THE MALL AND SPRING GARDENS.
"The ladies gaily dress'd the Mall adorn
With various dyes and paint the sunny morn."—"Gay's Trivia."
The Game of Mall—Discovery of Mailes and Balls used in playing the Game—Formation of the Mall, and Mr. Pepys' Visits thither—The
Mall a Powerful Rival to the Ring in Hyde Park—Charles II. and Dryden—Courtly Insignia worn in Public—Congreve, the Poet—A Capuchin Monastery—French Huguenot Refugees—The Duke of York's Column—"Milk Fair"—Spring Gardens—A Bowling-green
established there—Duels of frequent occurrence there—The Spring Garden closed, and a Rival Establishment opened—A Part of the Royal
Menagerie kept in Spring Gardens—Courtier Life in the Reign of Charles I.—Mistaken Notions as to the Origin of the Name of Spring
Gardens—King Charles on his Way to Execution—Thomson, the Poet—The "Wilderness"—Berkeley House—The Metropolitan Board of
Works—The Celebrated Mrs. Centlivre—"Locket's Ordinary"—Drummond's Bank—The Old Duchess of Brunswick—Sir Astley Cooper
and other Noted Residents—Spring Gardens Chapel—Its Destruction by Fire—St. Matthew's Chapel-of-Ease—The Medical Club—The
Tilt-yard Coffee House—Warwick Street and Warwick House—Escape of Princess Charlotte in a Hackney Coach—Her Return to Warwick
House—Exhibitions and Entertainments in the Neighbourhood—The "Rummer" Tavern—Prior, the Poet—Dr. Isaac Barrow and the Earl of
Rochester—Pepys in the Hands of the Modeller—Miscellaneous Exhibitions in Cockspur Street—Origin of the Name of Cockspur Street—The "British Coffee House."
On leaving Buckingham Palace, we walk through
the Mall, on the north side of St. James's Park.
This once fashionable lounge and promenade is
described by Northouck as "a vista half a mile
in length, at that time (Charles II.) formed with a
hollow smooth walk skirted round with a wooden
border, and with an iron hoop at the further end,
for the purpose of playing a game with a ball
called mall." The iron hoop was suspended from
a bar of wood at the top of a pole, and the play
consisted in striking a ball through this ring from
a considerable distance.
In Timbs' "Curiosities of London" we read
that in 1854 were found in the roof of the house
of the late Mr. B. L. Vulliamy, No. 68, Pall Mall,
a box containing four pairs of the mailes, or
mallets, and one ball, such as were formerly used
for playing the game of pall-mall upon the site of
the above house, or in the Mall of St. James's
Park. "Each maile was four feet in length, and
made of lance-wood; the head was slightly curved,
measuring outwardly 5½ inches, the inner curve
being 4½ inches; the diameter of the maile-ends
was 2½ inches, each shod with a thin iron hoop;
the handle, which was very elastic, was bound with
white leather to the breadth of two hands, and
terminated by a collar of jagged leather. The
ball was of box-wood, 2½ inches in diameter."
These relics of a bygone, almost forgotten game
were presented to the British Museum by Mr.
The "Mall" is the name now conventionally
given to the wide gravel walk running under the
windows of Carlton Terrace, from the Green Park
as far as Spring Gardens. This was not the
original "Mall" of the days of Charles II., which
seems to have lain to the north, and to have been
as nearly as possible identical with "the present
street of Pall Mall." No doubt, when a new and
broad thoroughfare like the old one, and so close
to it, was opened in its place to the public, the
name was transformed the more easily and obviously, as the former, like the present, was the
northern boundary of the park, and indeed formed
part of it.
Under date of April 2, 1661, there is an entry in
Pepys' "Diary" which implies that the "Pell Mell"
was then newly finished:—"To St. James's Park,
where I saw the Duke of York playing at Pellmell,
the first time that ever I saw the sport." And on
the 15th of May, 1663, he tells us how that he
"walked in the parke, discoursing with the keeper
of the Pell Mell, who was sweeping it." It appears
to have been covered with fine gravel, mixed with
cockle-shells finely powdered and spread to keep
it fast; which, "however," complains Mr. Samuel
Pepys, "in dry weather turns to dust and deads
the ball." In the following January the diarist is
here again, and in his record of this visit, says it
pleased him "mightily" to "hear a gallant, lately
come from France, swear at one of his companions
for suffering his man (a spruce blade) to be so
saucy as to strike a ball while his master was playing on the Mall."
PALL MALL IMPLEMENTS. (From the British Museum.)
Since the reign of Charles II. the Mall had
become a powerful rival to the Ring in Hyde Park.
In Etheredge's "Man of Mode" (1676), a young
lady observes that the Ring has a better reputation
than the Mall; "but," says she, "I abominate the
dull diversions there, the formal bows, the affected
smiles, the silly bywords and amorous tweers in
passing; here [in the Mall] one meets with a little
conversation now and then." On the other hand,
the Ring had this advantage, that it gave the
opportunity for displaying a carriage, horses, and
smart livery. Equipages at that time became more
and more the fashion, and to be seen afoot in the
Mall was by many considered the height of vulgarity. There appeared in 1709 a satire, entitled
"The Circus, or the British Olympus," in the preface of which occurs the following remark:—"If
gentlemen are never such dear companions now,
they must have no conversation together but upon
equal terms, lest some should say to the man of
figure, 'Bless me, sir! what strange, filthy fellow
was that you bow'd to parading in the Mall, as
you were driving to the Ring?'"
The following story of the Mall, though told in
"Spence's Anecdotes," will amuse many of our
readers to whom it may be news:—"It was Charles
II. who gave to Dryden the hint for writing his
poem called 'The Medal.' One day, as the king
was walking in the Mall and talking with Dryden,
he said, 'If I were a poet … … I would
write a poem on such a subject in the following
manner, and then gave him the plan for it. Dryden
took the hint, carried the poem as soon as it was
written to the king, and had a present of a hundred
broad pieces for it."
The Mall was a fashionable lounge, and is constantly alluded to in the anecdote literature and
gossip of the Stuart and Hanoverian times. Thus
Swift tells "Stella" that "when he passes the Mall
in the evening, it is prodigious to see the number
of ladies walking there;" and, speaking of St.
John says, "His father is a man of pleasure that
walks the Mall, and frequents St. James's Coffee
House, and the Chocolate House."
In the time of the first and second Georges it
was usual for noblemen of the highest rank to wear
the insignia of their orders in public places. The
writer of the "Town Spy" for instance, tells us, in
1725, how he was walking in the Mall with a gentleman whom he had met "at a coffee-house within
the verge," when there passed before them "a
nobleman vested with a blue Garter." His servants,
he adds, "were worried about by the people to know
what duke it was. It turned out, however, to be
only an earl after all."
Congreve, the poet, was one of the gallants who
were fond of displaying their fine dress in the
haunts of fashion. Hence Thackeray's remark, that
"Louis Quatorze in all his glory is hardly more
splendid than our Phœbus Apollo of the Mall and
the Spring Garden."
Close to St. James's Palace, nearly on the site
where now stands the German chapel, was built, in
the reign of Charles II., a monastery for the use of
the Capuchin monks who attended Catherine of
Braganza. It is thus described by Pepys in his
"Diary," under date January 23, 1666–7:—"My
Lord Brounkir and I walking into the park, I did
observe the new buildings; and my lord seeing I
had a desire to see them, they being the place for
the priests and friers, he took me back to my Lord
Almoner; and he took us quite through the whole
house and chapel, and the new monastery, shewing
me most excellent pieces in wax-worke; a crucifix
given by a Pope to Mary Queene of Scotts, wherein
is a piece of the Cross; two bits set in the manner
of a cross in the foot of the crucifix; several fine
pictures, but especially very good prints of holy
pictures. I saw the dortoire and the cells of the
priests, and we went into one; a very pretty little
room, very clean, hung with pictures, set with
books. The priest was in his cell, with his hairclothes to his skin, bare-legged with a sandall
only on, and his little bed without sheets, and no
feather bed; but yet, I thought, soft enough.
His cord about his middle; but in so good company, living with ease, I thought it a very good
life. A pretty library they have, and I was in the
refectoire, where every man has his napkin, knife,
cup of earth, and basin of the same; and a place
for one to sit and read while the rest are at meals.
And into the kitchen I went, where a good neck of
mutton at the fire, and other victuals boiling. I
do not think they fared very hard. Their windows
all looking into a fine garden and the park; and
mighty pretty rooms all. I wished myself one of
In the reign of William III. we find a congregation of the French Huguenot refugees established
in the "French Chapel Royal," St. James's.
On the site of what is now the basement or substructure of Carlton House Terrace, which nearly
the whole distance eastward bounds the north side
of the Mall, was once a row of fine old trees, which
overhung the road by the park-wall. Half way
along the Terrace is an opening from Waterloo
Place, formed by command of William IV., as had
been the Spring Garden Gate, more than a century
earlier, by William III.
The column which crowns the steps leading up
from the park into Waterloo Place was erected by
public subscription in 1830–33, to the memory of
the late Duke of York, many years Commander-inChief. The cost of it was £26,000. It consists
of a plain circular shaft of Aberdeen granite about
120 feet high, from the designs of Mr. B. Wyatt.
The statue of the duke which surmounts it is the
work of the late Sir Richard Westmacott, R.A.
The column and statue, as might be expected,
was the subject of many witticisms. Take, for instance, the following lines in the New Monthly
"Thou pillar, longitudinally great,
And also perpendicularly straight.
* * * * *
Thou art, I fear, but flattery's handiwork,
Being a tribute unto royal York.
Thy royal highness (ah! too like to His)
Prompts us somewhat to stare, somewhat to quiz.
Railing surrounds above thy lofty brow,
And passers-by do likewise rail below.
That mortal Prince whom thou to Cherubim
Wouldst raise, what record canst thou give of him?
Of his great deeds few words the Muse can dish up;
But, for his virtues, was he not a bishop?"
The allusion in the last line is to the fact that the
duke enjoyed by courtesy the lay title of Prince-Bishop of Osnaburg.
At the end of the Mall, in the shade of the tall
trees, near the Spring Gardens entrance, is an
"institution"—if we may so call it—of considerable
date, and a proof of the former rural character of
the spot, which has flourished here perhaps almost
since the formation of the Mall. It is known as
"Milk Fair," and is held by a privilege granted
from royalty to the gatekeepers. In Tom Brown's
time (1700) the noisy milk-fools in the park cried,
"A can of milk, ladies! A can of red cow's milk,
sir!" If we may judge from a fashionable conceit
in Gay's "Trivia," we may conclude that not only
cows' but asses' milk was at one time sold here as
a restorative for bodily ailments—
"Before proud gates attending asses bray,
Or arrogate with solemn pace the way;
These grave physicians with their milky cheer,
The love-sick maid and dwindling beau repair."
It may be added, that the vendors of milk of the
present day in Spring Gardens are almost, without
exception, descendants from those who have had
their stalls here for the last century or more.
Spring Gardens—more properly "The Spring
Garden"—as late as the reign of Elizabeth, and
possibly down to a still more recent date, was a rural
garden. This spot bears its name from a fountain
or "spring" of water, which in the days of Queen
Bess was set in motion by the spectator treading
on some secret machinery, which proved a novel
puzzle for the good people of Westminster.
Hentzner, in his "Travels" (1598), thus describes the scene:—"In a garden belonging to
this palace there is a jet d'eau, with a sun-dial, at
which, while strangers are looking, a quantity of
water forced by a wheel which the gardener turns
at a distance, through a number of little pipes,
plentifully sprinkles those that are standing around."
Mr. P. Cunningham assures us that such watersprings as this were common in gardens in the days
of Queen Bess, and that one of the same kind was
to be seen at Chatsworth as late as 1847. Be this,
however, as it may, Nares, in his "Glossary," tells
us that the Spring Garden described by Plot was
in existence at Enstone, in Oxfordshire, in 1822.
This place appears to have been a sort of adjunct to the Royal Palace of Whitehall, though
"across the road," and to have been covered
occasionally with scaffolds, in order to enable "the
quality" to see the tilting in the Tilt-yard. It
contained a pleasant yard, a pond for bathing, and
some butts to practise shooting.
Charles I., by royal patent in 1630, made it a
"bowling-green," but the patent was revoked, and
the "bowling-green" brought to an untimely end.
four years later. The reason of the withdrawal
of its licence may be gathered from the following
extract from a letter addressed by a Mr. Gerrard
to Lord Strafford:—"There was kept in it an
ordinary of six shillings a meal, when the king's
proclamation allows but two elsewhere; continual
bibbing and drinking wine all day under the trees;
two or three quarrels every week. It was grown
scandalous and insufferable; besides, my Lord
Digby being reprehended for striking in the king's
garden, he said he took it for a common bowling
place, where all paid money for their coming in."
It is clear from this that Lord Digby thought that
if he only paid for admission, he had a right to
"strike" where and whom he pleased; and if this
was the general idea entertained by "persons of
quality," it is not difficult to see how "two or three
quarrels"—or, in other words, duels—would arise
there every week.
One result of the shutting up of the "Spring
Garden" was the opening of a rival, the "New
Spring Garden," by one of the Lord Chamberlain's
household, too. It appears, however, that the old
place was re-opened ere long; for in June, 1649,
John Evelyn paid it a visit, "treating divers ladies
of his relations," as he tells us in his "Diary."
Under date May 10, 1654, however, he writes:—"My Lady Gerrard treated us at Mulberry Garden,
now the only place of refreshment about the towne
for persons of the best quality to be exceedingly
cheated at; Cromwell and his partisans having
shut up and seized on the Spring Garden, which
till now had been the usual rendezvous for the
ladys and gallants at this season." In spite of the
sour-visaged Puritans, however, its gates were again
thrown open; for the writer of "A Character of
England," published five years later, thus speaks
of it, and in the present tense:—"The inclosure
is not disagreeable, for the solemnness of the grove,
and the warbling of the birds, and as it opens into
the spacious walks at St. James's." He adds:—"It is not unusual to find some of the young company here till midnight; and the thickets of the
garden seem to be contrived to all advantages of
gallantry, after they have refreshed with collation,
which is here seldom omitted, at a certain cabaret
in the middle of this paradise, where the forbidden
fruits are certain trifling tarts, neats' tongues,
salacious meats, and bad Rhenish."
Soon after the Restoration, a part at least of the
ground occupied by these rival places of amusement seems to have been built over, and distinguished as the "inner" and the "outer" Spring
Garden respectively; a trace of which probably
still remains in the present name of Spring Gardens.
Prince Rupert occupied a house in Spring Gardens
from 1674 until his death.
We have already in a previous chapter spoken
of the "menagerie" which James I. established in
St. James's Park; some of the animals, however,
appear to have been located in Spring Gardens.
"At all events," says Larwood, in his "Story of the
London Parks," "they were there in the second year
of the reign of Charles II. This appears from a
document preserved among the State papers, being
an order dated January 31, 1626, for £75 5s. 10d.
a year to be paid for life to Philip, Earl of Montgomery, 'for keeping the Spring Gardens, and the
beasts and fowls there.'"
The Parliament passed a decree in March, 1647,
in the true spirit of Puritan intolerance, ordering
"That the keeper of the Spring Garden be hereby
required and enjoined to admit no person to come
into or walk in the Spring Garden on the Lord's
Day or any of the public fast days, and that no
wine, beer, ale, cakes, or other things be sold
there either upon the Lord's Day or public fast
Isaac D'Israeli, in his "Curiosities of Literature,"
tells us an amusing story illustrative of courtier life
in Spring Gardens in the early days of Charles I.
"The king and the Duke of Buckingham," he
writes, "were in the Spring Garden looking at the
bowlers; the duke put on his hat. One Wilson,
a Scotchman, first seizing the duke's hand, snatched
it off, saying, 'Off with your hat before the king!'
Buckingham, not able to restrain his quick feelings,
kicked the Scotchman; but the king interfering,
said, 'Let him alone, George; he is either mad or
a fool.' 'No, sir,' replied Wilson; 'I am a sober
man; and if your Majesty would give me leave, I
would tell you that of this man, which many know,
and none dare speak.'"
PLAYING AT PALL MALL. (From a Contemporary Print.)
Evelyn tells us in May, 1658, how he went to
see the coach race in Hyde Park, and afterwards
"collationed" in Spring Gardens; and it would
seem from other sources that the latter formed an
agreeable house of call on the way to and from the
Margaret, the learned Duchess of Newcastle,
tells us that when young she and her sisters used
to ride in their coaches about the streets to see the
concourse and recourse of people, and in the spring
time to visit the Spring Gardens, Hyde Park, and
the like places. From this it is probable that her
Grace mistook the origin of the name, as does
apparently another writer, R. Brome, who asks his
friend, "Shall we make a fling to London, and
see how the spring appears there in the Spring
Mr. J. H. Jesse tells us that down to the present
day every house in Spring Garden Terrace has its
separate well. He also gives currency to a tradition to the effect that as he walked through the
park from St. James's Palace to the scaffold at
Whitehall, King Charles stopped, weary and faint,
to drink a glass of water at one of the springs,
at the same time, as we have before remarked,
pointing out to Bishop Juxon and Herbert a tree
close by as having been planted by the hands of
his elder brother, Prince Henry.
Among the inhabitants of this place enumerated
by Mr. Peter Cunningham are Sir Philip Warwick
(after whom Warwick Street is named), Philip
Earl of Chesterfield (1670), Prince Rupert, the
"mad" Lord Crofts, Sir Edward Hungerford, Colley
Cibber, and, last but not least, George Canning.
An advertisement in the Daily Courant of January,
1703, gives us Cibber's locale as "near the 'Bull
Head' Tavern, in Old Spring Garden." John
Milton, too, during the Commonwealth, occupied
lodgings at the house of a tradesman named Thomson, "next door to the 'Bull Head Tavern.'"
In a room over the shop of one Egerton, a bookseller, near this spot, where he resided on first
coming to London, a raw Scottish lad, James
Thomson wrote part of his "Seasons." We are
told that at this time he was "gaping about the
town listlessly, getting his pockets picked, and
forced to wait on great persons with his poem of
'Winter,' in order to find a patron." Most luckily,
fond as he was of freedom, he did not carry his love
of freedom so far as to close against himself the
doors of powerful patrons. "He obtained," writes
Leigh Hunt, "an easy place, which required no
compromise of his principles, and passed the latter
part of his life in his own house at Richmond,"
where he died and is buried.
THE MALL IN 1450.
As late as the reign of George I., the Spring
Gardens are laid down in maps as forming an
enclosure limited by rows of houses in Warwick
Lane and Charing Cross, and containing a house
with a large flower-garden in front, situated in the
midst of an orchard or a grove of trees. "It is
this plantation, perhaps," says Mr. Jacob Larwood,
in his "Story of the London Parks," "which was
denominated the 'Wilderness' so lately as 1772,
in which year Frederick Augustus, Earl of Berkeley,
obtained leave to build messuages and gardens in
a place called 'the Wilderness,' on the north-west
side of the passage from Spring Gardens to St.
James's Park. This grant, no doubt, occasioned
the disappearance of the last vestige of the once
famous place of amusement."
At the northern end of Spring Gardens, at the
corner of the footway leading into the Mall of St.
James's Park, stood formerly a dull and extremely
unattractive mansion, known as Berkeley House,
from having been the town residence of the Earls
of Berkeley for the best part of a century. Here
George Prince of Wales, and many of his boon
companions, were frequent visitors. It was purchased by the Government in 1862, and pulled
down. On its site were built the offices of the
Metropolitan Board of Works. This edifice is
spacious and lofty, and well adapted to the purposes
for which it was erected. It is in the Italian style
of architecture, and has at once a bold and striking
appearance. The Metropolitan Board of Works
was established in 1855. Under the Metropolitan
Building Act, passed in the same year, it exercises
a supervision over all buildings erected within the
limits of its jurisdiction. The powers of the Board
were extended in 1858, to enable it to effect the
purification of the Thames by constructing a new
system of main drainage on both sides of the river.
The construction of the Thames Embankment was
also carried on under its supervision. It is empowered by the Act under which it is constituted
to raise loans for carrying out public works of this
nature, the repayment and interest of which are
guaranteed by Government, and secured by a tax
of 3d. in the pound on property in the metropolis.
The Metropolitan Board of Works can enter into a
contract with any firm that chooses to tender for
the execution of any proposed works to be carried
out under its control.
In Buckingham Court, at the southern end of
Spring Gardens, died, December 1, 1723, the celebrated Mrs. Centlivre, the witty and pretty dramatist, author of The Busybody, and The Bold Stroke
for a Wife, and the wife of three husbands in succession. She is said to have been a great beauty,
an accomplished linguist, and a good-natured,
friendly woman. Pope immortalised her in his
"Dunciad," it is said, for having written a ballad
against his translation of Homer, when she was a
child. "But," as Leigh Hunt suggests, "the probability is that she was too intimate with Steele,
and other friends of Addison, while the irritable
poet was at variance with them. It is not impossible, also, that some raillery of hers might have
been applied to him—not very pleasant from a
beautiful woman against a man of his personal
infirmities, and who was actually jealous of not
standing well with the fair sex." Mrs. Centlivre is
said to have accompanied her first lover, Anthony
Howard (the father of the author of "Love
Elegies"), to Cambridge, in boy's clothes. This,
however, did not hinder her from marrying a
nephew of Sir Stephen Fox, who died a year afterwards, nor from having two other husbands in
succession. Her second husband was an officer
of the name of Carroll, who was killed in a duel.
Her third husband, Mr. Centlivre, who had the
formidable title of "Yeoman of the Mouth," being
chief cook to Queen Anne, fell desperately in love
with her when she was playing the part of Alexander
the Great, at Windsor; for she appears to have
acted on the stage in the provinces, though she
did not appear on London boards. Leigh Hunt
says of her plays that "they are not after the taste
of Mrs. Hannah More, but the public seem very
fond of them. They are still," he adds, in 1835,
"acted as often as if they had just come out.
The reason is that, careless as they are in dialogue,
and not very scrupulous in manners and morals,
they are full of action and good humour."
Her house must have stood near the spot where
now is Messrs. Drummond's bank; close by was a
house known as "Locket's," or "Locket's Ordinary," a house of entertainment much frequented
by the gentry and "persons of quality" in the reign
of Queen Anne, and partaking very much of the
old character of the gardens on which it rose.
Dr. King thus commemorates it, in his "Art of
Cookery," with a quaint and not very first-rate
"For Locket's stands where Gardens once did spring."
The exact site of "Locket's Ordinary" is not
known, though Leigh Hunt is inclined to identify
it with the "Northumberland" Coffee House of a
later date. "It is often mentioned," observes the
writer of a MS. in Birch's "Collection," quoted in
the Notes to the Tatler, "in the plays of Colley
Cibber, Vanbrugh, &c., where the scene is sometimes laid. It was much frequented by Sir George
Etheredge, as appears from the following anecdotes,
picked up in the British Museum:—Sir George
and his company, provoked by something amiss
in the entertainment or the attendance, got into a
violent passion, and abused the waiters. This
brought in Mrs. Locket. 'We are so provoked,'
said Sir George, 'that I could find it in my heart
to pull that nosegay out of your bosom, and throw
all the flowers into your face.' This turned all the
anger of the guests into a loud fit of laughter. Sir
George Etheredge, it appears, discontinued Mrs.
Locket's ordinary, having run up a score which he
could not conveniently discharge. Mrs. Locket
sent a man to dun him, and to threaten him with a
prosecution. He bade the messenger tell her that
he would kiss her if she stirred a step further in
the matter. When this answer was brought back
to her, she called for her hood and scarf, and told
her husband, who interposed, that 'she'd see if
there was any fellow alive who had the impudence
to do so.' 'Pry'thee, my dear,' replied her husband, 'don't be so rash; you don't know what
folly a man may do in his passion.'"
The banking-house of Messrs. Drummond stands
at the corner of Spring Gardens and Charing Cross.
It was founded early in the eighteenth century, and
is consequently one of the oldest West-end banks.
At a day when it was customary for the younger
sons of Scottish noblemen to seek their fortunes by
commerce, Andrew Drummond, fifth son of Sir
John Drummond, the third Laird of Machany,
younger brother of the fourth Viscount Strathallan,
came to London as an agent for some of the chief
Jacobite houses about the year 1713, and founded
this business on the opposite side of Charing
Cross as a banker and a goldsmith. The business
was removed to its present site a year or two
afterwards. Mr. A. Drummond is represented by
Malcolm, in his "Genealogical Memoirs of the
House of Drummond," as a man of great integrity
and ability. He married a Miss Strahan, daughter
of a London banker, and bequeathed the business
to his three sons. Messrs. Drummond have had,
and still have, a large Scottish connection.
Mr. Peter Cunningham tells us that the founder
of Drummond's bank obtained his great position
by advancing money to the Pretender, and by the
king's consequent withdrawal of his account. This
step on the part of the king led to a rush of the
Scottish nobility and gentry with their accounts to
Charing Cross, and to the ultimate advancement
of the bank to its present position.
There is a tradition in the house that Sir Robert
Walpole, in his zeal for the House of Hanover,
wished to inspect the books of Messrs. Drummond's
bank, in order to keep his eye on the adherents of
the Pretender. It is needless to add that his wish
was not gratified, and Mr. Drummond, on meeting
Sir Robert soon afterwards at Court, turned his
back on the Minister, in order to mark his sense
of the affront; and the King, so far from being
offended with him, showed Mr. Drummond a special
mark of his royal favour, either then or at a later
On one occasion, it is said, Messrs. Drummond
refused to advance the sum of £500 to the Princess
of Wales, when she was in pecuniary difficulties.
Hence that lady writes to a friend:—"Messrs.
Drummond certainly shall not be the banker to
George IV.'s Queen; for any historian, who would
write the biography of the ex-Princess of Wales,
would not a little astonish the world, in relating
that she could not procure the sum of £500, at
the rate of paying £500 a year per annum for
it!!" It is only fair to add that this statement,
coming from an angry lady's pen, may very possibly
be mere gossip and scandal after all.
There is a portrait of the founder of the bank,
painted by Zoffany; an engraved copy of it hangs
in the inner room of the bank. It is perhaps
worthy of note that Pope had an account at this
bank, since few poets of modern times are so fortunate as to enjoy the luxury of a banker.
In 1810, the old Duke and Duchess of Brunswick, the parents of Princess (afterwards Queen)
Caroline, were living in a dingy and old-fashioned
house in New Street. Neither the road nor the
royal carriages would appear to have been of the
best, for we find one of the ladies of the princess's
suite at Kensington writing thus to a friend. "We
rumbled in her (the princess's) old tub all the way
to New Street, Spring Gardens, much to the discomfiture of my bones … We were ushered
into the dirtiest room I ever beheld, nearly empty
and devoid of comfort. A few filthy lamps stood
on a sideboard, common chairs were placed around
very dingy walls, and in the middle of this empty
space sat the old duchess, a melancholy spectacle
of decayed royalty."
In New Street lived Sir Astley Cooper, in the
height of his fame as a surgeon. Excellent as was
his surgical skill, he liked to display it, and was
often accused of a sort of anatomical sleight of
hand. "No one," writes the author of the "Family
Joe Miller," "will deny that the first requisite for
an operating surgeon is nerve, and that to a degree
which appears to spectators to amount to want of
feeling. Sir Astley Cooper possessed this quality
thoroughly. He always retained perfect selfpossession in the operating theatre; and his unrivalled manual dexterity was not more obvious
than his love of display during his most critical
and dangerous performances on the patient, whose
courage he tried to keep up by lively and facetious
remarks. When Sir Astley was in the zenith of
his fame, a satirical Sawbones sang thus:—
'Nor Drury Lane, nor Common Garden,
Are, to my fancy, worth a farden;
I hold them both small beer.
Give me the wonderful exploits,
And jolly jokes between the sleights,
Of Astley's Amphitheatre.'"
In 1815 Sir Astley Cooper settled in Spring
Gardens, and a few years afterwards he was employed professionally by George IV. He long
enjoyed a very large share of public patronage,
and his reputation both at home and abroad was
such as rarely falls to the lot of a professional man.
Lord Campbell—then "plain John Campbell"—was living in New Street, Spring Gardens, in his
early Parliamentary days, 1830–35. In the same
street, at the same time, lived Sir James Scarlett
(afterwards Lord Abinger), whose daughter Campbell married, and whom he helped to raise to the
peerage. Joseph Jekyll, the witty contemporary
of Selwyn and friend of the Prince Regent, was
also an inhabitant of New Street.
In the reign of William III. we find some of the
French Huguenot refugees established in Spring
Gardens Chapel. The chapel itself was set on fire
in the year 1726, when King George I. was in
Hanover; and his son, the Prince of Wales (afterwards George II.), happening to take an active
part in the work of extinguishing it, the following
epigram was written off-hand by Nicholas Rowe,
with a covert comparison or rather contrast of the
Prince of Wales with Nero, who "fiddled while
"Thy guardian, blest Britannia, scorns to sleep,
When the sad subjects of his father weep.
Weak princes by their fears increase distress:
He faces danger, and so makes it less.
Tyrants on blazing towns may smile with joy,
George knows to save is greater than destroy."
Great alarm was caused in the neighbourhood, as
the chapel adjoined some depôts of gunpowder; but
these were saved. The chapel, however, and an
inn called the "Thatched House Tavern" adjoining,
In 1731, a new chapel was built by the Hon.
Edward Southwell. A chapel subsequently erected
by one of the De Clifford family still stands at the
corner of New Street; it is dedicated to St.
Matthew, and is a monument of the low architectural taste of the time; it was styled a chapel-ofease to St. Martin's parish, but it is to be feared
that it proved in the event a frequent bone of
clerical contention between Lord De Clifford and
the Vicar of St. Martin's.
On the eastern side of Spring Gardens, about
half way down, is the "Medical Club," whose professional character is sufficiently indicated by its
We have already spoken of the Tilt-yard, which
formerly occupied part of the space now known
as Spring Gardens. Close by it, in Stow's time,
"were divers handsome houses lately built before
the park." One of these "handsome houses"
afterwards became Jenny Man's "Tilt-yard Coffee
House," upon the site afterwards occupied by the
Paymaster-General's office. It was the resort of
military officers, until supplanted by "Slaughter's"
in St. Martin's Lane, which more recently was, in its
turn, ruined by the military clubs. The Spectator
states that the mock military also frequented the
Tilt-yard Coffee House—"fellows who figured in
laced hats, black cockades, and scarlet suits; and
who manfully pulled the noses of such quiet
citizens as wore not swords." As Theodore Hook
wrote in "Sayings and Doings," no doubt with a
retrospect of his own youthful days: "When he fell
really in love, Bond Street lounges and loungers
became a bore to him; he sickened at the notion
of a jollification under the piazza; and even the
charms of the pretty pastry-cooks at Spring Gardens
had lost their piquancy."
Warwick Street, built in 1681, was named after
Sir Philip Warwick. Strype says that in his day
it led to the back gate of the king's garden, "for
the conveniency of her late Majesty's principal
At the western end of this street, which formed a
cul de sac, stood Warwick House, adjoining Carlton
House Gardens, for some time the residence of
the Princess Charlotte, in her girlish years, when
heiress to the throne. Here she was brought up
by Lady De Clifford, as her governess, and hence
in 1814 she "bolted off" in a hackney coach to
her mother's house at Connaught Place, from which
it required the united pressure of the Lord Chancellor Eldon and the Archbishop of Canterbury
(Dr. Manners Sutton) to induce her to return;
and even this was not accomplished without much
difficulty and remonstrance from her friends, until
an early hour next morning, when she was brought
back in one of the royal carriages.
"On the 7th of July, 1814," to use Lady
Brownlow's words in her "Reminiscences of a
Septuagenarian," "all the London world was
startled by hearing that the Princess Charlotte on
the previous evening had left Warwick House
unobserved, and gone off in a hackney coach to
the Princess of Wales in Connaught Place. The
cause of this sudden and unaccountable proceeding has never transpired to the world at large.
That it was perfectly unexpected and unwishedfor by the Princess of Wales there seems no doubt.
The Duke of York, the Duke of Sussex, Lord
Eldon, and Mr. Brougham all repaired to Connaught
Place, and after several hours of discussion the
Princess Charlotte returned to Warwick House."
We learn accidentally that the Lord Chancellor
(Clarendon) was living at Warwick House in 1660,
for in that year Pepys records the fact of having
carried a letter thither to him from Whitehall.
In this street, close to where stood old "Warwick House," is to be seen a small public-house,
with the sign of "The Two Chairmen"—referring,
of course, to the time when "sedan chairs," or as
they were commonly called "chairs," were in vogue.
At a time when Regent Street was not built, and
when Bond Street was too near to Marylebone to
be central, Spring Gardens were the head-quarters
of those exhibitions which abound in town in "the
season," and disappear at its close. Here, towards
the end of the last century, the Incorporated Society
of Arts held its exhibitions; and "here in 1806," as
Mr. Timbs reminds us, "at Wigley's Rooms, were
shown Serre's Panorama of Boulogne, and other
foreign cities, and sea pieces; also Maillardet's
automatic figures, including a harpsichord-player,
a rope-dancer, and a singing bird. Here also was
exhibited Marshall's 'Peristrophic' Panorama of
the Battle of Waterloo"—so called because the spectators themselves were turned round by machinery
whilst they viewed it. A similar contrivance more
recently was adopted at the Coliseum, when the
Panorama of London was exhibited here.
In the reign of Queen Anne there was to be seen
"over against the Mews' Gate, at Charing Cross,
close to the 'Spring Gardens,' by Royal permission,
a collection of strange and wonderful creatures from
most parts of the world, all alive." It certainly was
most miscellaneous, including a black man, a dwarf,
a pony only two feet odd inches high, several
panthers, leopards, and jackalls, and last not least,
"a strange monstrous creature brought from the
coast of Brazil, having a head like a child, legs and
arms very wonderful, and a long tail like a serpent,
wherewith he feeds himself as an elephant does
with his trunk." Mr. Frost, in his "Old Showmen," conjectures that this last-named "monstrous
creature" may have been, after all, only a spider-monkey, one variety of which is said by Humboldt
to use its prehensile tail for the purpose of picking
insects out of crevices.
Among the other objects of curiosity exhibited
here from time to time, not the least attractive
was the "Mechanical and Picturesque Theatre,"
which was, as the advertisements of the day tell
us, "illustrative of the effect of art in imitation of
nature, in views of the island of St. Helena, the
city of Paris, the passage of Mount St. Barnard,
Chinese artificial fireworks, and a storm at sea."
"Punch," if not a native of this locality, at all
events first here made his appearance in England.
Mr. Frost, in his "Old Showmen of London,"
says: "The earliest notices of the representation in
London of 'Punch's moral drama,' as an old comic
song calls it, occur in the overseers' books of St.
Martin's-in-the-Fields, for 1666 and 1667, in which
there are four entries of sums ranging from twentytwo shillings and sixpence to fifty-two shillings and
sixpence, as 'Received of Punchinello, ye Italian
popet player, for his booth at Charing Cross.'"
Somewhere on this side of Charing Cross, though
its actual site is unknown, stood the tavern called
the "Rummer," where Prior was found reading
"Horace" when a boy. In 1685 it appears to
have been kept by one Samuel Prior; and this
would tally with what Dr. Johnson tells us in his
"Lives of the Poets." Prior is supposed to have
fallen, by his father's death, into the hands of his
uncle, a vintner near Charing Cross, who sent him
for some time to Dr. Busby, at Westminster School;
but not intending to give him any education beyond
that of the school, took him, when he was well educated in literature, to his own house, where the Earl
of Dorset, celebrated for his patronage of genius,
found him by chance (as Burnet relates) reading
Horace, and was so well pleased with his proficiency that he undertook the care and cost of his
academical education. It is well known that all
through his life the poet showed a strong propensity
for tavern life and pleasures; and Johnson probably
is not far from the truth when he adds: "A survey
of the life and writings of Prior may exemplify a
sentence which he doubtless well understood when
he read Horace at his uncle's house. 'The vessel
long retains the scent which it first receives;' for in
his private relaxation he revived the tavern."
In mean lodgings over a shop close by the entrance to Spring Gardens, which down to our own
times was a saddler's, died the celebrated divine and
preacher, Dr. Isaac Barrow, one of the most illustrious scholars and writers; and his wit has been
spoken of by no less an authority than Dr. Johnson,
as the "finest thing in the language." We quote
an instance of the doctor's ready wit. In meeting
the Earl of Rochester one day, the worthy peer
exclaimed, "Doctor, I am yours to the shoe-tie;"
to which the clergyman replied, "My lord, I am
yours to the ground." The peer rejoined, "Doctor,
I am yours to the centre." "My lord," retorted
the doctor, "I am yours to the antipodes." Determined not to be outdone, his lordship blasphemously added, "Doctor, I am yours to the lowest
pit of hell;" on which Barrow turned on his heel
and said, "And there, my lord, I leave you."
There is a tradition mentioned by Pyne, that
with the intention of painting the proclamation of
George III., Hogarth stood at a window near
Charing Cross, making sketches of the yeomen
of the guard, the heralds, and the sergeant and
trumpeter's band, who had their rendezvous hard
by. So, at least, says Mr. Timbs, who accepts the
statement as probably true.
This would appear to have been the neighbourhood in which ingenious devices of new arts and
trades abounded even in the Stuart era. Pepys
writes, under date February 10, 1668–9:—"To the
plaisterer's at Charing Cross, that casts heads and
bodies in plaister: and there I had my whole face
done; but I was vexed first to be forced to daub
all my face over with pomatum. Thus was the
mould made; but when it came off there was little
pleasure in it as it looks in the mould, nor any
resemblance, whatever there will be in the figure
when I come to see it cast off."
In 1748 a female dwarf, the "Corsican Fairy,"
was shown in Cockspur Street, at half-a-crown a
head, drawing almost as large levees as "General
Tom Thumb" in our own days. In the same year
was exhibited, "in a commodious room facing
Cragg's Court," a strange monstrosity, a "double
cow." From the work of Mr. Frost, on "Old
Showmen," we learn of yet another and still
stranger sight exhibited in the same year at the
"Heath Cock, at Charing Cross," namely, "a surprising young mermaid, taken on the coast of Aquapulca, which" (says the prospectus), "though the
generality of mankind think there is no such thing,
has been seen by the curious, who express their
utmost satisfaction at so uncommon a creature,
being half like a woman and half like a fish, and is
allowed to be the greatest curiosity ever exposed
to the public view." Here, too, was exhibited
O'Bryen, the Irish giant, whom we have already
mentioned; and here he died.
MILK FAIR, ST. JAMES'S PARK.
In 1772, and again in 1775 and in 1779, in a
large room in Cockspur Street, appeared the conjuror Breslau, whose tricks of legerdemain were
interspersed with a vocal and instrumental concert,
and imitations by an Italian, named Gaietano, of
the notes of the "blackbird, thrush, canary, linnet,
bullfinch, skylark, and nightingale."
The origin of the name of Cockspur Street is
uncertain; and Mr. Peter Cunningham can suggest
no better derivation of it than a fancied connection
with the "Mews" which adjoined it. It may have
derived its name from some association with the
Cock-pit at Whitehall, which we have already mentioned. As it now stands it is quite a modern
street, having been built towards the close of the
last or beginning of the present century.
As the tide of fashion gradually set westwards
from Covent Garden, this street became more and
more frequented by the wits and critics of bon ton;
and among its most pleasant memories is the name
of the "British Coffee House," which was largely
frequented by gentlemen from "the north of the
Tweed." Its northern connection, kept together
by hosts and hostesses from Scotland, is incidentally to be gathered from a letter of Horace Walpole
to his friend Sir H. Mann, in which, speaking of
some Scottish question pending in the House of
Lords, he writes:—"The Duke of Bedford …
had writ to the sixteen [Scotch representative] peers
to solicit their votes; but with so little difference,
that he enclosed all their letters under one cover,
directed to the 'British Coffee House.'"
Concerning a dinner at this coffee-house, Mr.
Cyrus Redding tells a sad story in his "Fifty Years'
Reminiscences:"—"While on this short visit to
town, the proprietors of the 'Pilot' gave a dinner
to some of the officers of the Horse Guards at the
'British Coffee House.' After a sumptuous repast,
in the fashion of the time, we sat down to wine.
There was present a bustling little man, a Scotch
colonel, named Macleod, with his son, a fine young
man, about twenty years old, who sat by me. He
was an only son, with a number of sisters. The
bottle was pushed hard. The youth partook too
freely for one of his years. He was seized with
fever and died. The estate entailed went by his
death to distant relatives; and his mother and
sisters, who would have had to depend on him,
were left penniless on the father's demise."
WARWICK HOUSE, ABOUT 1810.
At the junction of Cockspur Street with Pall
Mall East stands an equestrian statue of King
George III. It is of bronze, between ten and
eleven feet high, and stands upon a granite
pedestal about twelve feet high. It was executed
by Mr. Matthew C. Wyatt, and the cost of its
erection amounted to £4,000, the sum being
defrayed by public subscription. It was set up
about the year 1836. Although the likeness of
the king is good, the statue is not generally
admired, on account of its costume; and the pigtail at the back of the royal head has often been
made the subject of waggish and uncomplimentary
remarks. Altogether, it can hardly be said that
this statue is calculated to raise the credit of
English sculpture in the eyes of foreign visitors.