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Jas. Truscott and Sox, Ltd,,

And may be purchased, either directly or tlirough any Bookseller, from


3 AND 4, Great Smith-street, Victoria-street, Westminster, S.W.
Agents for the sale of the Publications of the London County Council.

No. 977. Price 2d., or post free, 2id.

J.T.S. — 5,000 — 27-8-06.

In connection with its work of indicating
houses of historical interest in London, the
Council has issued booklets giving information
as to houses on which the Council has erected
memorial tablets. The following parts of the
series have been published, and may be obtained,
price id. each, at No. 17, Fleet Street, or from
Messrs. King & Son, Great Smith Street,


Holly Lodge, Campden Hill, where Lord Macaulay


No. 48, Doughty Street, Mecklenburg Square, a resi-
dence of Charles Dickens.

No. 4, Whitehall Gardens, where Sir Robert Peel died.

No. 56, Devonshire Street, a residence of Sir John

No. 67, Wimpole Street, a residence of Henry Hallam.
No. I, Devonshire Terrace, Marylebone Road, a residence

of Charles Dickens.
No. 22, Theobald's Road, the birthplace of Benjamin
Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield.


No. 14, York Place, Portman Square, a residence of

William Pitt.
No. 12, Clarges Street, Piccadilly, a residence of

Edmund Kean.
No. 48, Welbeck Street, a residence of Thomas Young.

lHonXnon (tonnt^s. ^ountiL



Jas. Truscott and Son, Ltd.,

And may be purchased, either directly or through any Bookseller, from


2 AND 4, Great Smith-street, Victoria-street, Westminster, S.W.

Agents for the sale of the Publications of the London County Council.

[601 1

Q,^v A




Frederick Dolman.


W. S. Sanders.

Cl^atrman ai tijc CDuncil.

Evan Spicer, J-P-

Witt'^'^akmrnx ai tl;c Council.

Henry Ward.

JScputD-CIjairmaii al tij? CDimril.
E. Baxter Forman, J. P.

Bliss, Sir Henry W., K.C.I. E.
Glanville, H. J,
Harben, H. a., J. p.
Harris, H. Percy,
horniman, e. j., m.p.

Jesson, Charles.
Johnson, W. C.
Lewis, John.
Thompson, W. W,
Wallas, Graham.



H. A. HAR3EN, J.r.

Dolman, Frederick.
Granville-Smith, R. W., J. P.

Johnson, W. C.
Sanders, W. S.
Sturge, C. Y.

Wallas, Graham.


No 17 Fleet Street before Restoration.

No. 17, Fleet Street after Restoration.


TOWARDS the end of the twelfth century the Knights
Templars removed from Holborn, their original
home in London, to a spot between Fleet Street* and
the banks of the Thames. Here they built another
House, called the New Temple, to distinguish it from the
old home, and in 1185 the Round Church was dedicated
by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

For about a century and a half the Knights Templars
continued in possession. In 1 3 1 2 the Order was abolished,
and all its possessions were granted by the Pope to
the rival body, the Knights Hospitallers of the Order
of St. John of Jerusalem. In England, however, the
decree was not at once or to any full extent acted upon,
and it was not until about 1 340 that the portion of the
Temple property lying within the City was absolutely
granted to the Order of St. John.

In 1540 this Order was in turn dissolved, and its
property taken by the Crown, In a list f of the possessions
of the Order, dated 31 and 32 Henry VIII (1539-40) there
is mentioned a house called TJie Hande. From its position
on the list it was evidently next, on the east, to a house
occupied by a person named Will. Garard. A grant J dated
36 Henry VIII. (1544-5), relating to Garard's property,

* Many writers think that Fleet Street was not formed until some years

t Ministers' Accounts, London and Middlesex, 114, 31 & 32 Hen. VIII.
+ Pat. 36 Hen. VIII. , p. 20, in. 5.

refers to it as being bounded on the east by the way
leading towards the Inner Temple. This renders it
probable that The Hande was on the other side of Inner
Temple Lane (where No. 17, Fleet Street now is), and
this p^-ob^bllity is rendered certain by another* document,
which refers .to " the messuage or inn called The Hande "
'vyffrji; idher /.tenements all lying together and situate
'"'b'etWe'eli' the' 'tenement now in the occupation of
" Eustace Kytteley on the east, the gate called Temple
" Gate on the west, the highway on the north, and the
" chamber or office of John Joyner, the prothonotary of
" the Middle Temple, on the south." It would appear,
therefore, that at this time the site (or part of it) of
No. 17, Fleet Street was occupied by an inn called
The Hand.

When we again get a glimpse of the site nearly a
century has elapsed. On 20th May, 16 10, the Society
of the Inner Temple received a petition from a person
named Bennett with regard to stopping up the Temple
Gate during the erection of the new building over the
gate as parcel of his house, called TJie Prince s Arws.f
That this refers to No. 17, Fleet Street, we learn from
the subsequent records of the Inner Temple. Under
date of loth June, 1610, the following entry occurs :
" Whereas John Bennett, one of the King's sergeants-
" at-arms, has petitioned that the Inner Temple Gate, in
" some vacation after a reading, may be stopped up for
" a month or six weeks in order that it may be rebuilt,
" together with his house, called 77ie Princes Arms,
" adjoining to and over the said gate and lane, and that
" he may 'jettie over' the gate towards the street.
" Which building over the gate and lane will be in length

*• Aug'nentaiion OJice, Particulars for Grants, I17S, 36 Hen. VIII.
f A Calendar of the Inner Temple Records, edited by F. A. Inderwick,
Vol. II., p. 50.






No. 17, Fleet Street, in 1869. Taken, liy permission, from IIoi>ie Counties Magazine.

" from the street backwards 19 feet upon the ground,
"besides the 'jcttie' towards the street which will be
" 2 feet 4 inches, besides the window. And in considera-
" tion of the same being- granted, the said Bennett
" promised to raise the gate and walls thereof to be in
" height 1 1 feet and in breadth 9 feet, and to make the
" same according to a plot under his hand, to make the
" gates new (he being allowed the old gates), and he
" will pave the street against the said house and gate."*

From this we find that, in the year 1610, No. 17,
Fleet Street, then known as The Prince's Arms, was
about to be rebuilt. This, coupled with the fact that in
the time of Henry VI IT. the site was occupied by an
inn, renders it quite certain that the staring signboard
which, before the restoration by the Council, occupied a
prominent position on the front of the building, was
absolutely wrong in asserting that the premises were
" formerly the Palace of Henry the VIII. and Cardinal
" Wolsey." A reference to the old premises on a
portion of the site is met with in a grantf of the same
year, wherein is mentioned a reservation to the Crown
of the rents of " those three chambers or structures,
" with their appurtenances, built over the gate com-
*' monly called the Inner Temple gate in fifleete
" streete, London, now or lately in the tenure or
" occupation of John Bennett or his assigns, and
" formerl)^ parcel of the possessions lately belonging to
" the monastery or priory of St. John of Jerusalem in
" England."

In the same year Bennett parted with a i:)ortion of
the property to William Blake,;]: and we find a petition§ in

* A Calendar of the Inner 'I eruplc Records, edited by F. A. Indoiwick,

Vol. II., p. 51.

f Grant by Patent to Anthony Archer and T. Handres, 8 Jas. I., pi. 43,

\ Feet of Fines, London, 8 Jas. I., Trinity term.

§ AliddU Temple Records : Minnies of Farliament of the Middle

Temple, Vol. II., p. 531.


precisely similar terms to those in which Bennett's petition
was couched addressed to the Middle Temple by William
Blake, " citizen and vintner." Although it is not neces-
sary to emphasise the fact that the use of a title such
as TJie Princes Arms in no way implies that the house
was a tavern, such titles being a necessity in days pre-
ceding the adoption of street numbering, the fact that
the occupant was a vintner certainly suggests that the
newly-built house was intended to be used for the same
purpose as the old Hand, and this presumption is
strengthened when its later history is traced.

It has been concluded,* from the terms of Bennett's
petition, that the previous house on the site was also
called The Prince's Arms. If such were the case,
it would seem that such a title must have been given
cither between 1544 and 1547, when it would have
referred to Prince Edward, or subsequent to 1603. At
about the latter time, when Prince Henry enjoyed
great popularity, it was very likely indeed that the
name would be applied, and, as a matter of fact, we
find in 16 13 mention made of a tavern in St. Martin's
Lane bearing the same title. t

When we next hear of the house it has changed its
name to TJie Fountain. In 1665, the year of the Great
Plague, M. Anglers advertises his remedies for stopping
the plague to be had at Mr. Drinkwater's, at the
appropriate sign of The Fountain, Inner Temple Gate.J
On 23rd July, 1693, we find, in the records of the
Inner Temple,§ a reference to the first floor room.
" Edward Dixon, the vintner at the Fctmtain Tavern

* Article by Philip Norman on No. 17, Fleet Street, in Home Cowiiies

Magaiine, Vol. II., p. 233.

f Middlesex County Records, Vol. II., p. 95.

X Quoted in Archaological Journal, Vol. LII., p. 360.

§ A Calendar of the Inner Temple Records, Vol. III., p. 341.

" by the Temple Gate," admitted the rights of the
Society, who thereupon ordered the obstruction to the
h'ghts of the tavern to be removed, " and that the said
" Mr. Dixon, in consideration thereof, shall keep apart
" for the use of the masters of the bench of this society
" the best room in his house upon any public show or
" occasion (when required)."

The identification of TJie Feitniain with No. 17 is
proved conclusively by a later entry* (July, 1731) in the
Inner Temple Records where it is referred to as
" The Prince's Arms or Fountain Tavern."

In 1795 the front part of the house was taken by
Mrs. Clark, who had for some time carried on, on the
opposite side of Fleet Street, a well-known wax-works
exhibition, known as Mrs. Salmon's Wax-works from the
name of the founder of the business. The Mornins;
Herald iox 28th January, 1795, contains the following on
the subject : " The house in which Mrs. Salmon's Wax-
" works have for above a century been exhibited, is
" pulling down ; the figures are removed to the very
" spacious and handsome apartments at the corner of the
" Inner Temple Gate, which was once the Palace of
" Henry Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King James
" the First, and they are now the residence of many a
" royal guest. Here are held the Courts of Alexander
" the Great, of King Henry the Eighth, of Caractacus,
" and the present Duke of York. Happy ingenuity to
" bring heroes together maugre the lapse of time ! The
" levees of each of these persons are daily very
" numerously attended, and we find them all to be of
" very easy access, since it is insured by a shilling to one
" of the attendants."

* This and later references to entries in the Inner Temple Records are
taken from Mr. Norman's interesting article, the records subsequent
to 1714 not having been published.


The waxworks were exhibited here until about 1816*
when Mr. Reed became tenant of the house. During
this time, however, it would seem that the tavern
business was still carried on in the back part of the
premises, for in 1830 a document amongst the records
of the Inner Temple describes the premises " formerly
" known by the name of the Fountain Tavern, situate,
" standing and being in Fleet Street — heretofore in the
" tenure or occupation of Abraham Stevens — afterwards
" of Peter Robinson — and now of Joseph Parlour." This
cannot refer to the front part of the premises, for it will
be noticed that there is no mention of Reed or of
Mrs. Clark, In 1823 the account book shows rent for
windows looking on Inner Temple Lane as follows : —
*' Fountain Tavern, 3s. 9d., Mr. Reed, is. 6d.," showing
that the house then had two tenants, and in a document
dated in the previous year, we have reference to "the
" Fountain Tavern, heretofore called the Princes Arms

" part whereof is built over the Gateway" as

being in the occupation of Mr. Parlour.

Before leaving the early history of the house refer-
ence should be made to the statement which has often
appeared to the effect that No. 17, Fleet Street, was
identical with Nando's coffee house, famous for its con-
nection with Lord Thurlow. But Mr. Philip Normanf
has recently shown this to be an error.

Though there can be little doubt that The Prince's
Arms was a tavern, it does not follow that the chief
glory of the house, the front room on the first floor, has
no associations of a more interesting character. The
central portion of the design of the decorated ceiling in

* The London Post Office Directory gives "S. Clark, Royal Wax- works "
up to 1817, and Johnson's Directory gives " W. Reed, Law Bookseller,"
for that year.
\ Home Comities Magazine, Vol. II., pp. 327-330 : Vol. III., pp. 90-93.

Early view (date unknown) of houses in Fleet Street, including
No. 17, and the Inner Temple Gateway.

Taken, by permission, from Home Counties Alagaziiic



No. 17, Fleet Street, in 1786.

Taken, by permission, from Home Comities Magazine

Oak-panelling, No. 17, Fleet Street.

[^This illustration, arid those showing the ceiling a?id the vaj-ions
windows, are from photographs by Halftones, Ltd., 17, Fleet Street. "[


Plaster ceiling-, No. 17. Fleet Street.


this room (see below) has an obvious reference to Henry,
James I.'s elder son, who in the year 1610 was created
Prince of Wales. We know that at about this time the
Council Chamber of the Duchy of Cornwall was situated
in Fleet Street (though no more precise indication of its
position is given) and the question is, does the evidence
point to a probability that the Prince used this room as
his Council Chamber for the Duchy of Cornwall ?

The Duchy of Cornwall have informed the Council
that the records of the Duchy are very incomplete,
and that no entries indicating the location of the
Council Chamber have been found between the date
(ist September, 1610) of the Charter of Livery of the
Duchy to Prince Henry, and the Prince's death, in
November, 1612. The date of the Charter of Livery
to Prince Charles was 21st June, 161 5, and there are
numerous papers between this date and 1625, dated
from His Highness' Council Chamber in Fleet Street,
though others are headed " Duchy House," " Salisbury
Court," and, in 1622 and 1623, from his Highness'
Council Chamber at Denmark House in the Strand.
From 1625 until 1641 there are frequent references to
His Majesty's Commission House in Fleet Street, the
Duchy possessions being managed by Commissioners
appointed by the King when there was no Duke of
Cornwall, or until Livery.

There is therefore evidence that for several years from
161 5 the Duchy of Cornwall was managed from a house
in Fleet Street.

Fine buildings were not at this time available for public
purposes, whereas the designing and construction of such
a room as the front room on the first floor of No. 17,
Fleet Street, for the ordinary purposes of a tavern are
not in accord with the general evidence as to tavern


Moreover, indications that the house was used in
separate occupation are afforded, first, by the terms of
the grant of 1610 (p. 7), and secondly by the facts
recorded in the Inner Temple document of 1823 (p. 10).
We have therefore the following points : The house
was at various times in more than one occupation ; the
room on the first lloor was represented in the older
building by chambers, the rent of which was reserved to
the Crown ; the room was identified with Henry, Prince
of Wales, by the ceiling decoration. These facts point to
the conclusion that the room was in all probability the
office of the Duchy of Cornwall, under Henry, Prince of
Wales, though it is too much to say that this " has been
" placed beyond dispute by documentary evidence."*

The Council's interest in the house began in 1898, when
its attention was called to the fact that the owner had
decided to demolish the premises and rebuild on the site.
In view, however, of the great interest attaching to the
house by reason of its architectural features and also its
possible historical associations, it was felt that an effort
should be made to preserve it. By section 60 of its
General Powers Act, 1898, the Council had obtained
authority to purchase by agreement buildings and places
of historical or architectural interest, and it was suggested
that the Council should exercise its powers by purchasing
the freehold of the premises and arranging for the front
of the house n(>t to be rebuilt but to be restored.
The Council had already entered into an arrange-
ment with the City of London Corporation, whereby
Fleet Street, between Falcon Court and the City
boundary, should be widened, by setting back the
southern side, as opportunity occurred, at the joint
expense of the two authorities. It would be thus necessary
to set back the ground floor to the new line of

* Bellot, The Innt}- and Aliddle Temple, p. 113.


frontage, but the upper floors could, it was suggested, be
allowed to overhang Fleet Street. This latter proposal
could only be carried out with the consent of the City of
London Corporation, and that authority not only con-
sented to the proposal, but also agreed to contribute
;^2,500 towards the cost involved, on the understanding
that the first floor room should be preserved for the
public benefit. The Council therefore on 3rd April,
1900, decided to acquire the freehold of the premises, to
rebuild the back portion, and to restore the front in the
way suggested, and this work has now been accomplished.

The following is a description of the premises, by
Mr. W. E. Riley, F.R.I.B.A., the Council's architect:—

The building is disposed in two blocks, one fronting
Fleet Street, the other to the rear of it ; the two con-
nected by a neck which contains the main staircase.
On the west side of the building, that abutting on Inner
Temple Lane, the ground floor storey of the whole
building is in one general alignment. Above the ground
floor the front block extends over the entrance gateway
to Inner Temple Lane.

At the time when the premises were acquired by the
Council, the back block, which was an uninteresting
modern building, had been demolished. Upon its site
the Council erected business premises, in a modern style
of architecture.

Upon investigation, the front block and the staircase
neck, as was anticipated, proved to be rich in features
of architectural interest.

At the time of the acquisition, the fajade visible from
Fleet Street was, above the ground storey, a false or
screen front, constructed of timber and glass, compara-
tively modern in date, and of theatrical design, which
completely masked the ancient work. To it had been
afiixed eight of the carved oak panels belonging to the


original front ; but the details of these were so obliterated
by accumulated coats of paint that their merit was

Some twenty inches behind this screen, however,
remained the original early 17th century half-timbered
front, which, though shorn of its bay windows and other-
wise mutilated, contained the essential features intact.
Included among these were the six fine solid oak
storey-posts, elaborately carved with pilasters, on
which were worked the jamb-mouldings of the bay-
windows ; the storey-beams ; a carved storey-bracket ;
and portions of cornice mouldings. The whole of this
old work was thickly encrusted with layers of paint, so
much so that in places the carving could hardly be seen ;
but, upon its removal, it was found that the work was
in almost perfect preservation, and that it was unneces-
sary to do anything to it beyond piecing in the portions
which had been cut away for the supports of the false
front, and applying a slight protective strain.

This false front was taken down ; and the old front
exposed, repaired, and its missing features reinstated on
the basis of those that remained. The greater part of the
timber for these was cut from the sound portions of such
of the oak beams from the interior of the building as
were too decayed to be re-used in their original

The fagacle as now visible is, as nearly as could be
ascertained by analysis of the work, and by comparison
with prints contemporaneous with the building, a
reinstatement of what was erected in i6ri; the only
exception being the ground-storey, which, including
the archway to Inner Temple Lane, has been set back
about 5 feet as necessitated by the widening of Fleet

It will be observed that the building is a fine example

Royal window. Arms of Henry, Prince of Wales.

Royal window. Arms of H.R.H., the Prince of Wales.


of a 17th Century timber-constructed city house. The
front overhangs storey by storey, each protecting that
below it from weather, and giving additional floor space.
The large bay windows were designed to afford the
maximum of light obtainable from the then narrow
street. The carving to the storey-posts has already been
commented upon, but attention should also be given to
that of the decorative panels, which is exceptionally fine
in execution. On two of these will be seen the badge of
the Prince of Wales, the three feathers of Bohemia.

The removal of the accumulated paint from the stone-
work of the archvv^ay to tiie Inner Temple Lane, brought
to light the initials of the Treasurer and the date (1748)
of erection, in lead letters on the keystone of the arch.

Inside the building the chief feature of interest is the
large room on the first floor, generally referred to as the
" Council Chamber." It is well proportioned, and is
agreeably lighted by two wide bay-windows. No doubt
it was originally panelled all round in oak, similarly to
the portion now remaining on the west side, which is
undoubtedly contemporaneous with the original structure,
and which is a very good specimen of the work of the
period. This has been cleared of the paintwork with
which it was encrusted, straightened, and slightly
repaired here and there. The remaining panelling and
the fireplace, which are of the Georgian period, are of
fir ; these have been cleaned and repainted.

The great treasure of the house is the plaster ceiling
of this room. It is believed to be unique in design, and
is one of the best of the remaining Jacobean enriched
plaster ceilings. It is perfect alike in conception and
execution. In the middle of the design occur the Prince
of Wales's Feathers, accompanied by the letters P. H.,
and enclosed in a star-shaped border. The modelling
was greatly obscured by paint and whitewash, and the


celling generally had suffered from the sagging of the
timbers to which it was attached and in parts had
become insecure. It was taken down in sections with
the timbers adhering to it, and at South Kensington
Museum the timbers were removed, and the ceiling
cleaned, straightened and strengthened, and afterwards

The staircase from the first to the third floor is an
excellent specimen of iSth Century work. It has been
repaired and repainted.

The designs for the back block were prepared by the
Council's architect, by whom also the renovation of the
ancient work was directed. Advice as to the treatment
of the enriched ceiling was furnished gratuitously by
Sir Caspar Purdon Clarke, CLE., C.V.O., during his
term of office as Director of Art at South Kensington ;
the actual work being done by Mr. L. Giuntini, of Putney.

The back block was erected by the Council's Works
Department. The contractor for the remaining portion
was Mr. William Dov/ns, of Walworth.

The stained-glass windows have been provided and
fixed at the cost of Mr. C. Y. Sturge, a member of the


Online LibraryRecords and Museums Committee London. County Council. Local GovernmentNo. 17, Fleet Street → online text (page 1 of 2)