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years later. Some of Lord Broughton's books are,
or were quite lately, in the library here. 1

No. 44, built by Kent for Lady Isabella 2 Finch,
is one of the most perfect eighteenth-century
London houses remaining in practically an unaltered

In the rate-book for 1745 it was assessed at
£130, and apparently Lady Bell had something of
Colley Cibber's aversion to the payment of rates,
for a note in the parochial archives runs : " Says
she has not been in ye house long enough and will
not pay."

The " Great Chamber " on the first floor, the
ceiling of which was painted by an Italian artist,

1 No. 43 has already been mentioned in connection with Lady
Mary Coke.

2 Bell.


probably Amiconi or one of his pupils, is one of
the loftiest and best-proportioned saloons in the
West End.

It was the scene, according to Walpole, of a
"funeral loo" party in 1764, attended by the
Duke, 1 Princess Emily and the Duchess of
Bedford 2 in addition to himself.

Lady Bell, one of the "black funereal Finches,"
at the end of a long night's play at cards, was
owed by William Pulteney, Earl of Bath, one of
the more substantial ghosts of Piccadilly, exactly

He sent it to her next day with the wish that he
could give her a crown. Whereon Lady Bell,
" browner than strawberry in late summer," replied
that, though he could not give her a crown, he
could give her a coronet, and that she was very
ready to accept it. But there was at least one other
rival for his hand since Lord Bath had become a
widower — in 1758.

Mrs. Anne Pitt, a half-crazy sister of the great
Lord Chatham, coveted the prize for herself, and
wrote to Lady Suffolk : " My Lord Bath is here,
very lively, but I have not seen him, which I am
very sorry for, because I want to offer myself to
him. I am quite in earnest and have set my heart
upon it, so I beg seriously you will carry it in your
mind, and think if you could find any way to

1 ? of Cumberland.

2 Horace Walpole to the Hon. H. S. Conway, June 5, 1764.

252 PICCADILLY chap.

help me. Do not you think Lady Betty * and
Lord and Lady Vere would be ready to help me if
they knew how willing I am ? But I leave all this
to your discretion, and repeat seriously that I am
quite in earnest." 2

Lord Bath did not marry either of these ladies
and died a few years after their attempts to capture
him and his fortune. The next mention of this
interesting house of which we have any knowledge
is from the pen of the indefatigable Lady Mary
Coke, who wrote in 1773 : "Lord Clermont has
bought the house in Berkeley Square that belonged
to Lady Bell Finch."

Two Viscounts Clermont lived here in succession,
of whom the first was a keen sportsman who won the
Derby in 1785 with Aimwell. After them came
Mr. Charles Baring Wall, the 4th Marquis of Bath
of the Thynne family, Sir Percy Burrell, Mr.
George Thomas Clark of Tal-y-Garn, Co. Glamor-
gan, his son Mr. Godfrey Lewis Clark, and his

Nos. 45 and 46, uniform houses with massive
fronts of Portland stone, retaining their original
link extinguishers, are unique in the annals of the
Square from the continuity of their ownership.
Both of them have been inhabited, since first they
were erected, by only two families.

1 Germain.

2 Letters of Henrietta, Countess of Suffolk, 1824, Vol. II,
page 251.


So remarkable a coincidence in London topography
justifies me in setting out their pedigrees in detail :

No. 45.
William Ker, Earl of Ancram (afterwards

4th Marquis of Lothian) 175° — 1760

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of Plassey 1 76 1 — 1774

Margaret, Lady Clive , 1775 — 1780

Edward Clive, 2nd Lord Clive and 1st Earl of

Powis of the new creation 1781 — 1839

Edward Herbert, 2nd Earl of Powis 184O — 1848

Edward James Herbert, 3rd Earl of Powis ... 1849 — 1891

George Herbert, 4th Earl of Powis 1892 —

No. 46.

Edward Bligh, 2nd Earl of Darnley 1745 — *747

John Bligh, 3rd Earl of Darnley 1748 — 1781

Mary Countess of Darnley 1782 — 1794

John Bligh, 4th Earl of Darnley 1795 — 1831

Edward Bligh, 5th Earl of Darnley 1832 — 1835

Humphrey St. John Mildmay 1836 — 1853

Mrs. St. John Mildmay 1854 — 1862

Humphrey Francis Mildmay 1863 — 1866

Henry Bingham Mildmay 1867 — 1905

Rt. Hon. Francis Bingham Mildmay 1906 —

Over 150 years of continuous residence by a
single family speaks volumes for the fascination
which this corner of habitable London has exerted
on successive generations of the governing class of
this country. Dukes have flitted from one Square
to another, Prime Ministers have vacillated, as is
their wont, between Downing Street, St. James's,
Mayfair, and Belgravia, but No. 45 Berkeley
Square has proved an irresistible attraction to the
descendants of the heaven-born General Clive for
over 150 years. Well may the name of the Earl

254 PICCADILLY chap.

of Powis inscribed on the brass plate of its entrance
door proclaim the fact to all and sundry who pass
it by. 1

The tour of the Square is nearly complete, but
some outstanding names call for special remembrance.

At No. 47, and not (as we have shown) at No. 6,
there was to be found, at a momentous period of his
career, one of the greatest of Englishmen. The
house had been taken (after being relinquished
by the Freeman family, for whom it was built in
1745) ty J onn j second Earl of Chatham, and I find
William Pitt writing to the Duke of Rutland on
November 22nd, 1783: "For fear of mistakes I
must tell you that I am at a house which my brother
has taken here, and not at Shelburne 2 House." 3

On December 17th Fox's India Bill was thrown
out in the House of Lords. The King forthwith
commanded his Ministers to return their seals of
office. At the same time he requested Pitt to
undertake the task of forming an alternative
Administration. On the morning of Tuesday,

1 So far as I know Lord Powis is the only peer whose name
is thus recorded in London. A house in the Stable Yard of St.
James's Palace, formerly belonging to Lord Warwick, had a
similar inscription until quite recently, but it has now disappeared,
leaving this sole distinction, as applied to a private residence, to
Berkeley Square.

2 Lansdowne.

3 Other letters dated from the same address were written by
him on December 23rd and 30th, 1783, February 17th and
March 10th, 1784.


December 23rd, the decisive moment arrived, and
Chatham's son, still only twenty-four years of age,
became First Minister of the Crown and spent
the Christmas season in settling the composition
of his Cabinet in the library of his brother's
house. A red-letter day, if ever there was one, in
the annals of Berkeley Square !

In the following March, Pitt removed to Downing
Street, nor did Lord Chatham remain many years
at No. 47 after his brother's departure.

Passing over some intermediate occupiers, an
immense gulf is fixed between the supremely great
man who made this particular house his temporary
home in 1783 and its tenure (some time in the
early nineties) by a German company-promoter
named Steinkopff.

Managing director, though not the actual dis-
coverer, of the Apollinaris mineral water, this
enterprising alien drifted on the flood, tide of
financial achievement into this seat of the mighty,
and rebuilt the house in its present form. Dr.
Ernest Hart, editor of the British Medical Journal*
had supplied the idea, the late Mr. George Smith,
the publisher, advanced the capital, and Edward
Steinkopff contributed the business capacity which
made the company the great financial success it
was, and, I believe, still is.

He was not, as has been supposed, a Jew, for his
father was a Lutheran pastor in Mecklenburgh.

In 1897 Steinkopff, who was at one time also the

256 PICCADILLY chap.

proprietor of the St. James's Gazette, with the late
Mr. Frederick Greenwood as its editor, sold his
interest in the Apollinaris Company for a sum of
over a million sterling. In 1906 he died, and the
house, which he made a perfect store-house of the
arts, is now the property of his daughter, Mrs.
Stewart Mackenzie of Seaforth.

No. 48 was built for William Henry Zulestein
de Nassau, fourth Earl of Rochford, a nobleman of
Dutch ancestry with little or no German taint in his
blood, whose family had come over with the Prince
of Orange and become naturalised in England.

The Lord Rochford of 1745 was quite English.
Educated at Westminster School, he married an
English wife, as his father had done before him.
He became Secretary of State for both the Northern
and the Southern Departments and represented
the Court of St. James's at Turin, Madrid and

Charles, second Earl Grey took the house in
1825, and let it in 1 83 1 to Lord Brougham.
Returning to the Square after Reform had been
carried, Lord Grey found that the ex-Chancellor had
been a very undesirable tenant, for "Never was house
left in a more filthy condition." 1 Lord Grey died
in 1845 and his widow parted with the house to a
Mrs. Leslie. In 1867 it became the town house
of the Thynnes of Longleat, Marquises of Bath, a
family not to be confused with that of Pulteney,

1 Life of Haydon, Vol. II, p. 360.


Earls of Bath, whose name occurs so frequently in
these pages.

Elizabeth, Duchess of Hamilton and Brandon
married, as her second husband, Richard Savage
Nassau, brother of the Lord Rochford mentioned
above, and joined the family party in the Square at
No. 49. This house, a perfect Georgian structure
of the better class, is practically unspoilt externally
and internally. It was for many years the London
house of the old Suffolk family of Thornhill, and,
more recently, of the late Dean of York and his
widow, Lady Harriet Duncombe.

In 1902 Mr. William Salting removed to it from
No. 40, and it is now in the occupation of Mrs.
Salting, who has preserved, with rare discrimination
and unerring taste, every feature of interest which it

Dean Duncombe is almost the only, if not the only
dignitary of the Church to be found in the Square's
history, nor has it ever been a favourite perching
place with the legal profession. Lord Brougham is
one of the few exceptions, and he never stayed very
long anywhere until he came to an anchor in Grafton
Street in the evening of his days.

No. 50, the so-called haunted house, has had many
occupiers, none of them, I believe, ghostly ones.
The first inhabitant was a General Frampton, whom I
find living here from 1745 to 1749. George Canning
was here in 1807, and the Hon. Miss Elizabeth
Curzon paid the rates from 1 841 to 1859, after


258 PICCADILLY chap.

which date the house stood empty for about twenty

Ridiculous rumours as to its being haunted grew
up as years went by. At one time it was said to
be tenanted by a gang of coiners who were in the
habit of entering by an underground passage leading
into it from the Mews at the back. A later version
of the supposed mystery attaching to it was that
shrieks were to be heard echoing and re-echoing
from its dingy walls by nocturnal passers-by.
Some of these credulous people, mostly young men
returning home from Mayfair ball-rooms in the
early hours of the morning, would pull the bell-
handle and go away convinced that there was
something uncanny about the house simply because
the call was never answered ! The explanation is
that it belonged to an eccentric lady who paid the
rates with unfailing regularity but never cared to
take up her abode in the Square. 1

In 1880 the Earl of Selkirk, who, to my certain
knowledge, ridiculed the idea of its being haunted,
took the house, and it was till quite recently in the
occupation of his widow. 2

Except to mention that the third Earl of
Albemarle was at No. 5 1 for a few years before he

1 There were in the days of my childhood two small houses,
with melancholy, uncared-for gardens in front of them, presenting
an even more dilapidated appearance than No. 50 Berkeley Square,
in St. George's Place, Knightsbridge, on the site of the late
Lady Baden-Powell's house.

2 Lady Selkirk died whilst these pages were passing through
the press.


removed to the east side (see the account of No. 12),
there is nothing to remark about the house, and
the one next to it (No. 52, first built for Hans
Stanley in 1745) is only memorable from its having
been the residence (from 1874 till his death in 1885)
of Field-Marshal Lord Strathnairn, one of the
bravest of the brave men who helped to save India
in the dark days of the Mutiny.

The little house round the corner, now numbered
52A, really belongs to Charles Street, and No. 53,
on the south side, an ideal residence for a bachelor,
was for over forty years the home of Sir Henry
Edwards, known to his friends as " the Bart," who
died in 1897.

Lansdowne House, one of the finest eighteenth-
century mansions in London, alone remains to be
noticed before this chapter, already swollen to too
great a length, can be brought to its fitting

Henry Fox, writing to Lord Shelburne
(afterwards Marquis of Lansdowne), 29th June,
1 76 1, gives the topographer valuable information
concerning the site whilst it still lay open and un-
appropriated : — " I see you have ordered Mr.
Adam to look out for space to build a Hotel upon.
The late Lord Leicester and the late Lord Digby
were about a fine piece of ground tor that purpose,
still to be had, the garden of which, or the Court
before which, may extend all along the bottom
of Devonshire x Garden, though no house must be

1 House.

S 2

260 PICCADILLY chap.

built there ; the house must be where some paltry
old stables stand at the lower end of Bolton Row."

This clear statement goes far to explain what 1
could never understand until Fox's letter supplied
me with the clue, why Lansdowne House was not
built north and south instead of in the cramped
position which it occupies, facing due east and with
little or no ground at the back of it. Some
stipulation on the part of the ground landlord led,
no doubt, to this — the finest example of the many
private palaces designed by the brothers Adam in
town or country — being deprived of that southerly
aspect which would have rendered it an even more
desirable place of residence than it is.

Although the site had been, as we have seen,
recommended to Lord Shelburne in 1 76 1, Lord
Bute was before him in negotiating for its acquisition.
In the end, though the house was built to his order
between 1765 and 1767, Lord Bute remained
constant to South Audley Street.

Lansdowne House is said to have been sold to
Lord Shelburne for ,£22,000, or ^3,000 less than it
cost to build. This must surely have been an under-
estimate, though it should be stated that the chief
glory of the house as it stands to-day, the noble
sculpture gallery, was not added until some ten
years later, whilst the library dates only from 1790.
Some wit remarked that the house had been " built
by one peace and paid for by another," in allusion
to the unpopularity which attached to the names of


the original owner and his successor for their
conduct, at an interval of twenty years, in trans-
lating a state of exhausting war into a condition of
unsatisfactory peace.

Lord Bute resigned almost immediately after the
signing of the Peace of Paris in 1763, and Lord
Shelburne did the same after the Peace of Versailles
in 1783.

It is said that the latter would even have been
willing to cede Gibraltar to Spain, if compensation
had been offered, but he was fortunately overruled
in the Cabinet. Almost every article of the treaty
was fiercely assailed in Parliament, and the Minister
soon bowed before the storm.

We, who have just seen the conclusion of the
most terrible war in history, know that no Peace
which it is in the power of Ministers to devise can
ever be wholly satisfactory to a nation, and more
especially to a combination of nations, taking part in
a life-and-death struggle for the domination of the
world. No cessions of territory or rectification of
frontiers, no exaction of indemnities or imposition
of penalising conditions upon the vanquished,
can ever be a full and adequate compensation for the
appalling loss of blood and substance, the wanton
waste and long-drawn agony of the past five years.
Leagues of nations, however admirable in theory,
will assuredly break down in practice. The one
and only security for England and her Allies is to
make it certain, so far as human foresight can

262 PICCADILLY chap.

provide, that they are never again found un-

I must now return (after this brief divergence
from mere topography into the troubled sphere of
European politics) to the peaceful atmosphere of
Berkeley Square and that green oasis in the sur-
rounding desert of bricks and mortar — the garden
of Lansdowne House at the foot of Hay Hill.

This was the spot at which our survey of the
Square was entered upon, and from which the
return to Piccadilly must be made.

The greater part of the site upon which Lord
Bute began to build (at first, I think, from the
designs of the elder Brettingham) belonged origi-
nally to Lord Berkeley of Stratton, but a portion of
the garden ground was leased from the Curzon
family and others, whilst the passage-way between
Bolton Row and Berkeley Street * formed the
subject of a separate lease granted by Will.
Pulteney, Earl of Bath, shortly before his death.
The whole of Lord Bute's purchases and leases
were assigned to Lord Shelburne in 1768, and the
property is now entirely freehold.

The present owner courteously placed at my
entire disposal an exhaustive collection of deeds,
documents and letters relating to Lansdowne House
from the time of its acquisition from Lord Bute. 2

1 Now Lansdowne Passage.

2 I could wish that other families had preserved their archives as
carefully and tabulated them as skilfully as has been done by Lord


Amongst them is a bill of the brothers Adam,
dated October, 1765, for the ''plans and elevation
of Shelburne House in Berkeley Square, with all the
alterations made from Lord Bute s design''' Included
in the items is a sum of £546 3s. od., received
from Lord Bute " for articles which were left
unexecuted by his Lordship."

The sum total of the payments to the Adams for
work done under their superintendence was only
about £8,000, but the interior decorations by
Cipriani, Zucchi and Rigaud, the finest of their
kind in London, were paid for separately.

Further works were carried out between 1770
and 1800 by Henry Holland and George Dance,
who was responsible for the library ; and in the
19th century by Smirke and others.

The greater part of the antique statuary was
brought from Rome by Gavin Campbell, who had
a practically unlimited commission to buy anything
really good which came into the market. Campbell
entered upon his congenial task with such diligence
and success that at last Lord Shelburne had to cry a
halt, for even in those now remote days of low
prices for works of art of the highest class the
annual bill ran into many thousands of pounds.

Kerry, but I have found that, with some notable exceptions,
owners of historic houses in the West End care little about their
pedigrees, and, once they are assured that their title to the property
is a good one, they take but a faint interest in who may have
preceded them.

264 PICCADILLY ch. v

The library was placed under the care of Joseph
Priestley, and it was in his rooms at Lansdowne
House that he made his great discovery of oxygen.

In I805 Lord Shelburne, 1st Marquis of Lans-
downe, died in Berkeley Square, as did his successor
in the title only four years later. The 3rd Marquis
was born in the family house, and to him is mainly
due the formation of the priceless collection of
, pictures which adorn its walls and also those of

Ranging as it does from Raphael, Murillo and
Velasquez to Hogarth, Reynolds and the mid-
Victorian painters, it includes a round dozen
examples of Sir Joshua's best work. Perhaps the
most widely known is the " Strawberry Girl," so
familiar to all of us in an engraved form.

There is also a wonderful portrait of Laurence
Sterne by the same master hand.

I am loath to part company with Berkeley Square,
conscious as I am that I have omitted to mention
many who have helped to make it famous ; but the
return to Piccadilly must be made.



Until nearly the end of the eighteenth century
the houses in Piccadilly west of Hamilton Place, or
Hamilton Street as it was then called, were of small
account. They were mostly second-rate inns or
taverns designed, primarily, for the convenience of
drovers attending the cattle markets formerly held
in Brook Fields. But some there were at which
country gentlemen arriving in London from the
West Country put up their horses and, at the same
time, refreshed the inner man.

The oldest and the best known of these inns was
the "Hercules Pillars," probably so called from an
earlier tavern of the same name in Fleet Street. It
had a history dating from the seventeenth century,
for it is referred to by Wycherley, 1 and here it was
that Fielding made Squire Western put up when in

« In the "Plain Dealer," 1676.



hot pursuit of Tom Jones. Apsley House stands
on a portion of the site. 1

The " Triumphal Chariot " was another much
frequented by pleasure-seekers coming to and from
Hyde Park. It stood at or near the west corner
of Hamilton Place, which, at the time of which we
speak, was entirely composed of small houses at very
low rentals, widely differing in character from the
imposing mansions which now comprise its western

A cul-de-sac until 1871, Hamilton Place occupies
the site of a piece of ground filched from Hyde
Park and granted by the Crown in 1693 to Elizabeth
Hamilton, widow of James Hamilton, Ranger of
the Park temp. Charles II., whose name occurs
frequently in the Grammont Memoirs. After the
grant had been renewed in 1757 to George Hamilton,
the whole of the property (with the exception of
Apsley House, which is shown in a MS. plan of the
year 1773 preserved in H.M.'s Office of Woods) was
re-granted to William, Earl of Shelburne, who at
one time intended to build a mansion here but
changed his mind. In 1693 it comprised only seven
small houses and a stable to which, in after years,
was added a brewhouse overlooking the Park.

Dudley North, or Dudley Long North, to give
him his full name, a prominent Whig M.P. whom
we have already met with at No. 140, lived for a time

1 There is to this day, in Greek Street, Soho, a public house of
this singular name.


at the first good house built on the west side of
Hamilton Place, 1 but he soon deserted Hyde Park
Corner for Brompton, where he died in 1829.

A house on the site of No. 141 Piccadilly, the west
corner of Hamilton Place and often reckoned therein,
was projected for Lord Montgomerie circa 1796,
but apparently it was not proceeded with, and the
corner site remained unoccupied for some years.
The existing mansion, lately re-cased in stone, was
built for John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon, the well-
known Lord Chancellor, and first occupied by him
about 1 8 1 8.

Piccadilly has never been a favourite place of abode
with the pillars of the law. Lord Chancellors Eldon
and Bathurst, and Sir Fitzroy Kelly are among
the few exceptions, all three being numbered
amongst the more eminent inhabitants of the

The son of a Newcastle "coal fitter," John Scott,
Lord Eldon, began his London life in Cursitor
Street, Chancery Lane. Many years later the self-
made Chancellor, pointing out his former home to
a friend, said : — " That was my first perch. Many
a time have I run down from there to Fleet

1 It is plainly shown, as the largest house in the street, in
Horwood's admirable Map of London, 1795. North's house
was then No. I 5, and the total number of houses seems to have
been twenty-two. In later years these were reduced to half a
dozen, and latterly, when the east side had practically disappeared,
to three large houses, or four, if the one at the Piccadilly corner
is included, all of them on the western side.



Market to buy sixpennyworth of sprats for my

His gains at the Bar during his first year

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Online LibraryArthur Irwin DasentPiccadilly in three centuries, with some account of Berkeley square and the Haymarket → online text (page 16 of 20)