDERING that no such iconoclastic movement as that 
which on two notable occasions devastated Paris, or, by a 
superb effort of indignant patriotism, practically wiped out 
Moscow, has ever occurred in London, it might at first 
seem strange that so many great private dwellings are but things 
of the past, and their very sites only known to those who have given 
themselves to the particular study of ancient landmarks, did we not 
remember that building development has done what popular excite- 
ment has never been able to compass, and indeed has never, except on 
one occasion,^ seriously attempted. Many of the great houses that are 
no longer in existence were situated in the eastern portion of London, 
which fashion began to desert over two hundred years ago, and where 
they once stood, streets and squares now feebly perpetuate in their names 
the glories of these once splendid palaces. In this way such noble build- 
ings as Devonshire, Salisbury, Rutland, Northampton, York, and Nor- 
thumberland Houses are now but memories, and the ample proportions of 
some of them can but be approximately guessed at by the accounts left 
by early topographers." 

Again in Piccadilly, three particularly fine mansions have disappeared, 
Clarendon House, Burlington House (where the imposing buildings known 
by that name now stand), and Berkeley House, which formerly occupied 

^ The Gordon Rioters would have destroyed more than one great private dwelling had they 
not been checked. 

^ The great buildings appertaining to the Church, which congregated along the banks of 
the Thames south of the Strand and Fleet Street, can hardly be included among private 
dwellings. 

A 



2 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the site of Devonshire House ; to say nothing of Lanesborough House, 
where St. George's Hospital is now situated. 

In Whitehall, where once clustered a number of fine private residences, 
the magnificent but modern Montagu House is the only great mansion 
which can be regarded in any way as a private palace ; Rutland, Richmond, 
Portland, Pembroke, Carrington, Fife, Dover, Rochester, and Wallingford 
Houses have all disappeared ; and Gwydwr House alone survives as the 
headquarters of one of the Government offices. 

Berkeley House, in Spring Gardens, is no more ; nor, if we turn our 
steps to Bloomsbury, shall we find any trace of Southampton House, once 
the glory of Bloomsbury Square, or of Montagu House which has long 
been swallowed up in the vast buildings of the British Museum. 

Chandos House in Cavendish Square, which indeed was never completed, 
is as forgotten as Nineveh ; and all that remains of the vast conceptions of 
the " Princely Chandos " are the two ends of the wings which he had 
allocated to the use of his servants, one of which was once occupied by a 
royal princess, and the other has now been metamorphosed into the 
seemingly inevitable flats ; while Harcourt House, close by, has in our own 
day been demolished in favour of the same class of dwellings. 

Other instances might be given, as showing that the exigencies of build- 
ing development have proved more hostile to the older houses of London 
than many revolutions would probably have been. 

Before I turn to some of those private palaces which are one of the 
glories of London to-day, I shall say something in this chapter about the 
great houses of the City which have passed away, and the associations that 
still cluster round their memories.^ 

Let us begin with Devonshire House, in the City, which stood on 
the site of the present Devonshire Square, the whole of the north side of 
which was occupied by it and its ample gardens. It was erected by Jasper 
Fisher, one of the six clerks in Chancery and a Justice of the Peace, who 
appears to have built it probably in the earlier portion of Elizabeth's reign. 
According to Stow, it was a large and beautiful house, with gardens of 
pleasure, bowling alleys, and such-like ; and the seeming absurdity of a 
man in Fisher's position building such an ostentatious dwelling appears 
to have struck the populace, who called it in consequence, " Fisher's 
Folly." Indeed it seems that Fisher ruined himself by this building, and 
if he ever lived in the place, it could only have been for a relatively short 
time, for Pennant mentions that a Mr. Cornwallis, and after him. Sir 
Roger Manners occupied it, before it was taken by the Earl of Oxford, 

' It need hardly be said that there is record of many fine houses in the City which cannot 
be considered in the light of palaces, and therefore need not be specified. 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 3 

Lord High Chamberlain to Elizabeth, who once, at least, entertained the 
Queen here, on the occasion of one of her visits to the City. 

The seventeenth Earl of Oxford succeeded his father in August 1562, 
and according to Machyn's Diary, on the 3rd of September, he rode to 
London, and thence, by " Chepe and Ludgate, to Tempelle bare," which seems 
to indicate that he had not then, at any rate, become possessed of Fisher's 
mansion. Lord Oxford was held in high favour by Elizabeth, to whom 
he is traditionally supposed to have presented the first pair of perfumed 
gloves imported into this country. A passage in the Harleian MSS. 
refers to him as " a man in minde and body, absolutely accomplished 
with honourable endowments." 

Although Pennant seems to indicate that Manners preceded Lord 
Oxford in the occupation of the house. Stow gives him as residing here 
after that peer. The matter is not, however, of great importance. 

In the reign of James L the Earl of Argyle was living here, probably 
having purchased the property after the death of Lord Oxford which 
occurred in 1604. It is uncertain how long he retained it; but that he 
was anxious to dispose of it in 1615, is proved by an entry in the East 
India Company's Calendar for January loth, of that year, where it is 
mentioned as being offered to the Company, but was found " unfit for 
their service." Later the Marquis of Hamilton resided here, and when 
he died, in March 1625, "his body was carried with much company 
and torchlights to Fisher's Folly, his house without Bishopsgate." 

Soon after the death of Lord Hamilton, the second Earl of Devonshire 
bought the mansion, and died here, on June 20, 1628.' The house 
seems to have remained in the Cavendish family till towards the end of 
the seventeenth century, and in November 1660, we read of King Charles, 
the Oueen, the Duke of York, and other members of the royal family 
being entertained here by the old Countess of Devonshire, who died, at 
a great age, in 1689, and whom Strype, writing in 1720, mentions as 
dwelling here within his memory, " in great repute for her hospitality." " 

During the Civil Wars and the Protectorate it is probable that the 
family withdrew from the place, for the house, or more probably the 
chapel attached to it, was converted into a Baptist and Presbyterian 
meeting-house, in which connection it is mentioned by Butler in his 
Hudibras. Its use as a centre of sectarianism was apparently continued 
for some years after the Restoration, for not till 1670 was it suppressed 

' The Cavendish family had been associated with this part of the town from the time of 
Henry VIII. The wife of Thomas Cavendish, Treasurer of the Exchequer to the King, being 
buried in St. Botolph's Church. 

- .A. broadside ballad, called " The Entertainment of Lady Monk at Fisher's Folly," dated 
1660, is extant. 



4 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

under the " Act for the Suppression of Conventicles," when it was con- 
verted into one of the places " appointed to be used every Lord's day for 
the celebration of divine worship by approved orthodox ministers." Later, 
at the close of the seventeenth century, when the Penny Post was started, 
Mr. Murray contrived and set up his " Bank of Credit," at Devonshire 
House, where men " depositing their goods and merchandize were furnished 
with Bills of current credit, at two-thirds or three-fourths of the value of 
said goods " ; which was apparently a sort of glorified pawnbroker's 
business ! As in the case of so many old buildings in London 
which idisappeared before the industrious J. T. Smith and others who 
followed in his steps, carefully noted such matters, the date of the 
demolition of Devonshire House is merely conjectural. It was probably 
allowed to gradually fall into ruin and decay, and when finally pulled 
down attracted only the notice of those specifically interested in the 
ground on which it stood. 

If little Is known about the fate of Devonshire House, still less is 
recorded concerning that of Northampton House, once the town resi- 
dence of the Earls of Northampton, which stood with its gardens on the 
site of what is now Northampton Square, in Clerkenwell, where the present 
Lord Northampton, who Is lord of the manor, possesses much valuable 
property ; or of that of Bridgewater House, whose name Is alone 
perpetuated in Bridgewater Square. Lord Bridgewater's mansion faced 
the Barbican, and the grounds, extending northward, are marked by 
Bridgewater Gardens (now known as Fann Street) ; the house itself 
standing, according to Stow, where the Square, which has been much cut 
up, once existed. The mansion was entered by a narrow way from the 
Barbican, where It was situated rather east of Aldersgate Street. Its 
buildings, in front of which was a courtyard, extended about 200 feet 
east and west, and Its gardens behind had an area of about 250 by 150 
feet, as may be seen In Ogilby's plan dated 1677. 

The house was destroyed by fire in April 1687,1 and the two elder 
sons of the third Earl who had only succeeded to the title in the previous 
year, perished In the flames, together with their tutor who had endeavoured 
to save their lives. Evelyn records that the orchards attached to the 
gardens were celebrated for their productiveness, and during the Civil Wars 
this was so much the case that the diarist accounts for it by the fact that 
the scarcity of coal in the metropolis caused a corresponding decrease In 
the volume of smoke ; a deduction which will rejoice the heart of Sir 
William Richmond ! Evelyn adds, " The city of London resembles rather 
the face of Etna, the court of Vulcan Stromboll, or the suburbs of hell, 
^ Pennant erroneously gives the date as 1675. 



ALBEMARLE HOUSE 5 

than an assembly of rational creatures." ^ What would he have said of it 
to-day ? 

Aylesbury House, Clerkenwell, is another of the great private palaces 
that have gone, nor " left a wrack behind." At one time the mansion and 
its grounds, which extended from Clerkenwell Green, on the west side of 
St. John's Street, southward for some 500 feet, belonged to the Knights of 
St. John of Jerusalem ; but was later granted to the Bruces, Earls of 
Aylesbury, the first of whom, who was created a peer in 1665, and held 
many high offices, such as that of Deputy Earl Marshal, and Gentleman 
of the Bedchamber, and was one of the twelve commoners deputed to 
invite Charles II. to return to this country, dates many of his letters from 
here, in 1671. 

Close to Clerkenwell Green, was still standing in Pennant's time, 
Albemarle or Newcastle House, the residence of the so-called " mad 
duchess," widow of the second Duke of Albemarle who, in the Ellis 
correspondence, is described as being "burnt to a coal with hot liquor," 
and last surviving daughter and co-heiress of Henry Cavendish, second 
Duke of Newcastle, who died in it in 1734, at the age of ninety-six, and 
of whom I shall have something more to say when speaking of Montagu 
House, Bloomsbury. 

Here, had previously lived, in great magnificence, that Duke of New- 
castle, who is remembered not only as a patron of the men of genius of 
his day, but more particularly by his elaborate work on horsemanship ; 
and with him his second duchess, the Margaret of Newcastle who among 
other books wrote the well-known life of her husband, and is enshrined 
for all time in the eulogistic reference of Charles Lamb. Evelyn visited 
the Duke and Duchess here, and in his Diary for April 18, 1667, one of 
these occasions is recorded thus : " I went to make court to the Duke 
and Duchess of Newcastle at their house in Clerkenwell, being newly 
come out of the north. They received me with great kindnesse, and 
I was much pleased with the extraordinary fanciful habit, garb, and 
discourse of the Duchess." 

After the death of the " mad duchess," Newcastle House was cut up 
into small tenements, and its memory is alone preserved in Newcastle 
Place and Newcastle Row which are situated near where it once stood. 
There is a view of Newcastle House in Pink's History of Clerkenwell,^ 
and the author there states that George Monk, the first Duke of Albe- 
marle, was living here in 1686, as is also evidenced by a letter addressed 

' Evelyn's Fumiftigium. 

''■ The view of the house referred to is taken from a curious drawing by Hollar, dated 1661. 



6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

to him here, by the Earl of Sunderland, in that year ; while Sir 
John Bramston, in his Autobiography ^ mentions that he was with the 
Duke at Newcastle House when this very communication arrived on 
July 30th. 

In Aldersgate Street quite a number of noble residences once existed ; 
but you shall seek long enough nowadays for the least trace of any of 
them. There was, for example, Petre House, once the town residence 
of the heads of the ancient Petre family, who lived here from the middle 
of the sixteenth century till the year 1639; after which, in 1657, it 
belonged to Henry Pierrepoint, Marquis of Dorchester, who died in 1680. 
Later still, in consequence of the destruction of the old palace near St. 
Paul's, it was acquired by the See of London, and at least one bishop, 
Henchman, died here, in 1675 ; upon which event it seems to have been 
rented by Rawlinson, the non-juring Bishop of London.^ 

Close to Petre House, on the opposite side of the street, once stood 
Thanet House, which occupied the east side of Aldersgate Street, about 
600 feet south of the Barbican ; it was built round a courtyard, and had a 
large square garden behind to the east, and took its name from the 
Tuftons, Earls of Thanet, having been their town house ; while it was 
known at a later date as Shaftesbury House when it became the residence 
of the Earl of Shaftesbury. Lady Pembroke in her True Memorials mentions 
the house in the following connection : " The 7 day of May, 1664, being 
Saturdie, about 3 o'clock dyed my sonne-in-law, John Tufton, Earle of 
Thanet, in his house called Thanet House, in Aldersgate Street at London, 
in those lodgings that look towards the street which he had about 20 years 
since built with freestone very magnificent." ' Pennant describes it as a 
very fine old house, built about the time of Charles L, as well it might be 
when we know that Inigo Jones designed it, and states that it was either 
rented or purchased by Lord Shaftesbury, in the days of Charles II., who 
desired to have a city residence so that he could the more readily inculcate 
his incendiary principles among the citizens, of whom, it was his boast, 
that he could raise ten thousand by holding up his finger. Fearing, 
however, the detection of one of the many plots in which he was engaged, 
he fled the country in 1683, and died in Holland, whither he had taken 
refuge, although when in power he had never ceased advocating war 
against that country. Pennant, a propos of this, gives a curious anecdote. 
It appears that Shaftesbury always ended up his violent tirades against 
the Dutch with the words, " Delenda est Carthago." Before flying to 
Holland, he thought it wise to obtain specific permission to live there, 

• There is a ground plan of this house in Wilkinson's Londina Illusirata. 
^ There is an illustration extant, of which a reproduction is given here. 



THANET HOUSE 7 

and to that end applied to the Republic, the magistrates of which replied 
in the following terms : " Carthago, non adhuc abolita, Comitem de 
Shaftesbury in gremio suo recipere vult ! " 

Thanet, or Shaftesbury House has another interest, for here, on his 
return from the Continent, in 1679, John Locke resided under Lord 
Shaftesbury's protection ; indeed he seems to have made it his head- 
quarters until his lordship went to Holland ; while another interesting 
figure is also connected with the house, for at least, on one occasion, the 
Duke of Monmouth withdrew hither for concealment during the time 
when he was plotting against the Crown. 

Some years later — to be precise, in 1708 — the mansion was again in the 
possession of the Thanet family, from which it may be surmised that it 
had only been let to Lord Shaftesbury ; but it soon passed to other uses, 
and in 1720 we find it converted into an inn — surely, considering its pro- 
portions, more like a precursor of one of the elaborate hotels of our own 
day, than the humble and generally exiguous hostelries of the eighteenth 
century ! Fourteen years later it had become merely a tavern, while from 
1750 to 1771, it was occupied by the London Lying-in Hospital, and two 
views of it as such are given in Maitland's History of London, published 
in 1756. Further vicissitudes awaited it, till, in 1882, it was finally 
demolished, and Shaftesbury Hall and various shops were built on 
its site. 

Two other great mansions which also stood in Aldersgate Street were 
Westmoreland House and Northumberland House ; the former, 
which Pennant terms " a magnificent pile," was the town house of the 
Earls of Westmoreland, and its name, after it had itself gone the way of 
most of the stately residences of older London, survived in Westmoreland 
Court ; the latter stood at the corner of Bull and Mouth Street, and was the 
infrequent London resort of Hotspur.^ Henry IV., in the seventh year 
of his reign gave it to his queen and it was, for a time, known as the 
Queen's Wardrobe ; " its later history includes its conversion successively 
into a printing-house and a tavern — to such base uses come the noblest 
piles ! 

Another house in this quarter, dating from about the same remote 
period, was Shelley House, erected by Sir Thomas Shelley in the first year 
of Henry IV. 's reign, but rebuilt by Sir Nicholas Bacon in the time of 

^ Another Northumberland House stood near Seething Lane, and was occupied by 
Hotspur's father, that Earl of Northumberland who once sent a challenge to Henry IV. In the 
reign of Henry VI. the two Earls, father and son, who were killed respectively at St. Albans 
and Towton, occupied it, and later it became a gaming-house, one of the first in London, 
according to Stow, who calls it "their ancient and only patron of misrule." 

- Stow. 



8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Elizabeth, when it was known as Bacon House. According to Mr. 
Wheatley, it seems to have been inhabited jointly by the Bacon family and 
by Recorder Fleetwood, the friend and correspondent of Lord Burghley, 
and in one of his letters, dated July 21, 1578, he mentions that "my 
Lord Keeper (Bacon), my Ladie, and all the house are come to London 
this night." But Stow seems to indicate that Fleetwood possessed 
another and quite separate residence.^ 

Lauderdale House was also one of the great city mansions of which 
all traces have disappeared. It stood on the east side of the north end of 
Aldersgate Street, between Crown and Hare Courts, or Nos. 51 and 6^ 
of the present street, and, as its name implies, was the town residence of 
the Duke of Lauderdale, the "L" of the famous "Cabal" Ministry. 
According to the views of it by Tompkins, preserved in the Crowle 
Pennant, it appears to have stood back from the street and to have been 
built of red brick ; and one of the illustrations represents a room on the 
second floor, in which can be seen the Lauderdale arms carved on the 
chimneypiece. 

In Mark Lane, close by, was another " magnificent house," according 
to Strype, that of Sir William Sharrington, chief oflicer of the Mint - under 
Edward VI., and a tool of the ambitious Thomas Seymour, with whom 
he fell and was attainted. Sharrington House was then given to 
Henry Fitz-Alan, Earl of Arundel, "being thought a fit habitation for 
that great peer on account of its size and splendour" ; ^ but its later history 
is hidden in obscurity, as is the record of that once famous Worcester Place, 
near Vintner's Hall, in Upper Thames Street, where lived the enlightened 
though cruel John Tiptoff, Earl of Worcester, Lord High Treasurer of 
England, which Stow mentions as being, in his time, divided into many 
tenements. 

Practically all vestiges of the houses of old London have passed away ; 
nothing but their names survive in the pages of the earlier chronicles of 
the great city to indicate their former existence and " to point where the 
fabric stood " ; those I have mentioned are eloquent of this ; some I shall 
presently notice in this chapter, no less bear out the remark, for if the 
name of a street or a square perpetuates their one-time existence, it is as 
much as we can obtain in elucidation of their former approximate positions ; 
but before passing to these, there is one notable exception in Crosby Place, 
the Great Hall of which has only just been swept out of being. 

^ Stow, p. 291. 

2 Walpole conjectures that the lightness observable in the coins of Edward VI. was due to 
Sharrington's embezzlements. A portrait of Sir William, by Holbein, is noted by Walpole as 
being at Kensington Palace. 

^ Pennant. 



CROSBY PLACE 9 

As to the merits of the controversy that has been recently raging over 
this splendid relic I need not enter at any great length here ; nor, unfor- 
tunately, has it any longer power to materially interest us. The harm is 
done ; the once splendid and interesting landmark has disappeared, and 
commercialism, as usual, has emerged triumphant ; but in a book dealing 
partly v/ith the old houses of London, it may be expected that I should 
say a few words about a matter that six people consider the natural out- 
come of modern requirements, and half-a-dozen regard as nothing short 
of iconoclastic vandalism. 

There is no doubt that when our own individual pockets are not in 
danger of being touched, we can all wax virtuously indignant against those 
who are not ready to sacrifice immense sums (for any preservation in 
London nowadays almost inevitably means this) on the altar of what one 
may term antiquarian patriotism ; but what does to me seem, I confess, an 
astounding anomaly, is that a City which is proverbially the richest in the 
world should not itself be in a position to rescue some of these disappear- 
ing landmarks without which it will soon come to lose all interest other 
than as a hive where so many bees are perpetually turning out so much 
honey. 

We all know what happens when some old building, historically 
valuable and interesting, is threatened with demolition ; people who live 
laborious days in efforts of preservation and restoration hold meetings ; 
others who sympathise in such aims and are not perhaps averse, in such 
good causes, from seeing their names at the foot of long letters in the daily 
press, write to the papers ; sometimes the Mansion House oracle is invoked, 
and all goes merrily, what time the value of the property is being, perhaps 
unconsciously, enhanced, and the owners very properly are sitting quietly 
and saying nothing, but are probably filled with not unpleasant thoughts. 
At length something tangible is put forward, generally, by-the-bye, so late 
in the day, that some one else is already in the field with a bundle of 
bank-notes in one hand and in the other the ground-plan and elevation 
of a block of flats. And then it is that the price named is found to be 
naturally enough a large one, such a large one, indeed, as can only be 
possible to purchasers who are able to turn their speculation into a 
reasonable profit — and then .'' — why then all and sundry are asked to 
contribute, and the names of prominent millionaires are bandied about, 
and the readers of newspapers feel it a positive grievance that one of 
these plutocrats does not come forward and present the relic to an 
admiring, and, the next day, a forgetful country. 

And those who by prescriptive right should, if any one should, take 
the burden on their own shoulders, have so often in the past been helped 



lo THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

by the altruism of rich men (in the purchase of pictures for the nation 
there is no end to this generosity), that they apparently feel safe in risking 
the loss of a landmark, hoping that at the last minute such generosity will 
be repeated. 

The loss of Crosby Hall seems to me a national loss, not only in so 
much weight of antiquated bricks and mortar, so much petrified tradition, 
as it were ; but in the fact that this great city, rich as not Rome in its 
glory was rich, is yet not so rich but that a relatively insignificant space in 
its vast area can be wrested from it, and that its inability to save one of its 
most cherished buildings, is made patent to the world. 

Shakespeare who, at one time, lived close by, has done more, perhaps, 
than all the topographers ^ who have written on it, to make Crosby Place 
famous, and it is probable that had he not laid some of the scenes of his 
Richard III. here, the connection of that sinister figure, although histori- 
cally indisputable, with the place, would have come down to us in the 
hazy manner which makes such associations dear to antiquaries and almost 
unknown of the general public. 

From certain excavations made in 1871 and 1873, the discovery of 
some tessellated pavements lead to the supposition that a Roman villa 
stood on the site of Crosby Place which was erected in 1466, on ground 
leased from Alice Ashfield, Prioress of St. Helens, for a term of ninety- 
nine years, at the annual rent of ^11, 6s. 8d., by Sir John Crosby. 
Sir John is known to have been an alderman, and one of the Sheriffs of 
London in 147 1, in which year he was knighted by Edward IV., but he 
died four years later, which caused Stow to write: "So short a time 
enjoyed he that large and sumptuous building." He was buried in the 
church of St. Helens, to which he had been a liberal benefactor,^ where a 
monument to him and his wife (who died in 1466) was erected on the 
south side of the chancel. The house, built by Sir John, was of stone 
and timber, and, according to Stow, was not only very large and beautiful, 
but was also " the highest at that time in London." 

It is a little obscure under what conditions the Duke of Gloucester 
obtained the place, but that he was here in 1483, we have good authority 
for knowing, and while here he determined on the murder of his brother 
the Duke of Clarence. Shakespeare makes a room in the Palace, the scene 
of his interview with the murderers, to whom he says: "When you have 

' In the Gc7itlemaii's Magazine, London Topography, vol. i., there is an article on Crosby 
Place; the Rev. T. Hugo's paper on 11(1856) is printed in the Transactions of the London 
Archceological Society, and it is dealt with in every history of London ; while a small book 
(by Mr. C. W. F. Goss) on it has recently appeared. 

" The Churches of London, by Godwin and Britton, 1S39. 



CROSBY PLACE ii 

done, repair to Crosby Place ; " and it will be remembered that after he has 
so strangely wooed and won the Lady Anne, Gloucester asks her " to 
presently repair to Crosby Place " ; while after his interview with Catesby 
whom he directs to sound Lord Hastings in reference to his own designs 
on the the throne, he says, " At Crosby Hall there shall you find us 
both," meaning himself and his Fidus Achates, Buckingham. Here, too, 
in the Great Hall Richard was acclaimed as king at that carefully packed 
meeting, the spirited representation of which may be seen in Mr. Sigisimund 
Goetze's mural painting in the Royal Exchange. 

The next owner of the mansion was Sir Bartholomew Read, who 
occupied it during his year of office as Lord Mayor, in 1501 ; and he 
was succeeded in its tenancy by Sir John Best, who subsequently sold it to 
Sir Thomas More, probably about 15 14 or the following year. 

By a curious coincidence, or perhaps the fact was due to his residence 
in a place identified with the usurper, Sir Thomas More, wrote here his 
Life of Richard III., and if the date of his first occupation of the place 
is correctly assumed as being 1514 or 1515, then it is probable that he 
also wrote his Utopia within its walls, that famous book being first 
published in 15 16. Two years later More was made Master of Bequests 
and Privy Counsellor by Henry VIII., and there seems no reasonable doubt 
but that the King, with whom at this period he was in high favour, must have 
visited him here. Five years later (1523) More, who was then Speaker 
of the House of Commons, sold Crosby Place to his friend Bonsevi, or as 
Stow calls him Bonvice, who some years later leased it to More's son-in- 
law, William Roper, and also to his nephew William Rastell, but whether 
these two occupied it jointly or successively, is not clear ; however in the 
following reign they, together with their landlord, were driven abroad on 
account of religious persecution, and Crosby Place was therefore forfeited 
to the Crown ; under Mary, however, it was restored to Bonsevi. 

The next possessor of the mansion was that Jeremiah (Stow calls him 
Germain) Croll who married a cousin of Sir Thomas Gresham, and 
who continued to reside here till 1566, when Alderman Bond, the most 
famous merchant adventurer of the day, who died in 1576, and was buried 
in St. Helens, purchased it for /^ijoo; while in his possession, his 
Excellency, Henry Ramelius, Chancellor of Denmark, who came, as 
Ambassador to this country in 1586, was lodged here; a circumstance 
that seems to have set the fashion of "putting up" illustrious foreigners 
here, probably on account of the beauty and size of the house ; for it 
having been again sold in 1594, to Sir John Spencer, who gave £1^60 
for it, a succession of envoys occupied it temporarily ; the Due de Sully, 
in 1594; the Due de Biron, in 1601 ; M. de Rosney, who was entertained 



12 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

here by Sir John Spencer, in 1603;^ and the Russian Ambassador, in 
161 8. In connection with the Due de Biron's stay here, a letter from the 
Lord Mayor to the Lords of the Council is extant, acknowledging the 
receipt of their letter, enclosing a petition from the upholsterers and others 
for an allowance for furnishing the Duke Byron (sic) and his train with 
stuffs, saddles, &c., and requesting them to excuse the City from this 
service, as they were hardly pressed for payment of the money demands 
made upon them in the service of the State.' 

Sir John Spencer, who was one of those knighted on the occasion of 
Queen Mary's accession, was known as "rich Spencer" from the amount 
of his wealth, which is said to have approached a million sterling, an 
enormous sum in those days; he was Lord Mayor of London in 1594, 
in anticipation of which event probably he purchased Crosby Place earlier 
in that year. Under Spencer the mansion flourished exceedingly, for he 
not only enlarged and beautified it, adding " a most large warehouse near 
thereunto," but also kept open house here for a number of years. As 
Sir John had no son, his daughter was heiress to his immense wealth ; 
but in the very year of her father's mayoralty, she eloped, it is said in a 
baker's basket carried on the shoulders of her lover,^ with Lord Compton, 
from Canonbury Tower, which Sir John had bought from Thomas, Lord 
Wentworth, in 1570; and which he used as a suburban residence. The 
father was furious, and determined to disinherit his wilful offspring. In 
this emergency the young couple besought the Queen's intercession, when 
her Majesty, who always had a soft heart for such escapades, hit on the 
following expedient to reconcile father and daughter. She invited, in 
1 60 1, Sir John to be fellow-sponsor with her, at the christening of a boy, 
who, she said, was the firstborn of a young couple who had married for 
love. The old man replied that as he had now no heir he should like to 
adopt the child, whereupon, at the ceremony, the Queen bestowed the 
name of Spencer on the infant, and afterwards informed Sir John that he 
had stood godfather, and had promised to adopt, his own grandson ; 
whereupon reconciliation, joy, and gladness,!* 

Sir John continued to reside at Crosby Place till his death, in March 
1609, when a remarkable funeral took place, the details of which are 
preserved in a letter from Mr. Beaulieu to Mr. Trumbull, dated the 
22nd of the same month. ^ "Upon Tuesdav the funerals of Sir John 

' See note in Nichol's Progresses 0/ James /., vol. i. pp. 1 59-60. ' Reinembrancia, p. 409. 

' Agnes Strickland says this occurred in the thirty-sixth year of Elizabeth's reign, but 
Doyle, in his official Baronage, gives the date of the marriage as June 14, 1600. 

■■ Histories of Noble British Families, by Henry Drummond. 

'^ Winwood's Memorials of State, vol. i. p. 136 ; also Sir Egerton Brydges' Memoirs of 
the Peers of England, pp. 460-61. 



CROSBY PLACE 13 

Spencer were made, where some thousand men did assist, in mourning 
cloaks and gowns," writes Beaulieu, " amongst which were 320 poor 
men, who had every one a basket given them, stored with the particular 
provision set down in this note enclosed, e.g.^ a black gown, four pounds 
of beef, two loaves of bread, a little bottle of wine, a candlestick, a 
pound of candles, two saucers, two spoons, a black pudding, a pair of 
gloves, a dozen of points, two red herrings, four white herrings, six 
sprats, and two eggs ; but to expound to you the mystical meaning of 
such an antic furniture, I am not so skilful as CEdipus, except it 
doth design the horn of abundance, which my Lord Compton hath found 
in that succession." 

The correspondent goes on to indicate that the accession to such 
enormous wealth as Sir John had left, was at first likely to have unhinged 
Lord Compton's mind, and he speaks of him as having fallen into "a 
phrenzy " ; this must, however, have soon passed off, for we find him in 
the following year holding responsible office ; but scandal of a graver sort 
was rife, for it was asserted, apparently with no proof, " that he hath 
suppressed a will of the deceased's whereby he did bequeath some ;/^2o,00O 
to his poor kindred, and as much in pious uses." 

Lady Spencer (her maiden name was Alice Bromfield) died just a year 
after her husband, and as she distributed between £1^,000 and ;^ 15,000 
amongst her friends, Lord Compton appears again to have become dis- 
tracted, and this time the matter was so serious that Mr. Beaulieu ^ states 
that "the administration of his goods and lands is committed to the Lords 
Chamberlain, Privy Seal, and Worcester ; who, coming the last week into 
the City, took an inventory, in the presence of the Sheriffs, of the goods 
(in Crosby Place), amongst which, it is said, there were bonds found for 
;^i33,ooo."'^ However, Lord Compton again recovered from the effects 
of too much wealth, as in 161 7, we find him created Lord President 
of Wales. 

During the tenancy of Crosby Place by Lord Compton, who was 
created Earl of Northampton, in 161 8, the Countess of Pembroke, cele- 
brated in Ben Jonson's famous epitaph, and well known for her love of 
literature and her patronage of literary men, resided for some time here, 
notably in 1609, although her death, which occurred on September 25, 
1 62 I, took place at " her house in Aldersgate Street." Nine years later, 
the 1st Earl of Northampton also died, not here, but at his lodgings in 

^ In a letter dated March 29, 1610. 

° In a scarce little work entitled The V'atiity of the Lives and Passions of lilen, by 
David Papillon, 1651, it is stated that there was once a plot concocted by a Dunkirk 
pirate to carry Sir John Spencer to France, for the sake of the ransom it was hoped to 
secure. It was currently reported that Spencer died worth ^8oo,<x)o. 



14 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the Savoy, under tragically sudden circumstances, thus related in a con- 
temporary letter,^ dated July 2, 1630 : " Yesterday sevennight, the Earl 
of Northampton, after he had waited on the King at supper, and had also 
supped, went in a boat with others to wash himself in the Thames, and 
so soon as his legs were in the water but to the knees, he had the colic, 
and cried out, ' Have me into the boat again, for I am a dead man ' ; and 
died a few hours after." 

He was succeeded by his only son Spencer, whose advent into the 
world, as we have seen, brought about the reconciliation between Sir John 
Spencer and his daughter and son-in-law. He was a fine linguist and 
an accomplished courtier, and Clarendon calls him " a person of great 
courage, honour, and fidelity." Having an intimate knowledge of court 
ceremonial, he was, as we know from the diary of Sir John Finett, Master 
of the Ceremonies, frequently employed in the introduction of foreign 
envoys to the King whom, by-the-bye, he had, as Master of the Rolls, 
accompaned to Spain in 1623, when the Spanish match was on the tapis. 
He continued to reside at Crosby Place till within a few years of his death, 
which occurred at the battle of Hopton Heath, in 1643. But five years 
before that event the mansion was in the hands of the East India Company, 
who probably rented it, as its annual value was then stated to be ;^ioo.^ 
Later it was leased to Sir John Langham, Sheriff of London, in 1642 ; 
and during the Civil Wars it was used as a house of detention for political 
prisoners ; Sir Kenelm Digby, Sir John Jacob, and Sir George Whitmore 
being among those incarcerated here for refusing to contribute money for 
the service of the Parliament. 

Sir John Langham's son, Sir Stephen Langham, subsequently continued 
to occupy it ; and it was during his time that a great fire broke out here 
which so seriously damaged the mansion that it was never afterwards occu- 
pied as a private residence. Under Charles 11.^ the Great Hall was used as 
one of those meeting-places of sectarianism that sprang up all over London,* 
and the congregation continued to meet here till 1769, when it removed 
to Southwark. About one hundred years previously the houses in Crosby 
Square had been built on the ruins of that portion of the mansion 
destroyed by fire ; and the magnificent hall practically alone remained to 
indicate the stateliness of the original building. This Great Hall has been 

^ Given in Peck's Desiderata Ctiriosa. 

^ MS. preserved in Lambeth Palace ; quoted in London Past and Present. 

^ From 1678 to 16S7 " The grand office of the Penny Post" was held here ; and in 1700 
the East India Company occupied again a portion of the Great Hall for a year or two. 
Londo7i Past and Present. 

* As early as 1618 we find Sir Robert Naunton writing to the Lord Mayor and stating, 
inter alia, that the Council had heard of a " confluence of loose people about Crosby House 
upon a Conventicle of anabaptists there assembled." Remembrancia, p. 453. 



CROSBY PLACE 15 

desecrated beyond all example. It was used as a packer's warehouse from 
1 810 to 1 83 1, during which period its then proprietor, Mr. Strickland 
Freeman, removed all the stonework pillars and ornamental masonry of 
the council chamber to his seat at Henley, and says Allen,^ " with the 
most barbarous taste erected a dairy with them ! " The twelfth Duke of 
Norfolk made better use of the opportunities that then presented them- 
selves, for he was so delighted with the beauty of the roof that he had 
drawings made of it, and built the banqueting-room at Arundel on its 
model. There is no doubt but that, at about this time, much of antiquarian 
and historical value as regards the fabric, was removed by enthusiastic 
collectors who found it was not difficult to persuade the ignorant 
custodians of the place to part with many relics. 

When the lease of the packing firm ran out, public attention was 
directed to the state of the Great Hall and what little remained of other 
parts of the once stately mansion, with the happy result that the interior 
was carefully restored and the frontage to Great St. Helens rebuilt ; the 
Bishopsgate Street front, although erected in the old style, formed but a 
magnificent forgery, as it was no part of the original building. The first 
stone of the new work was laid in 1836, and six years later the Hall was 
reopened by the Lord Mayor. 

In the same year it was leased to what was thereupon termed the 
Crosby Hall Literary Institute, and when this ceased to exist in i860, the 
Great Hall was used as a wine merchant's warehouse. In 1868 it was 
converted into a restaurant, in which capacity we all remember it ; and 
hurrying waiters attended to the wants of city clerks, on the spot where 
once the great Sir Thomas More had sat ; where the crown of England 
had been offered to the Duke of Gloucester; and where "Sidney's sister, 
Pembroke's mother," had surrounded herself with, perhaps, the first 
literary salon ever held in this country. And now " glorious Crosby 
Hall," as Baron Bunsen called it, so far as the city is concerned, is as much 
a thing of the past as Troy or Babylon ! 

In very early days many of the houses of the nobles of the time were 
called " Inns " ; thus at the end of Silver Street, once stood Neville's Inn, 
the town house of John, Lord Neville, in the reign of Edward III., which, 
in Henry IV. 's reign, passed to Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, 
and in 1558, became the property of Lord Windsor, being then called 
Windsor Place ; while in Warwick Lane was situated the inn or house of 
the Beauchamps, Earls of Warwick, from whence the street took its name. 
This house was once the residence of the king-maker, and to show that 
' History of London, vol. iii. p. 156. 



1 6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the place was capable of sustaining and lodging the almost princely retinue 
that usually attended that great man, we have Stow's description of his 
coming hither in 1458, "with 600 men all in red jackets embroidered, 
with ragged staves before and behind," who were lodged in Warwick Inn, 
where "there was often six oxen eaten at a breakfast, and every taverne 
was full of his meate ; -^ for hee that had any acquaintance in that house, 
might have there so much of sodden and roaste meate, as he could pricke 
and carry upon a long dagger." 

Another branch of the great family of Nevills, had their town house 
in the heart of the city, which was known as Abergavenny or Burgaveny 
House, at the north end of Ave Maria Lane, and was the residence of 
Henry Nevill, fourth Baron Abergavenny, who was one of the Com- 
missioners appointed to preside at the trial of Mary, Queen of Scots, in 
1586, and who died two years later. According to Stow the great house 
" builded of stone and timber," originally belonged to John de Bretagne, 
who had been created Earl of Richmond by Edward I., and who died in 
1334. Later the place was known as Pembroke Inn," having passed into 
the possession of the Earl of Pembroke, of the Hastings line, in the reign 
of Edward II., and was eventually the town residence of that John de 
Hastings, who married Margaret, youngest daughter of Edward III., as 
well as of his son, another John de Hastings, the third Earl of Pembroke, 
who died in 1389, having married Elizabeth, daughter of John, Duke of 
Lancaster ; so that Pembroke Inn had at one time almost a claim to be 
considered a royal residence. If, indeed. Stow is correct in stating that 
it was also the house of the Earl of Pembroke in the fourteenth year of 
Henry VI. 's reign, then it actually was a royal palace for a time, for the 
Earldom of Pembroke had been bestowed, in 14 14, on the celebrated Duke 
Humphrey, fourth son of Henry IV., who died in 1446; and with the 
earldom went, almost as a matter of course, the property, including the 
London house. 

It appears to have come later into the hands of Sir Nicholas Bacon, for 
Mr. Wheatley quotes from a letter of his to Matthew Parker, afterwards 
Archbishop, dated 1558, in which he asks the latter to come and see him 
"at Burgeny House in Paternoster Row." In 1611, the property was 
purchased by the Stationers' Company, which had been incorporated in 
1557, for use as their hall; and they enlarged and otherwise brought it 
up to date to suit the requirements of the headquarters of a great City 
Company ; it was, however, destroyed in the Great Fire, and the present 
hall erected on its site in 1670. 

■■ Meaning that the taverns around were keeping supplies ready for the Earl. 
2 Stow. 



WARWICK HOUSE ly 

Warwick Court, nearly opposite Chancery Lane, in Holborn, preserves 
the memory, if nothing else, of a mansion that formerly stood on its site, 
known as Warwick House, the residence of the Earls of Warwick, but 
which from a passage in a lease of some ground adjoining granted by the 
Corporation of Gray's Inn to Charles, Earl of Warwick, in 1665, and 
quoted in Douthwaite's History of Grays Inn, is shown to have been 
originally known as Allington House, the residence of Mrs. Allington. 

Warwick House is one of those that I cannot claim, from ignorance of 
its size, &c., as a private palace, but, inasmuch as it was the home of the 
Earl of Warwick, who fought on the Parliamentary side during the Civil 
Wars, and was in every respect a remarkable man, I think its inclusion 
here may be in some sort justified. 

Lady Warwick died here on January 16, 1646, and was buried in the 
church of St. Lawrence, near the Guildhall. Later Pepys dined here 
on one occasion (March 3, 1660) with Lord Sandwich, the Earl of 
Manchester, Lord Fiennes, Lord Berkeley, and Sir Dudley North ; and 
from the passage in the Diary where the event is recorded, I gather that 
the place then belonged to the Earl of Manchester ; while a curious 
circumstance proves it later to have been the residence of Lord Clare, 
for Burnet relates how William, Lord Russell, on his way to execution, 
passed the house, and " observing all shut up there, asked if my Lord 
Clare was out of town," to which the Bishop replied that " he could not 
think any windows would be open there on this occasion." ^ 

Another mansion that stood somewhat to the east of Warwick House 
was Brooke House, which immediately adjoined Furnival's Inn to the west, 
about 120 feet from Gray's Inn Road, the memory of which is preserved 
in Brooke Street and Greville Street, which run through the site of the 
house and its gardens which extended at the back of the buildings." 

Brooke House was originally known as Bath House, having been, 
according to Stow, "of late for the most part new built" (which seems to 
indicate an earlier owner still of whom all trace is lost), by William 
Bourchier, Earl of Bath, who married Elizabeth, daughter of the second 
Earl of Bedford, in 1583, and died on July 12, 1623.^ ^^ was afterwards 
in the possession of Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, the " brave gentleman " 
mentioned by Sir Robert Naunton in his Fragmenta Regalia, and who 
was also described as " servant to Queen Elizabeth, counsellor to King 

' Quoted in London Past and Prcstnt. 

- Those curious in such matters can locate the various old houses of London with the help 
of Ogilby's splendid plan of 1677, where they are clearly indicated in many instances. 

^ Nicholas Stone, however, records, in his diary for the year 1622, making "a diall for my 
Lord Brooke in Holbourn, for the which I had ^8, los.," which seems to indicate that Lord 
Brooke had acquired the house before Lord Bath's death. 



1 8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

James, and friend to Sir Philip Sidney." After holding a number of 
important offices under two sovereigns, and being on intimate terms of 
friendship with them both, besides sustaining an unblemished character 
during a peculiarly difficult period for preserving one. Lord Brooke fell a 
victim to one of his own servants, who assassinated him at Brooke House, 
on September 30, 1628. 

Two years later the mansion was prepared, at the expense of the 
Crown, for the reception of the French Ambassador, probably by some 
arrangement with Lord Brooke's executors ; but, in any case, it seems 
never afterwards to have been occupied by the Greville family. Among 
later events connected with it, the christening of Sir Arthur Haslerigge's 
infant daughter in 1635, ^"^ ^^e lodging here of the French Ambassadors, 
"where they were entertained at the charge of His Highness," in 1658, 
are recorded, as is the sitting here of the " Brooke House Committee," 
which had been appointed, in 1668, to examine into the expenditure of 
certain moneys granted by Parliament to Charles II. for the ostensible 
purpose of prosecuting the war with Holland, but which seem, as was not 
then unusual, to have been employed by his Majesty in more peaceful pro- 
jects. We find Pepys, on December i8th, wending his way thither, and 
carrying with him by order, the " Contract-books, from the beginning to 
the end of the late war." "I found him" (Colonel Thomson), says the 
Diarist, " finding of errors in a ship's book, where he showed me many, 
which must end in the ruin, I doubt, of the Comptroller." 

This was not Pepys's earliest visit here, however, for on the preceding 
3rd of July, he writes that he attended here for the first time on that day, 
and remained long with the Commissioners and found them " hot set on 
the matter," but he adds, "I did give them proper and safe answers." 

Burnet tells us how deeply Charles felt this "Brooke House business" 
which he " resolved to revenge." 

With these data^ the short history of Brooke House comes to an abrupt 
termination. It is probable that, like so many other fine houses, it gradually 
fell into decay and was after a time used for commercial purposes before 
being altogether demolished. 

If there be any doubt about the importance of Warwick House, or 
Brooke House, there seems to be little regarding two other mansions which 
once stood in Holborn ; Southampton House and Hatton House. 

The former was the home of the great family of the Wriothesleys, 
Earls of Southampton, and the industrious Stow gives a resume of its 
history in the following words : — 

" Beyond the bars (Holborn Bars) had ye in old time a Temple built 



SOUTHAMPTON HOUSE 19 

by the Templars, whose order first began in 1 1 1 8, in the 1 9th of Henry I. 
This Temple was left and fell to ruin since the year 11 84, when the 
Templars had built them a new Temple in Fleet Street, near to the river 
of Thames. A great part of this old Temple was pulled down but of late 
in the year 1595. Adjoining to this old Temple was some time the Bishop 
of Lincoln's Inn, wherein he lodged when he repaired to this City. Robert 
de Curars, Bishop of Lincoln, built it about the year 1147. John Russell, 
Bishop of Lincoln, Chancellor of England in the reign of Richard III., was 
lodged there. It hath of late years belonged to the Earls of Southampton, 
and therefore called Southampton House. Master Ropar hath of late 
built much there ; by means whereof part of the ruins of the old Temple 
were seen to remain, built of Caen stone, round in form as the new Temple 
at Temple Bar." 

This extract shows us that there was an adventitious interest attached 
to the great house, in that it was practically erected on the foundations of 
the Templars' earlier structure, some remains of which were shown to Mr. 
Cunningham by a Mr. Griffith in 1847, notably the walls and flat-timbered 
roof of what was called the " chapel " of the house. 

According to Strype, the mansion was conveyed in fee to Lord 
Southampton, who was Lord Chancellor in the reign of Henry VIII. 
and Edward VI., and who was created an Earl by the latter monarch, 
at whose coronation he bore the sword of state. Lord Southampton 
died in 1550, and was succeeded by his son Henry, who married Mary, 
daughter of the first Viscount Montagu, and died in 1581. His second 
son, who inherited the titles and estates, was attainted in 1601, for 
complicity in Lord Essex's plot. He was the friend and patron of 
Shakespeare, who, as all the world knows, dedicated his Venus ajid Adonis 
to him, and was not improbably a frequent guest at Southampton House. 
An earlier plot, well known as Babington's, which had for its object the 
murder of Elizabeth, the release of Mary Queen of Scots, and a general 
rising of the Roman Catholics, was partly concocted within the walls of 
Southampton House, where the conspirators were accustomed to meet to 
mature their nefarious plans. 

On the accession of James I., the dignities that Lord Southampton had 
forfeited by attainder, were restored to the Earl ; and in the Calendar of 
State Papers is a record of a Bill, which James ordered to be prepared, 
confirming certain privileges to him, as well as extending " the liberties 
of Southampton House from Holborn Bars to the Rolls in Chancery 
Lane." The Earl died in 1624, and was succeeded by his second son, 
whom Clarendon describes as " in his nature melancholick and reserved in 
conversation." He apparently fell somewhat on bad times financially, for he 



20 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

is said to have asked the permission of Charles I. to pull down Southampton 
House and to build tenements on its site, " which would have been much 
advantage to him, and his fortune hath need of some helps " ; ^ but 
though the King brought the petition before his Council, and recommended 
its being agreed to, " telling their lordships that my Lord of Southampton 
was a person whom he much respected," the petition was dismissed. 

During the Civil Wars a well is said to have been found by a soldier 
near this mansion, which had the power to heal the blind and the lame ! 
What it could not do was to save the old house from the destruction 
which took place three or four years after the discovery of the well's 
singular properties, although fragments of the structure were in existence 
as late as 1850.° 

Hatton House stood nearly opposite St. Andrew's Church, on the 
site of Ely House or Inn, once the residence of the powerful Bishops of 
Ely,^ where in 1399 "Old John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster," 
breathed his last, and referred to, it will be remembered, in that passage in 
Richard III., where the usurper beseeches the Bishop to send for some of 
the strawberries growing in his garden there. The history of Ely Place 
need not detain us here however;* pass we therefore to the year 1576, 
when Sir Christopher Hatton, Oueen Elizabeth's " dancing Chancellor" and 
intimate friend, obtained a twenty-one years' lease of the gate-house and 
some portions of the buildings in the outer courtyard, together with the 
garden and orchard adjoining. The conditions of the lease would seem 
curious and anything but exacting so far as the rent was concerned, for 
this consisted merely of "a red rose, ten loads of hay, and £10 per 
annum," did we not know that royal pressure had been brought to bear 
on Cox, then the Bishop, who, however, as some set ofF-for his sacrifice 
was allowed the privilege for himself and his successors of walking in the 
garden and culling therefrom twenty bushels of roses yearly. The 
peremptory letter sent by Elizabeth to Cox to enforce these terms has 
been long considered a forgery, although quoted by Agnes Strickland, but 
its phrasing : " Proud Prelate, you know what you were before I made 
you what you are ; if you do not immediately comply with my request, by 
God ! I will unfrock you," is highly characteristic of Elizabeth's drastic 
methods of persuasion. 

^ Letter of Gerrard to Lord Stafford, March 23, 1636. 

'^ Archer, in his I'es/iges of Old London, mentions, and gives a drawing of, an old staircase 
once in Southampton House, and says that other remains such as cornices and mouldings 
were in the Blue Posts Tavern. For the later Southampton House, see chapter iii. 

^ For an interesting account of old Ely Place, see Brayley's Londiniana, vol. i. pp. 223-231. 

* It is not within my scheme to mention the old Episcopal palaces in London, which can 
hardly be considered in the light of private dvk-ellings. 



»i ,, r. v.?. ,![„:, 




HATTON HOUSE 21 

On part of the grounds, which consisted of " an irregular parallelo- 
gram, extending north-west from Holborn Hill to the present Hatton 
Wall and Vine Street, and east and west from Saffron Hill to nearly the 
present Leather Lane," ^ Sir Christopher erected a stately pleasure-house 
for himself, although Ely Place itself appears still to have been used for 
Episcopal purposes. 

There is little doubt but that the Queen must frequently have visited 
her minister at Hatton House, as we know from Lord Talbot's testimony 
that when he was once ill, before he had come to reside here, she went to 
see him daily. Hatton died here on November 20, 1591, and according 
to Stow, was buried in St. Paul's " under a most sumptuous monument." 
He had long been suffering from an incurable disease, but at the time 
popular imagination traced the cause of his death to grief occasioned by 
Elizabeth's peremptory demand for repayment of the jT 40,000 ^ he is said to 
have owed the Crown ; if this was an aggravating cause of his illness, 
her Majesty seems to have repented of her severity, for she frequently 
went to see her dying favourite, and as one of her biographers ^ says, 
" endeavoured by her gracious and soothing speeches to revive his failing 
spirits." 

After Sir Christopher's death, his widow, on whom the property had been 
settled, continued to reside here ; and when she subsequently married and 
quarrelled with Sir Edward Coke, the great lawyer, she succeeded in pre- 
venting him from entering the place. They fought desperately over the 
custody of their only daughter, first one and then the other gaining 
possession of her, until at last James I. had to personally interfere to put 
an end to the scandal. Buckingham was anxious to secure the young lady 
and her money, she being a great heiress, for his brother Sir John Villiers, 
and Sir Edward Coke seems to have favoured the project, to which, as a 
matter of course. Lady Hatton objected ; but when the match did take place, 
and a great entertainment was given at Hatton House in its celebration. 
Lady Hatton, whose objection had probably been overcome by the King's 
persuasive arguments, succeeded in preventing her husband from taking part 
in it. Nor was he present at a subsequent great feast given at Hatton 
House, to James and his court, in November 161 7, when the King was in 
such merry mood, that besides drinking his hostess's health at very 
frequent intervals, he gave her, on taking his leave, half-a-dozen kisses, 
and knighted four of her friends. 

The wily Ambassador of Spain, the Conde de Gondemar, was renting 

]| Brayley. 

" The Diary of Walter Yonge contains an interesting reference to the subsequent circum- 
stances attending this loan in 1616. 3 Lucy .A.ikin. 



22 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Ely Place about this time, and though he did all he could to ingratiate 
himself with Lady Hatton, he found his labours thrown away ; according 
to Howell, he asked her permission to use a back gate from the gardens of 
Hatton House ; but " she put him off with a compliment," whereupon 
the Ambassador told the King " that my Lady Hatton was a strange lady, 
for she would not suffer her husband to come in at her fore-door, nor him 
to go out at her back door." It was during Gondemar's tenancy of the 
house, that a mystery entitled Christ's Passion was acted here, on Good 
Friday night, " at which," according to Prynne, in his Histriomastix, " there 
were thousands present." 

When the Duke of Richmond died at Ely Place, in 1624, his body 
lay in state in Hatton House, and it is conjectured that he had been in 
treaty for the purchase of the place, for subsequently Lady Hatton com- 
plained to his widow of the terms of the bargain, whereupon the Duchess 
took her at her word and "left it on her hands, whereby she loses ;^I500 
a year and ;/!]6ooo fine." ^ 

These figures are interesting as indicating the size and importance of 
Hatton House ; for ;ri500 a year in the time of James I. represented the 
rent of a mansion little short of palatial. 

When the gentlemen of the four Inns of Court arranged the elaborate 
Masque which they exhibited before Charles I. and Henrietta Maria, at 
Whitehall, on Candlemas Day 1633, the committee of management held 
its meetings in Hatton House, and from here started the procession on 
its way to Whitehall. It had a political significance, and was hoped 
to counteract the effect of Prynne's Histriotnastix. It cost no less than 
;^2 1,000, and among the City Records, is a letter from the Lords of the 
Council to the Lord Mayor requesting him to see that the streets, 
especially Aldersgate Street, through which the procession was to pass, 
were well cleaned " and good and careful watch kept by constables." " 

In the same reign, the See of Ely, in the person of Matthew Wren, the 
Bishop, made an attempt to recover the property which had been so 
arbitrarily taken by Queen Elizabeth ; and the Court of Requests before 
whom the matter was brought in 1640, decided that the Bishop had a 
right to redeem the purchase, but subsequently Wren was committed to the 
Tower, and the House of Commons reversed this judgment. The matter 
again cropped up, in the time of Charles II., and Wren, who had been rein- 
stated, made another attempt to regain possession, but without any success.^ 

During Cromwell's time, the place appears to have been used by the 

' Calendar of State Papers, quoted in London Past and Present. ' Remembrancia, p. 357. 

' In Anne's reign the matter was finally settled by Bishop Patrick agreeing to forego all 
claims, on condition that ^100 per annum should be paid the See of Ely in perpetuity. 
(Brayley's Londiniana.) 



WINCHESTER HOUSE 23 

Government, both as a hospital and a prison ; while the crypt of the chapel 
became a sort of military store. But the place had become so 
thoroughly dilapidated that it was deemed past repair, and some por- 
tion of it was removed, in 1659, for street improvements. Evelyn, 
writing on June 7 of this year, mentions a visit he paid here " to 
see ye foundations now laying for a long streete and buildings in 
Hatton garden design'd for a little towne, lately an ample garden." 
But it was not till 1772, that an Act was passed for the purchase 
of the property by the Crown, and the entire demolition of the re- 
maining portions of the once splendid house.' It had been under con- 
templation to erect public offices on the site, but this design falling 
through, the property was sold to a Mr. Charles Cole, a well-known 
builder of that day, who took down all the buildings with the exception of 
the chapel, and formed Ely Place on their site in 1775. 

One more ancient private palace in the City must be mentioned, be- 
cause the extract I shall give from Stow's survey, shows it to have been, 
with its grounds, of very great proportions, and also because it was 
identified with the great family of Paulet. 

Winchester or Paulet House, in Austin Friars, was so named 
after William Paulet, first Marquis of Winchester, who, besides being 
the first nobleman on whom a marquisite " was bestowed in this country, 
held various great offices of state under Edward VI. and Elizabeth, being 
in turn Treasurer of the Household, Lord Chamberlain, Lord President 
of the Council, and Lord High Treasurer, to mention but a tithe of 
his many dignities. 

The mansion was erected on the site of the cloisters and gardens of 
the monastery of Augustine Friars, which had been bestowed on William 
Paulet, as he then was, by Henry VIII. at the Dissolution of the 
Monasteries. Paulet, who once described himself as a willow and not an 
oak, and thus accounted for his retention of his high offices for so long a 
time and under such difficult circumstances, resided in the house he had 
built, till his death in 1572. 

Stow's description of the place is unusually minute and circumstantial. 
" East from the Currier's Row," he writes, " is a long and high wall of 

' A perpetual annuity of ;^2oo was settled on the See of Ely, and /6400 was also paid 
over, the larger portion of which was destined for the purchase of a part of the ground belong- 
ing to Clarendon House, in Dover Street, on which site a new Ely House (still standing) was 
to be erected as a town residence for the Bishop of that diocese. In the Transactions of the 
London Archaological Society, vol. v. p. 494 et seq., is an interesting article on Ely Place, 
with plans and elevations, chiefly, however, connected with the chapel attached to it. 

' He was so created on October 12, 1551. 



24 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

stone, inclosing the north side of a large garden adjoining to as large a 
house built in the reign of King Henry VIII. and of Edward the VI. by 
Sir William Powlet, Lord Treasurer of England. Through this garden, 
which of old consisted of divers parts, now united, was sometimes a fair 
footway, leading by the west end of the Augustine Friars' church straight 
north, and opened somewhat west of Allhallows Church against London 
Wall towards Moorgate ; which footway had gates at either end, locked 
up every night ; but now the same way being taken into those gardens, 
the gates are closed up with stone, whereby the people are forced to go 
about by St. Peter's Church, and the east end of the said Friars' Church, 
and all the great place and garden of Sir William Powlet to London Wall 
and so to Moorgate. This great house stretched to the north corner of 
Brode Street, and then turneth up Erode Street, and all that site to and 
beyond the east end of the said Friars' church." J 

A comparison of this description with a map of London will 
give an idea of the extent of ground covered by the mansion and its 
gardens. 

The second Marquis made various additions and improvements to the 
place, but he died only four years after succeeding to the property, when 
it became the residence of his son, who used it as a town house till his 
death in 1598, when the fourth Marquis, being in straits for money, 
sold the property to John Swinnerton, who afterwards became Lord 
Mayor of London. The price asked, as we learn from a letter from 
Fulke Greville to the Countess of Shrewsbury, was /^fooo. Fancy such 
a sum now being offered with any success for a hundredth part of the 
area then sold ! 

It appears that Lady Shrewsbury" and Lady Warwick also lived in 
smaller houses on the estate, as Greville states that their abodes are in- 
cluded in the purchase ; and he apprehends that they would neither care 
to be tenants " of such a fellow," as he terms honest Swinnerton. 

The subsequent fate of the mansion appears to be unrecorded, but any 
one can see for himself the congeries of business premises that now exist 
on its site and that of its splendid gardens. 

Considerably to the west, in Fleet Street, but yet within the precincts 
of the City, is the site of another famous old house, but there is nothing 
to-day in Salisbury Square, or Dorset Court as it was once alternatively 
called, to indicate that the town residence of a noble family once stood in 

' Stow's Survey of London. 

- It would appear that her house was for a time the town residence of the Talbot family, for 
a letter is extant from the seventh'Earl of Shrewsbury, dated " From his House in Broad Street, 
1st Dec. 1613." See jRememdrancia, p. isg. 



SALISBURY HOUSE 25 

its precincts. Here, however, Salisbury House was formerly situated. It 
took its name from the Bishop of Salisbury, whose palace it originally was. 
In Elizabeth's reign, however, it was exchanged with Lord Treasurer 
Buckhurst^ "for a piece of land near Cricklade in Wilts." Seth Ward, 
who was Bishop from 1667 to 1689, told Aubrey this, and added that 
" the title was not good, nor did the value answer his (Buckhurst's) 
promise." To-day such an exchange could only be accounted for by 
some extraordinary pressure being brought to bear on the See of Salisbury 
to cause such a one-sided bargain, as it would now seem to us, to be con- 
cluded. Lord Buckhurst, who was created Earl of Dorset in 1604, had 
written here his tragedy of Porrex and Ferrex. According to Stow, he greatly 
enlarged the place with stately buildings, but he died in 1608, and his 
son, who succeeded him, also died in the following year. In the Calendar 
of State Papers is this entry: "March 13, 1609. Anne Lady Glenham 
sends documents to prove her right to Cecil House, intended by her 
father, Earl of Dorset, for herself and her children, which, on the death 
of her brother Robert, Earl of Dorset, she now claims." It was for this 
reason obviously that the following action on the part of the third Earl 
was necessary, for we find him obtaining a confirmation of the grant of 
the Manor " of Salisbury Court, together with Salisbury House, alias 
Sackville Place alias Dorset House, and divers messuages in St. Bride's and 
St. Dunstan's, on his compounding for defective titles," on March 25, 161 1. 
Here, in 1624, this Earl died, as his grandfather had done in 1608, 
when he was succeeded by his brother, that gallant gentleman of whom 
Clarendon speaks as being in his person " beautiful and graceful and 
vigorous," and to whom James Howell alludes in the lines : 

" His person with it such a state did bring, 
That made a court as if he had been king ! " 

He held many high offices under Charles I., and on the murder of his 
master he retired in deep grief to Dorset House, as it was then called, 
where he died in 1652. 

The great house was subsequently pulled down, and a fine theatre was 
built from designs by Wren on its site, after the Restoration. 

I could, of course, instance other great houses that have disappeared 
from the East End of London, but those I have mentioned are I think the 
only ones that from one cause or another may justly be said to properly 
come under the designation of private palaces, either from their size and 

' Stow ; see also the author's History of the Squares of London. 



26 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

importance, or from the illustrious families with whom they have been 
connected and from whom they, in most instances, take their names. 

As we proceed westwards we shall meet with a number of great houses 
bordering the banks of the river, and lying south and north of the Strand, 
until with Northumberland House, Charing Cross, the transition to those 
houses which once crowded together at Whitehall and other parts of the 
West End will be easy and appropriate. 




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CHAPTER II 
GREAT HOUSES OF THE STRAND 

NUMEROUS as were the great houses that at one time gave an 
air of distinction to the City, and in some cases, from their 
size and the importance of their owners, fell not far short 
of regal residences, they can hardly compare as a whole with 
the extraordinary series of noble mansions that once stood in the Strand, 
from Essex House on the site of what is now Essex Street to Northumber- 
land House, which was the last of these great houses to survive to our own 
day, and which was finally demolished to make way for Northumberland 
Avenue. 

These great residences were situated on both sides of the Strand, and 
some of them between it and the Thames, and if not actually abutting on 
the river, were at least connected with it by their spacious gardens ; four of 
them, however, occupied that area now covered by Southampton and 
Burleigh Streets and the adjacent buildings and thoroughfares, and were 
known as Wimbledon, Exeter, Cecil, and Bedford Houses. The seven 
great mansions on the river side of the Strand were Essex,^ Arundel, 
Worcester, Salisbury, Durham, York, and Northumberland Houses, and, 
as we can see, most of these Strand palaces preserved in their names the 
titles of the most powerful families of England. Many of them, however, 
had their genesis in the wealth and influence that were once the regular 
attributes to ecclesiastical dignity, but as the secular power of the Church 
gradually diminished after the fall of Wolsey and the suppression of the 
monasteries, many of these Episcopal palaces were granted to, or acquired 
in other ways by, the great nobles with whom their fortunes became after- 
wards identified, and it is on account of this that they properly take their 
place among the past private palaces of London. 

If we take Essex House first, we shall preserve the continuity of these 
great houses from the Salisbury House which I have spoken of in the 
last chapter, for between that and Essex House no other noble mansion 

' " There Essex's stately pile adorned the shore, 
There Cecil's, Bedford's, Villiers', now no more." 

Gay's Trivia. 
a? 



2 8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

existed so far as I am aware, the buildings and great gardens of the Temple 
occupying the intervening space. 

Essex House, the site of which is still preserved in the name of Essex 
Street and Devereux Court, was in pre-Retormation days the palace of 
the Bishops of Exeter,^ who leased the ground on which it stood from the 
Knights of St. John of Jerusalem who, as we know, owned much property 
here as the result of their successful rivalry with the Knights-Templars ; 
at the Reformation the house and grounds were granted to William, first 
Lord Paget, one of the ablest of Henry's Secretaries of State, who after- 
wards helped Somerset to put aside the King's will on the accession of 
Edward VI. He died on June lo, 1563, at Drayton, but it is probable 
that his body was brought to Essex (then called Paget) House, as Machyn, 
in his Diary, gives some account of the heraldic decorations used at his 
funeral, evidently from personal observation. 

Lord Paget, on obtaining possession of the house had enlarged it, but the 
next owner of the property, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, seems to 
have practically rebuilt it, according to a passage in Stow, and to have 
re-christened it Leicester House. Spenser, in his Prothalamion inci- 
dentally mentions Leicester House, and its great master, as well as his 
successor here, the Earl of Essex : 

" Next whereunto there stands a stately place, 
Where oft I gayndd giftes and goodly grace 
Of that great lord, which therein wont to dwell." 

And he continues : 

" Yet therein now doth lodge a noble peer, 
Great England's glory, and the world's wide wonder." 

Lord Essex, who certainly did a good many things to excite " the 
world's wide wonder," put the coping-stone to his turbulent career of 
openly defying the Queen and her Government, by trying to rouse the 
populace against those, among them Sir Robert Cecil and Sir Walter 
Raleigh, whom he considered responsible for his loss of ascendency over 
her Majesty. At Essex House he gathered together his adherents, and 
was blockaded in the mansion by the royal troops, who pointed their 
cannon against it from the roofs of neighbouring houses and from the 
tower of the Church of St. Clement Danes. Matters at last looked so 
desperate, and the ladies in Essex House were so overcome with terror, 
that Essex had perforce to surrender, and was thereupon carried a prisoner 
to Lambeth Palace, and later to the Tower, where he was shortly afterwards 
executed. 

' Mentioned by Stow, who calls it " Excester House." 



ESSEX HOUSE 29 

His widow, Lady Essex, only daugiiter of Sir Francis Walsingham, 
continued to reside here after his death ; and in November 1601, she and 
her mother-in-law jointly petitioned the Lord Mayor and Aldermen for 
" a continuance of the pipe of water which had been formerly granted to 
the Lord Admiral tor the use of Essex House." This petition was 
apparently acceded to ; for seven years later, another communication is 
extant from the Lord Mayor, concerning the stoppage of this " quill of 
water," as it was termed ; the reason given being that the water in the 
conduits had become very low, and the poor were very clamorous for a 
better supply ; moreover " complaints had been made of the extraordinary 
waste of water in Essex House, it being taken not only for dressing meat, 
but for the laundry, the stable, and other offices, which might be otherwise 
served." ^ 

During the following reign, when the Elector Palatine came over, in 
16 13, to marry the Princess Elizabeth, he was lodged in Essex House, 
and in the Calendar of State Papers is preserved an interesting note of the 
arrangements made for the Prince's reception here : 

" Memorial of what will be required for the tables of the Elector 
Palatine, viz., ten covers for his own table ; eighteen for the table of 
persons of rank ; the third table for the 1 4 pages is to be served with what 
is removed from the first ; and the fourth for the 24 valets, coachmen, &c., 
with what goes away from the second." 

Although there appears by this to have been some sort of economy 
practised, it is on record that the wedding festivities amounted to no less 
than ^100,000 ! ^ 

During this time the house belonged to the young Earl of Essex, after- 
wards the celebrated Parliamentary leader, as the title and estates forfeited 
by his father had been restored to him in 1603, when he was eleven years 
of age. The place, therefore, must have been rented by the crown for the 
purpose of a lodging for the Elector Palatine. It remained the Earl's 
London residence during his life, and in consequence of the notorious 
behaviour of his two wives, ^ was alluded to in Cavalier songs as " Cuckolds 
Hall." It was at Essex House that he received the congratulations of the 
Corporation after the Battle of Newbury, in 1643, although that contest 
was an indecisive one. But before this (in 1639), a somewhat curious 

' Remembramia. 

■ See the author's Life of Charles /., 1600-1625, P- ^Si for some details of the ceremonies. 
Sir Anthony Weldon, in his Court of King James /., speaks of a "sumptuous feast being 
given at Essex House by Mr. James Hay, afterwards Lord Hay, in the early years of James's 
reign. 

' He married first, in 1606, Lady Frances Howard, second daughter of the first Earl of 
Suffolk, from whom he was divorced in 1613 ; and secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William 
Paulet, in 1631. 



30 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

arrangement had been come to between Lord Essex and the Earl 
of Hertford, by which the latter obtained a lease of ninety-nine years 
of a half of Essex House on the payment of a sum of ;^iioo, as 
a premium. 

The Earl of Essex died here, on September 14, 1646, and Pepys 
records coming to Essex House to see his body lying in state. It is 
probable that Lord Essex's portion of the mansion continued empty till the 
Restoration, when the fourth Earl of Southampton, the Lord Treasurer, is 
known to have lived in it for a time ; he died in 1667, and shortly after- 
wards, the house was taken by Sir Orlando Bridgman, the Lord Keeper ; 
and on January 24, 1669, he was visited here by Charles II., an incident 
thus noticed by Pepys : " By and by the King comes out (from Whitehall), 
and so I took coach, and followed his coaches to my Lord Keeper's at 
Essex House. ... a large but ugly house. Here all the officers of the 
Navy attended, and by and by were called in to the King and the Cabinet, 
where my Lord, who was ill, did lie upon the bed, as my old Lord 
Treasurer, or Chancellor, heretofore used to do ; and the business was 
to know in what time all the King's ships might be repaired, fit for 
service." 

It is uncertain how long Sir Orlando Bridgman inhabited Essex House, 
but according to Strype, Dr. Barebone, the great builder of the day, 
purchased the property, or more probably took over the remainder of 
Lord Hertford's lease, and, apparently in conjunction with others, pulled 
it down and built on its site. When this occurred I don't know, but as 
Dr. Barebone died in 1698, one can approximately fix the date of the 
demolition. Some portions of the original mansion were for a time left 
standing, and here the celebrated Cottonian Library was housed from 17 12 
to 1730, but in 1777 this last remaining part was pulled down. One 
interesting relic of the old place still exists in the so-called water-gate, or 
rather the two pillars and cornices belonging to it, which now stand at the 
end of Essex Street, and form an elaborate entrance to the flight of small 
steps leading to the Embankment.' 

According to an etching by Hollar, published in Ogilby and Morgan's 
Plan of London, the gardens of Essex House were of immense size and of 
very elaborate arrangement ; they stretched from the back of the mansion 
to the water's edge, being bounded on the east by those of the Temple, 
and on the west by Milford Lane. 

Nearly adjoining, on the other side of this lane, was the next great 
mansion about which I must say a few words, Arundel House, the site of 

' In Devereux Court, high up in the wall, is a bust of Lord Essex, attributed to Caius 
Gabriel Cibber, which also recalls the once famous owner of Essex House. 



ARUNDEL HOUSE 31 

which is preserved in the thoroughfares named after the various titles of 
the great family to whom it belonged — Howard Street, Norfolk Street, 
and Surrey Street. 

According to the plan to which I have just referred, the area covered 
by Arundel House and its gardens was even larger than that of the 
Essex House property, and the mansion itself, with its great courtyard 
and little town of outbuildings, was of correspondingly greater extent.^ 

The main portion of Arundel House — Pennant, by-the-bye, more 
properly terms it Arundel Palace — stood about midway between the river 
and the Strand, while one wing stretched at right angles to the river bank. 
Like so many of these great houses, Arundel House was originally known 
as Bath's Inn, having formerly been the London residence of the Bishops of 
Bath and Wells. By an etching of Hollar's, we get a very misleading 
impression of the place, as his view obviously merely represents the servants' 
quarters, probably the original buildings of Bath's Inn, and the small 
chapel attached to them, and Pennant was evidently so misled, from what 
he says of the buildings as being, although covering much ground, "both 
low and mean." This error is the more curious, as he just before quotes 
the Due de Sully who was lodged here during his embassy to England in 
the reign of James I., to the effect that Arundel House was one of the 
finest and most commodious of any in London ; and another etching by 
Hollar of a view of London taken from the top of the house, shows a 
corner of a castellated building of considerable height looking down on 
the more humble part of the fabric. 

In the reign of Edward VI., the property was granted to Lord 
Thomas Seymour, brother of the Protector, who had married Catherine 
Parr, and on her death had even aspired to the hand of the Princess 
Elizabeth. On his execution in 1549, the property was purchased by the 
fourteenth Earl of Arundel for ^41, 6s. 8d., together, according to 
Strype, as if to increase our wonder at such a price for such a place, 
"with several other messuages, tenements, and lands adjoining." 

It, however, appears to have still been known by its earlier name, for 
Machyn, on the 9th August 1553, speaks of the Bishop of Winchester 
going on that day " with my lord of Arundell to dener at Bayth plasse " ; 
while on the 2ist October 1557, the diarist records the death of " my lade 
the contes of Arundell at Bathe plase in sant Clement parryche with-out 
Tempylle-bare " ; the lady in question being Mary, Dowager-Countess 

' Ogilby's map shows that the grounds extended from Strand Bridge Lane (dividing them 
from Somerset House) to iVIilford Lane (the boundary between them and those of Essex 
House). They reached about 700 feet east and west, and had a depth of from 250 to 300 feet. 
This portion of Ogilby's map was reproduced in enlargement by J. T. Smith in his Antiquities 
of Westminster. 



32 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

of Sussex, daughter of Sir John Arundel, of Lanherne, whom Lord 
Arundel had married as his second wife, in 1545. The Earl himself died 
in 1580, and his grandson and successor,^ dying abroad fifteen years later, 
Arundel House, as it had now begun to be called, was in 1603, granted to 
Charles Howard, created Earl of Nottingham in 1597, and better known 
as the Lord Howard of Effingham, who commanded, as Lord High 
Admiral, the English fleet against the Armada. 

By an arrangement with James I., however. Lord Nottingham in 1607, 
gave up the place, and the King restored it to Thomas Howard, whom 
he had reinstated in his titles of Earl of Arundel and Surrey in 1603, the 
Calendar of State Papers containing, under date of December 23, 1607, a 
" grant to the Earl of Arundel and Robert Cannefield, in fee simple, of 
Arundel House, St. Clement Danes, without Temple Bar, lately conveyed 
to the King by the Earl of Nottingham." 

This Earl of Arundel will be forever famous as the collector of those 
wonderful Arundel marbles, with which his name is indissolubly connected. 
Van Somer painted the portrait of the Earl and his Countess," and the 
backgrounds to these portraits represent respectively the statue and picture 
gallery at Arundel House as they were at that time. 

Lord Arundel was the pioneer of that movement which had for its 
object the collecting and bringing into this country the relics of 
antiquity scattered about in Greece and Italy, uncared for and neglected. 
He had lived for some time in Rome, and had there been known for his 
lavish purchases of marbles and other antiquities. He pressed into his 
service, with the same object, that Sir Thomas Roe who was sent as 
Ambassador to the Porte, in 1621, and who employed agents to further 
his lordship's desires. But a more systematic search for these treasures 
was conducted, on behalf of the Earl, by William Petty, who was sent 
out in 1625, probably on behalf of the Duke of Buckingham, who was 
also smitten with a desire to pose as a connoisseur of art, having sucessfully 
attempted to share in Roe's discoveries. 

Petty did well, and, in 1627, the first produce of his activity arrived 
at Arundel House in the shape of marbles, and a number of valuable 

' He was son of the fourth Duke of Norfolk, who was beheaded in 1572, for his intrigues on 
behalf of Mary Queen of Scots. When Bernardine Mendoza, the Spanish Ambassador, was 
in this country, Mr. Dymoke's house in Fenchurch Street was allotted to him as a residence, 
but he wanted to have Arundel House ; and in the Remembniticia some letters between 
Walsingham and the Lord Mayor on the subject are alluded to. The Queen appears to have 
settled that Mendoza should be lodged in the City as first arranged by the Lord Mayor. 

- Lady Alathea Talbot, third daughter of the seventh Earl of Shrewsbury, whom he married 
in 1606. Vandyck also painted their portraits in one piece, which picture was engraved by 
Vosterman for Lord Arundel. \'anderborcht was another engraver patronised by the Earl, 
certain pictures in whose collection he engraved. 



ARUNDEL HOUSE 33 

inscriptions, the latter of which were deciphered by the learned Selden, 
and the results published in a volume known as the Marmora Arundel- 
liana, in the following year. A second instalment was in this year 
sent over by Petty, who seems to have been as energetic on Lord 
Arundel's behalf as Gavin Hamilton, over a hundred years later, was 
on behalf of the then head of the Petty family, the Marquis of Lans- 
downe. 

The example set by the Earl was, as I have said, imitated by the 
Duke of Buckingham, and after his assassination, the Earl of Pembroke, 
Charles I. himself, and others followed Arundel's splendid lead ; but, 
unfortunately, the death of the Earl, in 1646, and the outbreak of the 
Civil War, struck a serious 'dIow at the cultivation of art, and in the 
troubles that ensued the wonderful collections at Arundel House were 
dispersed ; and although some of them were again brought together, the 
almost culpable indifference of the Earl's grandson (the fourth Earl, of 
the Howard branch) continued the work of the fanatic Roundheads, who 
sold for a mere song these invaluable relics, as they sold Charles I.'s 
pictures and medals. Many of the inscriptions are luckily preserved 
at Oxford ; some of the marbles were rescued by Lord Pembroke, but 
this wonderful collection which might have been now, as for a few years 
it was, one of the artistic glories of this country, was, as a whole, irre- 
vocably spoilt. 

But Lord Arundel was not only a collector of such things, he was an 
enlightened patron of art in its other branches, and an evidence of this is 
the fact that he invited the great engraver. Hollar, to this country, in 
1636, and gave him a permanent lodging in Arundel House,' a favour he 
also showed to Vanderborcht, a portrait-painter, to whom Evelyn once 
sat for his picture here in 1641. He also lodged Robert Walker, the 
portrait-painter, within its walls for a time, and as Cornelius Boll is 
known to have made a view of Arundel House, when he was in this 
country, it is not improbable that he, also, was one of Lord Arundel's 
proteges; well might Evelyn describe this liberal patron as "the Maecenas 
of the politer arts, and the boundless amasser of antiquities." 

The statues and larger pieces were arranged in the galleries at Arundel 
House ; the marbles, with Greek and Latin inscriptions, and the bas-reliefs 
were affixed to the walls of the pleasure gardens ; while the mutilated 
fragments were sent to a summer garden which Lord Arundel owned at 
Lambeth ; it would seem, however, that the Earl's original intention had 
been, according at least to a settlement he executed in 1628, to divide the 
collection, which consisted of no less than 373 statues, 128 busts, and 280 
' Hollar etched his well-known view of London from the roof of Arundel House. 



34 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

various marbles and inscriptions, between Arundel Castle and Arundel 
House, to be preserved in these two palaces as heirlooms. 

The Earl was, however, a collector of other artistic objects besides 
marbles, and his collection of books which his grandson, on Evelyn's advice, 
presented to the Royal Society ; his cabinet of coins and medals, which 
afterwards came into the possession of the Earl of Winchilsea ; his cameos 
and intaglios, which were left by the Duchess of Norfolk to her second 
husband, Sir John Germayne,^ and the various pictures he collected, or had 
painted for him by Vandyck and Rubens and others, and particularly his 
princely offer of £'Jooo to the Duke of Buckingham for an " Ecce Homo " 
by Titian, prove the catholicity of his taste and his excellent judgment. 

In Cromwell's time Arundel House was relegated to the reception of 
illustrious strangers who visited this country ; and on the Restoration, the 
fourth Earl of Arundel, to whom the Dukedom of Norfolk was restored, 
took up his residence here. He contemplated rebuilding the mansion, and 
among Wren's designs preserved in All Souls College, Oxford, is a plan 
for a new mansion on the site of Arundel House ; but the Duke's interest in 
the house did not, as we have seen, extend to its contents, and Evelyn, visit- 
ing the place in 1667, and sadly remembering its former splendour, speaks 
thus : " When I saw these precious monuments miserably neglected and 
scattered up and down about the garden, and other parts of Arundel 
House, and how exceedingly the corrosive air of London impaired them, 
I procur'd him (the Duke) to bestow them on the University of Oxford. 
This he was pleas'd to grant me, and now gave me the key of the gallery, 
with leave to mark all those stones, urns, altars, &c., and whatever I found 
had inscriptions on them that were not statues." 

Evelyn had always been a frequent visitor at Arundel House, and as a 
member of the Royal Society he had also attended the meetings which after 
the Great Fire were regularly held here, at the invitation of the Duke, who 
was a great deal more interested in science than in art, until the Society 
met, in 1673, at Gresham College at the invitation of the Corporation of 
London. Pepys, as a member of the Society, was also a visitor on these 
occasions, and gives some amusing accounts of experiments, &c., which 
took place there, and the interesting people he met. 

The Duke of Norfolk died in 1 677, and his brother and successor demo- 
lished the house in the following year,^ when the property was developed 
into streets and tenements, which scheme had apparently been contemplated 
earlier, for a Private Act, of 167 1, is entitled: "An Act for building 

' Walpole's Attccdotes of Painting. 

^ As the next house we shall come to is Worcester House, it is interesting to remember 
that this Duke married, as his first wife, Lady Anne Somerset, elder daughter of Edward, 
2nd Marquis of Worcester, famous as an inventor. 



WORCESTER HOUSE 35 

Arundel House and tenements thereunto belonging," unless, indeed, this 
simply refers to the contemplated rebuilding of the mansion. 

The whole of the estate was not, however, developed in 1678, for in 
1689 another Act was passed for "building into tenements the remain- 
ing part of Arundel ground as now enclosed." ^ 

Beyond Somerset House to the west, and close by the Savoy, formerly 
stood another of the palaces for which the Strand was once famous. This 
was Worcester House, nearly on the site of the present Beaufort Build- 
ings, which had in pre-Reformation days belonged to the See of Carlisle. 

In Aggas's map, dated 1560, it is shown as situated between the Palace 
of the Savoy and Durham Place, and immediately abutting on the Strand, 
while its grounds extended to the river. It was given by the Crown to the 
first Earl of Bedford, and was first known as Russell or Bedford House ; 
when, however, the family built another palace on the other side of the 
Strand, which we shall presently come to, Bedford House passed, presumably 
by purchase, into the hands of the Somerset family. I have been unable 
to find out definitely the exact date of this transfer, but as the Russell 
family procured a grant of the land on the other side of the Strand on which 
they built another house, whither they moved from the Russell or Bedford 
House I am speaking of, in 1552, it is probable that the sale to the 
Somersets occurred not long after that period ; certainly I think we may 
date it from the time of the third Earl of Worcester, who died in 1589, 
in which case it became the town house of his son and successor, the 
fourth Earl, and of his grandson, the fifth Earl (created a Marquis in 
1642), during whose residence his wife, a granddaughter of the second 
Earl of Bedford, gave birth, in 1601, to Edward Somerset, Lord Herbert, 
afterwards second Marquis of Worcester, and celebrated for his famous 
Century of Inventions, in which he anticipated some of the most remarkable 
discoveries of the nineteenth century. 

From Faithorne and Newcourt's bird's-eye view of London, dated 
1658, Worcester House is shown as a relatively small mansion compared 
with the pretentious pile of Salisbury House next to it on the west, but as 
Dircks, the great authority on the life of the second Marquis of Worcester, 
says, it was "a building" of some importance from its magnitude and 
position as well as from the princely character of the noble possessor of 
the property," and in its gardens about midway between the mansion and 
the river, and close to Salisbury House, there appears, on the plan, another 
building even larger than the house itself, which might excite our curiosity, 

' It is interesting to know that, in 163;, the celebrated "Old I'arr'' died, aged 152, in 
Arundel House, whither he had been invited in order to be introduced to Charles I. 



36 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

did not the following curious story, preserved by Stow, account for its 
singular position. Says the antiquary : " There being a very large walnut- 
tree growing in the garden, which much obstructed the eastern prospect of 
Salisbury House, near adjoining, it was proposed to the Earl of Worcester's 
gardener by the Earl of Salisbury, or his agent, that if he could prevail 
with his lord to cut down the said tree, he should have ;^ioo. The offer 
was told to the Earl of Worcester, who ordered him to do it and take 
the ;^ioo; both which were performed to the great satisfaction of the 
Earl of Salisbury, as he thought ; but, there being no great kindness 
between the two Earls, the Earl of Worcester soon caused to be built in 
the place of the walnut-tree a large house of brick, which took away all 
his prospect." 

When the King and the Parliament first came to blows, a guard was 
set up, by order of the latter, on Worcester House, and the place was 
ordered to be searched " for persons suspected of high treason " ; in which 
way did the King's enemies aim blows at his throne and person in his very 
name. Two years later, it was ordered " that the iron seized at Worcester 
House be forthwith sold " ; while in the year following the murder of 
the King, Worcester House became a depot for the security of treasure 
seized by the Parliament, as is proved by a Resolution dated January lo, 
1650. It was also used for Parliamentary Committees, and was fitted up 
for the reception of the Scotch Commissioners. Later the Parliament sold 
It to the Earl of Salisbury, according to Whitelocke, " at the rate of 
Bishops' lands," and it is probable that the purchaser was eagerly looking 
forward to pulling down the objectionable building erected by Lord 
Worcester; but, in 1659, "an act for settling Worcester House in the 
Strand upon trustees, for the use of Margaret, Countess of Worcester, 
during the life of Edward, Earl of Worcester," &c., was brought into 
Parliament, and a subsequent Bill (March 14, 1659) confirming the matter 
was passed, and the Countess obtained possession on the 25 th of the same 
month. All the compensation she appears to have received was the sum 
of ;£700 ; being ;^300 for the year as a sort of rent, and ;C400 in settle- 
ment of all claims against unlawful detention. 

On the Restoration, Lord Worcester offered the house to Lord 
Clarendon by a letter, dated June 9, 1660,^ in which he says: "Be pleased 
to accept of Worcester House to live in, far more commodious for your 
Lordship than where you now are, though not in so good reparation, but 
such as it is, without requiring from your Lordship one penny of rent." 
Although Clarendon does not appear to have accepted this generous offer, 
he did rent Worcester House, paying £s°° ^ Y^^^ ^°^ '^^> ^'^^ '^^ ^^^^ ^^'"^• 
* Given by Dircks in his Li/e of Lord IVorccster. 



WORCESTER HOUSE 37 

on September 3, 1660, "between 11 and 2 at night," that the Duke of 
York was married to Anne Hyde. 

Shortly after that event, Evelyn went to see the bride, " the marriage 
being now newly owned," and having kissed her hand, as did the Lord 
Chamberlain, and the Countess of Northumberland, he muses on this 
" strange change," and wonders " if it can succeed well " ? ^ 

The other great Diarist of the period, Pepys, was also frequently here 
seeing Clarendon on the business connected with the Navy Office, and 
while waiting on one occasion in the " Great Hall," he remarks that it 
was "wonderful how much company there was to expect him" ; while at 
another time, while Mr. Secretary is awaiting my lord, " in comes the King 
in a plain and common riding suit and velvet cap, in which he seemed a 
very ordinary man to one that had not known him." " 

Here, too, occurred that curious instance of second sight, which the 
second Lord Clarendon related thus to Pepys, in a letter, dated May 27, 
1 701 : " One day — towards the middle of February 166 1-2, the old Earl 
of Newburgh came to dine with my father at Worcester House, and another 
Scotch gentleman with him, whose name I cannot call to mind. After 
dinner, as we were standing and talking together in the room, says my 
Lord Newburgh to the other Scotch gentleman, who was looking very 
steadfastly upon my wife, ' What is the matter, that thou hast had thine 
eyes fixed upon Lady Cornbury ever since she came into the room .'' Is 
she not a fine woman ? Why dost thou not speak .'' ' ' She's a handsome 
lady, indeed,' said the gentleman, ' but I see her in blood.' Whereupon my 
Lord Newburgh laughed at him ; and all the company going out of the 
room, we parted ; and I believe none of us thought more of the matter ; 
I am sure I did not. My wife was at that time perfectly well in health, 
and looked as well as ever she did in her life. In the beginning of the 
next month she fell ill of the small-pox ; she was always very apprehensive 
of that disease, and used to say, if she ever had it, she would dye of it. 
Upon the ninth day after the small-pox appeared, in the morning, she bled 
at the nose, which quickly stopt ; but in the afternoon the blood burst out 
again with great violence at her nose and mouth, and about eleven of the 
clock that night she dyed almost weltering in her blood." 

Lord Clarendon remained at Worcester House until the Great Fire, 
when he removed to Berkshire House," St. James's, for a time, until 
Clarendon House, Piccadilly, was ready for his reception. After this, 
Worcester House seems to have been used merely for certain public 

' Diary, December 22, 1660. ^ Ibid., August 19, 1661. 

' For an account of this house see the chapter on Bridgewater House, which stands 
practically on its site. 



38 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

functions, for which its Great Hall was well adapted, and among these 
the Installation of the Duke of Ormond as Chancellor of the University 
of Oxford, in 1669, ^^^ that of the Duke of Monmouth to the like office 
at Cambridge, five years later, are recorded. 

Pennant says the house was demolished by the first Duke of Beaufort, 
but Thornbury states that it was burnt down in 1695. It may be that 
some kind of conflagration did take place, but this probably only served 
as the pretext for pulling down the place, as we know that the Duke of 
Beaufort had purchased a house at Chelsea in 1682.^ As in the case of 
all the palaces which once lined the Strand, Beaufort House, when destroyed, 
was replaced by streets and houses, — the latter, in this case, being known 
as Beaufort Buildings. 

As I have noted when relating the story of Lord Worcester's walnut- 
tree, Salisbury or Cecil House as it seems to have been alternatively 
called, adjoined Worcester House on the west and in height, at any rate, 
dwarfed that mansion considerably. It was erected by Sir Robert Cecil, 
Elizabeth's " little Great Secretary," as Sir Anthony Weldon calls him, 
who afterwards became first Earl of Salisbury, at the beginning of the 
seventeenth century, the Queen herself being present at the house-warming 
which took place on December 9, 1602. John Manningham notices the 
event in the diary he kept for this and the following year. "On Monday 
last," he writes, " the Queen dyned at Sir Robert Cecils newe house in the 
Stran. Shee was verry royally entertained, richely presented, and marvelous 
well contented, but at hir departure shee strayned hir foote. His hall 
was well furnished with choise weapons, which hir majestie tooke speciale 
notice of"; and he goes on to tell of the "devices" with which the 
Queen was received according to the custom of the period. But, although 
this entertainment was given, the mansion was in anything but a complete 
state ; indeed its owner was still at work on it six years later ; and there 
is extant some very interesting information on the subject. Thus, on 
August 10, 1608, and in subsequent letters, Thomas Wilson writes to Lord 
Salisbury (as Cecil had then become "), pointing out to him " the difference 
of cost between Canterbury stone and Caen stone for the works at Salisbury 
House " ; and in September of the same year, one Leonard Lawrence 
tells Wilson that he had procured some sixty or seventy loads of the 
former material from the inner gate at Canterbury which had apparently 
been demolished for the purpose ; but that he had proceeded no further 

• Timbs is probably more correct when he says that the great house was taken down, and 
a smaller one erected on its site, and that it was the latter which was destroyed by fire in 1695. 
' He was created an Earl by Jarnes I., in 1605. 



CECIL HOUSE 39 

because " the townspeople keeps so much ado " — as well they might I 
However, the difficulty seems to have been overcome, for later he tells 
Wilson that the demolition is complete, and that he has shipped more 
stone to London. Another trouble, however, arose owing to the diffi- 
culty in procuring workmen, and those that were at last enlisted had to 
be sent all the way from Newcastle where they were taken off work on 
the castle for the purpose. 

These facts are to be found in the Calendar of State Papers, where, 
under date of September 1610, are certain specifications by a Mr. Osborne 
for the erection of a portico at the river end of the garden of Salisbury 
House ; the architect not improbably being the John Osborn who was 
also a carver of some note at that period. The second Lord Salisbury, 
who succeeded his father, in 16 12, apparently found the great house too 
large for his requirements, or else thought it necessary to retrench ; in any 
case, he caused the building to be divided ; one portion subsequently being 
known as Great, and the other as Little, Salisbury House. The former 
he kept as his own residence, the latter he let to " persons of quality," 
among them being that third Earl of Devonshire, the pupil of Hobbes, 
who was lodged in a room here and otherwise befriended by his 
noble patron ; while another was apparently Sir Thomas Edmunds, 
Treasurer of the King's House, who is found writing to the Lord 
Mayor in June 16 18, and requesting "that a quill of water from the 
City's pipe for his house (Cecil House) in the Strand, which had been 
formerly allowed to the previous tenants, might be restored." 

In the time of the third Earl of Salisbury ^ the property was let 
on building leases, the smaller mansion pulled down, and streets and 
houses formed ; while on the site of the house itself, the so-called 
" Middle Exchange," running from the Strand to the river, was erected, 
but not proving a success, was later, together with Great Salisbury 
House, demolished, and Cecil Street formed on the ground they both 
occupied. 

As I do not include among " private palaces " the great ecclesiastical 
residences in London, except where their private interest outbalances their 
ecclesiastical claims,^ as is the case with some I have already mentioned, I 
am perforce obliged to pass by Durham House with a mere allusion ; for, 

' In the Calendar of State Papers, under date of March 1673, is this entry : " Licence to 
James, Earl of Salisbury, to build on the grounds of Salisbury House in the Strand, and the 
gardens, &c., belonging to them. " 

- Of course, as a matter of fact, as Howell in his Londinopolis states, from Salisbury or 
Dorset Houses in Fleet Street to Whitehall, all the great mansions built on the Thames were 
episcopal palaces, at one time or another, with the exception of the Royal Palace of the Savoy, 
and Suffolk House. 



40 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

although at various times it was granted to private people and even used 
as a residence for foreign notabilities, it practically throughout its career 
continually reverted to its rightful owners, the Bishops of Durham. Had, 
however, Philip, Earl of Pembroke, who obtained what was left of the 
once splendid house — for it had been much encroached upon both as to 
the actual fabric and the gardens — seen fit to carry into execution the 
scheme he had formed for building another magnificent mansion on its 
site, for which purpose John Webb, the pupil of Inigo Jones, prepared 
plans still extant, I should have had a subject made to my hand ; 
as it is, I must pass on to York House which adjoined Durham House 
to the west. 

York House was the most splendid of the many splendid mansions 
that formerly stood in such profusion in this part of London. Its 
ecclesiastical traditions were, it is true, short-lived, but they clustered around 
the great northern Archbishopric ; its associations with Lord Chancellor 
Bacon give it a double claim to be connected with politics and literature ; 
its apotheosis under the magnificent Buckingham raised it almost to a level 
with the Royal palace close by ; its very decline and fall were so sudden 
that they but emphasised its former glory. It is, too, the only one of the 
Strand residences (for Northumberland House was properly at Charing 
Cross) of which I am able to give some more or less detailed account 
of the interior decorations and the splendid, contents ; and so far as the 
latter are concerned, as the profuse favourite who brought them together 
was one of the pioneers of art-collecting in this country, the record of the 
artistic objects once in York House is a part of the history of art, and 
such as Vertue and Walpole have preserved the memory of the most 
important of them, while the biographers of Rubens and Vandyck have 
necessarily had much to say about the patron of these painters and his 
remarkable accumulation of pictures. 

The London residence of the Archbishops of York was originally at 
Suffolk House, in Southwark, a house built by Charles Brandon, Duke of 
Suffolk, in the reign of Henry VIII., which Queen Mary presented to the 
See in consequence of York House at Westminster, better known as 
Whitehall, having been wrested from Wolsey by Henry VIII. Not long 
afterwards, however, the then Archbishop, Heath, obtained, according to 
Strype, " a licence for the alienation of this capital messuage of Suffolk 
Place ; and to apply the price thereof for the buying of other houses 
called also Suffolk Place, lying near Charing Cross." But Heath appears 
to have been the only Archbishop who lived in what was then called York 
House, as from 1561 to 1606, it was apparently leased as an official 



YORK HOUSE 41 

residence to the Lord Keepers of the Great Seal/ or as Walford states, 
was exchanged by Archbishop Matthews, in the reign of James I., with the 
Crown for certain manors in the north. 

One of the most notable of the Lord Keepers who, in the course of 
time, took up his residence at York House, was Sir Nicholas Bacon, 
who became Lord Chancellor in 1558; and here, on January 22, 1561, 
was born his more famous son, Francis Bacon. Hepworth Dixon, in 
recording this event, gives the following vignette of the place, as it 
appeared at that time : " This house, a fief of the Crown," he says, " stood 
next to the palace, from which it was parted by lanes and fields ; the 
courtyard and the great gates opening to the street ; the main front, with 
its turrets, facing the river. The garden, of unusual size and splendour, 
fell by an easy slope to the Thames, which communicated with it by stairs, 
and commanded (a view) as far south as the Lollards' Tower, as far east 
as London Bridge. All the gay river life swept past the lawn ; the shad- 
fishers spreading their nets, the watermen paddling gallants to Bankside, 
the city barges rowing past in procession, and the Queen herself, with her 
train of lords and ladies, shooting by in her journeys from the Tower to 
Whitehall stairs."" 

The size of these gardens is confirmed by old plans of London ; 
but the proximity of York House to Whitehall is somewhat poetically 
exaggerated, while the little picture, drawn by E. M. Ward, which is 
reproduced on the title-page of Dixon's book, is as purely imaginary as 
certain other historical scenes drawn by that otherwise clever artist. 

York House was more closely connected with Francis Bacon's life 
than any other place ; " it was the scene of his gayest hours and of his 
sharpest griefs, of his magnificence and of his profoundest prostration." ^ 
Here his youth was spent; here his father died, in 1579; here Lord 
Keeper Puckering also died, in 1576; and here Lord Keeper Egerton 
lived for at least a year ; and during all this time Bacon was in touch with 
the mansion. In York House the inquiry into the Irish Treason was held, 
and, in 1588, Lord Essex attempted to obtain possession of the place, the 
custody of which was, according to Norden, given to him, and which was 
later to become his prison when, in October 1599, he was placed under 
the surveillance of Egerton. In James I.'s reign the inquiry into the 
mysterious death of Overbury, which occurred in 161 3, and for which 
Mrs. Turner, who had administered poison to him with a fiendish perse- 
verance, was hanged, while Lady Essex and her lover the Earl of Somerset, 

' A letter from Lord Keeper EUesmere, dated 29th July 1612, from York House, is 
extant. 

^ Life of Lord Bacon. ' Ibid. 



42 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

who were the real instigators of the crime, were merely imprisoned/ was 
also held here. 

Shortly before Francis Bacon became Lord Keeper and Chancellor, he 
took, up his residence in his old home ; " and the affection he had for it is 
illustrated by a reply he made to the Duke of Lennox, who was anxious 
to get possession of the place : " York House is the House wherein my 
father died, and wherein I first breathed, and there will I yield up my 
last breath, if so please God and the King will give me leave." ^ 

In 1620, he sent a copy of his Novum Organum to the University of 
Cambridge, from here, and in the following year the charges, which had 
been impending over his head, were formulated, and from York House he 
addressed his long and famous letter of confession and apology to the peers. 
Hither, too, came the Sergeant-at-Arms to desire his attendance at the Bar of 
the House, but found " the Lord Chancellor sick in bed " ; and on May i, 
1 62 1, the great seal was taken from him here. For some weeks after 
the sentence passed on him. Bacon remained quietly at York House ; 
indeed he seems to have only cared for that and his books, for it had 
been pointed out to him, by Sir Edward Sackville, that if he but consented 
to give up the place, " the town were yours and all your straitest shackles 
shaken off." This adumbrates what was in the wind. The Duke of 
Buckingham was anxious to possess the ground on which the mansion 
stood, in order that he might, with the help of Inigo Jones, erect a sump- 
tuous palace, and had Bacon fallen in with his views, there is very little 
doubt that Buckingham's great influence would have cleared away other 
difficulties from his path. But the favourite was hardly the one to put up 
with the opposition of a fallen statesman, and what he could not procure 
by fair means he took other methods to accomplish, and on May 31, 1621, 
officers of the Crown came to York House, arrested the ex-Chancellor, 
and carried him off to the Tower. The indignant letter he wrote to 
Buckingham caused his release the same night, and he was allowed to 
return to York House to sleep, but the next day he left, and went to 
Sir John Vaughan's residence at Parson's Green. Even then he made an 
appeal to be allowed to return to the place that was so dear to him, but 
Buckingham would hear nothing of the sort, and James suggested his 
retiring to his country seat at Gorhambury, whither, rather reluctantly, he 
went. Some months later, he was allowed to come up to York House, 

' See the facts 'i Truth Brought to Light by Time, a scarce pamphlet on the subject. 

^ He was made Lord Keeper in 1618, and in the preceding July, 1617, is a letter from him 
to the Lord Mayor, desiring that a lead pipe from the City's mains might be laid on for 
supplying York House with water. 

^ He however died, not even in his own country house, Gorhambury, whither he had retired 
after his disgrace, but at Witherborne, Lord Arundel's place close by. 



YORK HOUSE 43 

presumably to collect, and arrange for the removal of, his belongings, but 
he remained so unconscionable a time there, that the Duke grew nervous, 
and Bacon received warning that he must at once return to the country. 

How exactly Buckingham became possessed of York House is a little 
obscure ; on the one hand, in the Calendar of State Papers, there is an 
entry to the effect that " Viscount St. Albans (Francis Bacon) has filed a 
Bill in Chancery against Buckingham, on account of the non-performance 
of his contract for taking York House," which would seem to indicate 
that the Duke had arranged to purchase it from the ex-Chancellor, or 
rather to purchase Bacon's interest in it ; on the other, Gerbier states that 
Buckingham " borrowed " it from Tobie Matthew, Archbishop of York 
until the latter was able " to accept as good a seat as that was in lieu of 
the same." However, the matter as between the varied interests of the 
Crown, the Archbishop, and Bacon, was subsequently settled by the 
Duke's obtaining possession, as Laud thus records in his Diary, for 
May 15, 1624: "The Bill passed in Parliament for the King to have 
York House in exchange for other lands. This was for the Lord Duke 
of Buckingham." 

On obtaining possession, Buckingham at once proceeded to demolish 
the mansion, and to erect on its site a large house, not apparently as a 
residence, but for the housing of his wonderful collection of pictures, as 
well as for the reception of the innumerable foreign ambassadors whose 
interest it was to pay him attention ; as well as for those great festivities 
which he was wont to give to the King and Court. 

It would appear that the palace projected by the imagination of the 
favourite and the genius of Inigo Jones, was never actually completed, but 
if it was to have been proportionate with the splendid water-gate that still 
exists — the only surviving relic of it, at the bottom of Buckingham Street, 
and perhaps the most beautiful piece of work that even Inigo Jones 
ever designed — we can imagine to what a scale of regal magnificence the 
completed palace would have attained. 

The interior walls were decorated with large mirrors, which were at 
that time of considerably greater rarity and value than they are to-day ; 
and in order to cover those portions of the building which were not thus 
lighted up, the Duke purchased from Rubens the great assemblage of 
pictures and other artistic effects which the painter had collected for the 
adornment of his home at Antwerp. The price paid for the whole of 
these beautiful objects was one hundred thousand florins, a great sum in 
those days ; but when we know that among the pictures were nineteen by 
Titian ; seventeen by Tintoretto ; thirteen by Rubens himself, and a like 
number from the brush of Paul Veronese ; twenty-one by Bassano, and 



44 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

three each by Raphael and Leonardo ; besides many other fine works, 
together with antiques, gems, &c., the price seems to our modern ideas of 
relative value, ridiculously inadequate. 

Gerbier indirectly indicates that these treasures must have been 
crowded together in bewildering profusion, for he says ^ that Charles I. 
once remarked that he had seen at York House " in a roome not above 
35 foot square, as much as could be represented as to sceans in the great 
Banquetting Room of Whitehall." 

With regard to the general splendour of the place and its contents 
much contemporary evidence is extant ; for instance here is what Peacham 
in his Compkat Gentleman has to say on the matter : " At York House, 
the galleries and rooms are ennobled with the possession of those Roman 
Heads and statues which lately belonged to Sir Peter Paul Rubens, that 
exquisite painter of Antwerp ; and the garden will be renowned so long as 
John de Bologna's ' Cain and Abel ' stands there, a piece of wondrous 
art and workmanship. The King of Spain gave it to his Majesty 
at his being there (in 1623), who bestowed it on the late Duke of 
Buckingham." 

When the Marshal de Bassompierre came over to England, on his 
embassy, in 1626, he, as a matter of course, paid a visit to Buckingham at 
" Jorschaux," as he calls it, which was the nearest attempt to spell York 
House he could compass, and one who had been familiar with all the 
courts and great houses of Europe, could speak of it not only as being 
"extremely fine," but as " more richly fitted up than any other" he ever 
beheld ! To the same observer we owe some details of one of those magni- 
ficent fetes with which Buckingham loved to exhibit at once his taste and 
his ostentation, for Bassompierre, in one of his despatches, departing for 
the moment from more serious matters, describes the vaulted rooms ; the 
ballets which accompanied the supper ; the various changes of courses, 
interspersed by theatrical displays, and the beautiful music ; and he also 
notes the Duke's contrivance of having a turning door, only admitting 
one person at a time, in order to obviate undue pressure. 

In the Sloane MSS. is a letter which contains this notice of another of 
these entertainments : " Last Sunday, at night, the duke's grace enter- 
tained their majesties and the french Ambassador at York House with 
great feasting and show, where all things came down in clouds, amongst 
which one rare device was a representation of the French King, and the 
two Queens, with their chiefest attendants, and so to the life, that the 
Queen's majesty could name them. It was four o'clock in the morning 
before they parted, and then the King and Queen, together with the 
' "Discourse on Building," quoted in London Past and Prcsoii. 



YORK HOUSE 45 

French Ambassador, lodged there. Some estimate this entertainment at 
five or six thousand pounds." ^ 

But Buckingham did not spend all his substance on such ephemeral 
delights; as we have seen, he bought Rubens's wondrous collection; he 
was, besides, a patron of that great man as well as of Vandyck, and others, 
and Gentileschi is known to have worked for him at York House, where 
was a ceiling representing the nine Muses in a circle by this painter, who 
also painted the Villiers family in one group, and a picture, not less than 
eight feet by five, of a Magdalen lying in a grotto, which also hung here ; 
while the splendid group of the Duke surrounded by his family, the work 
of Honthorst, now at Hampton Court, and the many portraits of him by 
other painters of the reign of James and Charles, show Buckingham to have 
been a splendid patron of art, even if, as his enemies were fond of asserting, 
vanity was its mainspring. 

Balthazar Gerbier, whom the Duke employed, not only in the produc- 
tion of his princely entertainments, but also in the collection of works of 
art, once wrote to his employer in these terms: "Sometimes, when I am 
contemplating the treasure of rarities which your excellency has in so 
short a time amassed, I cannot but feel astonishment in the midst of my 
joy. For out of all the amateurs, and princes, and Kings, there is not 
one who has collected in forty years as many pictures as your Excellency 
has collected in five." - 

In 1645, the Parliament ordered all " the superstitious pictures in York 
House," by which they indicated all those that represented sacred subjects, 
to be sold, but, before this order could be enforced, some of them were 
sent out of the country, and were purchased by the Archduke Leopold, 
including the magnificent Titian for which Lord Arundel had once offered 
the Duke ;^7ooo, as I have before mentioned. 

York House itself was presented to Fairfax, whose daughter the second 
Duke of Buckingham, made for ever memorable by Dryden's lines, married 
in September 1657, and thus the property reverted to the Villiers family, 
Cromwell giving the Duke permission to reside at York House, on the 
understanding that he was not to quit it without the Protector's leave. 
Of course, Buckingham tried to override the arrangement, and was promptly 
lodged in the Tower ; a proceeding that caused high words between his 
father-in-law and Cromwell. 

1 This, it is probable, was identical with the banquet mentioned by Walter Yonge in his 
Diary, as costing ^4000, and during which he says " the sweet water which cost ^200 came 
down the room as a shower from heaven," and notes "the banquet let down in a sheet upon the 
table, no man seeing how it came." November 1626. Bassompierre also gives an account of 
this great feast. 

- Quoted in Bishop Goodman's Memoirs. 



46 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

The second Duke of Buckingham died in 1687; but according to 
Evelyn, York House had begun to be neglected even as early as 1655, 
when he went to see it. For some years afterwards it was let as a 
temporary embassy; thus, in 1661, the Spanish Ambassador rented it; 
when Pepys once walked through it, during Mass, and was disappointed 
with the gardens; and in 1663, the Russian Ambassador was here, on 
which occasion the Diarist made another visit, and was chiefly pleased with 
" the remains of the noble soul of the late Duke of Buckingham appearing 
in his house, in every place, in the door cases and the windows," as he 
quaintly puts it. It was on the occasion of York House being occupied 
by the Russian Envoy that the Earl of Manchester, then a joint Com- 
missioner for the office of Earl Marshal, wrote to the Lord Mayor, desiring 
that the water-pipes connected with the mansion should be repaired. 

I do not know what the Spanish and Russian Ambassadors paid for the 
use of York House, but Mr. Wheatley mentions the sum of ^^1359, los. 
as being, in 1668, the rental of the place ; four years later, however, the 
Duke sold it to certain undertakers, as building speculators were then called, 
named Eldyn, Higgs, and Hill, who demolished the mansion, and on its 
site and that of its fine gardens built those streets which still, by their 
names, perpetuate the Duke of magnificent memory, and in which his 
name and title is thus curiously preserved : George (Street) Villiers 
(Street), Duke (Street) Of (Alley) and Buckingham (Street).^ 

It is said that the second Duke made it a condition with the purchasers 
that he should be thus commemorated, which is satirised in a line in the 
so-called Litany of the Duke of Buckingham — 

" Calling streets by our name when we have sold the land," 

but it is probable that these names will always rather recall the splendour 
of the first Duke than the inconsistency of the second. 

Before saying anything about Northumberland House, there remain 
three other palaces in the Strand which require some notice, although what 
is known of them is only sufficient to give us a more or less vague idea of 
their splendour. These mansions stood on the north side of the street, and 
the first of them, i.e. the most easterly, was Wimbledon House, which 
was erected probably at the close of the sixteenth century by Sir Edward 
Cecil, third son of the first Earl of Exeter, who was created Viscount 
Wimbledon in 1625, and who died thirteen years later. Inigo Jones is 

' Hollar made a drawing of the house, which is preserved in the Pepysian Library at 
Cambridge, and is reproduced in Wilkinson's Loiidina Illustrata. 



EXETER HOUSE 47 

said to have designed the mansion, which Strype calls " a very handsome 
house." The chief portion of it was destroyed by fire in 1628, and what 
remained was pulled down in 1782. It was erected on part of the Exeter 
House property, at the north-east corner of the present Wellington Street, 
but little or nothing seems to be known of it beyond these few facts, and 
it is rather curious that its name is not preserved in any of the streets 
which now cover, or are adjacent to, the site where it once stood ; perhaps 
we may from this conclude that although a large house, it was not on the 
scale of magnificence of the other mansions in the Strand which have 
nearly all received in this way some posthumous record. One of the 
chief of these was Burleigh, Cecil, or Exeter House as it was variously 
termed, which once stood on the site of Burleigh and Exeter Streets 
and their adjacent houses. 

The genesis of Exeter House was sufficiently humble, for on this spot 
originally stood a rectory-house attached to the Church of St. Clement 
Danes, " with a garden and close for the parson's horse." In the reign of 
Edward VI., however, this small property came into the hands of Sir 
Thomas Palmer, who pulled down the old buildings and "rebuilt the 
same of brick and timber very large and spacious," ^ indeed in such a 
complete way that it was described as a magnificent house. Palmer, who 
was called " buskin Palmer," and was an adherent of the Duke of Somerset, 
was subsequently accused of high treason, and his property, including the 
mansion, was forfeited to the Crown. He had received a free pardon in 
February 1552, but on the 25th July 1553, he was sent to the Tower 
with, among others, the Duke of Northumberland, and on the following 
19th of August was ordered to be hanged and quartered, a sentence 
which was changed to that of beheading ; he suffered with the Duke and 
Sir John Gates three days later on Tower Hill. 

Elizabeth granted the place to Sir William Cecil, who, according to 
Stow, " beautifully increased it " ; while Norden " thus speaks of it under 
its new master : " The house of the ryght honourable Lord Burleigh, 
Lord High Treasurer of England and by him erected. Standinge on the 
north side of the Stronde, a verie fayre howse raysed with brickes, pro- 
portionablie adorned with four turrets placed at the four quarters of the 
howse ; within it is curiouslye beautified with rare devises, and especially 
the oratory, placed in an angle of the great chamber. Unto this is 
annexed on the east a proper howse * of the honourable Sir Robert 
Cecill Knight, and of Her Mats: most honourable Prevye Counsayle." 

' Gentlcmaii s Magazine, London Topography. 

- Norden's Middlesex, Harleian MS. Quoted in London Past ami Present. 

' This was Wimbledon House. 



48 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Allen, in his History of London, quotes, as evidence of the princely 
style in which Lord Burleigh lived, the Desiderata Curiosa, where it is 
stated that his housekeeping charges when he was in residence were ^40 to 
;^50 a week for his London house alone. He kept no less than eighty 
servants, and at the same time had the great establishments of Theobalds 
and Burleigh on his hands, besides his heavy expenses at Court ; while his 
almsgiving alone amounted to ;^500 a year, and his stables cost him 
1000 marks yearly. 

From old plans, Exeter House is shown as facing the Strand ; its 
gardens extending from the west side of the garden-wall of Wimbledon 
House to the green lane, which is now Southampton Street. 

Here Lord Burleigh was visited by Elizabeth, and in the diary he 
kept is this entry for July 14, 1561 : "The Queene supped at my 
house in Strand before it was fully finished " ; a circumstance also 
recorded by Machyn, who, however, places the event a day earlier thus : 
"The xiii. day of July — the same nyght the Queens grace whent from 
the Charterhouse by Clerkynewelle over the feldes unto the Savoy unto 
Master secretore Syssell to soper, and ther was the Counsell and many 
lordes and knyghtes and ladies and gentyll-women, and ther was grett 
chere tyll mydenyght." The Queen came on another occasion to see 
Lord Burleigh here, and finding him suffering from gout made him sit in 
her presence, saying, " My Lord, we make use of you not for the badness 
of your legs but for the goodness of your head." There is also a 
tradition that once calling here, decorated with that elaborate headdress 
she was wont to affect, the servant asked her to stoop in going through a 
door, when she replied, "For your master's sake I will stoop," adding 
somewhat irrelevantly, "but not for the King of Spain." 

Another entry in Lord Burleigh's Diary records the birth of his 
daughter Elizabeth here, on July i, 1564; while in Massingham's 
Journal it is noted that Tarleton, who was a comedian of the period, 
" called Burley House gate in the Strand towards the Savoy, the Lord 
Treasurer's Almes gate, because it was seldom or never opened," in which 
remark I fear the actor allowed his love for a jest to get the better of his 
veracity, for, as I have pointed out. Lord Burleigh's benefactions to the 
poor were on a most lavish scale. 

Burleigh died on August 4, 1598, and was succeeded by his son, 
Thomas Cecil, who was created Earl of Exeter in 1605, when the name 
of the house was changed from Burleigh to Exeter. I find the Lady 
Hatton, mentioned previously, living here in 1617, she probably having 
rented it ; and in this year she entertained the King and Queen here, but 
true to her resentment against her second husband, Sir Edward Coke, she 



EXETER HOUSE 49 

would not permit him to be one of the company, although James himself 
desired his presence ! * 

In 1623, when the "Spanish match " was still supposed to be a fait 
accompli, and James was expecting the Infanta over here, he desired to 
borrow Exeter House in order to instal some of her suite here. The 
first Lord Exeter had died in the February of this year, and the place was 
still let apparently to several people, for the second Earl, while complying 
in a hesitating way with the King's request, replied that " he could not 
find it in his heart to bid those in it begone, especially Lord Denny " ; 
and he shifts the responsibility of giving them notice to the Lord 
Treasurer. The latter evidently arranged the business satisfactorily, 
for, on June 17, the Spanish Ambassador Extraordinary was conveyed 
with many coaches to Exeter House, which was richly furnished and 
decorated for his reception." 

The chapel attached to the house seems to have been fitted up as 
a Roman Catholic place of worship for the use of Henrietta Maria, in 
the next reign, at which time the Duchess of Richmond was occupying the 
mansion itself; and it was in this chapel that Evelyn, attending the 
celebration on Christmas Day 1657, was, with others, detained by 
the Puritan soldiers, on the ground that none should any longer observe 
the superstitious time of the nativity ; but after being examined in a 
room in Exeter House by certain officers, was allowed to depart, they 
dismissing him " with much pity for his ignorance " ! 

After the Great Fire, the house was rented by the Government for the 
holding here of the Court of Arches and Prerogative Courts which the 
burning of Doctors' Commons had left homeless. Later still, the first 
Earl of Shaftesbury was living here; and here, in 1671, was born his 
grandson, the third Earl and author of the famous Characteristics. Lord 
Shaftesbury had married, en second noces, Lady Francis Cecil, daughter of 
the third Earl of Exeter, in 1650, which may be sufficient to account for 
his presence as an occupant of the house. He, however, removed to 
Thanet House in the City, in 1676, as I have before mentioned: but 
it was during his sojourn in the Strand that John Locke was a resident 
here, as he continued to be in Thanet House, in the capacity of tutor 
to Lord Ashley, and physician to the household, and while here he was 
engaged on his great work on the Human Understanding. 

With the departure of Lord Shaftesbury, the history of this interesting 
old house closes, for soon afterwards it was pulled down, and its site 

1 We know Lady Hatton entertained their Majesties at Hatton House, in November of this 
year ; so it is probable that she had just taken Exeter House when she was again thus honoured. 
- Calendar of State Papers. 

D 



50 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

covered with streets and buildings, among the latter being the once well- 
known Exeter 'Change. In 1855, the second Marquis of Exeter sold the 
property on the site of Exeter House for something over ;^50,ooo. 

Although Sorbi^re in his Voyage en Angleterre (1666) speaks of old 
Bedford House in the Strand, which stood a little west of where South- 
ampton Street runs, as " Le Palais de Bethfordt," I don't know that it 
should rightly be included among residences with this high-sounding title. 
Strype calls it " a large but old built house with a great yard before it 
for the reception of carriages ; with a spacious garden having a terrace- 
walk adjoining to the brick wall next the garden, behind which were the 
coach-houses and stables, with a conveyance into Charles Street through a 
large gate," and by Blome's map of the parish of St. Paul's, Covent 
Garden, the mansion is shown standing at right angles (looking east) to 
the Strand, with its gardens, stretching from the south side of the Piazza 
of Covent Garden to the Strand, and as far as Exeter House to the east.^ 
But notwithstanding that it was, for the period, a relatively large house, 
and belonged to the noble family of Bedford from about the time of its 
erection in 1552, till so late as 1704, when they left it for the splendid 
mansion in Bloomsbury, when it was thereupon demolished, it appears to 
me to have not been on that scale of grandeur which characterised the 
other noble houses in the Strand I have mentioned, for which reason I 
shall leave it and pass on to the splendid town residence of the Percies 
at Charing Cross — which down to our own day was known as Northum- 
berland House. 

It is a curious fact, and one which gives food for much reflection, that 
Northumberland House, of all the old private palaces of London, was 
the only one which survived till the latter half of the nineteenth century ; 
most of them, as we have seen, were demolished in favour of building 
development ; a few were replaced by mansions more sumptuous and more 
consonant with the times in which they were erected, but not one, except 
the London house of the Percies, remained intact till our own time. 

In 1475, there had been erected, on the spot where Northumberland 
House was afterwards to stand, a cell with a chapel adjoining named St. 
Mary Rouncivall, from the convent of Roncesvalles in Navarre, with which 
it was connected ; at about the time of the Reformation, however, this, 
in common with the other religious houses, was suppressed, and the land 
on which it stood let out in various tenements. Such at least is the 

• Smith, in his Antiquities of Westminster, reproduces an enlargement of the ground plan 
of the property. 




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NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE 51 

account of it given by Stow, but Pennant's version attributes the founding 
of the cell and chapel to the Earl of Pembroke in the reign of 
Henry III., and places the rebuilding of it, after it had been suppressed by 
Henry V., in that of Edward IV. In any case, the property appears to 
have passed by a grant of Edward VI. to Sir Thomas Cawarden, who had 
been knighted by Henry VIII. at the siege of Boulogne, in 1544, and was 
a gentleman of the King's Privy Chamber in 1546, besides holding the 
position of Master of the Revels during the reign of his successor ; he 
died on August 22, 1559,^ when the lands and tenements passed, probably 
by purchase, to Sir Robert Brett, from whom they were bought by Henry, 
first Earl of Northampton, of the Howard branch, second son of the poet 
Earl of Surrey. 

Lord Northampton pulled down what buildings there were on the 
ground, and erected a stately palace^ in their place. It is a little uncertain 
who was the architect, some supposing the Earl himself to have designed 
the house ; others, following Walpole, attributing it to the joint work 
of Bernard Jansen and Gerard Chrismas ; while Moses Glover, who drew 
the Survey of Sion, and is described as a " painter and architect," may 
have had a hand in it. In any case it seems certain that, whether they 
drew out the designs or not, Jansen ^ and Chrismas were responsible for the 
actual building ; the latter probably being chiefly concerned in the facade 
facing Charing Cross, as on that portion of the edifice was a C. IE. 
sculptured in the stone, which Vertue conjectured to stand for the words 
Chrismas ffdifcivit} The house was built of brick and stone, and was 
finished in 1605 ; it consisted of three sides of a square, the unbuilt portion 
facing the ample garden which stretched to the river. At the four corners 
were towers surmounted by turrets, as may be seen in contemporary views, 
while the Charing Cross front is familiar to most people, from Canaletti's 
picture and the many prints produced of it. The interior quadrangle 
was 81 feet square, and the front extended to no less than 162 feet. 

Lord Northampton, during whose occupancy it had been called after 
his title, died, in June 16 14, and bequeathed the mansion to his nephew, 
Thomas Howard, first Earl of Suffolk, of the Howard line, the second son 
of the fourth Duke of Norfolk. During Lord Suffolk's tenure of the house, 

' See Machyn's Diary for an account of his funeral, &c. 

^ According to Francis Osborne, " it was built with Spanish gold " ; which was the kind 
of accusation invariably brought against most prominent public men who erected sumptuous 
palaces. 

^ Jansen was employed on the building of Audley End, Essex. 

' Walpole thinks it probable that a longer inscription containing Lord Northampton's 
titles in Latin, also graced the front, as Camden records that a young man was killed by the 
fall of the letter " S " from the front of Northampton House (as it was then icalled) on the 
occasion of the funeral of Anne of Denmark. 



52 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

his daughter, Lady Margaret Howard, was married to Roger Boyle, Lord 
Broghill, and it was to this circumstance that Suckling refers in his 
famous and delightful Ballad on a Weddings the scene of which took place 
here, where, as the poet sings : 

" At Charing Cross, hard by the way 
Where we (thou know'st) do sell our hay, 
There is a house with stairs." 

Suckling, who, one supposes, was a guest at the function, describes the 
wedding as a countryman might be supposed to do ; whence the emphasis 
on the house having stairs, and the rustic turn of the language which 
curiously enough enshrines those exquisite conceits and perfect com- 
parisons which make the poem a gem of its kind, unsurpassed and 
unsurpassable. 

Lord Suffolk changed the name of the mansion to Suffolk House, 
although letters from him, in July and August 1614, are still dated from 
Northampton House, and completed the place by adding the front facing 
the river ; ' but after occupying it for twelve years, he died, in 1 626, and was 
succeeded by his son Theophilus, whose second daughter Elizabeth married 
in 1642, as his second wife, Algernon Percy, tenth Earl of Northumberland. 
The second Earl of Suffolk died four years later, and his successor, James, 
the third Earl, who, though married, had no children to succeed him, 
made over the property to his brother-in-law, when its name was for the 
third time changed, and it became known as Northumberland House till 
the close of its existence. 

In view of the pedigree of the mansion here given, which is that 
accepted by all London topographers, it is a curious fact that in the City 
Archives is a letter from Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland, 
dated February 18, 161 6, to the Lord Mayor, in which the Earl informs 
him that he has heard of a pretended claim made by the Court of Alder- 
men to a garden belonging to Northumberland House ; " which he had 
sold to Mr. Robert Chamberlain," and stating that " he, and those from 
whom he claimed, had held and enjoyed Northumberland House, with 
the upper and nether garden, without interruption, for a hundred years, 
at least." A note to this passage in the Remembrancia, states that " Sion 
House, Charing Cross," had been granted to the ninth Earl of Northum- 

• In the Calendar of State Pape?-s, for March 1 5, 1617, is a " grant to the Earl of Suffolk to 
have a small pipe for conveying water to Suffolk House, inserted in the main pipe from Hyde 
Park to Westminster Palace " ; while in the Remembrancia, is a letter from Lord Northum- 
berland, dated March 7, 1664, stating that "he had lately been deprived of the conduit 
water which had always served Northumberland House," and requesting permission " for a 
quill of water from the City's pipes, which passed the gates of his residence." 



NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE 5 



^ 



berland, by James I., in 1604. If this was the case it would appear that 
the Northumberland (or Sion) House here referred to, was an altogether 
different building from the better known one I am speaking of, and 
that all traces of this residence have been lost. It may conceivably 
have adjoined Suffolk or Northampton House, and the fact that Lord 
Northumberland had sold part of the property to Mr. Chamberlain, may 
have been an additional reason for Lord Suffolk's making the latter 
mansion over to him. 

The tenth Earl of Northumberland was the heroic figure, who fought 
during the Civil Wars for King Charles, whom Clarendon speaks of " as 
in all his deportment a very great man," and whose handsome face and 
somewhat sad speculative eyes look out from Vandyck's famous picture. 
Among a variety of great offices which he filled, was, in 1642, that of 
First Commissioner of the Admiralty and the Cinque Ports, and the 
painter has introduced an allusion to this in the anchor on which the Earl 
rests his hand.^ 

Two years after this a son (Josceline) was born to him, who succeeded 
to the title and estates on the death of his father, in 1668 ; he, however, 
died in Italy two years later, and with him the direct male line of the 
Percies came to an end ; Northumberland House and the other properties 
of the family descending to his only daughter Elizabeth Percy, who had 
been married when a mere child of twelve to Henry Cavendish, Earl 
of Ogle, son of Henry, Duke of Newcastle. This boy, who had assumed 
the arms and name of Percy, died, however, in 1680, before he and his 
girl wife had lived together, and Lady Elizabeth was then married, in 
1681, to Thomas Thynne of Longleat, the " Tom of Ten Thousand," 
and the Issachar of Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel, who was murdered 
in the Haymarket, on February 12, 1682, by Count Koningsmarck who 
aspired to the hand of the heiress — a brutal deed of which the circum- 
stances are too well known to require recapitulation here, and which is 
recorded on Thynne's monument in Westminster Abbey. 

Lady Elizabeth had never lived with Thynne, and in the May following 
his murder, was wedded to Charles Seymour, sixth Duke of Somerset, so 
that, as has been pointed out, before the age of seventeen she was twice a 
virgin widow and three times a wife. 

The Duke of Somerset, of whose imperious manner Swift has left 
a record, was known as the proud Duke," and here at Northumberland 

• Mr. Blomfield, in his Renaissance Architecture in England, reminds us that John Webb 
was doing work for the tenth Earl, at Northumberland House, in 1657-8. 

^ He appears to have met his match in at least two other members of the Seymour 
family — one a Baronet, and the other James Seymour, the painter, of whom Walpole tells 
a well-known anecdote. See Anecdotes of Painting. 



54 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

House he and his Duchess lived in something approaching regal state, 
until the death of the latter in 1722. The Duke, four years later, married 
Lady Charlotte Finch, daughter of the second Earl of Nottingham, and 
died in 1748 ; when he was succeeded in the occupancy of Northumberland 
House by his son, the seventh Duke, who was then no less than sixty-four 
years of age. The year after his accession he was created Earl of Northum- 
berland, and having no male children, the remainder was made to Sir 
Hugh Smithson, who had married the Earl's only daughter, and who 
was, in 1766, raised to the Dukedom. 

As we have seen, the garden front of Northumberland House had 
been added by the first Earl of Suffolk ; it was, however, rebuilt in 1642, 
by the tenth Earl of Northumberland, from designs by Inigo Jones.' 
Evelyn, going to see some of the art treasures collected here, on June 9, 
1658, thus speaks of them and incidentally refers to the new river front : 
" I went to see the Earl of Northumberland's pictures, whereof that of ye 
Venetian Senators (the Cornaro Family) was one of the best of Titian's, 
and another of Andrea del Sarto, viz., a Madonna, Christ, St. John, and 
an old woman ; a St. Catherine of Da Vinci, with divers portraits of Van 
Dyke ; a nativity of Georgione ; the last of our blessed Kings and ye 
Duke of York, by Lely ; a rosarie by ye famous Jesuits of Bruxelles, and 
severall more. This was in Suffolk House ; ye new front towards ye 
gardens is tollerable, were it not drown'd by a too massie and clumsie pair 
of stayres of stone, without any neat invention." 

The addition made to the house by the tenth Earl anticipated the 
various improvements it underwent at the hands of successive owners of 
the property. Thus the Duke of Somerset formed a gallery, to which Hugh 
Smithson, first Duke of that line, added, besides facing the quadrangle 
with stone ; these latter improvements were carried out under the direction 
of Mylne, the architect, who also added the pavilion, in 1765 ; indeed so 
many alterations were made to the house, particularly about 1748 to 1752, 
that much of its original character was even then lost, and the fire which 
took place here in 1780, wholly destroyed the Charing Cross front; 
whereupon Daniel Garrett completed the work of restoration by re- 
building this portion of the palace. 

According to a contemporary account, the fire " broke out about five 
in the morning, and raged till eight, in which time it burnt from the east 
end, where it began, to the west. Among the apartments consumed were 
those of Dr. Percy, Dean of Carlisle . . . the greatest part of whose 
valuable Library was, however, fortunately saved." 

On the rebuilt fa9ade which so many of us remember, the famous 

• There is a view of this by Wale in Dodsley's London. 



NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE 55 

leaden lion designed by Carter/ which had stood, from 1752, on the 
earlier front, was replaced in its former position. In 1774 a further 
addition was made to the house by the erection of the ball-room, from 
the designs of Robert Adair, the interior of which resembled one of those 
magnificent apartments which are the glory of Italian palaces. Its 
walls were covered with large canvases, among which were Mengs' copies 
of Raphael's "School of Athens," "The Assembly of the Gods," and 
" The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche," in the Farnesina, and Caracci's 
*' Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne " ; its decorations were elaborate with 
massive carvings and gildings, and into its beautifully sculptured over- 
mantle was let a portrait of the Duke. In the deep window recesses 
stood costly works of art, noticeable among them being the famous S6vres 
vase now at Sion. 

Hardly less splendid was the drawing-room, with its gorgeously 
painted ceiling, its medallions being from the brush of Angelica Kauffmann, 
its immense mirrors, and the great crystal chandelier that helped to light 
up a thousand objects of beauty and artistic taste. 

A writer in Old and New London, who probably had an opportunity 
of seeing the interior for himself, has left the following account of it : 
"The vestibule of the interior was 82 feet long, ornamented with Doric 
columns. Each end communicated with a staircase, leading to the 
principal apartments facing the garden and the Thames. They consisted 
of several spacious rooms fitted up in the most elegant manner, em- 
bellished with paintings, among which might be found the well-known 
' Cornaro Family ' by Titian . . . for which Algernon, Earl of Northum- 
berland, is stated to have given Vandyck 1000 guineas, and a beautiful 
vase; 'St. Sebastian,' by Guercino ; 'The Adoration of the Shepherds,' 
by Bassano, and others by well-known masters, &c. The grand staircase 
consisted of a single flight of thirteen moulded vein marble steps, and two 
flights of sixteen steps with a centre landing 22 feet by 6 feet, two 
circular plinths, and a handsome and richly gilt ormolu scroll balustrade, 
with moulded Spanish mahogany hand-rails." 

Although this is rather like the description in a sale particular, it is not 
uninteresting, as giving some idea of what the interior of this great house 
was like, although the account hardly does justice to the magnificence of 
the staircase as it appears from contemporary sketches.- 

Among other interesting objects that once graced the rooms was the 

' Taylor, in his Fitie Ar/s, says " Laurent Delvaux, who worked with Bird and Scheetnaker, 
designed the Lion." 

"- Macky, in \\\i Journey through England, pubhshed in 1714, says of Northumberland 
House : " It's a noble square court with a garden running down to the riverside ; the Front to 
the Street is Princely, and the apartments answer his (the Duke's) grandeur." 



56 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

tapestry, designed by Zuccarelli, and worked in Soho Square, in 1758; 
the two cabinets of marbles and gems, once the property of Louis XIV., 
and the Sevres vase, mentioned before and now at Sion, painted with a 
design of Diana and her nymphs disarming Cupid, and presented to the 
second Duke when he was Ambassador at Paris, by Charles X. 

Apart from the great entertainments held at various times in this veri- 
table palace — one of which, given in honour of Queen Charlotte's brother, 
in 1762, is described by Walpole as "a pompous festino," when " not only 
the whole house, but the garden, was illuminated, and was quite a fairy 
scene," and "arches and pyramids of light alternately surrounded the 
enclosure " — one or two events of more general interest have taken place 
here. Thus it was thither, in the spring of 1660, that, according to 
Clarendon, General Monk was invited, with the Earl of Manchester, 
Hollis, Sir William Waller, &c., by Earl Algernon,^ and here in secret 
conference with them some of those measures were concerted which led 
to the speedy restoration of the monarchy. Here, Oliver Goldsmith once 
waited on the Duke, and mistook one of his gorgeously attired menials 
for the great man himself; here, on another occasion, through his friend 
Dr. Percy, he had an interview with his Grace, then just going as Lord- 
Lieutenant into Ireland, and who asking the poet what he could do for him, 
received the answer that he (Goldsmith) " had a brother there a clergy- 
man that stood in need of help, but that for himself he required nothing " ; 
much to the astonishment of Sir John Hawkins, who tells the story, and 
calls Goldsmith an idiot for thus trifling with his fortunes. And from 
here, on one occasion, in 1762, Horace Walpole set out with Lady Nor- 
thumberland, the Duke of York, Lady Mary Coke, and Lord Hertford, 
all in one hackney-coach, " to hear the mysterious rappings of the Cock 
Lane ghost " ; while at least two great funeral processions have started 
from this house : the first being that of the third Duke, who was buried 
at Westminster in February 1847, when the pageant reached from 
Northumberland House to the west door of the Abbey ; and the other 
that of the fourth Duke (in February 1865), who was buried with similar 
pomp and circumstance. 

Northumberland House, as a victim doomed to destruction, seems to 
have been regarded with envious eyes for many years. In 1845, when the 
Railway mania was at its height, a report was circulated that the stately 
pile was to be bought en bloc by the South- Western Railway ; while in 
1866, the Metropolitan Board of Works did endeavour to persuade 
the then Duke to sell, but without success. Six years later, however, 

^ The custody of the Royal children had been committed to him, whence their sojourn at 
Sion. 



NORTHUMBERLAND HOUSE 57 

terms were come to ; when the house and its grounds were sold for 
£500,000, and powers to form a street, &c., on its site obtained. In 
1874 the transaction was completed, and the materials of the fabric were 
subsequently sold by auction ; ^ the great staircase being given away for 
^{[360, and the rest of the building materials fetching something over 
;r6ooo. 

The contents — pictures, and furniture, and china — ^were dispersed be- 
tween Alnwick, Sion, and the Duke's new house in Grosvenor Place ; and 
thus " this great historical house, commenced by a Howard, continued by a 
Percy, and completed by a Seymour " — which had been the residence for 
two and a half centuries of some of the greatest families in the land, and 
which was, besides, the sole survivor of those Strand Palaces whose fortunes 
we have been following — was demolished to make way for the thorough- 
fare known as Northumberland Avenue leading to the Embankment. 
Apparently building speculation saw in this a splendid opportunity for 
making money, as the big hotels which have sprung up on its site have 
shown to be the case, otherwise the removal of some of the houses and 
shops on the west of Northumberland House, and the acquisition of a 
portion of its gardens would have probably proved equally suitable to 
whatever public requirements could demand. For this reason the de- 
struction of this splendid palace was one of the most regrettable of 
those acts of vandalism which the benighted period of the early seventies 
witnessed.'^ 

• Among them must have been the decorative work which Adam designed, such as the 
slab for the drawing-room fireplace, a drawing of which preserved in the Soane Museum is 
dated July 9, 1774, and the wonderful decorations of the drawing-room, the colour scheme 
of which was in red and green. In the Soane Museum is also a coloured drawing for a circular 
table-top designed by Adam, for the Duke. 

^ In Smith's Antiquities of Westminster is an illustration of the fagade of Northumberland 
House, and there are other innumerable views of the great house extant. 



CHAPTER III 

BURLINGTON HOUSE AND OTHERS 

IN this chapter I want to say something about five great houses which 
once proudly reared their heads in the West End, as we have seen so 
many do in the East and in that part of the town which once partook 
of something of the attributes of both — the Strand. 
Of these palaces, two, Burlington House and Clarendon House, stood 
in Piccadilly, and the name of the former is perpetuated in the Burling- 
ton House of our own day ; a third occupied the site of the present 
Buckingham Palace ; ^ while two more were once the glory of Blooms- 
bury — Southampton or Bedford House, and Montagu House, where the 
British Museum, which stands on its exact site, now spreads its ample 
proportions. 

There are, I am aware, several others that might by a little extension 
of the word be included among the past private palaces of the West 
End ; but I am unwilling to make this extension, because, in the first 
place, we shall have quite enough to do to examine those I have selected ; 
and again because directly one begins to enlarge ones boundaries, as it 
were, it becomes proportionately difBcult to discriminate between the 
relative merits of the many houses that would necessarily have some 
individual claims to be included. 

BURLINGTON HOUSE 

I will begin with Burlington House, which, like so many other great 
mansions, did not spring into existence in the completed form known to 
us by the later engravings of it which exist, but was the result of building 
evolution ; in any case, however, the original structure was sufficiently 
imposing, as Kip's excellent view of it attests. 

The ground on which it was erected was, at the period of the 

' I do not forget that Kensington Palace was formerly a private possession, but when it 
belonged to the Finches it was but '' a neat villa," according to Evelyn, and its chief interest is 
so largely connected with it as a Royal palace, that I do not include it for these reasons. 

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BURLINGTON HOUSE 59 

Restoration, open country ; but a few years later three stately residences 
arose in this locaHty : Berkeley, Clarendon, and Burlington Houses. 

There is some question as to who built and first occupied the original 
house, for although Lord Burlington was inhabiting it in 1668, there 
is reason to believe that he had been preceded in its occupancy by that 
Sir John Denham whose name is kept alive by his poem of " Cooper's 
Hill," and whose fame rests on the two famous lines on the Thames which 
are to be found in it. Pepys, writing on February 20, 1665, speaks of 
riding to see the building operations of Clarendon House, and mentions 
that Denham was beginning a house on its east side ; while, on Sep- 
tember 28, 1668, he records visiting " my Lord Burlington's house, the 
first time I was ever there, it being the house built by Sir John Denham, 
next to Clarendon House." 

Denham was, as we know. Surveyor to the King, and it is probable 
that he designed the house, with the help of John Webb, the pupil of 
Inigo Jones, not for himself but for Lord Burlington. Denham's share 
in its construction was, I expect, small enough, for Evelyn remarks on 
one occasion that he knew Sir John to be a better poet than architect, 
and it is likely that Webb was the ghost that provided the designs. 

It has, indeed, been suggested that as about this time Denham was 
on the eve of his marriage with the lovely Margaret Brook, who soon 
after became the Duke of York's mistress and died mysteriously of poison 
the following year,^ he prepared this house for her reception ; but in 
those days even poets filling public offices were hardly in a position to 
stand such an expense as must have been entailed by so magnificent a 
building as Burlington House, and I think it much more probable that 
Sir John was the nominal, John Webb the real, architect, and that the 
work was undertaken for Richard Boyle, who had been created Earl of 
Burlington in 1644. 

Lord Burlington's fame has been somewhat eclipsed by that of his 
father, the great Earl of Cork, and of his brother, the famous Robert 
Boyle, but he filled a number of important offices, under Charles H., 
and had, in 1642, been made Commander of the Forces in Ireland ; while 
his Earldom was the reward of his share in bringing about the Restora- 
tion. He married, in 1635, Lady Elizabeth CHfford, only daughter and 
heiress of Henry, fifth Earl of Cumberland, and died in 1698, having 
occupied Burlington House for some thirty years as a town residence. 
According to Walpole, when asked why he had erected the house so far 
out of town, he replied that he was determined to have no building 

' It was reported that Denham was responsible for her " taking off," and Anthony Hamilton 
specifically accuses him of the crime ; in any case Sir John himself died mad, in 1668. 



6o THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

beyond him ; he meant, on the north, for of course Berkeley House 
was on his west. The point of his remark is obvious enough, when we 
examine Kip's view of BurHngton House taken about the beginning of 
the eighteenth century ; for by it we see that its large gardens extend 
north to open fields, then known as Conduit Mead, whereas on its east 
are a number of houses, and the spot Lord Burlington chose was just to 
the west of these, which enabled him to enjoy an uninterrupted prospect 
to the north. Lord Burlington was succeeded by his grandson, Charles 
Boyle, who died young, only having enjoyed the title six years, when, 
in 1704, his son Richard, then not quite nine years old, succeeded him 
as third Earl. It is with this peer that the house is chiefly identified, 
and it is to him the mind turns when the title of Burlington occurs ; 
for not only was he a man of singular taste and refinement, but he was 
also one who had he not been an Earl would have been known as a 
great architect. As it is, his fame as the latter is sufficiently established 
to enable him to take a high place among the amateur architects of this 
country. 

One of the earliest of those who brought back from the Grand Tour 
something more than a mere confused remembrance of foreign towns 
and strange manners. Lord Burlington was possessed of a mind of singular 
receptivity, and the architectural beauties he had seen and carefully 
studied in Italy, fired him with the desire of emulating on the banks 
of the Thames what had excited his admiration on the banks of the 
Tiber. Nor had his travels resulted in awakening merely admiration ; 
he set himself to learn the elements of the art which had fascinated him, 
and his house at Chiswick, General Wade's mansion in Cork Street, 
Lord Harrington's so-called villa at Petersham, and the splendid ball- 
room in Lord Cowper's house in St. James's Square, are a few of the 
results of his assiduous application and natural gifts. 

Nor were his interests confined to this art : men of letters found 
in him as open-handed a patron as did architects and artists ; and if 
he lodged Kent in Burlington House and patronised Colin Campbell, 
he was as generous and friendly to Pope and Gay, Arbuthnot and Swift. 

Walpole in speaking of the architects of the reign of George II. thus 
mentions Lord Burlington : " Never was protection and great wealth 
more generously and more judiciously diffused than by this great person, 
who had every quality of a genius and artist, except envy. Though 
his own designs were more classic than Kent's,^ he entertained him in 
his house till his death, and was more studious to extend his friend's 
fame than his own. Nor was his munificence confined to himself and 

' " For Burlington unbiassed knows thy worth," writes Gay, addressing Kent. 



BURLINGTON HOUSE 6i 

his own houses and gardens. He spent immense sums in contributing 
to public works, and was known to choose that the expense should fall 
on himself rather than that his country should be deprived of some 
beautiful edifices. His enthusiasm for Inigo Jones was so active, that 
he repaired the church of Covent Garden because it was the production 
of that great master, and purchased a gateway^ at Beaufort Garden in 
Chelsea, and transported the identical stones to Chiswick with religious 
attachment. With the same zeal for pure architecture he assisted Kent 
in publishing the designs for Whitehall, and gave a beautiful edition of 
the antique baths from the drawings of Palladio, whose papers he pur- 
chased with great cost." 

It is a fropos of this publication that Pope in his epistle " Of the Use 
of Riches," addressed to Lord Burlington, says : 

" You show us Rome was glorious, not profuse, 
And pompous buildings once were things of use," 

while Gay was not behind his brother poet in hymning the praises of 
a patron whom they both could flatter with truth : 

" While you, my Lord, bid stately piles ascend " 

he apostrophises him in his " Epistle to the Earl of Burlington." 

Such was the man who now set about to reconstruct the fine house 
which his great-grandfather had built. He associated with himself, 
in the work, Colin Campbell, a well-known architect of the day, who 
filled the post of Surveyor of the Works at Greenwich Hospital, and 
had designed Wanstead and Mereworth. The Earl's scheme did not 
include the demolition of the earlier house, which was of red brick, but 
its incasing with stone, and the conversion of the bedrooms of the first 
floor into State rooms, by the expedient of increasing their height ; the 
model he evidently took for the work being the Palazzo Porto at Vicenza 
which had been designed by Palladio. 

It would have been difficult to allot the share which the Earl and 
his architect respectively had in this reconstruction had not the latter 
specifically indicated the portions for which he was alone responsible, 
in his Vitruvius Britannicus published in 1725, while Lord Burlington 
was yet living. By this we see that Campbell designed the general plan 
of the house, but not the stables, which he says " were built by another 
architect ' before I had the honour of being called to his Lordship's 

^ That now in front of Devonshire House. 

' Who this was is not clear, but Mr. .Spiers in his interesting article on Burlington House in 
the Architectural Review, for October 1904, thinks it probable that it was Giacomo Leoni, who 
was brought to this country by Lord Burlington previous to 1715. 



62 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

service," and he adds, " the front of the house, the conjunction from 
thence to the offices, the great gate and street wall were all designed and 
executed by me." ^ 

Fault has been found with this wall, which, considering that it was 
merely a wall, could hardly have been more decorative, by Malcolm, 
and even he seems rather to have objected to it as hiding the mansion 
than from any intrinsic deficiencies in its design ; but Ralph," who is 
in general hypercritical about the architecture of London in his day, 
speaks of " the most expensive wall in England," as he calls it, in a flatter- 
ing manner, and remarks that " nothing material can be objected to 
it, and much may be said in its praise. It is certain the height is wonder- 
fully well proportioned to the length, and the decorations are both simple 
and magnificent." 

But if there was any difference of opinion about this part of the 
scheme, there seems to have been a perfect consensus of praise bestowed 
on the beautiful colonnade which Walpole, on the grounds that Campbell 
lays no claim to its design, which he certainly might be thought to have 
done had he had anything to do with its invention, attributes to Lord 
Burlington himself. Chambers considers this " one of the finest pieces 
of architecture in Europe," which is perhaps rather hyperbolic, but 
there is no doubt that it formed one of the chief beauties of the new 
mansion, and it is a pity that it was ever removed. As Mr. Spiers says, 
it is not improbable that Bernini's famous colonnade in front of St. 
Peter's at Rome may have suggested the idea to Lord Burhngton of 
forming the approach to his mansion on a similar but of course much 
smaller scale ; and as to who was actually responsible for this fine piece 
of work, the same authority makes the suggestion that the original idea 
was due to Lord Burhngton, who, however, not being a draughtsman 
himself, may have instructed Leoni to draw out plans and elevations 
which when complete were probably handed to Colin Campbell " to 
work out in harmony with the great gate which he had designed. Colin 
Campbell therefore probably set out the whole of the work and super- 
intended its erection, but he refrained from claiming it as his own for 
the reasons just stated." ^ 

As is the case when any new building arises, particularly if it be in 
advance of the times, much criticism was expended over the splendid 

• In Campbell's publication are given illustrations of the facade, the gateway into 
Piccadilly, and the ground plan of the house. 

- Critical Survey of Public Buildings, 1728, pp. 23-4. 

^ Mr. Spiers's learned and valuable article, in which technical detail is set forth in a most 
interesting manner, is illustrated by a number of elevations, plans, and pictures of the interior of 
the mansion, including the great gate and the colonnade. 



BURLINGTON HOUSE 63 

structure, and even the great name of Hogarth has to be included among 
its detractors, for, in 1724, he produced a plate called "The Taste of 
the Town," in which he pictorially attacked Lord Burlington and those 
who assisted him in the designs ; Kent and Campbell being introduced, 
as well as Lord Burlington himself, into the drawing ; ^ while an epigram 
supposed to have been written either by Lord Chesterfield or Lord 
Hervey runs : 

" Possess'd of one great hall for state, 
Without a room to sleep or eat ; 
How well you build let flattery tell. 
And all the world how ill you dwell." ^ 

But Lord Burlington had not much cause to be irritated at such 
mild censure, when so much praise was continually being poured forth 
over his work. Pope asks 

"Who plants like Bathurst and who builds like Boyle ?" 

and Gay, in his " Trivia," has these lines, in which, after bemoaning the 
loss of the great houses in the Strand, he says : 

" Yet Burlington's fair palace still remains ; 
Beauty within, without proportion reigns. 
There oft I enter (but with cleaner shoes), 
For Burlington's beloved by ev'ry Muse " ; 

and in his " Epistle to Paul Methuen," he cries : 

" While Burlington's proportion'd column rise, 
Does not he stand the gaze of envious eyes ? 
Doors, windows, are condemned by passing fools, 
Who know not that they damn Palladio's rules." 

And, to give one more example, here is Walpole's criticism on the famous 
colonnade : " As we have few samples of architecture more antique and 
imposing than that colonnade, I cannot help mentioning the effect it 
had on myself. I had not only never seen it, but had never heard of 
it, at least with any attention, when soon after my return from Italy, 
I was invited to a ball at Burlington House. As I passed under the gate 

' It was afterwards called " Masquerades and Operas, Burlington Gate," and is known as 
" the small masquerade ticket." Mr. Wheatley draws attention to the prophetic labelling of the 
front gate, "Academy of Arts." 

^ It was certainly Hervey who said of Lord Burlington's house at Chiswick that " it was too 
small to live in, and too large to hang to one's watch-chain." 



64 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

by night, it could not strike me. At daybreak looking out of the window 
to see the sun rise, I was surprised with the vision of the colonnade that 
fronted me. It seemed one of those edifices in fairy tales that are raised 
by genii in a night's time." ^ 

There is no doubt that whoever wrote the epigram I have before 
quoted, had some reason for suggesting that everything had been sacrificed 
to the reception-rooms, for the upper chambers and those on the ground 
floor were small and not very convenient, but this was so characteristic 
of the period that one wonders so much was made of it ; certainly Lord 
Chesterfield did better when he built his fine house, which may be a 
reason for attributing the lines, quoted above, to him ; but the reception- 
rooms were as splendid in proportion as they were magnificent in decora- 
tion ; the richness of the gilding was enhanced by the deep tones of 
the solid mahogany doors and the graceful modelling of the marble 
chimneypieces. The ceilings and even some of the walls were beauti- 
fied by the paintings of Marco Ricci and Sebastian Ricci, the former 
being responsible for the architectural portions and the backgrounds, and 
the latter introducing the figures, as well as by the work of Sir James 
Thornhill, who if he, as is affirmed, really prompted Hogarth to produce 
his depreciation of the exterior of the house, made a shabby return for 
the Earl's patronage. 

During Lord Burlington's life, the great mansion in Piccadilly seems 
to have been a sort of open house for the genius and talent of the time.^ 
Pope and Gay, as we have seen, were perpetual visitors, so was the 
redoubtable Dean of St. Patrick's, and a not very pleasant, but I am 
bound to say highly characteristic, story is told of one of his visits here 
when he first met the Countess.* Here it is, as given on the authority 
of Mrs. Pilkington in her Memoirs. " Being in London, Swift went to 
dine with the newly married Earl of Burlington, who neither introduced 
his wife nor mentioned her name, willing, it is supposed, to have some 
diversion. After dinner the Dean said, ' Lady Burlington, I hear you 
can sing : sing me a song.' The lady thought this very unceremonious 
and refused, when Swift said she should sing or he would make her. 
' Why, madam, I suppose you take me for one of your poor hedge 
parsons ; sing when I bid you.' The Earl laughed at this freedom, 
but the lady was so vexed that she burst into tears and retired. Swift's 

* Anecdotes of Painting. 

- Among the pictures formerly hanging here, Walpole mentions a portrait of Rousseau the 
painter by Le Fevre, as well as a prospect of London before the Fire showing the great houses 
in the Strand, by Thomas Van Wyck, and a view of the parade in St. James's Park, with 
Charles and his courtiers and women in masks walking. 

^ She was Lady Dorothy Saville, daughter and heiress of William, Marquis of Halifax, and 
had married Lord Burlington in 1721. 



BURLINGTON HOUSE 65 

first words on seeing her again were, ' Pray, madam, are you as proud 
and ill-natured now as when I saw you last ? ' To which she answered 
with great good-humour, ' No, Mr. Dean, I will sing to you, if you 
please.' From this time Swift conceived a great esteem for the lady." 
One's power of criticism is paralysed at such conduct, and one hardly 
knows which to wonder at most, the Earl's indifferent attitude or the 
extraordinarily forgiving spirit of his Countess. Swift's brutality is too 
well known to excite particular comment. 

It is pleasant to think that not many such characters had the run 
of Burlington House. The great Handel was an honoured guest, and 
occupied apartments here from 1715 till 1718, during which time he 
composed his operas of Amadis, Theseus, and Pastor Fido, and here he 
frequently met Dr. Arbuthnot who, himself, had studied music as well 
as most other things. 

Later, Faustina, the singer, during the time of her great feud with 
Cuzzoni, must frequently have been here, for Lady Burlington was 
the chief of her partisans, as Lady Pembroke was of those of her rival ; 
and, in 1744, when the celebrated dancer Violette, who became after- 
wards Mrs. Garrick, came to this country, she was included among the 
Earl's " family," and resided, at, I hasten to say, the Countess's invita- 
tion, in Burlington House ; Kent, who was also an inmate of the mansion, 
designed the tickets for Violette's benefit ; and on her marriage with 
the great actor. Lady Burlington gave her a splendid dowry. 

Lord Burlington died in 1753,^ without an heir, and the property 
then passed to Lord Hartington, who became fourth Duke of Devonshire, 
and who had married, in 1748, Lady Charlotte Boyle, Lord Burlington's 
daughter. 

A later resident here was the third Duke of Portland, who had married 
Lady Dorothy Cavendish, daughter of the above-mentioned Duke of 
Devonshire, and when the Duke of Portland became First Lord of the 
Treasury, in 1783, under the auspices of Charles James Fox, Burlington 
House was the chief meeting-place of the party, as Devonshire House 
became later. In 1807, during the Duke's second administration, after 
the fusion of the Whigs with Pitt, it occupied a like position, except 
that Tories reigned where Whigs had reigned before. 

The Duke of Portland died in 1809, and six years later, the sixth Duke 
of Devonshire sold Burlington House to his uncle Lord Henry Cavendish, 
created Earl of Burlington in 1831,- for ^75,000. 

' He is supposed to have spent such immense sums on his buildings, and patronage of the 
fine arts generally that, in 1738, he is recorded to have sold an income of ^9000 for £200,000, 
"which won't pay his debts," says Barber, writing to Swift. 

' His grandson, who succeeded him in 1834, became seventh Duke of Devonshire in 1858. 



66 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

On taking possession its new owner made a variety of alterations, 
although not so many nor such drastic ones as had been anticipated, 
and he employed Ware the Architect to carry out the improvements. 
Among other things which Ware effected was the building of the well- 
known Burlington Arcade, which was completed in 1819. A writer 
in the Gentleman' s Magazine waxed mighty humorous over the innova- 
tion effected by this Arcade ; but there is no doubt it was the source 
of an excellent income to the Cavendishes while they possessed it, which 
was till the year 1854, when the sixth Duke of Devonshire sold Burlington 
House to the Government for ^^i 40,000. With this its interest as a 
private palace ceases, but it will be interesting to rapidly glance at its 
later history. 

At first, indeed, there appears to have been no particular reason for 
the purchase of the place except the very reasonable price at which it 
was possible to acquire it, for we find it lent to the University of London 
for a time, and later, in 1857, rooms in it were offered to various learned 
societies of which the Royal Society alone took advantage, although 
afterwards others joined them here, when the University of London, 
which still occupies a portion, was moved to the east wing. Many schemes 
were formulated both in Parliament and by " the man in the street," 
as to the best mode of disposing of the house and grounds. Some were 
for pulling down the former ; others for adding to it : but there seems 
to have been a general desire to do away with the wall facing Piccadilly. 
The public never has liked walls ; and indeed however picturesque they 
may be in the country, where many of those red-brick barriers are things 
of beauty in themselves, there is not much to be said for them in London 
except that they give an air of pleasant mystery where no real mystery 
exists. But this wall was, as we have seen, an exceptional one, yet those 
who advocated its preservation seem chiefly to have done so on the ground 
that were it demolished the stables and outbuildings of Burlington 
House would be exposed. In 1859, however, the Government brought 
forward the suggestion that the Royal Academy should leave that portion 
of the National Gallery which it had hitherto occupied and be housed 
here, and plans were prepared showing the various alterations which 
would be necessary to make Burlington House a fitting home for it ; 
the Piccadilly front being designed by Barry, who was working in colla- 
boration with Banks on the rest of the scheme. A change of Government 
put the matter back for several years, but in 1866, the scheme was again 
brought forward with various modifications, by which the place was divided 
up between the University of London, destined to occupy the new 
buildings facing Burlington Gardens ; the Royal Academy to have the 




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CLARENDON HOUSE 67 

main building for which Smirke designed the picture galleries, &c., and 
various learned societies to be accommodated in the wings which joined 
the latter to the Piccadilly facade. The wall facing Burlington Gardens 
was demolished in 1866 ; that fronting Piccadilly was taken down two 
years later when was also destroyed the famous colonnade over which 
Walpole had waxed eloquent. 

Should some of the ghosts of Piccadilly really revisit the glimpses 
of the moon, as a contemporary writer suggests,' then they would hardly 
know the place, so changed has become its outward form, so over- 
built its ample gardens. Swift and Pope, and Arbuthnot and Gay, 
Walpole and the careless throng which once danced in those rooms or 
wondered at that colonnade ; those volunteers who wheeled and manoeuvred 
in that ample courtyard when the eagle of France threw the menace of 
his shadow over London itself ; those who crowded to the famous ball 
given here by White's Club to the allied sovereigns in 1 8 14, when the 
wings of the eagle had been, as it turned out, but inadequately clipped ; 
even those quiet eyes of the statues among the marvellous Elgin marbles, 
which, in 18 15, were temporarily placed here, must all wonder at a change 
which has resulted in showing how transitory is the glory of that which 
might permissibly have been supposed to be permanent. 

CLARENDON HOUSE 

When Sir Robert Walpole once pointed out the folly committed by 
a great minister of the Crown in erecting a palace during his term of 
ofhce, he no doubt had in mind the fate of Lord Clarendon and his 
stately mansion - in Piccadilly, and, having satisfied himself of the inex- 
pediency of such an act, he straightway proceeded to the building of 
Houghton Hall ! Which proves, if proof were required, that the most 
far-seeing and judicial can lay down excellent rules of conduct, and, on 
occasion, forget their application. But if a moral is required for the 
caccethes adificandi which has affected so many great men from Pliny 
downwards, it surely is to be found in the history of Clarendon House, 
which rose in splendour, was occupied in sorrow and misgiving, and 
became a thing of the past, within the short space of a single decade. 

Lord Clarendon, who reproaches himself for that passion for building 
to which " he was naturally too much inclined," lived to see the grave 

' In some lines in The Builder quoted by Mr. Wheatley, and also, as if a title never could 
be original, by Mr. Street in his recently pulslished book. 

* There is a good view of Clarendon House in Wilkinson's I.onditux lUustrata, as well as 
many others, one of which is here reproduced. 



68 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

mistake he had made in raising this stately pile, and he acknowledged 
that " his weakness and vanity more contributed to that gust of envy 
that had so violently shaken him, than any misdemeanours that he was 
thought to have been guilty of." 

A royal grant of land at this spot, and the opportunity of purchasing 
a quantity of stone that had been destined for the repair of old St. Paul's, 
went hand in hand with his natural inclinations, and could hardly be 
regarded, as he suggests, as the cause of his building the palace. Clarendon 
was in many respects a great man, but he was also an inordinately 
ambitious one, and just as he delighted in being able to call a royal duke 
son-in-law, so he was happy in the thought that his London residence 
would eclipse those of families in comparison with which his own was 
of mushroom growth ; and then he possibly felt himself so secure in 
power and the favour of his sovereign that he was indifferent to public 
opinion and fearlessly gave into the hands of his enemies the petard which 
was to hoist him : certain it is that that was the rock on which he split, 
and the populace who saw in it the result of political tergiversation, 
were, as they generally are, the more ready to accuse him because of his 
arrogance and ostentation, and when they called the place Dunkirk House 
or Tangier Hall or Holland House, ^ although they indirectly attacked 
his supposed unpatriotic policy, they chiefly aimed their shafts at his 
vainglorious parade. 

Had historical truths had power to warn him. Clarendon might have 
remembered Wolsey's fate and Buckingham's career, but one seldom feels 
so secure as when contemplating the adverse fortune of others, and immemor 
sepulcri, he ruined himself in building a home in which he experienced 
little but sorrow and shame. 

The date of the letters-patent by which Charles H. granted to 
Clarendon the site on which Clarendon House was to rise, is June 13, 
1664, and on that very day, by a curious coincidence when we remember 
one of the names afterwards applied to the mansion, Mr. Coventry 
suggested to Pepys that he should write the History of the late Dutch 
War. 

The tract of land thus obtained by Clarendon was a very large one ; 
indeed it seems to have extended from Swallow Street to a point down 
Piccadilly west of St. James's Street, probably where Berkeley Street 
now stands.^ In any case, Lord Clarendon selected the spot immediately 
facing St. James's Street for the erection of his house, and building opera- 

' Because, says Burnet, he was believed to have received money from the Dutch in order to 
heighten his opposition to the war. 

' The grant is given in Lister's Li/b of Clatrndon. 



CLARENDON HOUSE 69 

tions began soon after he had obtained the grant ; no less than three 
hundred men being employed on it. 

Rugge, in his Diurnal, for August 1664, mentions that eight acres had 
then been enclosed for the house and grounds, and in the pages of Pepys 
and Evelyn, we can follow the gradual building of the mansion. Thus on 
October 15, 1664, Evelyn accompanies Lord and Lady Clarendon to 
see the progress of the work ; in the February of the following year, 
Pepys rides west to make himself acquainted with the new palace about 
which every one was talking — and not talking respectfully ; and he pays 
another visit to it, on January 31, 1666, because he had heard so much 
about it from Evelyn ; " and indeed," he adds, " it is the finest pile I 
ever did see in my life, and will be a glorious house." So impressed 
was Samuel with the place that we find him a fortnight later taking Mr. 
Hill to see it, when the two friends managed, with some difficulty, to 
get on to the roof, whence was obtained " the noblest prospect I ever saw 
in my life, Greenwich being nothing to it," says the diarist. 

Pepys was notoriously hyperbolic in his appreciation of what pleased 
him, but there is no doubt that, as we can see for ourselves from the 
extant prints of it, the place must have been magnificent, and even the 
sober Evelyn, who had seen the palaces of France and Italy, was in a 
rapture of admiration, and in a letter to Lord Cornbury (Clarendon's 
son) thus speaks of the house : " If it be not a solecism to give a palace 
so vulgar a name, I have never seen a nobler pile. It is without 
hyperbole the best contrived, the most useful, graceful, and magnificent 
house in England. Here is taste and use, solidity and beauty, most 
symmetrically combined together : seriously there is nothing abroad 
pleases me better : nothing at home approaches it." But this eulogy 
at the gallop was, it must be remembered, addressed to the son 
of the builder, and in an entry in his Diary for November 28, 
1666, Evelyn's enthusiasm was so much sobered down that although 
he still confesses that " it was a goodly pile to see," and " placed most 
gracefully," yet he has become critical and can write that there were 
" many defects as to ye architecture." 

The architect of the house was Pratt, of whom less is known than 
we might expect, seeing that he was responsible for so fine a building. 
Evelyn had known him in Rome ; and we find him as one of the Com- 
missioners for the repair of old St. Paul's Cathedral, deliberating thereon 
with Wren, May, and others, including Evelyn himself, on August 27, 
1666, when in various matters his judgment differed from that of the 
diarist and Wren. Pratt was also the architect of Lord Allington's 
house at Horseheath, a building which, according to Lysons, cost no 



70 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

less than ^70,000 ; but VValpole does not mention him, nor is his name 
to be found in the Dictionary of Natio7ial Biography. 

The cost of the house far exceeded the architect's estimate of ^20,000, 
and Lord Orrery had reason for his remark made in a letter to Lord 
Clarendon, in which he assumes that not the former sum named by the 
Chancellor, but the ^40,000 estimated by himself was nearer the actual 
figure. 

But even this sum must have represented but a portion of the outlay, 
for large as it is, and larger still as it was in those days, it would hardly in 
itself seem sufficient to justify Lord Clarendon in saying that he had ruined 
himself by its expenditure ; but when we remember the splendid way 
in which the house was furnished ; the number of fine pictures (about 
which I shall have something to say presently) that adorned its walls ; 
and the large household that must have been necessary, it is not difficult 
to see how even Clarendon's great resources must have been drained. 

Popular clamour hardly waited for the paint to dry in Clarendon 
House, before it began to vent itself on the place and its possessor ; all 
the tribe of petty verse-makers and pamphleteers metaphorically hastened 
to besmear the walls with their venom ; and even the common people 
were enraged to see so much money expended at a time when the Plague 
and the Great Fire, as well as the effects of a disastrous war, and the 
extravagance of a frivolous court which they had always with them, were 
making sad inroads on their own purses. Like all such clamourers against 
personal ostentation and expenditure, they forgot that the money thus 
lavished at least passed into general circulation, and that employment was 
thus found for many who would have otherwise been idle. 

Such considerations could, indeed, hardly be expected to have weight 
with men in the seventeenth century, when we find so much of the same 
stupid ignorance of facts in those of the twentieth, and the result was that, 
in the public prints, nay painted on the very gates of Clarendon House, 
were bitter invectives, and attacks which lost much of their point by 
being based on ignorant supposition. They are hardly worth quoting, 
as they all, more or less, harp on the same string ; the building of the 
house and the ill-gotten gains with which it was presumed that Lord 
Clarendon paid for it. Even Andrew Marvell, who should have known 
better, was represented among more insignificant assailants of the Lord 
Chancellor, and his " Clarendon House-Warming " is little better than the 
others so far as poetical merit goes, and none at all in sentiment. 

Pepys mentions the actual violence done to the house itself, in a 
passage in his Diary, dated June 14, 1667. " Mr. Hater tells me," 
he writes, " that some rude people have been, as he hears, at my Lord 



CLARENDON HOUSE 71 

Clarendon's, where they have cut down the trees before his house, and 
broke his windows ; and a gibbet either set up before or painted upon 
his gate, and these three words writ : ' Three sights to be seen : Dunkirke, 
Tangier, and a barren Queene.' " 

Nothing, perhaps, more plainly shows that Clarendon was made 
the scapegoat for every ill that befell the nation, than the last implication, 
since he opposed the marriage of Charles with Catherine for the very 
reason for which he was supposed to have urged it on. One wonders 
that the Plague and the Great Fire were not also laid to his charge ! 

But Lord Clarendon enjoyed, if he ever really did enjoy, the fruits 
of his expenditure but a short time ; such popular anger could hardly 
be mistaken, and the action of Parliament soon showed that the fury 
of his enemies was not confined to those in the street. In 1667, he was 
impeached, and on November 29th he fled the country, sending his 
carriage and servants to York House, Twickenham, to put his enemies 
off the scent. With the help of Charles, whose family had always found 
him a devoted friend, he might conceivably have weathered the storm ; 
but he had a stronger enemy even than the Parliament or the people, 
in the person of the notorious Lady Castlemaine, and Charles but followed 
the traditional policy of his family in sacrificing to insistence those with- 
out whom their power would have been a negligible quantity ; and so, like 
Wolsey, Clarendon fell primarily through the influence of a woman. 
Evelyn has a pathetic entry in his Diary, in which he relates how he 
went " to visit the late Lord Chancellor," a few hours before his flight. 
" I found him," he says, " in his garden, at his new built palace, sitting 
in his gowt wheelchayre, and seeing the gates setting up towards the 
north and the fields. He looked and spake very disconsolately. After 
some while deploring his condition to me, I took my leave. Next morning 
I heard he was gone." 

The head and front of his offending being removed, his son. Lord 
Cornbury, seems to have been left in peaceful possession of the great 
house in Piccadilly, and here Evelyn visited him, on December 20, 
1668 ; and thus speaks of the circumstance : " I din'd with my Lord 
Cornbury at Clarendon House, now bravely furnished, especially with 
the pictures of most of our ancient and modern witts, poets, philosophers, 
famous and learned Englishmen ; which collection of the Chancellor's 
I much commended, and gave his Lordship a catalogue of more to be 
added." 

Of these pictures we are luckily able also, with the aid of Evelyn, 
to obtain some idea, from a letter he wrote to Pepys, probably after the 
visit just recorded. Although the list supplied is obviously not exhaustive. 



72 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

it no doubt contains the most important of those pictorial decorations 
for which Clarendon House was famed, and which largely consisted of, 
as Macaulay says, " the masterpieces of Vandyck which had once been 
the property of ruined Cavaliers," housed in the " palace which reared 
its long and stately front right opposite to the humbler residence of 
our Kings." 

Here is the list as given by Evelyn : " There were at full length, 
the greate Duke of Buckingham, the brave Sir Horace and Francis Vere, 
Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Philip Sidney, the greate Earl of Leicester, 
Treasurer Buckhurst, Burleigh, Walsingham, Cecil, Lord Chancellor 
Bacon, EUesmere, and I think all the late Chancellors and grave Judges 
in the reignes of Queen Elizabeth and her successors, James and Charles L 
For there was Treasurer Weston, Cottington, Duke Hamilton, the mag- 
nificent Earle of Carlisle, Earles of Carnarvon, Bristol, Holland, Lindsey, 
Northumberland, Kingston, and Southampton ; Lords Falkland and 
Digby (I name them promiscuously as they come into my memorie), 
and of Charles the second, besides the Royal Family, the Dukes of Albe- 
marle and Newcastle ; Earles of Darby, Shrewsbury, St. Albans, the 
brave Montrose, Sandwich, Manchester, &c. ; and of the Coife, Sir 
Edward Coke, Judge Berkeley, Bramston, Sir Orlando Bridgman, Jeofry 
Palmer, Selden, Vaughan, Sir Robert Cotton, Dugdale, Mr. Camden, 
Mr. Hales of Eton. The Archbishops Abbot and Laud, Bishops Juxon, 
Sheldon, Morley, and Duppa ; Dr. Sanderson, Brownrig, Dr. Donne, 
Chillingworth, and severall of the Cleargie, and others of the former 
and present age. For there were the pictures of Fisher, Fox, Sir Thomas 
More, Tho. Lord Cromwell, Dr. Nowel, &c. And what was most agree- 
able to his Lordship's humour, Old Chaucer, Shakespere, Beaumont 
and Fletcher, who were both in one piece, Spenser, Mr. Waller, Cowley, 
Hudibras, which last he plac'd in the roome where he us'd to eate and 
dine in public." 

What a gallery ! There is hardly a notable name in three reigns 
absent from the collection ; but for the great Chancellor the assemblage 
must have awakened sad memories often enough ; and some of those 
heads must surely have given him food for reflection ; how many of 
them had not fallen on the scaffold ; how many of them had not sacrificed 
everything for the cause of which he was the strenuous partisan ; how 
many had not experienced what little faith there was to be placed in 
princes ! One wonders if the destiny of some of these did not some- 
times awaken fear and apprehension in his mind ; when he gazed on 
the features of the " greate Duke of Buckingham," and Lord Chancellor 
Bacon, did no premonition of his own fate force itself upon him ; did 



CLARENDON HOUSE 73 

he believe that " vaulting ambition " in his case would not o'erleap 
itself ? Surely the sad eyes of the King he served so faithfully, and 
those of the Strafford he had known so well, must have told him some- 
thing ! When he sat in his " gowt wheelchayre," and heard the rabble 
clamouring at his gates and tearing down the trees, the fate of Laud 
and Montrose, and Falkland's bitter death should have warned him. 
No wonder from such a sad assemblage his " general humour " was to 
turn to the contemplation of old Dan Chaucer, and Shakespere's mighty 
brow ; the courtly Spenser and the gentle Cowley ; no wonder he selected 
the humorous features of Butler to smile upon him while he dined, and 
perhaps snatched a respite from the troubles that compassed him round, 
by the thought of that book which Pepys tried so hard to like, and which 
was as potent as the sword of cavaliers to bring a King into his own again. 

How many of these " full lengths " must now be hanging in the 
great houses we shall presently be examining, it is impossible to say. 
Perhaps that of Ellesmere is identical with the portrait which now hangs 
in Bridgewater House ; did those wonderful presentments of the Duke 
of Hamilton and the Earl of Holland which are to-day in the dining- 
room of Montagu House, originally hang on my Lord Chancellor's walls ? 
Such speculation is, of course, idle, but we know that some of the repre- 
sentatives of those cavaliers whose portraits found their way to Clarendon 
House made attempts to obtain at least replicas of their former posses- 
sions, and there is on record that " Earl Paulett was an humble petitioner 
to the son of the Chancellor for leave to take a copy of his grandfather's 
and grandmother's pictures that had been plundered from Hinton St. 
George ; which was obtained with great difficulty, because it was thought 
that copies might lessen the value of the originals." 

Lord Cornbury appears to have let Clarendon House to the Duke 
of Ormonde, soon after his father's flight ; at any rate the Duke was living 
here when Colonel Blood made his daring attempt to kidnap him on 
the night of December 6, 1670, as he was proceeding up St. James's 
Street after having attended the Prince of Orange, then on a visit to 
this country, to the City. Blood and his myrmidons had actually suc- 
ceeded in getting possession of the Duke's person and conveying him 
some way past Berkeley House towards Knightsbridge, when the latter 
by a desperate effort unhorsed the man who was guarding him, and 
struggled with him on the ground until rescued by his porter and others. 

On Lord Clarendon's death, in 1674, ^^^ mansion * was sold, in the 

' William Skillman engraved a view of the faqade of Albemarle House, as it was afterwards 
called. 



74 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

following year, to the second Duke of Albemarle, the son of the great 
Monk, for ^^26,000, which sum, knowing as we do what the place cost, seems 
a very reasonable one. In the Calendar of State Papers, for November 
1675, is a petition of the Duke of Albemarle's to the King, under these 
circumstances : The Duke points out that when the original grant was 
made to Clarendon on August 23, 1664, the property was described as 
being in the parish of St. James's in the Fields, whereas it was properly 
in that of St. Martin's in the Fields, and he desires that, as he has since 
purchased it, the original grant may be confirmed in accurate terms, so 
as to substantiate his title ; which, by another entry, we find acceded to. 

But the Duke was an extravagant man, besides being notoriously 
intemperate—" burnt to a coal with hot liquor," is the comment of a 
contemporary — and his monetary difficulties becoming acute, he was, 
perforce, obliged to part with the place, then known as Albemarle House, 
to Sir Thomas Bond and others for, it is said,^ the still further reduced 
sum of ^20,000 ; although, as we shall see, the price has been placed at 
a much higher figure by Evelyn. 

Bond and his syndicate bought the house for the specific purpose of 
pulling it down and developing the estate, and Bond Street and Albe- 
marle Street perpetuate the names of its owners.^ 

Evelyn, writing on September 18, 1683, thus records the final in- 
carnation of the house where the great Clarendon and the scarcely less 
celebrated Ormonde had for a short time dwelt. 

" After dinner," he writes, " I walked to survey the sad demolition 
of Clarendon House, that costly and only sumptuous palace of the late 
Lord Chancellor Hyde, where I have often been so cheerful with him, 
and sometimes so sad. . . . This stately palace is decreed to ruin to 
support the prodigious waste the Duke of Albemarle had made of his 
estate. He sold it to the highest bidder, and it fell to certain rich 
bankers and mechanics, who gave for it and the ground ' about ^35,000 ; 
they designe a new towne, as it were, and a most magnificent piazza. 
'Tis said they have already materials towards it with what they sold of 
the house alone, more worth than what they paid for it. See the 
vicissitude of earthly things ! I was astonished at this demolition, nor 
less at the little army of labourers and artificers levelling the ground, laying 
foundations, at an expense of _^200,ooo, if they perfect their designe." * 

' In the Loyal Protestant and True Domes tick Intelligencer. 

' It is said that the materials of the mansion fetched more than was paid for the property. 

^ Said to have extended to twenty-four acres in 1688. 

» Archer, in his Vestiges of Old London, 1851, says that the pillars flanking the entrance of 
the Three Kings Livery Stables, in Piccadilly, were, at the time he published his work, the sole 
existing remains of the once stately Clarendon House. 



BUCKINGHAM HOUSE 75 

BUCKINGHAM HOUSE 

When James I., in 1609, attempted to create an industry by the 
importation of silkworms into this country, the spot chosen for the 
planting of the necessary mulberry trees was part of that on which the 
present Buckingham Palace, with its forty acres of gardens, stands. The 
keeping of these gardens was, with the occupancy of the house, granted 
by Charles I. to Lord Aston, in 1629, but a year or two later, certainly 
before 1632, Lord Goring purchased the property for ;^8oo, and there- 
upon called the residence Goring House.^ It is not exactly clear when 
the cultivation of silkworms and the trees that fed them was given up 
as a hopeless endeavour, but in any case it is obvious that Goring House 
and a certain portion of the grounds were divided from the remainder 
of the property which continued to be called The Mulberry Gardens, 
and was for many years a place of public amusement, much affected 
by the fashion of the day and continually receiving mention in the plays 
and diaries of the period ; Pepys and Evelyn referring to it on various 
occasions, and Etherege and Sedley and Wycherley all introducing it 
into their dramatic works ; one of the plays of Sedley having for its title 
that of The Mulberry Garden. 

When this division took place other portions of the ground were 
also separated, and by Faithorne and Newcourt's plan of 1658, we can see 
that there were three residences here at that time ; the smallest, with 
which we are not concerned, standing at about the south-east corner of 
Constitution Hill ; the second. Goring House, where the palace is now 
situated ; and the third, and largest, known as Tart Hall, immediately 
on its south side. 

Before proceeding to say anything of Goring House, I must give 
a few facts about Tart Hall. This fine house was built, in 1638, for the 
Countess of Arundel, wife of the marble-collecting Earl of pious memory, 
by Nicholas Stone, the elder.^ From Lady Arundel, the place passed 
to her second son. Lord Stafford, who was beheaded, in 1680, on the 
lying evidence of Titus Oates. It later became a place of entertainment, 
probably in conjunction with the Mulberry Gardens, and was demolished 
in 1720, after its contents, including many of the famous Arundel marbles, 
and some of the pictures collected by the Earl, among which was the 
famous " Diana and Actaeon " by Titian now belonging to Lord EUesmere, 
had been sold by auction. 

' There is a plan of the Goring estate, showing Goring House facing south, and dated 1675, 
in the Grace collection. 

' Walpole mentions his receiving at various times ;£6oo odd to pay his workmen in this 
matter. 



76 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Return we to Goring House which during the Commonwealth was 
tenanted for a time by Speaker Lenthall. After the Restoration, Lord 
Goring returned and took up his residence here, having expended some 
_^20,ooo on the place, and on July lo, 1660, Pepys, who had that day 
put on for the first time a silk suit, went with his wife to the wedding of 
Nan Hartlib and Mynheer Roder " which was kept at Goring House, 
with very great state, cost, and noble company," according to the diarist. 
Lord Goring, however, only enjoyed his second term of ownership for 
two years, when, on his death, his son sold the mansion to Henry 
Bennet, created Earl of Arlington, in 1665, and known to fame as 
one of Charles H.'s secretaries of state, and the " A " of the notorious 
Cabal. At this time, it was but an " ill built " house, according to 
Evelyn, who however saw in it the possibilities of a " pretty villa." 

Lord Arlington seems to have done much to make it a fine place ; 
for if he did not actually rebuild it he so greatly enlarged it, that it might 
properly, even then, have been considered as palatial. Its name was 
at the same time changed from Goring to Arlington House. ^ Soon after 
the death of the second Lord Goring, which occurred on March 3, 
1670, Charles granted, in 1673, the grounds to Lord Arlington ; these 
grounds being the Mulberry Gardens, as separate from the house and 
gardens directly attached to them. 

But, in the following year, the mansion was totally destroyed by 
fire, the whole of its contents being consumed. Whether this disaster 
was the immediate cause, or whether it was due to the demise of the 
whole property to Lord Arlington, it is certain that the Mulberry Gardens 
were closed about this time, and henceforth may be regarded as private 
property. Evelyn refers to the destruction of the house, in an entry in 
his Diary, for September 21, 1674, ^^^^ • " ^ went to see the great loss 
that Lord Arlington had sustained by fire at Goring House, this night 
consumed to the ground, with exceeding loss of hangings, plate, rare 
pictures, and cabinets ; hardly anything was saved of the best and 
most princely furniture that any subject had in England. My Lord and 
Lady were both absent at Bath." 

Soon after the disaster Lord Arlington set about rebuilding the house, 
and a poem in Latin written by Dryden's son, Charles, perpetuates its 
beauty and advantages. On Arlington's death, in 1685, the house passed 
to his only child Isabella, who had been married when little more than 
an infant, to the Duke of Grafton, a son of Charles II. and Lady Castle- 

' The following entn' occurs in Evelyn's diary, under date of April 17, 1673: "She (the 
Countess of Arlington) carried us up into her new dressing-roome at Goring House, where was 
a bed, two glasses, silver jars and vases, cabinets and other rich furniture as I had seldom 
seene." 



BUCKINGHAM HOUSE 77 

maine. The Duchess of Grafton let it, in 1698, to the first Duke of 
Devonshire, and later, in 1702, sold the property, for _^i 3,000, to John 
Sheffield, created in the following year, Duke of Buckinghamshire, the 

" Sharp-judging Adriel, the muse's friend, 
Himself a muse in Sanhedrin's debate " 

of Dryden's Absalom and Achitofhel. 

Although Arlington House must have been a fine one,^ it was not 
fine enough to satisfy the taste of its new owner, and in the year in 
which he was raised to the dukedom, he commissioned Colin Campbell 
to design a new palace ; at least so some authorities say ; others affirming 
that the architect was that Captain Wynne, or Winde, who was 
responsible for Newcastle House in Lincoln's Inn Fields, and Coombe 
Abbey. Walpole, in referring to Campbell and Winde, makes no mention 
of either having had a hand in Buckingham House, but Walpole was 
so frequently inadequate that perhaps this goes for little. On the whole, 
the evidence is in favour of Winde, and I am glad it is so, for it enables 
me to introduce the following anecdote. 

When the mansion was nearly completed, Winde had a good deal 
of difficulty in obtaining payment of arrears owed by the Duke ; indeed 
it seemed as if a settlement was to be postponed shie die. At this 
juncture, the wily architect one day induced the Duke to mount with 
him to the roof of the house, in order to see the splendid view. 
His Grace, unsuspecting, became immersed in the beauty of the prospect, 
when Winde took the opportunity of locking the trap-door by which 
they had reached the leads, and then threw the key over the parapet. 
" I am a ruined man," he exclaimed to the astonished Duke, " and unless 
I receive your word of honour that the debts incurred by this building 
shall be paid directly, I will instantly throw myself over." " And what 
is to become of me t " said the Duke. " Why, you shall accompany me," 
was the staggering reply. Needs must when such a devil of an architect 
drives, and the promise was immediately given ; when the trap-door 
was opened, on a preconcerted signal, by one of Winde's workmen.'' 

There seems to have been a consensus of praise bestowed on the beauty 
of the red-brick building which arose on the site of Arlington House, one 
poet calling it " a princely palace," another, no less a one than Pope, 
affirming that it had all the excellent attributes of a " country house 
in the summer, and a town house in the winter ; " even the hypercritical 

' There is extant a very rare etching of the mansion, showing a large cupola that dominated 
the roof, reproduced in Larwood's Story of tlie London Parks. 
^ The Fine Arts in Gi-cat Britain, by W. B. -S. Taylor. 



78 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Ralph is found approving, and stating that it " attracts more eyes, and 
has more admirers than almost any other house about town," which 
is certainly more than can be said of Nash's enormous pile which has 
taken its place ; while M. de Saussure, who visited this country in 1725, 
specifically mentions it as one of the three finest mansions in London 
at that day. Macky, in his Journey through England^ published in 17 14, gives 
an elaborate description of the house, which he calls " one of the great 
beauties of London, both by reason of its situation and its building ; " 
what its exterior looked like may be seen from extant views, but Macky's 
account is interesting and valuable as affording us a glimpse of the interior. 

" It is situated," he writes, " at the west end of St. James's Park, 
fronting the Mall and the great walk ; and behind it is a fine garden, 
a whole terrace (from whence as well as from the apartments, you have 
a most delicious prospect), and a little park with a pretty canal. The 
courtyard which fronts the Park is spacious ; the offices are on each side 
divided from the Palace by two arching galleries, and in the middle of 
the court is a round basin of water, lined with freestone, with the figures 
of Neptune and the Tritons in a water-work. The staircase is large 
and nobly painted ; and in the Hall before you ascend the stairs is a very 
fine statue of Cain slaying Abel in marble. The apartments are indeed 
very noble, the furniture rich, and many very good pictures. The top 
of the Palace is flat, on which one hath a full view of London and West- 
minster, and the adjacent country ; and the four figures of Mercury, 
Secrecy, Equity, and Liberty, front the Park, and those of the Four 
Seasons the gardens," and he adds that " His Grace hath also put inscriptions 
on the four parts of his Palace. On the front towards the Park . . . the 
inscription is SzV siti Icetantur Lares ; and fronting the garden, Rus in urheJ^ 
Both of which mottoes may be said to have been singularly apposite, which 
is not always the case when inscriptions from the dead languages are 
pressed into the service of modern builders. 

To this description we are luckily able to add something from the 
detailed account of the place addressed by its owner to the Duke of 
Shrewsbury, which is to be found at length, together with three vignettes 
of the mansion, in the Duke of Buckinghamshire's works, published in 1729. 
From this we find that the pictures hanging in the Hall which Macky 
mentions were " done in the school of Raphael " ; that the parlour, reached 
from the Hall, was 33 feet by 39 feet, " with a niche 15 feet broad for 
a Bufette, paved with white marble, and placed within an arch, with 
Pilasters of divers colours, the upper part of which as high as the ceiling 
is painted by Ricci." 

From another source we find that the ceiling of the saloon was executed 



BUCKINGHAM HOUSE 79 

by Horatio Gentileschi, having been originally painted for Villiers, first 
Duke of Buckingham ; it represented the nine Muses in a circle, sur- 
rounding Apollo, and was no less than eighteen feet in diameter. Walpole 
also mentions Bellucci, an Italian painter who came to this country, 
in 1716, as having painted a ceiling here in 1722, for which the Duchess 
paid him ^^500 ; and we know that Charles II. was first attracted to 
the work of Verrio by seeing some of his paintings in this mansion. 

I need not recapitulate the whole of the Duke's lengthy description 
of his palace, but it is pleasant to read that " just under the windows " 
(of the book-room), " is a little wilderness full of blackbirds and nightin- 
gales," and that the trees grew so well and quickly that even those planted 
by the owner himself soon required lopping " to prevent their hindering 
the view of that fine canal in the Park " ; and again that " a wall covered 
with roses and jassemine," was built low " to admit the view of a meadow 
full of cattle just under it." Rus in urhe indeed ! ^ 

But even with all this there was the inevitable fly in the ointment, 
and we find the Duke " oftener missing a pretty gallery in the old house 
I pulled down than pleased with the salon which I built in its stead, 
tho' a thousand times better in all manner of respects." May we not 
ask with Horace — 

"Qui fit, ut nemo, quam sibi sortem 
Seu ratio dederit, seu fors objicerit, ilia 
Contentus vivat " ? 

On the death of the Duke, on February 24, 172 1, Buckingham 
House was left to his third wife, daughter of James II. by Catherine 
Sedley ; and two years later we find the Prince and Princess of Wales 
(afterwards George II. and Queen Caroline) in treaty for it ; which, 
remembering its later history, is interesting. 

But the Duchess wanted three thousand a year ^ as rent, and would 
take not less than ^60,000 for it " as it stands, with furniture, pictures, 
gardens, meadows, and little tenements which pay one hundred and 
twenty pounds per annum," and she says rightly enough : " All his 
Majesty's revenue cannot purchase a place so well situated for a less 
sum ; and indeed," she adds, " it is hardly worth for that, giving my 
son, when he grows up, the mortification to find such a house gone from 
him ... a million cannot find him such a valuable one." 

' As Mr. Blomfield points out, Buckingham House was one of the earliest examples of a 
mansion built on the plan of a large rectangular central block connected by colonnades with 
detached offices " treated as pavilions in advance of the main buildings, and forming three 
sides of the fore court." 

^ Her long letter on the matter, to Lady Suffolk, Queen Caroline's "good Howard," is in 
the Suffolk Papers, vol. i. pp. 113-117. 



8o THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

We thus see that the Duchess was by no means a wilHng seller, and 
the matter, probably on account of lack of sufficient funds in the Prince's 
exchequer, fell through, so that her Grace was still able, as Walpole tells 
us was her custom, on the anniversary of the execution of Charles I. 
to receive Lord Hervey " in the Great Drawing Room of Buckingham 
House, seated in a chair of state, in deep mourning, attended by her 
women in like weeds, in memory of the royal martyr." 

It was to Lord Hervey, the " Sporus " and " Lord Fanny " of Pope's 
bitter invective, that she left the property. He, however, never resided 
in it, and died in 1743, when it appears to have come into the possession 
of Sir Charles Sheffield, the natural son of the Duke of Buckinghamshire ; 
the second and last Duke of this line having died in 1735. From Sir 
Charles the property was purchased by George HL, in 1762, as a 
residence for Queen Charlotte, on whom it was afterwards settled by 
an Act of Parliament passed in 1775, the price paid being ^28,000; 
another instance of the extraordinary fall in the value of real property 
under the Georges. With its conversion into a royal palace, we have 
no more to do with it ; but it is interesting to know that in the library 
here Dr. Johnson had his famous interview with the King, when the 
Great Cham of literature found the manners of his sovereign " those of 
as fine a gentleman as we may suppose Lewis the Fourteenth or Charles 
the Second." ' 

MONTAGU HOUSE, BLOOMSBURY 

What the late Lord Salisbury was accustomed to say about the 
advantages of large maps in placing us aii courant with international 
questions and the mysteries of boundary lines, holds good when we are 
studying the former outlines of our great city, and are attempting 
to rehabilitate some of its past glories. An investigation, indeed, of 
an authentic plan on a large scale, will, it is possible, teach us more 
than the most strenuous attempts of topographers to verbally reconstruct 
a locality or localise the position of some now almost forgotten landmark. 
This is particularly the case with the great house about which I want 
to say something now. If we look at that part of Morden and Lea's 
plan of London of 1732, which deals with the parish of St. Giles and 
its vicinity, we shall see the outlines of Montagu House and its garden 
very clearly marked, and we shall gain a good idea of the importance 

' The present palace was built, partly by additions to the original house, in 1825, under 
Nash ; partly by various additions made by Blore at the time of the accession of Queen 
Victoria. 



MONTAGU HOUSE 8i 

of the former and the extent of the latter. We shall see that having 
a long frontage to Great Russell Street, it was bounded on its north 
and west sides hy open fields, a portion of which fields are traditionally 
interesting ; and that on its eastern boundary stood Southampton House 
and its ample gardens, only less noble in size than Montagu House itself, 
and about which I shall have some remarks to make later on. Of the 
principal front and great courtyard of Montagu House we can also gain an 
excellent idea from the print published in 1714, which is here reproduced; 
and of its history and interior decorations, as well as of its precursor which 
was destroyed by fire, every writer on London has had something to say. 

The first Montagu House appears to have been erected about 1675, 
by Ralph Montagu, who succeeded his father as third Baron Montagu 
of Boughton in 1683, and who died in 1709, having been created an earl 
in 1689, and a duke in 1705. Evelyn, who always took an early oppor- 
tunity of inspecting any new building, went to see the place on May 11, 
1676. " I dined with Mr. Charleton," he writes, " and went to see 
Mr. Montague's new palace neere Bloomsbury, built by Mr. Hooke of 
our Society {i.e. the Royal Society), after the French manner." 

Robert Hooke, although he is not included by Walpole among the 
architects of the day, was a well-known man, for other reasons. He was 
a famous mathematician, and besides was the inventor of spring clocks 
and pocket watches, and held the important post of Curator to the 
Royal Society, as well as that of Professor of Geometry at Gresham College. 
The fact that he is ignored by Walpole is the more singular seeing that 
he was largely employed in the reconstruction of that part of the town 
destroyed in the Great Fire. Pepys speaks of him as one " who is the 
most, and promises the least, of any man in the world that ever I saw," 
and refers to his book on Microscopy as " a most excellent piece," and 
he seems on one occasion to have interested worthy Samuel in such an 
unexhilarating process as that of felt-making ; and at another time to 
have rather mystified him by a discourse on musical sounds, which though 
above the head of the Diarist, he, nevertheless, found to be " mighty 
fine " ; indeed, Pepys, as a member of the Royal Society, was thrown 
much in Hooke's company, and whenever he mentions him, it is generally 
to record some piece of information imparted either in conversation 
or at one of the lectures at Gresham College, and always to Pepys's 
" great content." Hooke, indeed, seems to have been an all-round man 
to whose mind nothing came amiss, and once Evelyn, calling at The 
Burdens at Epsom, found him, with Sir William Petty and Dr. Wilkins, 
" contriving chariots, new rigging for ships, a wheele for one to run 
races in, and other mechanical inventions," and he adds : " Perhaps three 



82 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

such persons together were not to be found elsewhere in Europe for 
parts and ingenuity." * 

I have loitered somewhat over Dr. Hooke, because the architect of 
such an admittedly fine mansion as Montagu House seemed to require 
a few words, particularly as he was, in other respects, so accomplished a 
man. 

The nobleman for whom he designed the house was not less notable 
in a different sphere — that of politics and diplomacy. He had been 
Master of the Horse to Katherine of Braganza ; in 1666, he was sent as 
Ambassador Extraordinary to Paris, and three years later was resident 
Ambassador in that capital ; in 1672, he was made a Privy Councillor, 
and four years later was again entrusted with a special mission to France, 
as he was again in the following year. For about five years he represented 
Northampton and Huntingdon in Parliament ; and on the top of other 
honours, was created Marquis of Monthermer, and Duke of Montagu 
in 1705, four years before his death. He married twice ; first, Elizabeth, 
Dowager-Countess of Northumberland, and secondly, Elizabeth, Dowager- 
Duchess of Albemarle — " the mad Duchess," as she was called. 

Montagu House was evidently completed and furnished by the end 
of 1679, for we find Evelyn paying another visit there, on November 5th 
of that year, and noting the beauty of its contents, but complaining that 
the garden, though fine, was " too much expos'd," which, however, 
considering that it was open to the fields, its owner probably thought a 
distinct advantage. Four years later the Diarist paid yet another visit 
to the place, in company with the newly-married Duchess of Grafton 
and her father the Earl of Arlington, then Lord Chamberlain. Evelyn 
speaks of the mansion as " a stately and ample palace," and mentions 
particularly " Signr. Verrio's fresco paintings, especially the funeral pile 
of Dido, on the stayrecase, the labours of Hercules, fight with the Centaurs, 
effeminacy with Dejanira, and Apotheosis or reception among the 
gods, on ye walls, and roofe of the greate roome above," which he says 
" exceeds anything he has yet done, both for designe, colouring, and 
exuberance of invention, comparable to ye greatest of the old masters, 
or what they celebrate in Rome," which, when we remember Pope's 
" sprawling saints of Verrio," shows how differently ages judge artistic 
merit. Unfortunately Evelyn does not particularise the other pictorial 
decorations in the house, except to remark generally that " in the rest 
of the chambers are some excellent paintings of Holbein and other 
masters." Of the exterior he says : " The garden is large, and in good 
aire, but the front of the house not answerable to the inside. The court 

' Narcissus Luttrell records the death of Hooke, which took place on March 3, 1703. 



MONTAGU HOUSE 83 

is entrie, and wings for offices, seeme too neare the streete, and that so 
very narrow and meanly built that the corridore is not in proportion to 
ye rest, to hide the court from being overlooked by neighbours, all which 
might have been prevented had they placed the house further into ye 
ground,^ of which there is enough to spare." " But," he concludes, 
" it is a fine palace." 

It is impossible to say what Mr. Montagu expended in decoration 
and building, apart from the furniture, pictures, &c., on Montagu House ; 
but on the back of a list of charges made by Verrio for work done at 
Windsor, is written : " More from Mr. Montagu of London . . . ;^8oo " ; 
which obviously refers to frescoes executed at Montagu House. 

The house seems for a time to have been let to the fourth Earl of 
Devonshire, who had only recently succeeded to the title (November 25, 
1684), and was afterwards created a duke, in 1694 ; and he appears 
to have been paying 500 guineas a year for it, when in the early hours 
of Wednesday morning, January 19, 1686, the disastrous fire occurred 
here which practically destroyed everything. A contemporary letter * 
thus records the cause of the unfortunate event : " On Wednesday, 
at one in the morning, a sad fire happened at Montagu House in Blooms- 
bury, occasioned by the steward's airing some hangings, &c., in expecta- 
tion of my Lord Montagu's return home, and sending afterwards a woman 
to see that the fire-pans with charcoal were removed, which she told 
him she had done, though she never came there. The loss that my 
Lord Montagu has sustained by this accident is estimated at ^40,000, 
besides ;^6ooo in plate ; and my Lord Devonshire's loss in pictures, 
hangings, and other furniture, is very considerable." Evelyn recording 
the fire says that " for painting and furniture there was nothing more 
glorious in England," than what was contained in Lord Montagu's palace. 

Its owner appears to have lost no time in rebuilding the house, 
the architect on this occasion being Peter Paul Puget,' or Monsieur 
Pouget, as Walpole terms him, who appears to have been sent for from 
his native France, to prepare designs for a new mansion. Walpole, 
who allots just five lines to this architect whose Christian name he 
evidently did not know, speaks of him as conducting the building of 
Montagu House in 1678, perhaps merely a clerical error by the inversion 
of the last two figures. The new design after the French style, apparently 
followed out the lines of the earlier house, the new palace being built 

• He means, of course, farther back from the main street. 

^ Ellis Correspondence, 2nd series, vol. iv. p. 89. See also an interesting reference to this 
event in The Autobiography of Sir John Bramston. 
' He is sometimes called Pierre Puget or Poughet. 



84 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

on the original foundations, so that its extent was probably identical 
with that of its predecessor. 

Even Lord Montagu's large resources must have been strained, when 
we consider the great loss he had sustained and the vast expense of the 
new house ; especially when we remember, too, that a number of French 
artists were employed to do what Verrio had done before. Of these 
the principal were Jacques Rousseau, Charles de la Fosse, and Jean Baptiste 
Monnoyer,' who were all employed on the work of beautifying the place. 

Rousseau received ;^i50o for what he did, besides which Lord Montagu 
allowed him an annuity of ;^200 which he enjoyed but two years ; and 
as he died in Soho Square, in 1694, ^^ shows that he was continued on 
at Montagu House long after it was completed. Among La Fosse's 
work here were two ceilings, one representing the " Apotheosis of Isis," 
the other an " Assembly of the Gods." * 

Although Lord Montagu did not fill the high place occupied by a 
Prime Minister which seems invariably to attract the fierce light which 
blackens every blot, yet his connection with the Court of France in his 
ambassadorial capacity, and his exclusive patronage of French artists, 
laid him open to the charge that his new house was built with money 
received from the French king ! — one of those popular fallacies of which 
the eighteenth century contributed several examples ; indeed the writer 
of Ackermann's Microcosm of London seriously repeats this, and further 
states that Louis sent over the French artists to decorate the new house, 
as Lord Montagu's spirits had become so greatly depressed by the loss 
of the earlier mansion, he being at the time of the fire Ambassador 
in Paris. Taylor, on the other hand, gives this version of the matter : 
" When the Duke of Montagu was Ambassador at Paris, he changed 
Hotels with the French Ambassador, who was sent to England, and 
during his residence the first Montagu House was destroyed by fire. 
It was agreed between them that the Court of France should supply 
half the expenses of rebuilding, upon the condition that a French architect 
and painter should be employed. The object avowed was to teach the 
English how a perfect palace should be constructed and embellished." 
Which tale is very neatly constructed ; but what becomes of the Duke 
of Devonshire, who is known to have been renting the place ? L^nless 
indeed, the low rent he paid, ^500 per annum, was fixed on the under- 
standing that the French Ambassador should occupy a portion of the 
great house. 

Ralph, in his Critical Review, of course has some fault to find with 

' There are a number of his pictures still in Montagu House, Whitehall, as we shall see. 
' Walpole's Anecdotes. 



MONTAGU HOUSE 85 

the new building, but as, apparently, he was rather baffled over the main 
portion, he falls foul of the brick wall which hid the mansion from public 
view so that it could only be seen from within the vast courtyard ; 
Evelyn, we remember, found fault with the former mansion because it 
was overlooked ! On the whole, however, the praise outweighs the 
depreciation, and M. Grosley, the French traveller who came to these 
shores many years later, writes that " Vhotel Montaigu merite une dis- 
tinction farticuliere. Par son etendue, far ses distributions, far la mag- 
nificence de ses ornemens, par V agrhnent de sa position, il a. plus Vair d'une 
maison royale que de Vhotel d'un particulier." ^ 

There were twelve principal rooms on the ground floor, and the same 
number on the first floor, and all these were of vast size and height, and 
admirably lighted, fully bearing out what Walpole says of " the spacious 
lofty magnificence of the apartments " ; half of them overlooking the 
courtyard, and as many enjoying the prospect over the gardens, and the 
open fields beyond. 

The curious may see a ground plan of the house which is contained 
in Dodsley's Environs of London, published in 1761 ; while Pugin and 
Britton, in their Public Edifices of London, 1823, also give one. The 
noble staircase, with its mural paintings, is admirably represented in 
Ackermann's Microcosm of London, and gives a better idea of how the 
interior of one of these old private palaces looked than any other drawing 
with which I am familiar. 

The Duke of Montagu died in 1709, and was succeeded by his son 
Sir John Montagu as second Duke ; but he also left behind him his 
eccentric second wife, who had married him as Emperor of China, she 
being quite mad at the time ; why his Grace married her at all is one 
of those mysteries at which imagination boggles. The Duchess was 
kept in her apartment on the ground floor at Montagu House, during 
the life of her husband, and was then, and afterwards till her death, 
served on the knee presumably as Empress of the Celestial Empire ; ^ 
but on his Grace's death there seems to have been some question as to 
who was to have the care of her. The second Duke was her stepson, 
and therefore I suppose did not consider himself responsible for her safe 
keeping ; and by a letter of Peter Wentworth to his brother, dated 
March 15, 1709, it would seem that his wife was as firm.' In any 
case there was much difficulty in persuading the old lady to give up the 

' Londrfs, vol. i. p. 59. 

' She died at Newcastle House, Clerkenwell, in 1734, where we have met with her. 
^ See the W'cntworth Papers, where there is a letter in French, of the same date, with 
further details of this curious case. 



86 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

house to its new and rightful owners, and her sisters the Duchess of 
Newcastle and Lady Thanet we read " aUerent rendre visits a la Duchesse 
Douairiere de Montaigne, leur soer, et tacherent inutilement de lui persuader 
de sortir de la maison de ce Due, ou elle a He rerifermee de-puts tant d'annies." 
However, she was at length taken to Newcastle House, and Montagu 
House and its Empress were parted. Colley Gibber wrote a scene, in 
his Sick Lady Cured, inspired by the imperial pretensions of the mad 
Duchess. 

In those days of footpads and highwaymen even a duke could hardly 
traverse the town from the neighbourhood of Westminster to that of 
St. Giles with impunity, and it was probably this that caused, about 1732, 
the second Duke to commence building a new house in Whitehall where 
he eventually took up his permanent abode, whereupon old Montagu 
House remained for some years empty and neglected, and at last coming 
into the hands of Lord Halifax, that nobleman sold it to the Government, 
in 1754, for _^io,250, for the purpose of a national repository for the various 
fine collections which Sir Hans Sloane had bequeathed to the country and 
which formed the nucleus of the British Museum ^ as we know it to-day. 
At the time of its acquisition by Parliament, the old house had become 
very dilapidated ; indeed in so ruinous a condition was it found to be, 
that much more was spent on its repair than on its purchase, nearly 
^30,000 being found requisite to put it in a satisfactory state. 

The materials were disposed of by auction, and such portions of the 
painted walls and ceilings as could be removed were sold for ridiculous 
sums — one of La Fosse's deities for half-a-crown, and a bunch of Monnoyer's 
flowers for eighteenpence." 

It is outside my scheme to follow the destinies of Montagu House 
after it ceased to be a private palace, but I may mention that various 
additions were made to the original structure to fit it for its new uses, 
and to cope with the rapidly increasing number and importance of its 
contents, till, in 1820, the present structure was commenced, behind 
the old house, and the valuable contents were removed gradually into 
the new building ; similarly, says Timbs, " the principal front took the 
place of the old Montagu House fa9ade, which was removed piecemeal ; 
and strange it was to see the lofty pitched roof, balustraded attic, and 
large-windowed front of ' the French manner,' giving way to the Grecian 
architecture of Sir Robert Smirke's new design." 

An excellent view of the back of old Montagu House is given in a 

' The present buildings were completed in 1847 ; two years previously the last remains of 
the old Montagu House had disappeared. 
- Timbs, Romance 0/ London. 



MONTAGU HOUSE 87 

print entitled " Encampment of troops in the gardens of the British 
Museum at the time of the Gordon Riots, 1780." Into these gardens, 
on this occasion, Lord and Lady Mansfield escaped by a back gate when 
the mob attacked and ransacked their house in Bloomsbury Square.' 

The fields behind the gardens require a word, for they were, from 
towards the end of the seventeenth century till the middle of the 
eighteenth, the favourite place for duels ; the plays, novels, and the pages 
of the daily press containing many references to encounters " behind 
Montagu House." ^ One of the most notable of these was that which 
took place in 1692, between Charles KnoUys, who claimed to be fourth 
Earl of Banbury, and his brother-in-law. Captain Lawson of the Guards, 
in which the latter was killed, and the former arraigned for murder. 
He was tried before Lord Justice Hall and two other judges, and when 
accused of the crime as Charles KnoUys, he replied that he was not 
Charles KnoUys but Earl of Banbury, a plea which was allowed by the 
judges, and through which technicality he escaped the extreme penalty of 
the law. The House of Lords had, however, on the vexed question of 
this peerage decided that KnoUys was not Earl of Banbury, and so furious 
were the peers with the judges for tacitly acknowledging his right to 
the title, that they summoned them to the bar of the House, but were 
unable to make them alter their decision. The whole matter of the 
celebrated Banbury peerage case cannot of course be entered into here, 
but I would remind the reader that the question has never yet been 
settled, and that the title bestowed some years since on Sir Francis KnoUys 
is an entirely new creation, and in no sense a re-creation of the original 
peerage which Captain Edmund KnoUys, the head of the family, still 
claims.' 

A portion of the open ground behind Montagu House was known 
as " The Field of Forty Footsteps," or " The Brothers' Steps," on account 
of a desperate encounter between two brothers, rivals for the affections of 
a young lady who is said to have watched the fray. As they struggled 
together they are reported to have left these marks on the ground, on which 
subsequently the grass was believed never to grow. J. T. Smith records 
the incident in his Book for a Rainy Day, and the legend has been dealt 
with by several writers; and has supplied the motif for at least one novel. 
Torrington Square occupies the site of this portion of the fields, over 
which the windows of Montagu House looked. One other circumstance 

' See the author's History of the Squares of London. 

' Readers of Roderick Random will remember that Rourke Oregan waited there, "with a 
pair of good pistols" while Strap conducted the guard to the same locality. 

" The details of Lord Banbury's trial, which seems to have extended over five years, will 
be found in the Diary of Narcissus XmIxx^W, passim. 



88 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

connected with these meadows deserves notice, which I will give in the 
ipsissima verba of Aubrey, the antiquary, who narrates it : " The last 
summer, on the day of St. John the Baptist (1694), I accidentally was 
walking in the pasture behind Montagu House ; it was twelve o'clock. I 
saw there about two or three and twenty young women, most of them 
well habited, on their knees very busie, as if they had been weeding. I 
could not presently hear what the matter was ; at last a young man 
told me they were looking for a coal under the root of a plantain to put 
under their heads that night, and they should dream who would be their 
husbands. It was to be found that day and hour." ^ 

SOUTHAMPTON or BEDFORD HOUSE 

Adjoining the grounds of Montagu House on the east once stood 
Southampton or, as it was afterwards called, Bedford House. Morden 
and Lea's plan to which I have before referred, shows that its grounds 
covered almost as large an area as those of Montagu House, and if the 
mansion was not so large as its neighbour, it had this advantage, that 
it was set farther back from the road, as Evelyn said Montagu House 
should have been. As, also, in the case of Montagu House, two mansions 
successively stood here, where Bedford Place now runs, the former of 
which was the original manor-house of Bloomsbury, the seat of the 
Blemunds who gave their name to this district, which in those far-off 
times must have been as countrified as Harrow and a good deal more rural 
than Hampstead. 

In Agas's plan of London, dated 1591, and in the earlier plan of 1560, 
old Southampton House is shown standing by itself among the fields. 
I have said something of this earlier structure in the first chapter, and 
from a careful comparison of old plans, &c., I have come to the conclusion 
that the original house stood to the south of the later mansion, probably 
about the south side of the present Bloomsbury Square where Southampton 
Street runs.'' 

As we have seen,' there had once been a design to pull down the old 
house and to erect tenements on Its site, which, however, came to nothing ; 
and it was not till the reign of Charles II. that the latter palace was 
erected. In what year this actually took place is a little doubtful, but 
in any case, those who attribute the work to Inigo Jones are incorrect, 

' Miscellanies. Brand in his Popular Antiquities records, much later, a somewhat similar 
superstition. 

- The first Earl of Southampton obtained possession of the manor in the reign of 
Henry VIII. 

^ Chap. i. p. 20. 



SOUTHAMPTON HOUSE 89 

for that great architect died in 1652, and certainly Southampton House 
was not erected till some years after that date. As, however, the eleva- 
tions show some signs of his influence, it is probable that his pupil, and 
son-in-law, John Webb, was responsible for it. 

Few of the exteriors of the former great houses of London are better 
known than that of Southampton House, for there are a number of views 
of it extant, that which is here reproduced being one of the best. By it 
one can see how imposing and even splendid was the building, and how 
extended its front, but what can also be seen is that Evelyn's criticism that its 
elevation was too low is a cogent one, and there is no doubt but that 
another attic storey would have vastly improved its appearance. 

When the Diarist dined with Lord Southampton here, the latter 
was busy forming that " noble square or Piazza, a little towne," which 
Evelyn mentions and which we now know as Bloomsbury Square ; and 
by the development of which the amenities of Southampton House 
were greatly enhanced. Contemporary criticism on the mansion is nearly 
always favourable, and foreigners particularly were struck with the solid 
grandeur of the pile, De Saussure considering it one of the finest private 
houses in London, and Grosley placing it second among the four which 
he thought alone comparable to the great hotels of Paris. 

As in the case of so many of these old London houses, the gardens 
attached to Southampton House were no less a feature than the mansion 
itself, and some idea of their extent may be gained when we remember 
that in breadth they were double the frontage of the house which itself 
occupied the whole of the north side of Bloomsbury Square, and that 
they reached north nearly to the centre of what is now Russell Square. 

Dobie, the historian of Bloomsbury, writing in 1834, speaks of dis- 
tinctly recollecting " the venerable grandeur " of the mansion " shaded 
with a thick foliage of magnificent lime trees " ; and he records that " the 
fine verdant lawn extended a considerable distance between these, and 
was guarded by a deep ravine to the north, from the intrusive steps of 
the daring, whilst in perfect safety were grazing various breeds of foreign 
and other sheep, which from their singular appearance excited the gaze 
and admiration of the curious." There were, too, a number of trees in the 
front of the house, among which the graceful acacia * was once to be seen, 
as well as the limes already mentioned, which must have been those that 
Sorbiere in his Voyage en Angleterre speaks of, when he says " on voit 
les arbres du Palais de Bethfordt -par dessus la muraille.^' This wall was 
also a feature of the building, and Letitia Hawkins, in her Memoirs, men- 
tions " The wall before Bedford House, a wall of singular beauty and 

' Walpole's Essay on Gardening. 



90 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

elegance which extended on the north side of Bloomsbury Square from 
east to west, and the gates of which were decorated with those lovely 
monsters, sphinxes, very finely carved " ; while she also speaks of the 
house as being " a long, low white edifice, kept, in the old Duke's time,^ 
in the nicest state of good order, and admirably in unison with the snow- 
white livery of the family. It had noble apartments and a spacious 
garden, which opened to the fields ; and the uninterrupted freedom 
of air, between this situation and the distant hills, gave it the advantages 
of an excellent town house and a suburban viUa." 

Evelyn, in 1665, had noted the excellence of the air ; but at that 
time the ground had not been properly matured, and he had to confess 
that the garden was " naked." 

The fields referred to by Miss Hawkins as bounding the property 
on the north, shared, in the seventeenth, and for a considerable period 
of the eighteenth, century, the bad reputation of those contingent ones 
behind Montagu House, as a place for duels. Mountfort, the actor, 
a victim in one such encounter, mentions the fact in the epilogue to 
his Greenwich Park, and the pages of Luttrell and other contemporary 
writers will be found to contain frequent references to this spot as a chosen 
place for men of quality to settle their, sometimes extraordinarily trivial, 
differences ; the isolated position of the ground and the very primitive 
methods of policing the capital then in vogue, insuring a maximum of 
privacy, and a minimum of risk of apprehension to the victor. 

Southampton House passed to the Russell family in this wise. Its 
builder, the fourth Earl of Southampton, one of the most loyal adherents 
of Charles I., who, luckier than many, neither lost his life nor the whole 
of his fortune in the service of his master, died in the mansion, on May 16, 
1667 ; but although he had been married three times, he left no male 
heir to succeed him, and the property passed to his daughter. Lady 
Rachel Wriothesley, who had married, in 1669, William, Lord Russell,^ 
son of the first Duke of Bedford, and thus became the Lady Rachel 
Russell, so well known for her charm, abilities, and sad fortunes.^ 

William, Lord Russell and Lady Rachel resided at Bedford House, 

' The fifth Duke of Bedford, born 1760, died 1802. 

' She had been previously married to Lord Vaughan, eldest son of the Earl of Carberry. 

^ William, Lord Russell, is often spoken of as Lord William Russell, and as he was the 
younger son of the Duke, this is not incorrect ; but his elder brother predeceasing him, he was 
known by the courtesy title of Lord Russell, the second title of Marquis of Titchfield not being 
used until borne by Lord Russell's son when he became heir to the dukedom. Similarly Lady 
Rachel Russell is the correct designation of this lady, as she was the daughter of an earl, and 
married one who only bore a courtesy title. Of such are the titular intricacies that trouble 
foreigners. 



BEDFORD HOUSE 91 

as it now began to be called,^ and he was here at the time the charges 
for high treason were brought against him, when a message from the 
Council ordered a guard to be set at the gate to stop him if he attempted 
to leave his residence ; the baclc entrance, however, was not watched, so 
that had he chosen he might have escaped that way, but such a course 
would have been in his opinion and that of his friends too much like a 
confession of guilt, and he remained until he was taken to the Tower. 

All the world knows the story of that famous trial. Few things are 
so pathetic as the spectacle of the innocent gentleman defended by his 
noble wife with all the acumen of a professional advocate and the ardour 
of a deep affection ; two lambs trying to save an already judged cause, 
against the brutal Jeffreys, whose character refuses to be whitewashed, 
the offensive Saunders, Pemberton the whilom rake and debauche, 
and Scroggs, the butcher's son. What could avail before such a tribunal ! 
how could truth hope to conquer against men whose instincts and pre- 
judices made them only too ready to accept the evidence of perjured 
wretches like Rumsey and Howard of Escrick ! 

When the result of the trial was known, James Duke of York, if it can 
be believed, proposed that, as an additional ignominy, Lord Russell should 
be beheaded before the very windows of Bedford House ; but to his credit, 
Charles, who with all his faults cannot be compared with his brother for 
spite and cowardice, would not consent to such a refinement of cruelty, 
and the last sad scene took place in Lincoln's Inn Fields. On the way 
there, the cortege passed Bedford House, and Burnet tells how, as the 
victim looked for a moment at his once happy home, his fortitude almost 
deserted him ; but suppressing his emotion he exclaimed, " The bitterness 
of death is now passed," and Tillotson, who accompanied him, saw some 
tears fall from his eyes. 

This judicial murder took place in 1683, and after it Lady Rachel 
continued to reside in what she pathetically terms " that desolate 
habitation of mine ... a place of terror to me," till her death there, 
in 1723. 

In the meantime her son had succeeded to the Dukedom of Bedford 
in 1700, and resided here with her. He was but six years old when the 
great fire at Montagu House took place, and is referred to in Lady 
Rachel's account of the disaster which she wrote to Dr. Fitzwilliam, a 
few days after the event, in these words : " If you have heard of the 
dismal accident in this neighbourhood you will easily believe that 
Tuesday night was not a quiet one with us. About one o'clock in the 

' One of Lady Rachel's letters is dated Russell House, showing that for a time at least it 
was so termed. 



92 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

night I heard a great noise in the Square, so little ordinary, I called 
up a servant, and sent her down to hear the occasion ; she brought up 
a very sad one, that Montagu House was on fire ; and it was so indeed ; 
it burnt with so great violence, the house was consumed by five o'clock. 
The wind blew strong this way, so that we lay under fire a great part 
of the time, the sparks and flames covering the house and filling the 
court. My boy awoke and said he was almost suffocated with smoke, 
but being told the reason, would see it, and so was satisfied without fear ; 
and took a strange bedfellow very willingly, Lady Devonshire's youngest 
boy, whom his nurse had brought wrapt in a blanket. Thus we see 
what a day brings forth, and how momentary the things are we set our 
hearts upon." 

The boy mentioned here, who became, as I have said, Duke of Bedford 
in 1700, married, in 1695, Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of John Rowland 
of Streatham, and died in 171 1, when he was succeeded by his son as 
third Duke, and he, in turn, in 1732, by his brother — " the little Duke," 
as Walpole calls him, against whom Junius poured forth the vials of his 
rhetorical anger and abuse. 

Under the regime of this holder of the title, Bedford House seems 
to have entered on a period of greater gaiety than had before charac- 
terised it ; and we read, inter alia, of a great masquerade given here by 
the Duke in 1748, which was graced by the presence of the King and 
the Duke of Cumberland, and which is said to have been the most gorgeous 
masked ball ever given up to that time. Walpole records two other balls 
at Bedford House, at a later date ; one in May 1755, about which, 
writing to Bentley, he says : " The night the King went (to Hanover) 
there was a magnificent ball and supper at Bedford House. The Duke ^ 
was there : he was playing at hazard with a great heap of gold before 
him : somebody said, he looked like the prodigal son and the fatted 
calf both. In the dessert was a model of Walton Bridge in glass." 

The other great entertainment mentioned by Walpole occurred four 
years later, and, writing on April 26, 1759, to George Montagu, he 
gives some details of it thus : " The ball at Bedford House on Monday 
was very numerous and magnificent. The two princes were there, deep 
hazard, and the Dutch deputies who are a proverb for their dullness. 
. . . But the delightful part of the night was the appearance of the 
Duke of Newcastle. . . . The Duchess (of Bedford) was at the very 
upper end of the gallery . . . and Newcastle had nobody to attend him 
but Sir Edward Montagu, who kept pushing him all up the gallery. 
From thence he went into the hazard-room, and wriggled and shuflfled, 

' The Duke of Cumberland. 



BEDFORD HOUSE 



93 



and lisped and winked, and spied, till he got behind the D. of Cum- 
berland, the D. of Bedford and Rigley." 

Besides these splendid indoor receptions, for which Bedford House 
became, at this period, famous, the Duchess was fond of giving al fresco 
entertainments, for which the grounds of the mansion were admirably- 
adapted ; and on one occasion her Grace sent out cards to her friends 
" to take tea and walk in the fields " ! This lady was the Duke's second 
wife, whom he married in 1737.'^ 

The Duke, who had filled in his time a number of great offices in 
connection with his administration, of which Junius fell foul of him, 
died in 1771, and was succeeded by his grandson, Francis Russell, who was 
the last Duke to occupy Bedford House ; for two years before his death, 
which occurred in 1802, he disposed of the property. On May 7, 
1800,^ was commenced here by Mr. Christie, the sale of the contents 
of the great house, the materials of which alone fetched between ;^5000 
and j^6ooo, and the names of some of the pictures, with the prices they 
realised, have happily been preserved. Thus the copies of Raphael's 
cartoons, by Sir James Thornhill, which the Duke had placed in a gallery 
specially constructed to receive them, and for which he had paid at the 
sale of the artist's collection but ;^200, were purchased by the Duke of 
Norfolk for £^z,o ; Raphael's " St. John Preaching in the Wilderness " 
went for the absurd sum of 95 guineas ; and the representation of the 
" Archduke Leopold's Gallery " by Teniers, for 210 guineas. A painting 
of an Italian villa, by Gainsborough, fetched 90 guineas ; a landscape by 
Cuyp, 200 guineas ; and a set of four battle pieces by Cassanovi, only 
realised 15 guineas each, although they had cost the Duke more than 
sixteen times that amount. There was also included in the sale a picture 
of peculiar interest, depicting the famous duel, in Hyde Park, between 
the Duke of Hamilton and Lord Mohun ; while some pieces of sculpture 
were also disposed of, notably a Venus de Medicis and an Antinous 
in bronze, which went for 20 guineas ; and what is described as a 
" Venus couchant, from the antique," which fetched a similar amount. 
The account of the sale is to be seen in the Annual Register of the day, 
the writer of which adds that : " The week after, were sold the double 
rows of lime trees in the garden, valued one at ^90 the other at ^80 ; 
which are now all taken down, and the site of a new square, of nearly 
the dimensions of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and to be called Russell Square, 

' The first was Lady Diana Spencer, daughter of Charles, third Earl of Sunderland ; she died 
in 1734 ; the second, Lady Gertrude Leveson-Gower, daughter of John, Earl Gower. 

' In Mr. George Redford's History of Art Sa/es, two sales of pictures belonging to this 
Duke are mentioned ; one in May 1796, and that referred to in the text, but no details are 
given. 



94 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

has been laid out. The famous statue of Apollo, which was in the hall 
at Bedford House, has been removed to Woburn Abbey ... it originally 
cost looo guineas." 

The reasons that induced the Duke of Bedford to give up so fine 
a mansion as Bedford House are not very obvious. Society had not 
as yet migrated so completely to the further west as to leave the place 
in an isolated position ; nor had the house been allowed to get into such 
a state of disrepair as would have made its reparation as costly as the 
erection of a new residence. We know indeed that when, about 1757, 
the new road from Paddington to Islington, now the Marylebone and 
Euston Roads, was proposed, the fourth Duke strenuously opposed it, 
because, says Walpole, " of the dust it v/ill make behind Bedford House, 
and also on account of " some buildings proposed," " though if he were in 
town," adds Walpole, who remarks that in summer he never was, " he 
is too short-sighted to see the prospect " ; and it may possibly have been 
that the inconvenience foreseen by the Duke was ultimately responsible 
for his successor giving up the house. 

It is interesting to know that just as Montagu House had once been 
in danger of demohtion by the fury of the Gordon Rioters, some years 
previously, in May 1765 to be precise, the Spital Fields weavers, smarting 
under some real and many imaginary grievances, made an attack on the 
wall of Bedford House, and began to demolish it, tearing up the flag- 
stones and palings in the road in front of it ; and it is probable that, 
had they not been prevented by the footguards who had been stationed 
here in anticipation of something of the kind and who were reinforced 
by some cavalry, the rioters would have made an attack on the house 
itself. The Duke of Bedford was at this time Lord President of the 
Council, and thus being a member of the Government was more or 
less a marked man, and had to fear the physical force of popular resent- 
ment as well as the invectives of the redoubtable Junius. 




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CHAPTER IV 

LEICESTER HOUSE, Etc. 

A NUMBER of fine houses that have either entirely passed away, 
or have been relegated to uses which prevent their being con- 
sidered as private residences any longer, and did not, for a 
1^ variety of reasons, lend themselves to separate treatment in 
the way those do which we shall presently be considering, can hardly 
be omitted from these pages. Those which take their place in the 
first category are Leicester House, once the glory of Leicester Square ; 
Harcourt House, until recently on the west side of Cavendish Square ; 
Ashburnham House, up to a few years since standing in Dover 
Street ; Monmouth House, formerly in Soho Square, and Craven 
House, Drury Lane, identified in earlier days with the fortunes of the 
gallant Lord Craven. While those which, although still in existence, 
we can no longer claim as private palaces, are Marlborough House,^ Pall 
Mall ; Hertford or, as it was formerly called, Manchester House, in 
Manchester Square ; Cambridge House, now the Naval and Military 
Club, Piccadilly ; Uxbridge House, in Burlington Street ; Melbourne 
House, now The Albany ; Newcastle House, Lincoln's Inn Fields, and 
Schomberg House (although only a wing of this stiU exists) in Pali Mall.^ 

LEICESTER HOUSE 

Leicester House was so closely identified with the opposition courts 
successively held there, by George, Prince of Wales, afterwards George II., 
and by his son Frederick, Prince of Wales, that one is apt to forget that 
other interesting personalities, not of regal birth, were once connected 

1 Kensington Palace was formerly known as Nottingham House, but its chief interest, both 
intrinsic and architectural, as I have before said, is associated with it as a Royal Palace. 

^ I have judged it unnecessary to say anything about Holland House, which, besides being 
rather outside my area, would have required a volume to itself, and has indeed had one, in 
Princess Marie Liechtenstein's well-known work ; similarly the great houses that once lent 
dignity and interest to Chelsea, have been sufficiently dealt with in the Rev. A. G. L'Estrange's 
Village of Palaces. 

95 



96 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

with it ; but it is for this latter reason that a short notice of it seems 
admissible in these pages. 

The house was erected hy Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, in the 
time of Charles I., that nobleman having succeeded John Wymonde 
Carewe in the occupancy of the ground on which it stood, formerly 
belonging to the Hospital of St. Giles, which by exchange had then 
passed into the hands of the Crown, by whom it was granted to Lord 
Lisle, who in turn conveyed it to Carewe. 

The mansion stood on the north-east side of what is now Leicester 
Square but was then called Leicester Fields, and lay back a considerable 
way from the road, having an ample courtyard in front ; while its gardens 
extended as far as Gerrard Street in the rear, as may be seen by the view 
of the Fields taken about 1700. The original residence was a building 
of ample and even stately proportions built round a courtyard with a 
projecting centre on its south side, its gardens extending practically 
over the whole of what is now the north side of the Square, and being 
divided from a large open tract of ground by an extensive wall. It v\'as 
for long identified with the noble family of the Sidneys, and it was the 
second member of this family, originally ennobled by the title of Earl 
of Leicester in 161 8, who erected the later house, probably between 
the years 1632 and 1636, on his return from his embassy to Denmark 
in the former year. 

Here the Earl continued to reside until the later years of his life, 
when the mansion seems to have been occupied by various members 
of his family who desired a temporary town house ; while it was occasionally 
let when not in use in this way. During the Civil Wars, however, when 
Charles had become a prisoner, the Parliament placed the Duke of 
Gloucester and the Princess Elizabeth under the care of Lord Leicester, 
and they must have spent some time in Leicester House in the intervals 
of their sojourn at Penshurst. The house was to have another Royal 
visitor, in the time of Charles H., during a very short time however, 
for the Queen of Bohemia had made arrangements to remove hither 
from Bohemia Palace, as it was called, next to Craven House, in February 
1662, and indeed did so, but the hand of death was already upon her, 
and she died within a fortnight of taking up her residence here. Some 
years later Colbert, the French Ambassador, and brother of the more 
famous minister of Louis XIV., occupied the house, and Pepys records 
that a deputation of the Royal Society waited upon him here, on 
September 21, 1668. Just thirty years later the Imperial Ambassador 
was likewise lodged here, and a few years later stiU Prince Eugene, then 
on a secret mission to this country, resided in the mansion ; so that the 



LEICESTER HOUSE 97 

interest of its various occupants was no less marked than the size and 
importance of the house itself. 

In 1 71 8 it was to become, instead of a private residence and merely 
a temporary resting-place for royal personages and ambassadors, a per- 
manent abode of royalty, for in that year George, Prince of Wales, having 
quarrelled with his father, and being expelled from St. James's, bought 
the mansion and took up his abode there, and here three years later the 
Duke of Cumberland was born. The Prince occupied the place until 
his accession, in 1727, and it was he who purchased the adjoining Savile 
House and added it to the residence for the use of the Royal children ; 
while it was from Leicester House that he issued his declaration on 
succeeding to the Crown. When, some years later, his son quarrelled 
with him, the latter became the owner of the house ; from which 
double event Pennant not inaptly termed it " the pouting place of 
princes." 

Here Frederick, Prince of Wales, died in 175 1, and here his son George 
was proclaimed king, in 1760, and shortly after removed to St. James's 
Palace. The Princess-Dowager continued to reside here for another six 
years, when she, too, removing to Carlton House, the place fell from its 
high estate, and was occupied by various museums and exhibitions, the most 
important of which was the once famous collection of Sir Ashton Lever, 
which rejoiced in the high-sounding title of the Holophusikon. On the 
death of Sir Ashton in 1788, his assemblage of curious objects was sold, 
and Leicester House was not long afterwards demolished ; New Lisle 
Street being formed through its gardens, and increasingly elaborate 
buildings being erected from time to time on the site of the mansion 
itself.^ 

DRURY OR CRAVEN HOUSE 

Nearly at the south-east corner of Drury Lane where it used to join 
Wych Street, and a little to the north of where the old Olympic Theatre 
stood, is a cul de sac known as Craven Buildings which preserves the name 
of the once famous and splendid Craven House, just as Drury Lane 
perpetuates the earlier designation of the mansion. The great improve- 
ment in the Strand, which has brought Kingsway into existence and 
resuscitated the ancient Aldwych, has swept away the Olympic, which 

1 Leicester House is too much identified as a Royal Palace to admit of any more extended 
notice than this summary review in these pages ; but those who are interested in its annals 
will find much of interest about it in the various histories of London, and particularly in Tom 
Taylor's Leicester Square. 

G 



98 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

stood practically on the site of the old house which must have been one 
of the most stately of any of those in this neighbourhood.^ 

The original mansion is generally supposed to have been erected 
by Sir William Drury, who died in 1579, but there seems better authority 
for considering that an earlier member of the family, namely Sir Roger 
Drury, was its builder, and as he died in 1495, the better part of a century 
is thus added to its age. What seems probable is that, as in the case 
of so many of the old palaces of London, it was enlarged, or perhaps even 
rebuilt, and Sir William Drury may have been responsible for such 
additions. We know that he filled some important positions, such as 
that of the Marshal of Berwick, as well as that of Lord Justice to the 
Council in Ireland, and was besides a Knight of the Garter ; and it is 
probable that the house that had descended to him was not sufficiently 
spacious for the state which he must necessarily have kept up, as the head 
of a great family and one moving in exalted official circles. Sir William 
had been one of the supporters of Queen Mary when her throne was 
threatened by the machinations of Northumberland and his puppets 
Guildford Dudley and Lady Jane Grey, and Elizabeth is known to have 
shown him marked favour ; and once when he had advocated her alliance 
with the Duke of Anjou, she good-humouredly gave him a great clap 
on the shoulder and replied, " I will never marry ; but I will ever bear 
goodwill and favour to those who have liked and favoured the same ; ^ 
and that the Queen held Lady Drury ' in affectionate esteem is proved 
by the sympathetic letter she wrote her on the death of Sir William. 
It is probable therefore that Elizabeth was a visitor at Drury House, which 
would alone have been sufficient to account for any enlargement Sir 
William may have made. By a curious coincidence, after its owner's 
death, Drury House was the scene of some of Essex's plotting against the 
Queen, where he met those malcontents who were ready enough to further 
his scheme of seizing the palace and the Tower ; but whether Essex had 
taken the place or had found a congenial spirit in the successor of Sir 
William is not recorded. 

Another member of the family, Sir Robert Drury, " a gentleman 
of a very noble state, and a more liberal mind," lived in Drury House 
at a later date, and here he received the celebrated Dr. Donne, giving 
him, according to Isaac Walton, " an useful apartment in his own large 

' There is a good view of it, as well as a small plan, and another small picture of what 
remained of the mansion at the beginning of the nineteenth century, in Wilkinson's Londinn 
Illustrata. 

• Bowes MSS., quoted by Agnes Strickland. 

' Probably Lady Wylliams of Tame, who, according to Machyn, was married to William 
Drure, on October 10, 1560. 



CRAVEN HOUSE 99 

house in Drury Lane," where the Doctor and his family resided, and 
it was when the two friends were on a visit to Paris that Donne had his 
celebrated " vision " of his wife " with her hair hanging about her 
shoulders, and a dead child in her arms " ; ^ when a messenger being sent 
to England, it was found that at that very hour Mrs. Donne had given 
birth to a dead infant. 

Bishop Hall, who wrote what he called the Virgidemiarum, or a Tooth- 
less Satire, was also a visitor at Drury House, from which it would appear 
that Sir Robert was a patron of literature of the more recondite order. 

Drury House passed from the old family from whom it took its name 
to the Cravens, the most illustrious of whom was that William, first Earl 
of Craven, the hero of Kreuznach, who died here in 1697. 

The original Craven House which Gerbier designed, apparently for 
Lord Craven's father. Sir William Craven, in 1620, was an imitation of 
Heidelberg, and was, subsequently, destroyed by fire ; the second 
mansion was built by Captain Wynne, Gerbier's pupil, for the first Lord 
Craven, who was one of those fine unselfish characters which illumine 
the age in which they live. Besides being a great soldier, he was also 
as renowned in peace, and even the glory of his great victory pales before 
the heroism he displayed by remaining, one of the very few men of 
quality who did so, in London during the Great Plague, and endeavouring 
by his active philanthropy to mitigate something of the horrors of that 
awful scourge. He it was who built the Lazaretto or Hospital, on what 
was afterwards termed Pest House Fields, near where Golden Square 
now stands ; well might Pennant call him " the intrepid soldier, the 
gallant lover, the genuine patriot." 

" The gallant lover " refers to one of the most romantic episodes 
in his career ; his devotion to the unfortunate Queen of Bohemia, " The 
Queen of Hearts," who was lodged next door to Craven House, as Drury 
House was now called, for about six months when she came to this country 
in 1661 ; and only left it, as we have seen, to die in Leicester House 
close by. 

Lord Craven, who, it has been said, was married to the Queen, 
arranged everything for her comfort here and at Leicester House ; and 
for many years previously, after the overthrow of what little power her 
husband the Elector Palatine ever possessed, she as his widow seems to 
have lived on the bounty of her faithful adherent. 

When Craven House was rebuilt by Lord Craven,^ he also erected 

' See a long account of this curious incident in Walton's Life of Donne, 1805, vol. i. p. 35 
etseq. 

^ He was created a Viscount and Earl of Craven, in 1664, by Charles II., who gave him 
the Colonelcy of the Coldstream Guards on the death of Monk, Earl of Albemarle. 



loo THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

another mansion, called Bohemia House or Palace, next to it, as a resi- 
dence * for his Royal mistress, according to Timbs, although in a plan, 
dated 1788, the place is shown marked " Bohemia Palace or Craven House," 
as if the two residences were identical. 

The extensive gardens attached to Craven House afforded their owner 
an opportunity of indulging his love of horticulture, and of receiving 
such sympathetic friends as Ray and Evelyn ; and Leigh Hunt, referring 
to this, says : " The garden of Craven House ran in the direction of the 
present Drury Lane ; so that where there is now a bustle of a very 
different sort, we may fancy the old soldier busying himself with his 
flower beds, and John Evelyn discoursing upon the blessing of peace and 
privacy." In 1723, these gardens were built over, and Craven Buildings 
erected on their site ; while formerly on the wall at the bottom of these 
buildings was to be seen a large fresco painting of Lord Craven mounted 
on his charger, which, however, after being repainted once or twice, was 
covered with plaster and finally destroyed. Craven House gradually fell 
into decay, being let out as tenements, and at the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century entirely demolished ; the Olympic Theatre was built on 
its site, by Astley, in 1805. 

HARCOURT HOUSE 

Although Harcourt House has disappeared, it did so such a short 
time since that its sombre exterior is within the recollection of most of 
us. Occupying nearly the whole of the west side of Cavendish Square, 
it could but be partially seen rising above the wall which effectually 
screened its chief rooms from the gaze of the profanum vulgus. I recollect 
going over it not long before it was demolished, and nothing then could 
have exceeded the dreariness of its interior, except perhaps the gloom 
which sat perpetually on its outward walls. The very size of its rooms, and 
the remains of their former magnificence, with their elaborately carved 
and moulded cornices ; their ceilings painted en grisaille and their fine 
old chimney-pieces, added to the sense of desolation which seemed to 
have irrevocably settled on the whole place ; there was something pathetic 
in seeing the last sad days of what had once enjoyed so full and splendid 
a life ; but at the same time one could not but remember that a portion 
of its career had been passed under a shadow sufficiently gloomy as to 
anticipate its final decline and fall. 

' It is known that he erected, at a cost of /6o,ooo, a fine house at Hampstead Marshall, in 
Berkshire, for her use. It was largely altered by Captain Wynne; and was burnt down in 
1718. 



HARCOURT HOUSE loi 

When Cavendish Square was laid out in 171 7, the first house to be 
completed was what was, in the original numbering, No. 15, later known 
as Harcourt House. Besides being the first, it was by far the largest and 
most important residence in the Square, although had the Duke of 
Chandos completed the immense erection which he designed to occupy 
the whole of the north side of the Square, Harcourt House, ample as it 
was, would have sunk into comparative insignificance ; but the Duke 
never completed, indeed he never even commenced, the main portion 
of his intended palace, and thus Harcourt House was and remained the 
dominating building in this " quadrate." It was erected for Robert 
Benson, Lord Bingley, whose name appears in the Rate Books for 1730, 
the first stone being laid in 1722. 

Robert Benson, of Red Hall, near Wakefield, and of Bramham Park, 
sat in Parliament for many years as member for York ; subsequently 
filling many Government offices, such as that of Lord of the Treasury, 
from August 1710 to April 171 1, and including that of Chancellor of the 
Exchequer;' he was created Lord Bingley in 1 71 3. Lady Wentworth, 
writing to her son on April 28, 1709, thus refers to him : " Your brother 
Wentworth tels me Mr. Benson is to loock affter your buildin in York- 
shire. I have found him out to be an old acquantence of myne, his 
father was your father's mortell ennemy ... I have kist him many a 
time ; he was a very prety boy, he has a good estate." According to the 
Caracteres de flusters Ministres de la Cour d'' Angleterre, supposed to have 
been written by Lord Raby, Robert Benson is described as of " no 
extraction," his father having been " an attorney and no great character 
for an honest man . . . concerned in the affairs of Oliver Cromwell " ; 
and the story Peter Wentworth tells of his son's application to the 
Heralds' College for supporters, when he was made a Peer, confirms 
this ; for reply was sent him that '' they could find no arms to be 
supported " ! 

It is, however, in view of the great house he erected in Cavendish 
Square, interesting to know that he was considered a great amateur autho- 
rity on building matters ; and he gave good advice in this connection to 
Lord Raby through Peter Wentworth, on one occasion ; while Lord 
Bute (the father of George III.'s Minister), writing to Lord StraflFord, 
remarks that " your lordship is pleas'd to be so mery with your humble 
servant as to prefer my loe taste in architecture to the consummated 
experience of Bingley." It will be remembered that it was through the 

' It would seem, from a letter of Peter Wentworth, dated November 7, 1710, that this was 
anticipated, and I find that on Harley being made Earl of Oxford, Benson was again named 
for the post, which he held from May 171 1 to 1713. See \\'enl-j.iorth Papers, p. 197, and Lady 
Cowpei^s Diary, p. 31. 



I02 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

representations of Colin Campbell and Benson; that Wren was dismissed 
from the office of Surveyor-General; in 171 8, after having held the post 
for fifty years, in favour of Benson's brother. 

In the Vitruvius Britannicus published by Campbell is a design for 
a house at Wilbury, by Benson; so that, in the absence of any actual 
knowledge as to who was the architect of Harcourt House, it is not un- 
reasonable to suppose that it was largely built from plans prepared by 
himself; and although in the Crowle Pennant there is a design for the 
house, " as it was drawn by Mr. Archer, but built and altered to what it 
now is by Edward Wilcox, Esq.," this would seem to refer to enlargements, 
&c., made by the second Lord Harcourt.* 

Lord Bingley married Lady EHzabeth Finch, eldest daughter of 
Heneage, Earl of Aylesford, a long epigram on which lady from the hand 
of Walpole may be found in one of his letters to Mann. 

In London and its Environs, a Mr. Lane is given as succeeding Lord 
Bingley in the tenancy of the house, but his name does not appear in 
the Rate Books, after Lord Bingley's disappears ; whereas Lord Harcourt, 
who had been living previously in a smaller house on the east side of 
the Square with his father, is given as " Harcott," at No. 15, for 1732 ; 
in 1735 both his name and that of Lady Harcourt are given as living 
in separate houses here, and in 1738, the name of the lady alone appears. 
It would appear that Simon, first Lord Harcourt, sometime Lord Chan- 
cellor, had occupied the house on the east side of the Square, as he is 
said to have died in it on July 28, 1727, and that when his son bought 
No. 15, the Dowager Lady Harcourt (mentioned in the Rate Books) 
probably still occupied the smaller house on the east side of the Square. 
Walpole called Simon, the second Lord Harcourt, who was created an 
Earl in 1749, "civil and sheepish," but he filled a number of high offices 
with some success, although Wraxall considered his manner " too grave 
and measured " for him to acquire general attachment in Ireland, where 
he was Lord-Lieutenant from 1772 till 1777. 

The second Earl Harcourt greatly improved and enlarged the mansion, 
and it afterwards passed into the hands of the Dukes of Portland."' 

' The handsome offices and stables originally at the back of the house, beyond the garden, 
were designed by Ware. Archer was a "groom-porter of all His Majesty's houses in England 
and elsewhere." He was an architect of considerable merit, although St. John's Church, West- 
minster, which he designed, is hardly sufficient to prove this. Lady Cowper refers to him in her 
interesting Diary. 

■ The second Duke had married Lady Margaret Cavendish Harley, heiress of Edward, 
second Earl of Oxford, who had succeeded to the estate on which Cavendish Square stood 
through his wife, the heiress of the Duke of Newcastle, who purchased the property, in 1708. 
If therefore a ninety-nine years' lease had been granted of Harcourt House in 1717, when the 
Square was laid out, this would expire in 1816, so that the property would then, in any case, 
have naturally reverted to the Duke of Portland as representing the original ground landlord. 



HARCOURT HOUSE 103 

From the fact that Lord Harcourt's name disappears from the Rate 
Books in 1738, that date may mark the year when the house passed into 
the hands of the Portland family (in which case it would have been under 
the second Duke), in the occupancy of which family it remained till the 
death of the eccentric fifth Duke, which occurred on December 6, 1879. 

He it was who erected the great screen round the garden at the back, 
and who lived here in almost monastic seclusion, much to the wonder- 
ment of the curious, who were never tired of ventilating stories, mostly 
apocryphal, of his extraordinary manner of life, of which we have heard 
so much in a recent cause celebre, the result of which has, it may be hoped, 
done much to blow away these flimsy rumours. The fact is that the house 
had always such a mysterious appearance that half the tales circulated 
may have gained additional credence from the fact of its forbidding 
exterior. Even in Lord Bingley's time, Ralph wrote that he considered 
it " one of the most singular pieces of architecture about town," and 
likened it rather to " a convent than the residence of a man of quality." 
Angelo, in his Reminiscences, on the other hand, thought it had " more 
the appearance of a Parisian mansion than any other house in London," 
on account of its high court walls and its forte cochere ! 

Thackeray took it, or at least some of its characteristics, as the original 
of his Gaunt House, and considering the doings that went on in Lord 
Steyne's residence, perhaps this was another reason why peaceful and 
wondering citizens should have pointed it out as a home of mystery. 

In more recent years Harcourt House had a slight resuscitation of 
life given it when Lord Breadalbane lived there for a time ; but two 
years ago the inevitable overtook it, and now a block of stupendous flats 
reigns in its stead. 

MONMOUTH HOUSE 

Just as Harcourt House was the chief feature of Cavendish Square, 
so Monmouth House once proudly dominated the formerly fashionable 
Soho Square, and although one or two other great houses were near by, 
such as Falconberg House and Carhsle House, afterwards to be closely 
identified with the notorious Mrs. Cornelys, Monmouth House was the 
only residence in the Square that can rightly be termed a palace. 

It is said to have been designed by Wren,^ and built in 168 1, for the 
Duke of Monmouth, at the time when Soho Square was formed, and if it 
was not actually the first, was one of the first two houses to be erected 

' Thombury's Old and New London. 



I04 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

here. The Rate Books ^ show the Duke to have been in occupation at the 
beginning of the following year ; but this was a period of storm and stress 
for the noble owner, who must have had very little enjoyment out of 
his new dwelling which, tmmemor sepulcri, like so many others, he had caused 
to be built ; indeed he seems to have been relatively little here, as the 
numerous plots he was engaged in made his own home anything but a 
safe asylum ; and we find him hiding in the houses of his friends, some- 
times at Lord Anglesey's in Drury Lane, sometimes in Counsellor 
Thompson's in Essex Street ; anon in lodgings in Holborn. As all the 
world knows, he was beheaded in 1685, so that a very few years of inter- 
mittent enjoyment of his palace was permitted him. 

After the Duke's death, the property was purchased, presumably from 
his widow,* by Lord Bateman, who resided here for a time, but as the 
stream of fashion flowed westward, his lordship went with it, and the 
seemingly inevitable fate of all the fine old London houses overtook 
Monmouth House, a portion of which, in 1717, was converted into 
auction rooms. Many years later, notably in 1763, it had a brief return 
of prosperity, when it was rented by the Comte de Guerchy, then French 
Ambassador in London, and in the memoirs of the period references will 
be found to entertainments given here by His Excellency, who appears 
to have occupied the mansion for about ten years ; while in a contem- 
porary newspaper, for April 1764, we read that "a new chapel is erecting 
for the use of His Excellency the Count de Guerchy, the French 
Ambassador, in Queen Street, near Thrift (now Frith) Street, Soho " ; 
this chapel being built on a portion of the gardens of Monmouth House. 

When M. Grosley visited this country in 1765, he mentions the re- 
sidence of the French Ambassador as among the four in London which 
he considers alone " comparable aux grands hotels de Paris" and as these 
included Bedford and Chesterfield Houses, as well as the house occupied 
by the Spanish Ambassador, we should, from this selection, have good 
evidence of the splendour of old Monmouth House, even if the front 
view of it given by J. T. Smith in his Antiquities of London were not an 
additional proof of the architectural excellence of its facade. Besides 
this, however, we are luckily able to rehabilitate certain features of the 
place by the help of Smith, who in his Life of Nollekens gives the follow- 
ing account of the building which, we must remember, he saw under 

' As, curiously enough, Robert Carey, Earl of Monmouth, and his son the second and last 
Earl (he died in 1661), were both inhabitants of this quarter, it has been assumed that the 
name of Monmouth House was taken from their title, but this will, 1 think, hardly bear 
consideration. Their residence was, however, probably also known by their name. 

^ He had married, in 1663, Lady Anne Scott, daughter and heiress of Francis, second Earl 
of Buccleuch. 



MONMOUTH HOUSE 105 

all the disadvantages of partial demolition. Here is what he has recorded 
about it : " Mr. Nollekens, on his way to the Roman Catholic Chapel, 
in Duke Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he was christened, stopped 
to show me the dilapidations of the Duke of Monmouth's house in Soho 
Square. It was on the south side, and occupied the site of the houses 
which now stand in Bateman's Buildings ; and though the workmen 
were employed in pulling it down, we ventured to go in. The gate 
entrance was of massive ironwork supported by stone piers, surmounted 
by the crest of the owner of the house ; and within the gates there was a 
spacious courtyard for carriages. The hall was ascended by steps. There 
were eight rooms on the ground floor ; the principal one was a dining- 
room towards the south, the carved and gilt panels of which had contained 
whole-length pictures. At the corners of the ornamented ceiling which 
was of plaster, and over the chimney-piece, the Duke of Monmouth's 
arms were displayed. 

" From a window we descended into a paved yard, surrounded by a 
red-brick wall with heavy stone copings, which was, to the best of my 
recollection, full twenty feet in height. The staircase was of oak, the 
steps very low, and the landing-places tessellated with woods of light 
and dark colours, similar to those now remaining on the staircase of Lord 
Russell's house, late Lowe's Hotel, Covent Garden, and in several rooms 
of the British A'luseum. 

" As we ascended, I remember Mr. Nollekens noticing the busts of 
Seneca, Caracalla, Trajan, Adrian, and several others, upon ornamental 
brackets. The principal room on the first floor, which had not been 
disturbed by the workmen, was lined with blue satin, superbly decorated 
with pheasants and other birds in gold. The chimney-piece was richly 
ornamented with fruit and foliage, similar to the carvings which sur- 
rounded the altar of St. James's Church, Piccadilly, so beautifully executed 
by Grinling Gibbons. In the centre over this chimney-piece, within a 
wreath of oak leaves, there was a circular recess which evidently had been 
designed for the reception of a bust. The heads of the panels of the 
brown window shutters, which were very lofty, were gilt ; and the piers 
between the windows, from stains upon the silk, had probably been filled 
with looking-glasses. The scaffolding, ladders, andj numerous workmen 
rendered it too dangerous for us to go higher, or see more of this most 
interesting house. My father had, however, made a drawing of the 
external front of it, which I engraved for my first work, entitled 
Antiquities of London, which has been noticed by Mr. Pennant in his 
valuable and entertaining anecdotes of the Metropolis." ^ 

' Life of Nollekens, by J. T. Smith, edited by Mr. Edmund Gosse, 1895, pp. 53-5;. 



io6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

The property on which Monmouth House stood subsequently be- 
longed to the Dukes of Portland, and in the Grace collection is a plan, 
drawn by John White, in 1799, which shows the large extent of ground 
occupied by Monmouth House and its gardens which originally covered 
the area between Greek Street and Frith Street, and reached back as far 
as Queen Street. 

When the Comte de Guerchy's tenancy expired, and the mansion was 
demolished in 1773, the ground on which it stood was let on building 
leases, and on part of it Bateman's Buildings ^ were erected, which, 
with the neighbouring Bateman Street, perpetuates the title of the second 
owner of Monmouth House ; but there is nothing now to record the 
association of the mansion with its original unfortunate possessor. 

ASHBURNHAM HOUSE 

Unlike Monmouth House, of which every trace has long since dis- 
appeared, Ashburnham House was standing till within a few years ago (i 897), 
but the site is now covered by the immense block of fiats which has a 
frontage in Dover Street, Piccadilly, and occupies the whole of the south side 
of Hay Hill. The old mansion stood some way back from Dover Street, 
having a courtyard enclosed by railings in front of it ; it was numbered 
30 in the street, and was for many years the town house of the Earls of 
Ashburnham. 

It would appear that when Dover Street was formed in 1686, Lord 
Dover,' the ground landlord, occupied a house on the east side of the 
thoroughfare ; in 1700, however, the Rate Books show him to have re- 
moved to the west side, probably to a house erected by himself, which 
Macky calls " a very noble " one, on the site afterwards occupied by 
Ashburnham House. Lord Dover died in 1708, but his widow occupied 
the house till the end of 1726 ; shortly after which the following ad- 
vertisement appeared in the Daily 'Journal, for January 6, 1726-7 : — 

"To be sold by auction on Wednesday the ist of February, 1726-1727, the 
large Dwelling House of the Right Hon. the Countess of Dover deceased in Dover 
Street, St. James's ; consisting of seven rooms on a floor, with closets, a large and 
beautiful staircase finely painted by Mr. Laguerre, with three coach houses, and 
stables for 10 horses, and all manner of conveniences for a great family." 

Nothing appears to have been done during 1727, however, for in the 

' In Horwood's plan, 1794, they are shown running down the centre of the site on which 
old Monmouth House stood. 

' Henry Jermyn, second son of Thomas Jermyn, and nephew of Henry Jermyn, Earl of 
St. Albans, created a peer in 1685, and advanced to an earldom four years later. 



ASHBURNHAM HOUSE 107 

Rate Books Lady Dover's name is marked through with a pen, indicating 
that the house was empty; but in 1728, it is omitted from the Rates 
altogether, which would tend to show that the house had been demolished ; 
and as in 1729 the name of James Brudenel, Esq., appears, it seems almost 
certain that he had purchased Lady Dover's house, probably in 1727, 
and had erected a new mansion on its site ; the building operations being 
completed in 1729. Brudenel was a member of the family ennobled by 
the earldom of Cardigan in 1661 ; and I trace him as residing in Dover 
Street till 1735 ; six years later the fourth Earl of Cardigan, who was 
created Duke of Montagu in 1766, is shown as occupying the same house, 
which he apparently retained till 1750, at which time he took the name 
and arms of Montagu, having married Lady Mary Montagu, daughter 
and co-heiress of John, second Duke of Montagu, and succeeded his father- 
in-law in the occupancy of old Montagu House, Whitehall, to be precise, 
in 1749. _ 

Dover House, from 1750 to 1758, is then shown in the Rate Books to 
have been occupied by the fourth Earl of CarHsle, who died on September 4 
of the latter year ; but it is probable that he was merely renting it, as the 
present Lord Ashburnham tells me that the residence was purchased by 
his great-grandfather, the second Earl, whose name first appears in the 
Rate Books for 1759, from the Duke of Montagu, or as he then was Earl 
of Cardigan. 

It would therefore appear that the mansion demolished in 1897 was 
that erected by James Brudenel, in 1729 ; ' although it had obviously been 
much altered since that date, probably by Robert Adam, who is known 
to have designed the gateway and lodge-entrance in 1773, and to have 
made decorative additions to the interior, if he did not actually rebuild 
the place a second time. In the Crace collection is a plan of Ashburnham 
House which is described as " formerly Dover House." 

The mansion remained the town-house of the Earls of Ashburnham 
till its destruction, but at various times it was let ; notably for several 
years to the Russian Ambassadors, of whom Prince Lieven was the first 
to occupy it, and Pozzo di Borgo the last ; while Lord Ashburnham 
informs me that he remembers it being given up by Baron Brunnow 
shortly before the outbreak of the Crimean War.^ 

During Prince Eleven's tenancy, the celebrated Princess Lieven held 
here her salon, whither resorted members both of the Government and 

1 I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. W. E. Bowen, who took much trouble to help me in 
verifying the data from the Rate Books given above. 

* Greville speaks, in May 1853, of Brunnow "dreading above all things the possibility of 
his having to leave this country." 



io8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

of the Opposition, a characteristic that differentiated it from the 
assembUes at Holland House, or those presided over by Lady Hertford or 
Lady Jersey. 

Unfortunately there is little to record about Ashburnham House, 
except that it possessed, in common with other great mansions in London, 
splendid and well-proportioned rooms, and was full of those fine internal 
decorations, such as elaborately moulded ceilings and cornices, and beauti- 
fully carved mantelpieces and over-doors, with which the eighteenth 
century loved to heighten the splendour of its more impressive dwellings. 

The position formerly occupied by Ashburnham House deserves 
a word because of its historical interest in connection with Wyatt's re- 
bellion. Hay Hill takes its name from the Aye Brook which ran near 
here through the gardens of Lansdowne House, and from which Brook 
Street is so named. When Sir Thomas Wyatt marched on London, 
in 1554, with the view of overturning the throne of Mary, he planted 
his cannon on the top of Hay Hill, probably on the very spot where 
Ashburnham House afterwards stood ; and here, according to Machyn, 
a skirmish took place between his forces and " the queeyns men " when, 
adds the diarist, " he and ye captayns wher overcum, thanke be unto 
God." In accordance with the retributive justice of the period, Wyatt's 
head was, after his execution, hung " on the gallowes at Hay HiU," ^ 
which would appear to point to the previous existence of a " tree " here ; 
unless one was specially erected for this purpose, which the use of the 
definite article does not seem to indicate. 



MARLBOROUGH HOUSE 

We must now turn our attention to the half-dozen houses which, 
although still in existence, have passed from private ownership, and can 
therefore only be considered as private palaces in relation to their former 
occupants. The first of these is Marlborough House, which has for so long 
been identified with the reigning family, that for many people much of 
its early interest has become merged in the lustre shed on it by its more 
recent occupiers. 

Marlborough House was erected during the years 1709 and 1710, 
for the great Duke of Marlborough, Queen Anne having leased the 
ground on which it stands to her friend the Duchess who, to mortify 
Vanbrugh, employed Wren to draw out plans for the residence. 

By a plan of St. James's Park as it was at the Restoration the whole 

' Stow and Machyn, the latter of whom adds, " whar dyd hang 3 men in chynes." 



f'ifMil^ff !*fe 




MARLBOROUGH HOUSE 109 

of the ground on which Marlborough House stands, with its gardens, 
appears to have been laid out in pleasure-grounds, there being a long 
low building at its north end, where the entrance gates are now. 

Queen Anne had leased to the Duchess of Marlborough certain ground 
known as " the pheasantry," on which it was originally intended to build 
the house ; but before anything was done a fresh arrangement was 
entered into, by which this lease was surrendered and a new one granted 
" of all that house, yards, gardens, curtilages, ground, and buildings, 
and other premises which were demised by the late King Charles the 
second in trust for Queen Catherine," and in addition " that piece of 
garden ground taken out of St. James's Park, then in the possession of 
Henry Boyle, one of Her Majesty's principal Secretaries of State." ^ 

The ground is substantially the same in area as that now attached to 
Marlborough House ; and the Duchess has herself left the following 
account of the transaction : — 

" The next grant of which by my Lord Godolphin's means I obtained 
the promise from the Queen after the Queen Dowager's death was the 
ground in St. James's Park upon which my house stands. This has been 
valued by my enemies at ^10,000, how justly let any one determine, who 
will consider that a certain rent is paid for it to the Exchequer, that the 
ground was at first but for fifty years, and that the building has cost 
between forty and fifty thousand pounds, of which the Queen has never 
paid one shilling, though many people have been made to believe 
otherwise." ' 

Among the Coxe MSS. there is " an account of what the grant of 
Marlborough House has cost the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough," 
in which occur some interesting details. Thus we find the cost of build- 
ing of the house and making the garden amounted to " very near fifty 
thousand pounds " ; ^ commenting on which, the Duchess adds, " That 
article seems almost incredible, but it is not really so extravagant as it 
appears, because it (the mansion) is the strongest and best house that 

' Grant in Harleian MSS. dated June 10, 1709. 
2 See An Account of /he Conduct of the Duchess of Marlborough. 

' The following extract from the Post Boy, December 27, 171 2, refers to the house ; — 
"Whereas a false, malicious and scandalous report hath been industriously spread, that 
in the building of his house near St. ]., the surveyor made great advantages to himself by 
gratuities from the workmen : we whose names are underwritten having been employed in 
the said building, do hereby declare, &c., that in making contracts, &c. &c. neither the surv-eyor, 
nor his agents . . . ever had or received . . . from any of us, any gratuity, reward, &c. 
whatsoever. . . . 

"Witness our hands this 27th Nov. 171 2. 

"John Churchill, Carpenter. 
Henry Wise, Gardener. 
John Ireland, Glazier, &c." 



no THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

ever was built " ; and we learn further from Her Grace that : " In yearly 
rents I pay to the Crown are five shillings ; and ^it,. 15. o for the house ; 
and ^13. 15. o for the four little houses ; the land-tax on the house is 
^60 a year." 

From a perspective view of St. James's Palace by J. Maurer, we can 
see to some extent what Marlborough House looked like when finished ; 
it differed from its present appearance in that it was without the upper 
storey, which was subsequently added by the third Duke, who also built 
some additional rooms on the ground floor. 

Macky, who published his journey through England in the year of 
the first Duke's death, 1722, thus speaks of the house as it was at that time : 
" Marlborough House, the palace of the Duke of Marlborough," he 
writes, " is in every way answerable to the grandeur of its master. Its 
situation is more confined than that of the Duke of Buckingham's ; ^ 
but the body of the house much nobler, more compact, and the apart- 
ments better disposed. It is situated at the west end of the King's 
garden ' on the Park side, and fronts the Park, but with no other prospect 
but the view. Its court is very spacious and finely paved ; the offices 
are large and on each side as you enter ; the stairs mounting to the gate 
are very noble ; and in the vestibule as you enter, are finely painted the 
Battles of Hochstet and {sic) Blenheim, with the taking Marshal TaUard 
prisoner." ^ These paintings were the work of Laguerre and covered no 
less than 500 square yards of surface,* and are dismissed by Walpole 
as " some things at Marlborough House." 

At the north-east corner of the house is the foundation-stone, on 
which are cut these words : " Laid by her Grace the Duchess of Marl- 
borough, May 24, and June 4, 1709," so that next year will see the 
bi-centenary of the palace. 

It would seem that, at the accession of George I., the Duke of Marl- 
borough, in order probably to further his interest with the new sovereign, 
offered his house to the Prince and Princess of Wales ; and in the Weekly 
Post the circumstance is mentioned thus : " The Duke of Marlborough 
has presented his house to the Prince and Princess of Wales ; and it is 
said a terrace walk will be erected to join the same to St. James's House ; 
and that the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough are to have the late 
Earl of Ranelagh's house at Chelsea College." There is, however, no 
further record of this gift being made ; indeed, it is not unlikely that 

' Buckingham House, now Buckingham Palace. 
' This was afterwards Carlton House Garden. 

■^ Vol. i. p. 127. Macky also notes that "there are abundance of fine pictures in this 
palace." 

' London Past and Present. 



MARLBOROUGH HOUSE iii 

the perpetual quarrels between the King and the Heir-apparent would 
have alone been sufficient to make the residence of the latter so near 
St. James's anything but desirable ; and eager as Marlborough may have 
been to pay his court to the future sovereign, he may have regretted 
making an offer which may be supposed to have been little acceptable 
to the sovereign in esse. 

Although there are magnificent rooms in the mansion, Wren's forte 
was not domestic architecture, and there is no doubt but that the con- 
venience of the internal arrangements as affecting the relative positions 
of the reception-rooms and the offices, was sacrificed to the outward 
appearance of the house ; indeed a writer describing the rooms, in 1865, 
gives an amusing picture of the progress of provisions from the kitchen 
to the dining-room as taking this route : " First downstairs to the base- 
ment ; secondly, through the basement corridors ; thirdly, upstairs 
again by any one of the three equally awkward means ; and fourthly, so 
on to the dining room in a manner still as awkward as the rest." ^ 

The Duke and Duchess continued to reside at Marlborough House 
until the death of the former, which occurred here in 1722 ; when, on 
August 6th, that magnificent funeral procession, " one of the most im- 
posing that the MetropoHs of England had ever witnessed," in which 
figured the car with its violet canopy, specially made for the purpose 
by the Duchess's orders, and which on a notable occasion she refused to 
lend to the Duchess of Buckingham, passed through a portion of the 
garden wall which had been demolished for the purpose. Shortly after- 
wards the Duchess, in bed as was her wont, received the Lord Mayor 
and Corporation of London, who came all the way from the City to 
thank her for the present of a fat buck ! 

Indeed, after the Duke's death this redoubtable lady, about whom 
and her notorious bad temper so much has been written and so many 
stories retailed, reigned like a queen in Marlborough House, saying and 
doing all manner of strange things. The tale of her eccentricities is 
endless. When the preparations for the marriage of the Princess Anne 
with the Prince of Orange were toward, a boarded gallery was put up 
close to the windows of Marlborough House, and was allowed to remain 
there an unconscionable time, whereupon the Duchess, eyeing it with 
indignation, was wont to remark, " I wonder how long my neighbour 
George will leave his orange chests here." But she had to put up with 
a more permanent inconvenience than this. The entrance to Marl- 
borough House from Pall Mall was always, as it is to-day, awkward and 
insignificant, and the Duchess was anxious to purchase the houses on 

' The Gentleman's House, by R. Kerr. 



112 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the ground to the east of it, in order that she might make a more fitting 
gateway, but Sir Robert Walpole getting wind of her intention, out of 
mere spite, bought the property in question, and still further blocked 
up the front of Marlborough House by erecting other buildings on the 
vacant ground. No wonder the angry Duchess drew the distinction that 
it was wrong to wish Sir Robert dead, but only common justice to wish 
him hanged ! particularly when we remember that Walpole once again got 
the better of her when he found out that she was trying to marry her 
granddaughter Lady Diana Spencer to the Prince of Wales and had 
offered ^^i 0,000 as dowry, and effectually prevented the scheme from 
being carried through. 

The Duchess has been called 

"The wisest fool much time has ever made," 

and Vanbrugh, who had no reason to love her Grace, it must be con- 
fessed, speaks of her as that " wicked woman of Marlborough " ; while 
Swift, who hated her with perhaps less reason, records her " sordid 
avarice, disdainful pride, and ungovernable rage " ; but when all is said, 
she must have been a beautiful woman, and frequently a warm friend ; 
and to her " clear apprehension and true judgment " no less an authority 
than Burnet bears witness. 

Her death occurred at Marlborough House in her eighty-fifth year. 
She had been told that she must be blistered or she would die ; but age 
could not wither her indomitable spirit : " I won't be blistered and I 
won't die," she exclaimed in a paroxysm of anger ; but Death is deaf 
as well as bHnd, and on October 18, 1744, the old fighter ceased from 
troubling. 

I find a curious anecdote of old Duchess Sarah in De Saussure's book 
on England. At the Coronation of George H. it appears that the pro- 
cession in the Abbey was at one time brought to a full stop, whereupon 
" the Dowager-Duchess of Marlborough took a drum from a drummer, 
and seated herself on it. The crowd laughed and shouted at seeing the 
wife of the great and celebrated General Duke of Marlborough, more 
than seventy years of age, seated on a drum in her robes of state and in 
such a solemn procession." ^ 

Four years after the Duchess's death, certain old houses that had 
hitherto stood between Marlborough House and the Palace were re- 
moved, under the direction of John Vardy, the architect who helped to 
build Spencer House close by. At this time the second Duke of Marl- 
borough, grand-nephew of the Duchess, resided here ; and on his death, 

' A Foreign View of England. 



MARLBOROUGH HOUSE 113 

in 1758, he was succeeded in its occupancy by his son, the third Duke, 
who added to the building and made other improvements.' On his 
death, in 1817, the remainder of the lease of the property was purchased 
by the Crown, as a London residence for the Princess Charlotte on her 
marriage with Prince Leopold, but before the purchase was completed 
the Princess died ; the Prince, however, resided here for several years, 
paying a rent of ;^3000 a year. Later it became the town residence of 
the Dowager Queen Adelaide, until her death in 1849; and in the 
following year it was settled on the Prince of Wales. As, however, at that 
time, he was too young to have a separate establishment, the mansion 
was granted temporarily to the then newly-formed Department of Science 
and Art, and under its auspices the Vernon Gallery, inter alia, was for a 
time housed within its walls. In 1861, the house was remodelled as a 
residence for the Heir-apparent ; the stables being added two years later. 

Marlborough House may thus be considered in the light of a Royal 
Palace for nearly the last hundred years of its existence, and as such has 
no proper right to be included, except in the summary way in which I 
have dealt with its later history, in these pages. If, however, in more 
recent days its fortunes have been indissolubly connected with His 
Majesty the King as well as with the present Prince of Wales, its earlier 
history is as closely identified with the great soldier who taught the 
doubtful battle where to rage, and with his imperious and beautiful 
Duchess. 

SCHOMBERG HOUSE 

A little to the east of the entrance to Marlborough House in Pall 
Mall stands a solitary fragment, the west wing, of the once splendid 
mansion known as Schomberg House. Amid the classic fronts of in- 
numerable clubs which have borrowed their fa9ades from half a hundred 
palaces, the remains of old Schomberg House look as much out of place 
as might a courtier of the time of William III. if seen strolling down 
Pall Mall to-day ; for, indeed, this street of streets has been rebuilt out 
of all knowledge, and preserves so little of its former appearance that the 
ghosts of those who used to loiter along it would hardly know their way 
until they caught sight of the clock-tower of the palace hard by, which 
alone seems to defy time royally amidst the ever-changing kaleidoscope 

' "This house with offices, yards, gardens, was granted by the Crown, 6th June 1785, to 
George, Duke of Marlborough, for 50 years, together with a piece of ground in Pall Mall, now 
the front court yard, for 31 years, which were valued at ;^6oo per annum, fine £2,0 ; new rents 
£61. 5. o. and £12,. 15. o." — Malcolm's Londitium Redivivum, vol. iv. p. 317. 

H 



114 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

of architectural fashion. And just as those of the Augustan age will 
look in vain for an unmutilated Schomberg House, so shall we in a few 
years' time seek fruitlessly for the solid and dreary edifice which occupied 
the better part of its site. No longer does the activity of the War 
Office simmer in Pall Mall ; no longer does Sidney Herbert muse, and 
turn his back upon it ; for just as the original building gave way to its 
dreary successor, so will that upstart be one day supplanted by yet another 
club, before whose doors the panting motor will heave where once the 
stately sedan was solemnly set down. 

It is curious how few who tread the streets raise their eyes to the 
upper stories of houses or shops, and this is perhaps accountable for the 
fact that when a landmark vanishes its outward semblance is so soon for- 
gotten ; but Schomberg House, or rather the fragment of it that still 
exists, compels attention from the unwonted nature of its architectural 
features ; the eye thus attracted becomes conscious of the circular tablet 
which, after much wrestling with the dirt that habitually begrimes 
it, at length makes us aware that Gainsborough here breathed his last, 
and so the place has come to have for many an interest from the fact 
alone that here the great artist painted his imperishable portraits, played 
on his beloved fiddle, and in the last scene of all saw himself wafted to 
the celestial mansions in Vandyck's company. And there is little doubt 
but that this association makes for the chief glory of the place ; but it 
has had a far earlier history : it has been connected with other great 
names, as we shall see. 

Schomberg House, which, by-the-bye, is numbered 8i and 82 Pall Mall, 
preserves in its name the title of the illustrious first Duke of Schomberg 
who was killed at the Battle of the Boyne, and over whose death even 
the impassive William HI. wept ; but it was not he who built the place ; 
the credit of this belongs to his third son, who, in 1693, succeeded to the 
dukedom on the death of his younger brother, the fifth son of the first 
Duke, who by a curious arrangement first inherited the title which never 
passed to the eldest son of the first Duke at all, although he was living 
even at the time of the third Duke's accession. 

Before the erection of Schomberg House, its site had been occupied 
by a less imposing dwelling, which, according to Timbs, was built in 1650, 
and was described as " a fair mansion, enclosed with a garden abutting 
on Pall Mall, and near to Charing Cross," at a time when Pall Mall was 
planted with elm trees, and when the half-a-dozen houses then in exist- 
ence on the south side of the street were surrounded " by large meadows, 
always green, in which the ladies walked in summer time." Ten years 
later, the house was occupied by, amongst others, Edward Griffin, 



SCHOMBERG HOUSE 115 

Treasurer of the Chamber, and by the Countess of Portland, probably 
the widow of the second Earl, a daughter of the Duke of Lennox. 

The new house was erected on this spot about 1698, and Narcissus 
Luttrell thus refers to the circumstance, under date of November 5th 
of that year : " Portland House in the Pall Mall is rebuilt, and will be 
richly furnished for Duke Schomberg, General of the forces in England." 
From the same authority we learn that a grant of no less than ^^4000 a 
year had been made the Duke two years previously, being the interest 
on the ^100,000 which had been given by Parliament to the first Duke, 
apparently for his lifetime only ; so that he was in a condition to keep 
up a fine house. 

The furnishing must have been completed expeditiously, for in 
January 1699, ^^ ^^^^ °^ Schomberg entertaining here " in a splendid 
manner," the French Ambassador, the Duke of Ormonde, " and other 
persons of quality"; while on September 10, 1703, he gave a banquet 
here to the Portuguese and Prussian Ambassadors and others. 

Later in the same year Schomberg House was like to have been 
destroyed, for a party of disbanded soldiers who thought they had a 
grudge against its owner as Commander-in-Chief, assembled before the 
mansion and would probably have succeeded in demolishing it but for the 
timely arrival of the military. The following entry in Luttrell's Diary 
for October lOth of this year, indirectly bears on this circumstance : 
" Yesterday one Murray, a disbanded trooper, was convicted at the 
quarter sessions for Westminster for speaking reflecting words on Duke 
Schomberg ; his wife was also convicted for speaking seditious words 
against his majestic." 

Among the interior decorations of Schomberg House were the paint- 
ings on the grand staircase, which were the work of Peter Berchett, who 
came to England about this time (he had previously paid a visit of a 
year's duration, in 168 1), and was employed to paint the ceiling of Trinity 
College Chapel, Oxford, as well as the summer house at Ranelagh. 
William HL engaged him to decorate his newly-erected Palace at Loo, 
on which he was engaged fifteen months, after which he came a third 
time to this country, and died in Marylebone in 1720. 

The Duke of Schomberg died in 17 19, when Schomberg House passed 
into the possession of his daughter and co-heiress, Frederica, who had 
married four years previously the third Earl of Holdernesse, two years 
after whose death in 1722, she married Benjamin Mildmay, created 
Viscount Harwich and Earl Fitzwalter in 1730. 

J propos of this lady a story is told which indicates that she had little 
feeling for the memory of her grandfather, the first Duke. His body 



ii6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

was buried in Dublin Cathedral, and Swift, anxious that a monument 
should be erected to his memory there, wrote to Lady Holdernesse and 
asked her for fifty pounds towards the expenses, but no notice was taken 
of his appeal ; whereupon the angry Dean erected a tablet at his own 
charge and took occasion, in the inscription, to reflect on the conduct of 
Lady Holdernesse ; upon which Dagenfeldt (who had married Lady 
Holdernesse's sister Mary), at that time envoy from Prussia to the English 
court, complained of Swift's conduct, which brought the latter into 
disfavour at court. 

Schomberg House is, or rather was — for the west wing that remains 
is but a fragment of the building — a very characteristic example of the 
architecture of the period ; but who was responsible for its design is, 
unfortunately, not recorded. I am not disinclined to think, however, 
that Captain Winde, who was responsible for Buckingham House, as well 
as for Newcastle House, Lincoln's Inn Fields, may have had a hand 
in it.^ 

Lord Holdernesse died in 1722, and his son apparently succeeded 
him in the possession of the place, probably after the death of his mother 
the Dowager Lady Holdernesse who, as we have seen, married en second, 
noces Earl Fitzwalter, for I find that the mansion was let by Lord 
Holdernesse to the Duke of Cumberland — "the Butcher" — in 1760, 
when, on the accession of his nephew George HL, he was obliged to vacate 
St. James's Palace, and it was then known as Cumberland House, by 
which name it is shown in Horwood's map of London, dated 1796. The 
Duke probably lived here till his death in 1765, in which year it is known 
to have been sold, at the remarkably low figure of ^5000, to John Astley 
the portrait-painter, who seems to have been rather indebted to good 
fortune than to genius for the success he achieved. He was a pupil of 
Hudson, and after this novitiate travelled in Italy ; returning home, 
he settled in Dublin, where his handsome face and engaging manners, 
quite as much as any talent he may have possessed, enabled him to make 
a small fortune. He determined to set up as a fashionable portrait- 
painter in London, and on the way thither he became acquainted with 
the widow of Sir William Daniel, who was besides an heiress possessed of 
considerable estates in Cheshire ; this lady, with her ;^5ooo a year, he 
married, and henceforth painted rather for amusement than profit, and 
divided his time between a dilettante following of art and the existence 
of a beau of the period. The well-known story told of Astley must have 

' It is amusing to read in Hare's Walks in London that the house was built by Meinhardt 
for the " great Duke of Schomberg." Meinhardt was the Christian name of the third Duke for 
whom the house was erected. The ' great Duke ' was the first Duke, killed at the Boyne. 



SCHOMBERG HOUSE 117 

had its origin in his pre-nuptial days before fortune smiled upon him ; 
for it is said that once being one of a company at a country outing, he 
for long refused to take off his coat, as his companions had done, but at 
last the heat of the sun was too much for him, and he was compelled 
to pull off his outer garment, when, lo and behold ! the back of his 
shirt was seen to represent a waterfall ; he had wrapped himself, 
faute de mieux, in one of his unsold canvases. When Astley pur- 
chased Schomberg House he divided it into three portions, reserving for 
himself the main building, over the entrance of which he placed a 
medallion group of " Painting," which was his own work. On the top 
storey he reserved a suite of rooms for his own private use, and on the 
roof built a large studio which he termed his " country house." He 
died in 1787, and it was during his period of possession that, in 1780, the 
Gordon rioters threatened to demolish the building ; simply, one sup- 
poses, because of its being a landmark rather than from any particular 
antagonism on the part of the rioters to its owner. 

In this memorable year Astley left Schomberg House, letting the 
portion he had occupied to that notorious quack Dr. Graham, who opened 
here what he called his Temple of Health, where he subjected his patients 
to the soothing influences of his " Celestial Bed," and where the goddess 
of health was personified by a beautiful woman named Prescott. Graham 
ornamented the front of Schomberg House with a statue of Hygeia and 
other emblematic advertisements, and although he charged two guineas 
a head entrance fee to his lecture on health, or perhaps because of the 
largeness of the sum, fashionable London crowded to his magnificently 
decorated rooms. Horace Walpole was, of course, a visitor, but he de- 
tected the empiricism of the worthy Doctor, for he tells Lady Ossory, on 
August 23, 1780, that " it Is the most impudent puppet show of imposition 
I ever saw, and the mountebank himself the dullest of his profession." 

When his absurdities ceased to attract in London, Graham tried them 
in various provincial towns, and after many adventures died in 1794, 
notwithstanding his assertion that he had discovered the Elixir of Life ! ^ 

After Graham's departure Richard Cosway occupied the centre of 
the house, and here Mrs. Cosway also painted and gave her celebrated 
musical parties. From 1770 to 1780, Cosway was living in Berkeley Street, 
Piccadilly, and it was here that he first attracted the notice of the Prince of 
Wales, whose portrait he so often produced, so that when he took up 
his residence at Schomberg House, he was in the heyday of his fame ; 
he, however, only remained here five years, removing to Stratford Place 
in 1792. 

' For an interesting account of Graham see Timbs's Roman:c of Loudon. 



ii8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

The portion of the house that had been occupied by Cosway was, 
after the termination of his tenancy, used by the so-called Polygraphic 
Society, where " wretched copies of good pictures," according to 
J. T. Smith, were exhibited ; later it became the headquarters of Bryan 
the picture-dealer ; anon Coxe the once famous auctioneer took it ; and 
later still it was the bookshop of the celebrated Tom Payne, the Quaritch 
of the day, who came here in 1806, and was succeeded by Messrs. Payne 
and Foss ; while, as if to add to its artistic associations, Jervas, the friend of 
Pope, and a portrait-painter of some merit, as well as Nathaniel Hone, 
who died in 1784, were numbered among former tenants of this portion 
of the once noble old house, as was also Robert Bowyer, miniature-painter 
to Queen Charlotte, who exhibited at Schomberg House his Historic 
Gallery, consisting of pictures and prints illustrating the annals of this 
country, which, in 1807, he disposed of by lottery, ParUament having 
passed an Act expressly authorising him to do so. 

But a pre-eminent painter was to be associated with Schomberg 
House, in the person of the great Gainsborough, who rented the west 
wing of the mansion from Astley, in 1774, paying ;^3oo a year for it. Here 
he lived and painted till his death in 1788, and here were produced some 
of those masterpieces which are to-day the glory of British art. Walpole 
specifically mentions his executing here " the large landscape in the style 
of Rubens, and by far the finest landscape ever painted in England, and 
equal to the great masters." 

The ten years of Gainsborough's activity here were the most 
triumphant of his career. To mention merely the names of the great 
and beautiful who trod the stairs of Schomberg House, would be to 
recapitulate the titles of the most famous men and women of the day ; 
from royalty downwards — and he painted all George HI.'s large family 
more than once, and even, as has been said, made Queen Charlotte 
look picturesque — every one came here or to Sir Joshua's in Leicester 
Square, and not infrequently to both. These two remarkable men 
monopolised the art of portrait-painting ; there were other competitors, 
but at what an immeasurable distance the picture-galleries of to-day 
attest. 

Gainsborough once commenced a portrait of Sir Joshua here, but 
only one sitting was given before Reynolds had to go to Bath on account 
of the slight paralysis that had seized him ; his next visit was to the death- 
bed of his great rival, who had several of his unfinished works brought 
into the room to show to Sir Joshua, flattering himself that he would live 
to finish them. But this was not to be ; and in July 1788 he wrote 
and begged Reynolds to pay him a last visit. The scene has become 



SCHOMBERG HOUSE 119 

historic. " If any little jealousies had subsisted between us," says Sir 
Joshua, recounting the scene, " they were forgotten in those moments 
of sincerity ; and he turned towards me as one who was engrossed in the 
same pursuits, and who deserved his good opinion by being sensible of 
his excellence." It was on this notable occasion that Gainsborough, 
looking fixedly at his brother artist, uttered those memorable last words : 
" We are all going to heaven, and Vandyck is of the company." 

The east wing of Schomberg House, as well as the main building, 
had its commercial uses, for here, for a time, the business premises of Messrs. 
Dyde & Scribe, who were succeeded by Harding much patronised by 
George III. and his family, were established. 

In 1850, when it was found necessary to enlarge the War Office, in 
those days called the Ordnance Office which occupied the sites of the 
former residences of the Dukes of York and Buckingham, the east wing 
of Schomberg House was pulled down for the purpose and replaced by 
one of those so-called classic buildings in which the period delighted.^ 
Such a piece of vandalism would nowadays hardly be permitted by 
public opinion, one likes to think, but in those times it was probably con- 
sidered an " improvement " to mutilate a fine building, which in spite 
of its internal divisions outwardly preserved its original appearance, and 
to erect in its place a heavy and meaningless specimen of architecture. 



UXBRIDGE HOUSE 

It is not a very far cry from Pall Mall to Burlington Gardens, and 
here stands a splendid specimen of later Georgian architecture at its 
best. It is true that it has passed from the private uses for which it was 
erected, but, notwithstanding this as well as the fact that some additions 
have been made to it, it preserves substantially its original appearance, and 
may weU take its place among the great houses which alone keep up the 
memory of their former stateliness by retaining their essential features 
unmutilated. 

Uxbridge House, now used as the Western Branch of the Bank of 
England, which I here indicate, stands on the site of an earlier residence 
known as Queensberry House, which Giacomo Leoni, a Venetian 
architect who settled in England where he died in 1746, designed, in 
1726, for the second Duke of Queensberry. The site occupies a portion 
of that Ten Acres Field, the building development of which was begun 
about 1 7 16, and which was part of the property of the Earl of Burlington, 

' In later days the War Office occupied till quite recently the whole of Schomberg House. 



I20 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

from whose titles Burlington Street and Gardens, and Cork Street are 
named.^ Queensberry House appears to have been one of the earliest 
residences erected on this spot, and its appearance can be still studied 
in Picart's view of it produced at the time of its completion. It was 
in the classic style, the front being decorated by six Ionic columns 
dividing the windows of the first and second floors, while on the top of 
the fa9ade stood six life-size figures. Even Ralph only found fault with 
its situation as being " over against a dead wall (that of Burlington House 
gardens apparently), and in a lane unworthy of so grand a building." 
The critic, remarking that it was in the style of Inigo Jones, takes occasion 
to make the observation that " a beautiful imitation is of abundantly 
more value than a bad original ; and he that could copy excellencies 
so well, could not want a great deal of his own." * 

Here the Duke of Queensberry and his celebrated Duchess,' Prior's 
" Kitty, Beautiful and Young," lived when in town, and here their protegi 
Gay, the poet, passed much of his time, his health and comfort being 
attended to by the Duchess with almost maternal solicitude, and his 
worldly affairs looked after by the Duke. It was in Queensberry House 
that, after an illness of but three days' duration, he died on Decem- 
ber 5, 1734, and from here his body was taken to Exeter Change, where 
it lay in state, until conveyed on December 23rd, to the Abbey where 
it rests beneath the sumptuous monument set up by his patron to his 
honour, and carved by the great Rysbraek. 

The Duchess died in this house, where she had passed half a century 
of her long life. She was as eccentric in old age as she had been beautiful 
in her youth ; and an example of her " manner " is given by Walpole in 
a well-known anecdote. Horace himself. Lord Lome, and George Selwyn 
were at one of her balls here, in 1764, when, finding the dancing-room 
cold, the trio retired to an adjoining apartment where there was a fire. 
The act did not escape her Grace's notice, who, saying nothing, there 
and then sent for a carpenter and had the door taken off its hinges ! 
Indifferent to public opinion, she never followed new fashions, but con- 
tinued to dress in the mode of her early youth ; and when, at St. James's 
under the very nose of the King, she solicited subscriptions for Gay's 
Polly, the sequel to The Beggar'' s Opera which had given such annoyance 

• Burlington Street was called Nowell Street till 1733. 

^ Critical Review of Public Buildings, 17S3, p. 195. In Britton and Pugin's Public Buildings 
of London, is an elevation and plan of Uxbridge House showing the large music-room 
incorporated in the building, which reminds us of the Duke of Queensberry's well-known love 
of that art. 

' Lady Catherine Hyde, daughter of Henry, Earl of Rochester, married the Duke of 
Queensberry in 1720, and died of a surfeit of strawberries, on July 17, 1777. 



UXBRIDGE HOUSE 121 

to royalty, and was in consequence requested to retire from court, she 
wrote George II. probably the most daringly impertinent letter that a 
subject ever addressed to a sovereign ! 

The Duke died a year after his eccentric Duchess, when Queensberry 
House passed into the possession of *' old Q." ; some years later, however, 
it was purchased by Henry (Bayley) Paget, who was created Earl of 
Uxbridge in 1784. For some reason the mansion did not please its new 
owner, who commissioned John Vardy to design a new house, which that 
architect did with the help of Joseph Bonomi so far as the front was con- 
cerned, and the present building was erected during the years 1790-2. 

Lord Uxbridge died in 1 81 2, and was succeeded by his son, the well- 
known soldier, " the first cavalry officer in the world," as he was called, 
who, according to Lord William Pitt Lennox, " in his splendid uniform, 
was the beau ideal of a dashing hussar." Lord Uxbridge, who, as is known, 
lost a leg at Waterloo, was created Marquis of Anglesey a few weeks after 
the battle had been fought, for his services there. He continued to live 
at Uxbridge House till his death here on April 29, 1854, sometime after 
which event the mansion was sold to the Directors of the Bank of 
England, who made some necessary additions to it, but happily pre- 
served in the state rooms on the first floor their principal decorative 
features, including the beautiful carved marble chimney-pieces. 

CAMBRIDGE HOUSE 

Cambridge House, Piccadilly, about which I now want to say some- 
thing, is not the largest of the many great houses in this thoroughfare ; 
it is not so architecturally imposing as No. 105, which Novosielski built 
for the notorious Lord Barrymore ; it probably cost but a tithe of what 
Hope House, at the south-east corner of Dover Street, with its wonderful 
carvings and panellings, must have done ; but it has been the home of a 
number of notable men ; and it has a political significance only less 
marked, because of lesser duration, than that attached to Devonshire 
House or Lansdowne House. Like Barrymore and Hope Houses, it has, 
however, for many years now been converted into a club, and in the Naval 
and Military, or, as it is commonly termed, the " In " and " Out " Club, 
its identity as the famous town residence of Lord Palmerston has been to 
some extent merged. 

It was originally known as Egremont House, having been the re- 
sidence of Charles Wyndham, second Earl Egremont, for whom it was 
probably erected during the latter half of the eighteenth century. 
Dodsley, who published his Environs of London, in 1761, speaks of 



122 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

it as being, at that time, " the last house built in Piccadilly," indicating 
that it was then the most westerly mansion at this point ; Dodsley's 
further remarks are as substantially true of the place to-day as they were 
when he wrote : " It is of stone," he says, " and tho' not much adorned, 
is elegant, and well situated for a town house, having a line view over 
the Green Park, which would be still more extended if the houses on 
each side were set further back." It was erected on the site of one of 
the innumerable inns that at one time congregated together in this 
neighbourhood ; but the architect's name has not come down to us, 
although I have sometimes thought that it might possibly have been 
designed by Sir William Chambers, who, in 1759, had published his treatise 
on " Civil Architecture," and who may have restrained his prentice hand 
to the unpretentious though dignified style that characterises Egremont 
House, before experience and success urged him to the more elaborate 
work he did at Somerset House. 

The political importance of the mansion to some extent commenced 
with its first owner, for Lord Egremont, besides being the first Pleni- 
potentiary nominated to take part in the proposed Congress of Augsburg, 
in 1761, became later in the same year. Secretary of State for the Southern 
department, in George Grenville's administration (in which oflBce he 
succeeded William Pitt), a post he held till his death on August 21, 1763. 
Lord Egremont was a man of great wealth and influence, and the latter 
he exerted on behalf of the King's struggle against the oligarchy of the 
Whigs ; and with the help of his friends of the Cocoa Tree Club, he seems 
to have done yeoman's service to the cause he espoused. On his death, 
his son, who succeeded him in the title, continued to reside at Egremont 
House. He interested himself rather in agricultural and scientific 
matters than politics, and so during the period of thirty years in which 
he made Egremont House his town residence, as Petworth was his country 
abode, it ceased from being a political centre. Mrs. Delany speaks of the 
third Earl as " a pretty man," Horace Walpole termed him a handsome 
one, and even Charles Greville calls him a " fine old fellow." 

Lord Egremont died in 1837, but as Lord Cholmondeley is known 
to have been residing at Egremont House, from 1822 to 1829, it is probable 
that he purchased it in the former year. He is remembered as being 
Chamberlain to the Prince of Wales, in 1795, and Lord Steward of the 
Household from 1812 to 1821. He was created a Marquis in 18 15, and 
received the Garter in 1822, the year in which he is first traced to Egremont 
House, the name of which he changed to that of Cholmondeley House, 
after his own title. He died in 1827, and was succeeded by his son, the 
second Marquis, who, after occupying the place for two years, disposed 



CAMBRIDGE HOUSE 123 

of it to the Duke of Cambridge, who lived here, till his death, which 
took place in this house, on July 8, 1850. During the period of his Royal 
Highness's occupation the mansion was again renamed, and as Cambridge 
House it was henceforth known until it was acquired by the club which 
still occupies it. What might have been a tragic event once nearly 
happened here, while the Royal Duke was in possession, for it was when 
leaving the house, on one occasion, after a visit to the Duke, that Queen 
Victoria was assaulted by a madman, though happily without serious con- 
sequences. 

In the year of the Duke's death, Lord Palmerston took the house, 
and here until his death at Brocket Hall in 1865, it was the headquarters 
of the Whigs. Five years after he had made Cambridge House his London 
residence, he became Prime Minister, which office he held, with one 
break when Lord Derby was Premier from 1858-1859, continuously till 
his death ; so that the political significance of Cambridge House during 
these ten years is particularly marked. 

It is a matter of common knowledge that the frequent and splendid 
entertainments given here, together with the charm and tact of Lady 
Palmerston, did more than can be readily estimated to keep the party 
together, and to extend and strengthen the popularity of its leader, 
" the frolicsome statesman, the man of the day," as Locker-Lampson 
calls him. The memoirs and letters of the period are full of references 
to both these aids to the enhancement of " Pam's " glory and reputation, 
but notice of Cambridge House is here too slight to permit me 
to recapitulate any of them, which, besides, my readers would probably 
find unnecessary, so frequent and well-known are they. 

On Lord Palmerston's death, his body was carried to the Abbey from 
Cambridge House, the procession forming one of the most impressive 
of the many pageants that have passed, at one time or another, through 
Piccadilly. 

After this period of the mansion's prosperity and fame had closed, 
there was a suggestion that it should be demolished and a Roman 
Catholic cathedral built on its site ; but luckily other counsels pre- 
vailed, and although, in its metamorphosis into a club-house, it has lost 
something of its original character, it remains, so far as its exterior is 
concerned, substantially as it has always been ; ^ and if, as I have heard 
it rumoured, the ground landlord at the near expiration of the club's 
lease, comes himself to dwell In it, it may probably have a further long 
life as one of the lesser private palaces of the West End. 

• An addition was made by the club by the formation of a low west wing at right angles to 
the main structure. 



124 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

MELBOURNE HOUSE, NOW THE ALBANY 

Just as Cambridge House has become identified with club life in the 
ordinary acceptation of the term, so the great house now known as the 
' Albany ' has come to be regarded as a sort of Club Lodging House 
for Private Gentlemen of a kind absolutely sui generis. So long, indeed, 
has it flourished under these conditions, that not within the memory of 
any one, has it been anything else, and just before its conversion to these 
uses, it was for a short time the residence of a Royal Duke ; but during 
its earlier days it could be properly considered a private palace, and as 
such must not be omitted from these pages. Like many another great 
mansion it had a precursor in this spot, which in turn was preceded by 
three separate houses ; of these the centre one was occupied at one 
time by Lady Stanhope, and afterwards by the Countess of Denbigh.^ 
The Countess Stanhope, daughter of Thomas Pitt, Esq., was the wife of 
the first Earl, who died in 172 1, and as she outlived him just two years, 
it may probably have been during this period of her widowhood that she 
resided here. The Countess of Denbigh was presumably the wife of the 
fifth Earl ; she was Dutch by birth, being the daughter of Peter de 
Jonge, of Utrecht. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu refers to her some- 
what disparagingly in a letter to Lady Mar, and from what she says, 
it is not improbable that Lady Denbigh lived separately from her lord ; 
in a subsequent letter Lady Mary again mentions her and her doings 
thus : " I had almost forgot our dear and amiable cousin Lady Denbigh, 
who has blazed out all the winter ; she has brought with her from Paris 
cart-loads of riband, surprising fashions, and complexion of the last 
edition, which naturally attracts all the she and he fools in London, and 
accordingly she is surrounded by a little court of both, and keeps a 
Sunday assembly to show she has learned to play at cards on that day." 

If I am right in identifying the occupier of the centre house with 
this Lady Denbigh, it was in all probability here that she in turn amused 
and shocked London.* 

The house on the west side was, so early as 1675, the residence of 
Sir Thomas Clarges, and was then described as being " near Burlington 
House above Piccadilly." This Sir Thomas, who died in 1695 and left 
^5000 a year to his son Sir Walter, was the brother-in-law of the Duke 

' Wheatley's Round About Piccadilly, to which I am indebted for much of the information 
regarding " Albany." 

* Without any actual data, I may be wrong ; and the Lady Denbigh who resided here 
may have been the widow of the fourth Earl who died in 1717. She was Hester, daughter of 
Sir Basil Firebrass, Bt. 



MELBOURNE HOUSE 125 

of Albemarle, who had in this very year purchased Clarendon House 
close by. The Clarges family owned property on the north of Piccadilly, 
and Clarges Street perpetuates its name. At one time a lease of it had 
been granted to Mr. Neale, who built the Seven Dials and introduced 
lotteries into this country ; ^ but he not fulfilling certain stipulations, 
Sir Walter Clarges recovered the lease and developed the property him- 
self. A later Sir Thomas Clarges, who died in 1759, was the friend of 
Swift, and married Barbara, the youngest daughter of John Berkeley, 
fourth Lord Fitzhardinge. 

In 1 71 5 the house I am speaking of was in the occupation of Sir John 
Clarges ; but seven years earlier it had been let for a term to the Venetian 
Ambassador, probably Signer Bianchi, who filled that post in 17 10, and 
whose coach, " the most monstrous, huge, fine, rich gilt thing," Swift 
mentions in one of his letters to Stella. About this time Hatton * calls 
the place " a stately new building." 

The house next to this on the east side was the residence of the third 
Earl of Sunderland. It does not appear when he first came to reside 
here, but an advertisement in the Taller confirms his residence here as 
early as January 1710. In course of time Lord Sunderland purchased 
the other two houses, and joined them to his own, making a splendid, 
if not uniformly architectural, mansion for himself. He was the great 
bibliophile who collected the famous Sunderland Library, which having 
passed to the Marlborough family, was dispersed about a quarter of a 
century ago, and in addition to the transformation of three residences into 
one, he built a fine room here for the reception of his treasures. Macky, 
in 1 7 14, speaks of the " Palace of the Earl of Sunderland where," he says, 
"you will see the finest private library in Europe, and which surpasses 
many of the public ones " ; while in a book entitled The History of the 
Present State of the British Islands, published in 1743,^ is the following 
account of Lord Sunderland's House as thus altered and enlarged : " Next 
to Burlington House is the Earl of Sunderland's * with a high wall like- 
wise before it, which hides it from the street, and tho' it be inferior to 
the former in many other respects, yet the library is look'd upon as one 
of the completest in England, whether we regard the beauty of the 
building, or the books that fill it. This edifice is an hundred and fifty 
foot in length, divided into five apartments, having an upper and a 
lower range of windows and galleries that go round the whole for the 
conveniency of taking down the books. It was collected chiefly by the 

' See Evelyn's Diary, October 5, 1694. -' .Wrc View 0/ London. 

^ Quoted in Round About Piccadilly. 

* He died in 1722, and his son, the fourth Earl, in 1729. 



126 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

late Lord Sunderland, who left no place unsearched to replenish it with 
the most valuable books, and among the rest here is a greater variety 
of editions of the classicks than is to be met with in any other library." 

The fifth Earl of Sunderland, brother of the fourth Earl, succeeded 
to the Dukedom of Marlborough in 1733, when certain country estates 
together with Sunderland House passed to the Hon. James Spencer, a 
brother of the new Duke, and the father of the John Spencer who became 
first Earl Spencer in 1765.^ 

Many years later we find the house in the possession of Henry, first 
Lord Holland, who, however, sold it, in 1770, to the first Lord Melbourne, 
who had been elevated to that title the same year, and was probably 
anxious to have a town house suitable to his newly acquired dignity, and a 
fitting home for his beautiful wife whom he had married in the previous 
year, and of whom. Lady Sarah Lennox, in a letter to Lady Susan 
O'Brien, says : " She is liked by everybody high and low and of all denomi- 
nations, which I don't wonder at, for she is pleasing, sensible, and 
desirous of pleasing, I hear, which must receive admiration." 

In order to make the place still more imposing. Lord Melbourne 
pulled down the old mansion, and erected the present house from 
designs by Sir William Chambers. He seems, however, to have pre- 
served the wall facing Piccadilly, for Ralph mentions it as being only 
less objectionable than that in front of Burlington House, because it 
happened to be smaller ; he also criticises the pediment surmounting the 
gateway as " heavy," and the mansion itself he dismisses as deserving 
" neither censure nor praise " ; which negative criticism may perhaps, 
from such a writer as Ralph, be considered as fairly favourable. 

The interior of the new house was elaborately decorated, and we hear 
of the ball-room being painted by Cipriani ; while Wheatley and Rebecca 
were employed to embellish other apartments. 

Wheatley was a young man of about twenty-five when he was 
employed on this work, and a little later he is known to have assisted 
in painting the ceiling at Lord Melbourne's country seat. Brocket Hall ; 
but in later life he confined himself to those delightful genre scenes and 
portraits for which he is celebrated. 

Rebecca is little known, although Mrs. Papendiek calls him " cele- 
brated" in 1790, when he was employed in decorating the border of the 
canopy in the throne-room at Windsor, a work which George HL was 
constantly watching, we are told. Rebecca seems to have had an extra- 
ordinary facility for imitating inanimate objects ; thus he once drew a 
full-length portrait of Horn the musician standing in the music -room at 

' See Mrs. Dclan^s Autobiography. 



MELBOURNE HOUSE 127 

Windsor. The King entering, and thinking it was the actual man, bade 
him sit down ; another time Horn appeared to be standing in every one's 
way, and an equerry asked him to move, when Rebecca darted forward 
and removed the iigure he had made ; and still more extraordinary, on 
one occasion the King entered a room and saw, as he thought, a live coal 
burning on the hearthrug, on which he called for Harris, the major-domo 
of Windsor, and exclaimed, " I have so often told you to be more careful 
of the fires," whereupon Harris ran forward and picked up the object 
and threw it into the fire ; when it was discovered to be another 
of Rebecca's wonderful tricks. 

But this has carried us far from Melbourne House, which in 1791, 
Lord Melbourne exchanged with the Duke of York for York, formerly 
Dover House, afterwards known as Melbourne House, in Whitehall. In 
the Office of Woods, under date of November 1792, is the following 
entry, which refers to the transaction : — 

" By an assignment of this date, after mentioning that Lord Mel- 
bourne was possessed of a freehold mansion in Piccadilly, lately called 
Melbourne, but then called York House, of which possession was given 
H.R.H. in December 1791, in pursuance of an agreement for an exchange 
of the leasehold house, lately called York House, but then called Mel- 
bourne House, and the building lately used as the Lottery House for 
the said freehold house, and that a money payment to equalise the ex- 
change had been made by H.R.H. , the premises comprised in the leases 
above were assigned to Peniston, Viscount Melbourne, for the remainder 
of the term for which they were held." ^ 

The Duke of York, who thus became possessed of the mansion, and 
after whom it was called York House, was the second son of George HL 
He apparently resided here, until he took a small house in Audley Square, 
South Audley Street, during the progress of the building of Stafford 
House, which he was renting at the time of his death, in 1827. It 
was on the advice, it is said, of his friend the Duchess of Rutland, in 
whose house in Arlington Street, by-the-bye, he actually died, that he 
determined to erect the immense pile now known as Stafford House, 
which he never lived to inhabit. When he vacated what was then York 
House, Piccadilly, the mansion was converted into sets of chambers," and 
the name " Albany " given it from the Duke's second title. The gardens 
were built over to afford further accommodation, and that curious 
covered way, giving access to them from Vigo Street, formed. 

• Quoted in The Old Palace of Whitehall, by the Rev. Canon Sheppard. 

- In the Grace collection is a plan for dividing "Albany," and building additional blocks 
at the back. On this plan the house is stated to have been "lately occupied by H.R.H. the 
Duke of York." 



128 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

In Horwood's Plan, dated 1809, the house is called York House, and 
the buildings behind, " The Albany " ; by which it would seem that the 
name was not at once applied to the whole place ; in which case the 
Duke must have given it up long before he commenced Stafford House. 

I need not enter particularly into the history of the house since it 
thus passed from its career as a private palace ; but I may remind the 
reader that among the notable men who have resided in these chambers 
were Byron and Macaulay ; George Canning and Lord Glenelg ; Sir 
Robert Smirke and Sir William Cell ; " Monk Lewis " and the much- 
travelled Lord Valentia ; Lord Lytton and Henry Luttrell. 

The place is to-day as monastic as it was when Lord Macaulay wrote 
here his great history, or when Lord Lytton wooed a very substantial 
" solitude " in one of its chambers. 

HERTFORD HOUSE 

Hertford, or as it was originally called, Manchester House, is to-day 
known of all London ; it has become almost as much as the National 
Gallery, the Mecca of art-lovers. When we think of it, we conjure up 
in our minds a fairy palace filled not only with the wonders of French 
decorative work, but with a collection of armour, unrivalled in this 
country, and an assemblage of pictures to equal which we must go to 
Stafford House or Bridgewater House, and which in importance sur- 
passes that in the royal palace itself. By a splendid benefaction, that 
marvellous aggregation of beautiful objects is now the property of the 
country, and may be seen by all and sundry ; but it is probable that 
those who gaze and wonder at the masterpieces in a dozen arts assembled 
within these walls, give little thought to the history of the great mansion 
in which they find such a fitting home. I want here to say a few words 
about the house itself and its past owners ; but it is, here, outside my 
province to deal with it as the superb museum it has become. 

The site of Hertford House and Manchester Square was in the days 
of Charles H. known as " Maribone Gardens " ; in the reign of Queen 
Anne, however, a project was mooted for forming a " quadrate " on this 
spot; but nothing was done till the year 1770, when the subject was 
reopened and plans passed in pursuance of such a scheme. One of the 
first to obtain a ground lease,^ was George Montagu, fourth Duke of 
Manchester, who took practically the whole of the ground on the north 
side of what is now Manchester Square, while certain builders, such as 
the Adam brothers, Dalrymple, and others took leases of various portions. 

' The property is on the Portman estate. 



HERTFORD HOUSE 129 

In 1776 the Duke commenced the erection of his fine mansion ; and 
when the Square was sufficiently advanced to receive a name, that name 
was taken from the title of the nobleman whose residence was such a 
dominating note in its development. 

The death of the Duke synchronised with the completion of the 
Square, in 1788, and Manchester House was thereupon purchased by the 
Spanish Government for the purpose of an Embassy in London, and in 
the Court Guide for 1795, the name of the Marquis del Campo is given 
as the then resident Ambassador. In order that there should be a 
Roman Catholic place of worship conveniently situated for the use of 
the Ambassador and his entourage, a piece of ground was acquired in 
what is now Spanish Place, at the north-east corner of the Square, and 
Bonomi was employed to design the chapel which was erected there. 

In what year the Spanish Government vacated the house is not quite 
clear, but as Lord Palmerston, then looking out for a residence in London, 
speaks of it in a letter of 1808, as then being available, it was obviously 
before that date that the Embassy was removed. Lord Palmerston did 
not take the place, for, although he considered it " a nice house," he 
also thought it " sadly out of the way." 

But it did not remain long untenanted, for soon after, the second 
Marquis of Hertford purchased it. He, as every one knows, was a close 
friend of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV., and here the First 
Gentleman of Europe, as he has been facetiously termed, was a constant 
visitor ; but these calls were not always paid to the master of the house ; 
it was the Marchioness who so constantly caused " the old yellow 
chariot," in which the Prince paid his incognito visits, to rumble over 
the stones between Carlton House and Manchester Square. " The 
Prince," says Romilly, " does not pass a day without visiting Lady Hert- 
ford " ; indeed so notorious did these calls on " the lovely Marchesa," 
as Moore terms her, become, that a scurrilous print once inserted in 
its columns the following advertisement : " Lost, between Pall Mall 
and Manchester Square, his Royal Highness the Prince Regent." Some- 
times these visits were not of quite so intime a nature, and congenial 
spirits were invited to meet and amuse the Prince ; never, perhaps, was 
one of these occasions so successful as that at which Theodore Hook was 
present, when he so delighted the Heir-apparent with his wit and 
remarkable feats of improvisation, that at the end of the evening, the 
Prince put his hand famiharly on his shoulder and exclaimed, " Mr. 
Hook, I must see and hear you again." 

On the death of the second Marquis, in 1822, Hertford House, as it 
was now called, passed to his successor, the third Marquis, whose wife 



I30 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

was that Maria Fagniani, about whose paternity George Selwyn and 
" Old Q." were always disagreeing. 

This was the peer who has become immortal as the " Lord Steyne " 
of Vanity Fair ; but although in his vices he may have to some extent 
resembled that redoubtable old rake, he had a saving grace, in his love 
and knowledge of art. As we know, he lived much abroad, and in his 
wanderings he made magnificent additions to the nucleus of a collection 
already gathered together in Hertford House. The moment for the 
acquisition of such treasures, especially in Paris, where relics of a departed 
regime were often to be picked up for a mere song, was most propitious, 
and Hertford House gradually became crowded with rare and beautiful 
objects of all sorts. In 1842, the third Marquis died, not here but at 
old Dorchester House in Park Lane, and his son the fourth Marquis 
threw himself with still greater ardour into the work of collecting pictures 
and furniture and bric-d-brac. His agents scoured Europe ; no amount 
of trouble was spared, no sum of money was regarded, if some fine canvas, 
or rare piece of porcelain or furniture, was to be had. Opposition seemed 
hopeless against a man whose determination to secure a treasure was 
only equalled by the wealth that enabled him to do it. For nearly 
thirty years he dominated the sale-rooms of every capital of Europe, and 
in these his reputation was so firmly established that adversaries ceased 
to contend in hopeless struggles, and in consequence there is no doubt 
that he secured bargains which he might never otherwise have done. 
He was the Napoleon of collectors, but unlike Napoleon, directly the 
victory was won, he apparently ceased to care for the spoils, and his 
houses in London — Hertford House, Manchester Square ; Hertford 
House (now the Isthmian Club), Piccadilly; and St. Dunstan's Lodge, 
Regent's Park, where he hung that wonderful clock from St. Dunstan's 
Church which he had cried for as a child and secured as a man — were 
crowded with his innumerable purchases ; while he in his beloved retire- 
ment in Paris at his apartments near the Rue Lafitte, or in his splendid 
toy-house. Bagatelle, in the Bois de Boulogne, issued his mandates to 
breathless agents, or received the innumerable dealers who brought him 
only of their best. His life was like a realisation of one of Balzac's 
extravagant dreams ; had the great writer possessed the means he might 
have been just such a collector ; as it was, the author of Le Cousin Pons, 
scribbled on his bare walls the names of the masterpieces he never 
obtained, while Lord Hertford at Bagatelle hung up Reynolds's " Mrs. 
Robinson " by his bedstead, and dressed by the light of Greuze's " Sophie 
Arnould." 

Lord Hertford died unmarried, in 1870, and left all his personal 



HERTFORD HOUSE 131 

wealth and unentailed property to his devoted friend and lieutenant, 
Mr. (afterwards Sir Richard) Wallace. One of the first things the legatee 
did was to save that portion of the marvellous collection which was 
stored in Paris, from the hands of the vandals of the Commune, by sending 
it off to England, although he himself, with a splendid heroism, remained 
in Paris and there earned by self-sacrifice and generosity, that name for 
philanthropy by which, as " Monsieur Richard," he was affectionately 
known. 

For a time the Wallace Collection, as the accumulations of the two 
Marquises and Sir Richard himself, who was chiefly responsible for the 
armour, were now called, was exhibited in the Bethnal Green Museum, 
but by 1875, vast alterations and additions had been made to Hertford 
House with a view to accommodating the whole en masse. 

Some years before his death, Sir Richard had made overtures to the 
Government with a view to leaving the whole of his artistic possessions 
to the country ; the offer was met in the characteristic fashion of English 
Governments (Mr. Standish and Sir Henry Tate were treated in a very 
similar manner), when such magnificent offers have been made to them, 
and trivial and vexatious conditions were attached to acceptance, as if it 
was an act of condescension and kindness to accept what no Government 
could have procured for itself. A less public-spirited man than Sir Richard 
would have left the collection to a nation which could better have 
appreciated such a gift, as Mr. Standish did, and as it is a wonder Sir 
Henry Tate did not ; but in spite of all the haggling of Treasury 
officials, better counsels prevailed, and on Lady Wallace's death it was 
found that Sir Richard had empowered her to bequeath the Wallace 
Collection to the country. 

I need not insist on its value ; none could probably say what that 
is ; we talk of millions, but no number of millions could buy the con- 
tents of Hertford House ; it cannot be compared, because certainly in 
this country there is nothing comparable to it. But its importance can 
be guessed at, for it exactly fills that lacuna in our national possessions 
which was always hitherto a matter of regret. The examples of French 
art in the National Gallery are insignificant in number, and often poor 
in quality ; our public collection of French furniture and bric-a-brac was 
practically confined to the splendid but, in comparison with that at 
Hertford House, small, Jones collection ; we had no representative assem- 
blage of armour except that in the Tower ; and the finest Sevres china 
is in royal palaces or private houses ; in Hertford House, we have all 
these gaps not only filled, but filled in such a way as to be the envy and 
despair of other countries. 



132 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 



NEWCASTLE HOUSE 

Before Henry Jermyn commenced the development of his property 
between Piccadilly and Pall Mall of which St. James's Square formed 
the key-stone, and thus inaugurated the establishment of the West End as 
a fashionable dwelling-place, Lincoln's Inn Fields was one of the favourite 
residential spots in London ; and even for many years after much of 
the fashion of the day had emigrated towards the west, there were many 
noble families to be found within it ; while it is not improbable that had 
Inigo Jones's great plan of rebuilding the whole square been carried into 
effect, the exodus from this quarter might have been still longer retarded. 
As it is, such important people as the Earls of Bristol, Sandwich, and 
Lindsay ; the Dowager-Countess of Middlesex, and the " proud " Duke 
of Somerset, and Sir Richard and Lady Fanshawe, are numbered among 
its past inhabitants ; and for a time it was the recognised home of 
many of the Lord Chancellors, among whom Lord Cowper, and Simon, 
Lord Harcourt, Lords Northington and Macclesfield, may be named ; 
while such men as Lords Ashburton, Grantley, and Kenyon, and Sir 
William Blackstone, anticipated by their residence here the legal aspect 
which has since almost entirely overtaken " the Fields." Many of the 
fine old houses that were once the private residences of noble owners 
still survive, in some cases mutilated as to their exteriors, and in practi- 
cally all, divided and subdivided within beyond all knowledge. 

Of these the largest and, in many respects the most important, is the 
great house at the north-west corner, now numbered 66, Lincoln's Inn 
Fields, but in the days of its earlier prosperity known first as Powis, 
and afterwards as Newcastle house. 

It was erected in 1686, by William Herbert, created Earl of Powis 
in 1674, who was raised to the marquisite the year after the house was 
built. The architect employed was that Captain William Winde, a pupil 
of Balthazar Gerbier, who addressed one of the numerous dedications of 
his Counsel and Advice to all Builders,^ to his scholar. The Herbert 
family possessed an earlier house on the same site, which was burnt to 
the ground in 1684, the inmates barely escaping with their lives ; and the 
private Act of Parliament for the erection of the new house is entitled 
" An Act for rebuilding the Earl of Powis's House in Lincoln's Inn 
Fields, lately demolished by fire." Luttrell thus refers to the destruction 
of the mansion, on November 26th : " About five in the morning broke 
out a fire in the house of the Earl of Powis in Great Lincoln's Inn Fields, 

' Published in London in 1663. 



NEWCASTLE HOUSE 133 

which in a very Uttle time consumed that house, the family hardly saving 
themselves from being burnt, but lost all their things." 

Lord Powis enjoyed his new possession but a short time, for on the 
accession of William III. it was forfeited to the Crown, its master having 
been one of the few faithful adherents of James II., and one of those 
who followed him into exile.' 

On his departure from England, Lord Powis left his mansion exposed 
to the attacks of the anti-popery mobs which scoured the streets 
seeking what Roman Catholic property they might destroy. On the 
llth December 1688, they gutted the popish chapel in Lincoln's Inn 
Fields, " pulling down all the wainscot, pictures, books, &c.," says 
Luttrell ; and on the following night, the same authority tells us, " they 
would have plundered and demolished the houses of several papists, as 
Lord Powys, &c., if they had not been prevented by the train'd bands 
which were out," although in the English Courant for the same month, a 
somewhat different reason is given to account for the preservation of 
the mansion, thus : " Then they (the mob) went to the Lord Powis' 
great house in Lincoln's Inn Fields, wherein was a guard, and a bill upon 
the door — ' This house is appointed for the Lord Delamere's quarters,' and 
some of the company crying, ' Let it alone, the Lord Powis was against 
the Bishops going to the Tower,' they offered no violence to it." ^ 

Having passed by forfeiture to the Crown, Powis House was appointed 
as a residence for the Lord Chancellor during his term of office, and in 
this capacity. Lord Somers occupied it in February 1697, and remained 
here tiH September 1700. In the previous May he " offered Powis House 
to the Lord Keeper, who accepted thereof, and designs to live there and 
hear cases," ^ and on September 30th he sent the key of the mansion to 
the Lord Keeper, who moved into it on the following 3rd of October. 

The Lord Keeper here mentioned was Sir Nathan Wright, and 
Pennant states that there was a report that the Government contem- 
plated purchasing Powis House and settling it as an official residence on 
the Keeper of the Great Seal for the time being ; this scheme was not, 
however, carried out, and John Holies, first Duke of Newcastle of the 
Holies branch, became its owner in May 1705, giving to the second 
Lord Powis, who had succeeded his father, ;£7000 for the place. At 
this time Sir Nathan Wright was still in possession, but arrangements 
had evidently been made for his giving it up, as we know that the Duke 
bought it for his own use, and Luttrell further informs us that he 
" designs to keep the office of the privy seal," ^ here as well. 

' He died at St. Gennains, in 1696. ^ Quoted in London Past and Present. 

' Narcissus Luttrell's Diary. ' Diary., May 8, 1705. 



134 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

The Duke's possession of the house, which was now known as New- 
castle House, was a comparatively short one, for he died in 171 1, and as 
he left no direct heir, the title, and estates including Newcastle House, 
passed to his nephew, Thomas Pelham-HoUes, son of Thomas, first Lord 
Pelham, who married six years after his accession to the title, Lady 
Henrietta, daughter of Francis, second Earl of Godolphin. 

This Duke, besides holding a number of important offices under 
George I., was First Lord of the Treasury as well as Lord Privy Seal, 
under his successor, and is a well-known figure in the political annals of 
these two reigns, and at Newcastle House, which about this time De 
Saussure speaks of as particularly magnificent, he was wont to receive the 
crowds of friends and dependants who paid their court to him. " His 
levees were his pleasure and his triumph," writes an authority, " he loved 
to have them crowded, and consequently they were so. There he gener- 
ally made people of business wait two or three hours in the ante-chamber, 
while he trifled away that time with some insignificant favourite in his 
closet. When at last he came into his levee-room, he accosted, hugged, 
embraced, and promised everybody, with a seeming cordiality, but at the 
same time with an illiberal and degrading familiarity." 

The character of this extraordinary man has been often drawn. 
Walpole and Smollett and Macaulay have all handed down portraits 
which essentially resemble one another, of this eccentric, exceedingly 
ignorant, but at the same time, in some things, curiously astute and 
successful nobleman. " All that the art of the satirist does for other 
men, nature had done for him. . . . He was a living, moving, talking 
caricature. His gait was a shuffling trot ; his utterance a rapid stutter ; 
he was always in a hurry ; he was never in time ; he abounded in fulsome 
caresses and in hysterical tears. . . . He was eaten up by ambition. . . . 
He was greedy after power with a greediness all his own. . . . All the able 
men of his time ridiculed him as a dunce, a driveller, a child who never 
knew his own mind for an hour together ; and he overreached them all 
round." This is a sort of patchwork of Macaulay's estimate, and if we 
distrust Macaulay's partiality on occasion, we must remember that in this 
instance his verdict is confirmed by the judgments of contemporaries. 

In 1 71 8, the year in which the Duke was made a Knight of the 
Garter, a large crowd made a bonfire before Newcastle House, and flung 
burning faggots at the windows, " whereupon," we are told, " several 
gentlemen and the Duke's servants came out with drawn swords, and 
wounded several of the mob." 

Another nuisance to his Grace and his household were the perpetual 
visits of the " long Sir Thomas Robinson," on whom Lord Chester- 



NEWCASTLE HOUSE 135 

field made a well-known epigram, and who was continually calling at 
Newcastle House, with the hope of seeing its master. When this was 
denied him, he always desired to be allowed to go into the Hall and look 
at the clock, or play with the pet monkey that was kept there ; hoping 
by such methods to intercept the Duke. At length the servants, grown 
tired of his importunities, resolved to put an end to his visits, so when 
next time Sir Thomas appeared and asked for the Duke, he received the 
following pregnant reply : " Sir, his Grace has gone out, the clock has 
stopped, and the monkey is dead." 

This story is to be found in that storehouse of amusing tales, 
The Century of Anecdote, by Timbs, who took it from Hawkins's Life of 
Johnson ; in the same book Timbs tells how it was at Newcastle House 
that the old custom of giving vails (we now call them tips) to servants 
received its death-blow. It was then customary for the servants to wait 
in the Hall and to receive gratuities from departing guests. On one 
such occasion. Sir Timothy Waldo, on his way from the ducal table, 
gave the cook five shillings, who immediately returned it, saying, " Sir, 
I do not take silver." " Don't you, indeed ? " replied Sir Timothy, 
pocketing the crown ; " and I don't give gold." 

The Duke of Newcastle died in 1768, when the title passed to Henry 
Pelham-Clinton, who succeeded as second Duke, but there is no evidence 
that he occupied Newcastle House, which by this time had become some- 
what demode. During the early years of the nineteenth century it was 
certainly unoccupied ; and its career as a private palace was for ever over. 

In 1827, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge bought the 
freehold, and was established here for just fifty years, when it removed 
to its new premises in Northumberland Avenue. About 1879, Newcastle 
House was divided, one half being occupied by Messrs. Farrer, and the 
other by Messrs. Ingram, Harrison & Co. ; more recently, on the 
lamentable failure of the latter firm, the north portion of the house was 
left unoccupied ; but a year or so ago, Messrs. Farrer acquired it, and 
once again, under their cegis., the old house, although necessarily much 
divided inside, has regained its former outward appearance of a single 
mansion. 

As may be seen in old prints of the residence, the covered archway 
in Great Queen Street, was formerly within the courtyard of the house, 
which enabled the latter to be reached from the offices at the back of 
the building, without the necessity of passing through the Hall. The 
stables belonging to Newcastle House were on the opposite side of Great 
Queen Street ; and there was once a gateway into that thoroughfare 
from the mansion itself. 



CHAPTER V 

WHITEHALL HOUSES 

CONSIDERING its extent, Whitehall is to-day not very 
largely associated with private residences ; true, Montagu 
House stands there, but it is the last of the great palaces 
of London to do so, and now that Northumberland House 
is no more, is the most easterly of any of them, although, curiously 
enough, in date of building it is one of the most modern ; the fine 
houses in Richmond Terrace still remain, but their number may be 
counted on one hand, while those comprising Whitehall Gardens are 
nearly all occupied by Government offices, and those in Whitehall Place 
are consecrated to professional uses. Indeed the dominant note in this 
famous thoroughfare is that of officialdom ; stately buildings are to be 
seen on all sides ; the Admiralty and the Home Office ; the immense 
War Office and the hardly less extensive Local Government Board 
buildings ; but of the private palaces that once congregated together 
at this spot, only one, Gwydyr House, remains, and that has been 
converted to alien uses. 

This exodus of private owners seems at first rather curious, but the 
reason for it is easily explained. Nearly all the great houses that formerly 
stood here had their origin in the Palace which extended from the 
present Horse Guards Avenue on the north to Richmond Terrace on the 
south, and embraced the area from the river bank to where the Treasury 
Buildings now stand on the west.^ All this ground was, of course. Crown 
property, and after the great fire at the Palace and the subsequent deser- 
tion of it for St. James's and Buckingham House, leases were granted 
to several people who erected fine houses on the various sites allotted 
them ; in the course of time these leases fell in, and the tendency to 
reside in other quarters such as Mayfair particularly, coupled perhaps 
with the heavy terms required for the renewal of leases, where any dis- 

' A comparison of the plan of Whitehall, dated 1680, with a modern ordnance survey map, 
will show the extent of the old palace buildings, and the relative position of some of the 
houses referred to in this chapter; while a later coloured drawing, dated 1816, in the Grace 
collection, shows the position of those that survived at that time. I have endeavoured to 
indicate in the text these various positions, as lucidly as I could. 

136 




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RICHMOND HOUSE 137 

position was shown to renew at all, caused many tenants to give up their 
residences here ; some of which houses were eventually demolished to 
make way for the great ofhcial buildings since erected, while others 
were converted into Government offices and gradually came, by altera- 
tion and rebuilding, to lose all semblance of the private character which 
once was theirs. 

As I deal with these fine houses in turn we shall see how in each 
individual instance this was the case, and when we note how splendid 
some of them were, we shall have much food for reflection as to the 
future of spme equally fine houses in our own day, which seem built on 
the rocks of substantiality, but may have no more lasting career than 
the great mansions of Whitehall which have for ever passed away. 



RICHMOND HOUSE 

The first of these private houses which it will be convenient to 
mention was Richmond House, which occupied a position at the river 
end of what is now Richmond Terrace, thus named in consequence. In 
the 1680 plan it is styled " the Duke of Richmond's," it having been at 
one time in the possession of the Duchess of Portsmouth, whose son by 
Charles II. was created Duke of Richmond in 1675. When the great 
fire at the Palace occurred in 1 691, it is said by Evelyn to have begun 
"at the apartments of the late Duchess of Portsmouth, which had been 
pulled down and rebuilt no less than three times to please her," while 
Bramston notes that these " lodgings " were " at the end of the Long 
Gallery " ; from this it is difficult to say whether Richmond House is 
indicated or whether the " lodgings " refer to other apartments in the 
Palace belonging to the Duchess. I think it is probable that the house 
itself is not meant, because, in 1709, we find the first Duke petitioning 
for a grant to be allowed to " repair and build a house," but that if this 
could not be granted, he states his willingness to be content " with that 
house that was the Duchess of Richmond's." By this last expression is 
proved that Richmond House must have at one time been occupied by 
the widow of the third Duke of Richmond (of the Stuart line), who 
died in 1702, as in 1709, there was no other Duchess of Richmond 
recently dead. 

Two years later, the lease having been granted, the Duke erected 
the new mansion, probably more or less on the site of the old house. 
Some twenty years later, we find the second Duke of Richmond applying 
for a renewal of the lease together with a grant of a new one of some 



138 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

vacant ground which lay between his house and the river, and is now, 
of course, covered by the Embankment, with the result that he obtained 
a further term of thirty years expiring in 1763. Not content with this, 
however, six years later he applied for a lease of houses then occupied 
by Lord Middleton and Sir PhiUp Meadows, which were reported to 
be " old and ruinous," whereupon a fresh lease was granted of these 
premises, apparently cancelling the former ones of 1709 and 1732, of the 
whole property for fifty years. 

It would appear that the second Duke rebuilt the house from the 
designs of Lord Burlington. Walpole in recording this fact states that 
the mansion was ill contrived and inconvenient ; it not improbably 
partook of the same qualities as the noble architect's erection for Marshal 
Wade in Burlington Gardens, in sacrificing internal comfort to an effec- 
tive exterior. 

It was under the second Duke that those entertainments so long 
associated with Richmond House, were first inaugurated. Walpole, 
writing to Mann on May 17, 1749, thus describes one of them : "We 
have not yet done diverting ourselves : the night before last the Duke 
of Richmond gave a firework ; a codical to the peace. He bought the 
rockets and wheels that remained in the Pavilion which miscarried, and 
took the pretence of the Duke of Modena being here to give a charming 
entertainment. The garden lies with a slope down to the Thames, on 
which were lighters, from whence were thrown up, after a concert of 
water-music, a great number of rockets. Then from boats on every side 
were discharged water-rockets and fires of that kind ; and then the wheels 
which were ranged along the rails of the terrace were played off ; and 
the whole concluded with the illumination of a pavilion on the top of 
the slope of two pyramids on each side, and of the whole length of the 
balustrade to the water. You can't conceive a prettier sight ; the gardens 
filled with everybody of fashion, the Duke, the Duke of Modena, and 
the two black Princes. The King and Princess Emily were in their 
barge under the terrace, the river was covered with boats, and the 
shores and adjacent houses with crowds. The Duke of Modena played 
afterwards at brag, and there was a fine supper for him and the foreigners, 
of whom there are numbers here." ^ 

The second Duke of Richmond died in 1750, whereupon his widow, 
daughter and heiress of William, Earl Cadogan, applied for a fresh lease 

' Walpole's Letters to Mann, vol. ii. pp. 381-3S2. There is extant a curious engraving 
entitled "View of the Fireworkes and Illuminations of the Duke of Richmond's, at Whitehall, 
and on the Thames, of May 15, 1 749," published in the following year. Madame de Bocage, in 
her Letters on England, &^c., speaks of entertainments at Richmond House, and of the card 
parties which used to be held in the gallery of the mansion. 



RICHMOND HOUSE 139 

of the mansion and grounds, which being obtained two years afterwards, 
became, in consequence of the death of the Duchess in 1751, vested 
in the third Duke, the well-known opponent of Chatham, and to whom 
the great Pitt was replying in the House of Lords when he fell senseless 
to the ground. In 1 781, as if there were to be no end to these applica- 
tions, the Duke petitioned for yet another lease, and having obtained it, set 
about largely altering and improving the mansion, and reclaiming much 
of the then muddy foreshore of the river ; while at the same time the 
area of the property was increased by a grant of leases of two adjoining 
houses with the ground attached to them which had once formed part 
of the Privy garden. 

It would appear that his Grace allowed these houses to stand, and 
only probably wanted a lease of them to prevent inconvenient neighbours, 
for eight years later one of them was occupied by Lord George Lennox, 
and the other by Colonel Lennox, who in this very year fought the 
famous duel with the Duke of York, about which the diarists of the day 
have so much to say.^ 

The last of the many applications for fresh leases was made by the 
Duke in 1791, when he obtained a renewal for fifty years. 

The festivities which had characterised the second Duke's tenure of 
Richmond House were kept up during his successor's long life Seven 
years after his accession to the title the latter married Lady Mary Bruce, 
an alliance that gave Walpole much satisfaction. " The Duke of Rich- 
mond," he writes, to Mann on March 17, 1757, "has made two Balls 
on his approaching wedding," these entertainments taking place at Rich- 
mond House. Later, the Duke having purchased the adjacent house, 
fitted up a small theatre in it, " where," says Walpole, " two winter's, 
plays were performed by people of quality." Peter Pindar refers to these 
theatrical doings, in the following quatrain addressed to the King : 

" So much with saving wisdom are you taken, 
Drury and Covent Garden seem forsaken. 
Since cost attendeth those theatric borders, 
Content you go to Richmond House with orders," 

and in a note to this passage he says, " Here is a pretty little nut-shell of 
a Theatre fitted up for the convenience of ladies and gentlemen of quality 
who wish to expose themselves." 

This was the period in which private theatricals seem to have first 
sprung into favour among people of fashion ; Lady Ossory had a theatre 
fitted up at Ampthill ; the Duchess of Marlborough followed with a 

' See, too, Timbs's Romance of London, vol. i. p. 231, for an account of this incident. 



I40 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

more splendid one at Blenheim ; while Lord Barrymore's excursions into 
the Thespian realms, and the playhouse he erected at Wargrave, are 
matters of notoriety ; but of all these, the Duke of Richmond's company 
seems to have been the best, as his theatre in Whitehall was the most 
lavishly appointed. The amateur " season " began in April and May, 
and after people had left town was discontinued, to be resumed in the 
winter. The first play produced here was " The Way to Keep Him," 
and at first the number of the audience was limited to eighty,' although 
on one occasion there were no fewer than one hundred and twenty-six. 
On April i6, 1787, the first performance took place, and among the 
brilliant audience might have been seen Sir Joshua Reynolds. The 
dramatis fersonce included Lord Derby, Sir Harry Englefield, Major 
Arabin, and Mr. Edgecumbe ; while Mrs. Damer, Mrs. Bruce, Mrs. Hobart, 
and Miss Campbell sustained the female parts. The King and Queen 
were present at the last representation, and Walpole tells us that the 
Duke of Richmond officiated as Master of the Ceremonies, and " on 
the conclusion of the play conducted his guests to a most elegant 
supper and dessert, where the glass and song went round till past four 
in the morning " ; no wonder the gossiping letter-writer supposes that 
" the Richmond Theatre will take root." ^ In the winter a play called 
" The Wonder " was produced, when Lord Henry Fitzgerald acted so 
remarkably that Walpole calls him " a prodigy, a perfection," and goes 
so far as to call Garrick " a monkey " compared to him, complacently 
adding the dictum that " when people of quality can act, they must act 
their own parts much better than others can mimic them," a theory 
not agreed to by a writer in the Town and Country Magazine who criti- 
cised the actors so unmercifully that Walpole imagined him to be some 
envious professional actor. 

During his long life the Duke of Richmond was notable for lavish enter- 
tainments, but in addition to these and his well-known political activity, 
he occupied himself with more lasting interests, and at Richmond House, 
he formed a splendid collection of casts from the antique ; and not only 
this, but he invited artists to go and study in the gallery he had formed, 
and a regular school of design was opened here on March 6, 1758, 
being the first for this particular branch of artistic endeavour to be 
inaugurated in this country. Silver medals were, by the Duke's munifi- 
cence, offered as prizes, and such men as Wilton and Cipriani were enrolled 
amongst the instructors who attended in the gallery in which had been 

' See letters from -Storer to Eden, in the Auckland Correspondence^ referring to the 
Richmond House theatricals. 

^ See Life of Reynolds, by LesHe and Taylor, &c. 



RICHMOND HOUSE 141 

placed " every apparatus and conveniency that could be required In 
such a place of study." ^ Here were gathered together no less than 
twenty-one statues, four or five groups, and a number of antique busts ; 
several bassi relievi, with casts from the Trajan column, and other works. 
By this noble munificence the third Duke of Richmond properly takes 
his place among the most considerable of English art-patrons. 

This gallery, which was not destroyed in the fire which occurred here 
in 1 791, formed the subject of a sketch by an artist named Parry, 
which Edwards in his Anecdotes mentions particularly as being the only 
representation of the place in existence. 

Like so many schemes of private enterprise, that of the Duke laid itself 
open to criticism ; and on one occasion, as he was obliged to be absent 
abroad with his regiment, the medals usually distributed at Christmas 
were not allotted, whereupon the students posted up on the door of the 
gallery the following notice : " The Right Honourable the Duke of Rich- 
mond, being obliged to join his regiment abroad, will pay the premiums 
as soon as he comes home " ; and when the Duke did return, he found 
to his annoyance another notice apologising for his poverty and expressing 
his regret at having offered premiums at all.^ This so enraged him, that 
he shut up the gallery and transferred its contents to the Society of 
Artists which had been started in 1765. Later, some of the casts became 
the property of the Royal Academy, and may still probably be in use 
in the school there. 

The Duke not only did so much for the encouragement of art, but 
he also sat to Reynolds (in October 1758), and patronised Romney by 
inducing the great Burke to give sittings to the rising man, somewhat, 
it is supposed, to Sir Joshua's chagrin. 

The disastrous fire at Richmond House, referred to above, almost 
gutted the mansion which had been noted not only for its remarkable col- 
lection of antique statues, but for its other beautiful and costly contents. 
The house, however, was rebuilt from the designs of Wyatt, at which 
time the two separate residences referred to before were incorporated in 
the new erection. 

The fifth Duke, who was aide-de-camp to Wellington, in the Peninsula, 
did not apparently appreciate the place, for the year after his accession 
to the title, viz. in 1820, he sold his interest to the Crown, which gave 
him ^4300 for the twenty-one unexpired years of his lease. Three years 
later the mansion and other buildings appertaining to it were pulled 
down, and in the following year Richmond Terrace was built on its site. 

That Richmond House must have been a building, not only of 

■ Taylor's Fi/ii: Arfs in England. ' Leslie and Taylor's Life of Reynolds. 



142 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

importance but also of architectural merit, is evidenced by the fact that 
even the critical Ralph speaks well of it. It has, he says " greatly the 
advantage of its neighbour (old Montagu House) ; there is something 
of manner as well as of simplicity in this ; it satisfies the eye and answers 
in the prospect ; and yet," he adds, " even here the entrance is intoler- 
able not only because 'tis bad in itself, but because it hides all the lower 
part of the house." ^ 



PEMBROKE HOUSE 

Another important mansion in Whitehall was Pembroke House, which 
was also at a later date known as Harrington House, and which is now 
represented by No. 7 Whitehall Gardens. 

In 1 717, the Crown granted the piece of waste land on which it after- 
wards stood to Henry, Lord Herbert, the eldest son of the eighth Earl 
of Pembroke, and the " Curio " of Pope's Moral Essays, where his taste 
for " Statues, dirty gods and coins," is referred to. At that time the 
site was, according to the official report, " almost covered with heaps of 
rubbish, part of the ruins of the Palace." 

Some years after Lord Herbert had obtained this grant, he proceeded 
to erect a mansion on the ground acquired, the architect being Colin 
Campbell, who gives an elevation and ground plan of the building in 
his Vitruvius Britannicus } Ralph remarks that at one time the Earl's 
house " seemed at least to be pretty, and wanted but little of being 
elegant ; but now his lordship has thought proper to alter it in such 
a manner, that it would be hardly known by either of these epithets ; 
to hide the whole front of a house for the sake of the offices is certainly 
something of a mistake." With its stabling and outbuildings it seems, 
as Canon Sheppard points out, to have covered more ground than had 
been leased to Lord Herbert ; no doubt in those easygoing times, so 
far as boundaries at least were concerned, a few square yards more or 
less were not considered to make much difference, and were appropriated 
with impunity ! 

It is probable that a thirty-one years' lease had been obtained, as this 
seems to have been about the usual term granted ; and, in 1728, we find 
Lord Herbert applying for, and obtaining two years later, a new fifty 
years' lease. A few years later still, there arose a quarrel between Lord 

• Critical Review of Buildings in London. 

^ In the Grace collection is also a ground plan of the mansion, which, according to Mr. 
Blomfield, was designed in 1724. 



PEMBROKE HOUSE 143 

Herbert and Lady Portland who occupied certain houses where " the three 
most northern " residences in Whitehall Gardens now stand, as to the 
exclusive enjoyment of the Terrace belonging to the old Palace, the use of 
which the Countess had arrogated to herself. The matter^ does not par- 
ticularly concern us here, except inasmuch as in one of his rejoinders to 
Lady Portland's counter-complaints, Lord Pembroke, as he had become, 
having succeeded his father in the title, in 1733, incidentally mentions that 
he had laid out no less than ;^8ooo on the mansion he had erected, which 
shows that it was even at that time a place of some importance. 

In 1744, Lord Pembroke appHes for a fresh lease, and, I suppose, 
having in view his former recriminations with Lady Portland on the 
question of the use of the Terrace, he desired that in the new lease 
should be included " the portion of Queen Mary's Terras which was 
used for pleasure and ornament to the said Queen's lodgings, which stood 
where your memorialist's house stands." A fresh lease for fifty years 
was granted, but the petition had apparently opened the eyes of the 
authorities to Lord Pembroke's encroachments, for the official report 
notices the fact that a " Portall " to the courtyard of Pembroke House 
was standing on ground not included in the former lease ; however, the 
easygoing authorities let the matter pass. 

Lord Pembroke died in 175 1, and five years after that event, his son 
and successor, the tenth Earl, whom Walpole calls " a fine boy," and 
who married the second daughter of Charles, Duke of Marlborough, 
demolished the old house which had become ruinous, and erected a still 
more imposing residence on its site. A ground plan of this house (dated 
1797), preserved at the Board of Works, shows not only that the mansion 
was of considerable extent, but also that the stables and outbuildings, 
and particularly a large riding-school, which had been erected on the 
site of a portion of the Terrace, covered a large area. In consequence 
of this fresh outlay a new lease was applied for, and granted in 1757.^ 
The plan just referred to was prepared when the eleventh Earl of 
Pembroke, who had succeeded his father in 1794, applied for still another 
lease, in which application he states that the sum of ^22,000 had been 
expended on the rebuilding of the mansion forty years previously, and 
that it was then (in 1797) in " substantial and complete repair." 

Six years later a renewed lease for sixty-three years was granted, and 
apparently Lord Pembroke continued to use the mansion as his London 
residence till his death in 1827. 

' It is dealt with fully in Canon Sheppard's Royal Palace of Whitehall. 
' In the Grace collection is an elevation of "the Rt. Hon. Lord Herbert, his house in 
Whitehall," dated 1761. 



144 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

A few years later, however, the twelfth Earl granted a twenty-one 
years' lease of the property to the fourth Earl of Harrington, who, as 
Lord Petersham, had been the famous dandy of the Regency, and had 
married in 183 1, Miss Maria Foote the actress. Lord Harrington seems 
to have been renting the mansion previously to the year in which he 
was married, until he had arranged for this lease, five years after 
obtaining which he made some additions to the residence and changed 
its name to Harrington House. Lord Albemarle in his Fifty Tears of 
my Life speaks of the theatricals at Harrington House, which had been 
inaugurated by the Duchesses of Bedford and Leinster and Lady Caroline 
Sandford, for the amusement of their father, the third Earl of Harrington, 
" whose eyes and infirmities prevented him from stirring abroad." As 
the third Earl died in 1829, it would seem that these displays first took 
place at the earlier town residence of the family in the precincts of St. 
James's Palace, but they were probably continued at Harrington House, 
Whitehall, especially as the reigning Countess's former career peculiarly 
fitted her for presiding over such entertainments. Among those who 
figured in them were, besides Lord Albemarle himself then the Hon. 
George Keppel, the Duchess of Leinster and Lady Caroline Sandford ; 
Mrs. Leicester Stanhope, afterwards fifth Countess of Harrington, 
and the Hon. Georgina Elphinstone, later Lady William Godolphin 
Osborne. 

Lord Harrington died in 1851, whereupon, although eight years of 
his term had yet to expire, the Crown took over the house for use as 
the office of the Inclosure and Tithe Commissioners, when it seems to 
have been known again as Pembroke House ; at least so it is termed in 
a letter of 1855, in which year a portion of it was used by the War Office, 
which continued here for some four years. 

Its later history, as part of Government offices,^ hardly concerns us 
here ; but it is interesting to know that among the contents of the 
mansion when it was occupied by the Herbert family, were certain pic- 
tures which more recently hung in Herbert House, Belgrave Square, 
when that mansion was the residence of Lady Herbert of Lea. 



GWYDYR HOUSE 

GwYDYR House is practically the only one of the former great private 
residences in Whitehall which to-day preserves unaltered its former out- 
ward appearance ; it is besides the best known to " the man in the 
' It is now occupied by the Board of Trade. 



GWYDYR HOUSE 145 

street," for it occupies a prominent position here, which the proximity 
of newer and more pretentious buildings only helps to accentuate. 

It owes its existence to Sir Peter Burrell, created in 1796, Lord 
Gwydyr, and who is known also as the husband of Mrs. Burrell, one of 
the few untitled Patronesses of Almack's, and a person of very great im- 
portance in the fashionable annals of her day. 

In 1769, Sir Peter Burrell, who had been created a Baronet three 
years earlier, and was to be made a peer twenty-seven years later, held 
the office of Surveyor-General of Land Revenue, and being concerned 
for the safety of various books and documents connected with his office, 
applied for the grant " of a small piece of void and useless ground ad- 
joining to the Lamplighters' Office in Whitehall ... on which a house 
might be erected." 

In consequence of this application, a lease was granted in the following 
year. Finding, however, that the site granted him was not sufficient for 
his purpose. Sir Peter asked for an additional grant of an adjoining piece 
of ground to the north and also desired that the new lease should include 
the former site as well ; aU of which he obtained at the end of 1771. 

In the following year Gwydyr House was begun,^ and when com- 
pleted is stated to have cost some ^6000, while it would seem that it 
became Sir Peter's private residence as well as his official headquarters, 
for, in 1802, the second Lord Gwydyr applied for a new lease of the 
residence, which was granted for a term to expire in 1871. 

Subsequently the Baroness Willoughby d'Eresby who had, as Lady 
Elizabeth Burrell, wife of Mr. Burrell, Sir Peter's son, succeeded to that 
famous title through the sudden death of her brother the Duke of 
Ancaster, purchased the leasehold interest in the house. Her husband 
became Lord Gwydyr, in course of time, and here assembled a remark- 
able collection of china. He is known to have been so enthusiastic in 
pursuit of his hobby, that on one occasion, as Mary Berry records in 
1809, he purchased in Fogg's china-shop a service of Sevres for £600, 
a great price in those days, while at the same time he bought a quantity 
of other valuable and beautiful porcelain. 

Wraxall gives an interesting account of the extraordinary good fortune 
of the family with whom Gwydyr House is chiefly identified. Sir 
Peter's second daughter married Lord Algernon Percy ; the third became 
the wife, first of the Duke of Hamilton, and on his death, of the 
first Marquis of Exeter, in 1800; and the other daughter was in 1779, 
wedded, as his second wife, to the second Duke of Northumberland ; 

' According to a statement in London Past and Present, it was erected in 1796, from 
designs by John Marquand, a surveyor in the Woods and Forests office. 

K 



146 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

while his son, as I have indicated, married EHzabeth Bertie, eldest 
daughter of the third Duke of Ancaster. Well might Wraxall remark 
that within his remembrance " in no private family has that prosperous 
chain of events which we denominate fortune, appeared to be so con- 
spicuously displayed, or so strongly exemplified." 

On the death of the Baroness Willoughby d'Eresby, the leasehold 
interest enjoyed by that lady was left by her to her daughter, who had 
become Countess of Clare, for her life ; but she seems not to have resided 
here, but to have let the house, for in 1838 the Reform Club was occu- 
pying it pending the building of their fine headquarters in Pall Mall ; 
and later in 1842, the Government paid ;^700 a year for the mansion as a 
home for the Commissioners of Woods. In this way it was held for 
twenty-seven years, when the Poor Law Board replaced them. 

The lease to the Burrell family expired, as I have said, in 1 87 1, on 
which event the Commissioners of Woods took over the property at an 
annual rental of ^1300. The Local Government Board was here, in the 
following year, for a short time ; and in 1876 the Charity Commissioners 
took possession and occupied the place until it was taken over by the 
Board of Trade. 

A wing of one storey was added to the building ten years since ; 
but with that exception Gwydyr House remains externally as it appeared 
when erected over one hundred and thirty years ago. 



CARRINGTON, FORMERLY GOWER, HOUSE 

Unlike Gwydyr House, the once famous residence known as Carrington 
House has entirely disappeared, the site on which it stood being to-day 
partly occupied by the stupendous buildings of the War Office, and the 
Horse Guards Avenue which runs on the south side of it. 

It was erected somewhere between the years 1764 and 1779, by the 
second Lord Gower, who was created Marquis of Stafford in 1786, and of 
whom Wraxall wrote that " his vast property, when added to his alliances 
of consanguinity, or of marriage, with the first ducal families in the 
country, rendered him one of the most considerable subjects in the 
Kingdom." ' 

When Lord Gower built the house, the site on which it was erected 
was officially described " as the front part towards the street (Whitehall), 
consisting of old buildings that escaped the fire when Whitehall was 
burned " ; the architect employed being Sir William Chambers. On 

^ Posthumous Memoirs, vol. i. p. 232. 



CARRINGTON HOUSE 147 

its completion Lord Gower applied for a lease of fifty years from 1779, 
which was granted him. 

Some idea of the magnificence of the house may be gained from 
a drawing of the grand staircase, made by C. I. Richardson, in 1819, 
now in the Gardner collection, and reproduced in Canon Sheppard's 
book on Whitehall. From this it will be seen how spacious must have 
been the mansion which contained so fine and beautifully proportioned 
a staircase and hall. 

Lord Gower, who had been created Marquis of Stafford, died in 1803, 
and was succeeded by his son, the second Marquis, and famous as a mighty 
picture-collector in his day.^ He sold the lease of Gower House, as it was 
then called, in 18 10, to Lord Carrington, and his reason probably for 
doing so was because he had inherited from his uncle, the Duke of Bridge- 
water, the house in Cleveland Square,- with its magnificent gallery of 
pictures which he himself had done much to bring together. Lord Carring- 
ton, who had been Mr. Robert Smith and was created an Irish peer in 
1796, which peerage was made " of the United Kingdom," in the following 
year, changed the name of the house to that of his title, and it was 
occupied by him and his son the second Baron as their town residence till 
1863, after which date it was let on short tenancies. The second Baron 
died in 1868, and was succeeded by the third Baron, the present Earl 
Carrington. 

The lease expired in 1885, when a proposal was made to emulate the 
American manner of shifting houses bodily, by moving the main portion 
of Carrington House some distance to the north, which would have 
placed it somewhere on the site of the present War Office. The cost 
of doing this was estimated by Colonel Seddon, R.E., who went thoroughly 
into the matter, at ;^40oo ; and although Mr. Gladstone, who greatly 
admired the old house and particularly its splendid internal decorations, 
was in favour of such an experiment being tried, which the initial cost 
of the mansion, something between ^40,000 and ^60,000. would have 
certainly made worth attempting, various considerations unfortunately 
caused the scheme to be abandoned, with the result that the fabric was 
ruthlessly demoHshed, in 1886, when the materials were sold by public 
auction. Speaking of this drastic measure. Lord Carrington says : " I was 
evicted without compensation at six months' notice," and he adds that 
" the site for years remained a desolate disgrace to London — a striking 
example of the iniquity and robbery of the leasehold system." 

It is said that on the demolition of Carrington House, there were 

' See notice of him in the chapter on Bridgewater House. 

- Cleveland House, which preceded the present Bridgewater House, as we shall see. 



148 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

found among its foundations at the depths of some five or six feet, " the 
remains of several clearly defined and well-made roads," which must 
evidently have been formed before the Palace buildings extended over the 
large area they covered in the days of Charles II. ; ^ while there was also 
discovered, among other relics, an old elm pile pier or jetty, indicating the 
former proximity of the river, as well as some glass tear-bottles, &c. 

By the kindness of Lord Carrington, I have had access to a book of 
photographs and paper-cuttings referring to Carrington House, and by 
its help I am enabled to give some details of the splendid interior of the 
mansion, as it was when still one of the great houses of London. 

In the outer Hall was preserved the sedan-chair which the first Lady 
Carrington habitually used ; and the niches in the inner Hall at the foot 
of the grand staircase were filled with statues and busts ; a French clock 
mounted on a pedestal, and a porcelain figure of Marie Antoinette stood 
on a commode. In the Dining-Room, which had a rounded end, in the 
middle of which was the fireplace of white statuary marble inlaid with 
Brocatella, hung the equestrian portrait of Careno da Monanda ; while the 
walls and ceiling were decorated with wreaths and garlands in high relief. 
The Music-Room was octagonal in form, and in four of its walls were 
recesses reaching nearly to the ceiling and filled with costly porcelain 
plates and plaques arranged in patterns. With each side of the 
Music-Room, Lord and Lady Carrington's Sitting-Rooms respectively 
communicated ; in the former hung a portrait of Pitt over the mantel- 
piece ; while Gainsborough's girl with a dog in her arms was placed 
close by, and other pictures included a Dutch sea-piece and an old view 
of Whitehall showing the Banqueting-Room ; in the latter, a beautiful 
head of a girl by Greuze was noticeable, and the note of eighteenth- 
century French art was further carried out by cabinets of rare Sevres 
china, and a remarkable piece of Louis Quinze furniture containing a 
clock surmounted by a group of cupids in Clodian's graceful style. 

Another fine room was that known as Lord Carrington's Dressing- 
Room, which had been restored on the advice of Count d'Orsay ; 
the walls being hung in green satin, and the ceiling and doors decorated 
in white and gold. It was, by-the-bye, from the windows of this room 
that the Prince and Princess of Wales, with a distinguished company, 
witnessed the great Liberal procession in favour of the Reform Bill of 
1884, which marched down Whitehall on July 21st of that year, and 
occupied over three hours in passing Carrington House. 

The Blue Drawing-Room was one of the most beautiful apartments 
in the mansion, and here the ceiling had been painted by Angelica 
' A writer in the Birmingham Post for 1900, quoted by Canon Sheppard. 




Phot'i Bedford Umere & Co. 



THE GRAND STAIRCASE, CARRINGTON HOUSE. 



PORTLAND HOUSE 149 

Kauffmann ; while the compartments of the ceiHng of the Bali-Room 
were also decorated by some almost equally facile brush. This room was 
a superb one in every way, being no less than 60 feet long by 30 
wide and proportionately lofty. It was decorated in the classic style of 
which Chambers was so well-known an exponent, and with the painted 
ceiling was in every way worthy of the many great functions that took 
place within it. The splendid marble mantelpiece was, at the sale of 
the materials of the house, purchased by Lord Carrington, and is now 
at Wycombe Abbey. These mantelpieces were, indeed, a feature of 
the house and fetched large prices ; that in the Blue Drawing-Room, 
of white marble inlaid with slabs of Sienna, realising ^75 ; the carved 
wooden one in the Steward's Room, with massive caryatids, ^60 ; that 
in the Music-Room, of white statuary marble inlaid with Brocatella, 
£^6 ; and those in other parts of the house proportionately good 
amounts.^ 

It is interesting to know that all the floors of Carrington House were 
of oak ; while the stone steps of the great staircase were no less than six 
feet in width. 

PORTLAND HOUSE 

Just as Richmond House stood to the south of the present Montagu 
House, so the large residence of the Duke of Portland once occupied 
ground immediately to the north. The area covered by it and its gardens 
was leased to William, first Earl of Portland, of the Bentinck line, in 1696. 
This nobleman, who is known for his adherence to, and personal friend- 
ship with, William HI., by whom he was raised to the peerage in 1689, 
is spoken of by St. Simon in these terms : " Portland parut avec un eclat 
personnel, une politesse, un air du monde et de cour, une galanterie et 
des graces qui surprirent. Avec cela, beaucoup de dignity, meme de 
hauteur." "- He married, en second noces, the Dowager Baroness Berkeley 
of Stratton, whom I suppose to have been the widow of the third Lord 
Berkeley of Stratton. 

Although the usual first term of leases for ground within the old 
palace precincts appears to have been generally for thirty-one years, that 
granted to the Earl was for forty-two. For the benefit of those who 
may have Vertue's plan of 1680 before them, the following extract from 
the lease will help to show the relative position of the ground obtained, 
to the buildings of the palace. It is spoken of as " abutting westerly 

' Most of these were purchased by Lord Hilhngdon. 
* Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 69. 



I50 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

upon another passage . . . called the Stone Gallery . . . and adjoining 
southerly to other ground whereon certain buildings formerly stood, late 
consumed by the fire, and then ruined, and a kitchen there of Algernon, 
Earl of Essex, extending in that part from a place where the Stone 
Gallery also was formerly, upon the west part of the River Thames . . . 
and abutting easterly upon a yard or garden called the ' Terras Walk,' 
and upon the River of Thames, and containing in that part 105 feet, 
little more or less." ^ 

From a manuscript plan preserved in the Office of Woods and Forests, 
Portland House appears to have been a large and imposing structure, 
but from the official reports made when fresh leases were applied for, 
mention is only made of " a slight old building, part timber and part 
brick," with some out-buildings, together estimated at only ^200 per 
annum, as they are described when, in 1724, the first Duke of Portland 
(so created in 1716, having succeeded his father as second Earl in 1709) 
petitioned for a new lease. The Duke died two years later and before 
the lease had been granted, when his widow, in 1738, obtained a fresh 
grant for a term of thirty-six years. Six years after this, the second 
Duke of Portland applied for and obtained a fresh lease of fifty years 
of the property, at which time the Dowager Countess of Portland (widow 
of the first Earl) also obtained a fresh lease for a similar term, of premises 
she had occupied for some time previous to the year 1719, which, it is 
stated, comprised as well as ground " a house which she had repaired 
at a cost of at least ^500," and which was officially acknowledged to be 
" very substantially built." 

Again, so much later as 1772, when the third Duke applied for a 
fresh lease, the buildings were described as being "in so ruinous a con- 
dition at the time of the last renewal that there were several props under 
them to support them from falling down," and although " they are now 
in a better state," proceeds the report, they were only valued at ^^200 
per annum, as they had been in 1724. 

What I therefore gather from the very complicated nature of the 
data given, is that the property belonged to the head of the Bentinck 
family, and that the house on it was used as a Dower House, first by 
the Dowager Countess and afterwards by the Dowager Duchess, widow 
of the first Duke." I am somewhat confirmed in this by the fact that 
the first Duke of Portland lived in St. James's Square from 1710 to 

' Quoted in The Old Palace of Whitehall; where it is stated that although the mansion was 
afterwards known as Portland House, no mention is made of it in the books of the Office of 
Woods and Forests. 

" In the Grace collection is a "View of the House and Museum of the late Duchess of 
Portland " ; being a drawing by J. Bromley, dated 1796. 



PORTLAND HOUSE 151 

1722, at old St. Albans House, and had previously resided in another 
house close by before that, so that it is obvious that he did not reside in 
Whitehall ; and the only mention of a residence in any sense comparable 
to the outlines given on the plan I have referred to before, occurs in 
connection with petitions by the Countess of Portland for new leases. 
It was this lady who had a lengthy dispute with her neighbour. Lord 
Pembroke, on the question of her right to use the " Terras Walk," with 
the result that she surrendered her lease, and obtained the fresh one 
in 1744, to which I have before referred. Subsequently her house was 
divided into two dwellings, one of them being occupied, in 1773, by 
Captain, afterwards Admiral, Bentinck, and the other by a Mr. Andrew 
Stone, who died in 1774; when, a little over thirty years later, his widow 
obtained a further term of seventeen years of the premises. 

In 1805, the Duke of Portland sold his interest in the property to 
the Crown, and certain buildings upon it were soon afterwards pulled 
down. There still, however, remained the old mansion, divided, as I 
have said, into two residences. That portion once belonging to Stone 
later became the property of Lady Exeter, who lived there, and who, when 
Whitehall Gardens were commenced on the site of that portion of the 
property sold by the Duke of Portland, refused to give up her interest 
in the house. The lease of it, however, ran out in 1824, when Sir Robert 
Peel became the owner, and he and Mr. Grant, who had come into pos- 
session of Admiral Bentinck's residence adjoining, pulled down their old 
houses and built three on their site, Mr. Grant being responsible for two 
of them. It is said that Sir Robert's cost him ^14,000 to build, and 
the two erected by Mr. Grant together but ;£iooo more. These three 
residences completed the terrace as designed by the Crown. It was in 
his house here that Sir Robert Peel died in 1850, having taken up his 
residence here in 1828. It is numbered 4 Whitehall Gardens, and re- 
mains substantially as it was, so far at any rate as external appearance 
goes, in his day, when its walls were covered by that magnificent collec- 
tion of pictures which now forms one of the glories of the National Gallery. 
Here Haydon used to come with his eloquent appeals for State aid on 
behalf of historical painting, and here much of the history of the earlier 
years of Queen Victoria's reign was made. Having this latter point in 
view it is curious and interesting to know that at No. 2 Benjamin Disraeli 
lived for some years from 1873, and it is probable that here he wrote 
Lothair, in which occurs the famous description of Stafford House which 
I have noticed elsewhere in this volume. 



152 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

FIFE HOUSE 

Most of the great houses on the Thames side of old Whitehall had 
grounds or rights of way extending to the river, but one of them — Fife 
House — stood practically on its very bank, where old Whitehall Stairs 
had been before. 

Its site appears to have been occupied originally by a house built 
about 1685 by Patrick Lambe, one of Charles II.'s master-cooks, who 
had obtained at that date a thirty-one years' lease for the purpose. This 
house appears to have been burnt at the time of the disastrous fire, and so 
much later as 1717, Edmund Dunch is found obtaining a lease of the 
ground, which lease was confirmed to his widow five years later, for a term 
of fifty years ; when, however, thirty years of it had expired, she applied 
for a fresh one, which being granted, became some ten years later vested in 
Sir George and Lady Oxenden, who stated their intention of building one 
or two new houses on the site ; this, however, they did not do, but sold 
their lease to the second Earl of Fife, who, in 1764, obtained a fresh 
lease of the property, and it would seem practically rebuilt the mansion 
in 1772. He found, however, that the foreshore between his land and 
the river was " dumping ground " for all the refuse of the neighbour- 
hood, and he applied to be allowed to " embank to low water," and to 
take the ground thus recovered into his own garden. Although it was 
officially stated that such a proposed embankment would not be liable to 
affect the navigation of the river, and would prove an efficient remedy 
against the nuisance complained of, and although a lease had been granted 
for that purpose in 1782, nothing appears to have been done till 1805, 
when, in an application for a fresh lease. Lord Fife points out that beyond 
having spent a large amount in " building and adorning " the house, he 
was then occupied in forming, at great expense, an embankment on the 
ground leased to him over twenty years previously. 

Four years after this, however. Lord Fife died, when his lease was 
assigned to the Earl of Liverpool, in consideration of a sum of ^12,000, 
and he, in 1825, obtained a fresh lease of the whole property. Lord 
Liverpool, whose career as a statesman is well known, was Prime Minister 
from 1 812 to 1827, and it was in the latter year that he was seized with 
a paralytic stroke in the library here, which eventually caused his death 
in 1829, when his half-brother, the third Earl, succeeded him in the 
ownership of the mansion; he dying in September 1851, the lease was 
assigned to Mr. George Savile Foljambe, his son-in-law, who resided here 
till i860, eight years after which date the property reverted to the Crown. 



FIFE HOUSE 153 

Mr. Foljambe's son was created Lord Hawkesbury in 1893,^ and in 
his town residence, 2 Carlton House Terrace, is now preserved the bulk 
of the furniture which was formerly in Fife House, and which was removed 
hither some forty-six years since, when that residence was given up. 

Pennant gives some details of the interior decorations of Fife House : 
" In the great room is some very fine tapestry," he says, and adds, " I 
never can suihciently admire the expression of passions in two of the 
subjects ; the fine history of Joseph disclosing himself to his brethren, and 
that of Susanna accused by the two elders. Here are also great numbers 
of fine paintings by foreign masters ; but, as I confine myself to those 
which relate to our own country, I shall only mention a small three- 
quarters of Mary Stuart, with her child, an infant, standing on a table 
before her. This beautiful performance is on marble. A head of 
Charles I., when Prince of Wales, done in Spain, when he was there in 
1625,^ on his romantic expedition to court the Infanta. It is supposed 
to be the work of Velasquez. A portrait of William, Earl of Pembroke, 
Lord High Chamberlain in the beginning of the reign of Charles I. ; 
a small full length in black, with his white rod in one hand, his hat in the 
other, standing in a room looking into a garden. Such is the merit of 
this piece, that, notwithstanding it is supposed to have been the per- 
formance of Jameson, the Scotch Vandyck, yet it hath often been attri- 
buted to the great Flemish painter." 

The pictures of a later date which once hung here included Romney's 
portrait of the first Earl of Liverpool ; two of the second Earl by Hoppner 
and Lawrence respectively, and a portrait of William Pitt. 

Fife House existed for just upon a hundred years, having been completed 
in 1772 and demolished in 1869. Although without any particular preten- 
tions to architectural beauty, its rooms were commodious and its staircase 
fine ; while its grounds, after the addition had been made to them by 
the enclosing and embanking of the foreshore, must have been delightful ; 
and Pennant remarks on the matchless view obtained from them of the 
two bridges, " with the magnificent expanse of water, Somerset House, 
St. Paul's, and multitudes of other objects less magnificent, but which 
serve to complete the beautiful scene." 

It was this proximity to the river that made it possible to bring the 
coal supply to the house by water, and to shoot the coal direct from 
barges into the cellar — perhaps a unique method, so far as nineteenth 
century houses are concerned, of delivering fuel. 

1 The third Lord Liverpool was also third Lord Hawkesbury, of a former creation (1786), 
and the title was thus restored in favour of Mr. Foljambe. 
* This is an error ; Charles was of course in Spain in 1623. 



154 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Two other interesting facts regarding Fife House are recorded, one 
being that the old entrance gates are now at the Duke of Fife's late 
residence at Sheen, or were till recently (for the place has since been 
sold), they having been purchased by Lord Carrington and presented 
to the Duke on his marriage ; and the other that Lord Fife, who 
built the mansion, swore that if he lived in London he would do so 
on Scotch soil, for which purpose gravel was brought from Doune 
(afterwards called Macduff) in Scotland to form the foundations of the 
mansion ! ^ 

There were of course a number of lesser houses on this, the river, side 
of Whitehall — Cromwell House, and Holdernesse House known later as 
Michael Angelo Taylor's House ; Malmesbury House, and Lord 
Grantham's residence, all situated in what was once Whitehall Yard, 
where the Horse Guards Avenue and the War Office now stand, but 
they were not of the importance of those already mentioned in this 
chapter. On the other side of Whitehall, however, were several extremely 
important mansions, one or two of which, sadly curtailed and incor- 
porated with the great series of Government buildings that now stand 
there, must be mentioned. Of these are Dover House ; Stanhope or 
Dorset House ; Wallingford House ; and Rochester or Clarendon House. 
Dover House still exists ; Wallingford House is incorporated in the 
Admiralty ; Rochester House has long since passed away ; and only a 
portion, but that a considerable one, of Stanhope House still remains 
behind the frontage of the Treasury. 



DOVER HOUSE 

Like many of the great houses in Whitehall, Dover House has passed 
through various vicissitudes, and has had several changes of nomenclature ; 
that which it still bears being derived from the title of its last private 
owner. As it still exists it is easy to identify its relative position with 
that of old Whitehall. Thus we see that the main portion of the building — 
that is, the part facing the Horse Guards Parade — lies outside the precincts 
of the palace, while the entrance in Whitehall, with the large Dome and 
Portico, stands on the site of the lodgings of the Duke of Ormonde, which 
joined the famous Holbein Gateway on the west side, so that the exact 

' A drawing by T. Chawner, dated 1828, is in the Grace collection, and shows the entrance 
to Fife House. The gates were immediately behind Carrington House, to the east, and Sir 
John Vanbrugh's little house, afterwards used as the Royal United Service Institution, stood 
adjoining them to the north. To a spot near here the colony of rooks, once domiciled in the 
trees of Carlton House gardens, migrated in 1827. 



DOVER HOUSE 155 

relative position of that structure to the present thoroughfare can be at 
once reahsed. 

The earHest mention of the original house occurs in the year 171 7, 
when a lease of it was granted to Mr. Hugh Boscawen for the usual thirty- 
one years. Mr. Boscawen occupied the position of Comptroller of the 
Household from 17 14 to 1720, and as such had been already in official 
possession of a portion of the Duke of Ormonde's old lodgings. Adjoining 
these were certain rooms occupied by Mr. Vanhuls or Van Huls, as it is 
variously spelt, who had been Clerk of the Robes to Queen Anne ; and 
soon after obtaining his lease, Mr. Boscawen acquired these apartments 
also. On June i8th, 1720, he was created Viscount Falmouth, and in 
the same year he applied for a fresh lease of his original holding together 
with Mr. Vanhuls' lodgings, and, in addition, of a small piece of ground 
on what is now the Horse Guards Parade, but was then known by its 
old name of the Tilt Yard. This application was granted, but power 
was reserved to the Crown to pull down Holbein's Gateway, and to make 
the buildings abutting on Whitehall level with the thoroughfare, which 
meant the cutting off one apartment which in Vertue's plan of 1680 
appears to be part and parcel with the gate itself, but which had been 
occupied, with the rest of his lodgings, by the Duke of Ormonde. 

Lord Falmouth, one of those who deserted Walpole's Ministry on 
the question of the investigation of the sale of the forfeited South Sea 
Company estates, and whom Hervey called " a blundering blockhead who 
spoke on one side and voted on the other," on which a wit said that the 
noble lord was evidently determined to do the Government all the harm 
he could, as he spoke for them and voted against them, died in 1734, and 
four years later his widow, who, by-the-bye, was niece of the great Duke of 
Marlborough, petitioned for a fresh lease, which was granted for thirty- 
seven years from 1752 (the former lease being due to expire in that year). 
Two years later, however, this lease was disposed of to Sir Matthew 
Featherstonehaugh, who, having obtained a still further extension, rebuilt 
the house from the designs of James Paine, the architect.^ On his death 
twenty years later, his widow obtained a further lease for the rather odd 
term of nineteen years, from 1805. But in the meantime — in 1787, to 
be precise — Sir Henry Featherstonehaugh, who had succeeded his father in 
the baronetcy, sold the leasehold interest to the Duke of York for £12,600. 
In the following year, a Royal Warrant having been obtained for the 
purpose, the Duke reconstructed the mansion by adding a new front to 
VVhitehall, consisting of the Dome and Portico which still exist, as well as 

' The work was executed between 1754 and 1758. There is a plan of the basement of 
Dover House in the Grace collection. 



156 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

a grand staircase in the Ionic style designed by Henry Holland, a view of 
which, entitled " The Duke of York's house, as altered by Holland, 1787," 
is in the Grace collection.^ A fropos of the circular entrance Hall, Lord 
North is said to have remarked : " Then the Duke of York, it would 
seem, has been sent to the Round House, and the Prince of Wales is put 
in the Pillory " ; this referring, of course, to the pillars which once stood 
in the front of Carlton House, and now support the portico of the National 
Gallery. The Duke also obtained powers to rail in some extra ground on 
the Horse Guards Parade. Having made these improvements, His Royal 
Highness applied for, and obtained, a further lease of fifty years from 
1 791, and gave the mansion the name of York House. But the Duke, 
who never seems to have been happy for long in one place, had about 
this time cast envious eyes on the first Lord Melbourne's fine freehold 
residence in Piccadilly, now known as Albany, and having come to terms 
with his lordship, exchanged York House for Melbourne House in 
November 1792, making an equivalent money payment in view of his 
residence being only leasehold. 

York House now became known as Melbourne House,^ and as its 
existing lease was due to expire in 1842, Lord Melbourne, in 1823, ob- 
tained a further extension for forty years from the former date. Seven 
years later, however, he died, whereupon his executors assigned his interest 
in the property to the Rt. Hon. James Welbore Agar-Ellis, son and heir of 
Viscount Clifden, and afterwards the accomplished Lord Dover, who 
wrote a " Life of Frederick the Great," among other productions. After 
his death, his widow became possessed of it and resided here for a time, 
and in 1864 it passed to Lord Clifden. He lived here till his death, 
after which event Lady Clifden continued here till the expiration of the 
lease in 1882, when for three years longer she occupied it on a yearly 
tenancy. The Government then took possession of the property and 
converted it into the office of the Chief Secretary for Scotland and other 
cognate branches of the Civil Service. 

STANHOPE, OR DORSET HOUSE 

Rather to the south of Dover House stood Stanhope, or as it was 
later called, Dorset House, after it had been enlarged. Its Whitehall 

• In the same collection is a print of the mansion by ISIiller, engraved by MedlancI, and 
dated 1795 ; and also another entitled " Melbourne House, formerly York House." 

^ It is stated in London Past and Present, that in 1774 the mansion had already been 
occupied by Lord Melbourne, whose famous son, the future Prime Minister, was born here, five 
years later ; while the same authority states that General Amherst once resided here. If so, it 
must have been let on occasion by Lady Featherstonehaugh, which is not improbable. 



STANHOPE HOUSE 157 

front, a portion of which still remains, occupies ground once covered 
by the lodgings of the Duke of Monmouth, abutting to the north, on 
the entrance to the Cockpit, and thus occupying an almost central 
position on the west side of the road, between Holbein's Gate and the 
King Street Gate. The Surveyor-General's report confirms this, for the 
house is there described as " situate in or near ye part of ye Pallace afore- 
said, called ye Cockpit : on ye west side of ye Street, between ye two gates, 
leading from Charing Cross to Westminster." The portion towards 
St. James's Park occupied part of the site of the Duke of Albemarle's 
lodgings, which lay to the east and south of the Cockpit. 

Although, according to Canon Sheppard, the first lease of the house 
was granted in 1717, an advertisement in the London Gaz-ette,^ dated 1672, 
indirectly proves that it was known as Stanhope House thus much earlier ; 
I give the extract as being in other ways also interesting :— 

" There was a trunk on Saturday last, being the i8th inst. (July) 
cut off from behind the Duke of Albemarle's coach, wherein there was a 
gold George, 18 shirts, a Tennis sute laced, with several fronts and laced 
Cravats and other linen ; if any can give tidings of them to Mr. Lymbyery, 
the Duke's Steward at Stanhope House, near Whitehall, they shall have 
five pounds for their pains and all charges defrayed." 

It would therefore seem that the Duke's lodgings were then known 
by this name. But why " Stanhope " ? It sounds like a daring anticipa- 
tion, for there is no record of the place belonging to the Stanhope family 
till the lease of 1717 was granted to Thomas Pitt, Esq., trustee and father- 
in-law of the Rt. Hon. James Stanhope, who was created Viscount Stan- 
hope in this very year. This James Stanhope was the grandson of the 
second Earl of Chesterfield, and therefore cousin of the fourth and great 
Earl. Now this second Earl lived, and died in Bloomsbury Square, 
in 171 3, but it is not improbable that at one period of his career he may 
have had lodgings assigned to him in Whitehall (for he was well known 
as a devoted royalist), and that these apartments adjoined those of the 
Duke of Albemarle, and were once known collectively as Stanhope 
House, and further, that the lease granted on behalf of his grandson 
was an extension of an original grant. This is, I confess, mere con- 
jecture, but the place could hardly have been known, in 1672, as Stanhope 
House unless it had had some connection with the Stanhope famUy. 

The 1717 lease was for thirty-one years, and having been obtained, 
Mr. Pitt expended a considerable sum of money in improving the pro- 
perty, and a further lease of ground in St. James's Park, apparently just 
beyond the old Cockpit, was obtained at the same time. 

* Quoted in London Past and Present. 



158 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Lord Stanhope did not enjoy possession of the property for long, 
for, in 1 72 1, he died, his wife only surviving him two years, when the 
place was sold to Lionel Cranfield, who succeeded his father as the seventh 
Earl of Dorset in 1707, and was created a Duke thirteen years later. The 
Duke, who figures largely in the political and social annals of the early 
Georges, was, according to Mrs. Delany, " very graceful and princely," 
while Lord Shelburne calls him " in all respects a perfect English courtier." 
From him Stanhope House took its later name of Dorset House. 

Shortly after coming into possession, the Duke applied for a fresh 
lease, to embrace not only the portion he had become possessed of, but 
also certain lodgings occupied by the Archbishop of Canterbury and 
the Bishop of London, which were part and parcel of this property, 
being, I assume, portions of the Duke of Albemarle's lodgings, which, 
by Vertue's plan, are shown as extending over a large area — indeed from 
the north of the Cockpit to Downing Street. This application was 
followed by the granting of a new fifty-years' lease (the old one being 
surrendered) of the whole property, including these ecclesiastical apart- 
ments ; the Duke, at the same time, agreeing to permit the Archbishop 
and Bishop to remain in possession till they had been otherwise accom- 
modated. Nearly twenty years later another fifty-years' lease was 
obtained by the Duke, probably in consequence, as was generally the case, 
of his having either rebuilt the place, or added to and repaired it. 

In 1763, the Duke died, when the lease became the property of his 
well-known third son, Lord George Sackville, afterwards Lord George 
Germain and Viscount Sackville (1782), who had been born in 1716, 
in his father's then residence in the Haymarket. Lord George applied, 
in 1772, for a fresh lease, which was granted for a term of seventeen years 
from 1805, the date of the expiration of the existing one. Lord Sackville, 
however, died on August 26th, 1785, when the lease of Dorset House was 
transferred to his nephew, John Frederick, who had succeeded as third 
Duke of Dorset in 1769. At his death in 1799, his widow (Arabella, 
daughter of Sir Charles Cope, Bart.), continued to reside here, and in 
1803 she applied for a fresh lease in favour of herself and her second 
husband, Charles, Lord Whitworth, whom she had married in 1801. 

The name of Lord Whitworth was well known in the diplomatic 
world at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Envoy Extraordinary 
to Copenhagen in 1800, he was also Ambassador to Paris from 1801 to 
1803, during which time occurred that incident, at one of the official 
receptions, when Bonaparte's celebrated rudeness to the envoy precipi- 
tated, as it was meant to do, war between this country and France. 
Wraxall speaks of Whitworth as being " highly favoured by nature," and 



ROCHESTER HOUSE 159 

affirms that " his address even exceeded his figure." Sir Thomas 
Lawrence painted a well-known portrait of him, and in his earlier days, 
Horace Walpole had issued from the Strawberry Hill Press his Account 
of Russia. 

Soon after applying for a new lease of Dorset House the Duchess 
of Dorset offered to sell her interest in the property to the Crown, but 
the Crown not only did not wish to buy, but also refused to grant a 
new lease. In 1808, however, an arrangement was come to by which 
the Government did purchase the remainder of the Duchess's interest, 
and two years later the buildings were adapted for the use of the 
Treasury, which thereupon proceeded to occupy them, and thus put the 
final touch to the process by which Stanhope, or Dorset House, as a 
private residence, ceased to exist. 

ROCHESTER HOUSE 

The two mansions about which there remains something to say, are 
Rochester, or as it was sometimes called. Clarendon House, and WaUing- 
ford House. The former takes its name from Lawrence Hyde, Earl of 
Rochester, the second son of the great Earl of Clarendon, who was created 
an Earl in 1682, and who filled a number of high offices under four 
sovereigns, being Ambassador and first Lord of the Treasury under 
Charles H., Lord High Treasurer under James ; Lord Lieutenant of 
Ireland under William III., and Lord President of the Council under 
Anne. He was thus a person of vast importance in his day ; and when 
Burnet remarks that " he was thought the smoothest man in the court," 
we can well understand that, to have served successfully so many variously- 
minded rulers, he certainly must have been. 

He was living in the house I am now speaking of, somewhere between 
1679 ^'^'^ 1686, probably in the former year, when he became first Lord 
of the Treasury. By Vertue's plan the site of the house is shown as 
occupied by lodgings appertaining to one Captain Cooke ; ^ at least so it 
is assumed, as the exact position of Rochester House appears never to 
have been quite satisfactorily identified. In 1686, says Canon Sheppard, 
Lord Rochester " directed the Surveyor-General to view the house near 
the Privy Garden, where he lived, and to make a Constat " {i.e. to draw up 
particulars for a lease) " in order to the passing to him of a lease of such 

' This was the Captain Cooke mentioned by Evelyn as being considered "ye best singer 
after ye Italian manner of any in England," and to whom Pepys has so many references. It 
was he who, after serving in the royal army, was made, at the Restoration, Master of the 
Children of the Chapel Royal. He was a fine musician, and died in 1672. 



i6o THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

part thereof as was not in the lease, already for thirty-one years . . . for 
such a term of reversion as might make up the present term to be thirty- 
one years." This was presently done, and by its terms, which I need not 
recapitulate here, it would appear that there were two separate houses 
on the property in question, one being on the site of Captain Cooke's 
premises, and the other adjoining them and abutting on the King Street 
Gateway, which would be nearly at the north-east corner of Downing 
Street, together with certain buildings on the other side of the road at 
the south-west angle of the Privy Garden. 

On Lord Rochester's death, his son Henry, who succeeded him as 
second Earl, applied for a fresh lease of fifty years, in order that it might 
be worth his while to repair and otherwise spend money on the property, 
which was stated to be badly in need of it. This request appears to 
have been acceded to, but whether wholly or only in a modified form, 
is not clear. However the matter, as it affects us here, is not of great 
importance, because some dozen years later the Crown appears to have 
resumed possession of the property, one of the reasons given for its doing 
so being the desire to demolish the King Street Gate, which, according 
to Pennant, was taken down in 1723, as was the Holbein Gate thirty-six 
years later. 

In 1725, on the application of Horatio Walpole, Auditor and Surveyor- 
General of His Majesty's Revenues, who required an office at this time, 
a portion of Rochester House was granted to him ; and some years later 
(1738) he obtained a lease of an ale-house and three other houses at the 
corner of Downing Street, specifically to enlarge his premises, which 
however, he does not appear, after all, to have done. A succession of 
leases was subsequently granted to the Walpoles, but the last one (for 
a reversionary term of nineteen years from 1 8 14) was purchased by the 
Crown, the old buildings taken down, and Government offices eventually 
erected on their site. 

Indeed, as will be seen, the details as to Rochester House are some- 
what vague, and at best technical ; but it seemed to require a word on 
account of the one illustrious person, Hyde, Earl of Rochester, whose 
residence for a time it was. Little Wallingford and Pickering Houses 
are in much the same case, and as they were smaller and had no central 
figure of interest about them, although they were connected at various 
times with the Hay and Glyn families, I need say nothing here regarding 
their history, especially as that will be found given as fuUy as documentary 
evidence allows, in Canon Sheppard's work. 



WALLINGFORD HOUSE i6i 



WALLINGFORD HOUSE 

Of the last of the more important Whitehall mansions, Wallingford 
House, or, as it was also once called, Peterborough House, which has for so 
many years been identified with the Admiralty, the interest is, however, 
of a much more striking kind. It is connected with a number of im- 
portant historical figures from the reign of James I. to that of Charles H. 
Here lived the brilliant Buckingham, and later the Republican Fleet- 
wood ; here also Lady Peterborough kept up her state, and here for a 
short time the profligate second Duke of Buckingham may have passed 
some restless hours of his feverish existence. But, notwithstanding 
these private owners, the place seems always to have had a semi-official 
air about it, which made its transformation into a Government office 
not so startling an innovation as is the case with some other of the great 
houses in Whitehall. 

WaUingford House was erected in the reign of James I. by Sir William 
KnoUys. Sir William was Treasurer of the Household to Queen Eliza- 
beth, and very nearly occupied a still more exalted position, for the 
Queen had named him, according to Miss Strickland, Lord Deputy in 
Ireland ; and it was on this occasion that Lord Essex boldly opposed his 
nomination, which led to the famous scene when Elizabeth boxed 
Essex's ears, and he laid his hand on his sword and half turned his back 
on his royal mistress, who thereupon told him to " go and be hanged." ^ 

After the Queen's death. Sir William became Treasurer to James I., 
and was subsequently created Baron Knollys (1603), Viscount Wallingford 
(1616), and Earl of Banbury (1626). He seems to have taken the second 
title on account of his having been Constable of Wallingford Castle and 
High Steward of the Manor of Wallingford, in 1601, and as he gave this 
name to his London house, it practically proves that the mansion was 
erected between 1616 and 1621-22, when the Duke of Buckingham bought 
it, although, as Lord Wallingford's father. Sir Francis KnoUys," is said to 
have occupied an official residence here, before him, it is not improbable 
that he merely rebuilt or enlarged a former mansion here. Under what 
circumstances George ViUiers, Duke of Buckingham, purchased Walling- 
ford House is not quite clear. Lord Wallingford did not die till 1632, 
but if John Chamberlain, a correspondent of Sir Dudley Carleton's, is 
correct, the purchase was arranged partly on a money basis, and partly 

' Camden. 

' He was only son of Robert Knollys, of Rotherfield Greys, Oxon., and was related to 
Queen Elizabeth, having married Catherine, daughter of William Carey by the Lady Mary 
Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth's mother. 

L 



i62 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

" by making Sir Thomas Howard Baron of Charlton and Viscount 
Andover ; and some think the reUeving of the Lord of Somerset and 
his lady out of the Tower." ^ This latter extraordinary and unsavoury 
circumstance wove itself, at that time, into so many public and domestic 
matters that it is not at all improbable that its vitiating influence even 
affected the changing of the owners of Wallingford House. In any 
case, it is a curious fact that, in 1615, orders were given to Somerset 
" to keep his chamber near the Cockpit," and to his Countess " to keep 
her chamber at the Blackfriars, or at Lord Knolly's house near the 
Tiltyard." 

In the year after the Duke of Buckingham had taken possession, his 
first child, called " Jacobina " after the King, was born here in March, 
and a contemporary records that " during the illness of the Marchioness,^ 
the King prayed heartily for her, and was at Wallingford House early 
and late." 

It would appear that at first Buckingham fixed his private residence 
at Wallingford House ; but when, on the fall of Bacon, York House be- 
came vacant, and the Duke subsequently obtained it * for himself, the 
greater splendour of the latter mansion caused him to give his great and 
costly entertainments there, although he seems to have still resided at 
Wallingford House, as is proved by the fact that his son, the second Duke, 
was born there so much later as 1627 ; and also that he used it as his 
official residence, as Bassompierre's references to it, when he was over here 
in the previous year as French Ambassador, indicate. 

Bassompierre, who never could master the intricacies of the English 
language, spells Wallingford variously as Valinfort and Vialenforaux, and 
records visiting the Duke here on October 30, 1626, and again on 
November 20th of the same year. In view of Buckingham's possession 
of these two mansions, it is strange to find Howell, the letter-writer, ad- 
vising him about this time to have a fixed residence ; but perhaps it was 
the Duke's constant change from one house to the other, that eHcited 
this excellent advice. It must, I think, have been in the gardens of 
Wallingford House that the following circumstance took place which has 
been recorded by most of the biographers of Charles I. and of the Duke. 
It is said that the King was at Spring Gardens, which might easily 
mean the favourite's residence close by, watching a game of bowls, when 
Buckingham remained, unhke the rest of the courtiers, covered. Ob- 

' CiiUitdar of State Papers, 1603-1610. See an interesting note by Croker, in his edition 
of Bassompierre's Embassy to England, p. 70. 

•^ Villiers had been created Marquis of Buckingham in 1619, and was advanced to the 
dukedom in 1623. 

^ See chapter ii., where the connection of Buckingham with York House is dealt with. 



WALLINGFORD HOUSE 163 

serving this want of respect, a Scotchman who was present suddenly- 
knocked off the Duke's hat, exclaiming, " Off with your hat before the 
King." Buckingham immediately kicked the officious gentleman, where- 
upon Charles interposed with, " Let him alone, George, he is either mad 
or a fool." " No, sir," replied the man, " I am a sober man ; and if your 
Majesty would give me leave, I will tell you that of this man which many 
know and none dare speak." ^ 

On the assassination of Buckingham, in 1628, his body was brought 
from Portsmouth to Wallingford House, and here lay in state before its 
interment. At this date, as the second Duke was but an infant, the 
Board of Admiralty — which Buckingham had instituted when he was Lord 
High Admiral, and whose sittings were in his lifetime held here— was 
continued at Wallingford House after his death ; and it appears that 
the Lord Treasurer's Office was also domiciled here, as warrants signed 
Weston, Cottington, and Portland," are extant bearing dates of 1632 
and 1634, ^^'^ given at Wallingford House. 

In the following year, the Dowager Duchess (she was daughter of 
the sixth Earl of Rutland) was married here to Lord Dunluce, an event 
thus mentioned by Garrard in a letter to Wentworth : ^ " April 14, 1635. 
The Duchess of Buckingham was married about a week since to the Lord 
Dunluce, and are (sic) to live at Wallingford House, whence the Treasurer's 
family removes." How long the Duchess and her husband resided here 
is uncertain, but in the year in which Charles L was beheaded, the 
house was in the occupation of the second Earl of Peterborough and his 
Countess, daughter of the Earl of Thomond, and it was from its roof 
that Archbishop Usher saw Charles led to execution. The sight proved 
too much for the old (he was then sixty-nine) royalist who had lost nearly 
all his property in Ireland through his devotion to the King ; and as, 
from the distance, he saw his master standing on the scaffold, his forti- 
tude entirely forsook him, and sinking down with horror, he was carried 
fainting to his rooms. 

Under the Commonwealth, the General Council of the officers of 
the army, known as the " Wallingford House Party," assembled here 
after the Protector's death, with the intention of preventing Monk's 
attempt to bring about the Restoration. Vane and Fleetwood were 
leaders in this movement, and as the latter was at that time residing here, 
it seems fairly obvious that the meeting was organised by him. The 

' The story is also given in the Curiosities of Literature^ and by Jesse in his Memoirs of 
the Court of England utnter tlie Stuarts. 

' Weston, afterwards Lord Portland, was Lord Treasurer, and Cottington Under Treasurer, 
at this period. 

' See the Strafford Papers, vol. i. p. 413. 



1 64 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

details of this fruitless conspiracy are given at length in Ludlow's interest- 
ing Memoirs} 

At the Restoration, WaUingford House reverted to the second Duke 
of Buckingham, but although he used it as a private residence, it also 
continued in its official capacity as the headquarters of the Admiralty 
Board, and as the office of the Lord Treasurer. 

It was here, too, that in 1670 the Duke inaugurated that famous 
(or infamous) " Cabal Ministry," whose meetings, however, he was too 
wise to allow to take place in a spot so exposed to public observation, 
and consequently they were held in the solitude of Ham House instead. 
Hence, too, in the same and the two following years he started on those 
extraordinary embassies to the Continent in which he was the principal 
and splendid figure. 

This man, " so various that he seemed to be, not one but all mankind's 
epitome," as Dryden sings, found time in the midst of political and 
diplomatic duties to write The Rehearsal, produced in 1670 ; just as he 
had a few years previously personally superintended all the details con- 
nected with the lying in state here of the body of Cowley, the poet, 
who had been his intimate friend and college companion, and who died 
while staying at WalHngford House. Evelyn thus records the circum- 
stances of the poet's obsequies, under date of August 3, 1667 : " Went 
to Mr. Cowley's funerall, whose corps lay at WaUingford House, and 
was thence conveyed to Westminster Abbey in a hearse with six horses 
and all funerall decency, neare an hundred coaches of noblemen and 
persons of qualitie following ; among these all the witts of the towne, 
divers bishops and clergymen." 

Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, who was Lord Treasurer, and was created 
a peer in 1672, and died in the September of the following year, was one 
of those officially connected with WaUingford House, and in the Calendar 
of State Papers are various letters emanating from the Lord Treasurer's 
office, and dated from here, notably one from Clifford himself on 
April 29, 1673, and others in 1674 ^^^ 'i^SjS. 

Clifford's tragic end is well known, and the foUowing reference to 
Evelyn's last interview with him at WaUingford House has therefore a 
pathetic interest. Writes the diarist, on August 18, 1672 : " I went to 
take leave of him at WaUingford House. He was packing up pictures, 
most of which were of hunting wild beasts, and vaste pieces of buU-baiting, 
beare-baiting, &c. I found him in his study, and restored to him several 
papers of state and others of importance, which he had furnished me 
with, on engaging me to write the Historic of the HoUand War, with 

' See vol. ii. p. 168 cl scq. of the 1751 edition. 



WALLINGFORD HOUSE 165 

other private letters of his aclcnowledgments to my Lord ArHngton, 
who from a private gentleman of a very noble family, but inconsiderable 
fortune, had advanced him from almost nothing. . . . Taking leave of 
my Lord Clifford, he wrung me by the hand, and looking earnestly on 
me, bid me good-bye, adding, ' Mr. E., I shall never see you more.' 
' No ! ' said I ; ' my lord, what's the meaning of this ? I hope I shall 
see you often and as greate a person againe.' ' No, Mr. E., do not expect 
it ; I will never see this place, this City or Courte againe,' or words of 
this sound. In this manner, not without almost mutual tears, I parted 
from him ; nor was it long after, but newes was that he was dead, and I 
have heard from some who I believe knew, he made himself away, after an 
extraordinary melancholy." 

In 1680 Wallingford House was purchased by the Crown and converted 
into the office of the Admiralty, and fifteen years later a grant was made of 
a portion of Spring Gardens for use in conjunction with it. The old house 
was puUed down in 1720, and five years later the present buildings were 
erected from designs by that Thomas Ripley who, as Walpole says, " wanted 
taste and fell under the lash of lasting satire " ; the satire being that of 
Pope, who, in the " Dunciad," not only satirically exclaims : 

" See under Ripley rise a new Whitehall," 

but also writes : 

" Who builds a bridge, that never drove a pile ? 
Should Ripley venture all the world would smile." 

But Walpole seems to infer that this reference was due to the fact that 
Ripley was not countenanced by Lord Burlington, Pope's patron, and 
he adds that although the Admiralty is an ugly building, yet, in the 
disposition of apartments and conveniences, it was superior to the Earl 
himself.^ 

As may be seen from Bowles's view of it, published in 1731, the wings 
dwarf the central portion ; and an ugly wall ran along the Whitehall 
front. However, De Saussure, who saw it just after its completion, in 
December 1725, speaks of it as " a fine building," and he adds : " The 
chief, or president, of the Admiralty resides here ; the noblemen who 
compose its board assemble in its walls ; and you can generally see many 
well-known sea captains and men on business intent." ' 

' I.e. superior as to interior arrangements to those mansions, such as Burlington House, 
Marshal Wade's house, &c., which the Earl had designed. Anecdotes of Painting. 
* A Foreign View of England. 



1 66 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

When the novelty of the new building had somewhat worn off, the 
unsightliness of the wall before mentioned roused an outcry of artistic 
indignation, and in 1760 Robert Adam was commissioned to build the 
screen which at present divides the structure from the street, and which 
Horace Walpole considered handsome, and later authorities have regarded 
as one of the most successful of its architect's designs. 

In 1733 Admiral Byng, Viscount Torrington, died in apartments 
that had been allotted to him here ; and in 1805 the body of Lord Nelson 
lay in state here before being taken to St. Paul's. 

There are some good Grinling Gibbons carvings and some interesting 
portraits in the Board Room, and the long connection of the Admiralty 
with this spot is well sustained ; but of the once famous residence of 
the brilliant Buckingham only a small court, called after his name, 
and running by the side of the present building, helps to preserve the 
memory. 



ASHBURNHAM HOUSE, WESTMINSTER 

In the last chapter, when speaking of Ashburnham House, Dover 
Street, I mentioned a mansion of the same name in Westminster about 
which I want to say something more fully ; and I do so here, as, although 
it did not stand actually in Whitehall, its position was so close to that 
historic spot, that its inclusion in this chapter seems appropriate. 
Ashburnham House in Little Deans Yard, was probably erected between 
1650 and 1660, by John Webb, who appears to have completed the de- 
signs of the residence already prepared by his father-in-law and master, 
Inigo Jones. As in the case of the building of Castle Ashby, also de- 
signed by Inigo Jones, the erection of Ashburnham House seems to have 
been interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War ; and had these 
troubles not occurred, and Inigo Jones had lived to superintend the building 
of the mansion, those variations made by Webb, by which Jones's 
distinctive note was to some degree lost, would not have been present. 
In any case, the magnificent staircase designed by the greater architect, 
with its noble cupola and consummate proportions, as well as the 
splendid over-doors and other details, were all carefully preserved by 
Webb, whose plaster decorations in the cornices and elsewhere were 
probably as fine as anything his master would have produced in the same 
genre. The mansion appears to have been erected for William Ashburn- 
ham, the younger brother of that ' Jack ' Ashburnham famous for his 
devotion to Charles I., and the companion of that monarch's flight to the 



ASHBURNHAM HOUSE, WESTMINSTER 167 

Scotch army and his subsequent escape from Hampton Court to the Isle 
of Wight. William was also an officer of distinction in the Royal army 
during the civil war, and was rewarded for his loyalty, on the Restoration, 
by being made cofferer of the King's Household. He married about 1629, 
a near relative, Jane, daughter of John, Lord Butler of Woodhall, who is 
described as the " young, beautiful, and rich widow " of James Ley, Earl 
of Marlborough, of whom she was the third wife. William Ashburnham 
died in 1679, ^^^ ^^^^ having predeceased him in 1672. 

I have seen it stated that Ashburnham House was erected for ' Jack ' 
Ashburnham,^ but no authority is given for this, and I am led to believe that, 
as I have stated, William was its builder, from a passage in Pepys's Diary. 
It is known that the ground on which the mansion was built belonged to 
the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, a lease from which body had first 
to be obtained ; now, on May 3, 1667, the diarist was in the company 
of Sir Stephen Fox and William Ashburnham, then cofferer to the House- 
hold, and drove with them to Westminster, on which occasion Pepys 
notes how " the Cofferer " told " us odd stories how he was dealt with by 
the men of the Church at Westminster in taking a lease of them at the 
King's coming in (viz., the Restoration), and particularly the devilish 
coveteousness of Dr. Busby " (the famous head-master of Westminster, 
and in 1660 a Prebendary of Westminster). It may be objected that 
in this, William Ashburnham was his brother's agent, but I am more 
inclined to think that he was acting for himself. 

In any case the property passed to John Ashburnham, the grand- 
nephew of William who had no children, who was created Lord Ash- 
burnham in 1689, and died in 17 10, when he was succeeded in the title 
(and the occupancy of the house) by his son, the second Baron, who died 
six months after his father. The third Baron, afterwards (1730) created 
first Earl, a brother of the second, upon whom thereupon devolved the 
family estates, made arrangements to sell the mansion,^ an advertise- 
ment to that effect appearing in the London Gazette of January 1729 (new 
style) ; and in the following year the lease was purchased by the Crown 
for the specific purpose of housing the Royal Libraries, including the 
celebrated Cotton Manuscripts which had been purchased for the nation 
some twenty years earlier, and had been preserved hitherto in a house in 
Essex Street. In the following year, however, on Saturday, October 23, a 
disastrous fire occurred here, and destroyed no less than 114 of the 

' Britton and Pugin thought so, as do others ; but they all have to confess the difficulty 
of tracing records which appear to have been irrevocably lost. 

- Peter Wentworth, writing in this year, says : " Lord Barkley told me Lord Ashburnham's 
house is to be sold a great penny in Dean's Yard." 



1 68 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

948 volumes of which this portion of the collection consisted, besides 
badly damaging 98 others. "• 

The fire broke out at two o'clock in the morning, in a room immedi- 
ately beneath that in which the precious manuscripts were stored. 
Dr. Bentley, the King's Librarian was at the time in residence, and 
Dr. Freind, the then head-master of Westminster, narrates that he saw 
the worthy doctor, arrayed only in his dressing-gown and a wig, rush 
from the burning house, with the famous Alexandrian MSS., the Codex 
Alexandrinus, in four quarto volumes, under his arms ; although Walcott 
affirms that they were carried out of harm's way by Mr. Casley, the Deputy 
Librarian. When it is remembered that these precious manuscripts, finely 
written on vellum probably about the year 300 to 500 a.d., are supposed 
to be the most ancient MS. of the Greek Bible in uncial character extant, 
the anxiety of their custodian, whoever he was, for their preservation can 
be readily understood. The remainder of the books was only partially 
saved, some being removed in their presses bodily, others being thrown 
from the windows, and all being more or less damaged by water which was 
freely played upon them. 

In 1739 part of what remained of Ashburnham House was demolished 
for the purpose of erecting two prebendal residences, and the west wing, 
now also used as a prebendal house, was alone preserved. This, in its 
turn, was threatened with destruction so recently as 1 881, but happily 
this iconoclastic step was frustrated. The importance of this preservation 
will be recognised when it is known that the existing portion contains 
the famous staircase designed by Inigo Jones, as well as a very fine 
drawing-room, and the dining-room with its alcove, formerly used as a 
state bedroom. The staircase is thus specifically described by Britton 
and Pugin : " Of nearly a square shape, with four ranges of steps placed 
at right angles one with the other, and as many landings, it was the 
passage from the ground to the first floor. Its sides are panelled against 
the wall, and guarded by a rising balustrade. The whole is crowned by 
an oval dome springing from a bold and enriched entablature supported 
by a series of twelve columns. At the landing are fluted Ionic columns." ^ 
Indeed Sir John Soane thought so highly of the design and propor- 
tions of this fine piece of work that he caused careful drawings to be 
made of it, with which he illustrated one of the lectures he delivered 
before the Royal Academy. 

The position of Ashburnham House was on that part of the Bene- 
dictine Abbey of Westminster, called the Misericorde, while its garden 

' London Past and Present. 

' Public Edifices of London, vol. ii. p. 90. 



ASHBURNHAM HOUSE, WESTMINSTER 169 

looked on to the Refectory. In the cellars were some remains of the old 
conventual buildings, and a capital of the time of Edward III. was actually 
built into the modern foundations.' In the garden was a small alcove, the 
design of which was attributed to Inigo Jones, although Brettingham, in 
his book on Architecture, claims it as his own just as he did Kent's design 
for Holkham. There are extant a number of views of this once fine 
mansion — in Ware's, and Batty Langley's works (the latter of whom first, 
in 1737, attributed it to Webb as against the general supposition that it 
was wholly the work of Inigo Jones); in Smith's Westminster, and Britton 
and Pugin's Public Edifices, while the Society for Photographing Relics 
of Old London included some excellent views of it in that valuable series 

' Walcott. 



CHAPTER VI 

APSLEY HOUSE 

THERE is no more renowned mansion in the capital than "No. i, 
London," as Apsley House has been, appropriately both from its 
position and its intrinsic significance, called. For Englishmen 
it represents, crystallised in stone, more fully perhaps than any 
other dwelling in this country, an idea, a sentiment ; and although we, 
as a race, are not overmuch given to the cultivation of abstract qualities 
or the worship of mere formulas, yet if we can ever be said to lapse 
into such phases of thought, it is to this house that our minds will, I 
think, turn, as the spot consecrated to the memory of one who may justly 
be termed the saviour of his country. 

Little more than fifty years have passed away since the great captain 
of the age might have been seen in the fiesh leaving or entering that 
stern, uncompromising edifice whose outward appearance presented a 
not remote resemblance to the character of its great master ; but even 
to-day, when the bustle of life has taken on itself a more pronounced tone, 
and we have, as it seems, little time to ponder on the past, the most prosaic 
can hardly gaze at those portals without feeling a touch of pride at the 
thought that a common kinship binds him to the man with whom its 
stones are indissolubly connected — a man whose very presence rendered 
security more sure and whose passing seemed to carry with it half the 
safety of the nation. 

Appropriately enough for other reasons, as it seems, was Apsley House 
called " No i, London," for if we look at the old plans of this portion 
of the town, we shall see that its site was just at the south-west corner 
of that mass of buildings which then constituted the west-end of the 
town. Appropriately, too, was this position the residence of the great 
captain, for Hyde Park Corner is connected with at least two military 
engagements — one, when Sir Thomas Wyatt placed his ordnance here in 
1554 ; and the other, when the citizens of London threw up a fort with four 
bastions, in anticipation of Charles L's march on the city in 1642. 

Close by was the turnpike forming, as it were, the entrance to London 
at this point, and beyond it, to the further west, fields, or at most scattered 




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APSLEY HOUSE 171 

dwellings, were all that met the eye where now vast streets and myriads 
of houses form what we are accustomed to term the West-End. Indeed, 
in 1787, with slight exceptions, the south of Knightsbridge was as much 
open country as Hyde Park to the north, and St. James's and the Green 
Parks to the east. It is unnecessary to recapitulate what may be so well 
gleaned from Larwood's book and other analogous sources, with regard 
to the early history of Hyde Park, of which Apsley House almost forms 
an integral part, but it will be interesting to remember that as early as 
the days of Cromwell's usurpation, several houses were erected on the 
ground now covered by Apsley House to No. i, Hamilton Place. Indeed 
the latter thoroughfare takes its name from James Hamilton, who suc- 
ceeded the Duke of Gloucester, son of Charles I., in the Rangership 
of the Park, at the Restoration, to whom the leases of these houses were 
granted ; a grant confirmed to Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton, for the usual 
term of ninety-nine years, in 1692. The actual site of Apsley House 
itself was for many years occupied by the Ranger's Lodge, and practically 
adjoining this was an apple-stall, connected with which site the story 
goes that it was given to an old soldier, named Allen, whom the King, 
George II., recognised as having fought at the Battle of Dettingen ; possibly 
he may have been the very man who stayed the headlong flight of his 
Majesty's runaway horse, on which occasion, as we all know, the monarch 
dismounted and elected to fight during the rest of the day on foot, ex- 
claiming : " For then I know I shan't run away," or words in German or 
very broken English, to that effect. Allen and his wife kept the stall, 
and, we are to suppose, thrived thereon, for their son became an attorney ; 
and in course of time, Allen having died and the apple-stall having fallen 
down, it was presumed that the site had reverted to the Crown, or, at 
any rate, it was found convenient to suppose so, and it was forthwith 
leased to Henry, Lord Apsley, afterwards Lord Bathurst, who proceeded 
to erect a house on the site.' But the Crown and Lord Apsley seem 
to have reckoned without Mr. Attorney Allen, who put in a claim for 
compensation and unlawful ejectment. So successfully did he make out his 
claim, too, that, after much negotiation, it was arranged that the very 
considerable sum of ^^450 per annum ground rent should be awarded 
him. As there was a well-known saying at the time that here was " a 
suit by one old woman against another, and the Chancellor (Lord 
Bathurst was Chancellor from 177 1-8) has been beaten in his own court," 
it would appear that the widow Allen was the protagonist in the struggle, 

' Among the Adam drawings, preserved in the Soane Museum, are details of certain 
decorative work which Adam executed here for Lord Bathurst. The ceiling of the Portico 
Room is part of the Adam designs, and the arms of the Bathursts are still to be seen there. 



172 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

and her son, the attorney, her legal adviser. The inference that the 
Chancellor was " an old woman " gives point to a well-known story. 
His father. Pope's friend, was a jovial old fellow, and on one occasion, 
when nearly ninety, having some friends to dine with him, he was urged 
by his son to retire to rest, which he resolutely refused to do, and when 
his son had himself withdrawn, he said to his cronies : " Come, my good 
friends, since the old gentleman is gone to bed, I think we may venture 
to crack another bottle." 

That Lord Bathurst was one of the least distinguished of those who 
have filled the high office of Lord Chancellor, is attested by Lord 
Campbell who, in his lives of those dignitaries, goes so far as to consider 
the erection of Apsley House as the most notable act of his life ; his 
portrait by Brown certainly does not give any particular evidence either 
of distinction or intelligence, although the many high offices his Lordship 
held at various times ought to have been a guarantee of his attainments 
being far above the average. 

There is extant a drawing showing Hyde Park as it appeared in 1750, 
with the cottage and apple-stall in front of it, and the adjoining tene- 
ments on the site of which Apsley House now stands, as well as the old 
wooden gates of the Park, which were replaced, in 1828, by the beautifully 
designed screen and gates of Decim.us Burton ; only three years after 
which alteration the old toll gate close by had been sold by auction in 
pursuance of an Act of Parliament which had been passed abolishing 
certain toUs.^ 

Apsley House was erected, in red brick, from the designs of the Adam 
brothers, and occupied some seven years (177 1-8, or during the exact 
period of Lord Apsley's tenure of the Lord Chancellorship) in its con- 
struction. Considering the renown ' of its architects it cannot be said to 
have greatly added to the artistic features of the metropolis ; but it was, 
as may be seen in the drawing taken of it in 1800, which is in the Crace 
collection, commodious, and the excellence of its situation is undeniable. 

It remained in its original form till 1828, when the stone front and 
portico were added, as well as the picture-gallery and rooms under, 
and the mansion wholly encased under the direction of Sir Geoffrey 
WyatviUe. But before that date three notable events had occurred in 

' A woodcut of this sale is given in Hone's Everyday Book. But although the toll was done 
away with here it seems to have been merely transferred to Albert Gate, where it flourished for 
many years. 

' If the story be true which avers that Lord Bathurst was his own architect, and found that 
he had omitted to provide for a staircase from the second to the third floor, the Adams can 
only be considered as superintending, and very indifTerently superintending, the erection of the 
building. 



APSLEY HOUSE 173 

its history ; one was the death of its builder, Lord Bathurst, in 1794 ; ^ 
the other, the sale of the property by his son, the third Earl, to the Marquis 
Wellesley, in 1810; the last and most important, its resale by the Marquis, 
in 1820, to his younger and more famous brother, Arthur Wellesley, who 
had been created Duke of Wellington six years previously.^ It was the last- 
named who carried out the improvements already referred to, making 
certain important additions which included the famous Waterloo Gallery, 
and other apartments on the west side of the house. Ten years later the 
Duke purchased the Crown's interest in the property for ^^95 30; the 
Crown reserving the right to forbid the erection of any other house or 
houses on the site. 

One of the best remembered additions made to the house by the 
great Duke, were the Bramah bullet-proof shutters to the windows of 
the Waterloo Gallery, which were placed there on account of the mob's 
breaking these windows during the Reform Bill riots of 183 1. The circum- 
stances of this indignity to a national hero — this example of " benefits 
forgot," have been well given by Gleig, in his life of Wellington : 
" The Duke was not in his place in the House of Lords," says his 
biographer, " on that memorable day when the King went down to 
dissolve Parliament. He had been in attendance for some time pre- 
viously, at the sick bed of the Duchess, and she expired just as the Park 
guns began to fire. He was, therefore, ignorant of the state into which 
London had fallen, till a surging crowd swept up from Westminster to 
Piccadilly, shouting, and yelling, and offering violence to all whom they 
suspected of being Anti-Reformers. By-and-by volleys of stones came 
crashing through the windows at Apsley House, breaking them to pieces 
and doing injury to more than one valuable picture in the gallery. The 
Duke bore the outrage as well as he could, but determined never to run 
a similar risk again. He guarded his windows, as soon as quiet was re- 
stored, with iron shutters, and left them there to the day of his death, 
a standing memento of a nation's ingratitude." Wellington's remark 
a fropos of these shutters is well known. " They shall remain where 
they are," he said, " as a monument of the gullibility of the mob, and the 
worthlessness of that sort of popularity for which they who give it can 
assign no good reason. I don't blame the men who broke my windows. 
They only did what they were instigated to do by others who ought to 
have known better. But if any one be disposed to grow giddy with 

' In 1789, when Queen Charlotte and the Princesses came to London from Kew, to see the 
illuminations on the occasion of George lll.'s recovery, they stayed at Apsley House. 

2 In the Court Guide the Marquis Wellesley is given as residing here in 1815, and in the 
next year the Duke is entered as owner, but although he would seem to have lived here, 
possibly renting the place, he did not actually purchase it till 1820. 



174 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

popular applause, I think a glance towards these iron shutters will soon 
sober him." 

In connection with these riots, a curious circumstance is mentioned 
by Lord Stanhope, in his Notes of Conversations with the Duke of 
Wellington : " The Duke," writes Stanhope, " was one day sitting in his 
room at Apsley House when a stone passed over his head, having broken 
first a pane in the window, and then breaking another in the glass book- 
case along the wall. In this instance, having the position of the two 
broken panes to go by, they were able to calculate the line of the stone, 
and they reckoned that the person flinging it must have stood nearly as 
far oflf as Stanhope Street." A good throw, indeed ! 

Wellington was hardly the man to forget the treatment he received at 
this time, or to overestimate the value of popular applause or disappro- 
bation ; and although what he is reported to have said at the time 
may be the correct version, the following extract from Raikes's Journal 
would seem to indicate that he considered the mob as a whole had some- 
thing more to do with the breaking of his windows than merely to fulfil 
the wishes of its leaders : " Some time afterwards, when he had regained 
all his popularity, and began to enjoy that great and high reputation 
which he now, it is to be hoped, will carry to the grave, he was riding 
up Constitution Hill, in the Park, followed by an immense mob, who 
were cheering him in every direction ; he heard it all with the most 
stoical indifference, never putting his horse out of a walk, or seeming to 
regard them, till he leisurely arrived at Apsley House, when he stopped 
at the gate, turned round to the rabble, and then pointing with his finger 
to the iron blinds which still closed the windows, he made them a 
sarcastic bow, and entered the court without saying a word." 

Of the innumerable great entertainments, political meetings, dinners, 
receptions, &c., which took place at Apsley House during the life of 
the " great Duke," it is unnecessary to make specific mention ; nor could 
a chapter contain the names of the great ones who came here as his guests : 
the record of these functions is to be found in the innumerable diaries 
and letters of the period. But one of them claims, and justly claims, a 
word ; I mean the Waterloo Banquet, which every year, on the anni- 
versary of that fateful day, was given by the Duke. The room in which 
this dinner was held is that looking on to Hyde Park, whose windows, 
seven in number, are still pointed out to strangers and the few Londoners 
who are ignorant of their historic interest. Here, on the anniversary of 
the 1 8th June 1815, in every year during Wellington's Hfe, were gathered 
together the officers who fought on and survived the field of Waterloo. 
The well-known engraving published by Messrs. Moon, Boys, & Graves, 



APSLEY HOUSE 175 

perpetuates the brilliant scene, with the hero of a hundred fights its 
central figure and all the chivalry of the country gathered around him. 
Then was used the magnificent service of Sevres presented to the Duke 
by Louis XVIII. ; then, the Silver Plateau given him by the people of 
Portugal and presented by the Regent of that country ; while on the 
sideboard ghttered the superb silver gilt shield designed by Stothard, 
which the Merchants and Bankers of London had offered to the great 
leader who had kept intact the safety and honour of the capital. 

Before anything is said of the treasures with which Apsley House is 
filled, it will be interesting to note one or two circumstances connected 
with it ; thus it is a curious fact that the Duke was never known to refer 
to it either in conversation or by letter, as Apsley House ; during his 
life-time it was regarded as " Wellington's House " — and such a title 
was properly deemed a sufficient indication. It is also interesting to 
know that the bullet-proof shutters were removed in 1856, four years 
after the Duke's death ; while the screen in front of the door, which 
Wellington had had erected to hide him from the crowd that was used 
to assemble to see him mount his horse, was taken down by the second 
Duke, who said that " he was sure no crowd would assemble to see 
him get on his horse." The well-known appearance of the great Duke, 
in his habitual blue coat and white duck trousers, must not be forgotten, 
as no one who once saw it can forget it. I know a dear old clergyman, 
one of whose most cherished memories is that on one occasion he guided 
the great man across the road, and received from him in recognition a 
touch of the hat and a " thank'ee, thank'ee," which, such is the power 
of genius, is as clearly heard in that old parson's ears as if it had been 
uttered yesterday. Lord EUesmere records too, how he met the Duke 
one day and how " he walked slow and stopped often to expatiate. Re- 
cognition and reverence of all as usual. Hats were taken off ; passers 
made excuse for stopping to gaze. Young surgeons on the steps of St. 
George's Hospital forgot their lecture and their patients, and even the 
butcher's boy pulled up his cart, as he stopped at the gate of Apsley 
House." 

Indeed he was such an institution that people were used to gather 
together in front of his dwelling, to await his entrance or exit ; country 
cousins were taken to its vicinity, on the chance of seeing the " sights 
self " ; omnibus drivers took pride in pointing out his residence, and if 
in luck's way the great man in -propria persona ; shopkeepers ran to their 
doors as he passed, and all the world from the peer to the postman saluted 
him ; he was indeed, as Carlyle says of Frederick, " every inch a king," 
and like the great Prussian presented himself in a Spartan simplicity of 



176 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

vestment which caught the popular imagination far more than could the 
regal panoply. 

It is for such memories that Apsley House ^ may well be considered 
the most important of those private palaces with which I am dealing. 
Although the whole of Apsley House is reminiscent of the great figure 
that dominates its every chamber, there are two rooms — the largest and 
one of the smallest — which are particularly connected with it ; and in 
these two rooms are reflected the varied characteristics that chiefly 
embody in our minds the qualities of the great Duke : his pre-eminent 
genius as a commander, and his inherent simplicity of taste and manner ; 
his " transcendent fame," and his innate modesty. The one is the great 
Waterloo Gallery ; the other, the bedroom which he habitually used. 
No greater antithesis could well be imagined than that furnished by these 
two apartments — the one small and ill-lighted, with its iron bedstead, so 
small, by-the-bye, that some one once observed to the Duke that there was 
no room to turn in it, to which the great man replied : " When I want 
to turn in bed I know it is time to turn out " ; the other, magnificent in 
proportion, superb in decoration, and lighted not only by its seven 
windows looking out on the finest prospect in London, but also illumi- 
nated by the wonders of pictorial art which hang on its walls, and made 
more gorgeous by a hundred beautiful treasures scattered about it. 

Here hangs Van Dyck's Charles I.— a replica of the well-known picture 
in the Royal Collection, which was bought by Lord Cowley in Spain, 
and is generally supposed to have been presented by Charles L to 
Philip IV. ; here are two portraits by Sir Antonio More, and a delightful 
Wouvermans, " The Return from the Chase," mentioned with much 
praise by Waagen. No fewer than seven Velasquezs of great power and 
beauty are included in the pictures that grace the gallery, four of which 
were among those taken in Joseph Bonaparte's carriage after the battle of 
Vittoria. One of these, " The Water-Carrier," is said to have been pro- 
duced by the great Spaniard when he was but twenty ; he had found 
himself even thus early, and how surely ! This fine picture is the chef- 
d'oeuvre of that class of work — kitchen and tavern scenes after the manner 
of the Dutch masters, which constituted Velasquez's first independent 
excursion into artistic activity. The painter took it with him, says Sir 
Walter Armstrong, when he went to Madrid, and on the completion of 
the palace of Buen Retiro, it was selected to form part of the decorations 
of one of the rooms. Later it found a home in the new Bourbon Palace, 
and together with the famous Correggio, it was carried away by Joseph 

' It may be noted that further alterations, other than those I have noted, were made to tlie 
house in 1853, under the direction of Philip Hardwick, the architect. 



APSLEY HOUSE 177 

Bonaparte in his flight after Vittoria. Together with its companion 
canvas it was sent by WelHngton to Ferdinand, who begged the conqueror's 
acceptance of both works. Sir Walter Armstrong, in noting the simpHcity 
and fideHty of the work, remarks that its striking effect is produced by 
the easy and natural juxtaposition of the three heads — that of the water- 
seller himself, who stands before a rough table, his left hand on the great 
stoppered jar at his side, and in his right a glass goblet ; and those of his 
two boyish customers, one of whom is just taking the glass of water from 
the hands of the Aguador} 

The other works by Velasquez are portraits and landscapes ; one of 
them, a presentment of Pope Innocent X., is supposed to be the study 
for the picture in the Doria Pamfili Palace. The still powerful and 
vigorous, if sinister features of Innocent, probably one of the ugliest men 
of his day, were just those to which such an artist as Velasquez was able 
to do the fullest justice ; and even if it were the case that the then 
Cardinal's coarse and sensual features were seriously urged as a reason for 
his not receiving the Tiara, and were given by Guido to the Satan in his 
St. Michael, still they afforded Velasquez the opportunity of producing 
one of his most remarkable portraits. Sir Walter Armstrong, indeed, 
goes so far as to affirm that by the side of this picture, even the Leo X. 
of Raphael, to say nothing of that master's Julius II., seems lifeless and 
wooden ; the work at Apsley House presents us simply with the head and 
bust of the Pope — whereas the Doria Pamfili picture is almost full length, 
and shows the hands, one of which is holding a paper, to be full of power 
and character. Another portrait is that of the poet Quevedo — with his 
unornamental and prodigious — we can but hope useful — ^horn spectacles 
Quevedo had injured his sight by incessant application to study in his 
youth, which necessitated the use of these spectacles. The picture in 
question shows him wearing a dark doublet on which is sewn the cross of 
Santiago, and was thus probably painted before the poet fell into disgrace, 
and still filled the post of secretary to the King. Another splendid 
example of this great master, is the picture of two boys at a table, one of 
whom with his back to the spectator is drinking, while the other faces 
him ; there is also a portrait of a Spanish gentleman, and two vigorous 
landscapes from the same hand, one of the latter being a view of 
Pampeluna, the capital of Navarre, which was purchased by the first 
Duke, in 1844, from the Brackenbury collection. Then perhaps above 
all, there is a small but perfect Correggio — " Christ in the Garden of 

' Velasquez, by Sir Walter Armstrong. 

- Formerly in Lady Stuart's collection, and bought by the Duke from Smith, of Bond 
Street, for £\o'-„ at the suggestion of Lord Ellesmere. 

M 



« 



1 78 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Gethsemane," of which Vasari was so enthusiastic that he specifically 
speaks of it when he saw it at Reggio, as " la piu Bella cosa che si fossa 
vedere di suo^'' a verdict substantially re-echoed by all later judges. 
The head of Christ with the single ray of light which falls upon it, 
is extraordinarily fine ; and the arrangement by which the light is 
reflected from the white robe of the central figure on to the disciples in 
the middle distance, is a tour de force ; while, notwithstanding that the 
work is finished with the utmost minuteness, there is a breadth of treat- 
ment in it which makes it a masterpiece of draughtsmanship and chiaro- 
scuro. There is a tradition that this thing of beauty was painted to pay 
a debt of four scudi which Correggio owed to an apothecary — lucky man 
of drugs ! It was, however, soon after sold for five hundred scudi. The 
picture belonged to Joseph Bonaparte and had previously been in the 
gallery of the Princess of the Asturias, at Madrid, where Mengs saw it.' 
After Vittoria, it was found in the King's travelling carriage together, 
as we have seen, with the Velasquez. Waagen, who criticises very fully, 
with the utmost admiration this beautiful work, notes that it must at 
one time have been much exposed to the sun or other heat, as the colour 
has everywhere shrunk considerably, but that otherwise it was in an ex- 
cellent state of preservation when he saw it. 

The great Duke so greatly treasured this picture that Gurwood once 
told Haydon, that he kept the key of the glass which covered it himself, 
and that when the glass was dusty he cleaned it with his handkeixhief. 
Once Gurwood asked the Duke to let him have the key, to which the 
emphatic reply was " No, I won't." 

Another very beautiful picture hanging in the gallery is " The Virgin 
and Child," by Luini, which was once in the Royal Spanish collection, 
before Joseph Bonaparte lost it after Vittoria in trying to carry it away. 
This fine work has been attributed to Andrea del Sarto, and even to the 
great Leonardo himself, to whose manner it has a remarkable resem- 
blance. Very noticeable, too, is Tintoretto's three-quarter length por- 
trait of Cicogna, Doge of Venice, seated on a red throne, which the great 
Duke bought from the Dennys collection, in 1845. 

There are here two presentments of Caterina Cornaro, the famous 
Queen of Cyprus, one from the brush of Paul Veronese, the other by 
Titian. The former is supposed to be the picture which was purchased 
by Mr. King, at the sale of Beckford's collection in 1823, for the ridiculous 

» Waagen states that it was engraved so early as 1 560, by Custi. The well-known rendering 
of the same subject in the National Gallery, although stated to be a replica, has by some 
critics been considered as a fine copy of the original, made by Lodovico Carracci. There are 
also copies at Florence and Dresden. Archdeacon Coxe states that a beautiful and faithful 
copy was painted by John Jackson, R.A. 



APSLEY HOUSE 179 

sum of sixteen guineas. A little over twenty years later the Duke bought 
it from Mr. Graves, for ;^I05. 

Among the other Titians in the gallery is the portrait of his mistress, 
three-quarter length and life size, and a Danae, both of which were among 
the pictures taken from Joseph Bonaparte's traveUing carriage after the 
battle of Vittoria. 

Turning to the Murillos, special mention must be made of the " Old 
Woman eating Porridge," for which the Duke gave ^250 ; " St. Francis of 
Assisi receiving the Stigmata " ; " Isaac blessing Jacob," and his " St. 
Catherine," all of which came from Spain, among the Vittoria booty. 
Then there is a fine " St. Catherine of Alexandria," by Claudio Coello ; 
and Spagnoletto's " Peter Repentant " ; a " St. John the Baptist " ; a half- 
length portrait of Santiago (St. James), and particularly a gruesome 
but powerful work by the same master called " La Carcasse," where the 
skeleton of a huge monster is drawn by nude figuus. 

In this wonderfully representative gathering of fine works, it is im- 
possible to do more than merely name some of the subjects and their 
painters ; nor is, in this case, more needed, for an elaborate catalogue 
was prepared some years ago by Evelyn, Duchess of WelUngton, in which 
each work is fully described and in many instances reproduced. But 
what a wealth of pictorial art is to be seen hanging on the walls of the 
gaUery alone may be imagined when I state that Leonardo da Vinci, 
with a " Virgin and Child " ; Claude with two landscapes of great beauty ; 
Carlo Cignani, with a " Venus and Adonis " ; Parmegiano with a " Marriage 
of St. Catherine " ; Carlo Dolci, with an " Ecce Homo," and Guercino 
with a " Mars," are all represented. Then there is a battle piece full of 
action by Salvator Rosa, and a delightful " Holy Family," by Sassoferrato ; 
as well as a " Virgin and Child " by Guilio Romano, of such power 
and beauty that Benjamin West once, bracketing it with the lovely 
Correggio, remarked that they should be framed in diamonds, and that 
it was worth fighting a battle for them alone ! 

Besides these, and how many others, the number of splendid examples 
of the Dutch and Flemish schools is extraordinary. There are the " Holy 
Family," by Rubens, and a landscape by Johannes Vermeer ; Vandyck's 
" Magdalen with Angels " ; and " The Colbert Family on Horseback," by 
Van der Meulen ; a pair of Wouvermans, one, " The Return from the 
Chase," and the other " The Departure of a Hawking Party," both very 
fine examples, and " A Grey Horse and Cavalier," by Cuyp, which the 
Duke bought from the Lapeyriere collection in 1817, and which was 
exhibited at the British Institution in the following year, and in the 
Old Masters as recently as 1890; Breughel's "Travellers Crossing a 



i8o THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Ford," and " A Man's Head," by Ferdinand Bol ; while besides these are 
examples of the work of Van der Neer, from the Royal Spanish collection, 
and not this time one of his usual moonlight effects, but " Boys with a 
Trapped Bird " ; Terborch with the " Signing the Peace of Westphalia," 
which curiously enough used to hang in the very room in which the Treaty 
of Paris was signed in 1814, having once belonged to Talleyrand; 
Poelenburg ; David Teniers, both the elder and the younger, of whom 
there are several examples ; Duyster, Pieter Gysels, and Elsheimer, 
while there is one Enghsh picture, in this case one of Sir Joshua's rare 
landscapes, " The Flight into Egypt," which came from the Northwich 
collection, in 1859. 

In what is called the Piccadilly Drawing-Room — the apartment with 
its windows over the porch facing Piccadilly, hang a number of Teniers. 
One of these pictures is small, being only ten inches broad by six inches 
in height, and yet within that tiny compass no less than thirty figures, 
painted with the delicacy of a miniature, are hit off with a verve and 
spirit that Meissonier, who so powerfully combined breadth and finish, 
might have envied. The picture bears the date of 1655, and Waagen 
is my authority for stating that it was purchased at the sale of the 
Lapeyriere collection, in 18 17, for 5550 francs. 

This room might well be called the Dutch Room, for nearly all the 
pictures in it had their origin in the land of dykes. For instance there 
is Backhuysen's " Embarkation of De Ruyter," which the Duke pur- 
chased from the Le Rouge collection, in 181 8, and for which he paid 
^880 ; and Brouwer's " Boers Smoking," another of Wellington's pur- 
chases, having been bought at the Lapeyriere sale for ^96, on which 
occasion, among many other purchases, the Duke secured Ostade's " Game 
of Gallet," for ;^2i8 ; and Mieris's " Cavaliers Drinking," for ^100. 

Of the two Van der Heydens, that representing a view on the Vecht, 
a particularly fine work, cost but ^216 in the Le Rouge sale, and Nicholas 
Maes's " The Listener," so full of expression, and so consummate in the 
management of its black and red harmonies, was actually secured at the 
same time for ^64 ! 

There are three Jan Steens in this room ; one of them, the famous 
" Sick Lady," came from the Lapeyriere collection, and was extraordinarily 
cheap at the ^£456 which the Duke gave for it ; while Gaspar Netscher's 
" The Toilet," if it can be believed, cost but ^36 at the same dispersal. 
Besides these, there are Van der Velde's " Vessels in a Calm," and 
Abraham Storck's " Ships in a River " ; a hunting scene by Paul Bril, 
and a landscape with St. Hubert, by the same painter ; as well as a pair 
of Linglebach's landscapes ; and the " Rape of Proserpine," by Nicholas 




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APSLEY HOUSE i8i 

Verkolie, the son of Jan Verkolie, and a Van Huysum; which was once in 
the Le Rouge Gallery ; while examples are here of the work of Karl du 
Jardin and De Hoogh ; Dietrich, and Moucheron. 

The library contains a rather indifferent picture of the once cele- 
brated lion tamer, Van Amburgh in his cage, by Landseer, of which 
Waagen, although he says the animals are executed in a masterly manner, 
justly criticises the theatrical and common presentment of Van Amburgh, 
as " by no means doing credit to his kind," ^ and in the Portico Room 
hangs the well-known " Chelsea Pensioners " of Wilkie. This masterly 
and characteristic work, with its varied expressions of interest, excitement, 
and humour, was painted for the Duke in 1822 ; the great man paying 
the price agreed on — 1200 guineas in bank notes. Haydon prints the 
letter in which Wilkie describes the visit of the Duke to his studio 
on August 17, 1816, in company with several friends. " At last," says 
the artist, " Lady Argyle began to tell me that the Duke wished me to 
paint him a picture, and was explaining what the subject was, when the 
Duke, who was at that time seated on a chair and looking at one of the 
pictures that happened to be on the ground, turned to us, and swinging 
back upon the chair turned up his lively eye to me and said that 
the subject should be a parcel of old soldiers assembled together on 
their seats at the door of a public-house, chewing tobacco and talking 
over their old stories. He thought they might be in any uniform, and 
that it should be at some public-house in the King's Road, Chelsea." 
With some further suggestions, from which Wilkie told the Duke a 
beautiful picture ought to be evolved, the great man left the studio, 
and the chair he had sat on was immediately singled out and decorated 
with ribbons by the painter's proud family. 

In the same room at Apsley House is also to be seen the picture by 
Burnet, for which the Duke paid the painter 500 guineas, and which was 
executed as a companion to the " Chelsea Pensioners " ; it represents 
" Greenwich Pensioners receiving the News of the Battle of Trafalgar " ; 
while here also hang a portrait of Pitt by Hoppner ; Lady Lyndhurst, 
by Wilkie ; Spencer Percival, by Joseph ; and a portrait of Reynolds by 
himself ; besides which are examples of MuriUo and Albano ; Annibale 
Caracci and Andrea del Sarto ; Wouvermans and Watteau, so that a note 
of catholicity is struck here, as in nearly all the rooms in the mansion. 

Another room — named, from the prevailing tone of its decoration, 
the Small Yellow Drawing Room — contains one or two pictures of intrinsic 
interest rather than of artistic worth ; although when I state that one 

' The Duke is said to have suggested this picture, and to have read to the painter the verse 
in Genesis in which dominion is given to Adam over the beasts of the field. 



1 82 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

of them is WilHe's portrait of William IV., painted in 1833, and 
presented to the Duke by the King, it will be recognised that one of 
them at least cannot be said to wholly lack value as a work of art. 
This picture, which shows us the King habited in the uniform of the 
Grenadier Guards, was exhibited at the Royal Academy, and although 
attracting attention was somewhat thrown into the shade by the same 
painter's remarkable presentment of the Duke of Sussex, which was at 
the time described as " the first of all modern portraits for truth and 
character and harmonious brightness of colour." ' 

Among other works in this room, there is an elaborate and curious 
picture of the " Animals entering the Ark," by Breughal and Van Kessell ; 
and the well-known and much engraved " Illicit Still," by Landseer ; 
as well as the same painter's picture of Napoleon's famous charger, 
" Moscow," and a number of military scenes by De Fontaine, one of 
which represents Napoleon crossing the Danube before the battle of 
Essling. An incident in one of Wellington's campaigns is also repre- 
sented here, in T. J. Barker's picture of the Duke writing for reinforce- 
ments at the Bridge of Sauroren. For the rest there are a number of 
portraits hanging in this apartment, among which are two of Napoleon 
by Lef^vre, two of Josephine by the same painter, and one of the great 
Duke himself. 

A large picture of George IV., by Wilkie, represents the King in 
Highland dress ; " a very stately figure, of astonishing force and effect 
of colour," is Waagen's comment. This portrait was presented by the 
monarch to the Duke, and used formerly to hang in the Small Drawing 
Room, but is now in the Dining Room in company with presentments 
of Francis II. of Austria, WilHam III. of Prussia, and WilHam I. of 
Holland ; Louis XVIII. , and Alexander I. of Russia, both by Baron Gerard, 
among others most of which were either painted for the Duke, or pre- 
sented to him by the various sovereigns, the safety of whose kingdoms 
and the perpetuation of whose lines as reigning families, he did so much 
to secure. 

Although not of course artistically interesting, yet having a certain 
value of their own, if only to show that the great Duke appreciated 
art in its most perfect form, and must have exercised much self- 
restraint in refraining from carrying away many masterpieces which his 
rdle as conqueror placed at his disposal, are the four copies of Raphael's 
works, " The Spasimo," " La Madonna del Pesce," " The Pearl," and 
" The Visitation," hanging in Apsley House, which Wellington com- 
missioned Bonnemaison to reproduce while they were in Paris. They 

' "Sir David Wilkie," by Mollett. 



APSLEY HOUSE 183 

are interesting copies of these celebrated pictures, but hardly of the 
artistic excellence of another copy at Apsley House, that of the " Madonna 
della Sedia," which is readily understandable when we know that in this 
case the copyist is supposed to have been no less a master than Guilio 
Romano. 

The portraits at Apsley House are generally interesting, rather from 
the individuals represented than from the fame of their painters, although 
in several cases there is a satisfactory combination of both attractions. 
Here is John, Duke of Marlborough, solemnly hanging in the house of 
the commander who rivalled him in military glory, and far out-distanced 
him in integrity ; here is Pitt — the greater son of a great father — who 
did so much to make many of those victories possible and to further en- 
hance that military glory ; and here is Mr. Arbuthnot, the lifelong friend 
of the Duke, who died at Apsley House in apartments especially assigned 
to him by his old friend ; when one looks at that portrait it is difficult 
to forget the pathetic anxiety of the Duke during Mr. Arbuthnot's last 
illness, and the occasion when the doctor had uttered the patient's doom, 
and the great Duke, almost breaking down, seized his hand and gazing 
into his face exclaimed : " No, no ; he's not very ill, not very bad — 
he'll get better. It's only his stomach that's out of order. He'll not 
die." ' 

Here, too, we have Elizabeth, Duchess of Wellington, painted by 
Gambardella ; while many of Wellington's comrades in arms are, of course, 
represented ; Lord Beresford, Lord Lynedoch, and Lord Anglesey, all 
perpetuated by the brush of Lawrence ; Blucher is here in the city he 
would, mutatis mutandis, have liked to sack ; and Alava, who fought 
under the Duke in the Peninsular War, and was afterwards Ambassador 
in London ; so is Soult whom Wellington met under such varied circum- 
stances ; and Pope Pius VH., whom Napoleon ordered from Rome to 
crown him, and at the crucial moment snatched the imperial diadem 
from the trembling pontiff's hands, and put it on himself. 

Beechey painted the portrait of Nelson which is here. We all know 
the story of how the great sea-captain and the hero of a hundred fights 
met once — in Pitt's waiting-room — and did not know each other ! Lord 
Castlereagh, who committed suicide and drew down some of Shelley's 
most bitter invectives, and who was said to have been the most noticeable 
figure at the Congress of Vienna, because he was the only diplomatist 
present who wore no orders, may also be seen ; as may Spencer Perceval, 
whom Bellingham did to death in the lobby of the House ; and here, 
too, is Colonel Gurwood, who edited the despatches of the Duke — those 

' Gleig. 



1 84 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

extraordinary examples of military knowledge, patient industry, and 
untiring activity. 

Most of these portraits hang in the Yellow Drawing Room, and with 
them are many others of " Wellington's men," mostly from the brush 
of Pieneman, such as Sir John Elley, Ponsonby, and Sir Colin Campbell, 
the last being the original sketch for the figure in the large Waterloo 
picture now at Amsterdam, and signed "J. W. P., Apsley House, 1821 "; 
Viscount Hill and Lord E. Somerset ; Lord Seaton and Lord Raglan ; 
General Fremantle and Sir Colin Halkett ; Sir George Cooke and Col. 
Thornhill ; while there is a fine portrait of Lord Combermere by Hayter ; 
Joseph Bonaparte by Baron Gerard ; and the Duke himself by Gambar- 
della, a copy of Lawrence's picture, and also by C. R. Leslie. And, 
appropriately in the midst of this military picture-gallery, hangs Sir 
W. Allan's " Waterloo," representing the field as it appeared at 7.30 p.m., 
when Napoleon made his last desperate effort to retrieve his falling 
fortunes and Ney, bravest of the brave, led on foot the Old Guard to 
their last fruitless attack, of which picture the Duke once remarked : 
" Good — very good — not too much smoke." 

Some family portraits hang in the Lower Drawing Room, including 
a particularly fine one of the first Lord Cowley by Hoppner ; Lawrence's 
Lady WeUesley, and Lady Worcester, and Hoppner's well-known group 
of Lady Anne Fitzroy, afterwards Lady Anne CuUing-Smith, with her 
two daughters, Anne CaroHne and Georgina Fredericka Fitzroy, who 
was afterwards the Lady Worcester of Lawrence's picture. 

But it is not only in the Reception Rooms that this wealth of pictorial 
art is to be seen ; for on the Staircase, in the Vestibule, the Corridor, 
the Entrance Halls, even in the Basement, a number of works hang in 
bewildering profusion ; battle pieces by Courtois ; genre pictures by Peter 
de Hoogh, and Caravaggio, (" The Gamblers," once belonging to Joseph 
Bonaparte) ; Haydon's heroic sketch of the Duke when in his seventy-first 
year, and, particularly noticeable, Jan Steen's remarkable " Egg Dance," 
which WelHngton purchased at the Le Rouge sale, in 1818, for ;^l2o! 

Among these contemporaries we find here and there older historical 
figures ; Henri Quatre, with his pleasant face — one wonders whether 
thinking of his ideal peasant with his chicken in the pot, or of the 
beautiful eyes of Gabrielle d'Estr^es ; the Prince de Conde, Rocroi 
hovering in our thoughts, and Louis XIV.'s royal word, " Don't hurry, 
cousin ; when one is laden with laurels one cannot walk fast " ; and the 
" Roi Soleil " himself in all the glory of robe and wig which Thackeray 
so wickedly stripped from him to present us with a little, bald-headed, 
weak-kneed old man, hobbling with a stick. Here, too, is another 



APSLEY HOUSE 185 

Bourbon, who owed so much — his kingdom, perhaps his life — to the Duke 
— Charles X., the once gay Comte d'Artois of Louis Seize's court. This 
is the picture which, as he once gazed at it, gave occasion for Wellington 
to compare its subject with our James II. ; " when one reads Mazure's 
book, one is much struck at the many points of likeness," he told Lord 
Stanhope, " and yet what is very curious is — and I know it for a positive 
fact — that they ordered the book to be written on purpose to show that 
there was no likeness at all." ^ Other portraits of the various monarchs 
of Europe who all owed something to the Duke are here, and half-a-dozen 
of the colossus — Napoleon — he overthrew. 

In the Library, nearly all the wall-space of which is covered by book- 
cases containing many of the works that the great Duke was wont to 
consult, there still stands the oval-topped writing desk at which he sat 
and penned those short and emphatic notes, or as often sent cheques 
and bank-notes to deserving cases, part of that splendid generosity of 
which few knew the extent except, perhaps, Gurwood, who once told 
Haydon that he saw the great man sealing up envelope after envelope 
containing money which was to bring joy to many a starving household. 
Lawrence's portrait of the third Earl Bathurst hangs in the Garden 
Room, formerly the great Duke's bedroom ; in the Dining Room is 
that of Lady Charlotte Greville by Hoppner, as well as R. Lawrence's 
sketch of the Duke's famous charger, " Copenhagen," and the " Storming 
of Seringapatam " by Stothard. 

The great English sculptors are perhaps better represented than its 
painters ; for example, there is Steell's bust of Wellington himself ; 
Chantrey's Castlereagh and Wellington ; Pitt by NoUekens, as well as 
busts of Perceval, Ponsonby, Gurwood, &c. Canova is represented by 
his colossal statue of Napoleon which stands at the foot of the staircase, 
and which the Prince Regent presented to the Duke, in 1817. Here is 
that extraordinary man in an apotheosis of glory — crowned with laurel, 
holding in one hand a sceptre and in the other a figure of victory ! Here 
he stands amidst the penates of one who tore victory from his grasp and 
shattered his dream of dominion ! Surely others besides Waagen in 
viewing this satire on earthly greatness have been " filled for awhile with 
melancholy thoughts." This remarkable work is eleven feet high, and 
is said, with the exception of the left arm, to have been cut from a single 
block of marble, and the sculptor was able to cut a statuette of Hebe 
from beneath the right arm of the figure ! Another example of Canova's 
work is the bust of Pauline Borghese — that heroine of so many stories — 
whom the sculptor, it will be remembered, considered the most perfect 

' Stanhopes Conversations with Wellington. 



1 86 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

example of beauty in face and figure then alive. Rauch's great statue 
of Blucher at Breslau is here to be seen copied in little ; while the 
same sculptor's bust of the Emperor Nicholas also stands here. Besides 
which there are a number of antique busts and figures ; Marcus Aurelius, 
and Servianus ; Alexander, and Lucius Verus, and Vitellius, to mention 
but these ; and there is also a head of Charles I., which is attributed to 
Bernini. 

Many of the most interesting and valuable artistic treasures preserved 
at Apsley House, were presents to the great Duke from the various sove- 
reigns of Europe and others who recognised how much their safety and 
that of their peoples was due to his consummate mastery in the art of 
war. Thus the magnificent service of Sevres came from Louis XVIIL 
— perhaps from so well-known a gastronome, a not inappropriate gift ; 
the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia both helped to fill the 
Duke's China Room with priceless porcelain ; the King of Saxony's con- 
tribution was a magnificent Dresden dessert service, painted with scenes 
depicting the Duke's victories in India, the Peninsula, and at Waterloo. 
The silver plateau which the Regent of Portugal, on behalf of the people 
of that country, sent to Wellington is no less than thirty feet long by 
as many wide, and is lighted by lo6 wax tapers ; while the Corporation 
of London's gift took the appropriate form of three silver candelabra — 
each representing a foot soldier life size. Here, too, are to be seen the 
superb Waterloo vase which the merchants and bankers of London gave 
the Duke, and more noticeable than all the Wellington shield — a master- 
piece of design and execution, which formed a national gift, and was 
completed in 1822, at a cost of £jooo. The work, as is well known, 
was designed by Stothard, who took Flaxman's shield of Achilles as a 
general idea for the design. He had but three weeks in which to read 
up the history of Wellington's campaigns for embodiment in the scheme 
of the work, and his biographer, Mrs. Bray, well says that " to any other 
than genius of the highest order, perfected by long practice, the task to 
be performed in so short a time would have been impossible." Stothard 
always thought that, although less costly, a bronze shield would have 
been a richer and more classical material for his design The Duke called 
on the artist and examined his drawings and the etchings he had made 
from them, and he both carefully analysed each design and made such 
criticisms as they suggested to him. It is needless to expatiate on the 
history of these designs, nor shall I give any minute description of the 
shield, as such descriptions are generally not only tedious but very frequently 
fail to convey any adequate idea of the subject ; but I may at least state 
generally the nature of Stothard's conception ; which was, the Duke on 



APSLEY HOUSE 187 

horseback in the centre, surrounded by his more illustrious officers, Fame 
crowning the hero, and at his feet Anarchy, Discord, and Tyranny over- 
come. The arrangement by which the evolutions of the horses within 
a circle are arranged — all emanating from the centre — is most effective 
and original. The border of the shield is formed in ten compartments 
— each representing a salient incident in the Duke's military career. 
The shield is 3 feet 8 inches in diameter, and the columns which stand 
by its side, and were designed by Smirke, stand 4 feet 3 inches high. 

I must not omit to mention among the more notable presents of 
which the Duke was the recipient, the two candelabra of Russian 
porphyry, 12 feet high, given by the Emperor Alexander, and the pair 
of vases of Swedish porphyry presented by the King of Sweden. But 
although these rich and beautiful objects cannot fail to have an interest 
for any one who is either a student of Wellington's career, or a lover of 
art, it is probable that the chief attractions of Apsley House will be found 
to centre in the almost humble private apartments of the great Duke, 
and the Museum where the more personal relics associated with him 
are preserved. These rooms, in 1853, were thrown open to the public, 
as remaining then in the exact state in which they were when last used 
by Wellington in September 1852 ; and one who then inspected them 
tells how " the library he consulted, the books he kept beside him for 
reference, the mass of papers, maps, and documents, even to the latest 
magazine, were undisturbed." This is the room in which Lord EUesmere 
records having often seen the Duke sleeping in his chair amidst a chaos 
of papers. It was lined with book-cases and despatch-boxes (for we must 
not forget that if he was Commander-in-Chief, he was also Prime 
Minister), and there was the red morocco chair in which he worked — • 
and slept, as we have seen ; and an upright desk at which he stood to 
write ; on the walls hung the engravings of the Duke — one of these 
probably that which Lord EUesmere, writing from memory, thought 
was in one of the bedrooms, in which Wellington is represented, by a 
Portuguese artist (it was taken after Talavera) in a Portuguese uniform 
with hessian boots ; the other by Count D'Orsay when he was an old 
man, and a Cosway drawing of the Countess of Jersey, hanging between 
medallions of Lady Douro (the Duke's daughter-in-law) and Jenny Lind ! 

In the Secretary's Room stood an object of great interest ; the rough 
unpainted box, which had been with the Duke in all his campaigns, and 
on which he had often written those despatches which so forcibly attest 
the lucidity of his mind, or those military orders which led to so many 
victories. 

The small bedroom, approached by a short passage, contained little 



1 88 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

but his exiguous bedstead curtained with green silk hangings, and practi- 
cally its sole mural decorations were an unfinished sketch of Lady Douro, 
a small portrait in oils, and two cheap prints of military men. 

In the Museum, which contains many of the articles which have 
already been mentioned, such as the gifts of foreign sovereigns, the 
Wellington shield and the great candelabra, are a number of glass-topped 
cases in which are arranged the swords, batons, and the innumerable 
orders, belonging to the Duke ; more interesting still, perhaps, his two 
pairs of field glasses, the cloak which he wore in the Peninsula and which 
is almost as famous as Napoleon's grey coat ; a sword which once belonged 
to Napoleon himself ; the dress which Tippoo Sahib was wearing when 
he was captured ; the fine " George " set with diamonds which Queen 
Anne had given to Marlborough and which George IV. in turn presented 
to his Marlborough, and innumerable medals struck in honour of the 
Duke ; as well as the identical George which Charles I. gave to Bishop 
Juxon on the scaffold, to mention but these. 

I have particularly laid stress on two essential points of interest in 
Apsley House ; the chief being the memory of the great man with whom 
it will always be indissolubly connected ; the other the superb collection 
of pictures with which it may be said, without exaggeration, to be filled ; 
but it need hardly be remarked that besides these treasures, every room 
is not only more or less magnificent in decoration, in the matter of 
ceilings, mantelpieces, over-doors, &c., but also contains a wealth of 
beautiful furniture and bric-d-brac, which both add to their splendour 
and interest.^ 

In the relatively small grounds at the back of Apsley House, the great 
Duke was wont to walk, and, like his famous rival, Napoleon, used 
occasionally to water the shrubs with a hose ; and it is interesting to re- 
flect that, perhaps, there were occasions when the great protagonists of 
Waterloo might each have been employed in " spouting water on the 
trees and flowers in their favourite gardens," ^ at an identical moment. 

' A Catalogue Raisonne of the pictures at Apsley House was published by Mitchell, of 
Bond Street, while Evelyn, Duchess of Wellington, brought out, some years ago, a magnificent 
descriptive catalogue, profusely illustrated, in two volumes. 

- Journal of the Captivity of Napoleon. 




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CHAPTER VII 

« 

BRIDGEWATER HOUSE 

IN the second year of the reign of Charles I., Thomas Howard 
was created Earl of Berkshire, and shortly after that date he com- 
menced the erection of a town house to the north-west of St. 
James's Palace, his many high offices about the Court probably 
determining him to select this position, which besides, as overlook- 
ing the Green Park, was then as now one of the most desirable in 
London. The mansion he built was of considerable size, and its ground 
ran for some way parallel with what is now St. James's Street, extending 
eastward to the corner of that thoroughfare, and thus facing the better 
part of St. James's Palace itself. 

Besides being the town residence of so important a personage as Lord 
Berkshire, who I may remind the reader, had married Elizabeth Cecil, 
the daughter of William, Lord Burleigh, and who was both governor, 
and later Gentleman of the Bedchamber, to Charles IL, the house was 
connected for a short time with a still more illustrious individual, for, 
in 1666, Lord Clarendon, who had then left Worcester House, but had 
not entered into possession of Clarendon House, or Dunkirk House, as 
the populace was wont to term it, rented Berkshire House for a time. 
Indeed he was here during a portion of the building of his palace in 
Piccadilly, and Evelyn notes going to see the Chancellor's new house, 
on November 28, 1666, and afterwards waiting on Clarendon, " who 
was now at Berkshire House, since the burning of London " ; while 
Pepys records visiting the house on two consecutive days in the same 
month ; on the second occasion of which, there appears to have been 
a council held here, for, says the Diarist, the Duke of York was there 
" and much business done," though he adds " not in proportion to the 
greatness of the business," which may indeed have been accounted for 
by his concluding statement (a truly Parthian shot at the great Clarendon) 
that " my Lord Chancellor was sleeping and snoring the greater part 
of the time." 

It would appear that Lord Berkshire was in the habit of letting the 

189 



I90 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

house on various occasions for, before Lord Clarendon took it, we find it 
fitted up, in 1664-65, for the reception of the French Ambassador, and 
Lord Craven residing here two years later. In 1668, however, a scheme 
was on hand to transfer the property to a very different character, for 
in that year Charles IL purchased it for Barbara VilUers, notorious both 
as Countess of Castlemaine and Duchess of Cleveland, and on May 8th, 
the gossiping Pepys is able to state that she " is to go to Berkshire House, 
which is taken for her, and they say a Privy Seal is passed for /5000 
for it." 

That very accommodating gentleman who from plain Roger Palmer, 
Esq., was elevated into Earl of Castlemaine ^ in 1661, resided here for 
about a year with the lady who bore his name ; but it would appear 
that he then found it convenient to leave her in sole (though anything 
but solitary) possession of her new plaything. 

Two years later Lady Castlemaine was created Duchess of Cleveland, 
and this marks the period at which the name of Berkshire House was 
changed to that of its new mistress. Of this notorious personage perhaps 
the less said the better ; her baneful influence over Charles who, to 
gratify her caprices and her mania for gambling, impoverished an ex- 
chequer that was always at a low ebb ; her licentiousness, which com- 
pared not unfavourably with that of Messilina or Faustine ; her favoured 
lovers, Jermyn and Churchill, Chatillon and Montagu, Goodman and 
Hart and Hall, the players, and Fielding the beau ; her covetousness 
and her temper, are these not all written in the diaries and memoirs of 
the period, and is it not better to leave the unsavoury record in the decent 
interment of the pages, among others, of Pepys and Evelyn, the latter 
of whom considered that Cleveland House was " far too good for that 
infamous " ? 

After a time the Duchess found Cleveland House and its large gardens 
were unnecessary to her, or perhaps she had been losing heavily at Bassett 
— one remembers that twenty-five thousand which she is said to have 
lost in a single evening — and found it impossible to cajole Charles into 
a further grant ; in any case she sold a portion of the ground towards 
St. James's Street, and several houses were built upon it, one of which 
was inhabited by the Earl of Nottingham, one of those Finches (he was 
Daniel, second Earl) whose swarthy complexion gave point to their nick- 
name of the " black funereal finches," presumably after he had sold 
Nottingham House to William HL, in 1691. 

On the death of the Duchess, in 1709, Cleveland House passed to 

' He died in 1705, a little less than a year before the Earl of Berkshire, who lived to 
over ninety. 



BRIDGEWATER HOUSE 191 

her son, Charles Fitzroy, Duke of Cleveland and Southampton who 
lived here, till his death in 1730. As his son married, in the following 
year, a daughter of the Lord Nottingham mentioned above, it is probable 
that the proximity of their parents' homes may have been instrumental 
in bringing the young people together. The second Duke did not, 
however, reside at Cleveland House after the death of his father, for 
on that event taking place, the house was purchased by Scroop Egerton, 
first Duke of Bridgewater, a forbear of its present owner. He was 
succeeded in the title and occupancy of the mansion, which was 
then variously known as Cleveland House and Bridgewater House, by 
his fourth son, who, however, lived but three years after coming 
into the title ; when his brother Francis Egerton succeeded him, in 
1748, and died unmarried in 1803. It was he who, in 1795, made con- 
siderable alterations to the house, refacing it, &c., but who is chiefly 
famous for that remarkable collection of pictures which he brought 
together and which, at his death, was, even in those days of relatively 
small prices, valued at ^150,000. 

The wonderful taste displayed by the third Duke for collecting works 
of art, would appear, from a paper written by Lord Ellesmere, in the 
Quarterly Review for March 1844, to have had its genesis in the Duke's 
early associations with Robert Wood, an art critic of no mean order, and 
an active member of the Society of Dilettanti, being indeed the first 
director of its archaeological ventures.^ Certain it is that, to quote 
Lord Ellesmere's words, " dining one day with his nephew, Lord Gower, 
afterwards Duke of Sutherland, the Duke saw and admired a picture 
which the latter had picked up a bargain for some ^10, at a broker's in 
the morning. ' You must take me,' he said, ' to that d — d fellow to- 
morrow.' " If this was the first step in the direction of picture collecting, 
it was followed up with an assiduity that only the most vital interest, 
sound judgment, and unlimited means could have rendered possible ; 
for the Duke acquired no less than forty-seven of the finest pictures from 
that famous gallery of the Duke of Orleans which had once been the 
wonder and envy of the whole artistic world.^ 

The noble collection thus formed was left by the Duke, appropriately 
enough, to that nephew whose taste had first inspired its formation. Earl 
Gower, who succeeded his father as the second Marquis of Stafford a 
little over six months after his uncle's death in 1803, and who was created 

• He accompanied Bouverie and Dawkins, in 1750, on a journey of exploration into Asia 
Minor, and joined the Society in 1763. He and Dawkins published works on the ruins of 
Baalbec and Palmyra. He died in 1771. 

^ I have given a short account of this collection and its vicissitudes in the chapter on 
Stafford House. 



192 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Duke of Sutherland, thirty years later, only shortly before his own death. 
During his possession of the collection it was known as the Stafford 
Gallery, and an elaborately illustrated description of the pictures was 
published by W. J. Ottley, in four volumes, with that title, in 1818. 

A clause in the Duke of Bridgewater's will provided for the reversion 
of the collection to Lord Stafford's second son, Lord Francis Egerton, 
who was created Earl of Ellesmere, in 1846, and who it will be remembered 
had married, in 1822, Harriet Catherine, daughter of Charles Greville, 
of journal fame. A delightful little biographical notice of Lord Ellesmere, 
which his daughter, Alice Countess of Stafford, prefixed to his Reminis- 
cences of the Duke of Wellington, published in 1903, and which is modestly 
termed " a brief memoir," is quite sufficient to indicate the charm 
of his character and the extent of his knowledge, besides incidentally 
showing that he was a letter-writer of no mean order, possessing the art 
of vividly depicting scenes and events, and that he had a gift of humour 
which enabled him, in a letter from Madrid dealing with men and matters 
of high political import, to gravely conclude with " I have no events 
to tell, unless it interests you to hear that Sir William a'Court has a swelled 
face, and that his Secretary's dog has had a severe action with a cat, and 
was obliged to retreat with the loss of her left eye, which has thrown 
a damp on the spirits of the embassy " ; the latter touch being quite 
in the Walpolian manner. Lord EUesmere's love of literature and faciUty 
as a linguist are remembered by his translations from Goethe and Schiller, 
many of whose noble lines he rendered into forcible and easy verse ; 
his ability with the pencil is proved by the sketchbooks filled with the 
results of his observations in many lands ; he was, too, an ardent sports- 
man ; and the additions he made to the famous collection which he 
had inherited shows that his love of art was hardly less pronounced than 
that of his father or great-uncle. In 1833 he entered into possession of 
Bridgewater House ; and it was he who, some years later, rebuilt the 
old mansion. It would appear that there was at first a design to add 
to the original structure and probably to encase it, but such restoration 
was found impossible from the fact that dry rot had so penetrated the 
whole place that nothing short of complete rebuilding was practicable. 
The work was undertaken, under the superintendence of Sir Charles 
Barry, and during its progress Lord Ellesmere rented No. 18 Belgrave 
Square, now the headquarters of the Austro-Hungarian Embassy. 

The rebuilding of Bridgewater House occupied many years, but it 
was practically completed in 1849,^ as an inscription above the entrance 

' The Builder for October 3, 1849, contained a short account of the rebuilding, together 
with a ground plan of the mansion. 



BRIDGEWATER HOUSE 193 

states. There is no doubt but that the better accommodation of the 
pictures was the chief reason for this vast work being undertaken. Dr. 
Waagen was, however, disappointed with the lighting of the gallery, 
but we must remember, also, that he found fault with the architecture, 
considering Barry less happy in dealing with the Italian than with the 
Gothic style ; and he even goes so far as to say that " in the taste of 
the forms and decorations," it is inferior to its " stately neighbour," 
Stafford House ! But, if he is thus adversely critical over the mansion 
itself, his enthusiasm for the pictorial contents is shown not only by the 
space he allots to their consideration, but also by the fact, that of all the 
great private galleries in London, it is that of Bridgewater House which 
he deals with first after the Royal collection. 

Before I attempt to say anything about the pictures and other 
beautiful contents of the house, I may give a few details as to the build- 
ing itself. Thus it is nearly a square, the west fa9ade measuring I20 feet, 
while the south front is about 20 feet longer ; and although it has out- 
wardly the appearance of a solid block, the interior is broken by two 
courts which help to give additional light and air. The rooms are 
arranged with that regard for personal comfort combined with adapta- 
bility to stately functions which is a common attribute to most of the 
great houses of London. The state apartments are on the first floor, 
while the great gallery faces north and, indeed, extends the whole length 
of, and a little beyond, the mansion on that side. 

I am confronted with no ordinary difficulty in dealing with this great 
collection, the adequate description of which would require a large volume. 
My scheme is not to give a catalogue raisonni of the various galleries 
which are mentioned in this work, neither do \, on the other hand, desire 
to pass them by with a bald note of subject and painter, for this is what 
we can find in a guide-book. A plethora of adjectives is also less 
exhilarating to the reader than to the writer, who when he sets down 
the words " beautiful," " grand," or " magnificent " connects with 
those terms the perfect drawing and colouring of some work which they 
conjure up to his mind's eye. All, I think, therefore, that I can do is 
to refer generally to some of the most remarkable of the treasures as they 
hang in the various rooms, and although this method is a tantalising one, 
and is apt to whet the appetite of the reader, he may solace himself with 
the consolation that the noble owner is not averse from granting per- 
mission to view the gallery, where a proper introduction is forthcoming. 

I may here state that the number of pictures in Bridgewater House 
is over 400, including the 47 from the Orleans Gallery, but excluding 
150 original drawings by the Caracci, and 80 by Guiho Romano, which 

N 



194 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the first Earl of Ellesmere purchased in 1836, from the "princely collec- 
tion," as Smith termed it, of Sir Thomas Lawrence. 

The great Hall in the centre of Bridgewater House is surrounded on 
the first floor by an arcaded corridor, in the Italian style, supported by 
massive pillars of green scagliola marble, and in this gallery hang works by 
Nicholas Poussin, and Andrea del Sarto, " the faultless painter," besides 
productions by lesser masters, as well as some frescoes from Cicero's Villa at 
Tusculum, and much interesting, but chiefly modern, sculpture. 

Poussin is represented by the famous " Seven Sacraments," which 
were executed at Rome for M. Chantelou, and represent the sacraments 
according to the Roman Ritual, viz., Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, 
Penance, Ordination, the Last Supper, and Extreme Unction. The 
painter worked at these subjects twice, the first set being undertaken, 
about the year 1636, for his patron, the Cavaliere del Pozzo, and are 
now at Belvoir, having been purchased by the Duke of Rutland on the 
advice of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Walpole in a letter to Lady Ossory 
(Dec. I, 1786) mentions seeing them at Sir Joshua's, and liking them 
better than when he had before seen them in Rome. " * There are two 
of Baptism,' says he. Sir Joshua said, ' What could he mean by paint- 
ing two ? ' I said, ' I concluded the second was Anabaptism.' " 

The set at Bridgewater House are on a larger scale than their pre- 
decessors, and the first to be finished (in 1644) was, curiously enough, 
the last of the series ; ^ the " Marriage " being the last painted, and 
finished four years later. On M. Chantelou's death, the Duke of Orleans 
bought them for 120,000 francs ; and when the Duke's collection was 
brought to England they were valued at ^4900, at which figure the 
Duke of Bridgewater secured them. Waagen considers that the " Con- 
firmation," " Baptism," and " Marriage," are the most remarkable of 
them, and although Poussin's mannerisms are noticeable throughout the 
series, and faults have been pointed out even in the best of these seven 
pictures, still they may be reckoned as among his greatest works. 

There is another Nicholas Poussin here, " Moses Striking the Rock," 
from the same collection as the " Seven Sacraments," of which FeUbien 
thus speaks : " II fit pour M. de Gillier, qui etait aupres du Mareschal 
de Crequy, cet excellent ouvrage ou Moyse frappe le Rocher, et qui apres 
avoir et6 dans les cabinets de M. de L'Isle Sourdiere, du President de 
Bellievre, de M. de Dreux, est aujourd'hui (1688) un des plus considerables 
tableaux que I'on voye parmi ceux du Marquis de Seignelai." There 

' On the other hand, Felibien states that the Eucharist, executed in 1644, was the first to 
be completed, and was the one most esteemed by the painter. 



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can be little doubt but that this canvas is one of the, if not the, 
finest that Poussin ever produced. It was subsequently among the 
Orleans pictures, and is fully described by Smith, in his " Catalogue 
Raisonn6," as well as illustrated in Ottley's "Stafford Gallery." 

The Andrea del Sarto represents the Holy Family, in a circular form, 
of which there is an oval replica in the Louvre. 

Every apartment in Bridgewater House is so crowded with works 
of art, that the Picture Gallery can, as a matter of fact, be said to contain 
but a tithe of the collection, but it is glorified by no less than six 
" Titians." Of these, perhaps, the finest is the " Diana and Actseon," 
in which the painter's " Titianus," in gold, may be read on a pillar. This 
work together with his " Diana and Calisto," which hangs next to it, were 
painted for Philip H. of Spain,^ when the artist was but in his seven- 
teenth year, and were afterwards in the collection of Charles I. 

It is on these two pictures that Hazlitt pronounces the following 
emphatic judgment : " As appeals to simple sensations of the human 
mind, by means of the external attributes of natural objects — as rich, 
eloquent and harmonious pieces of colouring — these pictures have prob- 
ably never been surpassed, even by Titian himself. Certainly in England 
we have nothing else that can compare with them in this particular 
respect." There is, indeed, no gainsaying the verdict of this great judge. 

In the " Three Ages of Life " hy Titian, we may well recognise, 
as Kugler says, " one of the most beautiful idyllic groups of modern 
creation," and with Mrs. Jameson regard it as combining within itself 
the attributes of two arts — poetry and painting. Surely it was work 
such as this that inspired that title of " II divino Titziano," with which 
the artist-friend of Popes and Emperors is forever known. Like the 
two great works by the same master, as well as his Venus Anadyomene, 
which also hangs in the Picture Gallery, and which was known as 
" La Venus a la Coquille " before it came into Lord Ellesmere's possession, 
this picture was among those purchased from the Orleans collection. 
It was painted at an early period of the artist's life, for Giovanni 
di Castelli, and reflects the influence of Giorgione whom Titian then 
took for his exemplar ; indeed, Waagen states that another rendering 
of the same subject which once belonged to Queen Christina of Sweden, 
was for long attributed to that master. But the critic would seem to be 
speaking of this identical picture, for, according to Mrs. Jameson, and 
the private catalogue of the Bridgewater Gallery, it was this canvas that 
was purchased by the Queen, from the collection of the Cardinal 
Augsburg, for looo sequins. At her death it passed into the collection 

' Vasari's Historica Pittorica. 



196 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

of the Duke of Bracciano, and thence into that of the Duke of Orleans 
from whom the Duke of Bridgewater bought it for £600 ! 

Of the pictures by the two Caracci represented in the gallery a 
noticeable one by Ludovico is " The Descent from the Cross," which 
was once in the collection of the Duke of Modena, and afterwards in 
that of the Duke of Orleans, and which cost the Duke of Bridgewater but 
400 guineas ; while of the four by Annibale, the most important is the 
" St. Gregory at Prayer," which was painted for Cardinal Salviati, as an 
altar-piece for San Gregorio, at Rome, whence it was somehow purchased 
by Mr. Day, at the end of the eighteenth century. A few years later 
it was publicly exhibited in London, and was bought by Lord Radstock, 
from whose gallery it passed into that of Lord Stafford, whence it came 
into the Bridgewater House collection. It is interesting to know that 
a pious fraud was perpetrated in order to get it secretly out of Italy, 
which was effected by painting over it, in water colour, a copy of a 
picture by Guido Reni. Another noticeable Annibale Caracci is " The 
Virgin and Child, with St. Francis," once in the collection of M. de 
Launoy, and later one of the Orleans pictures. 

Of the fine works by Tintoretto in the collection, four, including 
" The Entombment," hang in the gallery. This work was formerly 
at Madrid whence it passed to the Orleans Gallery, being purchased 
by the Duke of Bridgewater for 600 guineas. It is said, by Mrs. Jameson, 
that there was formerly an angel in the upper part of the picture, but 
that the canvas has been cut down for some reason or other. Not far 
off hangs also the same master's " Presentation in the Temple," from the 
Orleans Gallery ; his portrait of a gentleman holding a book, from the 
same collection ; and another portrait of a Venetian nobleman, dated 
1583, which has, however, also been ascribed to Marietta Tintoretto, the 
daughter of the great Jacopo. 

Salvator Rosa is represented in the gallery by his " Jacob Watering 
his Flock." This was one of the works which Sir Paul Methuen pur- 
chased in Italy, on behalf of the Duke of Bridgewater ; but the pigments 
have turned so black that the picture has lost what of original charm and 
beauty it may have possessed. It is signed " Rosa," and was engraved 
in the " Stafford Gallery." Two other works by the same painter hang 
respectively on the staircase, and in one of the sitting-rooms ; the first 
being "A Riposo," a signed picture of remarkable power, which was added 
to the collection by the Earl of Ellesmere ; and " A View in a Wild 
and Mountainous Country," once belonging to the Due de Prashn, and 
formerly known as " Les Augures." 

A R.embrandt in the Picture Gallery represents Hannah and the 



BRIDGEWATER HOUSE 197 

child Samuel, according, at least, to Michel who ought to know, although 
this attribution of subject I have elsewhere seen described as " absurd," 
on the ground that the picture merely indicates a child praying at an 
old woman's ^ knee, and it has been variously called " Samuel and Eli," 
" The Mother and Child," &c. This small and exquisite picture 
measures but i/f in. by 13! in. and is signed, and dated 1648. It has 
been in the De Flines, De Roore, and Julienne collections before finding 
its present resting-place. The beauty of the execution and the delicacy 
of the chiaroscuro have been recorded by Rembrandt's biographers, 
and although the colour has somewhat deteriorated, it is worthy of the 
year in which the master produced the Pacification of Holland, at 
Rotterdam, and the perfect " Supper at Emmaus " which hangs in the 
Louvre. 

Of the six examples of Rembrandt, in Bridgewater House, three 
besides the one just referred to, hang in the gallery ; one, a study for the 
portrait of a man, is described by Smith ; another, a portrait of the 
painter himself, signed, and dated 1659, formerly belonged to Lady 
Holdernesse, at whose sale it was purchased in 1802 ; while the third, 
an earlier work, said to have been painted in 1632, represents the portrait 
of a lady, and was once in the collection of the Comte de Merle, and 
M. Destouches. 

Concerning the wonderful assemblage of works by the Dutch masters 
that adds to the catholicity of the Picture Gallery, it is obviously im- 
possible to speak in any detail ; here is Ostade's " Lawyer in his Study," the 
figure of the man of law being the same as that introduced into another 
work by the same painter representing a lawyer perusing a document while 
his client stands by holding in his hand an acceptable present of game, a 
picture signed and dated 1671, and formerly in the Fagel gallery ; here is 
a superb Metsu, a " Mounted Cavalier " halting at the door of a mansion and 
receiving a glass of wine from the lady of the house, which Smith describes 
fully in his Catalogue Raisonne, and which was formerly in the Lubbeling, 
and Wretsou collections ; here, too, is the well known, and much engraved 
portrait of the artist in his study, playing on the violin, by Gerard Dou, 
dated 1637, and probably one of the finest examples of the master in 
existence. Spiering, the Swedish Ambassador, purchased this picture from 
the artist and presented it to Christina, Queen of Sweden, who, however, 
in 1654, returned it to the donor, in whose collection Sandrart saw it ; 
later, it was for many years in the possession of the family of Mr. 
Ladbrooke, of Portland Place ; and lastly, for I must unfortunately stop 
somewhere, here is an " Interior of a Cottage " by a master little known 

' Not improbably the painter's mother. 



198 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

in this country, though highly thought of in his own, Cornehs Bega, 
executed with a degree of finish that is rather akin to the enamels of 
Petitot than to the more stubborn medium of oil painting. Bega was 
Ostade's ablest pupil, and if not his equal in breadth certainly his superior 
in finish, his work recalling the achievements in minute detail painting, 
of such men as Metsu and Mieris. 

In the North Drawing Room is an example of a rare master — Ary 
de Voys, representing a young man with a book, signed A de Vols F. 
The name of this painter will be unfamiliar, I suspect, to many even 
of those whose excursions into the study of art are something more than 
merely superficial. Ary de Voys, or Vois, born at Leyden in 1641, appears 
to have been of an impressionable temperament, for he is known to have 
copied in turn the manner of Knuifer, Tempel, and Slingelandt, as he 
afterwards did that of Poelemberg, Brouwer, and Teniers. By a marriage 
with an heiress he seemed likely to lose what chance of fame he already 
possessed, but after three years of idleness, he returned to his former 
studious habits without any deterioration being perceptible in his work 
which generally represented stories from the mythology ; although he not 
infrequently painted portraits, and what were termed " conversation 
pieces." His pictures sold at high prices and there was a great demand 
for them, but he appears to have been somewhat indolent during his later 
years, which accounts for the scarcity of his productions. He died, in his 
native town, in 1698. 

Among other pictures of the Dutch school which hang in the North 
Drawing Room, there is a beautiful little Terburg — " Paternal Instruction," 
which has passed through various well-known collections, such as the 
Lubbeling, Beaujon, Proley, and Wharncliife ; a David Tenier — a highly 
characteristic, full and joyous canvas ; one of Van de Heyden's views 
of a " Town in Holland " ; and a Mieris, representing a lady seated at 
her toilet — one of those works whose executive skill would seem almost 
superhuman, were there anything beyond mere marvellous technique in 
this painter's productions. 

Ostade, Gerard Dou, Van der Neer, Swanevelt, Jan Both, Netscher, 
Metsu, and Berghem are also represented in this room, and here may 
also be seen in a strange conjunction, Murillo and Hogarth, Velasquez, 
Pietro da Cortona, and Sassoperrato ! The Pietro da Cortona, " Shep- 
herds Adoring the Infant Christ," is curious as being painted on slate ; 
while a somewhat similar picture to Sassoperrato's " Head of a Madonna," 
but showing the hands, which that at Bridgewater House does not, is in 
the National Gallery. The Hogarth and two of the Velasquezs (for there 




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BRIDGE WATER HOUSE 199 

are three in this room) represent portraits of the painters themselves ; the 
third composition of the great Spaniard is a portrait of a natural son of 
the famous minister the Duke d'Olivarez, whose story is told by Le Sage 
at the conclusion of Gil Bias, as readers of that amusing work will 
remember. The picture was purchased by the Earl of Ellesmere from 
the collection of the Count Altamira. 

The first room (The Sitting Room) we enter on the ground floor 
has the unique distinction among the apartments of the great London 
houses of containing no less than four works by Raphael. Let us loiter 
a moment before each of them before turning to the other treasures 
with which the room is filled. 

Perhaps the most fascinating is the circular picture known as " La 
Vierge au Palmier," which dates from the master's Florentine period, 
and is traditionally supposed to have been executed for Taddeo Gaddi, 
in 1506. Muntz brackets it with the "Holy Family with the Lamb," at 
Madrid, as departing from the earlier methods of the painter when 
depicting the Virgin ; " while," adds this authority, " it has all the 
Florentine charm, it has also the gravity which marks the Madonna 
of the Roman period," and he points out that Joseph instead of being 
subordinated is brought into prominence by being made a principal figure 
in the group, as he presents to the infant Jesus the flowers which he has 
just picked. There is a curious story told of this work — indeed the Duke 
of Orleans, its former possessor, is said to have related it to Lord Stafford 
himself. It appears that the picture before becoming the property of the 
Duke of Orleans, had been left to two old ladies, who could neither of 
them decide to let the other have entire possession of it, and if it can be 
believed, they actually cut the picture in half ! The two pieces, luckily, 
came together again, and Hazlitt states that the join may still be dis- 
tinguished " passing from the bottom of the picture right through the 
body of the child, and close to the forehead of the Virgin." The work 
subsequently came into the hands of the Count de Chiverni, from 
whom it passed to the Marquis d'Aumont. Later it was sold to M. de 
la Noue for 5000 francs, the purchaser also being obliged to furnish 
the Marquis with a copy by Phihppe de Champagne. At a still later 
date it was in the galleries successively of Tambonneau and M. de Vanolles, 
from the latter of whom the Duke of Orleans purchased it. The valua- 
tion set on it when bought by the Duke of Bridgewater, among the 
Orleans pictures, was ^1200 ! 

Another Raphael, known as the " Bridgewater Madonna," also from 
the Orleans collection, hangs, as Hazlitt said it always ought to do, close 



200 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

to the " Vierge au Palmier," " so sweetly do they set off and illustrate 
each other." A curious thing is that both the Virgin and Child in each 
picture have identically the same faces, although executed at different 
periods, by which it would seem that the same models were used, or 
that one of the works must have been painted, so far at least as the faces 
were concerned, from the other. The latter seems the more probable 
solution, especially as there exist several versions of the " Vierge au 
Palmier," which were apparently copied at the same time. This picture, 
while in the Orleans possession, was subjected to the hazardous opera- 
tion of transference from panel to canvas, which no doubt accounts for 
its somewhat inferior condition. It dates from 151 2, and was brought 
from Italy by Colbert, the son of the great Minister. It passed into 
the Orleans collection from a M. Ronde, a jeweller, to whom it had 
been transferred by M. de Montarsis, who had purchased it from the 
Marquis of Seignelay, the son of Colbert. When the Duke of Bridge- 
water bought it, its value was estimated at ^'3000, which, ridiculous 
as such a sum now appears, is, when compared to the ^^1200 set against 
the " Vierge au Palmier," a relatively heavy price. 

The third Raphael is a perfect work in the master's best manner. 
It is called " La Madonna del Passagio," and represents the Holy Family 
walking in a green landscape. Passavant and Kugler have thrown doubts 
on the authenticity of this work, and have ascribed it rather to the brush 
of Francesco Penni ; and Waagen agrees with this judgment, although 
he does not consider it the work of Penni. Hazlitt, on the other hand, 
goes so far as to regard it " as pure and perfect a specimen as exists of 
his (Raphael's) finest manner," and Mrs. Jameson concurs with this 
verdict. What seems to point to its being an original work is the fact 
that Philip II. of Spain gave it to the Duke of Urbino, who in turn pre- 
sented it to the Emperor Rudolph II., and we can hardly imagine a mere 
copy being passed among sovereigns as a valuable present. Then again 
Gustavus Adolphus made a point of carrying it off from Prague after 
his capture of that city, to Sweden, and when it passed to his daughter 
Queen Christina it was generally regarded as, without doubt, a genuine 
work ; and when she abdicated and went to reside at Rome she took it 
with her. At her death it passed by bequest to her favourite, Azzolini, 
and it was afterwards purchased by the Duke of Bracciano from whose 
collection it passed into that of the Regent of Orleans ; and subsequently 
the Duke of Bridgewater bought it for ^3000. It has thus a pedigree 
that should differentiate it from the many copies that are known to 
have been executed, and which may be seen at Rome, Naples, Milan, 
and Vienna. 



BRIDGEWATER HOUSE 201 

The fourth Raphael, " La Vierge au Linge," is not improbably a 
replica of the picture in the Louvre ; it is so called from the fact that 
in it appears a white line near the neck, indicating an inner bodice, 
which does not show in the picture in Paris. It has also been called 
" The Virgin with the Diadem," and it possesses an extraneous interest 
from the fact that it was once in the possession of Sir Joshua Reynolds. 

Raphael dwarfs everything ; but even were he not represented so 
richly, there is, in the Sitting Room alone, material for a small 
but carefully chosen collection ; for here are pictures by the two 
Caracci, Correggio, Domenichino, Guido Reni, Salvator Rosa, Palma 
Vecchio, and Luini ; to say nothing of the works of lesser masters, which 
also hang on the walls in bewildering profusion. Annibale Caracci 
is represented by two canvases ; one, " St. John pointing to the Messiah," 
was originally in the gallery of the Duke of Parma, and passing into that 
of M. Paillot, came into the hands of the Duke of Orleans ; the other, 
" Christ on the Cross," was painted before the artist went to Rome, 
and is engraved in the " Stafford Gallery." The Ludovico Caracci, is 
that painter's copy of Correggio's " Marriage of Saint Catherine," a 
subject Caracci treated himself in the picture hanging on the staircase ; 
while of the two Correggios, one represents " The Virgin and Child," 
which, when it hung in the Orleans Gallery, was known as " La Vierge 
au panier " ; ^ the other, a " Head of Christ," which was bought by the 
Earl of Ellesmere from a private collection at Rome, in 1840. 

The Claude, which is numbered loi in the Liber Veritatis, and is 
described by Smith in his Catalogue Raisonn^, shows one of those pastoral 
landscapes in which, for tone and atmosphere, the painter excelled all other 
masters but one. Another landscape, executed, however, in a very different 
manner, is the view in a wild and mountainous country which Salvator 
Rosa gives us ; the principal feature in which composition is supposed to 
represent the promontory, known as the Rock of Lisbon, at the mouth of 
the Tagus. 

The two works by Domenichino are " Christ bearing the Cross," 
which once belonged to Colbert's son, the Marquis de Seigneley, before 
it passed into the Orleans collection ; and " The Vision of St. Francis," 
which was formerly in the gallery of M. Paillot. 

But this enumeration is becoming too much in the nature of a guide 
book. Let me but point out the beautiful little picture (one of the 
two here) by Guido ; " The Infant Saviour asleep on the Cross," before 
we take an unwilling leave of this room and its priceless treasures. 

' This picture has been transferred from panel to canvas. It has also been attributed to 
Schidone. 



202 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

In the Drawing Room hangs a " Portrait of a Venetian Nobleman," 
by Tintoretto, painted in 1588, and once in the Orleans collection. It 
was said of this master that sometimes he was as great as Titian, at others 
less than Tintoretto ; as we gaze at this noble conception and note its 
rich and warm colouring, and its admirable modelling, there will be 
little doubt, I think, to which of these phases it should be traced. 

Here, too, hangs one example of Reynolds ; the portrait in question 
being now generally supposed to be that of Mrs. Trecothick, the wife 
of Lord Mayor Trecothick, who succeeded the redoubtable Beckford in 
that office, and whom Sir Joshua painted in 1 770-1. When this picture 
was purchased by Lord EUesmere, it was, however, supposed to repre- 
sent Lady Montague. Though what Lady Montague, I don't know, 
seeing that Reynolds only painted Lady Caroline Montagu as a child, 
and Ladies Elizabeth and Henrietta Montagu together in a group, and 
so far as I can gather from his list of sitters no Lady Montague at all.^ 

In the same room, besides a number of smaller works by, among others, 
Gonzales Coques, Paul Bril, Jan Both, Largilli^re, Hans Holbein, Paul 
Moreelse, and Van der Velde, and a beautiful picture of a young girl 
threading a needle, by Nicholas Maes, which I think I would as soon 
possess as any of the more notable pictures here, there is a remarkable 
Rembrandt ; a " Portrait of a Burgomaster," showing us an old man 
with a snowy beard, seated in a chair. The picture is signed, and dated 
1637, and was formerly in the collection of M. Geldermeester, whence 
it was bought, by Mr. Bryan, for the Duke of Bridgewater. Two other 
works, by Dutch masters, at Bridgewater House, are also worth careful 
attention ; Paul Potter's " Cattle in a Meadow," dated 1650 ; and 
particularly Cuyp's " View of the Maese near Dort," in which is intro- 
duced Maurice, Prince of Orange and his suite, in a boat, on their way 
to review the Dutch iieet. This beautiful picture came from the Slinge- 
landt collection at Dort, and Waagen says no more than the truth when 
he exclaims in an ecstasy, that " it looks as if the painter had dipped 
his brush in light to express the play of the sunbeams, which have dis- 
persed the morning mist upon the waters " ; the spectator will, on 
examining the picture be as astonished as was the critic, at the free and 
masterly way in which the effects are produced, and particularly the 
limpid transparency of the water attained. There are other fine examples 
of Cuyp at Bridgewater House, but they have not that something which 
goes to make the " View of the Maese " a work of genius. 

I have mentioned one Reynolds in this collection ; two other works 
by the same great master hang in the State Drawing Room, one of these 
' See Leslie and Taylor's Life of Sir Joshua. 




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represents Lord and Lady Clive, with a child and a Hindoo nurse. Leslie 
states that this picture was painted in 1786, and in Sir Joshua's Hst of 
sitters, Lady Clive is given as sitting in the May of that year, but I cannot 
find, curiously enough, any mention of the great pro-consul's visits to 
Leicester Square. Waagen speaking of this work remarks that it is one 
" of those pictures by this great master which combine a lovely concep- 
tion with a subdued and transparent colouring and careful execution." 
The other Sir Joshua is merely a sketch for the picture of Mrs. Richard 
Hoare and her son, now in the Wallace Collection. 

The work of another, but relatively little known, great English portrait- 
painter hangs also in this room ; the portrait of the poet Cleveland, by 
Dobson, in which this fine draughtsman and colourist approaches as near to 
Vandyck as Tintoretto sometimes did to Titian. If Dobson is little known, 
the poet whom he has here immortalised is hardly known at all, yet the 
latter was a man of action as well as a votary of the muses, and defended 
with his sword the royalist cause which he celebrated by his pen ; indeed 
at Newark his time seems to have been divided between this martial 
activity and production of satires on the Parliamentary party, although 
when subsequently imprisoned at Yarmouth, Cromwell heaped coals of 
fire on his head hy ordering his release. He died two years before the 
Restoration, and his poems were not collected and published till a year 
after that event. 

Among other painters, examples of whose work hang in this room, 
are Dahl, whose portrait, once said to be of Lady Elizabeth, wife of 
Scrope, fourth Earl and later first Duke, of Bridgewater, is now supposed 
more probably to portray the daughter of the Earl, who later married 
the third Duke of Bedford ; Lely with portraits of the Countess of 
Middlesex, and Lady Elizabeth, daughter of James, Earl of Middlesex, 
who became the wife of the third Duke of Bridgewater ; and Raphael 
Mengs with his fine portrait of that Robert Wood whom I have before 
mentioned as advising the Duke of Bridgewater on his purchases of 
pictures, and who accompanied his grace during his Italian travels. Sir 
George Hayter's presentment of Francis, first Earl of Ellesmere, also 
hangs here, as does Lord Leighton's portrait of Lady Charlotte Greville ; 
while the well-known and much engraved picture by Paul Delaroche 
of the soldiers of the Parliament insulting Charles I. after his trial, is one 
of the few modern paintings in the house. 

In the State Drawing Room hang two fine Claude's — " Demosthenes on 
the Sea Shore," engaged in his traditional training as an orator by trying 
to make his voice heard above the rolling billows ; and " Moses and the 
Burning Bush," in which the landscape is, as usual with Claude, the 



204 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

dominating note. The former of these pictures (No. i6i of the Liber 
Veritatis) was painted in 1664, for M. de Bourlemont, and together with 
the latter, came into the possession of Mr. Clarke, then of the Hon. Edward 
Bouverie, from whom the two works were purchased by the Duke of Bridge- 
water. There is also a beautiful example of Cuyp in this room, where, 
in a large landscape, cows, horses, ducks and geese are scattered about, and 
a woman milks a cow beneath the shadow of some trees ; and here, too, 
hangs the only Turner in the collection, a seascape with fishing-boats 
in a squall, a picture painted, it is said, in direct rivalry with Van de 
Velde's " Rising of the Gale," formerly in the Backer, Van Locquet and 
Hope collections, which is close by in the same room. Here, also, is 
a portrait of a Doge of Venice, which has been variously attributed to 
Palma Vecchio, and to Tintoretto, but which, according to the high 
authority of Mr. Claude PhiUips, should be rather ascribed to the school 
of Titian, perhaps to Titian himself. 

If there is some doubt over the authorship of this line canvas, there 
is less over the portrait of Pope Clement VII., which, it is conjectured, 
was painted by Titian, in 1530, at Bologna, whither the artist had attended 
the Emperor Charles V. on the occasion of the visit of the latter to the Pope. 
Waagen passes it by as being too feeble for Titian's brush, and considers 
it a copy ; it has, however, a -provenance from the Amelot and Orleans 
collections, and has, by other judges, been ascribed to the great Venetian. 

In a small room known as the Small State Drawing Room, there 
are over twenty pictures of varying merit and as many different schools, 
hanging on the walls. Bassano is here with a " Last Judgment " ; Ludovico 
Caracci with a " Dream of St. Catherine " ; and Annibale with an 
" Infant St. John," a picture that formerly belonged to M. Nancre before 
it passed into the Orleans Gallery ; a landscape by Domenichino, and 
a " Bacchus and Satyrs " by Filippo Lauri ; and three pictures by Andrea 
di Salerno, of which the first two were originally the folding wings of a 
triptych, and were purchased in Naples by the first Earl of Ellesmere ; 
but, perhaps finest of all, a " Cupid shaping his Bow," by Parmigianino, 
a replica of the picture in the Vienna Gallery, and said to have been 
executed for the Chevalier Bayard. Mrs. Jameson and Barry are both 
agreed on the excellence of this work, but Waagen considers it only a 
moderate example of the master. It was originally in the collection of 
Queen Christina of Sweden, and later in the Bracciano Gallery, whence, 
apparently about 1 721, it passed into the possession of the Duke of Orleans. 
It was valued at 700 guineas when the Duke of Bridgewater took over 
part of the Orleans collection. For the rest, the pictures in this room 
are chiefly of the Dutch or Flemish schools — Karl du Jardin, Dusart, 



BRIDGEWATER HOUSE 205 

Van Lint, Van Huysum, and Berghem being among those painters whose 
works are here represented. 

Other rooms, such as the Library, the Small Library, the Dowager 
Countess's Rooms, the Ante-Rooms, even the Service Room and the 
Bedrooms, are full of pictorial works of interest and value, but nothing 
short of a complete catalogue could avail to adequately describe 
them. 

The Dining Room is reserved exclusively for portraits ; here hang 
William IIL and Queen Mary in their robes, life size, by Kneller ; Prince 
Charles Edward and his mother, Clementina Sobieski, by Allan Ramsay ; 
James L, of pacific memory, by Van Somer ; and Thomas Weedon, Esq., 
by John Greenhill, the pupil of Lely who feared him, 'tis said, as a rival ; 
and with these the seated figure of the first Earl of Ellesmere, by Edwin 
Long, and the portrait of the present holder of the title, by Rudolph 
Lehmann. 

I have entered somewhat minutely into the subject of the pictures 
in Bridgewater House, because they form, admittedly, one of the two or 
three finest collections in London, but I despair of giving anything but 
the baldest idea of the wealth of pictorial art assembled within these 
walls, which would require a volume to do it adequate justice ; but 
perhaps some idea of the extent of the collection, as well as its remarkable 
range, covering practically all schools from Raphael's day downwards, 
may be gathered from the enumeration here of a relatively few of its 
wonderful treasures. 

As in all such great houses, the wealth of decorative objects (other 
than pictures) — beautiful furniture, china, and that collection of artistic 
trifles which, for want of an appropriate English word, we call bric-a-brac — 
is on the same scale of beauty and value as are the canvases that look 
down upon them. All this must be taken for granted by the reader, 
who would hardly thank me were I to give an exhaustive list, where 
Louis Quinze and Louis Seize, Sheraton and Hepplewhite and Chippen- 
dale should jostle Sevres and Chelsea, Worcester and Capo di Monte, 
and where I fear it would be a case of not being able to see the wood 
because of the trees. 

But besides these treasures, the library of rare books is one of the 
most important private collections in London, being particularly rich 
in Elizabethan and Jacobean literature, and containing the famous four 
folio Shakespeares, besides the remarkable Ellesmere Chaucer, as well as 
illuminated missals and historical MSS. of priceless value. In addition 
to this fine assemblage, there is also preserved here a very remarkable 
collection of coins comprising several specimens which are not to be 



2o6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

found in the British Museum ; so that from every point of view, whether 
we consider the architectural beauty of the house and its internal decora- 
tion, the famous pictures that hang on its walls, the rare books and manu- 
scripts and coins that repose in its cabinets, or the beautiful furniture 
and china that add beauty to its rooms, Bridgewater House may well 
be called a palace of art. 



CHAPTER VIII 

CHESTERFIELD HOUSE 

CRITICS may disagree, as they have done, as to the permanent 
value of those letters which the fourth — the great — Earl of 
Chesterfield addressed to his son ; some considering them as 
enunciating the last word on good manners ; others, like 
Dr. Johnson, regarding them as no less faulty in their inculcation of 
politeness than vicious in their conception of morals ; but few will 
question the right of their author to be considered " the glass of fashion 
and the mould of form " — even the great lexicographer, who had no 
reason to love his lordship, did this — or his claim to consummate taste 
in those outward foTmulce of life wherein the age in which he lived took 
so much thought to be perfect, and, at least, succeeded in being 
decorative. 

Chesterfield House remains the most abiding example of Lord Chester- 
field's taste in such external things. His courtesy of manner, his elegance 
of dress, his innate " style," his excursions into the regions of what 
may be termed the higher gastronomy, can but be judged by the written 
records of contemporaries — and there is no lack of them — or from such 
pictorial representations of him as have come down to us ; but his house, 
over the building and decoration of which he took such infinite pains, 
still remains to attest the purity of his taste and the splendour of his 
conceptions. True, various circumstances have combined to rob it of 
much of its original beauty ; its spacious gardens have been cut away 
and built upon ; it has become, on other sides, surrounded by dwellings 
of less ample proportions, which help to hide its architectural features, 
but in itself it rem.ains, so far as the main portion is concerned, substan- 
tially as it was when Chesterfield first entered into possession and gave 
that great house warming in 1752, of which Walpole has left us so vivid 
an account ; and within, its character is so little altered that it does 
not require a great stretch of the imagination to people it with that 
brilliant throng of the great and beautiful who were used to gather in 
its rooms or loiter beneath its " canonical pillars." 

When, in the year 1750, E. J. Eyre produced a view of Chesterfield 

207 



2o8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

House, engraved by J. S. Muller, the mansion had but recently been 
completed/ and by this picture we can see how ample were the propor- 
tions of the original structure, and can also perceive at a glance how 
much, both in building and land, has been curtailed from its former fair 
proportions. To-day it consists of the centre portion together with 
those colonnades which joined it to the two large, but inelegant, wings 
shown in Eyre's drawing. These wings are now swallowed up by other 
residences, and the frontage to South Audley Street is proportionately 
lessened. The gardens, too, behind the mansion, which are now diminished 
to vanishing point, then extended indefinitely down Curzon Street ; 
and although to the south there was a rov/ of buildings with the 
Grosvenor Chapel at the west corner, on the north and east was open 
ground, giving point to the saying of many of Chesterfield's friends that 
he had gone to live in the wilds, and to his own remark that he would 
be obliged to keep a house dog, as he had taken up his residence among 
thieves and murderers ! 

Indeed, curious as it may seem to us who now regard this portion 
of the town as the centre of fashion. Lord Chesterfield was a building 
pioneer in this spot ; but his enterprise was not long in being imitated, 
for by a map of the parish of St. George's, dated 1787, we can see that 
streets and houses had even in this short space of time sprung up on all 
sides of his stately house. 

The ground on which Chesterfield House was built was the freehold 
of Viscount Howe, whose son, the famous naval commander, was created 
Earl Howe in 1788, and was known among his sailors as " Black Dick " ; 
its architect was Isaac Ware, who published a " Palladio " and lived in 
Bloomsbury Square, and to whom several buildings in London can be 
traced.^ It seems a little uncertain how long the house was a building, 
probably about four years; at any rate it was in progress during 1747, 
for we find Lord Chesterfield writing to Madame de Monconseil, on the 
31st July of that year, in the following terms : " Une soci6t6 aimable 
est, a la longue, la plus grande douceur de la vie, et elle ne se trouve que 
dans les capitales. C'est sur ce principe que je me ruine actuellement a 
bitir une assez belle maison ici, qui sera finie a la Fran9oise avec force 
sculptures et dorures." On the 13th of August following. Lord Chester- 
field writes to his friend Bristowe,^ in these terms : " My house goes 
on apace, and draws upon me very fast. My colonnade is so fine, that 

' Among other views and plans of the house is an engraved ground-plan, preserved in 
the Grace collection. 

' Plans of many of these are contained in Ware's Boiiy of Architecture. 

3 The letters from whence these extracts are taken are now in the possession of Charles 
E. Gooch, Esq., who has kindly allowed me to make use of them. 



CHESTERFIELD HOUSE 209 

to keep the house in countenance, I am obHged to dress the windows of 
the front with stone, those of the middle floor too with Pediments and 
Balustrades " ; and he adds, " I propose getting into it next Summer, 
that is, provided the Bailiffs do not get into it before me " ; while, in 
September of the same year, he tells his old friend DayroUes that his 
only amusement is the building of his new house, and that even that 
is attended by one regrettable incident — the expense. 

Full of his new plaything, the Earl again writes Bristowe, on 
December 1 2th of the same year : " My new house is near opening 
its doors to receive me ; and as soon as the weather shall be warm enough 
I shall get into the necessary part of it, finishing the rest at my leisure. 
My eating room, my dressing room, mon Boudoir, and my Library will 
be completely finished in three months. My court, my Hall and my 
staircase will really be magnificent. The staircase particularly will form 
such a scene, as is not in England. The expense will ruin me, but the 
enjoyment will please me." 

But although Lord Chesterfield speaks of being installed in at least 
a portion of the house in three months, we find him writing again to 
the same correspondent on February the 9th, 1748, and remarking, 
" You will find my house very near finished, for I propose being in it 
in July or August at furthest," and he incidentally indicates that the 
great building had its adverse critics, for he goes on to say, " I think you 
will like it, but whether you will dare to own it, I am not sure, considering 
that the schola ^ fulminates so strongly against it." 

The delay in the completion of the house was not only probably due 
to alterations and improvements made by the fastidious Earl as it pro- 
gressed, but was also increased by " the long continuance of the cold 
weather," which Chesterfield tells Bristowe, on March the 31st, 1748, 
" suspended all my work for a great while, and it will be with some incon- 
veniency even that I shall get into my house at Michaelmas ; but I will 
do it " — an assurance he repeats in another letter to his friend on June 21st, 
although even then he realises that he will only be lodged in part of the 
rooms as " those of show must stay till next Summer for their final 
flourish " ; and he adds, " one thing however which I must prepare you 
for, is that my Door will not be painted black." This is a dark saying, 
and evidently contains some covert allusion, the point of which, at least 
to me, is anything but clear ; unless at that moment the vagaries of fashion 
ordained this sable adornment for the chief entrance to private dweUings. 

On April i, 1749, Chesterfield is able to write that he is in his house, 

' One wonders whether this refers to certain adverse architects generally, or to the Society 
of Dilettanti in particular. 



2IO THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

but even then with the reservation that " it is yet far from finished, and 
cannot be completely so before Michaelmas next." The Earl appears to 
have actually taken possession on March 13, 1749, ^^ ^^^ know, con- 
siderably later than he expected to do, for hy a letter to Madame de 
Monconseil, written in July, 1748, he spoke of being then without a house, 
having left his old one,^ and not yet having got into his new one, and 
he added that in six weeks he hoped to be settled in, whereas we see it was 
over six months before he took up his residence in his new dwelling. 

Although actually getting in he found that the decorations of the 
various rooms were far from complete ; indeed the fact that the house 
warming did not take place till 1752, goes to prove that the intervening 
years were occupied in their embellishment. His chief care seems to 
have been lavished on the boudoir and the library ; and they appear 
to have been the first apartments to be finished, for in March, 1749, he 
writes to DayroUes thus : " I have yet finished nothing but my boudoir 
and my library ; the former is the gayest and most cheerful room in 
London, the latter the best " ; indeed this " boudoir," so called on the 
lucus a non lucendo principle of " a non boudare," he tells a friend, seems 
to have been his pet hobby, and on it he lavished much of his good taste 
and more of his ready money. Quite in the Walpoleian manner he gives 
Madame de Monconseil " a description of the room : " La boisure est d'un 
beau bleu," he writes, " avec beaucoup de sculptures et de dorures ; les 
tapisseries et les chaises sont d'un ouvrage a fleurs au petit-point, d'un 
dessein magnifique sur un fond blanc ; par dessus la cheminee, qui est de 
Giallo di Sienna, force glaces, sculptures, dorures, et au milieu le portrait 
d'une tres belle femme, peint par la Rosalba." He would have sent his fair 
friend a like minute description of the rest of the house, but was deterred 
by the fact that the younger Pliny in attempting such a picture of his 
villa, failed lamentably in conveying an adequate idea of it, and the Earl 
perhaps rightly thought that he was hardly likely to succeed where the 
Roman had failed, for he adds aphoristically that " il est de la sagesse 
de ne pas tenter des choses au dessus de ses forces." 

To Bristowe, on September 17, 1747, he refers to the Library, 
that Library which he afterwards speaks of as being " stuffed with easy 
chairs and easy books," which he is " finishing as fast as I can " ; and he 
informs his friend that " the ceiling is done and most of the wainscot 
up. The Book cases go no higher than the dressings of the doors, and 
my Poets which I hang over them will be in Stucco Allegorical frames 

' He lived in St. James's Square from 1727 till 1733 ; and in Grosvenor Square from the 
latter date till he went to Chesterfield House. 

° She presented him with the mag-nificent bras dc porcelaine, that used to hang on each side 
of the mantelpiece. 




LU 
O) 

o 

I 



I 
o 



< 



I 



CHESTERFIELD HOUSE 211 

painted white ; for I have determined to have no gilding at all in it, 
as the constant fire and candles in that room would so soon turn it black, 
whereas by having it new painted once in four or five years, it will always 
be clean and cheerful." 

Nothing came amiss to him that might be useful in beautifying his 
new possession. The magnificent marble staircase described by Vertue 
as " all of marble, each step made of an entire block and 20 feet in length," 
was purchased at the sale of the " Princely " Chandos's effects at Canons ; 
the iron work with its initial C. only having to be altered to the extent 
of placing an Earl's coronet where a Duke's had been before ; the pillars 
of the house also had the same frovenance, for which reason he calls them 
his " canonical pillars," in a letter to his son. The lantern of gilt copper 
which Fielding had once celebrated in a ballad in the Craftsman, came 
from Houghton Hall,^ and furniture and beautiful hangings were picked 
up in many a Continental capital, where Lord Chesterfield's many friends 
would be sure to keep their eyes open for likely adornments to his new 
plaything. Mutatis mutandis he was another Walpole, and Chesterfield 
House an urban Strawberry Hill. But there was this difference ; the 
London house was filled with beautiful objects because they were beautiful, 
and decorated throughout in a certain genre, that of the French eighteenth 
century ; whereas Strawberry Hill became a sort of curiosity shop, where 
much that was rare and curious was cheek by jowl with much that was 
tawdry and much that was little better than worthless. 

The Library at Chesterfield House contained a collection of the " rich 
and classical stores of literature," ^ and although the phrase has rather the 
air of indicating those books — biblia a biblia — as Lamb would have called 
them, " without which no gentleman's library is complete," yet the well- 
known taste and attainments of their collector is, I think, a sufficient guar- 
antee that it was such an assemblage of works as might have gladdened 
the heart of Heber, and not raised a smile of disdain from Beckford. 

The Horatian motto which Lord Chesterfield caused to be inscribed 
round the frieze of the Library was, he told his son, indicative of the 
life he intended henceforth to lead ; it was taken from the second book 
of the Satires : 

" Nunc veterum libris nunc somno et inertibus horis 
Ducere sollicits jucunda oblivia vitas." 

" I must observe to you on this occasion," adds the Earl, " that the 

uninterrupted satisfaction which I expect to find in that hbrary will be 

chiefiy owing to my having employed some part of my life well at your 

' Walpole to Mann, July 25, 1750. * Quarterly Review, No. 152, p. 484. 



212 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

age." Lord Chesterfield in these letters was used to " point his moral," 
both from his own experience as well as from the objects with which 
he had surrounded himself, and which sometimes engendered, and were 
sometimes combined in, his train of thought ; and we here find his new 
possession pressed appropriately into the service as an educational as well 
as a decorative medium. 

The bookcases reached only half-way up the walls, and in the space 
above them hung the portraits of some of the greatest and, it must be 
confessed, one of the least, names in English literature. Here was Shake- 
speare by Zucchero, flanked by Chaucer, Sidney, Spenser, Ben Jonson, 
and Milton, down to Addison and Prior, Pope, Swift, and Rowe.^ Curiously 
enough, although the prevailing note in the house was a French note, no 
great writer of that country — not even Moliere — relieved the somewhat 
insular effect of this gallery of literary great ones in the mansion that 
belonged to one of the most uninsular of Englishmen. Another notice- 
able room was the Italian Drawing Room, with its glittering chandelier of 
innumerable lustres, and the marble mantelpiece with its massive cary- 
atids. Each apartment, indeed, had its distinctive feature and its distin- 
guishing note of colour decoration, formed by the beautiful silk hangings 
of various hues, which had been sent from France, and in many cases 
specially prepared for this artistic apotheosis. Thus, one room had a 
large mirror made up of small pieces of glass, the joins being hidden by 
painted cupids, flowers, and arabesques ; another was noticeable for its 
girandoles, the candle branches of which were in the form of gilt tasselled 
ropes. The Music Room had, of course, its organ, on which we may 
suppose the airs of Handel and Bach to have often trembled ; and its 
decorations were illustrative of the art of St. Cecilia. In fact, everything 
in the house showed the taste and judgment and knowledge of its creator, 
the pride he took in it, and the care he bestowed on its beautification. 
And nothing proved these qualities better, perhaps, than the pictures 
which hung on the walls, for here were to be seen examples of the masters 
of pictorial art — Rubens with his sweeping brush, Titian with his glowing 
colours, and Vandyke's air of refinement ; the classic landscapes of Poussin, 
the correct architecture of Canaletto, the trembling saints of Guido, 
and Salvator's powerful shadows. 

But Lord Chesterfield was no indiscriminate purchaser ; indeed he 
appears to have dealt with pictures as he would with property, and never 
to have bought anything that was not a bargain. He employed two 
advisers — one. Sir Luke Schaub, and the other M. Harenc, a Frenchman — 

^ They are now at Bretby, Lord Carnarvon's seat, but the spaces have been filled by other 
portraits. 



CHESTERFIELD HOUSE 213 

to assist him in the selection of works of art, while his friend DayroUes 
was commissioned to hunt about for canvases that had a genuine -pro- 
venance and were to be bought cheap. On one occasion we find his 
lordship writing to the latter in this strain : " A fropos of money, as 
I •believe it is much wanted by many people even of fashion both in 
Holland and Flanders, I should think it very likely that many good 
pictures of Rubens, Teniers, and other Flemish and Dutch masters may 
be picked up now at reasonable rates " ; and he takes the occasion to 
remind his correspondent of some of the works which he already possesses, 
such as " a most beautiful landscape by Rubens, and a pretty little 
piece of Teniers " ; but it seems that he now wanted works on a 
larger scale, probably to fill the ample wall spaces in his new house. 
" If," he adds, " you could meet with a large capital history or allegorical 
piece by Rubens, with the figures as big as the life, I could go pretty 
deep to have it, as also for a large and capital picture of Teniers " ; and 
again he appears to have turned his attention to the Italian school : " I 
will buy no more till I happen to meet with some capital ones of some 
of the most eminent old Italian masters, such as Raphael, Guido, Cor- 
reggio, &c., and in that case I would make an effort." He was once 
nearly taken in by a Titian, which turned out " an execrable bad copy " ; 
and although, by some loose prior agreement on the part of the vendor, 
Lord Chesterfield eventually only had to pay the carriage of the painting, 
it evidently made him particularly careful in the selection of his cheap 
masterpieces. 

It is not difficult to understand that the " Vanqueur du Monde," 
as Johnson, in his celebrated letter, called him, armed with a thousand 
graces of mind, if not, according to Hervey and others, particularly graceful 
in appearance, — " like a stunted giant," says Ashurst ; " with a head big 
enough for a Polyphemus," sneers " Lord Fanny,"— surrounded as he 
was by such treasures, could easily fill his house with the most notable 
of his contemporaries ; but he had a further attraction at command, 
he was an epicure of the first water, and indeed was one of the earliest 
to introduce French cookery into this country, and his dinners and 
suppers were regarded as exhibiting the quintessence of culinary art ; as 
well they might do, when we remember that he engaged as cook — if this 
plain unvarnished word can be considered sufficient to indicate the powers 
of so distinguished a gastronomical artist — La Chapelle, who was not only 
gifted with national genius, but may be said to have had a family claim 
to it as being descended from that La Chapelle who catered for the more 
mundane wants of the great Louis Quatorze himself. 

Lord Chesterfield set an example which was followed by at least one 



214 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

of his descendants, for what La Chapelle did for the palates of the master 
and guests in the eighteenth century, that did Francatelli and Alexis 
Soyer for the host and habituds of Chesterfield House in the nineteenth. 

One of the chief merits in Chesterfield House, according to its builder, 
was the fact that it had (as it still has) a spacious courtyard in front, and 
(which it has no longer) a fine garden at the back — " the finest private 
garden in London," according to Beckford — attributes, then as now, rarely 
to be found in town houses. " My garden is now turfed, planed, and 
sown, and will, in two months more, make a scene of verdure and flowers 
not common in London," ^ he complacently writes to DayroUes in March 
1749, in a letter which he dates, as if to give his residence a fuller 
French flavour, " Hotel Chesterfield " ! Here he resided for some twenty 
years, years that saw the peaceful close of a long life of considerable 
political activity and more personal pleasure, of which the details need 
not here be enumerated.* 

On March 24, 1773, his old friend DayroUes called to inquire after 
him. He found the life of this man of " exquisitely elegant manners " 
slowly ebbing away. " Give DayroUes a chair," the dying Peer faintly 
whispered to his attendant, and in less than an hour he was dead.' WeU 
might Dr. Warren, who was present, remark that " His good breeding 
only quits him with his life." But we must remember that in Lord 
Chesterfield's case, good breeding was not a cloak to be put on and off 
as occasion required ; it was his second nature.* 

But it was not only his politeness that he preserved to his last breath ; 
his wit accompanied him almost to his grave. Says Walpole, writing to 
Lady Ossory on March 1 1 of this same year, " My Lord Chesterfield 
bought a ' Claude ' the other day for four hundred guineas, and a ' Madame 
de la Valliere ' for four. He said, ' WeU, if I am laughed at for giving so 
much for a landscape, at least it must be allowed that I have my woman 
cheap.' " " Is it not charming," comments Horace, " to be so agreeable 
quite to the door of one's coffin ? " 

I think we can see through aU the life of Chesterfield one prevailing 
object : to obtain the regard and admiration of his contemporaries ; 

1 Lord Essex, who died in 1839, used to say that as a boy he remembered seeing the old 
Earl sitting on a rustic seat basking in the sun on the marble terrace that overlooked the 
gardens at the back of the house. 

- For the full account of his career see his Li/r by Ernst, as well as his famous Letters s 
and particularly the work of his latest biographer, Mr. W. H. Craig. 

' He was buried in the burial-ground of Grosvenor Chapel, but his body was afterwards 
removed to Shelford, in Nottinghamshire. 

* Lady Chesterfield, the daughter of a notorious mother, gave herself up to good works, 
and was a devout follower of Whitfield ; when her husband lay dying she brought the 
Rev. Rowland Hill to his bedside, but the Earl was too deaf, even had he been inchned, to 
hear his pious exhortations. 



CHESTERFIELD HOUSE 215 

indeed, in one of his letters to his son, he says as much, " Call it vanity 
if you will, and possibly it is so ; but my great object was to make every 
man and every woman love me. I often succeeded ; but why ? by 
taking great pains." Hervey, who loved him not, says that he often went 
so far as to sacrifice his interest to his vanity ; this is the verdict of an 
enemy ; a friend would, perhaps, rather see in it a readiness to give up 
present advantage if by so doing friendship and esteem could be obtained. 
Like all men in great positions, Lord Chesterfield has been variously 
judged ; old Sarah of Marlborough left him a large sum of money and a 
magnificent diamond ring as a proof of " the great regard she had for 
his merit " ; and Dr. Johnson wrote him a letter which has become an 
English classic ; and surely to have given the " great Cham of literature " 
the opportunity of penning such a splendid rejoinder should at least help 
to wipe away the neglect that inspired it.^ 

chesterfield was, as all the world knows, a wit of the first water, and 
many are the stories of his good sayings — not as celebrated as George 
Selwyn's, but often as pointed — which have come down to us. Ovce 
his wit took a practical form. In the gallery at Chesterfield House he 
caused to be hung two figures, one inscribed Adam de Stanhope, the other 
Eve de Stanhope ; could the force of satire go further ? As Walpole says, 
" the ridicule is admirable." " 

Among the beautiful women who frequented the assemblies of Lord 
Chesterfield few, if any, created more excitement and interest than 
" those goddesses, the Gunnings " ; and here it was that the Duke of 
Hamilton was first seriously attracted by the beauty of the younger of 
the fair sisters, " at an immense assembly made to show the house which 
is really magnificent," writes Walpole to Mann. " Duke Hamilton," 
adds our gossiping chronicler, " made violent love at one end of the room, 
while he was playing at pharaoh at the other end ; that is, he saw neither 
the bank nor his own cards, which were of three hundred pounds each : 
he soon lost a thousand." 

Few of the great houses of London have received within their walls 
a more brilliant assemblage of the distinguished men and beautiful women 
of their time than Chesterfield House ; and although its owner was one 
who was said to have had no friend, nobody will deny that his acquaintances 
were drawn from the wittiest and most dazzling society of the day. 
Here might have been seen that Duke of Newcastle whose ignorance 
and malapropisms have become a byword ; who for nearly thirty years 

' By-the-bye although there is an ante-chamber in Chesterfield House called " Dr. 
Johnson's Room," it could hardly have been here, but in Lord Chesterfield's house in Grosvenor 
Square, that Johnson was repulsed from the door and kept waiting in the outward room. 

' Walpole to Mann, September i, 1750. 



2i6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

was a Secretary of State, and was astounded at the information that Cape 
Breton was an island, and wanted to run off and tell the King that " Great 
Britain is an island " ! who was for ten years First Lord of the Treasury, 
and agreed on one occasion that Annapolis must be defended, but wanted 
to know where Annapolis was ; and Lord Pembroke, who was so devoted 
to swimming that Chesterfield once addressed a letter to him " in the 
Thames over against Whitehall " ; ^ Lord Scarborough, " as worthy a 
little man as ever was born," ' of whom it was said that he had " judgment 
without wit, while Chesterfield had wit and no judgment " ; Lord 
Tyrawley, who grew old with his host, and like him outlived most of his 
contemporaries, so that Chesterfield said wittily, " The fact is, Tyrawley 
and I have been dead these two years, but we don't choose to have it 
known." Lord Sandwich, with his " manners of the old court," who, 
however, disgraced himself at the prosecution of John Wilkes, might have 
been seen talking to the Gunnings, " the handsomest women alive," the 
younger of whom married two dukes and was the mother of four ; while 
the elder and better looking was once so mobbed in the Park that the 
King gave her a guard to protect her from the inquisitiveness of her 
many admirers ; and who once repaid that mark of royal condescension 
by telling George IL that the only sight she wished to see was a coronation ! 
The Duke of Hamilton who spent lavishly might have been seen cheek 
by jowl with Lord Bath, whose parsimony was so notorious that he would 
get wet through rather than hire a coach, and who on one occasion was 
actually followed into church by a persistent creditor, when the sermon, 
having for its text " Cursed are they that heap up riches," and the man 
of wrath pointing to my lord and groaning out, " Oh, Lord," the latter 
had perforce to leave the sacred building and, we are to suppose, settle 
the reckoning on one of the grave-stones. Then there was the so-called 
" Long Sir Thomas Robinson," who once asked Chesterfield to write 
some verses upon him, and got for his pains this distich : 

" Unlike my subject now shall be my song, 
It shall be wittv, and it shan't be long." 

Selwyn, on whom all the good " mots " of the time are fathered ; and 
Walpole, who told such numberless good stories of other people ; Dodsley, 
who published for everybody, and was annoyed by Johnson's famous 
letter, because he had an interest in the great Dictionary ; and David 
Mallet, who wrote much, but is only remembered by Rule Britannia, 
which he probably never wrote at all. 

' See Characters of Eminent Personages of his 07vn Times, by the late Earl of Chesterfield, 

1777- 

^ Suffolk Letters, vol. ii. p. 149. 



CHESTERFIELD HOUSE 217 

The list might be interminably extended.^ Cui bono P They are 
naught but ghosts which people the rooms of Chesterfield House ; the 
inanimate objects that furnish it, alone survive to enable us to conjure 
up a vanished age. Could they but speak ? And what wonderful objects 
they are ! Almost as gorgeous and beautiful as those who gazed upon 
them, whose robes brushed them carelessly by, whose features were 
reflected in their dazzling surfaces. 

After Lord Chesterfield's death the mansion passed to his cousin 
Philip Stanhope, who became fifth Earl, and who, dying in 1815, was 
succeeded by his son the sixth Earl; but about 1850 it was let to the 
late Duke (then Marquis) of Abercorn, who resided here till 1869, when 
the property was purchased by Mr. Magniac from Lord Chesterfield, 
for ^150,000. Mr. Magniac proceeded to cut up the extensive gardens, 
and built Chesterfield Gardens on their site, himself residing at the time 
in Chesterfield House. By this development, as well as by his subsequent 
sale of the mansion to Lord Burton, Mr. Magniac must have made a 
splendid profit out of his investment, but much of the beauty of the 
house was destroyed ; although, luckily, he did not proceed to those 
extremities evidently feared by a writer in the Atheneeum at the time, 
who says : " The Public are hoping that they may be permitted to see 
the interior of this historical house before the first pick-axe is laid 
to it." 

There are few more beautiful rooms in London than the great Drawing 
Room at Chesterfield House, certainly not many in which the imagination 
can run riot to such an extent as here. Its decorations, marvellous 
arabesques in white and gold, on which French and Italian artists spent 
their luxuriant fancies ; the original crimson flowered-silk hangings in 
which careful mending is here and there discernible ; its magnificent 
marble mantelpiece, &c., remain as they did practically in the time of 
the great Earl ; and what has since been added by the care and dis- 
crimination of the present owner gives just that touch of comfort and 
homeliness which is more characteristic of our day than it was of those 
of the earlier Georges, when the great ones of the earth seem always to 
have existed en grande tenue, and to have sacrificed, if indeed they really 
ever understood, comfort to the exigencies of fashion. Now the magni- 
ficently decorated walls and ceiling look not down on an almost empty 
room, with chairs and settees set formally against the walls, and perhaps 
a solitary escritoire or commode standing isolated in its vast expanse, but 
on a room filled with rare French furniture ; tables loaded with costly 

' On one occasion, in 1760, Lord Chesterfield offered the house to the Princess Emily, 
George III.'s aunt, as a residence. 



2i8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

bric-d-brac ; chairs covered in valuable tapestries which seem to invite 
familiar intercourse ; cabinets filled with the precious porcelain of Chelsea 
and Sevres, whose ornaments have been inspired by Gouthiere or Riesener, 
or whose polished surfaces of oriental lacquer reflect the light like 
mirrors ; while the superb chandelier is so much in harmony with the 
room, that one can hardly believe that Lord Chesterfield did not himself 
place it in situ and gaze complacently on its thousand glittering facets. 

Much that was here in the time of the " great Earl " has necessarily 
disappeared ; many objects of interest are at Bretby, the seat of Lord 
Carnarvon ; others have been scattered far and wide ; but it is probable 
that few great houses which have passed out of the family that originally 
owned them have had their intrinsic characteristics so carefully pre- 
served as has Chesterfield House, or where additions and alterations 
have been necessary have these been carried out with more judicious 
discrimination or exquisite taste than here. Thus in the famous Library, 
which, with all the Earl's care, seems, so far at least as the ceiling was 
concerned, to have been still unfinished at his death. Lord Burton has 
had the divisions filled with elaborate moulding, which appears exactly 
of a piece with the original ceiling which still looks down on the State 
Drawing Room ; again two other rooms have been thrown into one, 
forming a superb ball-room, such as, in size at least, even Chesterfield 
never dreamt of ; and where gilding has been introduced into the 
decorative scheme of some of the ceilings, this has been done with a 
care, and regard for fitness which is an object-lesson to some restorers 
who are little better than iconoclasts. But, on the whole, there is a 
great preponderance of the original work still remaining ; such as the 
solid mahogany doors, the beautiful marble chimney-pieces, many of the 
decorated ceilings, and the brocaded hangings, besides the unique grand 
staircase and the canonical pillars. 

Among the contents may also be seen some articles which have been 
again brought back, after many wanderings, to their original home ; as, 
for instance, two upright mirrors in elaborately carved and gilded frames, 
and some chairs, covered with tapestry, on one of which Miss Gunning 
may have sat when the Duke of Hamilton made violent love to her, and 
another of which may have been handed to DayroUes at the dying request 
of the " Vanqueur du Monde." 

And the pictures ! What if the canvases collected by the Earl no 
longer hang here (fine as some may have been, we know that one or two 
would hardly bear critical investigation), could they have compared 
with those that now look from the walls ? In the Dining Room alone^are 
six Gainsboroughs, and what Gainsboroughs ! Here is the Countess of 



CHESTERFIELD HOUSE 219 

Sussex and Lady Barbara Yelverton ; ^ here that superb pair of portraits 
of Sir Bate Dudley,' and his wife ; the former the notorious Parson- 
Baronet, who once edited the Morning Post, and looks here, with his 
proud, self-possessed face, as if he felt, as he probably did, capable of ruling 
the kingdom ; Lady Kinnoul (hanging over the fireplace) ; and full-lengths 
of Mr. and Mrs. Drummond ; while above one of the doors is a charming 
portrait group by Peters, very similar to the one in the National Gallery. 

There are also several remarkably fine Romneys at Chesterfield House ; 
Mary, Lady Beauchamp ; the Hon. Mrs. Beresford, a picture engraved by 
Jones in 1792 ; " A Beggar Man," exhibited at the Society of Artists in 
1771 ; and one of the innumerable Lady Hamiltons, this time as 
" Sensibility," engraved by Earlom in 1789 ; as well as a portrait of Miss Pitt. 
Besides these, in the large Drawing Room, is the same painter's full- 
length portrait of Lady Paulet, in a white dress and pale-blue velvet 
bodice, and wearing one of those large picture hats which Gainsborough 
first made an artistic accessory ; and here, too, is Romney's " Pink Boy," 
painted probably in rivalry with Gainsborough's more celebrated " Blue 
Boy." 

It is in this splendid room that the great chandelier that formerly 
belonged to Prince Demidoff, and was afterwards in Lord Dudley's col- 
lection, now hangs. 

One of the Romneys hangs in the Red Room ; but a greater than 
Romney is here — Sir Joshua, with his " Lesbia " ; his Sir George Bowyev, 
painted between December 1768 and January 1769 ; and above all his 
Admiral Keppel, probably executed in 1780, and one of the four or five 
portraits he painted of his friend, each of which exhibits such individuality 
of treatment that they can in no sense be considered as mere copies or 
replicas. Over the mantelpiece in the Library hangs the same master's 
presentment of Mrs. Hamar ; while those spaces over the bookcases, which 
were, as we have seen, in Lord Chesterfield's day filled with portraits of 
illustrious literary characters, are now occupied by examples of Cotes and 
Zoffany, Opie, and the great Sir Joshua himself. 

The small Dining Room rejoices in two Gainsboroughs and two 
Romneys, the former being represented by his portrait of Miss Franks 
as a little girl sitting on a bank and fondling a lamb, and Mrs. Morris, 
which hangs above the chimney-piece ; while the canvases of the latter 
are portraits of two young boys, whose identity has not, I think, been 
satisfactorily established. 

' Reproduced in Sir William Armstrong's L/ff of Gainsborough. 

^ This picture was painted at Bradwell in 1785-6 ; there is a three-quarter-length portrait 
of the same subject in the National Gallery. 



220 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

The great Ball Room, which, as I have said, has been formed by- 
throwing two rooms into one, contains three works by Reynolds, two 
of which are full-length portraits ; one of Lady Sunderlin,^ who we know 
sat to Sir Joshua in June 1788, and the other of Frances Wyndham, 
second daughter of the second Earl of Egremont, and who was married 
to the first Earl of Romney in 1776 ; and here, too, hangs a replica of 
Reynolds's famous " Snake in the Grass," as well as the full-length of 
Colonel Bullock, by Gainsborough. 

Even the Entrance Hall is lighted up by some fine works, notably 
Hoppner's " Boy with a Bow ; " Gainsborough's " Lord Sudeley ; " and 
the Gawlers, father and son, by Sir Joshua,^ besides a fine and charac- 
teristic picture of birds by Hondekoeter, another of whose works hangs 
on the landing of the Grand Staircase. 

Preserving, as it does, so much of the appearance and characteristic 
charm that made it a source of wonder and delight to the world of fashion 
that here gathered round its creator, Chesterfield House must always be 
one of the most, if not the most, intrinsically interesting of the great 
houses of London ; but when to this is added the fact that in a hundred 
ways the place remains, both as to structure and internal decoration, 
as it appeared when the great Earl's loving care was first bestowed upon 
it with such profuseness and with such artistic discrimination, while the 
memory of that remarkable man is still redolent throughout it, preserved 
with pious care by the present owner who has, further beautified the place 
by the wonders of art he has collected within it, I think Chesterfield 
House may proudly claim to be incomparable among the private palaces 
of London. 

• This fine picture was exhibited at the Old Masters in 1S94, and was reproduced in 
The Graphic for February 9, 1895. 

- I can find no specific mention of this picture in Leshe and Taylor's Life of Sir Joshua, 
but in December 1776, Mr. Gawler paid ^36, 15s. od. for his portrait, probably, from this 
price, only a bust ; and the same picture is supposed to be that exhibited at the Royal Academy 
in the following year, as " Portrait of a Gentleman" ; Master Gawler was sitting to Sir Joshua 
in February and November 1777. 




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CHAPTER IX 
CREWE HOUSE 

THOSE who wander down Curzon Street will not fail to observe 
one of those rare oases amid the generally unrelieved ramparts 
of bricks and mortar which are to be found here and there 
in London. The plane trees that embower Crewe House 
look gaunt enough in winter, but in summer, when the sun glints 
through their thick foliage and casts a thousand chequered shadows on 
the ground, then indeed one realises how rare it is in London to find 
such a note of rusticity amid urban surroundings as one does here. 

Building development has been in the past so irritatingly responsible 
for all lack of the proper appreciation of such rural adjuncts to the streets 
and houses of London, that to find it in conjunction with either, one has 
to go to the Embankment, where apparently nobody, except in cabs and 
trams, does go, or to such a place as Stafford House, the garden of which 
is the less conspicuous in this respect, because it adjoins the neighbouring 
mass of verdure in the Green Park. So that Crewe House is practically 
sui generis in that it stands in a street, and is yet almost hidden in 
its own umbrageous (to use a word beloved of an earlier generation) 
surroundings. 

Curzon Street, in which, on the north side, Crewe House stands, is 
one of London's famous thoroughfares. Taking its name from George 
Augustus Curzon, third Viscount Howe, it has from its earliest day, 
about the middle of the eighteenth century, been notable for the number 
of its interesting and frequently illustrious inhabitants. Pope's Lord 
Marchmont lived in it, as did Mason, the poet ; Lord Macartney, whose 
embassy to China is perpetuated in a volume, died in 1806, in the house 
here which, Walpole tells Lady Ossory, " is charming — and cheap as 
old clothes," and which was Lord Carteret's ; " all antiqued and 
grotesqued by Adam," adds Horace, who never let an opportunity slip 
of having a side-hit at the fashionable architect. Sir Henry Halford 
represented surgery, and Sir Francis Chantrey sculpture, and Madame 
Vestris histrionic art here at a later day ; while till their deaths here in 
1852, the Miss Berrys resided at No. 8, a house later occupied by Baron 



222 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Bunsen. So that the street has been as notable for its residents in the 
past, as the pages of the Red Book show it to be to-day. 

But interesting as have been the associations of the various dwellings in 
Curzon Street, Crewe House has an intrinsic interest of its own. It was 
erected by that Edward Shepherd who built what is known as Shepherd's 
Market about the year 1735, and who was also responsible for " many 
other buildings about Mayfair," where he owned and rented extensive 
property. He was living in 1708, in what is now Crewe House, or, more 
correctly speaking, in a smaller residence on its site, for it has been obviously 
enlarged, if not entirely rebuilt, since his day, and here nearly forty years 
later, to be exact, on September 24, 1747, he died, a notice of which 
event will be found in the Gentleman^ s Magazine for the following October. 
In this year there appears in the Rate Books this entry : " Mr. Shepherd 
for ground rent of the Faire market and one house ^i, is. od.," the " one 
house " ' probably referring to what is now Crewe House. At any rate 
it appears that Shepherd held a lease of part of the property on which 
the mansion stands from the ground landlord. Sir Nathaniel Curzon of 
Kedleston, which lease seems to have been renewed to his widow some- 
where between 1747 and 1753, on the i6th of June of which latter year 
a fresh lease was granted by Sir Nathaniel Curzon of the first part, one 
John Philips, described as a carpenter, of the second part, and the Right 
Hon. Charles Lord Viscount Fane of the third part, whereby the property 
was demised to Lord Fane for 985 years from the previous 25th of March 
1753, and this lease was expressed to be " in consideration of the surrender 
of a former lease of part of the property granted to Elizabeth Shepherd, 
widow." " 

It is not improbable that Lord Fane bought out Mrs. Shepherd's 
rights in the property, and that he resided here for a number of years. 
He was the eldest son of the first Viscount Fane by his wife Mary, sister 
of Lord Stanhope, and was, of course, one of the family whose chiefs 
have been, since the days of James I., Earls of Westmoreland. After his 
death it would appear that his widow. Lady Fane, occupied the mansion, 
as she is recorded as living here from 1776 to 1792. She was followed 
in her tenancy by Lady Reade, and an interesting record of the latter 
lady's sojourn here is afforded by some of Sir John Soane's drawings, 
now preserved in the Soane Museum, which depict certain alterations 
made in the mansion, under his superintendence, and which bear his 

' It is generally stated that in 1750, the mansion and grounds were offered for sale 
at /500, but this not improbably means that that sum was the premium asked for the 
existing lease. 

- For this information I am indebted to the kindness of Messrs. Tylee & Co. who, at 
Lord Crewe's desire, have given me all the information they can about the property. 



CREWE HOUSE 223 

written testimony that they were executed " for Lady Reade's house " 
in 1813. 

Lady Reade was apparently the wife of Sir John Chandos Reade, 
whose name appears in a further assignment of the 1753 lease of the 
property which took place on May 27, 18 17, and which was made, to 
use the legal phraseology, " between Richard MaHphant and George 
Bramwell of the first part, Sir John Chandos Reade of the second part, 
and the Right Hon. Henry James Luttrell, Earl of Carhampton, of the 
third part." This confirms the statement of J. T. Smith in his Streets 
of London, to the effect that Lord Carhampton bought the place. Smith 
adds that this occurred after Lady Reade's death, and he affirms that 
^500 was the price then given for it ; but it would seem that he was here 
confounding dates, unless, indeed, this sum was the amount again paid 
for the assignment of the lease as a premium. In any case this sum is 
insignificant enough to startle us who realise the enormously increased 
value of property in this quarter, and even if, as is probable, the house was 
smaller then than it is to-day, this fact can hardly lessen our astonishment. 

The Earl of Carhampton, the head of the Luttrell family, now became 
the possessor of the property. His natural son was that Henry Luttrell 
whose Advice to Julia is still worth reading, and whose wit and con- 
versation were considered by Gronow to far outshine those of his friend 
Rogers. Lord Carhampton was the hard-living, eccentric peer who, as 
Colonel Luttrell, had opposed Wilkes at the Brentford election, and had 
been the object of some of Junius's bitter attacks, and who was once 
Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Ireland, where, as he once told 
Napoleon, then First Consul at one of whose levees he was presented, 
he had the honour of serving when General Hoche landed in 1797.^ Sir 
Nathaniel Wraxall tells a story of his later days which will, I think, bear 
repetition, as a proof, if nothing else, of the inadvisability of too premature 
an assumption of dead men's shoes. " In 18 12," says the Diarist, " soon 
after the restrictions imposed by Parliament on the Regent were with- 
drawn. Lord Carhampton, lying in an apparently hopeless state at his 
house in Bruton Street, Berkeley Square, where he laboured under a 
dangerous internal malady, inteUigence of his decease was prematurely 
carried to Carlton House. The Regent, who was at table when the 
report arrived, lending rather too precipitate credit to the information, 
immediately gave away his regiment, the Carabineers, to one of the 
company, a general officer, and he lost not a moment in kissing his royal 
highness's hand on the appointment. No sooner had the report reached 
Lord Carhampton than he instantly despatched a friend to Pall Mall, 

' See Fifty Years of My Lift:, by Lord Albemarle. 



224 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

empowered to deliver a message to the Prince. In it he most respect- 
fully protested, that far from being a dead man, he hoped to surmount 
his present disease, and therefore humbly entreated him to dispose of 
any other regiment in the service except the Carabineers. Lord Car- 
hampton humorously added, that his royal highness might rest assured 
he would give special directions to his attendants not to lose a moment 
after it could be ascertained that he was really dead in conveying the news 
to Carlton House." ^ 

Lord Carhampton did not retain his new property long, for on the 
29th September 1818, he assigned his lease to James Archibald Wortley, 
member of Parliament for York, for the sum of ^12,000, a price which is 
alone sufficient to show the extraordinary increase in the value of property 
in this neighbourhood at the beginning of the nineteenth century. 

James Archibald Stuart-Wortley-Mackenzie, to give him his proper 
list of names, was the grandson of the third Earl of Bute, and great-grandson 
of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu — -whose amusing letters, by-the-bye, he 
edited — and was born in 1776." Commencing life in the Army, he gave up 
the art of " living by being killed," as Carlyle terms it, and entered Parlia- 
ment in 1797, where he distinguished himself till 1826, when he was 
raised to the peerage as Baron Wharncliffe of Wortley. For a few months, 
from 1834, he was Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, and in 1841, occupied 
the high office of Lord President of the Council, as does the present noble 
owner of his old home, the Earl of Crewe, so that there is a certain appro- 
priateness in the fact that the latter now possesses the house. 

Mr. Stuart-Wortley, as he then was, married in March 1795, Lady 
Caroline Crichton, daughter of the first Earl of Erne, and died in 1845, 
having just celebrated his golden wedding. Lady Wharncliffe surviving 
him a little over ten years. According to Lady Dorothy Neville's last 
amusing book. Lord Wharncliffe used frequently to entertain the staff of 
the Ozvl at dinner here, and he occasionally contributed acrostics to that 
paper. The Ozvl, it is well known, was started by Evelyn Ashley, James 
Stuart-Wortley, and Lord Glenesk, other contributors being the Hon. 
Mrs. Norton, Bernal Osborne, Vernon Harcourt, A. Hayward, Lord 
Houghton, and Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. 

Wharncliffe House, as the mansion was then called, remained in the 
possession of the Stuart-Wortley family till the death of the first Earl in 
1899, some time after which event the Earl of Crewe purchased it for 
^90,000, and changed its name to that which it now bears. 

' Posthumous Memoirs^ vol. ii. p. 129. 

^ The additional name of Wortley was assumed by the father of the first Baron Wharncliffe, 
as was that of Mackenzie, but the latter only for himself and the successive heirs to his estate. 
That of Montagu was prefixed by the late Earl, and his brother the father of the present Earl. 



CREWE HOUSE 225 

Crewe House, as I began by saying, stands in a pleasant oasis of trees 
and shrubs, lying back from the main thoroughfare. From the latter it 
is not only screened by a wall, but, an unusual adjunct in town, by a 
hedge, and this together with the creeper-covered entrance lodge gives 
it a rus in urbe appearance which is unique among London houses. The 
mansion itself is a wide-fronted building, decorated by four Ionic columns 
and by large semicircular bays at either end, and is eloquent of the early 
Georgian days when young men of family made the grand tour, and 
returned home fuU of the beauties of Greece and Rome which they did 
what they could to apply to the domestic architecture of this country. 
Those were the days when the Society of Dilettanti was a power in the 
land, when Brettingham and Gavin Hamilton purveyed antiques from 
calmly indifferent countries, and Nicholas Revett and " Athenian " Stuart 
first set that fashion for exploring the dead ground of ancient Greece 
and Rome which was for a time followed so assiduously. 

Although Crewe House does not claim to be a striking example of 
the fashion then inaugurated, it at least remains as a proof of the earnest- 
ness with which cultivated men then threw themselves into the quest 
for examples of the architecture of ancient times. Nothing can be said 
against such an enthusiasm ; and if there be those who are critical over 
the application of such architecture to the everyday needs of a country 
so alien in every respect from the life and thought of early Greece or 
ancient Italy as England, it was at least a saner and more defensible 
movement than that which prompted Walpole and his school to imitate 
in stucco the solidity of Gothic, and to apply what was appropriate to 
castles to the architectural adornment of suburban villas. 

In old records of Crewe House it is generally described as being " over 
against the chapel." Now this is not quite so distinctive an address as 
one might at first suppose, for although Mayfair or Curzon Chapel was 
exactly opposite, its site now being occupied by the massive building 
known as Sunderland House, erected for the Duke and Duchess of 
Marlborough a few years since, the other and very notorious Keith's 
so-caUed " chapel " also stood close by. 

Mayfair Chapel, an ugly enough building, was erected in 1720, and is 
perhaps chiefly notable in having had, as its first incumbent, the notorious 
Rev. Alexander Keith, who performed marriages here without the 
formalities of banns or licence, and made a splendid thing out of it, until 
outraged authority put a stop to his activity in 1742. But such a man 
as Keith was hardly likely to be hindered by measures which were, it would 
seem, rather half-hearted, and he very soon afterwards established a 
chapel close by on the other side of the street. And not only this, he 



226 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

even had the audacity to advertise his new place of business — for it was 
little else — and in order that those requiring his assistance should not 
have the excuse of not knowing his whereabouts, he set forth, in the 
Daily Post of July 20, 1744, the fact that " the little new chapel in 
Mayfair ... is in the corner house, opposite to the city end of the great 
chapel, and within ten yards of it," and added the information that " the 
minister (himself) and clerk live in the same corner house where the Httle 
chapel is," concluding with the remark : " that it may be better known 
there is a porch at the door like a country church porch." Here for 
one guinea inclusive Keith was prepared " at any hour till four in the 
afternoon " to splice amorous couples with a celerity and informality 
that carries us in imagination rather to Gretna Green or the Fleet than 
to the heart of fashionable London. Keith was imprisoned, but un- 
daunted. During his incarceration his wife died, and he had her body 
embalmed until he should be able to attend her funeral ; and he even 
went the length of making her decease a means of fresh advertisement for 
his chapel where he had arranged for a substitute to carry on his ille- 
galities. When he was first told that the Bishops would put a stop to 
his action, he is said to have exclaimed : " Let them ; and I will buy 
two or three acres of ground, and, by God, I'll underbury them all." 

The name of those who took advantage of Keith's impudence is legion ; 
no less than 7000 marriages (if they can be so termed) are recorded as 
being celebrated by him or his myrmidons, in three old registers that 
survive, although this must have represented but a tithe of those per- 
formed ; indeed it is stated that no less than 6000 persons were married 
in a single year, until the Marriage Act of 1754 stopped even his activity. 

It was here that the Duke of Hamilton married Miss Gunning in 
1752, " with a ring of the bed curtain," as Horace Walpole relates in a 
frequently quoted passage ; Lord George Bentinck was joined to Mary 
Davies here in the following year, and, to mention no others, it is said 
that on the very day before the Marriage Act came into force, no less 
than sixty-one couples were " spliced " by Keith's unhallowed hands. 

The moment of Keith's greatest activity was that during which the 
Mayfair, from which the whole of this district takes its name, was held 
here, and which, dating from the time of Charles II., was continued 
without intermission till 1708, and then, after some years' cessation, had 
an intermittent existence for another hundred years, being finally abolished 
in 1809, as the result of complaints and representations made by Lord 
Coventry, who lived close by. 

The history of Mayfair is a fascinating subject, but not one that must 
detain us here ; indeed we have loitered too long already outside Crewe 



CREWE HOUSE 227 

House in the not very edifying company of Mr. Keith and his delin- 
quencies. 

Like all large houses in London, Crewe House is filled with artistic 
treasures, and although there are many which have an historic provenance, 
the greater number have a claim to notice as being family heirlooms, 
which gives them an added interest. Considering what a large space 
Lord Crewe's father — the Monckton-Milnes, Lord Houghton, of an 
earlier day — occupied in the social, political, and literary life of his times, 
it would be strange if we did not find, in this house, a wealth of remini- 
scences of that remarkable man, and here in the Entrance Hall hangs his 
portrait by Rudolph Lehmann, while in the Drawing Room, the windows 
of which look out on to the garden over whose walls the Duke of Marl- 
borough's stately stone residence rears its ample proportions, hang a 
number of portraits of the forbears of that most literary of peers. 

Here are Sir Robert Milnes and his wife — Lady Milnes, daughter and 
co-heir of Joseph Poole of Drax Abbey — in full length, by Romney ; and 
close by, Mrs. Cunliffe Offly, by Sir Thomas Lawrence ; the dog which 
she nurses being from the hand of Landseer ; an earlier portrait of the 
same lady, when yet Miss Emma Crewe, is by Hoppner ; and the portrait 
of her husband, Mr. Cunliffe Offly, by Harlow, hangs on the opposite wall. 
Two more noticeable family portraits are those of John, first Lord 
Crewe,^ and his wife Frances, Lady Crewe, daughter of Fulke Greville, of 
Wilbury, Wilts., by Lawrence ; a beautiful portrait of Madame Rodes,^ 
by Gainsborough, a picture of a young boy, entitled " Edwin," by Wright 
of Derby, and two landscapes by Zuccarelli, complete the pictorial decora- 
tion of the Drawing Room, in which French furniture and bric-a-brac, 
including beautiful snuff-boxes (preserved in glass-topped tables), are 
lighted up by two mirrors, one of which hangs over the mantelpiece, in 
elaborately carved and gilded frames, giving a touch of Italy to the apart- 
ment which the deeply moulded domed ceiling dominates. 

From this Drawing Room two other apartments are reached, opening 
into each other, and forming one of the delightful vistas which are so 
pleasant a feature in many of the larger London houses. The Boudoir, 
with one of those recesses beloved by Georgian builders, is the room 
seen through an intervening apartment known as the Central Drawing 
Room, in which hangs Romney's speaidng portrait of Miss Hannah Milnes, 
and from which opens an octagonal winter garden. The Boudoir, with 
its Louis Quinze and Louis Seize furniture, and its peaceful outlook on 

' He was born in 1742, and died 1829 ; and had been created a peer in 1806. 
' Sir Godfrey Rodes of Great Houghton, of whom there is a portrait at Fryston, was the 
direct ancestor of Lord Houghton. 



22 8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

to the gardens, is, indeed, one must think, named on the same lucus a 
non lucendo principle on which Lord Chesterfield once said his similarly- 
called room at Chesterfield House was. Miniatures of members of both 
Lord and Lady Crewe's family, old theatrical prints, bijouterie, and the 
thousand and one costly trifles that help to furnish a room, are here ; and 
here, too, is a marvellous writing-table in marqueterie, the work of the 
great Andr^ BouUe. 

There are, too, several pictures of great interest in this room, among 
which I must particularly note a small but very fine portrait of Miss 
Emma Crewe by Gainsborough, and a portrait of Fanny Burney by 
Downman, by whom there is another head of a young girl, not impro- 
bably, though the fact is not stated, one of the numerous portraits of the 
ladies of the Crewe family, which the artist is known to have executed 
during the year 1777. There is, besides, a noticeable portrait of Lord 
Chesterfield, as well as " Le Jardin d' Amour," by Rubens, a small copy 
or possibly a replica of the celebrated picture now in the Prado, which 
Philip IV. of Spain caused to be hung in his bedroom ; and there is also 
Clarkson Stanfield's " Bridge of Angers," among other works which help to 
beautify the room. 

From the Boudoir one enters the Library, which until recently was 
rather sombre with its black ebony bookcases and dark wall-paper, but 
which has now been converted into a bright, almost gay, room. The 
relatively few books here are chiefly those required for reference and 
official work. Lord Crewe's fine Library being at Fryston, but there are 
two pictures of peculiar interest in this room ; one is the portrait of 
John Keats at Wentworth Place, seated and holding a book, by Severn, 
another example of which is in the National Portrait Gallery ; the other, 
Stone's drawing of Rogers, Mrs. Norton, and Mrs. Phipps, sitting talking 
round a table ; and the three-quarter-length portrait of Miss Amabel 
Crewe, afterwards Lady Houghton, mother of the present Lord Crewe, 
by Sir William Boxall, has an intrinsic interest in this house, although 
as a work of art it can only be considered as mediocre. 

The Dining Room on the west side of the house is a similar room 
to the Library, but much longer. Two pillars support the ceihng at the 
back of the room ; and here again, as in the Library, a change of decorative 
note has largely improved the lighting and general appearance of the 
apartment, which was formerly panelled with a dado in rich dark oak, and 
possessed a sideboard of massive proportions and other decorations en 
suite ; now, however, white is the prevailing tone, and an air of hghtness 
has been given to the room which has greatly added to its charm. 
Among the pictures which hang here, is a portrait of George Canning, 



CREWE HOUSE 229 

as a young man, by Hickey, and George, Prince of Wales, by Hoppner ; 
and there is an interesting work by Stubbs representing R. S. Milnes, 
Esq., M.P., on horseback ; although it is the two Romney portraits of 
the first Lord Crewe, and of Mrs. Shore Milnes, that will chiefly attract 
the lover of the beautiful in art. 

Compared with many of the great mansions I am dealing with in 
this book, Crewe House itself is relatively small, and its contents, beautiful 
as they are, few in number ; but, on the other hand, the area occupied by 
the mansion and its gardens is, considering its position in the heart of 
Mayfair, an unusually large one, and the residence has been for the last 
hundred and seventy years such a landmark, having existed at a time 
when all between it and Piccadilly was as yet unbuilt over, that it has, 
I think, for these reasons alone a right to be included among the great 
houses of London ; added to this is the fact that from its connection 
with Lord WTiarncliffe in the past, and the Earl of Crewe in the present, 
it is able to take its place among those mansions which may be regarded 
as political centres, whose walls have listened to history in the making, 
and whose floors have felt the tread of generations of illustrious feet. 

As I write there is an attempt to sell Crewe House, with its gardens 
extending to an area of over 29,000 square feet ; and as the particulars 
tell me, comprising the choicest site in Mayfair, and one of the most 
important in the west-end. Should the old house and its unique grounds 
pass into the hands of some one buying it as a residence, all will be well ; 
but if, as is more likely when we look round and see what has happened 
in analogous cases — ^in that of Harcourt House, for instance — the property 
is purchased for building development, then we may expect one day 
in the near future to see palatial flats dominating this spot and perhaps 
equalling in solidity, and more than equalling in size, Sunderland House 
opposite. In this case what has been here set down about Crewe House 
will, I hope, serve to recall its past outlines, and the interest of its contents 
to those to whom it has for long been a landmark, and to those who have 
so often gathered together within its hospitable walls. 

Nothing is so difficult to remember as the appearance of a building 
that has been demolished ; the mind, apparently, is so much more capable 
of receiving new impressions than of retaining old ones ; and it is for 
this reason that any attempt to preserve the features of some building 
which is likely to become the victim of time's destroying hand, contributes 
something to the rehabilitation of the ever-changing features of our great 
city. J. T. Smith was one of the few, in an earlier day, who realised this 
fact, which luckily in these times is thought more important than was 



2 30 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

formerly the case ; and nowadays, when the various societies that exist 
for this purpose are unable to actually preserve intact some threatened 
landmark, there is at least an endeavour made to perpetuate, by pen and 
pencil, the vanishing points of interest in the metropolis. It is as 
important that this should be done in the west-end as in the City 
itself ; but there are still many who seem to think that architectural and 
historical interest almost ceases this side of Charing Cross ; forgetting 
that much of the best work of the Adams, to mention but these, was done 
in this region ; and unmindful of the fact that the social life under the 
Georges, with which so much of this western part of the town is 
identified, is practically synonymous with the historic annals of that 
fascinating period. 




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CHAPTER X 

DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 

IF one wished to give a foreigner an idea of the wealth and influence 
of some of our great famiHes as reflected in their territorial posses- 
sions, it is probable that one could find in London no better illustra- 
tion of this than the great house whose name heads this chapter. 
There are other splendid mansions as large, but none, taking into account 
the extent of the grounds and fore-court of Devonshire House, that 
cover so extensive an area, and when this and the extraordinarily fine 
position it occupies is remembered, few people, even the most unbusiness- 
like, will fail to recognise what this means in estimated value. Indeed, 
all sorts of fabulous sums have been mentioned as representing the intrinsic 
worth of the ducal property, and, as usual, with anything that bulks 
largely in the public eye, all sorts of erroneous reports have been from 
time to time circulated about it. 

Devonshire House stands on the site of the mansion known as Berkeley 
House, which Lord Berkeley of Stratton erected about the year 1665, 
at a cost of " neere ^^30,000" as Evelyn tells us, on ground formerly 
occupied by a farm called " Hay Hill Farm," from which, of course, the 
neighbouring Hay Hill takes its name. The architect of the house was 
Hugh May, the friend of Evelyn and designer of Cassiobury Park and 
Lady Fox's house at Chiswick, amongst other important buildings, whose 
brother, Baptist May, was also a well-known architect of the day. 

That the house was finished by the spring of 1666, is evidenced by 
Evelyn, who mentions waiting on Lord Clarendon at Clarendon House, 
" and Lord Berkeley's built next to it," on May 22 of that year. From 
another entry in the Diary, we get some idea of the formation and extent 
of the place, for, writing on September 25, 1672, Evelyn says : " I din'd 
at Lord John Berkley's newly arrived out of Ireland, where he had been 
Deputy : it was in his new house, or rather palace. ... It is very well 
built, and has many noble roomes, but they are not very convenient, 
consisting of but one Corps de Logis : they are aU roomes of state, without 
clossets. The staire-case is of cedar ; the furniture is princely ; the 



232 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

kitchen and stables are ill placed, and the corridore worse, having no 
report to the wings they joyne to. For the rest, the fore-court is noble ; 
so are the stables ; and above all the gardens, which are incomparable 
by reason of the inequalitie of the ground, and a pretty -piscina. The 
holly hedges on the terrace I advised the planting of. The porticos are 
in imitation of a house described by Palladio, but it happens to be the 
worst in his booke ; though my good friend, Mr. Hugh May, his Lord- 
ship's architect, effected it." 

This description can be supplemented by that given in the New View 
of London for 1708, in which we are also told that " the house is built of 
brick, adorned with stone pilasters, and an entablature and pitched pedi- 
ment, all of the Corinthian order, under which is a figure of Britannia 
carved in stone. At some distance on the east side is the kitchen and 
laundry, and on the west side stables and lodging-rooms, which adjoin 
the mansion by brick walls, and two circular galleries, each elevated on 
columns of the Corinthian order, where are two ambulatories." 

The reader will probably consider this extract sufficient. How the 
writer revels in his " entablatures " and his " Corinthian orders " ! With 
what unction he mouths out, ore rotundo, his " pitched pediments," and 
his " ambulatories " ! Was he, one wonders, paid like Dumas, by the line ? 

Evelyn, as we have seen, found no httle fault with old Berkeley House ; 
Ralph, on the other hand, considers it not only " very elegant," but goes 
so far as to say that it was " quite worthy of the masterhand of Inigo 
Jones," which, when we remember Ralph's habitual fault-finding with 
nearly every building in London, is extraordinarily high praise ; while 
Macky notes that at the back, it " hath a beautiful vista to Hampstead 
and the adjacent country " ! 

Lord Berkeley of Stratton died in 1678, but his widow continued to 
reside in the house. It is probable that the noble grounds, which, we 
must remember, formerly not only contained Devonshire House and its 
gardens as we know them, but also the whole of Berkeley Square and the 
adjacent streets, had attracted the eyes of the builders even then, and that 
tempting offers had been made to Lady Berkeley ; and, indeed, an entry 
by Evelyn in his Diary for June 12, 1684, confirms this. Says he: "I 
went to advise and give directions about the building two streets in 
Berkeley Gardens, reserving the house and as much of the garden as the 
breadth of the house. In the meantime, I could not but deplore that 
sweete place (by far the most noble gardens, courts, and accommodations, 
stately porticoes, &c., anywhere about towne) should be so much 
straightened and turned into tenements." He, however, finds some 
small consolation in the fact that Lord Clarendon's great place had 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 233 

met with a worse fate, and considers that it afforded " some excuse for 
my Lady Berkeley's resolution of letting out her ground also." 

The price paid staggered even Evelyn's calm philosophy, " advancing 
neere ;^iooo per ann. in mere ground rents " ; " to such a mad intemper- 
ance was the age come of building about a citty," he exclaims, " by far 
too disproportionate already to the nation." What would he have said 
to the size of London of to-day, and the prices cheerfully paid for ground 
in it ? 

A few years later Berkeley House was to have a royal occupant, for 
the Princess Anne, resisting every attempt made by her sister Queen 
Mary to induce her to dismiss her confidante. Lady Marlborough, 
was forced to leave her lodgings in the Cockpit, and on doing so established 
herself here, with her husband, Prince George of Denmark ; ^ although 
she did not entirely give up her former residence, still using it as a lodging 
for some of her servants. 

A letter written by the Princess to Lady Marlborough, and dated 
May 22, 1692, from Sion House, indicates the moment when she took 
possession of Berkeley House. " Some time next week, I believe, it will 
be time for me to go to London, to make an end of that business of 
Berkeley House." She had been in negotiation for renting it during 
the quarrel with her sister, and when this became acute she hastened 
to complete the matter. Among the Lansdowne papers in the British 
Museum, there is an amusing squib, entitled " The Bellman of Piccadilly's 
Verses to the Princess Anne of Denmark," which refers to her Royal 
Highness's residence in Berkeley House ; the lines run thus : — 

" Welcome, great princess ! to this lowly place, 
Where injured royalty must hide its face ; 
Your praise each day by every man is sung, 
And in the night by me shall here be rung. 
God bless our Queen ! and yet I may, moreover. 
Own you our queen in Berkeley Street and Dover : 
May you and your great prince live numerous years ! 
This is the subject of our loyal prayers." 

Here, says Miss Strickland, " the Princess, divested of every mark of her 
royal rank, continued to live, where she and her favourite amused them- 
selves with superintending their nurseries, playing at cards, and talking 
treason against Queen Mary and ' her Dutch Cahban,' as they called 
the hero of Nassau." 

' During the Princess's residence here a silver cistern, valued at ^750, was stolen, and the 
theft was advertised in No. 94 of The Postman for 1695. The cistern was afterwards found 
in the possession of a distiller in Twickenham, who was tried and convicted of the theft. 



234 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Thus matters went on, until the fatal illness of the Queen, when 
Berkeley House was agog with excitement, for the Princess Anne was 
heir to the throne, and although she personally held no communication 
with the Court, the news of the Queen's illness, and aU the phases of 
her malady, filtered through from the servants at the Palace to those in 
Piccadilly. Mary breathed her last on December 28, 1694 (old style),* 
but on the preceding Christmas Day, when her state was known to be 
hopeless, vast crowds of courtiers and time-servers, who had hitherto 
treated Anne with studied neglect, flocked to pay their court to the rising 
sun at Berkeley House. Mutatis mutandis, it was not dissimilar from 
that " rush of the whole Court " rushing as in a wager, with a sound 
" terrible and absolutely like thunder," with which the French Court 
hastened from the death-bed of Louis the well-beloved to greet his 
successor ! An amusing incident is said to have occurred on one of 
these occasions. Lord Carnarvon, a half-witted peer, was annoyed at 
being surrounded by all these tuft-hunters, and as he stood close to Anne, 
took the opportunity of remarking aloud to her : " I hope your Royal High- 
ness will remember that I always came to wait on you when none of this 
company did." No little amusement was caused by this, but some of 
the courtiers were put a good deal out of countenance by it. 

At last even William recognised that further open hostility would be 
useless, and with a letter of condolence to him from Anne, the breach, if 
not actually closed, was to all appearances, cemented. He received her at 
Kensington Palace, where, owing to her then weak state of health, she was 
carried in her chair actually into the royal presence ; he bestowed the 
Garter on her son, the Duke of Gloucester ; and he offered her St. James's 
as a residence. It would appear that the Princess took advantage of this 
last favour in the spring of 1696, when her connection with Berkeley 
House came to an end. 

In the following year the property was purchased by the first Duke 
of Devonshire. William Cavendish, the son of the third Earl of Devon- 
shire, was born in 1641, and succeeded to the earldom in 1684 ; he had 
acted as cup-bearer to the Queen on the occasion of James the Second's 
coronation, but this did not prevent his enjoying the favour of WiUiam, 
under whom he filled various high offices, and by whom he was created 
Marquis of Harrington and Duke of Devonshire, in 1694. He married 
Lady Mary Butler, daughter of the first Duke of Ormonde, and was con- 
sidered by Macky, " the finest and handsomest gentleman of his time." 
Burnet, too, notices the " softness in his exterior deportment," but adds 
that " there was nothing within that was answerable." 

' The French date her death January 7, 1695. 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 235 

The purchase of Berkeley House seems to have been attended by 
some initial difficulties, as it appears that the Marquis of Normanby 
had also been in treaty for it, and indeed considered that he had 
bought it. Narcissus Luttrell, whose diary is a storehouse for this sort 
of information, sheds some light on the matter. Thus we learn that, on 
December 5, 1696, the Lords debated the question, and referred it to a 
committee which was to make its report the following week. On the 
loth of the month, " their Lordships debated the matter of privilege 
between the Duke of Devon, Marquess of Normanby, and the Lord 
Berkley about the sale of Berkly House, and ordered them all to waive 
their privilege after this sessions ; but the proceedings in law may go on, 
which the Duke of Devon has already done." The Chancery proceedings, 
however, seem to have been as much delayed as those of the House of 
Lords, and on May 13, 1697, we find the case being put off "till next term." 
However, on July 7, a long discussion took place between the Duke and 
the Marquis about Berkeley House " (both pretending to have bought 
it), but it proving very tedious, the council for the former only was heard." 
On October 28, another long hearing was held before the Lord Chancellor 
and the two Chief Justices, and after counsel had been fully heard, judgment 
was reserved for a fortnight ; but, adds Luttrell, " most beleive twil be 
for his grace," and so it turned out, for on January I, 1697-8, Luttrell 
concludes with this entry : " Thursday last the lord chancellor, assisted 
by two chief justices, further heard the matter depending between the 
Duke of Devon and the Marquesse of Normanby about the purchase of 
Berkley House ; and after mature deliberation, decreed it for the Duke 
of Devon." 

On the following 31st of March the Duke entertained the King at 
dinner here ; and his grace must have set out from here, when he met 
Colonel Culpepper, at " the auction-house in St. Alban's Street," on 
June 30, in the same year, and caned him, " for being troublesome 
to him in the last reign " ; while Luttrell notes that Count Tallard, the 
French Ambassador, dined at Berkeley House with the Duke, on 
January 3, 1699-1700. It is, indeed, but natural to suppose that the 
place was as much the resort of fashion and the centre of hospitality in 
William the Third's reign, as its successor, Devonshire House, has been 
in our own day. 

The first Duke of Devonshire died here, on August 18, 1707, having 
received the last rites of the Church at the hands of the Bishop of Ely, 
and having left " orders to pay his just debts, and for that end has all 
his Jewells, and the finest sett of plate in England," says Luttrell. 

The second Duke, who occupied almost as many high offices as his 



236 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

father, succeeded to the property, and when in London Uved at Devon- 
shire House, as it had now begun to be called. Here he died, on June 
4, 1729, when he, in turn, was succeeded by his son, the third Duke, 
during whose tenure of the title the disastrous fire which entirely 
destroyed the house, occurred here. Some alterations were in progress, 
when, owing to the carelessness of one of the workmen employed, a 
glue-pot which had been left on the fire, boiled over, and the escape 
of flaming liquid set fire to some woodwork. Every effort was made 
to extinguish the flames, and to save the more valuable contents, and 
luckily the library, pictures, and other objects of art were rescued, 
mainly through the help of a body of the Guards, who, under the 
direction of the Earl of Albemarle, not only saved many rarities from 
the flames, but also preserved them from the hardly less rapacious hands 
of the mob which had gathered round the burning pile. Among the 
crowd was Frederick, Prince of Wales, as well as m.any people of dis- 
tinction who, in those days, were always attracted by such a scene. 
Ralph a -propos of this catastrophe says : " Had his grace's servants re- 
collected their master's motto, Cavendo tutus, it (the house) had still re- 
tained its ancient splendour ; but as they did not understand the beauties 
of Inigo Jones's ^ architecture, so they were not concerned for its 
preservation " ; and he adds, " 'Tis our happiness to have remembered 
it as it formerly stood, great in simplicity, and elegant in plainness." 

The loss to the Duke was estimated at not less than ^30,000, while, in 
addition, the statue of Britannia, which I have before mentioned as sur- 
mounting the portico, and which had cost ;^3500, fell from its pedestal 
some days after the actual conflagration, and was irretrievably broken. 
But perhaps what was most deplorable was the loss of the staircase paint- 
ings, the work of Laguerre, which it was not humanly possible to save. 
Curiously enough, however, another quasi mural painting was rescued ; 
this was the violin which John Vander Vaart had painted against one of 
the doors of the house, and which, says Walpole, deceived every one who 
saw it into supposing it an actual instrument ; a curiosity that is now 
preserved at Chatsworth. 

This disastrous fire occurred on October 16, 1733, and in the Daily 
Journal for the following day, a long and graphic account of the circum- 
stance is given. Only a few months before the catastrophe, the Duke 
gave a ball at Devonshire House, which is mentioned in one of Lady 
Wentworth's letters to her son ; where, after naming some of the com- 
pany, she details as follows, the sort of refreshment provided for our 
forefathers on such occasions : " We had a very handsome supper, viz., 
' Meaning that May, its architect, had taken hints from the greater master. 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 237 

at the upper end cold chicken, next to that a dish of cake, parch'd 
almonds, sapp biskets, next to that, a dish of tarts and cheesecakes, next 
to that a great custard, and next to that another dish of biskets, parch'd 
almonds, and preserved apricocks, and next a quarter of lamb " ! There is 
no doubt that this was but one of many such entertainments which the 
first three Dukes of Devonshire gave here ; for not only their natural 
incHnation towards hospitality, but also the great positions they respec- 
tively occupied, would, in a sense, have made such gatherings necessary, 
as well as pleasurable to them. 

On the destruction of his residence the third Duke at once set about 
the erection of the present mansion. He selected as his architect, WilUam 
Kent,^ who produced a building which is not very likely to add to his 
reputation ; and Ralph is bitterly sarcastic, as is his playful way, over its 
elevation. " It is spacious, and so are the East India Company's Ware- 
houses," says he, " and both are equally deserving praise." The critic 
also falls foul of the wall which fronts Piccadilly, which indeed was severe 
enough before the happy thought of placing the beautiful gates from 
Chiswick House added both interest and dignity to it. 

Kent received ;^iooo for his plan and elevations of the new house, 
the building of which cost, according to Pennant, twenty times that sum. 
The topographer once went over the mansion, under the guidance of 
Dr. Lort, the then librarian, on which occasion he made a few desultory 
notes of the pictures which chiefly attracted his notice, confining his 
attention, however, to the portraits, which, he says, " are so numerous that 
I must leave the complete list to those who have more opportunity of 
forming it than I had." Among those he does mention was that, 
attributed to Tintoretto, of Marc Antonio de Dominis, Archbishop of 
Spalatro, the ItaUan theologian and natural philosopher, who came to 
this country, and having abjured the Roman Catholic reUgion, became 
master of the Savoy and Dean of Windsor, when, again retracting, he 
was ordered out of the country, and died miserably in prison at Rome, 
in 1624." Titian's portrait of himself; Rembrandt's Jewish Rabbi; 
the whole length in armour of Philip II., by Titian ; Sir Thomas 
Browne ^ with his wife and four daughters, by Dobson, which last 

• Kent is too well known to require any notice here, but I may remind the reader that he 
designed Holkham, among many other works, the plan and elevations of which were published 
by Hrettingham as his own, much to Walpole's disgust. Kent died at Burlington House 
in 1748. 

^ This picture is now at Chatsworth. As the late Mr. Arthur Strong pointed out, it could 
not be by Tintoretto, as the painter died in 1594, and Antonio was born in 1566. In The 
Masterpieces in the Duke of Devonshiri^s Collection it is attributed to an unknown painter of 
the North Italian School. 

' This still hangs in the Dining Room at Devonshire House. 



238 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

picture reminds our author of a quaint passage in the Religio Medici; 
and Vandyck's presentment (now at Chatsworth) of Arthur Goodwin, the 
friend of John Hampden, are among the portraits that Pennant notes, 
but he makes no attempt to describe the works by the great Italian 
masters, which then formed, according to his own showing, " by far the 
finest private collection in England." 

The builder and internal beautifier of Devonshire House died in 
1755, and was succeeded by his son, the fourth Duke, who, for his uncom- 
promising hostility to Lord Bute, was called by that statesman's pro- 
tectress, the Princess-Dowager of Wales, " King of the Whigs." He, 
indeed, inaugurated the political traditions which, during his successor's 
day, made Devonshire House the great centre of Whiggism. The 
Duke, who had married Lady Charlotte Boyle, daughter and heiress of 
the third Earl of Burlington (the architect Earl), died in 1764, when 
his son, the fifth Duke, reigned in his stead. The pencil of Sir Joshua ^ 
and the pen of Wraxall have left us pictures of his personality. The 
latter speaks of his figure as being " tall and stately," and remarks that 
" his manners were always calm and unruffled." By birth and tradition 
he was head of the Whig faction ; but the more active part of dissemi- 
nating Liberal views and preaching the Liberal propaganda, was played 
by his beautiful first Duchess (for he was twice married),^ the celebrated 
Georgiana, daughter of John, first Earl Spencer. 

There has been far too much written about this beautiful and amiable 
woman to make it necessary for me here to recapitulate her talents, her 
loveliness, or her fame. She reigned as a queen, not only by virtue of 
her beauty, but because of her gracious manner, her quick sympathy, her 
splendid enthusiasm. At a time when it was supposed to become great 
ladies to affect boredom and ennui, the Duchess devoured London with 
activity in support of her friends and her principles. Fox won his 
celebrated Westminster election by her strenuous exertions. We aU 
know the story of the kiss by which she wrung a vote from a reluctant 
butcher. 

" Condemn not, prudes, fair Devon's plan 
In giving Steel a kiss, 
In such a cause for such a man 
She could not do amiss," 

sang one whose admiration for Fox was only equalled by that for his 
beautiful supporter. When Fox was returned, it was at Devonshire 

• The famous Reynolds portrait of the Duchess with her child is now at Chatsworth. 
^ The second time, in 1809, to EHzabeth, second daughter of the fourth Earl of Bristol. 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 239 

House, where the Prince of Wales, and a number of the first Whig 
famiUes in the kingdom were assembled, that the apotheosis of the " man 
of the people " took place ; and there it was that all that was most 
brilliant, in intellect or fashion, came as to the shrine of a tutelary goddess. 

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, did what no other woman could 
have done with unsullied reputation in those days when Gillray and 
Rowlandson caricatured features and misrepresented actions in every 
sort of gross and indecent caricature. Her power over women was so 
great that she succeeded in abohshing " hoops " and introducing feathers ; 
so lasting over men, that the fastidious Walpole records how " her 
youth, figure, glowing good-nature, sense, lively and modest familiarity, 
make her a phenomenon " ; and, when she died untimely at the height 
of her beauty and fame, George, Prince of Wales, could say, " We have 
lost the best bred woman in England " ; and Charles James Fox exclaim, 
" We have lost the gentlest heart ! " 

The "beautiful Duchess" died on March 30, 1806, and apart 
from the influence she wielded alike over the minds and hearts of her 
generation, she left a permanent mark of her individuahty in Devonshire 
House itself, where a small room, decorated in blue and silver, was de- 
signed by her. When her son, the sixth Duke, succeeded his father in 181 1, 
he practically redecorated the whole of the interior of the house, with 
the exception of this room which he preserved in the same state as it 
had been during his mother's lifetime. 

The sixth Duke well kept up the traditions of his illustrious family 
and the great house with which its name is so closely identified. Of 
courteous and noble manners, particularly handsome and attractive, 
and standing over six feet in height, his friendship was extended, like 
that of Lord Lansdowne, to those whose talents alone enabled them to 
figure in the world of fashion, of which he was one of the leaders. Lord 
Macaulay says that he never saw " so princely an air and manner," and at 
George the Fourth's coronation, where the Duke bore the orb, the same 
authority states that " he looked as if he came to be crowned instead of 
his master." Like all the chiefs of his family, he held a variety of great 
offices, which he filled with dignity and success. " No man was more 
looked up to by his own adherents and his family," says Henry Greville, 
" and few men in the same position will have left a more kindly recollec- 
tion " ; and Charles Greville remarks that " he was very clever and very 
comical, with a keen sense of humour, frequently very droll with his 
intimate friends, and his letters were always very amusing." 

It was during his reign that Devonshire House was the scene of that 
notable performance of Bulwer-Lytton's comedy, " Not so bad as we 



240 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

seem," which was got up for the benefit of the Guild of Literature and 
Art, on May i6, 1 851 ; the Queen and Prince Albert being among the 
distinguished audience, and Charles Dickens, appearing as Lord Wilmot, 
" a young man at the head of the mode," a part that apparently did 
not suit him, as Home remarks that he appeared " more like the captain 
of a Dutch privateer ! " The performance took place in the great Ball 
Room, which at that time was then decorated in white and gold, the 
walls being hung in blue and gold brocade. 

The works of art that now hang in this splendid apartment comprise — 
" The Adoration of the Magi," by Paul Veronese, a superb rendering 
of a subject that has exercised the skill of nearly all the great masters. 
Waagen very properly considers this work as one of the painter's most 
notable achievements, and likens its clear warm tones to those of Titian 
himself, and there is no doubt but that this high praise is fully justified. 
The characteristic attitude of the chief of the Magi (obviously a portrait), 
who kneels before the infant Christ, is no less noticeable than the natural 
pose of Joseph, who leans over Mary's shoulder, and seems to reveal a 
curious wonder at the scene. 

Another remarkable work here is Caravaggio's " Guitar and Flute 
Players," executed with a breadth and certainty of draughtsmanship 
worthy of Velasquez himself ; there is also a somewhat similar work, 
representing a group of musicians, which has been attributed to this 
master, but it falls far short of the " Guitar and Flute Players " in beauty 
and power, and should probably be more rightly assigned to Mattia Preti, 
called II Calabrese. Close by hangs a small but most exquisite example 
of Nicholas Poussin, his " Shepherds in Arcady," a picture very similar 
to that in the Louvre, but if anything a finer specimen of his art. 
The subdued tones, browns and yellows, which form the colour scheme 
of this work, are treated in the most effective way ; but it is unfortu- 
nate that the canvas is placed so high up on the wall that some of its 
beauties are apt to escape any but those whose attention is specifically 
drawn to it. 

But fine as are the canvases I have mentioned, there are two in this 
apartment which may be regarded as masterpieces of their respective 
painters ; one is " The Holy Family with St. Elizabeth," by Rubens, which 
hangs over one of the mantelpieces, and in which, although much of the 
work is probably that of pupils, more of the great man's own touch appears 
than is always the case with his large pictures ; and the other the con- 
summate Jordaens, representing Frederick, Prince of Orange and his 
Princess, but long supposed to be portraits of Van Zurpele, Burgo- 
master of Deist and Councillor to the Prince of Orange, and his wife. 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 241 

The former picture is of most exquisite quality — how, being the work 
of the great Flemish artist, could it well be otherwise ! — but it is in his 
middle manner, if I may so term it, after he had thrown off the restraint 
of the somewhat hard and formal methods which were in vogue in his 
youth, and by which many of his earlier conceptions were to some extent 
trammelled ; and before certainty of touch and sureness of treatment 
had seduced him into that more florid style which has blinded many to 
his transcendent merits. The Jordaens is probably that painter's finest 
achievement in portraiture. For long its beauty of colouring, its sure- 
ness of line, and that something which is as difficult to describe as it is 
to communicate, which is the very spirit of tightness, caused it to be 
ascribed to Rubens himself ; certainly the master could not have done 
better even at his best ; and here the great pupil, rising to the heights 
which the master dominated, in this work at least equalled the greater 
man on his own ground. The late Mr. Arthur Strong suggests that the 
picture probably came into the possession of the Devonshire family at 
the time of the negotiations between the Whig leaders and the Prince 
of Orange, afterwards Wilham III., which led to the Revolution of 1688. 
The picture is of great size, and is let into the wall, being surrounded 
by a most beautiful and elaborate carved and gilt frame — a frame that 
would make an indifferent work appear ridiculous, and which is massive 
enough to dwarf any but a most consummate work of art. 

After these two masterpieces, the other pictures in the room, fine as 
many of them are, seem almost commonplace ; but this is really anything 
but the case, and Andrea del Sarto's " Holy Family " ; " Diana and her 
Nymphs," by Carlo Maratti, and Le Sueur's rather decorative than 
intrinsically beautiful " Solomon and the Queen of Sheba," are all 
excellent examples of these painters. One other work deserves a word ; 
it is the portrait of a young man, which has recently been ascribed to 
Titian. It has lately been cleaned, and its luminous tones may well have 
been produced by the brush of the great Venetian at the period in which 
he produced his " Man with the Glove," in the Louvre. If it be not by 
Titian, then it is the production of one who, for the nonce, painted as 
well as the master could have done. 

Apart from the pictorial treasures in the Ball Room, there is a wealth 
of beautiful things, porcelain and furniture, in this splendid apart- 
ment, which, with its elaborate gilding, and ceiling decoration, is in itself 
a thing to wonder at, reminding one of those Venetian palaces in which 
colour is enriched by gold, and gold takes on a hundred shimmering 
tints from adjacent colour. 

In the Red Drawing Room, which takes its name from the tones of 

Q 



242 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the brocaded-silk wall-hangings, another artistic banquet awaits us ; 
but I can only mention one or two of the more important pictures. One 
of these is the portrait, three-quarter-length, of a young girl, which has 
been for long attributed to Velasquez, but which, on the great authority 
of Signer Baruete, is now assigned to Mazo, his son-in-law and pupil. The 
subject of the picture would seem to be Maze's wife, and in the Wallace 
Collection she is to be found again, painted by her father. The Devon- 
shire House example is a remarkable tour de force, especially for a painter 
whose productions, though uniformly good, can never be said to have 
reached the greatest height of artistic endeavour ; its treatment is besides 
so similar to Velasquez's manner that it seems to me not improbable 
that Mazo may have copied it, or at least integral portions of it, from 
some of his father-in-law's work, especially as we know that Mazo's skill 
in this direction was so great that Philip IV. ordered him to make copies 
of all the finest Venetian paintings in the Royal collection, and that he 
performed the task in so masterly a manner that it was impossible to 
tell his work from the originals. 

Another noticeable picture in this room is the portrait of his daughter, 
by Cornelius de Vos. It represents the little girl standing facing the 
spectator, in the unaffected attitude of childhood, and holding up her 
apron from which peep out some gathered flowers ; the lower part of 
the figure may be considered somewhat hard and formal ; there is, too, 
something to seek in the drawing of the little podgy hands ; but the head, 
with its hair ruffled by the wind, and the speaking eyes which look out 
with curious intentness, are a splendid proof of what heights even a lesser 
painter can reach when the subject is one after his own heart. ^ 

In the Red Drawing Room, too, hangs a picture of a man and his 
wife, of which the painter is unknown ; but it is so excellent as to make 
one wonder at the fact that neither the artist's name nor the frovinance 
of the work has been preserved. From the maps and globe introduced 
into the canvas, as well as the hard, weather-beaten face of the man, it is 
evident that he is a navigator ; and the gentle, somewhat anxious features 
of the wife (in which lies the chief beauty of the work) seem to tell of 
long periods of solitary anxiety and suspense, now for a time cleared away, 
as her husband sits safely beside her, and tells her of the " dangers he had 
pass'd." 

In this room there is also a portrait of Pope Innocent X., attributed to 
Velasquez, but more likely traceable to one of his followers ; it has a 

' This picture which was formerly at Chiswick, seems to have once been attributed to 
Velasquez, but Lord Ronald Gower, in his Historic Galleries of England (1883), on the 
authority of Dr. Richter, assigns it to Alonso Sanchez-Coello. 




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DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 243 

resemblance to the famous portrait of the ill-favoured pontiff at Apsley 
House, and also to that which hangs in the Palazzo Doria, but is much 
rougher in treatment, and less sure in draughtsmanship than either of 
these masterpieces. The full-length portrait of another Pope, by Carlo 
Maratti, hangs close by, and is a fine and soft piece of work curiously 
dissimilar in manner to the Innocent X. 

But the gems of the Red Drawing Room are the two Rembrandts ; 
both portraits of old men, one of whom is shown in full face, and dressed 
in the fur-lined cloak which indicated municipal rank ; the other, and 
much finer work, representing an old man resting his head on his hand, 
and dressed in a furred robe. The glorious golden tones with which 
Rembrandt so often suffused his pictures is present in a remarkable degree 
in this wonderful canvas. In the absence of any accurate information as 
to the identity of the subject, it seems probable that it was painted from 
the model who is portrayed by Rembrandt as " The Mathematician," 
now in the Cassel Museum, a work executed about the year 1656. 

In an ante-room leading from the Red Drawing Room, hangs a Van 
Goyen of unusual power, and depth of impasto ; a Weenix, showing some 
cattle among ruins ; and two of Sebastian Ricci's decorative works ; 
while " A Bacchante," by Antoine Coypel, is noteworthy as being no 
less rich in colouring than beautiful in drawing, although, as was usual 
with this painter, the chief figure is portrayed with a theatricality which 
gives a certain factitious appearance to the whole composition. 

The Dining Room at Devonshire House contains a number of interest- 
ing works, among them being that of Sir Thomas Browne's family, which 
has been before referred to as having been seen by Pennant, and then attri- 
buted to Dobson. I cannot but think, however, that it is more likely 
the work of Van Somer, the heads of the two little girls in the centre 
of the picture being much more in the style of the Flemish than of the 
English painter. There has, too, been a question as to whether the man 
in the group represents Sir Thomas or his father ; if the latter be correct, 
then the future author of the Religio Medici is the child on the mother's 
knee, and as he is known to have had three sisters (the number of the 
little girls in the picture), this supposition would seem to be based on 
tenable grounds.^ By Lely is the portrait of an architect which hangs 
close by. There seems some doubt as to whom this picture actually 
represents, and I make the suggestion for what it be worth that it is a 
portrait of Caius Gabriel Gibber. It is a particularly fine work, and 

1 If the picture is by Van Somer, then the child would be the future Sir Thomas Browne ; 
as he was born in 1605, and the painter died in 162 1, whereas Dobson was not bom 
till 1610. 



244 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Lely did not often reach the heights to which it attains. There are here, 
also, several Vandycks, notably the Countess of Carlisle ^ and her young 
daughter, the presentment of the child being a perfect piece of painting ; 
and two members of the Cavendish family of that period, or at least so 
they are said to be, although one of them has a marked resemblance to 
the unfortunate Lord Falkland ; an indifferent head of Lord Strafford 
hangs over one of the doors, and above the mantelpiece is a good copy 
of Vandyck's full-length portrait of Clara Eugenia, daughter of PhiUp IV. 
of Spain, and widow of the Archduke Albert. With these is Sir Joshua's 
splendid rendering of Lord Richard Cavendish, who was sitting to the 
painter on June 3, 1780, when the Gordon rioters first startled the 
town.^ Walpole calls this picture " one of the best, if not the best," 
that Reynolds ever painted ; high praise, which, however, is justified 
by its beauty and delicacy. 

But, notwithstanding this, the gem of the room is the superlatively 
great portrait of a man by Franz Hals, which hangs in a corner by one 
of the doors. Although not possessing that brio which is so characteristic 
of this great master, this dignified and beautifully conceived work is 
not the less, perhaps something more, attractive. Whomever it represents, 
the actual man seems to be gazing calmly from the canvas, not unpleased, 
we may suppose, at the notice which his elaborately embroidered sleeve 
(a marvel of skilful technique) evokes. What seems to be the companion 
picture, a portrait of a woman, hangs in the Duchess's Boudoir, and 
it is a hardly less satisfying work, although the height at which it is 
hung detracts seriously from the possibility of a proper consideration 
of its merits. It is to be hoped that in any re-arrangement of the 
pictures that may be made, these two works will be hung together in the 
good light that they deserve. 

Among the other pictures in the Boudoir where the Hals hangs, the 
chief are of the Dutch school ; thus there are examples of Berghem, an 
unusually full and beautiful canvas, and Both, with that ever warm glow 
over the landscape which he borrowed from Italy ; a pair of particularly 
fine Canalettis ; characteristic scenes in Venice ; and the interior of a 
church by Steenwyck, showing that remarkable architectural skill in draw- 
ing, and clever management of shadows in which his chief rivals are the 
Peter Neefs of his own day and the Bosboom of ours. There are besides, 
among others, a Wouvermanns, with his inevitable white horse ; and 

' She was Lady Margaret Russell, third daughter of Francis, Earl of Bedford. 

^ In Sir Joshua's List of Si/Zers for this year, Lord Richard has against his name the 
words, " on a visit to Lord Darnley at Cobham " ; so it is probable that some sittings were 
given there, when the painter was a fellow guest, a not infrequent practice with Reynolds. 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 245 

ships in a calm, which is labelled Van de Velde, but is more probably one 
of Abraham Storck's masterly seascapes. 

The Green Drawing Room is notable as possessing two of the finest 
Salvator Rosas in existence ; one, a beautiful landscape, with remarkable 
cloud eflFects that might even have reconciled Ruskin to the work of this 
painter, and free from those exaggerated shadows that so often detract 
from the beauty of his work ; the other, the famous " Jacob's Ladder," than 
which, it is probable, he never produced, nor could produce, anything 
finer. There is also a very fine " Samson and Delilah," by Tintoretto, 
in which the painter approaches as nearly to Titian in warmth of 
colouring as it was possible perhaps for him ever to do. As Mr. Strong, 
in his prefatory note to The Masterpieces in the Duke of Devonshire'' s 
Collection, remarks, " While others seem to be content to recite the pre- 
liminaries or the sequel of an occurrence, Tintoretto seizes the critical 
point. Moreover, he is apt, as in this case, to lower the centre of gravity 
until all the figures are drawn into a downward curve." 

For the rest, there are a pair of portraits by Rubens in his earliest 
manner, with little promise of the daring brush-sweep that was to char- 
acterise his later touch; and examples of Ruysdael, Wouvermanns, and 
Berghem, as well as an interesting work by Pietro da Cortona. 

Such rooms as the late Duke's Sitting Room, lined with bookcases, and 
still bearing evidences of the activity and innumerable interests that have, 
alas ! so recently been cut short ; as well as the late Duke's Bed Room, 
are too much in the nature of private apartments to allow of any detailed 
treatment ; but I may note, in the former, the beautiful miniature 
full-length portrait of the Dowager Duchess, as Duchess of Manchester, 
which stands on one of the tables ; and the wonderful Empire furni- 
ture in the latter, as well as the fine landscape, suffused with the Hght 
of the dying sun, by Annibale Caracci, and the very curious present- 
ment of Gabrielle d'Estrees, her sister, and child with its nurse, which 
as a piece of historical portraiture has a value that it can hardly claim as 
a work of art. 

But of all the splendid rooms in Devonshire House, not even excepting 
the Great Ball Room, the Saloon is in point of elaborate decoration the 
most remarkable. We seem here to be entering one of those gorgeous 
apartments which the wealth and luxury of Venice, at its great period, 
could alone conceive, and the pencil of Veronese was alone able to per- 
petuate. But, notwithstanding the massive nature of the gilding and 
carving, the colossal mirrors framed on Brobdingnagian principles, the 
domed ceiling rich with painted wreaths and festoons of flowers and a 
thousand arabesques, in the midst of which the ducal coronet and crest 



2 4-6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

is displayed, and the " Cavendo Tutus" the Cavendish family motto, 
seems to take on itself another significance by reason of the magnificence 
which has resulted from the systematic following of its advice, the room 
has no appearance of heaviness, no trace of being over-loaded by decorative 
artifices ; and this is undoubtedly due to the fact that its proportions 
are so perfect, as well they may be, when we know that Kent designed 
it, and Lord Burlington gave his consummate advice on its arrangement 
and embellishment ; indeed, it is possible that the Saloon is the most 
complete and characteristic specimen extant of Kent's talent and his 
chief patron's refined taste. A few portraits hang here as sofra portas, 
notably the well-known three-quarter-length of the first Duke of Devon- 
shire by Sir Godfrey Kneller ; Lord and Lady Burlington by the same 
painter ; Dr. Tillotson, and a portrait of, I suggest in the absence of 
authoritative information, the second Duke of Ormonde. 

Beyond those I have specifically mentioned there are numbers of 
fine pictures scattered through this great palace, to which nothing short 
of a complete catalogue could do justice ; but, in spite of the number 
of canvases that hang on the walls, the Devonshire collection as a whole 
must be studied not only here but at Chatsworth, and in half-a-dozen 
other princely residences belonging to the head of the Cavendish family. 
Thus at Chatsworth is now to be seen — for it was some time ago removed 
from Devonshire House — the original Liber Veritatis of Claude de 
Lorraine ; about which, although it be rather outside my subject, I must 
say a word. 

This remarkable collection of drawings owed its origin to the fact 
that even during Claude's lifetime his works were so highly esteemed 
and sought after, that it paid many artists to copy his pictures, and to 
pass off spurious paintings as genuine examples of his brush. In order, 
therefore, to leave an absolute test of the genuineness of his own work, 
Claude made these sketches, so that copies might at once be known by 
their not being included among these drawings. On the back of each 
is his monogram, the place where the original was painted, and generally 
the name of the patron for whom it was executed, while he not infrequently 
gives the date of the year in which it was completed, and never fails to 
set his " Claudio fecit " upon the work. On the back of the first drawing 
appear these words in a curious melange of Italian and bad French, 
written by the painter himself : " Andi lo dagosto 1677. Ce livre 
Anpartien a moy que je faict durant ma vie Claudio Gill6, dit le 
Loraine. A Roma ce 23 Aos 1680." We may smile at the indifferent 
linguistic skill displayed, but the value of this record is beyond com- 
putation. The fate of this invaluable volume is a sad commentary on 



DEVONSHIRE HOUSE 247 

the value of testamentary wishes. Claude left in his will, directions that 
the book should remain for ever as an heirloom in his family, and his first 
descendants so carefully regarded his desire that although Cardinal 
d'Estr^es, the French Ambassador at Rome, did everything he could to 
get possession of it, he signally failed. Later, however, the book passed 
to heirs who cared so little either for Claude's wishes or fame, that they 
sold the work to a French jeweller for 200 scudi — a mere nothing ! 
The Frenchman, in turn, disposed of it to a Dutch dealer, from whom 
it passed into the collection of the Duke of Devonshire. 

Besides this rarity there used to be preserved at Devonshire House 
volumes of engravings by Marc Antonio and other great masters of 
the engraver's art ; and among the books, the Kemble collection of early 
English plays, for which the sixth Duke gave what now seems an absurdly 
low price — ;^iooo — which was originally housed here, is now also at 
Chatsworth. 

Apart from these rarities, the contents of Devonshire House — the 
wonderful Italian cabinets, the porcelain, the Sevres and Chelsea, &c., 
and the beautiful French furniture, of practically all the great periods, 
from that of Louis Quatorze to that of the first Empire — represent 
not only immense wealth, but much that is best in the artistic develop- 
ment of many centuries and divers countries. 

On the garden front of the house is the great semicircular addition 
designed by Wyatt, which contains the famous circular staircase, with 
its gilded iron-work, and its handrail of glass sometimes mistaken for 
crystal, and up which so many notable people have passed on those occa- 
sions when semi-royal functions have taken place beneath this hospitable 
and splendid roof. 

The grounds at the back of Devonshire House are an excellent specimen 
of what artistic landscape gardening can effect, even in London, where there 
is, as here, sufficient material to work on. They have, too, the advantage 
of being bounded on the north by those of Lansdowne House, which 
help to carry on the continuity of verdure which in summer spreads 
itself before the windows of the mansion. The division of the two 
properties is formed by Lansdowne Passage, running from Berkeley Street 
to Curzon Street, at either end of which short cut, which, by-the-bye, is 
much below the street level and is entered by steps, are the iron bars 
set up at the end of the eighteenth century, in consequence of a high- 
wayman having ridden his horse along it and up these steps, and thus 
escaping his pursuers. 

For many years the Piccadilly front of Devonshire House was as much 
hidden by a blank wall as was old Harcourt House ; but in 1897 the 



248 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

beautiful gates which now so greatly improve it, and are such a feature 
at this point of the thoroughfare, were brought here from the ducal 
suburban residence — villa was the former inadequate style of such places, 
beloved of early topographers — at Chiswick. Not always did they bear 
the arms of the Cavendish family, with its punning motto, for they 
originally contained the crest of the Percevals, and adorned the residence 
of the second Lord Egmont at Turnham Green, which property after- 
wards passed into the possession of Lord Heathfield, the well-known 
soldier, and Governor of Gibraltar. On his death the house gradually 
fell into neglect, and was finally demolished in 1838, when the gates 
were purchased by the sixth Duke of Devonshire, and set up at the 
entrance to Chiswick House, where they remained until their removal 
to their present position. 




Photo Beilfortl t.mrn- ,S Co. 

THE GRAND STAIRCASE, DORCHESTER HOUSE. 



CHAPTER XI 
DORCHESTER HOUSE 

PARK LANE is synonymous with worldly riches and fashionable 
Ufe. Down its entire extent, from where it joins Oxford Street 
to the point at which it reaches Hamilton Place, great houses 
jostle each other in bewildering profusion on its eastern side, 
while on the west lies the Park with its mass of verdure and, during 
the season, its kaleidoscopic ever-shifting glow of brilliant colour. 

In Queen Anne's reign this fair scene was a dreary and dirty by-road, 
known as " the lane leading from Piccadilly to Tyburn," and later as 
Tyburn Lane, its designation being derived, of course, from Tyburn Tree, 
the gallows that stood close to its north end. Even so late as 1749, when 
Lord Chesterfield built his beautiful house, this part of London was so 
desolate and waste that his lordship found himself literally in the wilds ; 
and, as we have seen, he told those friends who smiled at his being so far 
out of London, that he would be obliged to keep a watch-dog, as he was 
in the midst of thieves and murderers. But the very fact of such a leader 
of the ton, building a fine residence here, coupled with Sir Richard 
Grosvenor's slightly earlier development of his vast property a little to 
the north, brought this part of the town into fashion, and Rocque's plan 
of 1748, shows the main streets of Mayfair at least laid out, if as yet they 
were not actually built. The latter years of George IIL's reign were, 
however, to see great advances made in building in Park Lane itself ; 
the abolition of Tyburn as a place of punishment, in 1783,^ in favour 
of Newgate, undoubtedly helped to relieve the neighbourhood of a 
most unsatisfactory incubus, and with the removal of the sinister " tree " 
an improvement took place both in the thoroughfare, and the character 
and status of those who lived in it." 

The name of Tyburn, which was derived from the two bournes or 

' John Austin was the last person executed here, November 7, 1783. 

' The two sons of Bushnall, the eccentric sculptor, were Hvinjj here in a house which had 
belonged to their father, in the early years of the eighteenth century. Vertue records visiting 
the old place, which was full of sculpture and pictures crowded together as in a warehouse, 
in 1728. 

249 



250 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

streams which met where the Marble Arch now stands, gradually gave 
place to the more euphonious and appropriate Park Lane ; but " Lane " 
it has always been, and probably will always be, in spite of the inappro- 
priateness of such a designation for the most fashionable residential street 
in London. To-day as we walk along it we can see for ourselves what 
a substantial claim it has to be considered in this light. Even its small 
houses, and many are mere wedges as it were slipped in between more 
commodious residences, have an air of being prosperous and self-satisfied ; 
its large mansions, Londonderry House, Grosvenor House, Brook House, 
and Dudley House, or the more modern erections for which South African 
finance has been responsible, such as the late Mr. Barnato's house, now 
the residence of Sir Edward Sassoon, and the late Mr. Alfred Beit's 
reproduction of an old English country mansion, are a sight to see, as 
well as an objective for vituperation on the part of stump-orators in 
the adjacent Park who settle the affairs of the nation with apparently 
complete satisfaction to themselves. But of all the great houses in Park 
Lane, none equal — none, indeed, approach, in splendour — Dorchester 
House, which may, I think, without hyperbole, be considered the 
finest private dwelling in London, as well as London's most graceful and 
beautiful attempt at modern domestic architecture. 

It stands in magnificent isolation, so far, indeed, as any building in a 
crowded and fashionable part of our great city can do so ; it seems 
to have shouldered out of existence streets and smaller tenements ; it 
sets a proud foot on the very thoroughfare itself ; sure of its power to 
impress, it appears to court observation and to challenge critical scrutiny ; 
and yet if it can be supposed capable of wonder, it cannot but wonder 
at finding itself — an Italian palace — placed under an alien sky, and to 
see, not the Tiber or the Arno, but the mud of London flowing at its 
feet. It is almost sad to see this exotic from a fairer clime ; 

" Where the baked cicala dies of drouth," 

taking on, year by year, a deeper tone of melancholy from the manifold 
accretions of the great city, and vainly hoping, as it were, to once 
more return to " the land of lands," whose spirit is perpetuated in its 
flowing lines. 

Dorchester House, of which Augustus Hare very properly says that 
it is " an imitation, not (like most English buildings) a caricature of 
the best Italian models," was built for Mr. R. S. Holford, after the designs 
of Vulliamy, during the years 1851-53, and was erected on the site of 
an older house, bearing the same name, which had belonged to the Earls 



DORCHESTER HOUSE 251 

of Dorchester.^ The history of the old mansion during the Dorchester 
regime is wrapt in obscurity ; but later it was occupied by the notorious 
third Marquis of Hertford, who married Maria Fagniani, the adopted 
daughter of George Selwyn, and who died here in 1842, some years after 
which event Air. Holford purchased the property, pulled down the old 
mansion, and built the present stately pleasure house on its site. 

The massive building forms a parallelogram, being over 100 feet in 
width by 135 feet in depth, and indicates, in its effective facade facing 
the Park, the elaborate carvings in the cornice, and the large amount 
of detail discernible in its exterior, the care and judgment bestowed 
upon it by the architect, as well as the lavish expenditure of Mr. Holford. 
In an article in The Builder, devoted to the consideration of Dorchester 
House occurs the following passage, which, as giving some interesting 
technical details of the fabric, I here quote : " This mansion is a very good 
specimen of masonry, and is built for long endurance. The external walls 
are 3 feet 10 inches thick, with a cavity of about 5 inches, and the pro- 
portion of stone is great, and the bonders numerous ; the stones are all 
dowelled together with slate dowells ; and throughout, the greatest care 
appears to have been taken by the architect to ensure more than usually 
sound construction. If the New Zealander, who is to gaze on the deserted 
site of fallen London in some distant time to come, sees nothing else stand- 
ing in this neighbourhood, he will certainly find the weather-tinted walls 
of Dorchester House erect and faithful, and will, perhaps, strive to discover 
the meaning on the shield beneath the balconies, ' R.S.H.,' that he may 
communicate his speculations to some Tasmanian Society of Antiquaries." 

In front of Dorchester House is a triangular fore-court, enclosed by 
a massive stone wall which surrounds the house, and has a lodge at the 
entrance where Deanery Street runs into Park Lane. 

It is obvious that a house whose solidity of construction and external 
details have been so carefully thought out, should show in its interior a 
commensurate completeness as well as a wealth of homogeneous details. 
When Dr. Waagen visited this country and inspected its great galleries 
of art, Mr. Holford was erecting this palace, largely for the reception of 
the magnificent collection of pictures which he had then already brought 
together, and which was at that time temporarily lodged in Sir Thomas 
Lawrence's old residence in Russell Square, where the great art critic saw 
it ; now, however, these gems of art repose on the walls that were 

' Joseph Darner, bom 1718, created Earl of Dorchester 1792, married Lady Caroline 
Sackville, daughter of first Duke of Dorset, and was succeeded in 179S, by his son George 
Darner, Earl of Dorchester, born 1746, died iSocS. Dorchester House in Lord Milton's (after- 
wards Earl of Dorchester) time, owing to its exclusiveness, was called "Milton's Paradise 
Lost." 



252 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

built largely for their reception, and the glowing tints of Titian and the 
flowing draperies of Veronese take on an added beauty from the fact 
that their surroundings are so strictly in keeping with them, that they 
might still be hanging in one of those Venetian palaces from whence 
they came. 

But numerous as are the pictures in Dorchester House, the immense 
size of the various state rooms and their number, have the happy 
effect of enabling each picture to hang at a reasonable distance from its 
neighbour, and thus is avoided that overcrowding which so greatly 
detracts from the pleasure of inspecting such works of art in many great 
houses whose picture-galleries are filled to overflowing. 

The great staircase at Dorchester House, over which the late George 
Richmond was so enthusiastic, is indeed a thing to wonder at, there being 
nothing comparable to it in London, with the exception, perhaps, of that in 
Stafford House ; it occupies the centre of the house, and is lighted from 
above, and from the gallery round it open that remarkable range of apart- 
ments — the Saloon, the Green Drawing Room, the Red Drawing Room, 
and the State Drawing Room — in which the ceilings and other decorations 
are from the hands of Italian artists, and the beautiful chimney-pieces are 
by Alfred Stevens, and probably represent the finest work that great 
artist ever achieved. In these rooms hang some of the notable pictures 
of the great masters, Titian and Tintoretto, Velasquez and Vandyck and 
Murillo, Rembrandt and Claude and Cuyp and Ruysdael. 

In the Saloon, which it will be convenient to examine first, hangs 
over the fireplace, and let into the magnificently carved marble over- 
mantel, Vandyck's portrait of the Marchesa Balbi, one of the painter's 
greatest achievements, and owing much of that glorious golden tone 
which suffuses it, to his study of the Venetian masters during his 
sojourn at Genoa. Only less luminous are Dosso Dossi's full-length of 
Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, and the Philip IV. by Velasquez, a later portrait 
of that monarch than the fine one we shall presently come to in the Red 
Drawing Room. In the Saloon also hang a pair of portraits by Angelo 
Allori, commonly called Bronzino, representing Cosmo I., Duke of Tuscany, 
and his wife Eleanor, daughter of Don Pedro of Toledo, which, it is pro- 
bable, the painter never surpassed ; while the great Titian is responsible 
for the head of, it is supposed, one of the Dukes of Milan of the Sforza 
family, as well as for the portrait of a Venetian lady. By Domenichino, 
there is a St. Lawrence in this room, and a portrait of Murillo by himself, 
and Rembrandt gives us a head of a man, that of a well-known merchant 
of Amsterdam, Marten Looten, dated 1623, which came from Cardinal 
Fesch's collection, and which Waagen praises highly for its " natural 



DORCHESTER HOUSE 253 

colouring and delicacy of feeling " ; and close by is Annibale Caracci's 
" Susanna and the Elders," which can hardly be said to show up well beside 
the masterpieces here ; while two beautiful landscapes must not escape 
our attention ; one by Caspar Poussin, by whom there are at least 
three others in the collection, and the other by Richard Wilson, the 
first of the great English landscape painters, whose hard classicism could 
not detract from his natural genius. 

The pictures, of which there are over twenty, in the Green Drawing 
Room are no less notable, and exhibit, if possible, a still greater catholi- 
city of taste than those in the Saloon. Here is an " Adoration " by 
Gaudenzio Ferrari, commonly called Gaudenzio Milanese, who is said 
by some to have been the pupil of Perugino, and by others of Luini, 
but of whose work, the best that exists is by common consent traced to 
the study of the paintings of Leonardo. Of this altar-piece, Waagen 
points out " the well-balanced composition, the noble feeling in the 
heads, the tender and clear tone of the flesh, and the equally sustained 
and careful treatment." The " Virgin and Child," said to be by Andrea 
del Sarto, which hangs close by, is, according to the same authority, more 
probably a copy by Jacopo da Empoli ; in any case we know that the 
latter carefully studied the productions of the greater man, and was so 
excellent a copyist that even the best judges have been deceived by 
his work. 

There also hang in this room, a " Holy Family " by Bonifazio, an 
interesting work, although one must, of course, go to the churches and 
palaces of Venice to see the master's finest achievements ; and a beautiful 
" Virgin and Child " by Perugino, that delightful painter whose greatest 
glory, however, will ever be that he had Raphael for his pupil. Here is 
also a " Magdalen " by Guercino, and another by Domenichino ; while a 
beautiful little " Virgin and Child " by Luini, and a " Holy Family " by 
Sassoferrato are also worth most careful attention. 

Portraits by Paul Veronese, Tintoretto, and Palma Vecchio represent 
the Venetian school, and a head by Luini curiously reminds one, in 
many of its characteristics, of the work of the great Leonardo who is 
supposed to have been the painter's master. Besides these there are 
examples of the work of Lorenzo Lotto,^ the pupil of Giovanni Bellini ; 
Schiavone, whose beauty of colouring was due to his careful study of the 
work of Titian ; Mabuse, whom our Henry VH. patronised ; and to leap 
over some intervening centuries, there also hangs here the picture, by Sir 
Joshua, of Lady Townshend, one of the three beautiful daughters of Sir 

' The portrait of a lady with a little dog was formerly attributed to this painter, but has 
since been supposed to be the work of Pietro Luzzo, called Morto da Feltro. 



2 54 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

William Montgomery, who was married to the first Marquis Townshend 
in 1776; and with these there is a portrait of an old lady by Greuze, but 
very unlike in style his characteristic productions. 

Teniers's well-known " Bonnet blanc," representing a group of rustics 
playing cards, which gains its title from a white cap hanging on the chair 
occupied by the principal figure, is also here, as is a " Village Fair " by 
Wouvermanns ; a poetical though rather dark landscape by Caspar 
Poussin ; a Crucifixion by Cuido ; and a landscape by Salvator Rosa ; 
there is also an interesting study of the " Raising of the Cross " by 
Rubens, a sketch for the Triptych in Antwerp Cathedral, of which there is 
a somewhat similar drawing in the Louvre ; but the gem of the room 
is the glorious Cuyp, a " View of Dort," which is flooded with that 
glorious golden light which characterises the magnificent " Landing of 
Prince Maurice at Dordrecht," in Lord EUesmere's collection. The 
Dorchester House example of this great master is a long picture, and is 
said to have once been divided down the centre ; if this was so, it is lucky 
that the two portions have been so carefully joined that the vandalism 
is not apparent. Well may Waagen say of this superb picture, that in 
it Cuyp " outdoes himself in the delicate harmony of gradations and 
the enchanting transparency of tones with which he expresses the sunny 
stillness of the scene " ! 

In the Red Drawing Room there is a similar profusion of fine 
pictures, but here the works are nearly wholly confined to the Dutch 
and Flemish schools, although there is " A Man holding a Skull " by 
Murillo, and two Velasquezs ; one, a portrait of Philip the Fourth, 
and the other a magnificent full-length of the Due d'Olivares. The 
elaboration of contour, which is so distinctive a note in this fine picture, 
has been observed by Sir Walter Armstrong. The great statesman is 
here represented, dressed in black, against a dark background, and holding 
in his right hand the wand of office as Master of the Horse ; the 
picture was painted between 1615 and 1623, and the head greatly 
resembles that executed by Rubens, probably in 1628, which was 
formerly at Hamilton Palace. The Philip IV., although apparently an 
earlier work of the painter, and showing, therefore, somewhat obviously 
certain conventions of style which characterised Velasquez's more immature 
conceptions, is an elaborate piece of work, and shows us the King as a 
young man, holding a baton in his right hand, and dressed ready to take 
the field. 

But perhaps the most remarkable canvas in the room is Vandyck's 
famous full-length of Scaliger, one of the Spanish Ambassadors at the 
Congress of Westphalia, in which all the painter's transcendent merits 




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DORCHESTER HOUSE 255 

as a portrait-painter are brought into full play, and his great qualities 
of tone and perfect draughtsmanship, are exhibited in a remarkable 
manner. When I speak of this as being perhaps the most noticeable 
picture in this apartment I do not overlook the fact that Rembrandt 
is here represented by a fine full face of Titus van Ryn, painted, according 
to M. Michel, about 1660, which has some affinity to the earlier repre- 
sentation of Titus (1655) formerly in the Kahn collection. 

Besides these great works are a number of extraordinarily line examples 
of the Dutch school, by such men as Ostade, and Karl du Jardin ; Van 
der Velde, and Wouvermanns ; Teniers, Backhuysen, and Both. Ruysdael 
is represented by a landscape known as the " Coup de Soleil," which was 
exhibited at Manchester in 1857, and in the "Old Masters" thirty- 
seven years later ; Paul Potters' so-called " Rabbit Warren," signed, 
and dated 1647, also hangs here, as does the superb "Water Mill" by 
Hobbema, executed in 1663, which was once in Hamilton Palace, and 
for which Mr. Holford paid the high price of over _^4000. Close by, in 
somewhat curious juxtaposition, hangs one of Pater's insoucia?it canvases. 

Naturally the pictures which I have noted do not exhaust the remark- 
able collection at Dorchester House ; to do that would require something 
approaching the minute investigation which such men as Waagen and 
Smith have paid to the artistic treasures heaped up in the great houses 
of this country ; but I hope I have succeeded in giving some idea of the 
beauty as well as the catholicity of the Holford collection ; to do more 
would be to go beyond the scope of this book. Nor is it possible for me to 
do more than mention the other artistic treasures enshrined in Dorchester 
House, such as the marble busts, one of Henry IV. of France, in black 
marble, being particularly noticeable ; the magnificently carved ebony 
cabinet of Italian work which stands in the Corridor, or the Luca della 
Robbia plaques that hang under the loggia of the Entrance Hall ; but, 
above all, the well-nigh priceless collection of books, in which the produc- 
tions of the presses of Caxton, Wynken de Worde, and Pynsen, are only 
equalled by the extraordinary number and value of the block-books and 
illuminated missals. One of the chief of the great purchases made by 
Mr. Holford was the splendid library collected by Lord Vernon, the great 
Dante scholar and enthusiast ; and among the treasures at Dorchester 
House will be found practically every work of importance printed in Italy 
before 1500, including those books illustrated both on copper and on wood, 
such as, among the former, the Monte Sante di Dio of 1472, and among 
the latter the famous Naples ^sop and the Trilocolo of Boccaccio of a 
few years earlier. 

A feature of the wondrous assemblage is the number of works printed 



256 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

on vellum, notably a copy of the Hypnerotomachia, of which there is also 
a large paper copy of exceeding rarity. Here, too, is a Terence printed 
in 1496, and a Horace dated two years later, and printed at Strasburg 
by Johann Reinhard ; Jenson's large Vulgate printed on vellum at 
Venice, in 1479, and the French translation of the Golden Legend, also 
on vellum, published by Verard, in 1488, as well as the English version, 
printed in 1527. There is, also, a splendid series of classical works in 
all languages, and famous editions of well-known books ; from folios of 
elephantine size, containing the works of Piranesi and David Roberts ; 
to the dear " dumpy twelves " of the once so popular Elzevir Press, 
including that rarest of its productions, the famous Pastissier Franfats, 
of which the scarcity is not surprising, when we know that it was the 
" Mrs. Beeton " of the period, and was constantly referred to by 
seventeenth-century cooks, and was much more frequently to be found 
in the kitchen than in the library. Here m.ay also be seen such gems 
as the first editions of the Pilgrim's Progress and the Coinplete Angler, 
inter alia, while there are two priceless volumes of Americana, one, 
a fat little volume of those scarce tracts for which battle is done at 
Sotheby's and Puttick's on the rare occasions when any of them come into 
the market ; and the other the original large paper copy of John Smith's 
History of Virginia, presented by the author to the Cordwainers' Company 
which sent him out there, and containing a remarkable and, of course, 
unique letter of dedication to that body. 

The MSS. date from the ninth to the sixteenth century, and are 
another proof, if one were wanted, of their collector's admirable dis- 
crimination and catholicity of taste ; among them I may mention the 
Livre d'Heures of Anne of Bretagne, and the Venetian MS. dated about 
15 10, and signed by one Benedetto Bordone ; as well as the wonderful 
ninth-century Gospels, written in gold ; and a thousand other rarities 
over which the spirits of Heber and Beckford must surely hover, if the 
ghosts of those mighty bibliophiles ever revisit the glimpses of the moon.^ 

All these works are gorgeously clothed by the great binders of the last 
three centuries, who have set on them the seal of their artistic feeling and 
consummate skill, and many of the volumes have had a provenance from the 
shelves of some famous bibliophile whose most loving care for them could 
hardly have desired a more splendid resting-place than the library of 
Dorchester House, where they are locked away in splendid security, and, 
unfortunately, for a time at least, seem destined to fulfil but a part of 
their destiny — that of being merely decorative objects. 

' This year (1908) the Burlington Fine Arts Club is holding an exhibition of some of the 
MSS. from Dorchester House. 



DORCHESTER HOUSE 257 

With such a Hning as is afforded by these rows upon rows of varied 
colour and gHttering decoration, the dullest room would look palatial, 
but here the beauty of the apartments, leading one from the other, in 
which these riches are housed, is in keeping with the value of the contents ; 
for not only are the bookcases beautifully decorated in Italian designs, 
but in what little wall space there is uncovered by books hang some fine 
pictures ; and when the full light of Park Lane floods the rooms through 
their many long windows, there is revealed such an artistic bookman's 
paradise as might have gladdened the heart, if it did not excite the envy, 
of Peiresc or De Thou. 

In the Dining Room, on the other hand, the beauty of the apartment 
relies solely on the decorative effect of the walls and ceiling. No pictures 
hang here, and the one touch of colour comes from the cerulean blue of 
the ceiling, across which birds pass in flight and help to carry us to the 
Italy of which the mural decorations in mahogany and gold are a further 
characteristic note. 

There are, however, two remarkable objects in this room which arrest 
the eye immediately we enter it. One is the famous mantelpiece of 
Bardiglia marble with its two immense caryatids in Carrara, almost Michael 
Angeloesque in their superb proportions and flowing draperies, which is 
probably the masterpiece of Stevens who designed it ; the other, the 
elaborate sideboard, the work of the same consummate master, which 
stands in a recess at the end of the room, and carries out in its wonderful 
detail the scheme of the apartment. 

Mr. Holford had the highest admiration for the genius of Stevens, 
and was indeed his chief patron ; when Dorchester House was in course of 
erection, he employed him not only to design this wonderful mantelpiece 
and sideboard, but to execute other decorative work about the mansion ; 
thus the mouldings of three of the doors were Stevens's work, as well as 
the frames, carved in arabesques, &c., of no less than eight large mirrors. 
The magnificent chimney-piece of Carrara marble in the Saloon, only 
less beautiful than that in the Dining Room, was also from his hand ; 
while of one room commenced by the great artist, it is said that Mr. 
Holford was kept out of it for fifteen years, and at Stevens's death it 
still remained unfinished, and was preserved as he had left it, in memory 
of one who had done so much to make the house unique and beautiful. 
Most of Stevens's designs were commenced about i860, and completed 
in 1873, and the details of some of them are reproduced in Mr. Hugh 
Stannus's Alfred Stevens and his Work, published in 1891.^ 

Other decorative work at Dorchester House was executed by various artists under the 
direction of Sir Courts Lindsay. 

R 



258 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

From what I have said about this great house it will be seen that 
there is a homogeneity about its internal as well as external decoration 
which justified me, I think, in calling it an Italian palace dropped on 
to an alien soil ; its contents are also in keeping, except that the purist 
might object to the presence of works by the Dutch masters in close 
proximity to those by great Italian painters ; but this is almost inevitable 
where catholicity of taste is combined with artistic appreciation ; and 
when one remembers the noble Rembrandts, the sylvan beauty of the 
Hobbema, the light that never was on land or sea, with which Cuyp has, 
as it were, flooded his " View of Dort," even the most critical will be ready 
to forgive an anachronism for the sake of the beauties that cause it. 

When we have seen the Dorchester House collection we have gazed 
on some of the finest Rembrandts and Vandycks in existence ; and we 
have passed through a collection of Dutch pictures which is extraordi- 
narily complete, the only masters of importance absent from it being 
Terburg and Metsu, Jan Steen, and the rare Vermeer of Delft. Besides 
those artists to whose work I have previously referred, there are 
examples of Gonzales Coques, Paul Potter, Van der Neer, in this case a 
skating scene, and not one of those moonlight effects for which he was 
famous, Mieris, Rubens, and De Vos, to mention but these. 

But what will chiefly strike the visitor to Dorchester House, is un- 
doubtedly the exquisite taste and wide range of artistic sympathy which was 
so characteristic of the late Mr. Holford. Nothing, provided it was first- 
rate, was rejected by him, unless the exigencies of the house prevented 
his hanging a picture in such a position as, in his mature opinion, it should 
be hung ; but given such unfavourable conditions, he has been known 
to refuse such masterpieces as Bellini's " Doge Lonedano," and the great 
Francian " Entombment " Altar-piece with the Pieta lunette, which now 
hangs in the National Gallery. With this purity of taste and exquisite 
sensitiveness to artistic propriety went hand in hand that remarkable 
catholicity of which the collection at Dorchester House is but one 
example ; to gauge this trait thoroughly one would also have to study 
the splendid gallery at Westonbirt, in Gloucestershire, a number of the 
pictures from which magnificent place were recently exhibited in the 
" Old Masters " at BurHngton House. 

Nothing, perhaps, shows more clearly and forcibly than the Holford 
collection how masterpieces, of whatever school and period, hang together 
with an extraordinary fitness ; the collocation of such works of art in the 
Tribune at Florence or the Salon carre in the Louvre shows this, while 
the collections at Dorchester House and Westonbirt further prove it. 

In Dorchester House every picture seems to occupy its appointed 



DORCHESTER HOUSE 259 

place ; there is here no crowding, no confusion. Many galleries contain 
one masterpiece for half-a-dozen indifferent works ; but here, as, too, in 
Grosvenor House, there is a rightness about every work hanging on the 
walls, which points to a trained mind in its acquisition and an aptitude 
for selection which creates taste out of enthusiasm. Nor does this excellent 
characteristic show itself only in the pictorial treasures housed here ; the 
decorations of every room, every piece of furniture or objet d'art which 
is contained in the mansion is eloquent of this perfect discrimination ; 
while the magnificent collection of prints and etchings, now dispersed, 
and the wonderful library of printed books and illuminated missals, help 
to further prove it beyond all question. 



CHAPTER XII 

GROSVENOR HOUSE 

THE more or less uniform regularity of Upper Grosvenor Street 
is broken towards its upper end by a magnificent open stone 
screen of Roman Doric design, which, with its two carriage 
entrances, extends no less than no feet. The pediments of 
this screen bear the Grosvenor arms, and above the entrances for pedes- 
trians are sculptured the four Seasons, although the sceptical might 
well question whether any residence in London enjoys more than two, 
or at the most three, of these divisions of the year. Between the 
columns appear massive candelabra, which, like the gates, are of elaborate 
metal work, sculptured in foliage and fruit and flower work, intertwined 
with figures and armorial designs. This really beautiful piece of work 
was designed by T. Cundy in 1842, and forms the entrance to the Duke 
of Westminster's town residence, which is known to all Londoners as 
Grosvenor House, and as one of those great mansions which it is the 
pleasure and privilege of their noble owners to throw open to the public 
when any scheme of charity or artistic endeavour is toward. 

The mansion itself faces south, and is curiously early Victorian in 
design, having some resemblance, although on a far larger scale, to 
Kingston House, Knightsbridge, where the semicircular projecting 
verandah seems to challenge more modern methods, and to assert some 
claims for an architectural style which has long been supposed to have 
" seen its best day," as the saying is. In curious contrast with this main 
building is the great Picture Gallery, which projects from the west side 
of the house, and extends almost to the frontage of the property on 
Park Lane. This Ball Room or Picture Gallery, for it is used as both, 
was also the work of Cundy, and was erected at the same time as the great 
entrance in Upper Grosvenor Street. It consists of a Corinthian colon- 
nade, with six statues at intervals between the columns, and an attic ; 
and is based on the design of Trajan's Forum at Rome ; on the acroteria, 
to use an architectural term, which means, for the uninitiated, the 
pedestals for statues or similar decorations at the apex, or lower corners. 



GROSVENOR HOUSE 261 

of a pediment, a balustrade runs along, and vases break the regularity of 
this ; while between the columns sculptured festoons of flowers and 
fruit help to further relieve the design, and to give it an effect of richness 

As in the case of several other great London mansions, the earlier 
history of Grosvenor House is wrapt in some obscurity. It would appear 
to have been originally built for William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, a 
younger brother of George HI., and to have been first known, in con- 
sequence, as Gloucester House. The Duke was born in 1743, and died 
in 1805, having married secretly, in 1766, Maria Walpole, Dowager 
Countess of Waldegrave. This marriage was made known in 1772, on 
the passing of the Royal Marriage Act, and in consequence of the King's 
anger the Duke and Duchess lived abroad for a number of years, certainly 
as late as 1787, in which year a letter to Mrs. Fitzherbert from the Duke 
is extant, dated from Florence. It is therefore probable that Gloucester 
House was built at some period subsequent to this date, when the Duke 
and Duchess had returned, and were living in London.^ On the death 
of the Duke in 1805, the property was taken over by the second Earl 
of Grosvenor, who had succeeded to the title three years earlier. 

For a London dwelling the grounds attached to Grosvenor House 
are of very considerable size, and extend from Upper Grosvenor Street 
to Mount Street, occupying the large space between Park Street and 
Park Lane. That they should cover this large area is appropriate, for 
in this fashionable quarter of the town the Grosvenor family have long 
possessed immense property, as the result of the marriage of Sir Thomas 
Grosvenor, the third baronet, with Mary, daughter and heiress of 
Alexander Davies, of Ebury, in Middlesex. It was their son. Sir Richard, 
the fourth baronet, that " mighty builder " who, about fifty years later, 
developed this valuable estate to such advantage, and who, among other 
work, laid out Grosvenor Square. His nephew, Richard Grosvenor, son 
of Sir Robert Grosvenor, who was born on June 18, 1731, and succeeded 
as seventh baronet in 1755, was created, six years later, Baron Grosvenor 
of Eaton, and was further raised in dignity, in 1784, with the titles of 
Viscount Belgrave and Earl Grosvenor. His son, Robert, succeeded to 
the titles in 1802, and in 1831 was created Marquis of Westminster, 
having married, in 1794, Lady Eleanor Egerton, only daughter and 
heiress of Thomas, first Earl of Wilton. Although this marriage helped 
to further aggrandise the family in wealth and influence, which, so far 
at least as the latter was concerned, was further enhanced by the marriages 
of the second and third Marquises, to daughters of the first and second 

' The Duke was living in a small house known as the Pavilions, in Hampton Court Park 
in 1795, t>"t of course this is quite consonant with his then having also a London residence. 



262 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Dukes of Sutherland respectively, the chief source of the enormous 
wealth of the late and present Dukes of Westminster (for the third 
Marquis, grandfather of the present holder of the title, was created a 
Duke in 1874) was laid by the purchase by the first Lord Grosvenor, 
in 1 761, of that large tract of what was then merely marshy ground, 
but which is now covered with houses and streets known collectively 
as Belgravia ; in early days, and indeed up to 1826, it was termed the 
Five Fields, where it is a question whether ague and rheumatism were 
less to be feared than the foot-pads that then haunted this insanitary 
spot. The enterprise and what may, I think, be termed the genius, of 
Cubitt, converted this morass (for it was little better), by a system of 
scientific drainage, into a healthy neighbourhood, and the splendid houses 
and squares with which he developed it have made it not only habitable 
but one of the most fashionable localities in London. 

This long parenthesis has taken us a considerable way from Grosvenor 
House, in which, if we return to it, we shall find a collection of magnificent 
pictures, and works of art, second to hardly any in the metropolis. 
The founder of this superb assemblage was that Richard, first Earl 
Grosvenor, whom I have mentioned above, as succeeding to the family 
baronetcy in 1755. No sooner had he done so than he began to emulate 
the then relatively few, other than royal, picture collectors, buying largely, 
and as is frequently the case with those indulging in a new hobby, often 
not very judiciously.^ As, however, he did not confine his purchases to 
any particular school, he managed to add to his gallery some excellent 
works, especially as price was not a matter of moment to him. Thus at 
the dispersal of Sir Luke Schaub's collection, in 1758, he purchased 
Guido's " Infant Christ," ' and Charles Lebrun's " Alexander in the Tent 
of Darius " ; giving 300 guineas for the former, and {^■'2.'] for the 
latter ; prices which were, at that time, considered excessive. Five 
years later he commissioned Mr. Dalton, then about to set out for 
Italy to make purchases for George III., whose librarian he was, to 
buy pictures for him ; the result being two works by Ludovico Caracci 
and Baroccio, among others. The former represents " The Vision of 
St. Francis," and is an altogether beautiful work ; while the latter, called 
" La Vierge a I'Ecuelle," is obviously inspired by Correggio's " Madonna 
della Scodella." 

Among the other works brought together by the first Earl Grosvenor, 
among many of but second-rate importance, were " The Bear Hunt " 

1 The collection was then located in Millbank House, Westminster, which had been 
built, about 1720, for Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough, but is now no more. 
- Now hanging in the Saloon ; Lebrun's work is not now at Grosvenor House. 



GROSVENOR HOUSE 263 

by Snyders, and the " Fortuna " by Guido,' a replica of the picture 
in the Vatican. 

Thus was a nucleus formed of a gallery of old masters,^ but Sir 
Richard Grosvenor's best investments were, undoubtedly, the works of 
contemporary painters, which he purchased indirectly, or for which he 
gave commissions directly to the artists, as will be recognised when we 
remember that these included works by Reynolds and Gainsborough, 
Northcote, Stubbs, and Wilson. By far the most important additions to 
the collection were, however, made by the second Earl Grosvenor, who 
in the year in which he moved to Grosvenor House, purchased en bloc the 
splendid collection formed by Mr. Agar-Ellis. As we shall see when 
examining the pictures in the various rooms at Grosvenor House, those 
that had this provenance are among some of the finest in the collection ; 
a collection which is probably freer from indifferent work than any 
other in London, with the possible exception of that at Dorchester House ; 
and of the hundred and thirty odd pictures included in the private 
catalogue there is hardly a single picture that might not be considered a 
valuable addition to any collection, and nearly every one would be a gem 
in an assemblage less richly endowed with carefully selected masterpieces. 

In some respects the two principal works by Reynolds and Gains- 
borough which hang in Grosvenor House are among the best known 
pictures in the world ; one is " Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse," the 
other " The Blue Boy," both of which now hang in the Drawing Room. 
The former great work was painted in 1784, and although the main idea of 
the pose is said to have been suggested by the " Isaiah " of Michael Angclo, 
yet Mrs. Siddons once informed Mr. Phillips " that it was the production 
of pure accident." " Sir Joshua," we are told, " had begun the head and 
figure in a different view ; but while he was occupied in the preparation 
of some colour, she changed her position to look at a picture hanging 
on the wall of the room. When he again looked at her, and saw the 
action she had assumed, he requested her not to move ; and thus arose 
the beautiful and expressive figure we now see in the picture." 

Although Hazlitt once said of this great work : " It is neither the 
tragic muse nor Mrs. Siddons," Sir Joshua thought as highly of it as 
other great critics have done, and evidence of this is shown by the fact 
that he signed his name on the border of the drapery,' telling Mrs. Siddons 

' No. 58 and 63 in Young's Catalogue of the Grosvenor Pictures. The latter alone is now 
at Grosvenor House. 

^ For a complete list of the pictures as they were at that time, see Young's Catuloi^ue of 
the Pictures at Grosvenor J/oiise, published in IVlay 1820. This work was dedicated to Earl 
Grosvenor, and was prepared under his auspices ; it contains etchings of 143 pictures. 

' He did the same in the case of the "Lady Cockburn," now in the National Gallery. 
But signing his pictures was a very rare habit with him. 



264 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

that he " could not lose the honour this opportunity afforded him of 
going down to posterity on the hem of her garment." It is said 
that on one occasion when looking at the picture at Grosvenor House, 
Mrs. Siddons remarked that Sir Joshua wanted to work more on the face, 
but that she told him that if he did so, he would spoil it, whereupon 
he took her advice and left it untouched. The work was bought by 
M. de Calonne for 800 guineas, on the dispersal of whose collection, in 
1795, it was purchased by W. Smith, Esq., M.P., for Norwich, for ^^700. 
He subsequently sold it to Mr. Watson Taylor, for ^^900 ; and when 
the Watson Taylor pictures were dispersed, in 1822, it came into the 
possession of Lord Grosvenor, at the price of £1^60} There are at least 
three replicas of this great work ; the best known, though anything but 
the best, is in the Dulwich Gallery, which, according to Northcote, was 
not painted by Sir Joshua at all, but by one of his pupils named Score. 

" The Blue Boy," painted in 1779,^ is an almost equally famous work. 
It represents Master Jonathan Buttall, son of Mr. Buttall of Greek Street, 
Soho, standing at full-length, in a blue satin dress of the Stuart period ; 
and was the outcome of a dispute between Gainsborough and other 
painters, particularly Sir Joshua, who laid down the axiom^ that a pre- 
ponderance of blue in a picture was to be deprecated as spoiling a good 
colour scheme. One can hardly imagine a more effective rejoinder, a 
more telling disproof of the accuracy of this assertion, than this super- 
latively fine production. The canvas originally belonged to Mr. Buttall, 
and later to his son (the subject of the picture), on whose death ir was 
purchased by a Mr. Nesbit, from whom it is said to have passed to 
George, Prince of Wales ; later it became the property of Hoppner, who, 
however, eventually sold it to Earl Grosvenor. 

I may mention here that there are at Grosvenor House two of Gains- 
borough's most successful landscapes ; one, " The Cottage Door," the 
other, " A Coast Scene." They both hang in the Ante-Drawing Room ; 
the former was purchased by the first Marquis of Westminster, at the 
sale of Lord de Tabley's pictures in 1828 ; and the other was painted 
specially for the first Earl Grosvenor. They are among the best of 
Gainsborough's work in landscape, which is, perhaps, tantamount to 
saying that they are among the finest landscapes in the world. 

In Grosvenor House there are six stately rooms in each of which hang 
a number of splendid works of art, and all of which are decorated with 
lavishness combined with excellent taste. Every picture is separately 
lighted by electric light hidden behind a reflector ; so that even the 

^ According to Mrs. Jameson ; Mr. Redford, however, puts it at ^1837. 
" No. 16 in Young's Catalogue. 



GROSVENOR HOUSE 265 

merits of those which have necessarily to be hung in a less effective 
position than others, can be minutely judged. 

In the Dining Room there hang as many as thirty-one canvases, no 
less than seven of which are by Claude. Two of these works are stated 
by Waagen to be among the largest the artist ever painted ; they are 
known respectively as " The Worship of the Golden Calf," and " The 
Sermon on the Mount," and if not to be classed with the master's greatest 
achievements, they still combine many of his remarkable qualities. Both 
came from the Agar-Ellis collection ; the former being painted, on the 
authority of the Liber Veritatis, for Signor Carlo Cadillo, in 1655, 
although Young, in his Catalogue of the Grosvenor Gallery, asserts that it was 
executed for Sir Peter Lely,^ and it is so stated in the private catalogue 
where it is also affirmed that Sir Peter had stipulated that no figures 
should appear, as he intended to introduce these himself, but that Claude 
sent him the canvas full of figures and told him he could keep it or not 
as he liked. Of the second picture, Mrs. Jameson states that an old lady 
was so filled with admiration for it that she offered Mr. Agar-Ellis a 
handsome annuity, merely to be allowed the loan of the canvas during her 
life, an anecdote one can well believe as one gazes at this consummate work. 

Another pair of " Claudes " are known as " Morning," and " Evening," 
and are of superlative merit and beauty. Painted in 165 1 (at least the 
latter bears this date), Mrs. Jameson supposes them to be identical with 
the two works which were in the Blondel de Gaguy collection, and which 
were sold, in 1776, for 24,000 francs. That their value increased by 
leaps and bounds is evidenced by the fact that, on the death of Mr. Agar- 
Ellis in whose collection they were, a foreign collector is said to have 
offered no less than ;^8ooo for them, but Lord Grosvenor had, luckily, 
already forestalled this tempting bid. 

Two other landscapes by the same master are known as " The Rise, 
and the Decline of the Roman Empire," as they represent in the middle 
distance Rome in its glory, and in its ruin.^ 

By Rembrandt, there are no less than five superb portraits in the 
Dining Room. Of these, the presentments of Nicholas Berghem, the 
painter, and of his wife, are perhaps the most interesting. Both are 
signed and dated 1647, and that of the artist was executed when he was 
about twenty-seven. There is also a superb little portrait of Rembrandt 
himself, representing him at about the age of twenty, habited as a soldier, 
which is supposed to be the most youthful of the many pictures the 

' Mrs. Jameson doubts this, on the ground that there was no such work in the catalogue of 
Lely's pictures, and also from absence of any other proof. 

- The latter is now removed to another room as we shall see. 



266 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

painter produced of himself. It was formerly in the collection of Calonne. 
Another portrait hy the same master is that of a man with a hawk, 
dated 1643, and together with one of a lady with a fan, has evoked the 
wonder and admiration of critics, as it cannot fail to do that of even the 
ordinary untrained intelligence. These two works were, in 1809, in the 
collection of M. Grand-Pre, and were then valued at 40,000 francs ; 
what their present value is, Christie's alone only knows. They were 
brought to this country by M. de la Hannte, from whom Earl Grosvenor 
purchased them, in 1820. In this room also hangs a very important 
example of a painter whom it is less the fashion to admire nowadays than 
it was formerly — Murillo ; this particular work is known as " Laban seek- 
ing his Household Gods in Jacob's Tent " ; and as was not unusual with 
the earlier painters, the subject is treated as a scene of contemporary life. 
A frofos of this work, it is interesting to know that Murillo originally 
projected a series of subjects from the life of David, and desired Ignatio 
Iriarte of Seville to execute the backgrounds ; he wished Iriarte to 
first paint the landscapes, to which he was to add the figures ; but 
Iriarte wanted the process reversed ; so, in order to get out of the impasse, 
Murillo did the whole himself, taking the subject of Laban instead of that 
originally intended. The work was successively in the Santiago, and 
Coesveldt collections, from the latter of which it passed into that of the 
Marquess of Villamanrique. One authority, however, states that it was 
sold by the Marquis of Santiago to Mr. Wallis, and passed from him, 
through Mr. Buchanan, to Lord Grosvenor ; while there is also a tradi- 
tion that when the French entered Madrid, in 1808, it was selected, with 
other works of art, by General Sebastiani, as part of the booty exacted. 

Next to this fine work is a " Holy Family " by Ludovico Caracci, 
painted with a depth of tone and richness of colouring which is very 
unusual with this painter. This work, together with " A Young Faun in 
a Landscape," by Salvator Rosa, which the first Marquis of Westminster 
purchased, exhausts the pictures other than those by Dutch and Flemish 
masters in this room. In addition to the Rembrandts, David Teniers 
is represented by two characteristic works ; one, " A Family saying 
Grace " ; the other, " Boers Drinking " ; and there is a Van Huysum 
almost, if not quite, equal to the superb example of this painter in the 
National Gallery. This particular masterpiece was once in the Braam- 
kemp and Geldermeester Galleries, from the latter of which it was pur- 
chased by Sir Francis Baring, about 1800. It was from the Baring 
collection that it was bought by George IV. ; the King, however, sub- 
sequently sold it to Mr. Watson Taylor, at the sale of whose gallery, in 
1822, it was purchased by Lord Grosvenor. By Rubens is a small land- 



GROSVENOR HOUSE 267 

scape most minutely finished, which, according to Young, was painted 
before the artist went to Italy, and when he must have been about 
eighteen or twenty. Waagen very properly calls this beautiful little 
production " a real gem." It was one of the pictures originally collected 
by Lord Grosvenor, before he purchased the Agar-Ellis gallery, as was 
the Cuyp, representing a group of sheep in a pen, which hangs near it. 

Among the other works here, special attention is demanded by 
Wouvermanns's " Horse Fair," a most exquisite and spirited work, which 
is signed but not dated, and which was one of the Agar-Ellis pictures ; 
the same epithets may well be applied to the " Farm House with Cattle 
and Figures," by Adrian Van der Velde, dated 1658, the year in which 
the painter, who was then but nineteen, painted the similar picture which 
is now in the Peel collection. The work at Grosvenor House was origin- 
ally in the galleries of M. Lorimer, the Due de Choiseul, and the Prince 
de Conti, and was later among the Agar-EUis pictures, which is a pedigree 
of which any work of art might be proud. 

I have mentioned one Cuyp, which I confess does not move me to 
enthusiasm — it is so hard and dry ; but another, a landscape with figures 
and sheep, is of very different quality, being warm and deep in tone, 
and in every way worthy of its painter's great reputation. There is here, 
too, a " View of Nimwegen," by Van Goyen, of characteristically thin 
impasto, signed and dated 1645 ; and a sketch by Rubens for his large 
picture of the " Conversion of St. Paul ; " as well as a remarkably 
fine and very large landscape by Nicholas Berghem, dated 1656, once 
in the Agar-Ellis collection. 

The Saloon, in which hang some of the most important of the many 
precious works in Grosvenor House, communicates with the Dining Room, 
and as that apartment does, looks out upon the ample gardens. The 
ceiling of this fine room is decorated in the Italian style, in neutral tints, 
and is so carefully subdued as not to clash with the pictures that hang 
on the walls ; which flafonds over-loaded with bright decorative work are 
frequently apt to do. There is in this room a very beautiful mantel- 
piece of Carrara marble, with plaques of red marble introduced, and 
about the room are some magnificent examples of French furniture of 
the Louis Quatorze period, in the shape of cabinets, loaded with rare 
and costly porcelain. But I am chiefly concerned with the pictures, of 
which there are no less than thirty-eight by masters of the Italian, French, 
Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish schools ; and although this collocation of 
the poetic spiritualities of the Italians with the more material expositions 
of the Dutch and Flemish masters is perhaps to be regretted, at the same 



268 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

time it is a significant fact that when a work, of whatever school it be, 
is a masterpiece, these seemingly opposite characteristics assimilate in a 
remarkable manner. 

Of the Italians, Guilio Romano ; Andrea del Sarto, " the faultless 
painter " ; Benvenuto Tisio, commonly called Garofalo ; Tiarini ; 
Albano ; Paul Veronese ; MazzuoH, called Parmigiano ; Biscaino, and 
Zampieri, better known as Domenichino, are among those here repre- 
sented ; and if there be some doubt about the authenticity of Tisio's 
work, there should be none about that by Guilio Romano of " St. Luke 
painting the Virgin," which was purchased in Italy for the first Earl 
Grosvenor, by Mr. Dalton, in 1763, for Waagen expressly states his belief 
as to its genuineness, after having examined a number of other undoubted 
works by this painter ; but for long it was attributed to one of Raphael's 
pupils, and Mrs. Jameson, quoting Passavant as additional authority, 
also attributes this genesis to the panel. 

There is, too, in this room, another picture by Guilio Romano, of 
" St. John the Baptist seated in the Wilderness," which was formerly in 
the Agar-Ellis collection, and is a copy of Raphael's well-known work in 
the Tribune at Florence. Andrea del Sarto is represented by three works ; 
one, curiously modern in treatment, is a portrait of the Contessina Mattel, 
with a white ruff round her neck and a veil on her head ; it was this 
portrait that Mrs. Jameson had in mind when she wrote : " We read a whole 
life in her settled, thoughtful brow, in her deep melancholy eye, and in 
the compressed resigned expression of the mouth." Another Del Sarto is a 
head of the infant St. John, on panel, which was one of Lord Grosvenor's 
original collection, and is not unlike the celebrated " Laughing Boy " by Da 
Vinci, once one of the gems of Fonthill ; the third picture by the master 
forming a companion to this work, is a head of the Infant Saviour, and 
was probably bought together with the St. John. 

Benvenuto Tisio is represented by a Riposo,^ although this work was 
at one time attributed to Raphael. There seems to be always a certain 
amount of doubt as to the productions of this painter, whose pictures 
are rarely found outside Italy ; but there should not be, because he gained 
his nickname of Garofolo from his custom of painting a gilly-flower in 
the corner of his pictures, which should be a certain kind of hall-mark, 
except, of course, in the case of obvious copies of his work. 

By Tiarini, a comparatively little known artist, although Ludovico 
Caracci said of his picture of " St. Domenico raising a Dead Person to Life," 
that it was superior to most productions of the age, is a small delicately 

' The frame of this picture is beautifully carved, and is said to be the work of the monks 
to whom it originally belonged. Note in the Private Catalogue, 



GROSVENOR HOUSE 269 

painted picture on copper, representing " The Marriage of St. Catherine " ; 
while by Albano is a " Virgin and Child," also on copper, probably painted 
from his own wife and child, whom he delighted to use as models for his 
pictures ; and an "Annunciation," by Paul Veronese. Parmigiano is 
responsible for four works, two of which are small full-length figures on panel 
of St. Peter and St. Paul, originally inserted in the door of a room ; and 
there is a small finished sketch on copper for the well-known " Vision 
of St. Jerome " in the National Gallery ; while the fourth is " The 
Marriage of St. Catherine," also on copper, which was formerly in the 
Borghese Palace, whence it was brought to England by Mr. Ottley, and 
sold to Mr. Morland from whom Lord Grosvenor purchased it. 

Biscaino, whose works are few and little known, for he died of the 
plague when only twenty-five, gives us a " Holy Family " in a landscape, 
although his forte was historical subjects ; the picture here is one of the 
few that hang in a somewhat indifferent light, but that unquestionable 
authority thought great things of it is proved by Young's assertion that 
Sir Joshua Reynolds once offered no less than X^ooo for it ; and lastly, 
before we turn to other schools, there is a " St. Agnes," on copper, by 
Domenichino, which was one of the pictures purchased for Lord Grosvenor 
in Italy by Mr. Dalton. 

Of the two Murillos which hang in this room, one represents " St. 
John and the Lamb," a subject the painter never seemed tired of repro- 
ducing ; the other, a perfect little work, shows us the Infant Saviour 
asleep. The former was once in the collection of Mr. Andrew Wilson, 
whence it was purchased by Lord Grosvenor about 1810; while the 
latter was one of the Agar-Ellis pictures. 

There are no less than four Nicholas Poussins in the Saloon, one being 
a finished study for one of the groups in the well-known picture of 
" Moses Striking the Rock " at Bridgewater House ; this portion of the 
work being that in which the mother is shown, giving drink to one of her 
children, while the other looks up as if in anticipation of its share, and, 
behind, the father is clasping his hands in gratitude. The second is a 
" Holy Family with Angels," which was purchased at the sale of Lord 
Lansdowne's gallery, in 1806, a most rich and beautiful work, represent- 
ing Tivoli, with the Temple of the Sybil, and originally came from Lord 
Waldegrave's collection in 1763, at which time Lord Ashburnham bought 
the companion picture by Gaspar Poussin. The third tells the story of 
Areas and Calisto, and came from the Agar-Ellis collection ; while the 
fourth, " Infants at Play," is such a lovely little work that one can quite 
believe the story that Beckford offered Agar-Ellis 1 000 guineas for it ; 
it has been engraved several times. 



2 70 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

There are also here three superlatively fine Claudes ; one a " Riposo," 
on copper ; another a landscape known, as I have before stated, with 
its companion which hangs in the Dining Room, as " The Decline and 
Fall of the Roman Empire " ; and showing the ruins of Rome in the 
middle distance ; and the third another fine landscape. 

The productions of the Dutch and Flemish masters that hang in the 
Saloon are of the highest merit. It is hopeless to say anything adequate 
about their beauty, but I must at least say a word. First, then, is the 
" River Scene," by Cuyp, in which we get a view of Dort in the evening, 
illumined by that warm and transparent colouring which is hardly sur- 
passed by the two great pictures by the master at Dorchester House 
and Bridgewater House respectively. Then there is a wonderful Gerard 
Dou, of a mother nursing her child, painted with all the minuteness of 
Metsu, and at the same time, with a breadth of treatment which Metsu 
was hardly capable of attaining. 

The example here of Paul Potter's art shows us a landscape with 
dairy farm and figures, seen in the light of a warm summer afternoon. 
This beautiful work was painted for the artist's patron, Heer van SHnge- 
landt, of Dordrecht. When his collection was dispersed, in 1785, it was 
sold for ;^750 ; later, at the sale of the Tolozan collection, it fetched 
^1082; then Mr. Crawford of Rotterdam acquired it for ^1350; but 
subsequently the Marquis of Westminster gave only ;^iooo for it. To- 
day it is probably worth six or seven times that amount. The land- 
scape is said to represent the country between the Hague and Geestburg, 
and the chateau in the distance is that of Binkhorst, which is still 
standing.^ 

Notwithstanding the beauty and interest of many of the pictures in 
the Saloon, I think the gem of this room must be allowed to be " The 
Salutation," by Rembrandt, which shows " St. Elizabeth receiving 
the Virgin." It was painted when the artist was thirty-four, and is 
dated 1640. Waagen considers it " so masterly in composition, in 
handling, lighting, and glow of chiaroscuro, as to be nearly on a par 
with ' The Woman taken in Adultery,' in the National Gallery " ; and 
this high praise has been confirmed by other critics ; while M. Michel, 
in his life of Rembrandt, gives a detailed description of the work, 
which, however, I do not repeat, as, except from a technical point of 
view, such descriptions are, it seems to me, not very satisfactory, and, 
in a book of this kind, would be merely tiresome. The picture, which, 
by-the-bye, like that of the work in the National Gallery to which it 
has been compared, has an oval top, formerly belonged to the King of 

' Cundall in his Life of Potter. 



GROSVENOR HOUSE 271 

Sardinia, and was brought to this country, in 1812, by M. Erard, from 
whom the second Earl Grosvenor purchased it. 

There is also, in this room, an exceedingly fine Hobbema, which 
merits long and close attention ; it is a forest scene, and the figures intro- 
duced are by Lingelbach. This beautiful work was formerly in the 
possession of M. Fizian of Amsterdam, from whom Mr. Agar-Ellis pur- 
chased it ; it has been engraved by Mason. 

I must make an end ; but before I do so, let me draw attention to 
" The Virgin and Child," by Adrian Van der Werff, which fascinating 
work was painted for the master's patron, the Elector Palatine, who gave 
it to Cardinal Ottoboni, from whose family it passed into the Agar-Ellis 
gallery ; and also to the consummate " Dismissal of Hagar," by Rubens, 
in which picture the expression and attitude of Sarah struck Mrs. 
Siddons so forcibly that she deemed them worthy of her admiration 
and study.^ 

The Gallery, with the Rubens Room at the end, occupies the newer 
portion of Grosvenor House, which I spoke of earlier in this chapter. 
It is a truly magnificent apartment, with an extraordinarily fine and 
massive ceiling divided into square compartments, with heavily gilded 
cornices and a painted frieze representing the arts. The great doors 
are of mahogany picked out in gold, and there is a white marble mantel- 
piece of immense proportions and most beautiful design. In this apart- 
ment stand marble busts of the late Duke and Duchess of Westminster, and 
Lord Ronald Gower's statue of Marie Antoinette on her way to execution. 
Here is a table of lapis lazuli mounted in ormolu ; there a wonderful clock 
in tortoise-shell inlaid with mother-of-pearl and decorated with ormolu 
figures and porcelain columns ; in another part of the room is one of those 
Italian cabinets for which all the known semi-precious stones of the 
world seem to have been gathered together, and forming a miniature 
temple. Bronze figures of women uphold ormolu flowers to cast light 
upon the chamber, and columns of ebony, enriched with festoons and 
arabesques in ormolu, bear on their sides the ducal crest and coronet, 
and are surmounted by bronze figures of cupids supporting on their heads 
covered baskets of richly chased ormolu. Indeed nothing that wealth can 
suggest or taste and ingenuity create, seems wanting in this magnificent 
apartment. 

Like all the principal rooms at Grosvenor House, the Gallery is filled 
with fine pictures ; and if there is some doubt attached to the authen- 
ticity of one or two of the canvases here, they are far outbalanced by the 
beauty and genuineness of the greater part of the pictures in this apart- 
' See a note in the Private Catalogue. 



272 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

ment. The Raphael — a " Holy Family," from the Agar-Ellis collection- 
is a copy, 'tis said the best extant, of the original which has been lost, 
and which had some affinity to the " Vierge au Linge " in the Louvre ; 
the authenticity of Giovanni Bellini's " Madonna and Child with four 
Saints," has also been questioned, but it has an intrinsic interest, in that 
it once belonged to F6n61on, who also owned " The Circumcision," 
by the same master, which hangs close by ; and there is little doubt 
that the riding school picture, with the Infante Don Balthazar, is only 
partially the work of Velasquez, the better part being probably from 
the hand of his pupil Mazo ; but the so-called portrait of Rubens and 
Elizabeth Brant is undoubtedly from the hand of that great master. It 
represents Pausias and Glycera, and was once supposed to indicate the artist 
and his wife in this classic guise. The flowers surrounding the figures are 
by Velvet Breughal, who so often collaborated with Rubens in this way. 

Besides these there are nearly a score of pictures in the Gallery, and of 
some of the most important I must say a few words. In the first place 
there is a remarkable Rembrandt, representing a landscape with men draw- 
ing a net from the river, which figures are said to have been introduced 
by Teniers, to whom the picture once belonged. Indeed Waagen casts 
some doubt on Rembrandt having had a hand in the composition at all, 
rather attributing it to his school, of which it is certainly, if this assump- 
tion be correct, a very fine example. Lord Grosvenor bought the work 
from M. de la Hannte, in 1820. 

Close to this hangs a picture about which no doubt is possible : 
Turner's " Conway Castle," which the late Duke of Westminster pur- 
chased for 2800 guineas, from the Wynn-Ellis collection in 1876, at the sale 
in which was sold the famous " Duchess of Devonshire," by Gainsborough. ^ 

Another beautiful landscape is by Gaspar Poussin, one of the Agar- 
Ellis pictures ; and still another, attributed to Titian, although it has 
also been assigned, by Waagen, to Gaspar Po issin or one of his school. 
The latter work was purchased in Italy, about the year 1783, by Gavin 
Hamilton, from whom Mr. Agar-Ellis acquired it. There are two other 
works by Titian in the Gallery ; the first being " The Woman taken in 
Adultery," which, according to Young, was brought from the Barberini 
Palace by a French officer, and afterwards came into the possession of 
M. de la Hannte, from whom Lord Grosvenor purchased it ; the other, 
a reflica of the famous canvas in the Dresden Gallery, representing 
" Christ and the Tribute Money." 

From the Calonne Gallery came the " Holy Family " by Paul Veronese ; 
while the landscape by Philip de Koningh is a beautiful example of this 
master's methods on an unusually large scale. 




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GROSVENOR HOUSE 273 

From the Gallery we pass into the Rubens Room, which is decorated 
in the same style of lavish magnificence. Here hang, in frames let into 
the wall, the three colossal works, representing " The Israelites gathering 
Manna ; " " The Meeting of Abraham and Melchisedek ; " and " The 
Four Evangelists ; " which once formed part of the series of nine paintings 
executed by Rubens, in 1629, for Philip IV. of Spain. The King pre- 
sented them to his minister Olivarez, for the Carmelite convent at Loeches, 
which the latter had founded. In 1808, the French carried off seven of 
them ; leaving two in the convent, and shortly after, the three now at 
Grosvenor House were sold to Mr. Bourke, the English Minister at 
Copenhagen, who, bringing them to this country in 1816, disposed of 
them to Lord Grosvenor for ^10,000. According to Michel, the canvases 
were originally executed as patterns for tapestry, which accounts for 
their being in places somewhat rough and unfinished in appearance, and 
is some evidence in support of those, including Waagen and Michel, 
who considered that Rubens's pupils had much more to do with their 
production than the great painter himself. It is said that when they 
were carried off from the convent, the waggon bearing them broke 
down in a ditch, and that some of them rolled out into the water ; one, 
" The Triumph of Christ," being seriously injured. 

Remarkable as are many of the works hanging on the walls of the 
larger reception rooms at Grosvenor House, it is to the small Drawing 
Room, curiously enough, that we must look for the two world-famous 
pictures I have before mentioned — Gainsborough's " Blue Boy," and the 
" Mrs. Siddons " of Sir Joshua. Two such pictures as these would throw 
into the shade anything that might be hung in juxtaposition to them ; 
and if a country may be proud in having produced two contemporary 
painters of such unquestioned greatness, a private owner may indeed 
congratulate himself on possessing the masterpieces of both. 

Gainsborough is responsible for another canvas which formerly hung 
in this room, but is now in the Ante-Drawing Room, the subject being 
" A Stormy Sea," with a woman selling fish on the shore. Apart from 
the beauty of this work, it is interesting as being one of the only four 
subjects of this kind which the artist ever produced. Waagen awards it 
unstinted praise, asserting that " in clearness, warmth of tone, body, 
and keeping," it was the best picture of Gainsborough's he had seen — 
of course, he infers, in landscape. 

Two other works which are particularly noticeable in this room are 
a " Virgin and Child with St. Catherine," by Vandyck, in which the 
head of St. Catherine is perfectly beautiful, exhibiting all the strength of 

s 



274 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Rubens with Vandyck's added grace ; and the portrait of the painter 
and his wife by Teniers the younger. The former came from the Agar- 
Ellis collection, and both Waagen and Mrs. Jameson draw attention to 
the dignity and poetical sentiment of the work ; while from its warmth 
of tone and transparency of colouring it is conjectured that the artist 
painted it after his return from Italy when the influence of the sunny 
south was fresh in his receptive mind. The latter work was executed in 
1649, as is proved by the inscription on it ; it represents the painter and 
his wife, Anne Breughal (daughter of Velvet Breughal, and an adopted 
daughter of Rubens), in conversation with their old gardener, close by 
the cottage of the latter, while Teniers's chateau is seen in the distance. 
The picture was originally in the collection of the Chevalier Verhulst, 
whence it passed, in 1779, into the hands of M. Le Brun, for the sum of 
^^85. From M. Le Brun it was bought by Lord Lansdowne for £i()2 ; 
and subsequently Lord Grosvenor became its possessor at the greatly 
enhanced, but as it seems now, very small, price of £^^6. 

In this room is also to be specially noted a picture of two angels, by 
Rubens, probably studies for a larger work ; and a " Triumph of Venus," 
by Albano, most beautiful and almost Titian-like in warmth and depth of 
colouring. 

Although a number of pictures hang in other parts of Grosvenor House, 
and particularly in the Corridor, where among others is a luminous and 
excellent view of the seashore on the Normandy coast, by that fine and 
too short-lived painter Bonington, these need no specific notice ; but 
before we leave this palace of art, a word must be said about some of 
the paintings hanging in the Ante-Drawing Room. Here, for example, 
is a fine landscape by Gaspar Poussin, and a study of flowers by that 
scarce master, Mignon ; while there is a landscape with cattle by Karel 
du Jardin ; an interesting study of a " spotted horse " by Cuyp ; and 
a characteristic landscape with itinerant musicians by Le Nain. By 
the side of these works, as if to accentuate the catholicity of taste 
observable throughout this wondrous collection, is what Mrs. Jameson 
calls, and rightly calls, " a divine little picture," by Fra Bartolomeo ; * 
a landscape with the meeting of David and Abigail, by Domenichino ; 
and a " Virgin and Child " by Pietro da Cortona ; and just as one thinks 
one has seen all, the eye is attracted by the warmth of the landscape 
which Jan Both painted and in which the figures were put in by his 
brother Andrew. 

' It will be remembered that Baccio della Porta, as he was properly named, became a 
Dominican in 1500, being deeply afflicted by the death of his friend Savonarola. 




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CHAPTER XIII 
LANSDOWNE HOUSE 

WHEN Horace Walpole spoke of Lady Shelburne as being 
" Queen of the Palace," in Berkeley Square, he stated 
no more than the truth with regard to the lady, and 
the splendid mansion over which she presided ; of which 
latter Waagen wrote, at a later date, that it united " the advantages of 
the most fashionable neighbourhood with a certain retirement." It is, 
indeed, probably the most secluded of all the great houses of London, 
and its somewhat unusual situation at right angles with the chief entrance 
gates has something to do with this, although, of course, its privacy is 
chiefly due to the fact of its standing well back in its own grounds, and 
also because those grounds abut on the relatively quiet square which 
bounds them to the north. 

Lansdowne House is probably the most characteristic and elaborate 
example of Robert Adam's style of domestic architecture. Few persons, 
even if only slightly acquainted with his mannerisms, could attribute 
it to any other hand ; and within it bears, if possible, still more emphati- 
cally the marks of his individuality ; the Dining Room, in particular, 
being an example of what he could do carried to its highest power. 

In the Soane Museum are preserved the original plans and drawings 
for the mansion, by which we can see that the original idea of the house 
was on an altogether different scale from that carried out ; for the first 
plans showed a long and rather low mansion in a more severely classic 
style than that of the present house ; but it is probable that the position 
which the building was obliged to take, rendered a higher and 
less extended frontage necessary, and the later drawings show Adam 
to have designed it as it substantially exists to-day. There is one 
important alteration, however, for in the original scheme there was 
designed to run at right angles to the main structure, on its north-west 
side, a great library in three divisions, which is now represented by the 
sculpture gallery, substituted under circumstances which will be 
explained later on. Indeed the housing of the books seems to have been 

the chief care of the builder, for besides this magnificent series of rooms, 

275 



276 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

there was also another library on the ground floor, and still one more 
on the first floor, out of which the Ante-Room, with its circular end, 
was reached.^ 

Lord Shelburne's bedroom was on the ground floor, where in fact 
the present study is, while his dressing-room was, curiously enough, on 
the first floor, and on the opposite side of the house. 

The mansion was erected for Lord Bute about the middle of the 
eighteenth century, and, as happened when Clarendon built his splendid 
residence in Piccadilly a century earlier, the populace chose to see 
in this magnificent pile the results of peculation and political chicanery. 
Lord Bute was always an unpopular minister, perhaps the most 
unpopular of those who have presided over the destinies of this country, 
and whatever he did was immediately construed into something inimical 
to the good of the people, and whatever personal success he attained as 
the result of jobbery. Reasons were not wanting, as when are they if 
required to pull to shreds an already tottering reputation ? On 
February 10, 1763, the Peace of Paris had been signed, and although 
by that treaty France, then our traditional enemy, ceded to Great 
Britain, Canada, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton (about which the 
Duke of Newcastle was so notoriously ignorant according to the well- 
known anecdote). Mobile, and all the territory east of the Mississippi, 
Dominica, Tobago, St. Vincent, and Grenada, and received in return 
little, if we except St. Lucia, but those islands which perpetual earth- 
quakes have made at best uncertain possessions, yet this country was not 
satisfied, simply, it may be conjectured, because the minister in power 
was the unpopular Lord Bute ; and it was the fashion to attribute the 
money spent on building Lansdowne House, which was commenced soon 
afterwards, to the Prime Minister's so-called betrayal of his country. Lord 
Bute, however, never occupied the house, for, in 1765, he sold it, as it then 
stood, still unfinished, to the Earl of Shelburne, for less than it is supposed 
to have then already cost him ; the price he received being ^22,500. 
By a curious coincidence, its new owner was nearly as unpopular as its 
old, and when Lord Shelburne became responsible for the Peace of 
Versailles, in 1783, it was scandalously asserted that, whereas the mansion 
had been built by one peace, it was paid for by another. The accusation 
has in it a far too rhetorical ring to convey much confidence in its accuracy, 
and is somewhat on a par with Burke's indecent invective against Shel- 
burne, when he attributed his not acting as a Cataline or a Borgia simply 

' It is interesting to see that the powdering closets attached to Lord Shelburne's dressing- 
room and to that of Lady Shelburne, are much larger than the servants' rooms adjoining, 
which appear to be mere cupboards. 



LANSDOWNE HOUSE 277 

to his want of the necessary understanding ; which, by-the-bye, reminds 
us so forcibly of a celebrated passage in one of Junius's ^ letters directed 
against the Duke of Grafton, as to give colour to the theory advanced 
by some, that those letters were the production of Burke himself. 

Lord Shelburne appears to have been on the look-out for a site on 
which to build a residence for some time previous to his purchase of Lord 
Bute's unfinished home, and that he employed one of the Adam brothers 
to find a suitable spot is evidenced by a letter of Charles James Fox, 
dated June 29, 1761, and addressed to Lord Shelburne, in the course 
of which he says : " I see you have ordered Mr. Adam to look out for 
space to build an Hotel upon " ; and he proceeds to mention, as a likely 
situation, the very site on which Lord Bute built the house which Lord 
Shelburne was eventually to purchase, describing it as " a fine piece of 
ground . . . still to be had, the garden of which, or the court before 
which, may extend all along the bottom of Devonshire garden, though 
no house must be built there ; the house must be where some old paltry 
stables stand at the lower end of Bolton Row." 

Both Lord Leicester and Lord Digby had also been in negotiation for 
the ground, but neither, for some reason, had settled on it, and Lord 
Shelburne's similar hesitancy resulted in its being snapped up by Lord 
Bute,^ who, however, as we have seen, was never destined to inhabit the 
great house which he commenced to build on its site. Whether it was 
that he feared to intensify the extraordinary animus against him which 
he had already created in the minds of the people, by inhabiting so 
palatial a mansion ; or whether it was that the expenses attendant on it 
threatened to make too great an inroad on his resources, I know not, but, 
at any rate, he sold the place to the Earl of Shelburne. 

Apart from the expense of furnishing, Lord Shelburne must have laid 
out a considerable sum in completing the house and improving the 
gardens, which latter, were those of Devonshire House not contiguous, 
would be unique for so central a position in the West End. 

In Lady Shelburne's Diary, several references are made to the new 
possession ; but although she expresses herself pleased with it, and terms 

' A propos it may not be generally known that Lord Shelburne was aware of the identity 
of Junius, and had promised to make known the secret, but death prevented his doing so, 
unhappily for the peace of the world, which is periodically disturbed by discussions on this 
tiresome subject. He once told Sir Richard Phillips that "he knew Junius, and knew all 
about the writing and production of those letters," and he further affirmed that " Junius has 
never yet been publicly named. None of the parties ever guessed at as Junius was the true 
Junius." But let us remember Lord Beaconsfield's famous advice on this subject — and say 
no more about it. 

- In 1764 he was living in Albemarle Street, and later, till his death in 1792, at 73 South 
Audley Street. It will be remembered that he was Prime Minister from May 1762 to 
April 1763. 



278 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

it " very noble," at the same time, reading between the hnes, we can 
see that her ladyship would naturally enough have been better content 
to have entered into possession of a completed house. 

PoHtically Lord Shelburne, who was First Lord of the Treasury 
from July 1782 to February 1783, was unpopular ; and the Peace for 
which he was responsible in the latter year was a source of much heart- 
burning among the people, who, ready enough to mix private and public 
actions, regarded it as little less than a money-making manoeuvre. 
But Lord Shelburne was not a man of this sort ; and even Jeremy 
Bentham has recorded that " his manner was very imposing, very 
dignified," while Wraxall adds that " in his person, manners, and address, 
the Earl wanted no external quahty to captivate or concihate mankind." 
This quotation from Wraxall draws my attention to a longer account 
which he has left of Lord Shelburne, and which I quote in extenso because 
it gives some indication as well of the habitues of the great house about 
which I am writing : " No individual in the Upper House attracted so 
much national attention from his accomplishments, talents, and extensive 
information on all subjects of foreign or domestic poUcy, as the Earl of 
Shelburne. In the prime of life and in the full vigour of his faculties, 
he displayed whenever he rose to speak, an intimate knowledge of Europe, 
together with such a variety of matter, as proved him eminently qualified 
to fill the highest situation . . . nor was that nobleman less versed in 
all the principles of finance and revenue, than in the other objects of 
poUtical study that form a statesman. His house, or more properly to 
speak, his palace in Berkeley Square, which had formerly constituted the 
residence of the Earl of Bute, formed at once the centre of a consider- 
able party, as well as the asylum of taste and science. It is a fact, that 
during the latter years of Lord North's administration, he retained three 
or four clerks in constant pay and employment under his own roof, who 
were solely occupied in copying State papers or accounts. Every measure 
of finance adopted by the First Minister passed, if I may so express myself, 
through the alembic of Shelburne House, where it was examined and 
severely discussed. There, while Dunning and Barre met to settle their 
plan of action . . . omniscient Jackson furnished every species of legal 
or general knowledge. Dr. Price and Mr. Baring produced financial plans, 
or made arithmetical calculations, meant to controvert and overturn, or 
to expose those of the First Lord of the Treasury : while Dr. Priestly, 
who lived under the Earl of Shelburne's personal protection, prosecuted 
in the midst of London, his philosophical and chemical researches." 

Notwithstanding his many fine qualities, his splendid hospitality, 
and his remarkable endowments of mind, or perhaps on this very account, 



LANSDOWNE HOUSE 279 

Lord Shelburne was accused by his opponents of duplicity and insincerity. 
George III. is known to have termed him " the Jesuit of Berkeley 
Square " ; and Junius called him ' Malagrida,' in allusion to the 
Portuguese Jesuit of that name ; ti propos of which it is said that Gold- 
smith once na'ively remarked to Lord Shelburne himself, that he could 
not understand why he should be so called, " for ' Malagrida ' was a very 
good sort of man." 

Reynolds has left a portrait of Lord Shelburne, which indicates any- 
thing but duplicity or insincerity ; and yet political hatred was even able 
to twist his Lordship's features into an indication of falsehood ; ^ and 
Hayward tells the following story of Gainsborough who also once attempted 
to transfer these lineaments to canvas. Lord Shelburne complained that 
the portrait was not like him, and the painter was forced to agree, and 
asked that he might be allowed to try again. FaiUng in this second 
attempt, he is said to have thrown down his brushes, exclaiming, " D — n 
it, I never could see through varnish, and there's an end." 

A modern historian says of Lord Shelburne that " most of his political 
ideas were in advance of his time," and this is, perhaps, sufficient to 
account for the odium he had to endure and the antagonism he constantly 
encountered. The populace is too willing to judge eminent men from 
its own more restricted standards, and to see dishonest motives where none 
exist, especially when it becomes the ignorant tool of interested political 
wire-pullers. But matters of such import are not properly within my ken 
here ; and it is more interesting to know that Lord Shelburne extended the 
hospitality of Lansdowne House to Dr. Priestly, on which fact, Brougham 
once asserted its chief claim to fame would be based ; and that he filled 
his house with fine pictures and furniture, with a magnificent collection 
of books and manuscripts, and above all, with that unrivalled assemblage 
of statuary which is still to be found there. 

In the January of 1771, the first Lady Shelburne (n^e Lady Sophia 
Carteret, daughter of John, Earl Granville) died, and the bereaved 
husband set out for Italy soon after. Here his attention was turned 
to the relics of ancient art, which in those days were to be had almost 
for the asking, and with the help of Gavin Hamilton, the Scotch painter 
and antiquary, who remained in Italy after Lord Shelburne had returned 
home, he gradually acquired some of the most notable pieces. Hamilton, 
whom Goethe eulogises, was a man full of knowledge and resource, and 
above all, enthusiasm, and on behalf of his patron he superintended 
those excavations in the neighbourhood of Rome which yielded such a 
rich harvest ; and for some time he was occupied in forwarding to London 

' Wraxall. 



2 8o THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the results of his labours in this direction. The many letters ^ he wrote 
to Lord Shelburne sufficiently show the loving care he expended over 
the collection of these treasures. Nor was he less solicitous about their 
housing, and he prepared the outlines of a scheme for their reception, 
of which the present magnificent Sculpture Gallery, formed by the 
enlargement of Adam's original Library, was the key-note. 

The fine Library, consisting of priceless manuscripts and printed 
books, the beautiful furniture, and valuable pictures were not long 
destined to grace the palace to which they once gave an added splendour. 
Lord Shelburne, who had been created Marquis of Lansdowne in 1784, 
died in 1805, and was succeeded in the titles by his son, John Henry, the 
" tall personable man, rather regardless of his dress," who soon after gave 
directions for the dispersal of these literary and artistic treasures. Luckily 
for this country, the British Museum purchased the famous Lansdowne 
manuscripts ; but the books and pictures were scattered far and wide. 

These manuscripts, for which Lord Sandwich, the celebrated " Jemmy 
Twitcher," once offered in exchange, a " wild beast " for the menagerie 
which was at that time kept at Wycombe, were only saved by the merest 
chance from destruction, for a bargain had been struck with a cheese- 
monger who was to have had the whole for ^10. When it is remembered 
that the documents include the collections of Bishop Kennet, and Le 
Neve, the heraldic writer, and comprise many of the State papers of the 
Cecils, as well as those of Sir Julius Caesar, and a variety of other papers 
where, as has been said, " the past history of England might be read from 
the time of Henry VL to the time of the Star Chamber, and from the 
time of the Star Chamber to the reign of George HL," it will be 
realised what invaluable records were preserved by their subsequent 
purchase by the British Museum, with, by-the-bye, the first sum of 
money ever voted by Parliament for such a purpose." 

The first sale of pictures was conducted by Messrs. Coxe, Burrell and 
Foster, on the premises, on March 19 and 20, 1806, and fifty-six pictures 
were disposed of ; on which occasion, inter alia, Rubens's " Adoration of 
the Magi " realised 800 guineas ; Claude's " St. Paul carried into Bondage," 
510 guineas ; and " A Riposo " by Nicholas Poussin, 530 guineas. Four 
years later Mr. Christie sold another portion which had been removed 
to his rooms, on May 25 and 26, when two works by Salvator Rosa, 
" Diogenes casting away his Golden Cup," and " Heraclitus in Contem- 
plation," fetched 980 and 950 guineas respectively.^ 

' These have been privately printed together with a catalogue of the ancient marbles. 
' See Fitzmaurice's Life of Shelburne, vol. i. p. 311. 
' See Redford's Art Sales, and Annals of Christie's. 




Photo J Russell 6. Sons. 



THE SCULPTURE GALLERY, LANSDOWNE HOUSE. 



LANSDOWNE HOUSE 281 

Although he thus dispersed some of the art treasures he had inherited, 
the second Lord Lansdowne displayed a certain amount of wisdom in 
retaining the collection of sculpture which is to-day, apart from its 
intrinsic value, eloquent of the taste of its collector and the knowledge 
and industry of his henchman Hamilton. This remarkable assemblage, 
unrivalled in any private gallery in the kingdom, was secured by the 
Marquis for something between £6600 and _^7000, incredible as it 
seems nowadays when more than one of the statues alone would readily 
fetch such a sum. Dr. Waagen, when in this country, visited Lansdowne 
House, and was particularly impressed by the Sculpture Gallery and its 
wonderful contents. " The appearance of the Grand Salon," he writes 
in his Treasures of Art in Great Britain, " is particularly striking, it being 
most richly and tastefully adorned with antique sculptures, some of which 
are very valuable for size and workmanship. The two ends of the apart- 
ment are formed by two large apse-like recesses, which are loftier than 
the centre of the apartment. In these large spaces antique marble 
statues, some of them larger than life, are placed at proper distances, 
with a crimson drapery behind them, from which they are most brilliantly 
relieved in the evening by a very bright gas light. This light, too, was so 
disposed that neither the glare nor the heat was troublesome. The 
antique sculptures of smaller size are suitably disposed on the chimney- 
piece and along the walls." I quote this because, with the exception of 
the lighting, which has been brought up to modern requirements by 
the installation of electricity, the Sculpture Gallery presents substantially 
the same appearance to-day as it did fifty years ago when Waagen saw it. 

Here stand, as they then stood, the Diomed or Discobolus, which 
still remains one of the most remarkable examples of the restorations of 
the time of Cavaceppi ; the seated Juno, of which many parts, however, 
notably the arms, feet, and right leg, are of a later date than the torso ; 
the Jason fastening his sandal, of which other examples are in the Louvre 
and at Munich ; the statue of Mercury, seven feet high, one of the 
finest of those that exist, which was discovered at Torre Colombaro, on 
the Appian Way ; the young Marcus Aurelius, and the great bust 
of Minerva ; the head of Mercury, and the statue of the youthful 
Hercules, found near Adrian's Villa at Tivoli, and considered one of 
the most important relics of ancient art that have defied time's devour- 
ing hand. Few things are more tiresome than an extended list of works 
of art ; and I mention these few treasures, not a tithe of those preserved 
here, rather as an indication of the beauty and value of the statuary, than 
as adequately representative of this noble collection. 

The bulk of the sculpture is, of course, in the gallery which was 



2 82 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

specially designed to receive it, but various pieces are now to be found 
in other parts of the mansion ; such as the Esculapius, a fine relief over 
the chimney-piece of the Entrance Hall, which Waagen, curiously enough, 
does not mention; and the sleeping figure, the last work of Canova, 
having some affinity to the celebrated Hermaphroditus in the Louvre, 
which is to-day placed in the Dining Room. This apartment is probably 
Adam's masterpiece of internal decoration ; and although purists may find 
it over elaborate, and echo Walpole's dictum about the " harlequinades 
of Adam," yet it cannot be denied that, in its particular style, it is as 
complete an example as seems humanly possible. 

If the formation of the collection of sculpture at Lansdowne House 
is due to the first Marquis, and its preservation to the second ; the third, 
and in some respects the most notable of these holders of the title, is 
responsible for the fine gallery of pictures which to-day hang on the 
walls of the mansion. 

Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice was the half-brother of the second Marquis, 
being the son of the first by his marriage, en second noces, with 
Lady Louisa Fitzpatrick, daughter of John, Earl of Upper-Ossory. As 
a political figure he bulks largely in the history of the reigns of William IV. 
and Victoria. Three times was he Lord President of the Council, and 
from 1827 to 1828, he was Secretary of State for the Home Department ; 
while from 1855 to 1858, he was a Cabinet Minister without office, an indi- 
cation that his party was anxious to profit by his advice and experience, 
even when advancing years precluded him from taking an active part in 
any particular department. He was indeed, the Nestor of the Liberal 
party, and the Princess Lieven, writing in 1827, speaks of his being " the 
most distinguished of the great aristocrats of this country, without a 
spot on his great reputation." But if his political fame is thus firmly 
based on his integrity and other sterling qualities, his reputation as an 
art patron and a friend of literature is still better known, and perhaps 
more often recorded ; and it is safe to say that hardly an aspirant to 
artistic or literary fame who was brought to his notice, or whom he 
personally discovered, failed to benefit by his generous advice and princely 
protection. When he succeeded to the title only a relatively few family 
portraits were left to represent the fine gallery which the first Marquis had 
collected, and he at once set to work to fill the gap which had been created 
by the sale of these treasures. In the first place he purchased from the 
widow of his half-brother the famous marbles which had been left her ; 
and his care then extended to the formation of a fresh collection of 
pictures. In this he not only showed the catholicity of his taste but also 
the soundness of his judgment. Some collectors limit their acquisitions 



LANSDOWNE HOUSE 283 

either wholly to the " old masters," as they are called, or to the works 
of living painters. Lord Lansdowne combined the two, and thus if he 
commissioned Leslie to depict one of those delightful scenes from the 
life of Sir Roger de Coverley, he at the same time was ready to purchase 
Rembrandt's portrait of himself ; and so we find Calcott next to Caracci, 
and Frank Stone by the side of Sebastian del Piombo.* 

Although there is no specific Picture Gallery at Lansdowne House, 
the fact that the Reception Rooms lead one into another and are all 
more or less filled with works of art, gives the appearance of one, without 
the monotony of over large wall spaces ; and in the Drawing Room, the 
Library, the Sitting Room, the Ante-Room, we still find some of the great 
painters of the world represented. 

The superb portrait of Count Federigo da Bizzola, by Sebastian del 
Piombo, purchased from the Ghizzi family at Naples, hangs in the 
Drawing Room ; as does Lodovico Caracci's " Christ on the Mount of 
Olives," originally in the Guistiniani collection, as well as a " Holy Family " 
by the same painter. Antonio Caracci, that rare master, is represented 
by a " Virgin and Child," of great beauty and warmth of tone ; while Carlo 
Dolce is responsible for another rendering of the same subject. 

There are four or five Velasquezs ; one a portrait of himself, another 
that of the Conde d'Olivarez, the great Minister of Philip IV., both of 
which pictures were formerly in the possession of Godoy, " Prince of 
Peace," as he was called ; while two landscapes from the same brush 
which hang here were formerly in the Royal Palace at Madrid and were 
brought from Spain, by Mr. Bourke, the Danish Minister, at the time 
of the French occupation. Another interesting work by the same hand 
represents a noble Spanish child lying in his cradle ; and was one of 
those belonging to the first Marquis of Lansdowne. 

Two other works in this room had their provinance from the Borghese 
collection ; " The Prodigal Son," by Guercino, originally in the Colonna 
Gallery at Rome, and Domenichino's picture of St. Cecilia, which was 
purchased by Lucien Bonaparte, who sold it to the Queen of Etruria ; 
after which it came into this country with the Lucca collection, in 1840." 

Murillo is represented by an " Immaculate Conception," a subject he is 
believed to have painted no less than twenty times, of unusually full 
colouring. There also formerly hung here a female portrait, by Rembrandt, 
signed, and dated 1642, which came from Lord Wharncliffe's gallery, 

' On one occasion Lord Lansdowne did refuse to become a purchaser ; it was when 
Marshal Soult offered him his collection of Miirillos — his spoils during the Peninsular 
Campaign — for which he asked the sum of ^100,000, as Creevy records. 

- Mrs. Jameson. 



284 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

but this, together with his portrait of himself, from the Danoot collec- 
tion at Brussels, which was purchased by Lord Lansdowne from M. 
Nieuwenhuys for /[800, are here no longer ; while the marvellous canvas, 
known as " Rembrandt's Mill," is now at Bowood. Waagen, when he 
saw the two former pictures, was enthusiastic about their merits, even 
going so far, with regard to the latter, as to state that " among the 
portraits which Rembrandt has bequeathed of himself in his later years, 
this ranks foremost for animated conception, broad and yet careful 
treatment." 

Two portraits by Reynolds hang in the Drawing Room ; of these, 
" The Girl with a Muff," a replica of a former work, was purchased by 
Lord Lansdowne at the Thomond sale (it will be remembered that 
Reynolds' favourite niece, Mary Palmer, to whom he bequeathed the 
bulk of his property, married the Marquis of Thomond), in 1 82 1, for 
265 guineas. The other work represents Elizabeth Drax, who became 
the wife of the fourth Earl of Berkeley, in 1744, and whom I find among 
Sir Joshua's sitters for October 1759. 

Another example of Reynolds deserves a word ; notably the portrait 
of Lady Ilchester, first wife of the second Earl, and her two daughters, 
which was painted during the spring of 1779. One of the children — 
Lady Louisa Fox-Strangways — was their fourth daughter, and became the 
wife of the third Marquis of Lansdowne, in 1808. This beautiful picture 
hangs in the Sitting Room, in company with Tintoretto's portrait of 
Andrew Doria, and Ostade's " Winter Scene in Holland," which Waagen 
calls " a chef (Tceuvre in every respect." 

In the Ante-Room there is a particularly interesting work by Eckhardt, 
representing Sir Robert Walpole and his first wife, Catherine Shorter, 
with Houghton Hall in the background. The dogs in the picture 
were painted by Wotton, while the portraits of Sir Robert and Lady 
Walpole were copied by Eckhardt from miniatures by Zincke. Additional 
interest is given to this work by the fact that it is enclosed in a frame 
carved by Grinling Gibbons, in which, among a profusion of fruit, flowers, 
cupids and birds, the arms of the Walpole family are introduced. The 
picture originally belonged to Horace Walpole, who fully describes it in 
his account of Strawberry Hill, where it hung over the chimney-piece 
in the Blue Bed Chamber. Near it now hangs Gonzales Coques's 
portrait of " An Architect and his Wife " ; while two other portraits 
deserve attention : one of Francis Horner, the politician and political 
economist, by Raeburn, and Lawrence's well-known picture of the third 
Marquis of Lansdowne. 

One of Vandyck's innumerable presentments of Henrietta Maria 



LANSDOWNE HOUSE 285 

is in the Library, where may also be seen no less than four Reynolds 
portraits — those of Kitty Fisher, Garrick, Horace Walpole, and Sterne. 

That of Garrick is the famous one, so often reproduced, showing the 
great actor looking straight at the spectator, with his hands clasped and 
the thumbs placed together. It was painted in 1776, and is a remark- 
able example of that " momentary " quality which Northcote considered 
so distinguishing a characteristic of Reynolds' methods.-' The Sterne 
is equally well known, and the wig slightly awry which is so noticeable 
a feature in the portrait has been accounted for by the fact that " while 
he was sitting, his wig had continued to get itself a little on one side ; 
and the painter, with that readiness in taking advantage of accident to 
which we owe so many of the delightful novelties in his works, painted 
it so." - 

The portrait of Kitty Fisher, with a parrot on her hand, was probably 
the one executed in 1759 ; " that small open mouth would have been 
too trifling for any other action than that of speaking to a parrot," is 
Lady Eastlake's comment ; while the presentment of Walpole is a replica 
of that painted, I believe, in 1756, and engraved by Merdell. The 
original picture was formerly in the Marquis of Hertford's collection ; 
the one here was executed for Mr. Grosvenor Bedford, from whose family 
it was purchased. 

Besides these, we find hanging on the walls of the Library, Pope 
by Jervas, and Flaxman by Jackson, General Middleton by Gainsborough, 
which, by-the-bye, was long thought to be a likeness of Benjamin Franklin ; 
and a portrait of an Italian architect, once erroneously supposed to 
represent Sansovino, who designed the Palazzo Cornaro at Venice, by 
Gior^ione. 



'&" 



In noting these various works I have, of course, only mentioned 
a few of the pictures in Lansdowne House ; but I have endeavoured to 
draw attention to those which seemed, for a variety of reasons, best worth 
notice. A complete catalogue ^ would have embraced the names of the 
chief exponents of the Italian, Dutch, and early English schools, as 
well as those of the contemporaries of the third Marquis, to whom he 
was so munificent a patron, such as Leslie and Calcott, Collins and 
Wilkie. Of the first named we have " Sir Roger de Coverley going to 

' See Leslie and Taylor's Lt/c of Reynolds. 

^ Ibid. Sterne sat in 1760. The picture was painted for Lord Ossory, and came into 
the possession of Lord Holland. It was purchased by Lord Lansdowne for 500 guineas. 

' The Private Catalogue of the pictures here and at Bowood has kindly been lent me by 
the Marquis of Lansdowne. In it are recorded over 350 pictures ; some of first-rate importance, 
and all having some points of artistic or intrinsic interest. 



286 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Church," a subject he had treated before for James Dunlop, and which 
he repeated at the request of his patron ; Calcott gives us a portrait of 
Lady Calcott, and a work entitled, " Shepherd Boys." Collins painted 
three pictures for Lord Lansdowne — his " Birdcatchers," in 1814; "The 
Saviour in the Temple," in 1840; and two years later the " Family about 
to leave their Native Shore " ; while Wilkie's " Sick Lady," executed in 
1809, was purchased for ;^I50, by the Marquis, who also became the 
possessor of a later work ; " Monks at Confession." The same painter 
executed, too, a portrait of Lady Lansdowne, a propos of which Haydon 
writes, in his Diary, for September 20, 1808 : " Wilkie breakfasted with 
me, on his return from Lord Lansdowne's, a portrait of whose lady he has 
brought home which is truly exquisite ; I had no idea of his being capable 
of so much : it gives me real pleasure." ^ 

Just as to-day Lansdowne House is famous as a political and social 
centre, so in the time of the third Marquis was it the meeting-place for 
the great and the brilliant. Abraham Hayward, who was one of its 
notable habitues, has left descriptions of the reunions here, and has 
affirmed how " the guests . . . were so selected that the host took care 
that all should share in the conversation, and when they were reassembled 
in the Drawing Room, he would adroitly coax them into groups, or 
devote himself for a minute or two carelessly and without effort to the 
most retiring or least known." 

The political history of this period contains the numberless names 
of those who gathered here to benefit by Lord Lansdowne's experience 
or to seek his valued advice. It would be tiresome, if easily practicable, 
to give them here ; but at least some of the literary notabilities who were 
honoured guests may be mentioned. Tom Moore was, of course, a 
constant visitor both here and at Bowood ; and his gentle spirit will hardly 
complain if I term him the " tame cat " of Lansdowne House. His 
Diary is full of references to dinners and dances at the ' palace ' in 
Berkeley Square, and we know that he did not disdain the pleasure pro- 
duced by reading in the next morning's paper that " the Marquis of 
Lansdowne entertained Mr. Thomas Moore and a number of other 
literary and scientific gentlemen at dinner at Lansdowne House " ! or on 
another occasion in being the only plain " mister " among the guests 
that included royalty downwards ! ^ 

Here, too, were to be met Allen, of Holland House fame ; Sydney 
Smith, who kept the table in a roar, and his hardly less amusing brother 
" Bobus " — " short, apt, and pregnant," as Moore terms him ; Luttrell 

' Some of these relatively modern works have now been removed to Bowood. 
" See references in his Diary, passim. 



LANSDOWNE HOUSE 287 

and Fonblanque ; Macaulay, of whose " range of knowledge anything 
may be believed " ; Rogers, with his sepulchral face and bitter tongue ; 
Hallam, who, as Rogers once said, fought (in argument) with Macaulay 
over him, " as if I was a dead body " ; Dickens in the reflected fame 
of his earUer works, and Head with the lesser glory of his more ephemeral 
" Bubbles " ; Schlegel agonising Rogers with his loud voice and " un- 
necessary use of it," and startling others by his egotism ; and Madame 
de Stael, a fitting female counterpart, taking her " premeditated stand," 
in the saloon, in order to attract attention. 

Montalembert has enunciated his mots in those rooms where Thiers 
has fallen asleep under the influence of Macaulay's swelling periods ; 
Payne Knight has given voice to a hazardous joke about Canova's recum- 
bent marble ; and Ticknor has met there, Lady Holland, " very gracious 
— or intending to be so." 

The list might be almost inexhaustibly continued ; but I think 
sufficient has been said to indicate what a number of remarkable men these 
rooms have seen ; what a wealth of great and witty sayings these walls 
have heard ; and what a broad mind must have been his who loved to 
gather together such diverse elements beneath his hospitable roof. 

Politics, painting, literature, and science we have seen to have occupied 
the catholic mind of the third Marquis ; music also held a place there, 
and Dr. Waagen records how " the concerts given by the Marquis in 
the splendid saloon offer a rare combination of attraction ; for, while 
the ear is beguiled with tones of the most enchanting music, the eye 
rests with increased pleasure alternately on the admirably lighted sculp- 
ture, and on the numerous specimens of English female beauty." 

Such, indeed, was the effect of this " concord of sweet sounds," that 
the critic devotes four pages to a discussion on German music, led to 
it by the esteem in which the masterpieces of this school were held at 
Lansdowne House. This reminds me that the first owner of Lansdowne 
House— Lord Bute — was also alive to the influence of music, and Jekyll 
told Moore, on one occasion, that there was once a project for placing 
an orchestra in an underground chamber from which pipes would conduct 
the tuneful sounds into any other room that might be desired. The 
third Lord Lansdowne, however, corrected this so far as the orchestra 
was concerned, stating that it was an organ that was to produce the music, 
but that the pipes were actually discovered, on some alterations being 
made to the mansion. 

The diaries and memoirs of the period during which Lansdowne 
House was a centre of social and political activity, are full of references 



2 88 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

to functions of various kinds, and the interesting people in all ranks 
of life who have at one time or another met under this hospitable 
roof. One or two examples may not be found uninteresting. Thus 
Ticknor, who saw so much during his sojourn in this country, and 
devoured with activity its great houses and its ever-surprising sights, 
notes, on March 28, 1838, being engaged to a party here, " where we 
found a very select party, made in honour of the Duchess of Gloucester, 
daughter of George III. . . . All the ministry were there . . . the 
Duke of Cambridge, the foreign ministers. Lord Jeffrey — just come 
to town — Lord and Lady Holland, the last of whom is rarely seen any- 
where except at home. . . . Lady Holland was very gracious, or intended 
to be so ; and Lord Holland was truly kind and agreeable." 

On April 2, Ticknor was again here, and has left, in his Diary, a 
particularly interesting vignette of the occasion : " We had," he writes, 
" to wait dinner a little for Lord Lansdowne, who, as President of the 
Council, had been detained in the House of Lords, fighting with Brougham, 
whom he pronounced to be more able and formidable than at any previous 
period of his life. Lord Lansdowne seemed in excellent spirits. Not so 
Lady Lansdowne. As she went into dinner, surrounded by the most 
beautiful monuments of the arts, and sat down with Canova's Venus 
behind her, she complained to me, naturally and sincerely, of the weari- 
ness of a London life. . . . But the table was brilliant. Senior is always 
agreeable, but, by the side of Sydney Smith and Jeffrey, of course he 
put in no claim ; and I must needs say, that when I saw Smith's free 
good-humour, and the delight with which everybody listened to him, I 
thought there were but small traces of the aristocratic oppression of 
which he had so complained in the morning. Lord Jeffrey, too, seemed 
to be full of good things and good sayings. . . . Fine talk it certainly 
was, often brilliant, always enjoyable. The subjects were Parliament 
and Brougham ; the theatre and Macready ; reviewing, a -profos of 
which the old reviewers hit one another hard ; the literature of the 
day, which was spoken of lightly ; Prescott's Ferdinand and Isabella, 
which Lord Lansdowne said he had bought from its reputation, and 
which Milman in his quiet way praised." And again in another entry, 
Ticknor speaks of the large parties in Berkeley Square, and of the host who 
seemed " more amiable and agreeable than ever," and who " enjoys a green 
old age, surrounded with the respect of all, even of those most opposed 
to him in politics." 

But it is, of course, Moore who gives us the most frequent peeps 
into the vie intime of Lansdowne House, and the references in his Diary 
are both interesting and valuable because they tell us the names of 



LANSDOWNE HOUSE 289 

many of the most illustrious guests who were wont to assemble here. 
Thus we read, on May 23, 1829: "Dined at Lansdowne House — 
company, Baring and Lady Harriet, the Carlisles, the Lord Chancellor 
and Lady Lyndhurst, Lord Dudley, &c. Sat next to the Chancellor, 
and found him very agreeable." Again, on June 27, 1830: " With Lord 
Lansdowne again to meet a large party, Lord Grey, Brougham, the 
Carlisles, the Hollands, Sec. &c. The dinner afterwards made some 
noise in the newspapers, being represented foolishly as a reconciliation 
dinner to Lord Grey." J propos of this feast, Moore notes the next 
day that " though the dinner was not quite of so prononcS a character 
as the papers would have it, there is no doubt it made a part of a mutual 
movement towards a renewal of old friendship that has taken place 
between the parties." On another occasion Moore meets Lord Dudley, 
noted for his eccentricities, among a crowd of notable guests here ; as 
the poet sat next to him, he was able more particularly to note " his 
mutterings to himself ; his fastidious contemplation of what he had on 
his plate, occasionally pushing about the meat with his fingers, and 
uttering low-breathed criticisms upon it," which denotes, as Moore 
remarks, that " all is on the verge of insanity." At another time, the 
poet dines here in company with Macaulay and Schlegel and Rogers, and 
notes that the latter suffered " manifest agony from the German's loud 
voice " ; and is pleased that Macaulay's universal knowledge and astounding 
memory was able to confirm his assertion that Voltaire's, " superflu, chose 
si necessaire," was suggested by a passage in Pascal's Lettres Provinciales ; 
and so on and so on ! 

Indeed from Moore and Creevey to Greville and Ticknor, there is 
hardly a journal which can be ransacked without some interesting refer- 
ence to this great house and its hospitable owners being found. Those 
" cool, grand apartments," as Lady Eastlake called them, have been 
the scene of so many notable gatherings that one despairs of doing 
justice to a theme which lends itself to so many ramifications. The 
brilliant lady whose words I have just quoted, has left an account of 
a great concert here, when hardly less than 2000 guests, among whom 
were several members of the Royal Family, enjoyed that combination of 
the arts for which Lansdowne House has always been celebrated, and 
which was the dominant note in the character of the third Marquis. 

Politics have been as indissolubly connected with Lansdowne House as 
have music and painting ; and here was held the first Cabinet Council of Lord 
Grey's Administration ; at which meeting it was resolved that Brougham 
should be asked to fill the office of Lord Chancellor. How many hardly 
less important meetings have not been assembled here, or what matters 

T 



2 go THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

of State import have not been discussed within its walls, from the time 
when the acknowledged head of the Whig party was here to be found 
surrounded by the treasures which his large-minded enthusiasm had 
brought together, prodigal of his experience and talents in the service 
of his country ; to our own day when his descendant, the present Marquis 
of Lansdowne, fills, and has filled, posts as onerous and distinguished as 
did the third Marquis, and has in them all displayed that courtesy, that 
discretion, and those splendid abilities which appear to be the dominant 
characteristics of his line ! 



CHAPTER XIV 
LONDONDERRY HOUSE 

PARK LANE has long been a synonym for wealth and influence. 
The magnificent houses that succeed one another from Picca- 
dilly to Oxford Street, the beauty of their outlook on to the 
Park, and the value of their artistic treasures, all combine to 
give it this distinctive characteristic ; and it is a long cry from its present 
fashionable fame to the days when, as Tyburn Lane, it led to that fatal 
tree which was the last stage in the life of many a malefactor. 

This thoroughfare, as the world knows, is full of splendid, and in some 
cases historically interesting residences ; of these, besides Londonderry 
House, I deal in this volume with two, Grosvenor House and Dorchester 
House, but there are others which, although not lending themselves to 
detailed treatment, require a word or two ; and this seems the most 
convenient and appropriate place in which to say it. 

Of recent years Park Lane has had its share of rebuilding as much 
as any other part of the West End ; but instead of rows of houses or 
blocks of flats, here have risen several palatial residences which have 
thrown somewhat into the shade the smaller houses adjacent to them. 
Of these, three are particularly noticeable, and curiously enough they 
all cluster together, viz. No. 25, now the residence of Sir Edward 
Sassoon ; No. 26, till recently the property of the late Mr. Alfred Beit, 
and Stanhope House, belonging to Mr. R. W. Hudson. 

The first was built by the late Mr. Barney Barnato, who, in the 
heyday of his prosperity, commenced the erection of it on a piece of 
ground whose formation necessitated a somewhat shallow building with 
an unusually long frontage to Park Lane. In the original scheme of 
design statues at various points were introduced, to add, I suppose, 
decorative effect to the building — a result they hardly attained ; before, 
however, the place was completed Mr. Barnato died on his way from 
South Africa, and some time afterwards Sir Edward Sassoon bought the 
unfinished mansion, and completed it ; and wisely, as it seems, caused 
the statues and other decorative excrescences to be removed, thus giving 

dignity to a building that once threatened to want it. The mansion 

291 



292 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

stands at the corner of Stanhope Street, and is thus within a stone's 
throw of Chesterfield House ; so that a comparison is easy between the 
architectural qualifications of the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries 
as applied to great mansions. There will be, I think, little doubt as 
to which excels in beauty and dignity. 

Stanhope House is another of the great mansions in this quarter 
which have been the outcome of commercial success ; it is thoroughly 
mediaeval in treatment, and is not only an interesting, but most successful 
experiment in this style, and is obviously beautifully built ; of course, 
in such a milieu it may seem rather out of place, but this is an almost 
inevitable result in a city like London, where architecture has borrowed 
a hundred styles and mixed them all ; and in this, too, Stanhope House 
is kept in countenance by No. 26 Park Lane, which was erected by the 
late Mr. Alfred Beit, in the manner of an old English country house, 
built with stone on which the lichen seems already to have almost taken 
its hold, and which only requires Park Lane to be turned into a moat 
to make still more realistic. A splendid winter garden, in defiance of 
chronology, is attached to the house. Mr. Beit, who died two years ago, 
had filled this residence with a wonderful collection of pictures, among 
which was that masterpiece of Sir Joshua's, " Lady Cockburn and her 
Children," which once hung in the National Gallery, but which, as the 
result of legal action, had to be returned to its former possessors. When, 
in course of time, it was offered for sale, Mr. Beit became its owner at 
an enormous price, and on his death he left it to the nation ; so that 
it can again be seen by all the world in its permanent home in Trafalgar 
Square. 

Among other great houses in Park Lane, I must mention Dudley 
House, now the residence of Mr. J. B. Robinson, but formerly the town 
house of the late Earl of Dudley, whose crest and coronet may still be 
seen on the front of it. Here lived and died the eccentric Earl of Dudley 
(so created in 1827), whose absence of mind and habit of " thinking aloud " 
were responsible for numberless good stories, and whose gastronomic 
propensities were at one time famous. Some one once said of him that he 
was a man " who promised much, did little, and died mad," but Madame 
de Stael averred that " he was the only man of sentiment she had met in 
England." In Dudley House, he collected some fine pictures, chiefly of 
the Italian schools, which Waagen saw in 1835, and described with 
enthusiasm. The Earl died in 1833, and the late Lord Dudley added 
greatly to the collection, spending immense sums on the acquisition of 
perfect examples of art, not only as regards pictures, of which the 
assemblage brought together here was, as Lady Eastlake says, of the 



LONDONDERRY HOUSE 293 

finest description, but also china and bric-a-brac ; giving on one occasion 
no less than ^10,000 for that wonderful Sevres Garniture de Chemifiee, 
which had once been at Croonie Abbey, Lord Coventry's place in 
Worcestershire. 

After Lord Dudley's death, ninety-one of the most remarkable 
pictures from his collection were sold at Christie's, on June 25, 1892, 
among them being Raphael's " La Vierge a la Legende," said once to have 
been in Charles L's gallery; and the master's famous "Crucifixion," fully 
described by Passavant and Waagen ; besides a Hobbema of transcendent 
merit. 

Next to Dudley House is another of the large mansions in Park Lane, 
Brook House, which was designed by T. H. Wyatt, and was for many 
years the residence of Lord Tweedmouth, and one of the political centres 
of London. Lord .Tweedmouth gave it up some years ago, and to-day 
it belongs to Sir Ernest Cassell. 

Nearly every house in Park Lane has more or less of interest attached 
to it ; but this is not the place to say anything about the memorable 
people who have lived here, except where they happen to be associated with 
one of the larger mansions which are dotted down it ; let us therefore, 
after this rather lengthy excursus, turn our attention to one of the most 
interesting of these great mansions, now known as Londonderry House, 
but, at an earlier date, called Holdernesse House. True, its exterior 
is not elaborate, but, with its double frontage to Hertford Street and 
Park Lane, it has an air of solid dignity, rather restful after some of the 
flamboyant characteristics of more modern erections in this thoroughfare, 
and its interior is extraordinarily fine, and is surprising to those seeing 
it for the first time and only able to estimate its potentialities by the 
exterior. 

Some of the great London houses indicate by their outward appear- 
ance their internal size and magnificence, and those who know the 
exteriors of Montagu House, Stafford House, Bridgewater House, and 
Dorchester House, will readily realise that within they have the spacious 
attributes of palaces as well as the magnificence ; but others give no 
such indication, and in this respect are like the majority of the better 
London residences, in that they are much more commodious within 
than they can be judged to be from their outward appearance. London- 
derry House is one of these, for although, as we look at it from 
Hertford Street or Park Lane, it is Httle more than a large residence, its 
interior arrangements are on a scale of size and splendour which bring it 
well within the scope of those private palaces about which I am writing. 

As in nearly all the great houses of London, Londonderry House has 



I 



294 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

been as associated with well-known names in the past as it is to-day. It 
took its earlier title of Holdernesse House from the fact of its then 
being the town residence of the D'Arcys, Earls of Holdernesse. The 
last peer of this line died in 1778, and the present house was built 
on the site of the former residence, in or about the year 1850, from 
the designs of S. & B. Wyatt, the architects. When we see the 
treasures of ancient sculpture preserved in the Great Gallery here, it seems 
appropriate that the site of the place should have formerly been identified 
with one who, as an early member of the Society of Dilettanti, helped 
to do much towards the investigation and preservation of those relics 
of antiquity which might otherwise have been lost for ever. When, 
too, we remember that Lord Holdernesse was a statesman, and was also, 
with his wife a daughter of Sieur Doublet a noble of Holland, closely 
identified with the fashionable life of his day, it is also appropriate 
that their one-time residence should now be in the hands of a member 
of a family so closely connected with the political activity of a later time, 
and presided over by a lady who has for so long been one of the 
acknowledged leaders of society. 

The history of the mansion between the period of Lord Holdernesse's 
tenancy and that of the third Marquis of Londonderry who was residing 
here in the original house in 1836, is somewhat obscure, but it would 
seem that the latter purchased the property from Lord Holdernesse, some- 
where between the years 1830 and 1835, and that about four years before 
his death in 1854, he rebuilt the house, as we have seen, practically as it 
remains to-day. 

Lord Londonderry, who married twice — first Lady Catherine Bligh, 
daughter of the third Earl of Darnley, who died in 181 2; and secondly, 
in 1 8 19, Lady Frances Anne, daughter and heiress of Sir Henry Vane- 
Tempest and Anne, Countess of Antrim, who survived him — died in 
1854. He was a distinguished soldier, indeed one of Wellington's ablest 
companions in arms in the Peninsular, as well as during the campaigns 
of 1814-15, in which the power of Napoleon was finally overthrown ; 
he was also an eminent diplomatist, and among other offices, filled that 
of Ambassador to Vienna ; while his half-brother, the second Marquis, 
was the well-known politician, who, as Lord Castlereagh, did so much 
to crush the ambition of the " Corsican upstart," as it was then the 
fashion to call the greatest man of the time. 

The third Marquis was succeeded by his son, who died in 1884, and 
who was in turn succeeded by his son, the present Marquis, who married 
in 1875, Lady Theresa Talbot, daughter of the tenth Earl of Shrewsbury. 

The present Lord Londonderry's name is as well known in the political 



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LONDONDERRY HOUSE 295 

world as is that of Lady Londonderry in the world of fashion and phil- 
anthropy ; and it is a question whether the topographer of the future 
will have more to say about Londonderry House as a political centre, 
than as the spot where so much has been done to forward good causes 
and to alleviate suffering and distress. 

To those who know only the exterior of Londonderry House, the 
grand staircase which leads to the principal rooms will be a revelation ; 
the massive columns which flank its entrance, and easy flight of steps 
with its elaborate balustrade, which brings us to the commencement of 
its double ascent, gives us the idea of the magnificent atrium of some 
Roman palace ; and the great reception rooms on the principal floor 
are in size commensurate with the ample proportions of this fine stair- 
case, although when we enter them we seem to be skipping innumerable 
centuries, and at a bound to have passed from ancient Italy to the France 
of the eighteenth century. 

All these rooms communicate, and thus on occasions of great balls 
and receptions, the guests can pass from one to another without having 
to meet in those eddying throngs which make such functions in less 
ample houses a thing of terror for the gowns of fashion, and a pitfall 
for swords and spurs. Of these great apartments the state Drawing 
Rooms leading one from another are the chief ; here elaborately painted 
and decorated ceilings look down on a collection of beautiful furniture and 
priceless china, where the East and the West seem to have been ransacked 
to add splendour to the whole ; and where great mirrors reflect over 
again the riches assembled in endless profusion. Here hang the fuU- 
length portraits of the second and third Marquises of Londonderry, 
by Lawrence ; in fact the chief note of the rooms is the series of pictures 
from the brush of this once fashionable painter, who is also responsible 
for the portraits of two great ladies — Sarah, Countess of Shrewsbury, 
nee Lady Sarah Beresford, daughter of Henry, second Marquis of Water- 
ford, who was married to the eighteenth Earl of Shrewsbury in 1828 ; 
and Frances Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, who, as I have 
before noted, was the second wife of the third Marquis of Londonderry. 

Here are also Viscount Castlereagh, and Lady Portarlington as a child, 
both by Lawrence ; and above all the painter's exquisite and famous portrait 
of Lady Castlereagh,' executed with a verve and freedom of touch worthy 
of Romney, and a beauty of colouring which we associate with the incom- 
parably greater genius of Gainsborough. Lawrence was notoriously the 
most unequal of artists, and many of his wooden mannerisms are 
' It was engraved by H. T. Greenhead in 1896. 



296 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

astonishingly bad for one who could on occasion do really fine work ; in 
this magnificent portrait, however, he seems to have thrown off the shackles 
of his usual convention, and to have produced a genuine masterpiece. 

In the Drawing Room there also hangs a portrait of Pitt by Hoppner, 
and in the small ante-room at the end, a full-length in pastel of the 
present Lady Londonderry by Roberts ; besides which there are here, 
as in other parts of the house, many objects of historic interest and 
intrinsic value, some of which were presents from the allied Sovereigns 
to the third Marquis. 

Lady Londonderry's Boudoir is noticeable for two things ; the 
superb partly domed ceiling, in which the details of carving and 
decoration might alone afford material for many pages of description ; 
and the extraordinarily fine collection of china which, in the form of 
plates, hangs on the walls, and in that of countless vases and figures, 
helps to decorate the already elaborately decorated cabinets that contain 
them. The whole effect is one of dazzling beauty, and makes this probably 
one of the most charming boudoirs in London. The general effect of 
the soft colouring, gros bleu and rose du barri, of the china, harmonises 
with the tints of the silk hangings and furniture coverings, and gives 
something of an exotic effect to a room whose windows look out on to 
the grey vista of Park Lane and the green of the Park beyond. 

Another room which contains a few pictures of merit is the Ante- 
Room communicating with the Drawing Room. Here hang a " St. 
John " by Andrea del Sarto ; and a " Virgin and Child " ascribed to John 
Bellini ; a " Holy Family " by Francia ; as well as a " Virgin and Child " 
attributed to Bernard van Orlay, or Bernard of Brussels, as he is 
sometimes called. 

The Great Gallery, used on special occasions as a Ball Room, is a 
very fine apartment, lighted from above by a skylight that runs its entire 
length. Its decorations are heavily carved and richly gilded, and in 
niches in the walls stand beautiful pieces of sculpture, noticeable among 
them being Canova's graceful "Dancing Girl," and his fine "Venus," both 
famous works of art. Among the portraits that hang here are full- 
lengths of the Czars Alexander I., Nicholas I., and Alexander II., of 
George IV., and Wellington, and of the second Marquis of Londonderry; 
and a head of Napoleon III. is placed over one of the doors. 

At that end of the room which opens on to the staircase, is Mr. 
Sargent's fine full-length portrait of the present Marquis of London- 
derry, as he appeared at the Coronation of King Edward VII., in his 
robes, and bearing the Sword of State, which was exhibited at the Royal 
Academy a few years ago. 



LONDONDERRY HOUSE 297 

On the landing which forms a kind of vestibule to the Gallery, hang 
two interesting pictures representing Wellington surrounded by his 
Generals, Combermere, Picton, Beresford, and the rest ; in one of which 
figures the third Marquis of Londonderry, equally notable as a soldier 
and a statesman. 

Lord Londonderry's Study, a long room divided midway by pillars, 
is essentially a working room, crowded with the thousand and one objects 
which have solely a personal interest, and which would preclude any 
detailed notice in a work such as this, were these things not surrounded 
by others of more general interest, such as French furniture and pictures 
and candelabra that help to carry the mind back to that great period 
of French decorative art when the consummate Riesener and the great 
Gouthi^re made artistic every utilitarian object which they touched. 
Here, among many evidences of homely twentieth-century comfort, one 
is transported by beautiful cabinets and elaborate chandeliers to France 
and its gorgeous eighteenth century ; and a portrait of the great Napoleon 
carries us from that artistic period to one that seemed in taste and 
the changed outlook on life to be removed hundreds of years from it. 

The windows of the Study look out on to Hertford Street, and con- 
sequently the room is dark and somewhat sombre compared to those 
that receive the full light of the Park and the wide thoroughfare which 
divides the house from it ; such as, for instance, the Dining Room, from 
the windows of which one can gaze on to the fountain at the junction of 
Hamilton Place and Park Lane, where Chaucer and Shakespeare and 
Spenser are surmounted by a gilded Fame. 

In this latter room the dominant note of dead white is relieved by a few 
interesting pictures ; characteristic works by Canaletto and Wouvermanns, 
Guardi and Van der Cappella, hanging next to portraits of Napoleon L 
by Le Fevre, and George HL by Sir William Beechey ; and there is also 
a small and quite delightful little picture of Sir Henry Vane-Tempest 
by Stroehling. 

There is another large Dining Room at the back of the house, con- 
structed, I believe, by the third Marquis, which is occasionally used for 
ball suppers and such like entertainments, for which it is admirably fitted, 
as it lights up well ; otherwise it is a dark room, and thus only appro- 
priate for nocturnal festivities ; but when the table groans beneath the 
weight of some of Lord Londonderry's splendid silver-gilt racing trophies, 
such as, for instance, that won by the famous " Hambletonian," at 
Doncaster, in 1796, and the lights of the room are reflected in their 
dazzling surfaces, then it presents a scene of splendour, as it did when 



298 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the King of Spain was entertained here, which LucuUus might have 
envied and Petronius described. 

In spite of the magnificence of its interior, Londonderry House 
is essentially home-like, and what is termed " comfortable," and its 
splendid rooms with their massive and rich decorations are, perhaps, the 
less noticeable, because the eye is attracted by so many objects of 
personal interest. 

The pictures hanging on the walls are, too, compared with such 
wondrous collections as those at Bridgewater House, Stafford House, or 
Grosvenor House, to mention but these, of relatively small account, 
but set side by side with the pictorial contents of many other more 
ambitious dwellings, they fully hold their own in interest and value ; 
and when the importance of the family which has been for so many 
years now identified with the mansion is considered ; when the notable 
gatherings which have so often taken place within its walls are remembered, 
Londonderry House properly takes its place among those great mansions 
which are at once the pride and wonder of London. 




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CHAPTER XV 
MONTAGU HOUSE 

HAD the magnificent conception of Inigo Jones been carried 
into effect, the glories of Whitehall would have more than 
rivalled those of the Louvre. Drawings are extant which 
show the splendour of the great architect's scheme ; but the 
civil wars, culminating with that " two-handled engine " which Milton 
refers to in " Lycidas," supervened, and with the death of the first 
art-discerning ruler of this country ended all chance of that great monu- 
ment of taste and judgment being completed ; the beautiful relic of 
the Banqueting Hall being the sole survivor of a building which, had it 
been completed, would have more than equalled in size and beauty all 
the present Government offices put together.^ 

But notwithstanding the failure of this scheme, old Whitehall was 
of immense size and importance ; in fact, according to Pennant, its river 
frontage extended from old Parliament Street to Scotland Yard on one 
side of Whitehall, and as far as Spring Gardens on the other ; and a 
drawing by Kip, showing the Palace as it was in 17 14, clearly indicates 
the extensive area it covered, and also, it must be confessed, the want 
of uniformity in the various buildings which composed it. 

The history of Whitehall has been specifically treated by Mr. Loftie 
and Canon Edgar Sheppard, besides occupying a large portion of the 
innumerable histories of London which the industry of topographers, 
from Stow and Pennant to Cunningham and Besant, has given us, and 
there is no need for me to here amplify what has been already so carefully 
recorded, but I have thus incidentally referred to it, as on a part of its 
site stood old Montagu House, the precursor of the splendid mansion 
with which I am now dealing. 

The exact relative positions of the palace and Montagu House are 
well defined in a plan, published by the London Topographical Society 

' It is interesting to see that the conception of a circular inner court, which is one of the 
features of the new Local Government Board buildings, was anticipated by Inigo Jones. 

299 



300 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

in 1900, and based on the old print of Whitehall as it was in 1681/ taken 
by John Fisher and engraved by Vertue. By this plan it will be seen 
that Montagu House occupies the site of various lodgings in the palace 
which were formerly allocated to Prince Rupert, Sir Edward Walker, the 
Prince of Wales, the Earl of Lauderdale, and Mrs. Kirk; and the front 
portion facing Whitehall, stands on part of that ample Privy Garden 
which extended more than half-way across the present thoroughfare, 
where once stood the sun-dial on which Andrew Marvell wrote a severe 
epigram, and where, on a celebrated occasion, honest Pepys saw " the finest 
smocks and linen petticoats " belonging to Lady Castlemaine fluttering 
in the wind ; which it did him good to look at ! ^ 

It will thus be seen that no other private residence in London occupies 
such an historic site as does the mansion of the Duke of Buccleuch ; for 
besides the ghosts of Carolean days that haunt this spot, it must also 
be remembered that so early as 1240, Hubert de Burgh built a large 
dwelling here, which at that time was called " More," and was situated 
between the Hospital of St. James, and the moor or marsh then in 
the possession of John Chancellor, as Smith, in his Antiquities of West- 
minster, tells us. The place having subsequently become the property 
of the Preaching or Black Friars, that fraternity sold it to Walter de 
Grey, Archbishop of York, from whose day till the fall of Wolsey it was 
the ofiicial residence of the holders of that See. York Place, as it was 
then called, owed its chief glory to the magnificent conception of the 
great Cardinal on whose fall in 1529, it came into the possession of 
Henry VHL ; and from this time till the fire which practically demolished 
it in 1698, it was the chief royal residence in London. 

Without attempting to fill up this outHne, it will, I think, be sufficient, 
to enable the imagination to rehabilitate the life of four centuries, and 
to people the site of Montagu House with a crowd of historical personages. 
Hubert de Burgh, the great champion of civil rights ; the princely priest 
with his liveried army ; the burly monarch who concentrated in his 
person all the great qualities and grave defects of the Tudors ; the " fair 
virgin throned in the west " who inherited those great qualities ; the 
martyr-king who lost his throne and his life for an idea ; and the merry 
monarch who was perhaps too clever as well, maybe, as too indolent to 
run the risk of losing either. These, with the crowd of notable personages 
surrounding them, may well be conjured up, as we stand on the spot 
where they once moved and had their being. But we are rather now 

1 This has been ingeniously done by superimposing the outlines of the palace on a current 
Ordnance Survey. 

" Diary, May 21, 1662. 



MONTAGU HOUSE 301 

concerned with the house that arose on the site of the old palace, than 
with the illustrious ones who peopled the latter. 

Almost twenty years after the fire which destroyed the whole of the 
palace with the exception of the Banqueting Hall and some unimportant 
buildings adjoining it, and devoured those pictures and furniture which 
Evelyn bemoans in his diary, Robert, Viscount Molesworth, obtained a 
lease for a term of thirty-one years from 1719, of a small piece of ground 
having about seventy feet frontage with a depth of ten feet ; five years 
later Colonel Charles Churchill also obtained a lease of another piece of 
land adjoining on the south, and thus lying between Lord Molesworth's 
acquisition and the river ; the extent of the whole, together with, as we 
shall see, a further portion, being practically equivalent to the site which 
Montagu House and its grounds now occupy. 

It would appear that soon after, both these leases became vested in 
John, second Duke of Montagu, for, in 1731, we find him petitioning 
for an extension of them and also for a fresh lease of additional land 
adjoining. These extensions he obtained for a further term of thirty- 
one years, and immediately began the erection of old Montagu House, 
which appears to have been completed two years later, as it was then 
valued at /^200 per annum. A drawing is preserved in the British Museum 
showing the old house as it appeared in 1825, and from this we can see 
how, commodious though it was, it fell short of the splendid palace which 
was to replace it.^ The stables are shown adjoining it to the east, and 
it was for the accommodation of these buildings that the Duke petitioned 
for a lease of the piece of ground on which they stood, in 1733, in which 
year he also obtained a fresh lease of the whole property for fifty years. 
On the south-west side of the house, as shown in the drawing, are obvious 
additions to the main structure, and it was probably with a view to their 
erection that the Duke again applied for another lease of certain land 
" lately used as a Passage to the water side," at which time he also 
petitioned for a lease of some of the foreshore " where," as the memorial 
quaintly phrases it, " quantityes of mudd and filth of all kinds collect 
and settle, to the great nuisance and damage of your memorialist, whose 
habitation is thereby rendered, after all the expense he hath been at, 
very unwholesome." ^ 

The Duke of Montagu, who made these various applications for the 
improvement of his property, and whose portrait by Kneller bears out 
the remark of Stukeley that " his aspect was grand, manly, and full of 

> The fine view of Whitehall by Canaletto, which now hangs in Montagu House, shows 
the old residence on the right hand. This picture used to be at Dalkeith, where Waagen saw 
it, and described it as "very interesting." 

- Quoted in The Uld I'alacc of Whitehall, by the Rev. Canon Sheppard. 



302 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

dignity," ^ died in 1749, ^^'^ ^°^ ^ ^^"^^ ^^^ Crown seems to have enjoyed 
a not unmerited rest from further appHcations for renewal of leases. 
However in 1767 the Duke's executors bestirred themselves, and obtained, 
in the following year, a new reversionary lease of all the premises com- 
prised in the former leases on behalf, in trust, of Mary, Countess of 
Cardigan, the Duke's daughter and heiress, whose husband was created, 
in 1766, Duke of Montagu, and who, on the death of his father-in-law in 
1749, had assumed the name and arms of Montagu. This Duke, who 
died in 1790, left only one child (EHzabeth) surviving at his death, who 
became Duchess of Buccleuch, having married in 1767 the third Duke 
of Buccleuch and fifth Duke of Queensberry ; and she, under the will 
of her grandfather, John, had a life interest in the house and grounds, 
which thus, through her, passed to their present ducal owner. In 1 8 10, 
a sixty-one years' lease of the whole was granted to Henry, Duke of 
Buccleuch, which lease, however, was surrendered in 1855, and fifteen 
years later a fresh one for ninety-nine years was granted ; the fifth Duke 
having begun the erection of Montagu House, which is to-day one of 
the most imposing of the private palaces of London, in 1858. 

William Burn, the architect of the mansion, chose as his leading motif 
that French Renaissance style which is so particularly effective where ample 
space is available for its proper development, and which so well harmonises 
with surrounding buildings when they are, as is here the case, constructed 
of stone ; the mansarde roof which has been most unjustly stigmatised 
as an architectural absurdity, adds dignity to the building, and helps to 
give its elevation an importance which, in consequence of the lower 
level of the ground on which the house is built, would hardly have been 
attained by any other scheme of architecture. 

An interesting circumstance connected with the erection of Montagu 
House is the fact that when the original edifice was pulled down, 
practically the whole of the materials was ground down and formed 
into concrete for the foundations of the new house, and thus helped 
with other elaborate methods to make it water-tight ; a necessary pre- 
caution, when it is remembered that in those days the Embankment 
was not formed, and the tides of the adjacent river were even less under 
control than they are at present ; added to which, two streams formerly 
ran from this spot to the ornamental water in St. James's Park, the closing 

' It was apropos of the will of this Diike that Walpole thus writes to Montagu on July 20, 
1 749 : " There are two codicils, one in favour of his servants, the other of his dogs, cats, 
and creatures, which was a little unnecessary, for Lady Cardigan has exactly his turn for 
saving everj'thing's life. As he \vas making the codicil, one of his cats jumped on his knee. 
'What,' says he, 'have you a mind to be a witness, too ! You can't, for you are a party 
concerned.'" 



MONTAGU HOUSE 303 

of which caused some of the adjacent residences in Whitehall to crack 
badly. 

Of the many noble houses which at one time clustered together on 
this spot, Montagu House is the only one that survives, in its recon- 
structed form, as the town house of the family with which it has always 
been identified. As we have seen, in a former chapter, Richmond House 
has disappeared altogether, and Richmond Terrace stands on its site ; 
Portland House has long since passed away, as has Carrington House to 
make room for the new War Office buildings, while Holdernesse House 
and Pembroke House, to mention but these, have been metamorphosed 
into subsidiary Government offices. Montagu House alone stands in 
solitary glory, the most easterly of those great houses which form one of 
the most dignified features of London. When the fifth Duke obtained 
his long lease, he was bound by its conditions to spend ^20,000 on the 
house he was to erect, but although the stone for its construction was 
brought straight from Portland by water and landed on the garden side of 
the building, where the Embankment now runs, and thus a large saving in 
freightage effected, the total cost amounted to nearly five times that sum ! 

The interior, both in decoration and contents, is fully commensurate 
with its outward appearance, and shows that not only was money lavishly 
expended on its beautification, but that consummate taste and judgment 
were also exercised. Five great rooms : the Drawing Room, the Ball 
Room, the Dining Room, the Saloon, and the Duke's Sitting Room, are 
particularly noticeable, not only for the beauty of their ceilings, which 
are alone things of joy in themselves, but also on account of the splendid 
furniture, the exquisite porcelain, as well as those masterpieces in half-a- 
dozen arts which we are accustomed to call objets d'art, probably because 
their ■provhiance is principally from the land of BouUe and Riesener, 
Pigalle and Gouthi^re, and also because, although our country is so rich 
in their possession, we have not yet coined a word that seems to logically 
suffice for their description as a whole. But the chief importance of the 
collection which is contained in Montagu House consists in its wonderful 
Vandycks and its incomparable series of miniatures. 

The Duke's Sitting Room contains several portraits of particular 
interest, and there also hang on the walls four landscapes by Zuccarelli 
of great merit, as well as two by Jacques Courtois, both portraying those 
cavalry engagements in the pictorial description of which this painter 
was so happy ; Guido Reni is represented by " The Magdalen," arrayed 
in loose pink drapery ; and there are two Italian landscapes by Jan 
Asselin. The portraits include a head and shoulders of Sir Ralph 
Winwood, whose collection of State documents is a standard authority 



304 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

for the reigns of Elizabeth and her two successors, by Mierevelt ; and a 
presentment of himself by John Riley, whom Walpole calls " one of the 
best native painters that has flourished in England," who, had he possessed 
a quarter of Kneller's vanity, " might have persuaded the world he was 
as great a master," and who lies buried in Bishopsgate Church. Another 
portrait of a painter hanging in this room is that of himself by Furini, 
who, in his more characteristic work, is said to have combined the beauty 
of Guido with the grace of Albano. From Lely's hand is a head and 
bust of the Duke of Monmouth, while Robert Walker is responsible for 
a " kit-cat " picture of the Protector, who employed him not infrequently 
to portray his coarse features ; but a greater than Walker is here in the 
person of William Dobson, of whom there are two works ; one a portrait 
of Hobbes ; the other that of George Gordon, second Marquis of 
Huntly. Dobson, who succeeded Vandyck as Sergeant Painter to the 
King, accompanied Charles I. to Oxford during the civil wars, and there 
painted portraits of him and several of the nobility, among whom may 
have been the subject of this latter picture, who we know was a devoted 
royalist. 

There is also here a remarkably fine portrait, by Beechy, of the Duke 
of Montagu in the Windsor uniform and wearing the star of the Garter, 
as well as a life-size picture of the fifth Duke of Buccleuch, represented 
as sitting in this very room, by Knighton Warren ; but the gems of the 
apartment are from the hands of Reynolds and Gainsborough. Sir 
Joshua's canvas represents Lady Elizabeth Montagu, Duchess of Buccleuch, 
daughter of the Duke of Montagu, and wife of the third Duke of Buccleuch. 
She is represented in old age, seated and wearing a dress of grey silk, 
with a shawl hanging over her arms. The picture is one of the few signed 
by the painter, and bears his initials and the date, 1755, upon it. Lady 
Elizabeth must have been one of the hundred and twenty people who 
sat to Reynolds in this year, a year when his fame was increasing by leaps 
and bounds ; but curiously enough her name does not appear in his list 
of sitters. By Gainsborough, is the portrait of Lady Mary Montagu, 
daughter of the second Duke of Montagu, and afterwards wife of the 
Earl of Cardigan, created Duke of Montagu, in 1766, whose portrait by 
Beechy I have just mentioned. 

In the Duchess's Boudoir hang several interesting pictures, notably 
two portraits, male and female, by Pourbus the elder ; and particularly 
a work by one of the many followers of Holbein, Penne or Toto or Horne- 
band, who were all in Henry VHL's employment, representing the King, 
Edward, Prince of Wales, and the Princesses Mary and Elizabeth, with the 
inevitable Will Somers, the jester, in the background. 




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MONTAGU HOUSE 305 

But it is in the Drawing Room, the Ante-Room, the Gallery, 
the West Drawing Room, and the Pink Sitting Room, that the bulk of 
the Duke's collection hangs. In the first-named apartment there are 
twenty-two pictures, among which are three Rembrandts and a Rubens 
of supreme beauty and interest. Of the Rembrandts, that of Saskia, the 
artist's first wife, whom he frequently painted, was formerly in the 
collection of the Due de Tallard, and not until Mr. M'Kay, junior, 
discovered the signature of Rembrandt, and the date 1653 upon it, at the 
bottom left-hand corner of the canvas, was it known to be a signed and 
dated picture, which, perhaps, accounts for IVIichel's silence concerning it. 
It is a gloriously luminous work ; and the elaborate dress worn by Saskia 
has enabled the artist to indulge in some of those rich golden tones for 
which he was unsurpassed. Rembrandt's portrait of himself shows him 
in nearly front view, and wearing a dark velvet cap and a brown cloak ; 
it is signed, and dated 1659, ^^'^ ^^^ been engraved by Earlom and 
described by Smith ; ^ while the third work of this master is the portrait 
of his mother, painted probably in 1655, and engraved by M'Ardell. 
Michel refers to it simply as a portrait of an old woman, and conjectures 
the date of its production to be 1657. 

Rubens is here represented by one of his glorious but not very common 
landscapes, and known as " The Watering-place," which once belonged to 
Tallard, and was sold in 1756 for ;^400. It is a fine example of the 
painter's command of breadth and tone, and is one of those pictures to 
which engraving can hardly do justice, although Van Uden, Brookshaw, 
and Brown have each tried their hand at it. Although there are other 
fine landscapes hanging in this room by such masters of the art as Caspar 
Poussin, Claude, Jan Both, and Van der Heyden, Rubens's canvas stands out 
conspicuously from among them for dignity of handling and richness of tone. 

Of the works by the Italian school there is a " Virgin and Child " by 
Garofalo, and another by a little known painter, Lattanzio Maniardi, a 
pupil of the Carracci ; as well as others by Mario Nuzzi, called Mario da 
Fiori from his love of, and success in, depicting flower pieces, and Sebastian 
Bourdon, Leonardo, and Carrucci, commonly called Pontormo ; and 
there is a monochrome by Andrea Mantegna, representing " The Cumaean 
Sybil offering the Prophetic Leaves to Tarquin." 

The Dutch masters represented in this room include William Van 
der Velde, with two pictures respectively of "Vessels in a Gale," and 
" Dutch Men-of-war in a Calm," signed W. V. V. ; David Teniers, the 
younger ; two characteristic Wouvermanns ; and a beautiful Cuyp, of 
a canal scene, with barges preparing to sail. 

' Catalogue raisonne, vol. vii. p. 88. 

U 



3o6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

The catholicity of taste observable in the Drawing Room is also 
to be found among the pictures in the Ante-Room. Here the Italian, 
Spanish, Dutch, and Flemish schools are represented, and here, too, hangs 
Sir Godfrey Kneller's portrait of John, Duke of Montagu, as a young 
man, as well as Eustache le Sueur's " Joseph of Arimathaea." 

Of the Italians, we have Raphael, with a portion of a cartoon, apparently 
an " Ecce Homo " ; Carlo Dolci, and Sohmena, and Andrea del Sarto ; 
Pietro da Cortona and Carlo Maratti, represented by the sacred subjects 
with which their names are generally associated. The two Murillos here, 
represent respectively " The Virgin and Saviour," and " St. John the Baptist 
as a Child," seated in a rocky landscape ; and there are also in this 
room landscapes by Peter Roos, and Cuyp ; three of Van der Neer's 
familiar and beautiful moonlight scenes, and genre pieces by Ostade, 
Teniers, and Peter de Hooghe, the latter a fine picture portraying a 
lady knitting and seated in a room, through the door of which is seen 
a distant view of a town bathed in sunshine. 

In the Gallery among the twenty-seven works that hang on the walls, 
there are four of Monnoyer's graceful flower pieces. This painter 
adorned the palaces of Versailles, Marly, Meudon, and Trianon with 
his work, and thus attracted the attention of Lord Montagu, then 
Ambassador to France, at whose invitation he came to England where 
he remained some twenty years, during which time he was largely occupied 
in producing those flower pieces for Montagu House, which are con- 
sidered the finest of his works. 

Another foreigner who visited this country was John Griffier, the 
friend of Rembrandt and Adrian Van der Velde, the manner of which 
latter, by-the-bye, he was wont to imitate, whose " View of the Thames, 
looking over Westminster Bridge," hangs in the Gallery. Griffier came 
to England in 1667, and died here in 1718 ; his chief patron was the 
Duke of Beaufort, but he seems to have been well supported generally. 
There is also a similar view by Canaletto, who, it will be remembered, 
came to this country on the advice of his friend Amiconi, and during 
his two years' stay here produced a number of fine and interesting views 
of London.^ Another particularly valuable pictorial " document," is 
Marcellas Laroon the younger's picture of " A Party in Old Montagu 
House," because it not only shows us part of the interior of the original 
mansion, but also because it indicates that the Duke of Montagu 
was one of Laroon's many patrons ; while another topographical picture 
in the Gallery is Anderson's " View on the Thames, looking towards 
Westminster Bridge," which is signed, and dated 1810. 

' At Dalkeith Palace, in the Canaletto Room, are ten of his masterpieces in this genre. 



MONTAGU HOUSE 307 

Of the portraits, there is that of WiUiam Dobson, by the artist 
himself ; a picture of Henry VIII., of the school of Holbein ; Rave- 
steign's picture of an unknown man ; Sir Peter Lely's EUzabeth Percy, 
Duchess of Somerset, as a child, and the same artist's presentment of 
EHzabeth, Countess of Northumberland, who afterwards married Ralph, 
Duke of Montagu ; and a copy of the head of Marie de Medicis by 
Rubens ; while from the brush of Sir Antonio Moro, is that of a man 
in a black doublet, whose identity is not satisfactorily accounted for, 
and Zuccero's Edward VI. on a white horse, of which picture it is said 
that it originally represented Francis I., but that the head of the Enghsh 
monarch was substituted, probably by Sir E. Montagu, who was the 
King's tutor, and to whom the work belonged. 

In the West Drawing Room are some fine examples of the Dutch 
school of landscape painting by such artists as Jacobus van Artois ; Jacob 
Ruysdael, of whom there are two ; Pijnacker, and Paul Brill ; Van Romeyn, 
and Van der Neer. There is also Canaletto's extremely interesting and 
valuable " View of Whitehall," taken from the vicinity of old Montagu 
House. Besides these works, are a number of pictures representing 
sacred subjects, such as Giulio Romano's " Virgin and Child," SoUmena's 
" Mary Magdalen washing the Feet of the Saviour," Bassano's " Entomb- 
ment," and Vandyck's " Virgin Mary and Infant Christ " ; and among 
the portraits is that of a lady in a crimson dress by Lorenzo Lotto, and 
a portrait of a man by the same artist ; a full-length of James, first Duke 
of Hamilton, by Gonzales Coques, as well as that painter's copy of Van- 
dyck's " Lady Frances Seymour, Countess of Southampton " ; a portrait 
of Martin Luther, by Lucas Cranach, and Clouet's head of Anthony, 
King of Navarre ; while, to make an end, Frans Hals is represented by 
a pair — one, a young lad playing on the flute, the other, a young girl 
dressed in a yellow gown, and both executed with that bravura which 
stamps all the best work of this great master. 

The portraits in the Drawing Room include that of a lady by Sir 
Antonio Moro ; Kneller's James, Duke of Monmouth, and Frances 
Brudenell, daughter of Lord Brudenell ; Lely's Anna Maria, daughter 
of Robert, second Earl of Cardigan, and wife of Francis, Earl of Shrews- 
bury ; the same painter's Lady Dorothy Brudenell, Countess of Westmore- 
land ; and a remarkably fine full-length, by Raphael Mengs, of John, 
Marquis of Monthermer, son of George, Duke of Montagu, who, as a 
member of the Dilettanti Society, as well as on his own initiative, was 
one of those noblemen who helped to resuscitate art in this country at 
a period when it had sunk to a very low position. But the glory of the 
room consists in the four Vandycks, which are alone sufficient to stamp 



3o8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the collection at Montagu House as one of extraordinary merit, and to 
prove the incontestable supremacy in portraiture of this artist's best work. 
They are all fuU-lengths, and represent Henry Rich, Earl of Holland ; 
George Gordon, second Marquis of Huntly ; James Stuart, Duke of 
Richmond, and James Hamilton, Duke of Hamilton ; all devoted adherents 
of the royal cause, and three of them sharing the fate of their royal master, 
whose portrait should surely hang here in their company. 

Among the pictures in the Pink Drawing Room are no less than 
seven by Monnoyer, whom I have before mentioned, two more of whose 
works hang in the Saloon ; besides these there are also examples of the 
consummate technical skill of Mieris (dated 1660 ); of the representation 
of church architecture of Peter Neeffs ; of Schalcken's wondrous candle- 
light effects ; and of Jan Steen's observation of contemporary life ; to 
mention but a few of the works hanging in this apartment. 

Besides the splendid pictures in Montagu House, one of the most 
interesting of its pictorial contents is undoubtedly the remarkable series 
of some forty ^ small pictures en grisaille or gouache by Vandyck, forming 
a small picture-gallery in themselves, of the illustrious men : princes, 
generals, and painters of the day, which hang in the, so-called. Secretary's 
Room. They are each but gi in. x ji in. in size, but there is a breadth 
and freedom of handling about most of them (for they are of unequal 
merit, and two appear to be old copies) which proclaim them the work 
of the master hand. Dr. Waagen saw them on one occasion, and he 
refers to them in his Art Treasures in Great Britain, where he says 
that they are obviously not all from Vandyck's own hand : " While 
his animation of conception and light spirited touch are recognised in 
the bright silvery tones of many of them, others, on the other hand, 
are mechanical in execution, with a heavy brown tone, which in the 
shadows is very disagreeable." Those which the critic thus distinguishes 
as being less good than the best, he thinks were probably the work of 
Janson von Ceulen, who in portraiture showed some affinity to the 
greater artist. As this painter resided in England, it is certainly not 
improbable that Vandyck procured his assistance in this work. Waagen 
sets his hall-mark on the fine and characteristic portraits of Spinola, and 
the three-quarter face of Rubens, as being by Vandyck himself, while 
another (full-face) portrait of Rubens, as well as one of Charles I., he 
attributes to Von Ceulen, although it is a question whether Vandyck 
would have handed over the portrayal of these two particular portraits (one 
of a friend, the other of a royal patron) to a lesser artist than himself. 

' Lord Rosebery possesses four small portraits en grisaille^ by Vandyck, which were 
originally at Hamilton Palace, probably replicas of those here. 



MONTAGU HOUSE 309 

These pictures formed a portion of the original series of paintings 
which were engraved by Pontius de Jode, Bolswert, Vorsterman, and 
others, and were pubHshed under the title of Icones principum virorum 
doctorum, l^c, and according to Smith,^ the whole of this collection 
formerly belonged to Sir Peter Lely, at whose sale, in r68o, it was 
purchased by Ralph Montagu, Esq., for the sum of ;^II5. 

The two which appear to be copies, portraits of Cornelius Van der 
Geest and Artus Wolfart, were bought subsequently, and although, if 
looked at by themselves, they might easily deceive the unwary, when 
compared with the rest their lack of breadth and difference of tone is 
sufficiently marked to stamp them as not being by the master's hand, 
or even by that of Von Ceulen. 

In this gallery of historical and artistic portraits are represented 
some of the most famous of Vandyck's contemporaries from princes to 
painters ; from noble ladies to connoisseurs and book-collectors. Here 
are Charles I. and Gaston d'Orleans, the brother of Louis XIII. ; 
Frederic Henry of Nassau, a son of William the Silent, and the Archduke 
Ferdinand, Governor of the Low Countries ; here, too, is Genevieve 
d'Urphe, Countess of Croye, and Emilie de Solms, wife of Frederick 
Henry, Prince of Orange, and the Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, daughter 
of Philip II., who married the Archduke Albert, and died in 1633 ; here 
is Don Diego Philip de Guzman, Marquis de Legunes, and Don Emanuel 
Frockas, Comte de Feria ; while among the contemporary painters one 
finds Adam de Coster, Rubens, and Vandyck himself, Frans Francken 
and Adrian Brouwer ; Van Balen and Simon de Vos ; and with these 
the learned Lipsius, Gevartius the celebrated lawyer, and Peiresc, whose 
fame as a scholar has been almost eclipsed by his celebrity as a book- 
collector. 

Vandyck conceived the idea of thus recording the features of his 
illustrious contemporaries, when in Italy, and during the remainder of 
his life he seems never to have missed an opportunity of adding to the 
collection, and at his death he had completed no less than eighty-six 
portraits. Martin Van den Euden undertook the publishing of them ; 
but on the painter's decease, Giles Hendriex appears to have become 
possessor of the plates (some of which were etched by Vandyck himself), 
and to have published one hundred portraits (the additional seventeen 
being probably executed to his order), under the title of The Icono- 
graphy of Van Dyck. This was brought out in 1645 ; and a second 
edition which appeared contained eight additional portraits. Later still, a 
publisher of Antwerp, named Jean Meyssens, produced yet another edition 

' Catalogue raisoimt', vol. iii. p. 82. 



3IO THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

containing still more heads, and at the beginning of the eighteenth century 
there were no less than one hundred and twenty-eight plates in the series. 

The collection of miniatures, or " pictures in little," as they used 
to be called, at Montagu House, is, with the possible exception of those 
in the royal palaces, unrivalled. Many of these were inherited from 
the Duchess of Montagu ; and the fifth Duke made, by purchases at 
various times, great additions to the collection ; and it is interesting to 
know that some of the most remarkable once graced the cabinets of 
Charles I. Here is so marvellous an assemblage of masterpieces of such 
men as Holbein, Nicholas Hilliard, Isaac and Peter Oliver, Cooper, 
Hoskins, Flatman, Lens, and Cosway, to mention but these, that to say 
anything in detail of a tithe of them is impossible. They hang in square 
cases on the walls of the Ball Room, Gallery, and other rooms, in some 
instances over forty in a single frame, and one is overwhelmed by the 
beauty, the delicacy and richness, the perfect art contained in these 
tiny representations of the great ones of generation after generation. 
Henry VHI. and his court stand for Holbein; Hilliard portrays Elizabeth 
and the remarkable men she gathered round her ; Isaac and Peter 
Oliver give us the period covered by the reigns of James I. and Charles I. ; 
while with the great Samuel Cooper we have the Cromwellian period and 
the days of the merry monarch. 

Here are two portraits of the Protector by the man of whom Walpole 
once wrote : " If his portrait of Cromwell could be so enlarged I do not 
know but Vandyck would appear less great by comparison." It is said 
that Oliver made it a condition of sitting for his portrait that no 
copies should be made, and that one day Cooper, unmindful, or regardless 
of the injunction, was busily engaged on making a replica of this very 
miniature, when suddenly a hand over his shoulder seized the work, and 
the redoubtable voice of the Protector was suddenly heard exclaiming, 
" Ho, ho ! Master Cooper, this is not to be " ; and the great man 
walked off with the handiwork of the recalcitrant painter ! 

Indeed this collection contains probably the finest work of Cooper 
extant. It is impossible to give anything like an exhaustive list of the 
miniatures by this great master, but I may mention such portraits as 
those of various members of the Cromwell family, John Milton, Algernon 
Sidney, " Hudibras " Butler, Waller, Titus Oates, Prince Rupert, Lord 
and Lady Chesterfield, Nell Gwynn, Lady Fauconberg, the Duchess of 
Richmond, Lady Derby, the Duke of Albemarle, and both James II. 
and Charles II., nearly all in superlative condition, and many of them 
bearing the painter's signature. 



J 



MONTAGU HOUSE 311 

The Hilliards include portraits of Elizabeth and James I., the Duke 
of Lennox, Arabella Stuart, and the Countess of Pembroke. By Isaac 
Oliver we find presentments of Catherine Howard and Henry, Prince 
of Wales, Lord Herbert of Cherbury and the Earl of Devon, Lord Holland, 
and Drummond of Hawthornden, and Lady Nottingham ; while the 
work of Peter Oliver includes Charles L and the Duke of Buckingham, 
Sir Kenelm Digby and Lord Ormonde, Sir Philip Sidney and Lord 
Bacon. Hoskins gives us Charles H. and John Selden, John Evelyn and 
Sir Benjamin Rudyerd, besides a host of those brilliant nobles who made 
the court of Charles as notable for wit as it was for vice. Dixon and 
Bettes and Crosse help to add to the gallery, and by the latter is a 
particularly interesting portrait of Pepys. Flatman is responsible for two 
likenesses of Cowley, and others ; Bernard Lens for portraits of Pope 
and Prior, as well as of George L ; and Cosway contributes a picture 
of the Princess Amelia, besides a host of others. It will thus be seen 
what a remarkable gallery of historical portraits is here preserved in these 
exquisite and priceless little " pictures in little." Many of them were once 
in the Strawberry Hill collection, which also helps to give them an interest, 
if one were wanted, other than their intrinsic excellence. From Charles I.'s 
collection came the set of eight royal portraits mounted in a black frame 
on which are stamped the initials of the royal amateur ; while another 
with the same provenance from Henry VIlL is attributed to Holbein ; 
and better than all perhaps, the portraits of James I., his Queen and 
family, in a single frame, also once belonged to the martyr King. 

It is almost safe to say that there is hardly a distinguished individual 
from the days of Henry VIII. to those of George I. who is not repre- 
sented here ; there is not a great miniature painter in all that long period 
some of the finest of whose work does not grace this superb collection. 
The large quarto private catalogue runs to 170 pages of quite short 
descriptions of the notable people represented, and the mere names 
of the artists who have given to some of the lesser known ones their 
chance of immortality. There are eighteen frames in the gallery, seven 
in the Duchess's Sitting Room, and others elsewhere, containing an 
aggregate of no less than seven hundred and sixty miniatures, nearly 
all of which are of supreme historical importance, and practically all of 
the highest intrinsic value and beauty. 

There are besides the miniatures, enamels by Petitot and his school ; 
Zincke, Boit, Prewett, Bindon, and Bone ; and there is a portrait 
of Louis XIV. by C. Le Febure, which although technically a miniature, 
is of the size of a small picture, and gives an excellent idea of the appear- 
ance, when dressed in all the paraphernalia of majesty, of le roi soleil ! 



312 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Montagu House is a splendid example of what taste and judgment, 
aided by practically unlimited means, can produce in the way of 
domestic architecture. Its elevation is as imposing as its structural 
qualities are substantial ; and it is the more noticeable as being the 
only really great private mansion remaining in the spot where once so 
many clustered. Although compared with other great noble residences, 
it is isolated, at the same time its isolation is a splendid one, for it not 
only stands, ramparted about by its own grounds, midway between the 
Embankment and Whitehall, two of the finest thoroughfares in London, 
but it lies beneath the shadow, as it were, of the Abbey, and occupies, 
as we have seen, the actual site of what was once a royal palace ; it is 
for this reason, as well as for the beauty and value of its contents, and the 
illustrious family with whom it is connected, that it remains one of the 
finest of the great houses of London. 




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CHAPTER XVI 
NORFOLK HOUSE 

ALL that can be said about St. James's Square has been said by 
i\ Mr. Arthur Dasent in his book on the subject, and by Mr. 
/ % Wheatley who included a chapter on it in his Round about Picca- 
J[ ^ dilly and Pall Mall, while with the help of these great authorities, 
I have more recently dealt with it in another work. It is therefore hardly 
necessary to here say anything more about the Square itself, especially as 
this chapter is specifically concerned with the most important house in it. 
If Montagu House, Whitehall, is the only great mansion in London 
occupying the site of what was once a splendid royal palace, so Norfolk 
House, St. James's, is the only one in which a ruler of these realms first 
saw the light. If only for this reason, Norfolk House has a peculiar and 
particular claim to be included among those " private palaces " about 
which I am writing ; but apart from this, the size of the mansion and the 
beauty of its contents would have given it, in any case, a right to a place ; 
which right is still more accentuated when we remember that it is the 
town residence of the first noble in the land, whose great family has 
played an important part in the history of the country from time 
immemorial. 

When Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans, had obtained a building 
lease of ground in St. James's Fields, which he afterwards laid out as 
St. James's Square, he reserved for himself a plot of land, with a frontage 
of sixty-five feet, at the south-east corner, next to where John Street 
runs, and here about the year 1667 he erected a house for his own occupa- 
tion. This house had its entrance in Pall Mall, or Katherine Street as it 
was then officially called out of compliment to Charles II. 's Portuguese 
Queen, but when Pall Mall was covered with houses. Lord St. Albans 
caused another way to it to be constructed from Charles Street, which, by- 
the-bye, still forms the entrance to the stables of Norfolk House in that 
thoroughfare. Here, with such exceptions as his residence in Somerset 
House, when in attendance on the Queen Dowager, Henrietta Maria, 
whose second husband he is popularly supposed to have been, or at White- 
hall in his capacity as Lord Chamberlain (1671-4), he dwelt, until the 



314 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Square was completed, when he removed to the larger house which he 
had built on the north side, on the site now occupied by the Portland 
Club House, Lord Kinnaird's, and the Hon. Rupert Guinness's, viz. 
Nos. 9, 10, and 11, and which was at a later date one of the immense 
residences of the "Princely Chandos." Lord St. Albans' sojourn on part 
of the site of Norfolk House extended to just ten years. 

The southern portion of the large site was afterwards allocated to 
Lord Bellasis, and is now occupied by London House and the northern 
half of Norfolk House. But it was not till 1748-51 that the present 
mansion was erected on this double site, and it was in the old Norfolk 
House, part of which still exists behind the present mansion, that George 
HL and the Duke of York were born. 

This old house to-day presents a curious spectacle. It stands across 
the square piece of garden behind the present Norfolk House, and out- 
wardly preserves practically the same appearance that it must have presented 
to those who came to pay their court to the Prince and Princess of Wales. 
But pass through the door, and all is altered : the large room on the 
right of the entrance is now converted into the muniment room, with 
its walls covered by receptacles for deeds, patents, leases, letters innumer- 
able, but all carefully arranged and labelled ; and the corresponding 
room to the left has the appearance of having at some time been con- 
verted into a kitchen. But the most curious alteration is in the staircase, 
which seems from the lowness of the ceiling to have been divided into 
one or two extra floors dove-tailed into the original structure ; this, too, 
is evidenced by the ceiling of the lofty principal reception room on the 
first floor above the muniment room, which has been divided by a wall 
and shows the larger portion of the still elaborately painted plafond in 
various stages of decay, while the smaller portion, from which all the 
colour has long since departed, appears as the low roof of a secondary 
floor. The other large reception room on this floor has in the past 
been converted into a species of laundry, and the drying apparatus still 
hangs in a sort of allegory of time's drying effect on the whole structure. 
In the basement are almost monastic cellars, and there is a curious shaft- 
like passage which investigation has shown to lead to a well, but for what 
purpose constructed only the builder could tell. 

It is probable that when the ninth Duke built the present mansion, 
he caused these alterations to be made in the old house, and used it 
for the various domestic purposes which would appear to have been 
carried on there. To-day it is certainly the most ducal of lumber rooms ; 
and there are few people, who know the exterior of Norfolk House as 
they do their own hands, who would guess that behind it stands another 



NORFOLK HOUSE 315 

residence if not so imposing, certainly, when we consider it as a royal 
residence and the birthplace of a King, more historic. 

Among the various leases, assignments, letters, &c., relating to old 
Norfolk House among the ducal muniments, is a plan on vellum, showing 
the extent of that portion of the property which, as we shall see, the 
ninth Duke purchased from the executors of Joseph Banks. It is signed 
by John Talbot, who had an interest in the property, as well as by his 
wife. 

The outlines of the histories of the two distinct houses and their 
inhabitants before the rebuilding of Norfolk House, claim a word, as 
being the joint forerunners of the mansion as we know it to-day. 

After Lord St. Albans had removed to his new residence, St. Albans 
House was occupied for a short time by Sir John Duncombe, Chancellor 
of the Exchequer, who, however, appears to have resided here for not longer 
than two years, as there is extant among the Duke of Norfolk's muni- 
ments, a bill of sale on his furniture, dated September 9, 1676. This 
deed, which was made in favour of Lord St. Albans, Richard Frith the 
builder, who had an interest in the house, and Lewis, Lord Duras, Baron 
of Holdenbury, states among other matters that the said Frith under- 
takes to sell to Lord Duras the whole of Duncombe's furniture and 
effects, and is chiefly interesting in that it specifies the entire contents 
of the mansion ; and in the faded writing of the document we can trace 
the style of furnishing and decoration of a great house during the reign 
of the Merry Monarch. Here are rooms — there appear to have been 
a baker's dozen of principal ones, as well as servants' accommodation 
in the attics and basement — hung with gilded leather or tapestry on 
which pictures were ruthlessly hung, chairs of velvet and damask with 
arms embroidered thereon, the iron chimney backs and andirons which 
may still be seen in many a mansion and many a curiosity shop, the 
" Turkey-wove carpet " in the great Parlour, the green damask hangings 
bordered with yellow in the Dining Room, the Isabella damask bed in 
the principal bedroom, with its feather bed and curtains of taffeta, and 
quilt, and so on. 

Burnet tells us that Duncombe was " a judicious man, but very 
haughty, and apt to raise enemies " ; in any case we find him here fallen 
from his high estate, and Lewis de Duras, Marquis of Blanquefort and 
Earl of Feversham, to give him his high-sounding titles, reigning in his 
stead. This ' fine gentleman and good soldier,' as Sir John Reresby calls 
him, succeeded to the Earldom of Feversham, in 1677, having married 
Lady Mary Sondes, daughter and co-heiress of George Sondes, Earl of 
Feversham, a year previously. Reresby's praise is distinctly partial, for 



3i6 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the share that Duras had in the suppression of Monmouth's rebellion 
may have been justified by policy but hardly on humanitarian principles. 
The fact that he was a nephew of the great Turenne is apparently the 
only claim he had to be connected remotely with military genius. 
During his tenure of St. Albans House, he seems to have heavily 
mortgaged it, and to have let it to a variety of people, among whom 
the Portuguese and Spanish Ambassadors were numbered, as well as the 
Earls of Conway, and Kildare, and Henry, seventh Duke of Norfolk, the 
latter from 1684 to 1685. This last tenant is interesting as being the first 
to reside here of the great family which has been so intimately con- 
nected with this spot since. 

Lord Feversham appears to have given up the house in 1693, when 
he was followed in its tenancy by Charles Spencer, second Earl of Sunder- 
land, who had married a daughter of the second Earl of Bristol, and is 
well known as a trusted friend of both Charles and James. He lived 
formerly at Leicester House before removing to St. James's Square, and 
he then continued to reside at St. Albans House till his death in 1702, 
when he was succeeded in its occupancy by his son, the third Earl, who 
was once Prime Minister besides having filled a variety of other high 
administrative posts. The portrait which Richardson has left of this Peer 
shows us a good-looking man with a somewhat stern expression, and hardly 
justifies a contemporary writer in describing him as having " a fixed and 
settled sourness." In 1708, Sunderland, with his wife a daughter of the 
great Duke of Marlborough, left the house for a residence in Piccadilly, 
when it was bought (in 1710) by the first Duke of Portland, " the finest 
person and most accomplished gentleman that ever adorned the British 
Court," as an address from Jamaica, of which he was Governor, once 
styled him. He lived here till 1722. 

It would appear that the house was very nearly becoming the home 
of Lord Wentworth, for during his absence abroad his mother was looking 
about for a home for him, and in a letter, dated November 23, 1708, 
she writes to him about one she had seen (St. Albans House) in the 
following terms. I quote the letter entire, as it is a valuable document in 
that it gives a description of the place at that time ; and its orthography 
is certainly amusing : " My dearest and best of children, I have been to 
see a very good house in St. James's Square. It has three large rooms 
forward and two little ones backwars, closetts and marble chimney pieces, 
and harths to all the best rooms, and iron backs to the chimneys. Thear 
is twoe prety clossets with chimneys and glas over them, and pictures in 
the wenscoat over most of the chimneys, bras locks to al the doars, wenscoat 
at bottom and top, and slips of boards for the hangings. Thear will 



NORFOLK HOUSE 317 

want little to be dun to it. Thear is back stairs, twoe coach housis, and 
stables for ii horses, room over for sarvents, very good ofhsis, a yard for 
the drying of cloaths, and leds for that purpus, a stable yeard and a hors 
pond and back gate, which I forgot the street's name it goes into. Thear 
is a handsom roome al wenscoated for the steward to dyne in, and another 
good roome for the other sarvents to dyne in even with the kitchin belowe 
stairs under the hall and parlors. It was my Lord Sunderland's, it was 
to little for them. They sold it to a merchant, whoe sent his foolish 
neaphew whoe could not tell me the prise. It is free ground rent, and 
al is in herretanc. To-morrow the man corns to tell me the prise." In 
another letter written three days later, Lady Wentworth continues her 
account of the advantages of the house, as apparently she had not been 
shown everything on her first visit ; at any rate she says : " The man 
that showed me the house was a foole, he did not show me al the stables 
nor coach housis." Thus we find her pointing out that a gallery could 
be built over the offices, that she is told the house is so strong " it will 
last for ever," and that she is further assured that " none of the chimneys 
smoke, and there is the New River Water in all the offesis and great led 
sesterns in twoe or thre playsis." 

Whether it was " the prise " that stood in the way or not, I don't 
know, but in any case Lord Wentworth eventually settled on another 
residence in the Square, now No. 5, and, as we have seen, the Duke of 
Portland came to St. Albans House. Here he made great improvements, 
building additional reception rooms over the courtyard and garden ; ^ 
but on his being created Governor of Jamaica, he sold the property to 
the eighth Duke of Norfolk, in 1723, for ^10,000. The Duke died on 
December 23, 1732, and was succeeded in the title, and also the occupancy 
of the house, by his brother, the ninth Duke who, it will be remembered, 
lent the mansion, for a period, to Frederick, Prince of Wales, when the 
latter had his first quarrel with his father in 1737. We are told by 
Lord Hervey that before, however, the Duke of Norfolk would consent 
to the Prince having the use of his house, he sent the Duchess to the 
Queen at Hampton Court, to know whether such an arrangement would 
be disagreeable to their Majesties, and only on having assurance that it 
would not, did he let Frederick know that the place was at his disposal. 

On June 4, of the following year the Prince who was afterwards to 
ascend the throne as George III. was born in a room which still exists, 
in the old building at the back of the present Norfolk House. This 
particular room Mr. Arthur Dasent considers to date from the Duke of 
Portland's many improvements, although it has been modernised since 
' Indeed he seems to have been responsible for the old house as it now appears. 



3i8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

his day. The event took place somewhat unexpectedly, between six and 
seven o'clock in the morning, the Archbishop of Canterbury being the only 
great minister of State present. Indeed during the day, the child was 
so ill that fears were entertained that he would not survive, and at eleven 
o'clock on the following night, he was privately baptized by the Bishop 
of Oxford. 

The old house is thus the scene not only of the birth, but also of 
the christening of the King, who loved to lay stress in after life on the 
fact that he was born a Briton. 

A letter in the Wentworth papers gives an account of a ball given, 
at Norfolk House, by the Prince of Wales, in the January of the following 
year, which consisted, we are told, " of four couples, first Miss Selwyn 
and Lord Darnley, Miss Hamilton and Mr. Pit, Miss Windham and 
Mr. Lyttleton, and two Miss Cooleys with two men . . . the Princess 
of Wales played at Lottery, the Prince walked about and talked to the 
Company." 

As it was the purpose of both the Prince and Princess of Wales to 
court popularity in every possible way, and so to draw a sharp distinction 
between their court and the funereal dulness that reigned at St. James's, 
and as Frederick was a real lover of music, and indeed no mean performer 
on the 'cello, we can readily understand that the royal sojourn at Norfolk 
House was a continued round of gaiety, a gaiety that was not, perhaps, 
the less pronounced because the royal entourage had been greatly reduced 
when the Prince came to reside here, or because Lord Carteret did not 
always get on as well as might have been wished with Lady Archibald 
Hamilton, or because Pelham, the Prince's secretary, and Cornwallis, one of 
his equerries, had thought well to withdraw altogether from his household. 

It was during this period that the serious illness and subsequent 
death of Queen Caroline occurred. The Prince sent every day to inquire, 
for the King had forbidden him to enter the palace, exclaiming that 
" his poor mother is not in a condition to see him act his false, whining, 
cringing tricks now " ; and, indeed, what sincerity there was in his pro- 
testations may be gauged by his remark to every new messenger that 
arrived with worse news than the last : " Well, sure we shall soon have 
good news ; she cannot hold out much longer." When Frederick 
removed to Leicester House, the Duke of Norfolk returned to the Square, 
and resided in the old house till 1747. Soon after his return he 
commenced negotiations for the purchase of the ground to the north of 
Norfolk House, with a view to demolishing the house on it, and building 
on the site, and also on that on which his own house was standing, a more 
commodious mansion. 



NORFOLK HOUSE 319 

This house was then in the possession of Joseph Banks, of Revesby, 
and was in a very ruinous condition. Before proceeding with the account 
of this acquisition and the subsequent rebuilding, I must trace, in a brief 
outHne, the history of this dwelling. It stood on the southern portion 
of that large plot of ground which, on the formation of the Square, 
had been allocated to Lord Bellasis. The house had first been 
occupied from 1676 to 1678 by that witty Lady Newburgh who 
enjoyed the friendship of Charles L, then by Sir John Ernley, once 
Chancellor of the Exchequer who was followed (in 1684) by Henry 
Savile, Lord Eland, who lived there for four years, when it came into 
the possession of William Savile, Lord Eland, afterwards second Marquis 
of Halifax. After the latter had left it for the large house on the 
other side of the Square, Gertrude, Marchioness of Halifax, occupied it 
till 1697, when Charles Berkeley, Lord Dursley, took it in the year he 
succeeded his father as second Earl of Berkeley. He was a notable 
man, for besides having acted as Envoy Extraordinary to Madrid in 
1687, he was Minister Plenipotentiary at The Hague for six years, and 
was one of the Lord Justices of Ireland at a later period of his career. 
Indeed in the year in which he was appointed to this post, he gave up 
the house in St. James's Square, and was succeeded in its tenancy by 
Edward Villiers, first Earl of Jersey, who was also once an Ambassador 
at The Hague as well as at Paris, and held, among other high offices, 
that of Secretary of State, and Lord Chamberlain, and who married 
Barbara Chiffinch the daughter of the ubiquitous Will ChifHnch. Later 
residents here included Sir Edmund Denton ; John Talbot, of Longford ; 
Sir James Bateman, once Lord Mayor of London ; and Henriette, Countess 
of Strafford (1718-27) the widow of that Earl of Strafford whose title 
was restored to him, in 1641, on the execution of his father, the 
" thorough " Earl. Lady Strafford was the daughter of Frederick 
Charles, Count of Roye and Ronci, of the great La Rochefoucauld family, 
and was not the only foreigner who once lived in this house, for later, 
when Joseph Banks acquired it, it was let for a year (1731) to Count 
Daggenfelt, the Prussian Minister to the Court of St. James. Banks 
appears to have again resided here, or at least paid the rates, from 1732-6, 
when Sir Robert Browne, M.P. for Ilchester, and Paymaster of the Works, 
took it on a seven years' lease, after which period it was apparently 
empty, till the negotiations between the Duke of Norfolk and the executors 
of Mr. Banks who had died in the meanwhile, for the purchase of the 
freehold, were concluded in 1747. 

A private Act of Parliament was passed to provide for the sale ; and 
therein the house is said not to have commanded during recent years a 



320 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

higher rental than £170, and as the Duke appears to have commenced 
pulling down St. Albans House, it was surmised that difficulty would be 
experienced in finding another tenant even at this low rent. The result 
of the negotiations was that the Duke purchased the site with the old 
house on it for ^1830 ! 

To construct his new mansion, the Duke of Norfolk employed the 
elder Matthew Brettingham as architect, and the work appears to have 
occupied four years, the Duke's name being entered in the rate-books 
for 1752, and the gross estimated value of the new premises being then 
put at ;^525. In 1876, it had risen to _^2000, and to-day it is no less 
than ;^2500. 

Mrs. Delany, in her autobiography, has one or two references to the 
house ; and as she states, in 1756, that it was only then just " finished, 
and opened to the grand monde of London," it would appear to have 
taken several years after its structural completion to render it, in decora- 
tion and furnishing, befitting its noble owner's requirements. Mrs. 
Delany tells Mrs. Dewes, in a letter dated February 14 of this year, that 
she is asked to a reception there, and adds that she " will then give her 
friend an account of its magnificence." There is, however, no further 
notice of this particular occasion in the correspondence, but we are not 
without a description from an eye-witness, for Horace Walpole, writing 
to Conway on February 12, thus refers to the entertainment: "The 
Duchess of Norfolk has opened her new house : all the earth was there 
last Tuesday. You would have thought there had been a comet, every- 
body was gazing in the air and treading on one another's toes. In short, 
you never saw such a scene of magnificence and taste. The tapestry, 
the embroidered bed, the illumination, the glasses, the lightness and 
novelty of the ornaments, and the ceilings are delightful. She gives 
three Tuesdays — would you could be at one ! Somebody asked my Lord 
Rockingham afterwards at White's, what was there ? He said, ' Oh ! 
there was all the company afraid of the Duchess, and the Duke afraid 
of all the company.' It was not a bad picture." 

In the following April, there is a short reference to another ball here, 
" given for the Duke of Cumberland's entertainment," which, together 
with the supper that followed, is described by Mrs. Delany with her 
favourite adjective " magnificent." Dancing was kept up till four 
o'clock in the morning, and to quote our garrulous friend's ifsissima 
verba, " the suppers and the dessert were the prettiest that had ever 
been seen ; the dessert, besides the candles on the table, was lighted 
by lamps in fine green cut glasses." So full of this great entertainment 
was the writer that in another letter written a few days later, this time 



NORFOLK HOUSE 321 

to Mr. Granville, she again refers to it thus : *' The ball at the Duke 
of Norfolk's was most magnificent and well ordered ; the Duke mightily 
civil, forbad all ceremony towards him. There were two tables for the 
dancers, nothing hot but soups. The Duke's supper was hot, two 
courses and dessert, lighted up with Httle lamps in green cut glasses. 
The Duke danced with Lady Coventry, so there was at least one happy 
woman for three or four hours." As this Lady Coventry was one of 
the beautiful Gunnings whom crowds at the Drawing Rooms stood on 
chairs to see presented, and who was on one occasion provided by the 
King with a guard to ward off the too impertinent curiosity of the 
loungers in the Mall, it is probable that the felicity of the lady was fully 
shared by her host, although he was then in his seventieth year.* 

The Duke, who continued to reside at Norfolk House for another 
twenty years after this house-warming — indeed till his death, which 
occurred in 1777 — was born in 1686, so that his life had thus been passed 
under no less than six sovereigns. His earliest years had echoed with 
a revolution that drove the last male Stuart from these shores ; his 
latest were to see one of the brightest gems torn from the Crown, in 
the loss of America. He appears to have taken no part in the political 
history of the country, indeed the disabilities so long and foolishly 
attached to his religion precluded him from doing so, and beyond those 
important duties connected with his great hereditary office of Earl Marshal, 
his life was a serene and uneventful one. He was the last of the old male 
line of the Howard family, and with his death the historic baronies of 
Mowbray and Howard fell into abeyance. He was succeeded in the ducal 
title and the estates belonging to the family, by his second cousin Charles, 
the tenth Duke, who was the first of the six successive Dukes who have 
resided in Norfolk House. A glance through the records of the family 
will show that all these holders of the title have played an important 
part in the social, political and educational annals of the country. To 
say more would be to go beyond the limits of this work, which deals 
primarily with the houses of great nobles, and only incidentally with 
the personalities of their owners ; but when we find the living repre- 
sentative of a family which stretches back to " immemorial antiquity," 
and has often possessed more than regal power, recognising that such 

' Walpole mentions another of these entertainments in a letter to George Montagu, dated 
Jan. 7, 1760, thus : " To night I was asked to their party at Norfolk House. These parties are 
wonderfully select and dignified ; one might sooner be a knight of Malta than qualified for 
them. I don't know how the Duchess of Devonshire, Mr. Fox and I were forgiven some 
of our ancestors. There were two tables at loo, two at whist, and a quadrille. I was com- 
manded to the duke's loo, he was sat down ; not to make him wait I threw my hat upon 
the marble table, and broke four pieces off a great crystal chandelier." 

X 



322 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

records are made more illustrious by individual energy and usefulness 
to the body politic, even a humble writer may be allowed to note and 
applaud the fact. 

Norfolk House to-day, especially now that a process of cleaning has 
restored to the front its original appearance, looks very much as it did 
when fresh from the hands of Brettingham's workmen ; the balcony 
which extends the whole length of the house, and the porch over the 
entrance, being the only additions made to it since that time. 

The interior of the house has a quiet dignity, and is at once imposing 
and unostentatious. With the Entrance Hall two rooms on either side 
which look into the Square, communicate ; that on the left is used as 
the Duke's study, that on the right is the Morning Room in which hang 
a number of pictures conspicuous among them being the quarter-lengths, in 
one canvas, of Edward Howard, the ninth Duke, and his Duchess, formerly 
Mary, daughter of Edward Blount, of Blagden, of whom there is also a 
head hanging above one of the doors. There is also a pair of portraits 
of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, the great picture collector, and 
his wife. Lady Alathea Talbot, daughter of the seventh Earl of Shrews- 
bury, as well as a number of other pictures of lesser interest, and much 
beautiful furniture. 

From the Morning Room, the great Dining Room, running at right 
angles with it, is reached. The ceiling of this splendid room is decorated 
in a gold design on a white ground, and here hangs one of the series of 
pictures, representing incidents in the life of Joseph, by Guercino, which 
hang in various apartments ; this particular work representing Joseph's 
coat brought by his brethren to Jacob. There are also a number of oil 
paintings of Arundel Castle and Park, and over the mantelpiece hangs a 
portrait of Bernard, the twelfth Duke, who succeeded his cousin Charles 
the boon companion of the Prince of Wales, in 1815. Two more large 
rooms on this floor are used as a Bedroom and Dressing Room, and 
in the latter hangs another of the Guercinos : " His Brethren bringing 
Gifts to Joseph in Egypt " ; while in the ante-room there is the full- 
length of Henry, the sixth Duke, in his state robes. 

:■; The grand staircase, shut off from the Hall by a wall in which two 
doors give access to it, is extraordinarily fine, the lighting being from a 
lantern roof, of such an elevation, however, as at first seems to detract 
from its size, and to render it cramped. On the walls are groups of 
classical trophies in high relief, and the prevailing note of white is relieved 
by the gilded capitals of the columns that fiank the mural ornaments. 

On the first, and as in all eighteenth-century houses, the principal 
floor, the effect of the rooms is very noble, the ceiling decorations being 



NORFOLK HOUSE 323 

gilded, and the walls hung in rich brocaded silks. The three most 
important rooms are the two Drawing Rooms facing the Square and com- 
municating with each other, and the Ball Room, which is immediately 
above the great Dining Room. 

In the first two rooms there are a number of pictures, and the Dutch 
school is represented by cabinet works, by, amongst others, Cuyp and 
Molinear and Slinglelandt ; there are besides portraits of Henrietta 
Maria, by Vandyck, and the famous one of Thomas, Earl of Arundel, 
by Holbein whose name is also given to another small portrait more 
probably by Lucas der Heere. Another of the Guercinos hangs in this 
room : " Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's Dream " ; and an " Abraham and 
the Angels," was formerly attributed to Murillo, at what time, I suppose 
that any obviously Spanish painting was conjectured to be from the brush 
of the then only well-known Spanish painter. In the adjoining Drawing 
Room there are two more of the Guercino series, viz. " The Cup found 
in Benjamin's Sack," and " Joseph sold by his Brethren " ; while a 
portrait of Rubens hanging here is assigned to Cornelius Schultz, and 
that of his wife to the great master himself. 

The Ball Room is, in point of elaborate decoration, the most splendid 
apartment in the house. The whole scheme is carried out in white and 
gold, and the effect is greatly enhanced by the number of splendid mirrors, 
each of great size, that hang round the room. The ceiling is wonder- 
fully fine, and the floral designs on the wall, with here and there the 
ducal coronet displayed, carry out the scheme in a most effective way, 
and help to give the great room that Oriental appearance which is so 
characteristic of eighteenth-century decoration. 

In some respects, Norfolk House may not be comparable with some 
of the great London palaces ; it does not contain a number of world- 
renowned pictures as does Bridgewater or Stafford House ; its rooms do 
not equal in size and grandeur those of Dorchester House ; it cannot be 
likened, in architectural beauty, to Chesterfield House ; but it is, put 
in less exacting comparison, a splendid example of an eighteenth-century 
house, and when to this is added the fact that it has been for a century 
and a half the town residence of no less than seven Dukes of Norfolk, 
and during that long period has been the centre of political, social, and 
ecclesiastical activity, its claim to take its place among the private 
palaces of London can be sustained with little difiiculty. 



CHAPTER XVII 

PORTMAN HOUSE 

THERE have been in the past four Montagu Houses. There 
was that mansion built by Viscount Montagu, upon the site 
of the Priory of St. Mary Overey, in Southwark, so long ago 
as 1545 ; there was that Montagu House which was the 
forerunner of the British Museum ; there is the Duke of Buccleuch's 
Montagu House, in Whitehall, and finally there is the Montagu House 
now known as Portman House, or simply No. 22 Portman Square, which 
forms the subject of the present chapter, and which takes its name 
from the famous blue-stocking, and altogether remarkable woman, Mrs. 
Montagu. 

Perhaps hardly another important mansion in London is so closely 
identified with a single individual as is the great house in Portman Square 
with its first owner. This is due to two reasons, one of which is the 
close and almost tender interest taken by Mrs. Montagu in its construc- 
tion and decoration ; and the other the renown of the lady herself. 
Her life has been more than once written, and quite recently a selection 
of her letters, more ample than the collection published by Dr. Doran, 
under the title of A Lady of the Last Century, has been given to the 
world by Mrs. Climenson ; so that ample biographical aid to the appre- 
ciation of her character is at hand ; and indeed, were it not, this work 
is hardly the place for any minute investigation into her life and attain- 
ments ; but before saying anything of the house which is so closely 
connected with Mrs. Montagu's name, I may be allowed to give a brief 
outline of her life and career. 

" La petite Fidget," as the Duchess of Portland used to call her 
when she was a young girl, was born at York, on October 2, 1720. She was 
the fourth child and elder daughter of Matthew Robinson and his wife, 
who had been a Miss Drake of the Drakes of Ash, in Devonshire. The 
Robinsons were an old and distinguished family, and long possessed that 
Rokeby Hall, in Yorkshire, until the well-known " Long Sir Thomas 
Robinson " sold it to Mr. Morritt, of which the world has heard much 




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PORTMAN HOUSE 325 

recently in connection with the famous Velasquez Venus that formerly- 
hung there. It is interesting to know that Sterne married a member of 
this family, in the person of Elizabeth a step-niece of Matthew Robinson ; 
and therefore, if the reader can bear the strain of linked genealogy long 
drawn out, the Rev. Laurence was by marriage a step-cousin of Mrs. 
Montagu. 

When Elizabeth Robinson was but seven years of age, her mother 
inherited from her brother, Morris Drake Morris, he having taken the 
additional name of Morris, the fine estate of Mount Morris in Kent 
besides other property ; and shortly after this event the family moved 
to the new possession which, from a print ^ published in Harris's History 
of Kent, appears to have been a delightful Queen Anne house surrounded 
by ample grounds. 

Before this change of residence took place the family stayed for a time 
in Cambridgeshire with a relative, the well-known Dr. Conyers Middleton, 
and it was perhaps to the influence of the author of the Life of Cicero 
that Elizabeth Robinson first imbibed that taste for classical learning which 
afterwards so greatly distinguished her. Be this as it may, there is no 
doubt that she already possessed an amount of sharpness of a somewhat 
precocious nature, for Lord Rokeby, who published some of her early 
letters, records that " her uncommon sensibility and acuteness of under- 
standing, as well as extraordinary beauty as a child, rendered her an 
object of great notice in the University," and we are further told that 
Dr. Middleton (whose personality, by-the-bye, I never can dissociate 
from that of the learned gentleman of the same name, in The Egoist) 
" was in the habit of requiring from her an account of the learned con- 
versations at which, in his society, she was frequently present." 

In 1742, Elizabeth Robinson married Edward Montagu, grandson 
of the Earl of Sandwich ; and from 1750 till 1776 when she built Montagu 
House, she held a kind of salon at her house in Hill Street, Mayfair, where 
Horace Walpole and Sir Joshua Reynolds, Burke, Garrick, and Lyttelton 
were to be met with, and where even the ponderous form of Dr. Johnson 
was occasionally to be seen. 

Mrs. Montagu's fame rested not only on her genius for friendship, 
and a happy ability for surrounding herself with intellectual and interesting 
people, but also to some extent on her pubhshed writings, which if they 
did not always succeed in pleasing the hypercritical, such as Johnson, 
who was once very unkind in his remarks on her Essay on Shakespeare, 
at least placed her among the then limited band of females who rushed 
into print and lived to find it fame. 

• Reproduced in Mrs. Climenson's book. 



326 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Associated a good deal in her younger days with Hannah More and 
Fanny Burney, something of their enthusiasm may have communicated 
itself to her ever impressionable mind, and the first fruits resulted in the 
three dialogues, which, in 1760, she contributed to Lord Lyttelton's 
Dialogues of the Dead, published in that year, as well as in the answer 
she wrote to Voltaire's criticisms on Shakespeare, which appeared in 1769, 
under the title of An Essay on the Genius of Shakespeare. Johnson said 
that there was nothing noteworthy or original in this performance, and 
Lady Gower and others were hardly less outspoken ; but, however that 
may be, it helped at least to draw attention to the beauties of the " Bard 
of Avon," as he was then called, at a time when his name was being 
assailed by foreign criticism, and when even His Gracious Majesty King 
George HL could see nothing remarkable in his works ; probably pre- 
ferring Nicholas Rowe or Elkanah Settle ! In any case it was not the 
case of gilding refined gold then, as praise of Shakespeare would be in 
our own more enlightened day. 

When Mrs. Montagu, after the death of her husband who had left 
her a fortune of £jooo a year, began the building of the great house in 
Portman Square, she was therefore at the height of her fame. Known 
to all the literary world of London as a kind of patroness, a great lady 
whose dilettante amusement it was to put forth her learning in one or 
two exiguous works, she was also at home among the aristocratic society 
of the day, which was, perhaps, not averse from stretching, through 
her, a hand to the humbler, if more amply endowed as to mental quali- 
fications, of those with whom it did not always choose to come into close 
contact. Her chief friends were, indeed, those who lived on the border- 
land ; Horace Walpole, patrician by birth and instincts, yet morbidly 
keen to the advantages of brains as well as birth ; Sir Joshua, who was 
equally at home with Johnson and with Beauclerk ; Garrick, who, as a 
player, was intimate with Grub Street, and as a social companion as 
welcome in St. James's or Mayfair. 

Montagu House, as I must for a time continue to call it, although 
it is now known as Portman House, or simply 22 Portman Square, was 
designed in 1769 for Mrs. Montagu, by James Stuart,^ better known 
as " Athenian " Stuart, from his share with Revett in those Antiquities 
of Athens, which under the csgis of the Society of Dilettanti, did so much 
to bring classicism in architecture into fashion. But although Stuart 
had prepared the plans for the house in the year in which George HL 
came to the throne, it could hardly have been completed for a con- 

' Miss Gerard [Life of Ajigilica Kauffmann) says it was designed by Bonomi and built by 
Adam ; but Bonomi merely designed some of the rooms, as we shall see. 



PORTMAN HOUSE 327 

siderable time after that date.^ Portman Square itself was not formed till 
four years later, and although this in itself would be no conclusive 
testimony that this particular house was not built earlier, the fact that 
Mrs. Boscawen writes so much later as November 1781, to the effect 
that " Mrs. Montagu is very busy furnishing her new house," and that 
" part of her family (in the sense of household) is removed into it," " 
seems to indicate that the palace in Portman Square had only recently 
been completed.' This is also confirmed by some remarks in a letter 
from Mrs. Montagu to Mrs. Robinson, dated December 29, 1774, in 
which she says : " I do not know whether I am more stupid than other 
people, but I neither find any of the vexation some find in building, 
nor the great amusement others tell me they experience in it. Indeed, 
if it were not that a house must be building before it can be built, I 
should never have been a builder ; I have not had a quarter of an hour's 
pain or pleasure from the operation. I have not met with the least 
disappointment or mortification. It has gone on as fast and as well as 
I expected, and, when it is habitable, I shall take great pleasure in it ; 
for it is an excellent house, finely situated, and just such as I have always 
wish'd, but never hoped, to have." Writing from Bath, on November 21, 

1780, she says : " My new house is almost ready. ... I propose to move 
all my furniture from Hill Street thither, and let my house unfurnished 
till a good purchaser appears. Then, should I get a bad tenant, I can 
seize his goods for rent ; and such security becomes necessary in these 
extravagant times." Again, writing from Hill Street, on the 2nd March, 

1781, she says : " I have, greatly to my satisfaction, got my new house 
finished and fit for habitation ; and I should have taken possession at 
this very time, but the wise people and the medical people say it would 
be dangerous to go into a new house just after the winter damp " ; and 
she adds : " It is much the fashion to go and see my house, and I receive 
many compliments upon its elegance and magnificence, but what most 
recommends it to me is its convenience and cheerfulness." 

The house-warming, according to Horace Walpole, took place on 
February 22, 1782. Says the fastidious master of Strawberry Hill : 
" I dined with the Harcourts at Mrs. Montagu's new palace, and was 
much surprised. Instead of vagaries, it is a noble, simple edifice. Magni- 
ficent, yet no gilding. It is grand, not tawdry, not larded, embroidered, 
and pomponned with shreds and remnants, and clinquant like the harle- 

' The lease (of ninety-nine years, I suppose) expired in 1874, and therefore must have 
been granted in 1775 ; probably plans were prepared earlier, to await the selection of a 
suitable site. 

" Mrs. Delany's Autobiography, vol. vi. p. 6j. 

' It was probably begun in 1776. 



32 8 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

quinades of Adam, which will never let the eye repose an instant." And 
well it might be magnificent ! Zucchi and Cipriani, Bonomi and 
Angelica Kauffmann, were all employed in decorating the ceilings and 
walls, although these artistic additions were added gradually, and Fanny 
Burney speaks of Angelica Kauffmann as being engaged in painting the 
Reception Room, in 1781 ; while Bonomi is known to have executed the 
designs for the Ball Room ten years later ; ^ the ceiling of this apartment 
was probably painted by Cipriani, as were the six over doors by Angelica. 

But whatever was done, was done under the personal supervision 
of Mrs. Montagu, who seems to have never tired of beautifying her 
possession, or extolling its merits ; and her pleasures of anticipation, as 
shown by the extracts from her letters just given, appear, as is so rarely 
the case, to have been more than fulfilled. 

Before taking possession her time seems to have been pretty equally 
divided between superintending the building and decorations of the 
house, and purchasing objects which would add to its beauty and com- 
pleteness ; thus she buys a large glass at the sale of the French 
Ambassador's belongings, and other things " pretty cheap," for the 
further adornment of her " palace " ; and she had, perhaps, already 
in her mind's eye those feather hangings with which she covered the 
walls of one of the rooms. This, indeed, was her pet " fad " ; and in 
furtherance of her design she begged birds' feathers from all her friends ; 
and where she does not see well to openly demand these offerings of 
friendship, she pretty openly hints at what she wants — and gets it. Thus 
on one occasion, February 3, 1784, she writes to Mrs. Robinson : " My 
great piece of feather work is not yet completed ; so, if you have an 
opportunity of getting me any feathers, they will be very acceptable. 
The brown tails of partridges are very useful, tho' not so brilliant as some 
others " ; on another, she remarks that " the feathers of a goose may 
be better adapted to some occasions than the plumes of the phcenix," 
which might very well be the case ; and once at least she cast covetous 
eyes on the tails of a friend's peacocks ; but when she could get nothing 
better she was content with the produce of the farmyard, sententiously 
remarking that " things homely and vulgar are sometimes more useful 
than the elegant " ; from which we see that with a knowledge of human 
nature, she possessed an accommodating taste and perhaps no little sense 
of humour. Her hobby was not only furthered by the generosity of 
her friends, who must have despoiled many a feathered innocent to 
add to her collection ; but was also celebrated by a poet ! Not a 

' The drawing for this, as well as for a room he designed at Lansdowne House, is 
mentioned in Leslie and Taylor's Life of Reynolds, vol. ii. p. 572. 



PORTMAN HOUSE 329 

second-rate bard like Stephen Duck, who wrote bad verses on Queen 
Caroline's grottoes and temples in Richmond Gardens, but a great poet ; 
no other than William Cowper, who from his rural Olney sent, in 1788, 
a poem on the subject, of which the first twenty lines ran thus : — 

"The birds put off their every hue 
To dress a room for Montagu ; 
The peacock sends his heavenly dyes, 
His rainbows and his starry eyes ; 
The pheasant, plumes which round enfold 
His mantling neck with downy gold, 
The cock his arch'd tail's azure shows. 
And, river blanched, the swan his snow ; 
All tribes besides of Indian name. 
That glossy shine, or vivid flame, 
Where rises and where sets the day, 
Whate'er they boast of rich and gay, 
Contribute to the gorgeous plan, 
Proud to advance it all they can. 
This plumage neither dashing shower 
Nor blasts that shake the dripping bower, 
Shall drench again or discompose. 
But screened from every storm that blows, 
It boasts a splendour ever new 
Safe with protecting Montagu." 

But the immortality predicated of these hangings, by a poetical licence, 
was unfortunately not to be attained, and though they were safe enough 
from " blasts that shake the dripping bower," they were not proof against 
the ravages of the insistent moth, which, indeed, after a time made such 
inroads into the Tyrian hues of the peacock, not less than into the 
" brown tails of partridges " or the feathers of the goose, that the walls 
had to be stripped in favour of a more durable, if possibly a less original 
covering. 

Besides this feathered nest, Mrs. Montagu transformed her dressing 
room into what she called her " Room of Cupidons," painted with flowers 
and cupids, which at least one of her friends thought anything but 
appropriate, and we find Mrs. Delany wondering " how such a genius, 
at her age, and so circumstanced could think of painting the walls of 
her dressing room with bowers of roses and jessamine, entirely inhabited 
by little cupids in all their wanton ways " ! 

The fact is the house was a veritable plaything ; and from the moment 
she took possession of it, till the end of her life, Mrs. Montagu seems 
never to have grown tired of adding to its decorations, or improving it 



330 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

in other ways. There is no doubt, too, that she surrounded herself here 
with a court, the members of which, for the most part, found that every- 
thing she said was brilhant and everything she did in perfect taste ; and 
if there were grumblers like Johnson, fastidious critics like Walpole, or 
outspoken friends like Mrs. Delany, or even satirists like Cumberland who 
in 1785 published his essay on the assemblies here, which he called Feasts 
of Reason, presided over by Vanessa, as he termed Mrs. Montagu, it is 
probable that the mistress of the palace in Portman Square heard little 
or nothing of the adverse criticism passed on some of her hobbies. 

Mrs. Montagu's fame does not rest so much on her literary abiHty 
or even her somewhat remarkable intellect, as on the fact that she possessed 
both the means and the inclination to gather round her the most intel- 
lectual society of the day ; and she thus takes her place, a foremost one, 
among those who have attempted to emulate the salons of France in a 
less congenial atmosphere. And with the literary and artistic she com- 
bined the fashionable and the noble. She had indeed a genius for 
friendship ; and it is probable that even those who occasionally laughed 
at her fads or found fault with her taste, were ready enough to acknow- 
ledge the charm of her manner and her innate kindness of heart. During 
two successive years she invited the members of the Literary Club to 
dine at her house ; " curiosity," says Sir John Hawkins, " was her motive, 
and possibly a desire of intermingling with our conversation the charm 
of her own." 

An interesting list might indeed have been compiled from her card- 
basket, for few of the great ones of this period whose names we now 
remember, would have been absent. George III. and Queen Charlotte 
were both entertained here ; Dr. Johnson allowed, somewhat grudgingly, 
it must be confessed, that he did not remember " to have passed many 
evenings with fewer objections " than in Portman Square, but although 
the company was splendid and the great man had been made much of, 
he would not allow that he was " gratified " ; Garrick's vivacity enlivened 
the great assemblies here ; and here might have been seen the famous 
ear-trumpet of Sir Joshua. Indeed Mrs. Montagu was sufficiently great 
to be able to choose her friends, and although half the illustrious ones 
of the peerage were to be met with in her rooms, those rooms resounded 
as often to the names of men who have become illustrious by their own 
genius, but whom contemporary society is not always anxious to take 
to its arms. Actors we can nowadays readily understand being made 
much of, but that mere authors should have been equally welcome, 
strikes us as very advanced. Yet Young, of the Night Thoughts, and 
Beattie of Minstrel fame, and Gilbert West, were all friends of the great 



PORTMAN HOUSE 331 

lady, as were, of course, such men as Burke and Lord Chatham, Lord 
Kaimes and Bishop Stilllngfleet, Horace Walpole and Pultney, the anec- 
dotic Seward, and Lord Lyttelton, whose " ghost story " has outlived his 
poetry. 

Few rooms in London have echoed to the voices or the laughter of 
so many fashionable and notable people as have those of Montagu House, 
for besides the more heterogeneous assembHes that were so often received 
here, the famous " Blue-stocking " Club also met in these rooms. Mrs. 
Vesey and Mrs. Boscawen, Mrs. Carter who translated Epictetus, and Mrs. 
Chapone the friend of Dr. Johnson, were the more prominent members 
of this " charming poetic familiarity," of which Hannah More has told us 
that in it learning was not disfigured by pedantry, nor good taste tinctured 
by affectation. 

Sir Nathaniel Wraxall thus speaks of the " Blue-stockings " and 
Mrs. Montagu's connection with them ; the extract is rather a lengthy 
one, but as it embraces some details of, as well as further illustrates, the 
character of Mrs. Montagu, I give it practically in its entirety : — " The 
Gens de Lettres, or 'Blue-stockings,' as they were commonly termed, 
formed a very numerous, powerful, and compact phalanx in the midst 
of London. Into this society, the two publications which I had 
recently given to the world — one, on the Northern Kingdoms of Europe ; 
the other, on the History of France, under the Race of Valois — however 
destitute of merit, yet facilitated and procured my admission. Mrs. 
Montagu was then the Madame du Deffand of the English capital ; 
and her house constituted the central point of union for all those persons 
who already were known, or who emulated to become known, by their 
talents and productions. Her supremacy, unlike that of Madame du 
Deffand, was, indeed, established on more solid foundations than those 
of intellect, and rested on more tangible material than any with which 
Shakespeare himself could furnish her. Though she had not as yet begun 
to construct the splendid mansion in which she afterwards resided, near 
Portman Square, she lived in a very elegant house in Hill Street. Im- 
pressed probably from the suggestions of her own knowledge of the world, 
with a deep conviction of that great truth laid down by Moliere, which 
no man of letters ever disputed, that Le vrai Amfhytrion est celui chez 
qui Von dine, Mrs. Montagu was accustomed to open her house to a 
large company of both sexes, whom she frequently entertained at dinner. 
A service of plate, and a table plentifully covered, disposed her guests 
to admire the splendour of her fortune, not less than the lustre of her 
talents. Mrs. Montagu, in 1776, verged towards her sixtieth year ; but 
her person, which was thin, spare, and in good preservation, gave her an 



332 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

appearance of less antiquity. From the infirmities often attendant on 
advanced life she seemed to be almost wholly exempt. All the lines 
of her countenance bespoke intelligence, and her eyes were accommodated' 
to her cast of features, which had in them something satirical and severe, 
rather than amiable or inviting. She possessed great natural cheerfulness 
and a flow of animal spirits ; loved to talk, and talked well on almost 
every subject ; led the conversation, and was qualified to preside in her 
circle, whatever subject of discourse was started ; but her manner was 
more dictatorial and sententious than conciliating or diffident. There 
was nothing feminine about her ; and though her opinions were usually 
just, as well as delivered in language suited to give them force, yet the 
organ which conveyed them was not musical. Destitute of taste in 
disposing of ornaments of her dress, she nevertheless studied or affected 
those aids, more than would seem to have become a woman professing 
a philosophic mind, intent upon higher pursuits than the toilet. Even 
when approaching to fourscore, this female weakness still accompanied 
her ; nor could she relinquish her diamond necklace and bows which 
formed of evenings the perpetual ornament of her emaciated person. 
I used to think that these glittering appendages of opulence sometimes 
helped to dazzle the disputants, whom her arguments might not always 
convince, or her literary reputation intimidate." ' 

This is, in truth, not an altogether flattering picture, but there was 
a good deal beneath the bows and the diamond necklace which Wraxall 
did not see ; and it is absurd to suppose that if their hostess was a merely 
over-dressed, loud-talking, not very convincing person, as seems here 
suggested, that even her wealth would have enabled her to surround her- 
self with the brightest intellects of the day ; the Duchess of Portland, 
an old friend, and the beautiful Georgiana of Devonshire, and even the 
miserly old Lord Bath might have come, but surely not the Abbe Raynal, 
and Dr. Monsey of Chelsea College ; Mrs. Siddons and Edmund Burke ; 
nor can we suppose the burly Doctor himself prepared to be sacrificed 
even to glittering gems unless their wearer could do some feeble parrying 
to his heavy thrusts. 

Fanny Burney was a frequent visitor at Montagu House, and describes 
the hostess as " brilliant in diamonds, solid in judgment, critical in talk ; 
sometimes flashy, and an immense talker ; but still eminently courteous 
and agreeable " ; but Fanny was not always quite so just, I think, to 
Mrs. Montagu ; and certainly Mrs. Thrale was also unsympathetic, which 
perhaps arose from the fact that her vanity could, like the Turk, allow 
no one near the throne ; or perhaps she never forgot the unfortunate 

^ Historical Maiwirs, vol. i. p. 137-9. 



PORTMAN HOUSE 333 

occasion on which she was invited to Montagu House to meet the Bishop 
of Chester, when " the Bishop waited for Mrs. Thrale to begin speaking, 
and Mrs. Thrale waited for the Bishop, and Mrs. Montagu harangued 
away, caring not one fig who spoke so long as she could herself be 
listened to." ^ 

It is hardly remarkable if one who, like Mrs. Montagu, gathered so 
many diverse elements about her, should have been adversely criti- 
cised by some of them ; the curious thing is that, placing, as she did, 
so many under an obligation to her, so many loved her and spoke well 
of her. Whatever were her shortcomings — her love of patronage, of 
hearing herself talk, of displaying the gifts the gods had given her, of 
showing off her worldly possessions, there is little doubt but that litera- 
ture owed her a heavy debt, for it was she who first had the courage to 
bring its professors into the fashionable society of the day ; and if she 
borrowed the idea from the more liberal notions obtaining on the 
Continent, she was at least the pioneer of the salon in this country, 
for she was practically the only great lady who succeeded in attracting 
the habitues of clubs and the fair sex from their cards to meet together 
to converse with those whose proper sphere had hitherto been considered 
to be Grub Street and Fleet Street. I say she was the first to do this ; 
she was, too, practically the last, for she had no proper successor ; and 
if she stands alone in her welcome admixture of two rather antipathetic 
elements, so does her splendid home remain as the one spot where was 
undertaken with success what no one hitherto had dreamed of attempting 
and no one since has succeeded in accomplishing. 

But if Montagu House is notable for this, it is, too, interesting as 
being the annual scene of gatherings of a very different complexion ; 
for here, on Alay Day in every year, Mrs. Montagu was accustomed to 
give a feast to all the chimney sweeps in London. In those days, this 
vocation was not only a dirty, but frequently for its younger members, 
a dangerous, calling. Terrible anecdotes have come down to us con- 
firming this, and Charles Lamb has, as all the world knows, crystallised 
some of the terrifying circumstances connected with the business in a 
well-known essay. Whether Mrs. Montagu's kind heart had been 
affected by some such tales, or whether, as is said, a young member of the 
Montagu ' family had been kidnapped by a sweep, and miraculously 
restored to his family, and the annual festivity was a sort of thank-offering 
for his return ; certain it is that she determined that the fraternity 

1 Queens of Society, vol. ii. p. 284. 

^ Edward Wortley Montagu, son of Lady Mary, and Edward Wortley Montagu. An 
interesting account of his adventures is given in Timbs' Romance of London. 



334 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

should have, at least, one joyful day in the year, and by a lavish provision 
of beef and plum-pudding, and the run of the fine garden attached to 
Montagu House, she effected this, and the " Sweeps' Holiday " became 
an almost national institution for many years. 

Mrs. Montagu, even after she had ceased to leave her house, received 
her hosts of friends here, till within two years of her death. She had, 
to use Dr. Burney's words, at last become " almost wholly blind and 
very feeble," and the once brilliant leader of fashion was at length cut 
off from that society which she had for so long enjoyed and petted. She 
died in August, 1 800; had she survived till the following October she 
would have been exactly eighty years of age. 

After her death Montagu House became the property of her nephew, 
Matthew Montagu,^ who had taken the latter name in place of his original 
patronymic of Robinson, and who was heir to her property. He, however, 
apparently let the place, for after Mrs. Montagu's death the house was 
occupied by the Turkish Ambassador, who erected in the garden a " kiosk," 
where, surrounded by his suite, he was wont to smoke his pipe and dream 
of the Bosphorus. 

A member of the Montagu family, who was raised to the peerage 
as Lord Rokeby, was occupying the house in 1835, and in that year his 
son-in-law, the Right Hon. Henry Goulburn, who was Chancellor of the 
Exchequer in the Duke of Wellington's and Sir Robert Peel's Adminis- 
trations of 1828-30, and 1 841-6, respectively, and Home Secretary from 
1834-5, was also residing here. 

The mansion remained in the hands of the Montagu family till 1874, 
when the lease expired, and the ground landlord, the first Viscount 
Portman, came to live in it ; since when it has been the town house of 
the Portman family. The first Lord Portman made various additions 
to the house, such as recasing it, and adding the portico which, unlike 
such additions as a rule, has the appearance of being a component portion 
of the original structure. 

To-day, apart from the natural changes which different tastes and 
modes of life engender, the interior of Portman House, as it is now called, 
preserves many of the characteristics of the time when Mrs. Montagu 
lived in it, and surrounded herself with the interesting and fashionable 
people of the later Georgian era. 

The Entrance Hall, with its Corinthian columns, is little altered, and 

' When in Parliament he was always being confused with General Montagu Matthew ; 
when the latter remarked on one occasion, "that there was no more likeness between Montagu 
Matthew and Matthew Montagu, than between a chestnut horse and a horse chestnut." — 
Wraxall. 




Photo Bedford Lemere & Co. 



THE SALOON, PORTMAN HOUSE. 



PORTMAN HOUSE 335 

the great top-light to the well-staircase looks down now on those ascend- 
ing the stairs as it did on the crowd of well-known people who passed up 
them to pay their respects to the former famous mistress of the house. 
The Morning Room, however, although its beautiful painted ceiHng 
and its elaborate decorations in white and gold preserves the taste of the 
period when it was constructed, no longer bears on its walls those feathered 
hangings which have been before referred to ; but its fine marble mantel- 
piece and polished steel grate, the latter a characteristic to be found 
in all the principal apartments, are as they were in Mrs. Montagu's time. 
From this room the Boudoir is reached, which in turn communicates 
with the principal bedroom. The Boudoir was originally Mrs. Montagu's 
" Room of Cupidons " ; but to-day these decorations have disappeared, 
and the prevailing tone of the room, carried out in the silk hangings on 
the walls and in other ways, is, not inappropriately, considering its former 
uses, blue. In this apartment, which is relatively small, is one of the 
fine marble mantelpieces which are to be found throughout the house, 
and of which the most elaborate example is that in the principal bed- 
room in which wreaths of flowers and fruit in coloured marbles are inlaid 
in white carrara in the most effective manner, and so skilfully that the 
effect of painted marble is produced. 

The principal room on this floor is the Ball Room, which is extra- 
ordinarily fine both in proportion and decoration. The ceiling, which 
is arched, is painted in panels, and the mass of gilding which surrounds 
these patches of delicate colour enhances their beauty, and communicates 
an air of great richness to the whole. The marble mantelpiece is also 
painted, and with the green marble columns with their gilt bases and 
capitals at one end of the room, carries out the classical scheme in the 
most effective way. Bonomi was responsible for most of the decorations 
of this room, and the paintings on the ceilings representing Olympus, 
with, among other subjects, " Venus borrowing the Cestus of Juno," in the 
centre compartment, are said to have been executed by him in 1791 ; 
although I think it more probable that the actual colouring was the work 
of Cipriani, as Bonomi was merely a designer and not a colourist. 

There is in this room a characteristic I do not remember ever to 
have seen in any other ; the frames of the window recesses and of the doors 
are all of solid white marble, and would seem calculated to defy even 
Time's destroying hand. 

The Reception Room is decorated if anything more elaborately than 
the other apartments, and here evidence of the work of AngeUca 
Kauffmann is particularly observable, six pictures, originally intended 
as decorations for over-doors, being from her brush. The subjects are 



336 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

taken from Shakespeare's plays, and one of them, that of Cordelia's dead 
body on the bier, is of great merit, and far superior to the rest ; although 
it is really unfair to judge these works as pictures at all, when they are 
merely intended as mural decorations. Unfortunately, however, they 
have been framed, which undoubtedly weakens the effect they were 
meant to produce, and which they would still produce if placed over the 
doors or let into the walls. 

Two other rooms on this floor are the Blue Drawing Room, so called 
from the colour of its brocaded silk wall hangings, and the Drawing Room, 
in which the prevailing tint is of pale green. In these, as in the other rooms 
I have mentioned, there are a number of beautiful objects scattered 
about on all sides ; but very few pictures ; considering, however, the 
highly decorative nature of the ceilings, the over-doors as well as even 
the frames of the doors, this lacuna is not so much to be deplored ; indeed 
it is a question whether pictorial decorations would not suffer by juxta- 
position with so much elaborate work as is here to be found as an intrinsic 
part of the house itself. This point has probably been duly considered, 
for in the Dining Room, which is necessarily less splendidly embellished 
than the other apartments, a number of pictures, chiefly of the modern 
school, hang. This apartment is on the ground floor, and looks out on 
to the beautiful garden, which will, for many people, constitute one of 
the chief attractions of this line mansion. The garden, together with the 
ground on which the house and the stables stand, extends to some three 
acres ; and when its central position in London is considered, the signi- 
ficance of this will be realised. 

The prevailing note of Portman House is one of artistic dignity, by 
which I would be understood to indicate dignity that has been increased 
by the care formerly bestowed upon it, and the preservation of its original 
characteristics. Some great houses are dignified but are anything but 
artistic ; others have been so over-elaborated in detail as to lose all repose, 
and tire the eye by the very effort made to please it. Portman House 
seems to me to hit the happy mean ; its dignified appearance is just 
sufficiently lightened by the beauty and unity of its internal decorations ; 
and these decorations never become " fade et ributant" as Boileau phrases 
it, by being tortured into means for displaying vulgar ostentation ; the 
mansion also remains a remarkable evidence of the art appreciation of the 
period in which it was built and adorned ; a period which was to be, for 
many years, the last of any true appreciation of art at all in this country. 




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CHAPTER XVIII 

SPENCER HOUSE 

^HREE of London's most stately houses cluster together at 
the south-east corner of the Green Park, and overlook the 
spot which in Carolean and early Georgian days was a noted 

duelling place, but now only responds to the tread of peaceful 

citizens, and hears no more terrible sounds than the crying of gregarious 
children or the strains of intermittent music. 

Of these three palaces — Stafford House, Bridgewater House, and 
Spencer House— the last is the smallest, but in many respects not the 
least interesting, and certainly the most picturesque. The entrance 
to it is by St. James's Place, one of those small cul-de-sacs from St. James's 
Street that have preserved some of the characteristics of an earlier day 
which the great thoroughfare out of which they lead has almost entirely 
lost. St. James's Place is so full of memories, that a few words must be 
said about it before we enter the mansion which is its most important 
feature. 

Addison once lodged in its precincts, and here were held those symposia 
in which the author of The Campaign was so frequently joined by Steele 
and Davenant, Carey and Phillips ; Mr. Secretary Craggs and Admiral 
Churchill, the great Marlborough's brother, and Pope's friends Parnell 
and Cleland, were former residents, as was " sweet Molly Lepel," who 
married Lord Hervey, and who resided in a house built for her in 1747, 
but was subsequently divided into two residences. John Wilkes was 
staying here " in elegant lodgings," some ten years later ; and later still 
Charles James Fox might have been seen treading its stones to one of 
his many resting-places in this neighbourhood, or visiting " Perdita '* 
Robinson who was once living at No. 13. 

" At her house in St. James's Place," died dear old Mrs. Delany 

in 1788 ; Sir Francis Burdett lived for a time, after he had left his 

house in Piccadilly, and died in 1844, in a house here (No. 25) which had 

been originally erected for Lord Guildford ; but of all the notable people, 

and there are others besides those I have set down, who once resided in 

St. James's Place, none has left such an undying mark here as Samuel 

337 y 



338 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

Rogers, who for over fifty years lived at No. 22, where all that was best 
in the literary and fashionable society of the day was wont to foregather. 
One cannot take up a book of reminiscences or a diary for the first half of 
the nineteenth century without coming across innumerable references to 
this house and its fastidious owner ; and here, as Hayward has written, 
" surrounded by the choicest treasures of art, and in a light reflected 
from Guidos and Titians, have sat and mingled in familiar converse the 
most eminent poets, painters, actors, artists, critics, travellers, historians, 
warriors, orators, and statesmen of two generations." ^ Such are the 
interesting memories which cling around St. James's Place, and help to 
give an added distinction to the spot where Spencer House, itself a classic 
masterpiece, stands. 

The mansion owes its existence to John Spencer, son of the third 
Earl of Sunderland, who was created first Earl Spencer in 1765. Copley's 
portrait represents him as having an intelligent, eager face, with a pro- 
nounced aquiline nose that somewhat recalls that of the elder Pitt. It 
is interesting to know that he was one of those nobles who took upon 
themselves the duties of mayoral office at a time when it was not so 
customary as it has since become, -to find the great ones of the earth 
interesting themselves in municipal matters. He was Mayor of St. Albans 
in 1779, having been High Steward of the borough seven years earlier. 

Lord Spencer's interest in art is proved by his having been one of 
the early members of the famous Society of Dilettanti, which did so much 
to improve the architecture of the country, and initiated, in fact, the 
first systematic attempt to bring England into line with the more artistic 
countries of Europe in this respect. Indeed Spencer House is so ob- 
viously the outcome of the movement of which the Society of Dilettanti 
was the moving spirit, that a few remarks about this generally little known 
institution will, perhaps, be interesting in this connection, especially as 
the architectural features of several of the other great houses mentioned 
in these pages were the result of the same influence. 

What William Wilkins, the architect, once wrote to Lord Goderich 
with regard to the example set by the Society might well be taken 
as its permanent motto : " The Society of Dilettanti," he says, " has 
done more towards the acquisition of architectural knowledge, by the 
promulgation of publications on the antiquities of Greece and Asia Minor, 
and by other aid afforded to the professors of architecture, than all the 
governments and societies of England united." 

The Society was formed in 1734, by certain gentlemen who had 
travelled in Italy, and were anxious to encourage a taste in England for 

' Selected Essays, vol. i. p. 74. 



a 



SPENCER HOUSE 339 

those objects which had fascinated them during their wanderings, as well 
as to promote a friendly and convivial spirit among those whose tastes 
lay in the same direction. Some four years later certain of its more enter- 
prising members, among them the young Earl of Sandwich and Mr. 
Ponsonby afterwards Lord Bessborough, made a voyage round the eastern 
parts of the Mediterranean, visiting Greece and Turkey, Asia Minor and 
Egypt, thus giving a fresh impulse to the new movement which bore fruit 
in the liberal contributions made by the Society towards the investigations 
of later travellers, and the pubHcations of the results of their researches. 

In 1749, it was determined to form an Academy of Arts, and ground 
was actually purchased in Cavendish Square for that purpose ; the site, 
however, not being afterwards made use of, was sold at such a substantial 
profit that it placed the Society in command of a very considerable sum 
towards those lavish contributions which it made to the splendid publica- 
tions of men like Stuart and Revett, Dr. Chandler, and Sir William Gell. 

Stuart and Revett had been introduced to the Society by Sir James 
Grey, the British Minister at Venice, whose brother. Colonel George 
Grey, was one of the most active of the members who personally interested 
themselves in their ventures and discoveries. During their travels they 
had visited the Temple of Pola, and, in 1753, the Society determined 
that this should be the model for their intended home of British Art, 
but at this moment the movement was on hand which resulted in the 
founding of the Royal Academy, and although the Society of Dilettanti 
thereupon refrained from doing anything on its own initiative, it largely 
contributed to the success of the new venture which greatly relied for 
success on the aid and countenance of the elder body. 

In 1774, ^^ ^^^ t^^ Society setting aside the interest of a large sum 
of money in order that two students, recommended by the Royal Academy, 
might study for three years in Greece and Italy ; it also undertook the 
heavy expenses connected with Dr. Chandler's mission of investigation in 
Italy, and the purchase of many of the marbles and inscriptions found by 
him, as well as the subsequent publication of his two quarto volumes. 
In 181 2, the members sent out another mission under Sir WilHam Gell, 
and published, at their own expense, his magnificent volumes on the 
antiquities of Attica, and later those on Ionian antiquities. 

At an earlier date the Society had begun to interest itself in the badly 
needed new bridge at Westminster, and it was probably due to its exer- 
tions that Parliament was induced to take the expense of this fine work 
on its own shoulders. 

An interesting feature in the constitution of the Society was the 
employment of a painter — Knapton was the first, followed by Sir Joshua 



340 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

and others — to perpetuate the Hneaments of its members ; those who did 
not at once have their portraits thus taken having to pay " face money," 
i.e. a guinea a year till they did. The portraits are to-day in the 
Dudley Gallery, and here may be seen the heads of those who did so 
much to encourage art at a time when such an impetus was badly needed. 
There are the two great groups painted by Reynolds ; the portraits of 
Lord Le Despencer, of Medenham Abbey notoriety, the Dukes of Bed- 
ford, Dorset, and Kingston ; Lords Holdernesse, Granby, Duncannon, 
Sandwich, and Middlesex ; Mr. Morritt, of Rokeby Hall ; General 
Grey ; the Colonel Edward Grey whom I have mentioned, and to whom, 
as we shall see, Spencer House is said to owe much of its architectural 
beauty ; Payne Knight, one of whose publications nearly brought the 
Society into some temporary discredit, and Sir Martin Shee, who, in 
his day, was one of its " painters," as Lord Leighton and Sir John Millais 
were in our own time. 

One can imagine that when the plans of Spencer House were com- 
pleted, they were probably laid before the Society for its consideration ; 
for at least two who were concerned in its erection. Colonel Grey and 
" Athenian " Stuart, were as we have seen, active members of that body. 
Spencer House is, indeed, an excellent object lesson in the aims of this 
Society, for it combines in its architecture and decorations evidence of 
that classic revival which, perhaps, alone prevented a more general accept- 
ance of that sham-gothic style which Walpole inaugurated and did so much 
to popularise. 

The mansion was the product of the combined energies of several 
architects, at least four having had a hand in the work ; Colonel George 
Grey, an amateur architect — of whom, by-the-bye, there were a great 
number at this period — being said to have executed the general design of 
the house ; ^ which would not be incompatible with the assertion that has 
been made that the design was taken from a drawing by Inigo Jones ; 
for it is quite likely that an amateur would be willing enough to base 
his production on the work of such a pre-eminent master. On the other 
hand, it has been rather generally stated that John Vardy, a pupil of 
Kent, was the architect of the main portion of the house. Vardy, 
with the help of Bonomi, was, we know, some twenty years later responsible 
for Uxbridge House in Burlington Gardens, and was, a little earlier than 
the period of the building of Spencer House, employed in erecting 
the Horse Guards, the chief design of which had been produced by his 
master, Kent, and as there are certain points of, it must be confessed 
somewhat remote, resemblance between that building and Spencer House, 

' Cust's History of the Society of Dilettanti^ p. I2. 



SPENCER HOUSE 341 

his claim to the design of at least the Green Park front of the latter may 
perhaps be allowed. The very noticeable statues which decorate this 
front were the work of a little-known sculptor named Spang, and are, 
considering the somewhat questionable propriety of such figures as adorn- 
ments to a private residence, not unsuccessful. The facade facing St. James's 
Place was the work of James, or, as he is more generally termed, " Athenian," 
Stuart.' 

The mansion was apparently commenced about the end of 1/55 or 
beginning of 1756, for we find Mrs. Delany writing on September 27 
of the latter year, thus : " Tuesday morning Dr. Delany and I walked 
through the Park to see Mr. Spencer's house, which is begun, and the 
ground floor finished. One front is in St. James's Place, on the left hand 
as you go up the street, and another front to the Green Park ; it will be 
superb when finished." The completion did not, however, take place 
for some years, as Stuart's front, and certain of the elaborate internal de- 
corations were not designed till some four years later. 

As we see it to-day Spencer House is one of the most complete and 
elaborate examples of the architecture and decorations of that transition 
which, as we have seen, the Dilettanti did so much to foster by a lavish 
expenditure and untiring energy in preserving and bringing into this 
country those remains of ancient Greece and Rome which might other- 
wise have fallen victims not so much to the destroying hand of Time 
as to the vandalism of those who should have been their natural protectors. 

In all the Reception Rooms, both on the ground and first floors, the 
splendid mantelpieces are eloquent of classic associations ; that in the 
large Drawing Room being particularly noticeable. In like manner the 
ceilings are things to wonder at, the most beautiful being that in the 
Ball Room, divided into compartments heavily gilded, and the frieze of 
which is decorated with medallions in the most effective manner ; indeed 
the friezes, the sopra-portas, the solid mahogany doors, and every detail 
of the internal decoration carry out the motif dominating the whole house 
in a remarkably complete way. 

The Grand Staircase, of great height, has a vaulted ceiling in com- 
partments, the details of which are accentuated by the skilful arrange- 
ments of lighting, which, although it may be an anachronism, is after all a 
necessary one. But this is a house in which everything pertaining to a 

• Elmes, in his British Artists, speaking of " this magnificent mansion," says : " I have 
heard it asserted that the shell of Spencer House, consisting of solid stone, cost alone 5o,cxx3 
guineas ;" and Mr. Blomfield, in his History of Renaissance Architecture in England, gives a 
technical account of the building, and notices the remarkable ability displayed in the internal 
arrangements which, he says, are "more modern than any plan of the time." The plan and 
elevation of the house are in the Viiruvius Britannicus. 



342 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

later life than that of early Greece or Rome appears an anachronism ; 
such a place which, to be properly appreciated, should be treated as Sir 
Alma Tadema has treated his classic abode, or Mr. Mortimer Menpes, 
his oriental resting-place ; and particularly is this the case with one re- 
markable room, a veritable tour de force of reconstructive ability. This 
is the so-called Painted Room ; and appropriately so-called, for there is 
hardly a square inch on wall or ceiling which has not been decorated in 
those dead colours which the remains of Pompeii or Herculaneum yield to 
our gaze. When we enter this apartment we seem to be stepping back 
two thousand years ; we are no longer in a London reception-room ; we 
are in the tablinium in the house of Marcus Lucretius, or in one of the 
remarkable painted chambers in the dwelling of Meleager ; that red light 
in the sky is not the sun setting over the trees of the Green Park, but 
the afterglow of some great eruption of Vesuvius ! If a door open, 
surely Glaucus or Diomed or the blind Nydia will appear ! It is truly a 
room in which to dream of the past, a living past made sentient by the 
realistic surroundings in which we stand ; and we are only brought 
down to the eighteenth century by seeing the beautiful creations of 
the French art of that period which fill it, or to the actual present, by 
catching a glimpse of the band-stand in the Park beyond. 

Descriptions of rooms are always unsatisfactory, and at best give but 
an inadequate idea of what one wishes to convey ; but with the help 
of the illustration here given, some idea may be gained of the extra- 
ordinarily complete decorative scheme of this remarkable apartment. 
It will be seen that the ceiling is divided into compartments very deeply 
moulded, the centres of which are occupied by paintings of dancing girls 
and allegorical figures, and that from its centre hangs a beautiful but 
startling anachronism in the shape of a crystal chandelier above which, 
in a circle, are painted the signs of the Zodiac. The walls are also divided 
into compartments by flat columns surmounted by elaborate capitals ; 
while in the intervening spaces, circular, oval, and oblong paintings, 
probably the work of Zucchi ^ or Angelica KauiTmann, representing 
allegorical subjects, are surrounded by festoons, wreaths, and an abun- 
dance of arabesques, almost bewildering in their fantastic ingenuity of 
disposition. But what cannot be seen in the illustration, is the gorgeous 

' Antonio Zucchi, whom I have occasion to mention several times in this work, was born 
in Italy, and was brought to this country by Adam, by whom he was employed in decorating 
many of the houses which the latter erected. He became an associate of the Royal Academy, 
but subsequently returned to Rome where he died in 1795. Angelica Kauffmann is too well 
known to require any further notice here ; an interesting life of this talented lady was 
written by F. A. Gerard (1892), where her friendship with Lord and Lady Spencer, and 
the commissions given her Ijy them, are mentioned. 




Photo Bedford Lemere & Co 



THE PAINTED ROOM, SPENCER HOUSE. 



SPENCER HOUSE 343 

effect of colour which, when we consider the number of tones introduced, 
makes the result produced a veritable tour de force. The whole of the 
room is delicately painted in a blue-green background, against which the 
elaborate gilding introduced in the capitals of the columns and elsewhere, 
stands out with added splendour and effect. The picture includes 
that portion of the room which has a rounded end, and is divided from 
the rest by piUars of ivory white and gold, which forms an appropriate 
feature in the scheme of decoration ; and if the anomaly of a fire-place 
can be permitted, the beauty of the marble chimney-piece, with its 
painted panel above representing a Roman wedding, its terra-cotta has 
reliefs, and its finely moulded caryatids, must surely extort praise from 
the most fastidious and the most critical. 

Besides this wonderful room, there is a delightful little Tribune with 
a domed ceiling and concave walls beautifully decorated with classic 
designs in dead white. This small apartment leads from a larger one, 
now used as a Library, and was intended, I assume, as a way on to the 
great Terrace which runs the whole length of the house, and overlooks 
the Green Park. This Terrace, of great width, is one of the features 
of the mansion, and, with the exception of the more modern one at 
Montagu House, Whitehall, is unique as an adjunct to a London residence. 
Between it and the Park is the garden, which occupies Crown land and 
for which a great rent is paid. 

Spencer House has been for some years occupied by Baron de Forest 
who rents it from Lord Spencer, and although much of the fine furniture 
and a few of the pictures belong to his Lordship, the chief objects are 
the property of the Baron. In these circumstances it is not exactly 
within my scheme to speak of them, because at the expiration of his tenancy 
they will be removed, but I cannot resist, as I have the permission, to 
say a word or two about some of the wonderful things which have their 
temporary home there. For instance, in the small Drawing Room 
hangs a lovely portrait of Henrietta Maria by Vandyck, and a three- 
quarter-length of a young boy by the same master. Here too, is a par- 
ticularly interesting picture of the unfortunate Dauphin (Louis XVIL), 
by Greuze, holding in his hand a ball — the only toy, it is said, allowed 
him during those dreary days of imprisonment in the Temple ; and a land- 
scape, one of the Swiss lakes, by Turner, as well as a Cuyp full of verve 
and rich colour ; but the glory of the room's contents are the two 
landscapes by Hobbema, before which one could spend hours of delighted 
contemplation, so rich and fresh are these two masterpieces. 

Then in the large Drawing Room hangs a Terburg, representing a 



344 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

man writing while another waits to carry away the letter ; and a Jan 
Steen, full of richness and breadth ; another picture by the same Dutch 
Hogarth is in the Dining Room, and is called " St. Nicholas's Day," in 
which work the figures are much larger than is usual with this painter, and 
the humour is as infectious as is that of the boy playing on the flute, by 
Franz Hals, which hangs near it. In the Dining Room is a fine " Holy 
Family " by Murillo, which hangs at one end of the room, while at the other 
is Vandyck's masterly canvas portraying the Duchess of Buckingham and 
her three children, painted after the death of the Duke whose portrait 
is, however, introduced as a medallion attached to a column in the 
background. 

Those who are interested in the French furniture of the eighteenth 
century may here, too, feast their eyes on that pair of armoires which 
were originally at Hamilton Palace, and which probably remain among 
the greatest masterpieces of Boulle's skill. They were designed by Le 
Brun, and are made of ebony inlaid with ormolu, with panels of tortoise- 
shell ; but the whole description may be read in the Catalogue of the famous 
Hamilton Palace collection, at the sale of which they realised over ^12,000. 
They had originally been in the Louvre, in the Due Dumont's collection, 
and later at Fonthill, a pedigree alone sufficient to stamp them as master- 
pieces of French decorative art. 

There are not many books to be seen in Spencer House to-day, and 
the wonderful library collected by the bibliophilic second Earl, is no 
longer at Althorp, having been purchased en bloc by the late Mrs. Rylands 
and presented to the city of Manchester, but at one time many of these 
treasures had a resting-place, if but a temporary one, here. 

Dr. Dibdin has described them, with all the minuteness of a lover, 
in his great work on the Spencer Library, in which may be read the history 
of the acquisition of such an assemblage of books as has never, perhaps, been 
equalled by any private collector. What book-lover cannot appreciate 
the feelings of the noble collector when he brought back to Spencer House 
one of those fifty-seven Caxtons, or the great Mentz Psalter, or the 
Mazarin Bible, or some example of the presses of Wynken de Worde, 
Pynsen, or Fust and Schoeffer ; or of the Aldines (there are no less than 
six hundred of them), or the Elzevirs, including that rarity, the 
Pastissier Franfots, or one of those thousand other rarities in which no 
other library is equally rich, and which the resources of all the million- 
aires combined would nowadays be powerless to obtain ? 

The great book-lover who succeeded as second Earl, in 1783, was as 
closely identified with London and its literary interests as he was with 
Althorp and its sporting and agricultural activities ; and what Dibdin 



SPENCER HOUSE 345 

says of him, in his Bibliomania, may well be included in the account 
of the house in which he lived for so many years and in which he 
assembled so many priceless treasures. He was, says the good Doctor, 
" a nobleman not less upright and weighty in the senate than polished 
and amiable in private life ; who, cool and respected amidst the violence 
of party, has filled two of the most important offices of State in a manner 
at once popular and effective, and who, to his general love of the fine 
arts and acquaintance with classical literature, has superadded the noble 
achievement of having collected the finest private library in Europe." 

The portrait of the second Earl, by Phillips, shows us a strong face 
lighted up by kind, speculative eyes, with a mouth of great determination ; 
Mrs. Delany wrote of him, in his earlier years, that he was " never hand- 
some, but always agreeable, and a fine young man " ; and a later writer, 
in the Ge?itleman''s Magazine, speaks of him as being " tall and athletic, 
if not robust " ; and adds that " his demeanour was particularly his own — 
calm, gentle, dignified, but not unbending." He died on November loth, 
1834, ^^'^ ^^^ succeeded in his titles and estates by his son, John 
Charles Spencer, who as Lord Althorp had filled a large space in the 
poUtical annals of the country. He had been, with some breaks, member 
for Northampton from 1806-1832 ; and from 1830-1834, was Chancellor 
of the Exchequer. Greville notes his " remarkable bonhomie, unalterable 
good nature and good temper " ; but Ticknor, judging at first too much, 
perhaps, by the outward appearance of the man, remarks that he had 
" no particularly vivacious expression of countenance " ; although after 
Ticknor had been in his company some time at Wentworth House, he 
seems to have realised that there were fine sterling qualities in " Honest 
Althorp," as he had been called in earlier days ; and his recollections of 
Pitt and Fox and Sheridan seemed to his American visitor, for Ticknor 
afterwards visited him at Althorp, as reliable as they were endless. 

Lord Spencer occupied Spencer House when in London during the 
relatively short time between his accession, in 1834, to the title, and his 
death in 1845, when he was succeeded by his brother, Frederick Spencer, 
who also, curiously enough, lived but ten years after that event, when he was 
succeeded by his son, the present peer, whose career as a statesman is too 
well known to require recapitulation here. The present Lord Spencer 
married, in 1858, Charlotte, the beautiful daughter of Frederick Charles 
William Seymour, Esq., and under her auspices as one of the most hospi- 
table and successful of London hostesses, Spencer House was the rallying- 
point of fashion and political activity for many years. On her death, 
Lord Spencer practically gave up the mansion so far as entertaining was 
concerned ; and in more recent years it has been let at different times, 



346 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

once to the Duke of Marlborough, and at present to Baron de Forest, 
as I have said. 

It seems not unlikely that in the near future the present Lord Althorp, 
Lord Spencer's only brother and heir, will give it another lease of life as 
a fashionable rallying-place, when there is every reason to suppose that 
its old traditions for hospitality will be renewed, and that it will again 
become as closely identified with the family in whose hands it has re- 
mained for so long, as it was when the first Earl, who built it, dwelt here, 
or when the second Earl housed within its walls some of his priceless 
treasures. 




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CHAPTER XIX 

STAFFORD HOUSE 

OWING to the interest which the Leveson-Gower family has 
I always taken in any scheme having for its object the amelioration 
f of the unfortunate and the furtherance of charity, it is probable 
that the interior of Stafford House is better known to the general 
public than that of any of the great houses of London. As long as any 
of us can remember, its doors have been open in the cause of charity ; 
and a bare list of the entertainments — bazaars, and concerts, and meetings 
— which have been convoked here for philanthropic purposes, would fill 
a volume in itself. Stafford House has, too, in the past been a great 
rallying-ground for those distinguished foreigners — Garibaldi and Poerio 
are notable examples — whose views have not always commended them- 
selves to officialdom, and its gilded walls have ere now echoed sentiments 
which have had for their theme the emancipation of down-trodden races 
and the furtherance of civil freedom. It was also one of the few 
great houses where Queen Victoria came not only as an honoured guest 
but as a personal friend, drawn thither by the close affection she bore to 
many of the family — particularly the sixth Duke and his Duchess — an 
affection solidified hy many years of close friendship. And nothing could 
be more appropriate than the collocation of this august name with those 
of her host and hostess who did so much towards alleviating the distressed 
and suffering ; for no sovereign believed more fully than Queen Victoria 
that, as Sidney Smith once said Grattan did, " the noblest occupation of 
a man was to make other men free and happy." 

Stafford House is at once the largest (with the possible exception of 
Dorchester House), within the most gorgeous, and outwardly the most 
architecturally unostentatious of London's private palaces. The late 
Queen, having in mind, perhaps, the two former characteristics, together 
with the almost regal entertainments with which the mansion was 
identified, once said to the then Duchess of Sutherland, " I have come 
from my house to your palace " ; a " word," as Lord Ronald Gower 
remarks, worthy of Louis Quatorze himself. On the other hand, the 

347 



348 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

building itself has been likened to a packing-case out of which the more 
elaborately designed Bridgewater House might have been taken ! There 
is certainly an air of massive solidity about the building which, even if it 
at first repels, at least comes as a relief after the factitious fashionings of 
certain more recently erected London houses ; for it is certainly better 
to rely on an absence of architectural embellishments than to raise a 
building in which every style is mingled, and a fuller publicity is given 
to insignificance by the very attempt to avoid it. 

Dr. Waagen very truly says that " in extent, grandeur of proportions, 
solidity of material, and beauty of situation," Stafford House " excels 
every mansion in London," for it will be observed that he ingeniously 
avoids saying anything about the want of external decoration, and this 
being remembered, few will gainsay his verdict. Its situation, too, is 
indeed such that, perhaps, no other great house in London has been so 
immune from depreciation by the proximity of more modern erections. 
It practically remains in the stately isolation in which it stood when 
first erected, bounded on two sides hy the Mall and the Green Park, and 
having only as neighbours the royal residence known as Clarence House, 
and the picturesque buildings of St. James's Palace. 

Two writers have described this great palace,* with all the minuteness 
of close personal knowledge — Lord Ronald Gower, who was born within 
its walls, and the late Lord Beaconsfield. Indeed the " Crecy House " 
of Lothair is, mutatis mutandis, essentially the Stafford House of to-day, 
and the glamour of romance by which fact and fiction is skilfully inter- 
mingled, sufficiently preserves the characteristics of an edifice, which, as the 
noveUst writes, was " not unworthy of Vicenza in its best days, though 
on a far more extensive style than any pile that city boasts." 

Rogers, who had seen all the palaces of Europe, said he preferred 
Stafford House to them all, and he was wont to call it a fairy palace of 
which the then Duchess was the good fairy. And truly, as we shall see, 
it is a fairy palace, decorated as Versailles is decorated ; adorned by works 
of art as the old palaces of Italy or the more famous chateaux of France 
were adorned. In his interesting and charming Reminiscences Lord Ronald 
Gower thus writes of those who have from time to time assembled within 
its walls : " What a succession of illustrious guests have been welcomed in 
this splendid Hall ! Poerio and his fellow-sufferers, still weak from their 
confinement in the prisons of Naples ; Garibaldi the Deliverer, clad in his 

' Expressions of admiration for the house and its contents are, of course, to be found 
scattered about the diaries and letters of the period ; Charles Greville on one occasion 
says : "The Hall looked exactly like one of Paul Veronese's pictures," and Etty remarks of the 
Picture Gallery, that it is "the most magnificent room in any palace or mansion in England." 



STAFFORD HOUSE 349 

famous red garb ; Livingstone and Charles Sumner, besides a host of 
princes ^ and magnates, potentates and plenipotentiaries, have ascended 
those storied stairs. On the principal landing of this staircase, fronting 
the great glass doors, which are supposed only to open for royalty or for 
the departing bride, how many charitable meetings have been held, how 
many triumphs of music accomplished ! Here Malibran, Grisi, Lablache, 
Rubini, and Tamburini have sung ; here Ristori and Thellusson recited. 
Nor has this Hall echoed only to the strains of Rossini, Bellini, and Doni- 
zetti, but also to the voices of philanthropists and patriots — to Lord 
Shaftesbury advocating the cause of the white, and Garrison ^ that of 
the black slave." 

In the days of George H., Kent, the architect, designed for Queen 
Caroline the Library which occupied the site of what in Charles H.'s time 
were the gardens to the south of old Cleveland House, as may be seen 
by Knyff's plan ; this Library was completed at the end of 1737. In 
Pennant's day it had fallen to more prosaic uses as a lumber room, although 
the antiquarian notes that he saw there among the rubbish, pictures of 
interest depicting events in the life of Charles I. It, however, appears 
to have reverted to its former uses for a time in 181 5, when the Duke of 
York's Library, which had previously been housed at the Horse Guards, 
was removed hither. It may have been that the Duke's attention was 
more particularly drawn to the advantages of this spot by the circum- 
stance ; but whether this was so or no, he not long after projected the 
building of a residence for himself on this site, and in 1825 York House, 
as it was then called, came into existence. There is a tradition that the 
necessary funds — ^60,000, says the Duke of Buckingham^ — were borrowed 
by the Duke from the Marquis of Stafford (created Duke of Sutherland, 
in 1833), while another report has it that the Duke of York planned the 
house himself, although Wyatt was its nominal architect. In any case, 
His Royal Highness never lived to inhabit his new mansion * — like many 
another, he built forgetful of the Horatian maxim, and at his death the 
building was purchased by the Government for nearly ^82,000 ; the 
price having been fixed by arbitration. A few months later, there seems 
to have been some intention on the part of the purchasers to allocate 
the house to the use of the Royal Society, and indeed matters went to 

' A water-colour by Lami in Stafford House represents one of Queen Victoria's state 
visits here. 

■^ A noted American abolitionist, born 1805, died 1879. He was President of the American 
Anti-Slavery Society from 1843 'o 1865. 

^ Memoirs 0/ the Court of George IV. 

* In a contemporary notice, quoted in Ashton's England wider the Regency, p. 152, we read 
that the Duke of York's residence, in 1814, was opposite Clarence House. 



350 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

the length of its being offered to, and accepted by, that august body ; 
however, for some cause or another,* the matter fell through, and the 
residence, with its gardens, was sold to the Marquis of Stafford, in 
December, 1827, for ^72,000,^ subject to an annual ground rent of £7S^y 
on a ninety-nine years lease, so that in eighteen years' time it should 
revert to the Crown. The money thus received by the Government was 
set apart for the purchase, in 1842, of the subsequently named Victoria 
Park, in the East End, which was opened as a recreation ground for the 
public ; so that, even in this, Stafford House was associated with a good work ! 

The Marquis of Stafford completed the house from the designs of 
B. Wyatt, and also with the help of Barry, by adding two storeys to it, the 
third storey being concealed by a high stone coping ; and by the embellish- 
ment of the interior in a way, perhaps, even beyond the dreams of the 
royal Duke who commenced its building. The mansion has been variously 
known as York House, Sutherland House, and Stafford House ; the 
second designation is that given in the current plans of London,^ and is 
that, I believe, favoured by the present owner — the Duke of Sutherland — 
but the last name is so indissolubly connected with it, that it is generally 
spoken of under that title. 

Stafford House stands at the extreme south-western limit of the 
parish of St. James's, and forms indeed a solid and magnificent corner- 
stone to this historic part of the town. It is built entirely of hewn-stone, 
and since, quite recently, the dirt of some generations has been cleaned 
from its surface, its appearance has been so vastly improved, and certain 
features in the design have been so conspicuously brought to light, that, 
remembering its old state, one can hardly believe but that some magic 
power has rebuilt the house — unlike the Prisoner of Chillon's hair, it 
seems to have turned white in a single night ! 

The house is square in shape, and the principal front, which is 
on the north-west side, has a large projecting portico formed by eight 
Corinthian pillars supporting an entablature on which appears a ducal 
coronet — one of the details accentuated by the cleaning. The south 
and west fronts, facing the gardens, are similar in design, each having six 
Corinthian columns in the centre ; while the east front, which abuts on 
the private roadway leading to the Mall, and overlooking Clarence House 
and the garden of St. James's Palace, is quite plain. 

' One reason given was that the increased expenditure was more than the Society could 
afford, and also that the rooms were not easily adaptable to its needs. 

- " My neighbours have not yet got possession of York House ; because though the price 
is agreed, there is some proceeding that will take another month in the Court of Chancery to 
make a secure title." — Rt. Hon. T. Greville to the Duke of Buckingham, Jan. 28, 1828. 

' Although in the Directories themselves it is given as Stafford House. 



STAFFORD HOUSE 351 

Solid and to some extent majestic as is the exterior, it hardly gives 
promise of the magnificence, no lesser word will serve, of the interior, 
with its vast apartments, its superb Hall and grand staircase, its wealth 
of decoration, and above all, its wondrous contents. To Wyatt is due 
the planning of the interior, which reminded Dr. Waagen of some of 
those Genoese palaces in which the arts of architecture and decorations 
were carried to their furthest limits. The Great Hall is entered 
through immense doors formed of looking-glass, which, as we have 
seen, are only opened on special occasions ; but when opened reveal 
the grand staircase lighted by a lantern or skyUght fitted with engraved 
grass, with its majestic double flight of steps leading to the gallery that 
surrounds the vast hall. 

The walls of this hall are of imitation giallo antico, reHeved at intervals 
by Corinthian columns of white marble ; and when we remember that 
it is no less than eighty feet square, and that it rises to a height, 
in the centre, of one hundred and twenty feet, we can gain some idea of 
its surprisingly grand effect, and can fully endorse Waagen's enthusiastic 
comments. The coup d''aeil is greatly enhanced by the gilding of the 
staircase, and the red and white marble of the floor, but chiefly, perhaps, 
by Lorenzi's copies of pictures by Paul Veronese, which fill the compart- 
ments in the walls, representing " St. Sebastian conducted to Martyrdom," 
from the original in the Church of St. Sebastian at Venice, which 
Mrs. Jameson considered one of the finest dramatic pictures she had ever 
beheld ; " The Marriage of St. Catherine," from the picture in the Church 
of St. Catherine, also at Venice ; " The Nativity " ; a female saint, and " The 
Martydom of St. George," the original of which may be seen in the Church 
of St. Giorgi at Verona. But decorative and effective as are these ad- 
mirable copies, there were formerly two pictures in the Hall, hanging on 
each side of the fireplace but now placed in the Gallery, which 
will extort greater admiration — these are the two Murillos which once 
graced Marshal Soult's wonderful gallery : " The Prodigal's Return," 
for which eleven thousand guineas was paid ; and " Abraham and the 
Angels." Both these pictures were stolen by the French leader from 
La Caridad, at Seville. They were exhibited at the British Institution 
in 1836, and the former, in particular, is a very fine example of Murillo 
at his best, the hunger-pinched, beseeching face of the penitent being 
very finely contrasted with the look of pity and love on that of the father ; 
but in the latter, although the figure of Abraham is effective, those of the 
angels cannot be said to have the dignity which a greater master would 
have given them. 

It can well be imagined that when this Hall and staircase are lighted 



352 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

up, on special occasions, not only by innumerable candelabra, but also by 
the blaze of jewels and beautiful dresses of ladies, and the orders and 
decorations of men, what a magnificent effect is produced. Dr. Waagen 
was at a reception of this sort, in 1835, and fancied himself " at one of 
those splendid festivals which Paul Veronese has represented in his larger 
pictures with such animation and incomparable skill." One note alone 
broke the dazzling effect, and the good Doctor did not fail to observe 
it : the melancholy uniformity of the men's black clothes, which he 
quaintly says " was much as if a flight of crows had alighted among birds 
of the most brilliant and most delicate colours." It was on some such 
occasion that Mr. Gladstone, at the top of the staircase, was voicing to 
a lady friend his admiration of the brilliant effect of the many coloured 
dresses and the beautiful jewels of the female portion of the crowd 
ascending the stairs, when his companion expressed her surprise at his 
ever being able to find any satisfaction in a " bare majority " ! 

In contradistinction to this gay scene it is amusing to remember that 
at least on one occasion Stafford House witnessed an exhibition of objects 
— each of which formed a memento mori in its most eloquent form — for 
here, in the summer of 1875, the gardens might have been seen covered 
with nothing more or less than — wicker coffins ! " Surgit amari aliquid," 
indeed ! This bizarre exhibition, about which, of course, Punch had 
something to say, was held to illustrate the then much vexed question of 
" earth to earth " burial ; and ladies in the gayest of gay attire might 
have been observed discussing with the greatest equanimity, the pros and 
cons of this curious method of burial. 

The Great Hall of Stafford House, on the ground floor, is sur- 
rounded by a number of rooms all splendid in decoration, of great 
height and fine proportions, and all filled with numberless treasures of 
art. If we take the Dining Room first, we shall find there a variety of 
interesting works which have been comparatively recently moved to this 
apartment, among which a landscape by Jacob Ruysdael, with cattle by 
A. Van der Velde, and another by Claude are noticeable, as are particularly 
a very delicate pair by Wynants, as well as a delightful " Market Place " by 
Lingelbach, and a view of The Hague, by Jan Hackaert, in which the 
figures are by Nicholas de Helt Stockade, according to Waagen who 
considered them nearly equal to the work by A. Van der Velde, which 
came from the MuUer collection at Amsterdam. Here, too, hangs 
Pordenone's " Woman taken in Adultery," from Sir George Yonge's 
collection ; and among the portraits in this room is the large canvas of 
Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland, wife of the second Duke, with her 
daughter, afterwards Duchess of Argyll, by Lawrence, painted in 1823, 



STAFFORD HOUSE 353 

and then considered a remarkable likeness ; the second Duke of Suther- 
land, by the same master ; and Lord Gower, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the 
picture, evidently, for which the Earl sat in May 1760, and the January 
of the following year ; while Mr. Sargent's fine full-length of the 
present Duchess, with its remarkable bit of painting of the " tender 
inward " of the left hand, and its splendid realism, hangs close by. 
Next to the Dining Room is the Ante-Dining Room, where the 
pictures exhibit an equal catholicity of taste and arrangement ; here is 
Jan Miel's " Monks distributing Alms at the Door of a Convent," 
which originally belonged to the Due de Choiseul, and afterwards passed 
into the collection of the Countess of Holdernesse ; G. di Giovanni's 
" Christ's Charge to Peter " ; and an " Adoration of the Magi," a triptych, 
by an unknown master. Madame Vigee le Brun's portrait of the Princess 
Radziwill is also here ; as are a pair of compositions made up of those 
so-called " Roman Ruins " by Pannini, which at one period formed such 
a favourite subject for classical interpretation ; but the most charming 
of the pictures in this room are two landscapes ; one, a river scene, by 
Philip de Koningk, which Waagen very properly notes as possessing 
" astounding depth of power, with the most brilliant effect of light " ; 
and a landscape with figures by that fine painter Wynants ; while there 
is also " A Skirmish of Cavalry " by Van der Meulen, which once be- 
longed to the Duchesse de Berri. From the Ante-Dining Room, the 
Red Drawing Room, so called because its walls are hung in red 
damask, is reached ; the half-dozen pictures that hang in this room 
are, with the exception of the two Murillos representing the Saints Justa 
and Rulina, which came from the Altamira Gallery, by Italian masters ; 
thus a " Holy Family," once in the Orleans collection, is by that some- 
what infrequent painter Valerio Castello, a member of a family that 
gave a number of artists to the world ; another " Holy Family " is by 
Ludovico Caracci, and formerly belonged to Westall ; and a " Salvator 
Mundi " is attributed to Guercino ; and here, too, is one of the many 
excellent copies of Raphael's famous " Madonna della Sedia." 

It is perhaps as well that but relatively few pictures hang on the walls 
of this room, as the rich hangings, accentuated by the magnificent carved 
and gilded cornices, &c., are enough in themselves to carry out an efficient 
scheme of decoration without the addition of pictorial aid. 

The Ante-Library strikes, as it should, a quieter tone, and the ten 
works that hang on its walls benefit accordingly. They are chiefly of 
the Dutch and Flemish schools, and among them, one of the most beautiful 
is a river scene by Van Goyen, which is an exceptionally fine example of 
a master who was proverbially very unequal. Of this work Waagen thus 

Z 



354 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

speaks : " The conception of the circular tower and cattle on the canal 
is so poetic, the colouring so powerful, the sky so warm, the execution, 
which is of admirable body, so careful, that any one judging a picture on 
its own merits will readily admit this to rank with a Cuyp, a Ruysdael, and 
other masters of the highest class." Praise of so high a kind from such 
an authority is, indeed, a hall-mark to any work. This particular picture, 
before coming into the possession of the Marquis of Stafford, once be- 
longed to the Duchesse de Berri. 

Jacques Artois is responsible for another landscape with cattle. It is 
known that Teniers sometimes put in the figures of Artois's landscapes, 
but whether he worked in this way on this particular canvas I am unable 
to say ; in any case it is a very carefully painted work, and the land- 
scape portion of it is a good specimen of Artois's clever touch. " The 
Marriage of St. Catherine," by Rubens, which hangs here, is con- 
jectured by Waagen, on account of its rich golden and Titian-like tones, 
to have been executed when the painter was in Venice, or at any rate 
soon after his return, while the influence of Italy was still strong upon 
him. Here are also a landscape by Pynacker, once in the Due de Berri's 
Gallery, and a warm and truthful representation of an old woman saying 
grace, by Brecklencamp, as well as " An Alchemist," by Granet ; and 
there is also a portrait of Mdlle. de Charolais by Nattier, not very 
happily placed among these other masters, whose aim and style were so 
alien to the light, and graceful, though soulless methods of the French 
eighteenth-century school. 

The Green Library, to which the dominant colour of the hangings 
gives the name, adjoins the Ante-Library, and here hangs the portrait 
group of Lady Evelyn Sutherland Leveson-Gower, afterwards Lady 
Blantyre, and her brother Lord Stafford, later third Duke of Sutherland, 
by Landseer. A tame fawn and some dogs are, almost inevitably with 
Sir Edwin, introduced into the picture, and Dunrobin Castle is seen in 
the background. 

A number of miniatures are also in this room, such as copies of Raphael's 
" Fornarina," and " Leo X." ; and the " Cleopatra " of Guido. There is 
also a scene from the Decameron by Winterhalter, and a portrait of Lady 
Elizabeth Sutherland Leveson-Gower, afterwards Duchess of Argyll, 
by Bostock. 

The Duke's Sitting Room is, of course, an essentially private apart- 
ment and does not therefore concern us, except that mention may be 
made of a few of the pictures which it contains, especially as several of 
them have an intrinsic interest, apart from those that possess a higher 
value as works of art. Of the former may be mentioned a representa- 



STAFFORD HOUSE 355 

tion of the " Hotel de Carnavalet," once the home of Madame de 
Sevigne, which Raguenet painted in 1766 for Horace Walpole, at the 
sale of whose treasures at Strawberry Hill, in 1842, it was purchased; 
as well as an interesting portrait of Henry Jermyn, Earl of St. Albans, 
who made St. James's Square, and thus laid the foundation of the West 
End as a residential quarter, by Old Stone after the picture by Vandyck. 
Among other portraits is that of a Venetian gentleman, by Paris Bordone, 
from Westall's collection ; a portrait of herself by Lavinia Fontana, a 
female painter who adopted the style of the Caraccis, and whose father 
had given lessons to Ludovico ; a copy of Gerard Don's presentment of 
himself, the original of which is at Bridgewater House ; a supposed 
head of Mary Queen of Scots ; and a portrait of Elizabeth, Lady 
Grosvenor, by Sir W. Newton, as well as a miniature half-length copy 
of Lawrence's picture of the Duchess of Sutherland and her daughter, 
hanging in the Dining Room. 

The room next the Duke's Sitting Room is called, rather oddly, 
the Writing Room. Here are a number of portraits among which I 
observed one of Landseer by himself, that of the first Duke of Sutherland 
by Phillips, and that of the sixth Duke of Devonshire, a copy by 
R. Sayers after Lawrence's picture ; but although Hogarth's " Mr. Porter 
of Lichfield " also hangs here, the famous " Dr. Johnson," ^ by Sir Joshua, 
which was formerly here, has been removed. Among the genre pictures 
is one of " Travellers Drinking at the door of a Country Inn," by 
Wouvermanns, and Van der Eckhout's " Cavaliers playing at Backgammon." 
On the ground floor, on the east and west sides of the Great Hall, run 
two corridors, both hung with many pictures, and filled with marble 
busts of eminent men, the first three Dukes of Sutherland, and Charles 
James Fox among them ; and innumerable bronzes, cabinets, and bric-h- 
brac. Among the pictures are portraits of Philip H. of Spain by Coello ; 
Lord Clanwilliam by Lawrence ; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester ; and 
a " Venetian Nobleman " by Paul Veronese ; a portion of a large " Pieta," ^ 
of which another part also hangs here, other fragments being at Dulwich 
and Castle Howard. Here, too, is Titian's " Education of Cupid," from 
the Orleans collection, which certainly deserves a better light than it 
obtains ; it has a great pedigree, for in 172 1 it was in the collection of 
the Duke of Bracciano, where Richardson saw it, having been purchased 

' There is a replica of this picture at Knowle. Sir Joshua presented one of these portraits, 
exhibited in 1770, to Lucy Porter, Johnson's step-daughter, and Johnson saw it at her house 
at Lichfield during a visit in 1771, on which he wrote to Reynolds thanking him, and adding : 
" Every man has a lurking wish to appear considerable in his native place, and I was pleased 
with the dignity conferred by such a testimony of your regard." 

^ This has recently been sold. 



356 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

from the Gallery of Cardinal Azzolini, to whom it had been bequeathed by 
Christina, Queen of Sweden. It subsequently passed into the Orleans col- 
lection, whence it was purchased by Lord Stafford for eight hundred guineas. 
A portrait of Elizabeth de Bourbon, daughter of Henri Quatre, and first 
wife of Philip IV. of Spain, is also an interesting work, for it is from the 
brush of Rubens ; it is unfortunately placed in an indifferent position. 

The great picture by Paul de la Roche, of Lord Strafford, on his way 
to execution, receiving Laud's blessing, which is well known from the 
many reproductions that have been made of it, used to hang in the gallery, 
but is now in the West Corridor, and here, too, hangs the " Marriage of 
Henry VI. with Margaret of Anjou," which was once at Strawberry Hill, 
in the sale of which collection it was described in Robins's florid manner 
as " a truly extraordinary picture, which, as a specimen of the fine arts 
of the fifteenth century, may be pronounced unique." Walpole fully 
describes it in the first volume of his Anecdotes of Painting, and supposes 
it to have been executed after the King's death. 

Besides these there are a number of interesting and valuable pictures 
hanging on the walls of both the east and west corridors ; of which the 
bare enumeration would fill many pages ; some of these have been 
recently hung here, while many of them as well as other interesting 
objects have been brought here from Trentham, among the pictures 
being a view of the Great Hall and Staircase of Stafford House, by David 
Roberts, and a curious bird's-eye view of Old Heidelberg, of immense size. 

Splendid as are the rooms on the ground floor of Stafford House, 
they pale before the regal magnificence of those above them. Without 
indulging in thundering hyperbole it is difficult to give any conception 
of the size and stateliness of the great series of apartments which open 
one into another on the first floor. The Great Gallery has been properly 
termed " the most magnificent room in London " ; and rightly so, for 
there is nothing comparable to it ; even the splendour of Dorchester 
House has nothing to equal its immense size, or its bewilderingly superb 
decorations. ' The Princely Chandos,' or ' Vathek ' Beckford, might have 
dreamed of such grandeur, and we all know how it appealed to the oriental 
mind of Lord Beaconsfield. 

Many of the fine pictures that hang here formed once a portion of 
the famous Orleans collection. Among those which came from this 
gallery are Tintoretto's portraits of Titian, and Aretino ; Gennari's 
" Young Man Reading," and the " Noah's Ark " of Bassano ; Mola's 
" St. John Preaching in the Wilderness," and a landscape by Gasper 
Poussin ; the famous " Muleteers," by Correggio, which was once in the 
possession of Christina, Queen of Sweden, and " The Circumcision " by 



STAFFORD HOUSE 357 

Bassano. Hardly less interesting are those that had their provenance 
from Marshal Soult's gallery ; such as Zurbaran's " St. Andrew " ; 
Velasquez's " Duke of Gandia at the Door of a Convent " ; " Christ 
Blessing Little Children," by a Spanish painter unidentified, and the two 
superb Murillos, which I have before mentioned. 

Besides these splendid works, there are a number of others about 
which I must say a word or two, even if it be to merely enumerate 
their names and those of their painters. Among these is " Christ 
and the Woman of Samaria," by Alessandro Veronese, who is called 
variously Turchi and II Orbetto, one of whose characteristics it was 
to paint his pictures without having made prefatory sketches ; this 
particular work was formerly in the Girardini Gallery at Vienna ; 
then there is Spagnoletto's " Christ at Emmaus," and a " Transfigura- 
tion," by Zucchero ; " The Ancient of Days," by Alonzo Cano, a work 
of rich and beautiful colouring ; " The Holy Family," by Rubens, 
and inappropriately enough in such a connection, a " Bacchante and 
Satyr," by Nicholas Poussin. Guido is represented by a " Circumcision," 
and a portrait of his mother, and Spada by a head of himself ; a Fete 
ChampHre is attributed to Bassano, and to Titian a portrait of Cardinal 
Chigi ; while to come down a century, the portrait of Colbert, pur- 
chased at the sale of Mr. Turnbull's collection, is from the hand of Philippe 
de Champagne. That great painter Moroni is responsible for the superb 
" Portrait of a Young Man," once in Westall's collection, and Sir Joshua 
for a glorious head of Lady Stafford.^ 

There are many others, but I cannot hope to make anything like a 
complete list, besides such an undertaking is not within my scheme ; 
but before passing from the Great Gallery, I must say a word about the 
Romneys which have just been hung here, having been removed from 
Trentham. Of these there are five ; one represents the Countess of 
Carlisle, daughter of the first Lord Stafford, and another the first Lord 
Stafford himself ; and there is also one of grim old Lord Thurlow by the 
same master, as well as one of Elizabeth, Duchess of Sutherland ; but the 
most important is a charming group of the children of the first Lord 
Stafford ; the Ladies Leveson-Gower, Lady Anne Gower and Lord 
Granville ; the six children here portrayed in a masterly manner worthy 
of Gainsborough or Reynolds, became in after life Lady Georgina Eliot, 
the Duchess of Beaufort, Lady Harrowby, Lady Anne Vernon, Lord 
Granville, and the second Lord Stafford, so that it has an almost historical 
interest besides its value as a consummate work of art. 

Another famous Romney hangs in Stafford House ; one of his innum- 
' I find that, as Lady Gower, she sat to Sir Joshua in February, 1760. 



358 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

erable portraits of Lady Hamilton, in this case depicted as thinking — 
if that beautiful creature ever did give herself to thought — and known 
as " Meditation." 

In the ceiling of the Lantern of the Great Gallery is Guercino's 
" St. Grisogono borne to Heaven by Angels." This splendid work was 
once in the Church of St. Grisogono in Trastevere. The great height 
of the Lantern, of course, only permits of its being seen at a distance ; 
but a circular mirror set on a stand beneath it enables one at least to look 
at it without being obliged to throw back the head in the inconvenient 
and painful manner necessitated by most ceiling paintings. Waagen, who 
erroneously calls the chief figure in this work, " St. Paul," reminds us that 
it is painted in the manner of Guercino's well-known fresco in the Villa 
Ludovisi at Rome, and notes that " the composition is free and bold, 
and executed in a masterly manner," and that it is, as any one con- 
versant with Guercino's work can at once see for himself, highly 
characteristic of this painter's style. 

There has been recently much re-arrangement of the pictures not 
only in the Great Gallery but elsewhere in the house, which has caused 
the famous portrait of a Jesuit, by Moroni, to be removed. This work 
was sometimes called " Titian's Schoolmaster," because of a tradition 
that the Great Venetian was wont to study this wonderful work, and con- 
sidered it even worthy of imitation. It came from the Borghese Gallery, 
where Richardson saw it in 1721. Hazlitt says that if he had been asked 
who painted it, he would have replied " either Titian or the Devil," and 
Waagen was so delighted with this magnificent work that he records his 
preference for it to any other picture in the collection. Lord Stafford 
purchased it for the insignificant sum of ^800, and it is regarded, by 
many authorities, as Moroni's masterpiece. Vandyck's superb portrait of 
the marble-collecting Earl of Arundel was also formerly in the Gallery ; 
it was painted about 1635, and was once in the Orleans collection ; 
when this came to be sold this particular work was found to be missing, 
and ;^400 was deducted as its then estimated value. It, however, 
eventually turned up in the gallery of M. Robit, at the sale of whose 
pictures in Paris in 1801 it was purchased by Lord Stafford for five 
hundred guineas.^ It has been frequently engraved, by Tardieu, Sharp, 
Tomkins, and others, and is fully recorded in Smith's Catalogue Raisonnee. 

Another fine work, which is among those now removed to other parts 
of Stafford House, is Gerard Honthorst's " Christ before Caiaphas," which 
came from the Palazzo Giustiniani, and was afterwards in the Lucca 
Gallery, and of which Lord Ronald Gower has written eloquently. 

' Mrs. Jameson's Private Picture Galleries. 



STAFFORD HOUSE 359 

Rubens's sketch en grisaille for his great picture of the Coronation 
of Marie de Medicis, now in the Louvre, is also one of the works, which 
should be mentioned, if only to draw attention to that certainty of touch 
and breadth of treatment for which this master is pre-eminent, a 
characteristic that Thackeray has recorded in one of his Roundabout 
Papers ; but a greater even than Rubens is to be seen here, for Raphael's 
" Christ bearing His Cross " is one of the gems of the collection. This 
splendid picture was painted, it is said, for the altar of the Private Chapel 
of Cardinal Giovanni de Medici, afterwards Pope Piux X., and was after- 
wards in the Medici Palace at Florence. Mrs. Jameson, in mentioning 
this picture, states that the central figure is identical with that in " The 
Procession to Calvary," once belonging to Sir Philip Miles of Leigh 
Court, which formed one of the compartments of the predella to the 
altar-piece painted by the master for the Convent of St. Antony, at 
Perugia, in 1504, and afterwards at Blenheim Palace. 

The State Drawing Room at Stafford House is remarkable for the 
beauty of its elaborately carved and gilded ceiling, and for its white 
marble mantelpieces with massive ormolu mounts, as well as for its 
splendid decorations, which make it only less magnificent, because smaller, 
than the Great Gallery ; only four pictures hang here ; a portrait of 
Lady Burlington by Buckner ; and one of Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland, 
after Lawrence ; and two curious works in tapestry, representing Henry 
Quatre, and the Regent Orleans, which are so skilfully worked that even 
on a close inspection they have all the appearance of paintings. 

In the State Ante-Room which divides the Gallery from the Drawing 
Room, and the ceiling of which contains an allegorical painting by Paul 
Veronese : " Cupid receiving a globe from one of the Graces," hang half-a- 
dozen pictures, three of which are by Watteau, representing those 
musical parties which he invariably painted in so masterly a way with a 
freedom and skill in drawing far to seek in many of his followers. There 
is also here " A Group of Travellers inquiring their way of a Beggar," 
by Velasquez ; and a " Holy Family " by Rottenhamer, executed with 
his well-known but somewhat effeminate delicacy, and in which the 
flowers introduced are by Daniel Seghers ; Waagen mentions this picture 
as " the most delicate and elegant miniature in oils," that he had hitherto 
seen by these two artists. 

The South-west Drawing Room, used by the Duchess as her Boudoir, 
is one of those stately apartments which constant use has transformed 
into a homely living-room. It is hung in green damask and the 
decorations are in white and gold ; the ceiling, representing the Solar 
System, was executed by H. Howard, R.A., and so lofty is the room, that 



360 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

when we gaze up it seems far enough off to be real ! On either side of 
the chimney-piece hang Fra Bartolomeo's " Virgin and Child," and 
Correggio's " Infant Christ." This latter beautiful little picture was 
purchased by the second Duke of Sutherland, at Parma, and is said to have 
been the finished study for the central group of the painter's famous 
" St. Jerome," in that town, which was executed in 1525, for the widow of 
Orazio Bergonzi, who paid the artist eighty golden crowns for the work 
which she presented to the Church of St. Antonio Abbate, in 1528.^ 

Among the innumerable beautiful objects of art, other than pictorial, 
in this room, are two gilt arm-chairs, which once belonged to Marie 
Antoinette, and which were formerly at the Petit Trianon ; they bear on 
their backs the interlaced Initials " M. A." of their beautiful and un- 
fortunate former possessor.^ 

Through the kindness of the Duke of Sutherland I have before me 
the private catalogue of the pictures at Stafford House, printed in 1898. 
Their number there is 317 ; others have, however, been brought here 
from Trentham ; while a number were recently sold by Messrs. Christie. 
Of the former the chief are those by Romney which I have before men- 
tioned ; of the latter besides a number of works by English artists, such 
as Haydon, and Danby ; Lawrence, and Lely, and Kneller ; Jackson, and 
Etty (" The World before the Flood," exhibited in 1862), the most 
important were the " Philip IV. of Spain," by Rubens ; several portraits by 
Vandyck, particularly one of a gentleman on horseback ; the picture by 
Paul Veronese which I have already alluded to, and Murillo's repre- 
sentation of Archbishop Ambrosio Ignacio Spinola, described at length 
in Curtis's Velasquez and Murillo. I suppose, therefore, that at present 
there hang about three hundred pictures in Stafford House ; so that the 
reader will realise that I have mentioned but a tithe of them ; indeed 
to do more would be to make a catalogue raisonnie of this splendid 
collection, which is, of course, impracticable here. All I can hope to 
have done, is to have indicated the wealth of pictorial art which is con- 
tained in Stafford House, by a short account of some of the most notable 
of the pictures that constitute this priceless gallery. 

It is indeed the wonders of art that adorn the walls of the mansion 
that help to make it a veritable shrine ; but even without such 
treasures the house itself is a thing to wonder at. Nowadays taste for 
decorative effect has veered round to the later period of Louis Seize, and 

' Mrs. Jameson. There is a fine copy of this picture by Ludovico Caracci at Bridgewater 
House. 

' I may mention in a note, that in the Banqueting Room which is gorgeous in carved 
gilding, stands Thorwaldsen's " Ganymede and the Eagle," which was brought from Rome 
by the second Duke of Sutherland in 1820. 



STAFFORD HOUSE 361 

therefore the more splendid rococo style of Louis Quatorze is to be found 
less and less retained. Stafford House is the last word on this earlier 
mode, and stands as the most superb and complete realisation of it to 
be seen in London, probably in England. The note struck here is one of 
gorgeous magnificence ; but notwithstanding this, these great gilded 
apartments wear an air of comfort very seldom found in such a con- 
nection ; while those actually in every day use preserve, in spite of their 
loftiness and huge dimensions, that appearance of homeliness which I am 
so insular as to think is only to be found in this country. 

Before closing this chapter I ought to say a word or two about the 
famous Orleans Gallery, from which the Stafford House as well as the 
Bridgewater House collections were so splendidly recruited, and also 
about the Cabinet Lenoir which was once an added glory to the former 
gallery. 

The Orleans pictures were brought together by the notorious Regent 
Orleans within the short period intervening between his becoming practical 
ruler of France, in 1714, and his death in 1723. His immense wealth and 
his unlimited power enabled him to form a collection second hardly to 
any ; and there is no doubt that, with all his faults, his taste was consummate 
and his judgment excellent. In his gallery were assembled forty-seven of 
the finest pictures that had belonged to Queen Christina of Sweden ; 
many of those which had been collected by Charles L and Cardinals 
Richelieu and Mazarin ; the collections of the Dues de Grammont, de 
Noailles, and de Hautefeuille contributed their share, while to these were 
added masterpieces from the pictorial treasures assembled by Colbert, 
Tambonneau, De Launay, the Abb6 Descamps, and M. de Chantelou. 
In 1724, there were found to be in the Orleans collection, no less 
than forty-seven pictures of undoubted genuineness, among which were 
six by Raphael, six by Correggio, and no less than twenty-five Titians ! 

On the death of the Regent this wondrous collection passed to his 
son who was so bigoted as to mutilate some of those canvases which his 
pious zeal considered unworthy of preservation, the Leda, and lo, and 
Danae, in particular falling victims to this eighteenth-century male 
equivalent to Mrs. Grundy. His son appears to have cared little either 
way for the pictures ; he left them severely alone, and during his life 
they remained locked up in their gallery. On his death, however, they 
came into the possession of the infamous Philippe Egalite who without 
possessing the good taste of the Regent, equalled him in depravity and 
extravagance. 

All the world knows the history of this unworthy scion of a great 



362 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

house ; allying himself with the scum that for a time floated to the top 
of the turbulent waters of the French Revolution, he did all he could to 
raise money for the extension of his political propaganda, and one of 
the means he employed was the sale of the marvellous collection that had 
come down to him. The pictures by Italian painters he sold first for 
the, as it now seems, absurdly small sum of ^^i 8,500; the Dutch and 
Flemish works soon followed, fetching a little less than half this amount, 
so that for some £2j,ooo an assemblage of works of art was disposed of 
which would now be worth twenty times that sum, and even in those 
days must have been worth double what they realised. 

The purchaser of the Italian pictures was a certain M. Laborde de 
Mereville, who, probably fearful for his treasures at a time of such national 
unrest, brought the whole over to London where, finding himself without 
funds, he mortgaged them for ^^40,000 to Harman the banker. At this 
moment Bryan the collector and author of the well-known Dictionary of 
Painters, saw them and having valued the 305 pictures forming this 
section of the Orleans collection, at ^72,000, he induced the second Duke 
of Bridgewater to purchase the whole for _^43,ooo. From these the 
Duke selected ninety-four of the most important at the price set upon 
them, viz., j/^39,000, and took in as partners in his venture, his nephew. Earl 
Gower, afterwards second Marquis of Stafford, who, as I pointed out in 
the chapter on Bridgewater House, had first induced his uncle to turn his 
attention to the acquisition of pictures, and the Earl of Carlisle, who 
had married Lady Margaret Leveson-Gower, daughter of the first Marquis 
of Stafford. 

The remaining pictures were first exhibited and then sold, and as 
they alone realised ^^41,000; the ninety-four gems of the collection had 
actually cost the Duke and his two relatives but ^2000 ! The pictures 
retained were allotted so that Lord Gower took a fourth, and Lord 
Carlisle an eighth share, and the remainder, some forty-seven, were re- 
tained by the Duke, and were valued at something over ^23,000. These, 
added to the already good collection owned by the Duke, and gradually 
supplemented by other purchases, and then valued at ^150,000, were left 
by him, at his death in 1803, to Lord Gower who succeeded his father as 
second Marquis of Stafford seven months later, and they were housed in the 
mansion in Cleveland Row (the precursor of the present Bridgewater 
House), where for a number of years they were known the world over, as 
the famous Stafford Gallery, of which Young, in 1825, issued his Catalogue 
of the Collection of Pictures at Cleveland House, the -property of the Marquis 
of Stafford, with a reproduction of every picture, and a description of each 
in French and English. 



STAFFORD HOUSE 363 

The second Marquis died in 1833, when his second son, Lord Francis 
Leveson-Govver, inherited the collection, under the provisions of the 
will of the Duke of Bridgewater. In this way the Orleans section of the 
collection was divided, as that portion (a fourth, as I have mentioned) 
taken by Earl Gower passed, at his death, to his eldest son, the second 
Duke of Sutherland (Lord Stafford having been created first Duke about 
six months before his death). Thus we see that among the pictures in 
Stafford House are numbered a fourth of the famous Orleans collection 
while the bulk of them are now at Bridgewater House, and have been 
dealt with in the chapter devoted to that splendid mansion and its 
remarkable contents. 

It is somewhat curious that the majority of the Italian pictures 
collected by the Regent Orleans from all parts of Europe should finally 
be found in the harbour of refuge of two great houses within a hundred 
yards of each other in London.^ 

Of the Cabinet Lenoir I need not say much, for, unfortunately it is 
no longer at Stafford House. Chantilly now possesses this unique collec- 
tion of French portraits which covered a period from the sixteenth to 
the nineteenth century. 

It was purchased by the second Duke of Sutherland in 1838, from its 
collector M. Alexandre Le Noir who occupied himself during the French 
Revolution in preserving some of the treasures of art from the insensate 
fury of the rabble ; M. Le Noir subsequently fell on bad days and had 
to dispose of his collection, as it turned out, only a year before he died. 
It was offered to the French Government who cavilled over the very 
moderate sum asked, when the Duke of Sutherland, through Mr. M. D. 
Colnaghi, immediately paid what was demanded. 

It is hardly possible to overestimate the value of these portraits to 
the historian and antiquary as well as to the art lover, and it is sad to 
think that they should have been permitted to leave this country, although 
there is no gainsaying the fact that their present home is an even more 
appropriate one than Stafford House could be, for all the most illustrious 
Frenchmen and women of four centuries are represented among them — 
sovereigns and statesmen ; poets and men of letters ; painters and beautiful 
and talented women. One of the drawings of Cinq Mars was depicted by 
Louis XIII. himself, and the portraits of Louvois and Colbert are by 
Nanteuil ; while there is a head of Giovanni Bellini by Carpaccio, and 

' Among many accounts of the Orleans Gallery, by Waagen, Mrs. Jameson and the rest, 
see Redford in his Art Sales, who quotes Buchanan's Memoirs of Painting in his first volume 
for further details. 



364 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

one of Carpaccio by Bellini, and there are others from the hands of 
Holbein and Pourbus. A fairly full description of the collection is given 
by Mrs. Jameson, although it, of course, does not pretend to anything 
approaching completeness. 

It seemed only necessary for me to make this brief mention of the famous 
collection here to indicate the additional lustre it once shed on Stafford 
House. 



CHAPTER XX 

WIMBORNE HOUSE 

A RLINGTON Street, which is built on ground granted by 
/\ Charles II. to Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, in 1681, and 
t—\ sold by the latter in the same year to Mr. Pym, is a short 
X \^ thoroughfare ; indeed it is almost a cul-de-sac, but it is fraught 
with memories, and even to-day when rebuilding is rampant from the 
east to the west, some of its houses still preserve the appearance they 
wore when the earlier Georges were on the throne. This is particularly 
the case with the small house. No. 5 on the left side, as we enter the street 
from Piccadilly. Here Sir Robert Walpole once lived, and it is for this 
reason perhaps the most historically interesting habitation in the street. 
A memorial tablet marks the residence of the great Prime Minister who 
died here, in 1745, and left the residence to his son Horace, whose town 
house it continued to be for no less than thirty-four years. Apart from 
the fact that the paternal mansion was here, Horace was well acquainted 
with Arlington Street, for he is known to have resided in two other 
houses here ; No. 24, in which he was born, and which was demolished 
in 1886, and No. 18, where the tragic fate of his cat Selima immortalised 
by Gay, is said to have occurred. 

Charles James Fox was living at No. 9 during the last two years of 
his life ; and Lord and Lady Nelson had their final quarrel on the subject 
of Lady Hamilton, in lodgings here, on January 13th, 1801. At an earlier 
day at least three notable women lived in Arlington Street — the Duchess 
of Cleveland, after the death of Charles II. ; the Duchess of Buckingham, 
widow of the second Duke, and daughter of Fairfax ; and Lady Mary 
Wortley Montagu, in the house of her father, the Marquis of Dorchester, 
afterwards Duke of Kingston, whence, on a celebrated occasion, the 
Duke sent for his little daughter and introduced her to the Kit Cat Club. 
But the street was in the past chiefly notable as a political centre, and 
Walpole could write that from his earliest memory it had been a 
ministerial street. 

Apart from Horace's illustrious father, William Pulteney, Earl of 

Bath, lived next door to Sir Robert's original dwelling on the west side 

365 



366 THE PRIVATE PALACES OF LONDON 

before the latter, on going out of office in 1742, bought No. 5, on the 
" non-ministerial side." Lord Carteret built the house, which now belongs 
to Lord Yarborough, in 1734, William Kent being the architect ; while 
Mr. Pelham was succeeded in another residence here by the Duke of 
Grafton ; no wonder that Walpole could write that this was " absolutely 
the ministerial side," and should have complacently added that " nothing 
can be more dignified than this position." The late Lord Salisbury 
helped to keep up the traditions of the street as a political centre ; while 
the great houses which to-day congregate here are sufficient, when we 
remember by whom they are occupied, to preserve that element of ex- 
clusiveness for which Arlington Street has always been known. At No. 16 
resided the Duke of Rutland, and here died, in 1827, the Duke of York ; 
No 21, was famous for the dinners which Lord Sefton used to give, under 
the superintendence of the great Ude ; and No. 19, still remains in the 
Marquis of Zetland's family. Indeed the situation is as desirable and 
unique as it was in 1728 when the author of the New Review of London, 
could thus speak of it : " That side of Arlington Street near the Green 
Park is one of the most beautiful situations in Europe, for health, con- 
venience, and beauty ; the front of the street is in the midst of the hurry 
and splendour of the town ; and the back is in the quiet simplicity of 
the country." It is little t