The several parishes that compose the liberties of Westminster.
St. Martin's in the Fields.
The first parish which demands attention in the liberty of Westminster,
for the extent and the important buildings it contains, is that of St.
Martin's in the Fields. The church stands on the east side of St. Martin's-lane
near the south end; and that there was a church there in very early times
appears from a dispute in the year 1222, between William abbot of Westminster and Eustace bishop of London, concerning the dependence or exemption of
St. Martin's in the Fields from the jurisdiction of the latter; which was decided
by Stephen archbishop of Canterbury in favour of its exemption. It is thought
to have been a chapel for the monks of Westminster, when they visited their
convent garden, which then extended to it. However, the endowments of this
church fell with the monks who possessed it, and in Henry the VIIIth's reign
a small church was built there. at the king's expence; but this structure being
not capacious enough to accommodate the parishioners, it was greatly enlarged in
1607. At length after many expensive repairs, that building was taken down in
1721., and soon after the first stone of the present edifice was laid.
St. Martin's in the Fields is an elegant edifice built with stone. In the west
front is an ascent by a long flight of steps to a very noble portico of Corinthian columns, which support a pediment in which are the royal arms in bas
relief. The same order is continued round in pilasters, and in the intercolumniations are two series of windows surrounded with rustic. On each side the
doors, on the sides which are near the corners, are lofty Corinthian columns;
the roof is concealed by a handsome balustrade, and the spire is stately and
elegant. The decorations on the inside are extremely fine; the roof is richly
adorned with fret-work; slender Corinthian columns raised on high pedestals,
rising in the front of the galleries, serve to support both them and the roof,
which on the sides rests upon them in a very ornamental arch work. The east
end is richly adorned with fret-work and gilding, and over the altar is a large
window finely painted.
Respecting this church, which has no more area before it than the width of
the lane it stands in, it would be a great advantage to lay the front open to
the Mews The portico is at once elegant and august, and if the steps arising
from the street to the front could have been made regular, and on a line from
end to end, it would have given it a very considerable grace; but as the situation
of the ground would not allow it, this is to be esteemed a misfortune rather
than a fault. The round columns at each angle of the church are very well
contrived, and have a very fine effect in the profile of the building; the east
end is remarkably elegant, and very justly challenges particular applause (fn. 1) .
This church is denominated from its dedication to Martin, an Hungarian
saint; and the epithet in the Fields, from its situation when it was taken into the
bills of mortality, whereby it is distinguished from other churches of the
same appellation in the city of London. It is now an impropriation in the gift
of the king (fn. 2) .
St. James's palace.
At the south west end of Pall-mall stands the royal palace of St. James, where
as has already been mentioned (fn. 3) stood an hospital of the same name. In this
edifice our kings have resided ever since Whitehall was consumed by fire in 1697,
and his majesty usually remains here during the winter season: but though it is
pleasantly situated along the north side of the Park, and has very convenient,
and not inelegant apartments, it is an irregular brick building, without one
single beauty on the outside to recommend it; being at once the contempt of
foreign nations, and the disgrace of our own. It may however be hinted that
the ostentatious palaces of the potentates on the continent form a melancholy
contrast with the misery of their subjects; and if a king of Great Britain resides
with less pomp than his arbitrary neighbours, he may derive a noble satisfaction
from the reflection that his subjects in general live more comfortably; and still
more if he makes it his study to promote their welfare. Indeed there is not
much to be said in commendation of this palace; in the front next St.
James's-street there appears little more than an old gatehouse; and on passing
through the gate we enter a little square court, with a piazza on the west side
of it leading to the grand stair case; the buildings are low, plain, and mean;
and there are two other courts beyond, which have not much of the air of a
palace. The windows however look into a pleasant garden, and command a view
of St. James's Park, which seem to be the only advantages this edifice can boast.
St James's Palace and Somerset House
St. James's park.
Behind this palace lies St. James's-park, which, in the time of Henry VIII.
was quite a marsh: but that prince, on his building St. James's palace, inclosed
it, laid it out in walks, and collecting the waters together, gave to the new
inclosed ground and building the name of St. James's. It was afterward much
improved by Charles II. who added to it several fields, planted it with rows of
lime trees, laid out the Mall, which is a vista half a mile in length, at that
time formed into a hollow smooth walk skirted round with a wooden border, and
with an iron hoop at the farther end, for the purpose of playing a game with a
ball, called Mall. He formed the canal, which is an hundred feet broad, and
two thousand eight hundred feet long, with a decoy, and other ponds for water
fowl. Succeeding kings allowed the people the privilege of walking in it, and
king William III. in 1699, granted the neighbouring inhabitants a passage into it
out of Spring Garden. It is certain that the park enjoys a fine situation, and is
laid out with a very agreeable air of negligence. It affords many pleasant walks,
diversified by new scenes, varied by different rural prospects, and the view of
distant structures on the west side.
At the west end of the park, fronting the end of the Mall, stands the fine
house originally known by the name of Arlington-house; but being purchased
by the duke of Buckingham, who rebuilt it in 1703, with brick and stone, it
was called Buckingham-house till the year 1762, when his present majesty
bought it; and it has obtained the name of the Queen's palace from the particular
pleasure her majesty has expressed in the retirement of it. In the front it is
inclosed with a semicircular sweep of iron rails, which are altered very unhappily
from the rails which inclosed it before it became the royal residence. Formerly
an elegant pair of gates opened in the middle, but now though a foot pavement
leads up to where an opening is naturally expected in front, all entrance is
forbidden, by the rails being oddly continued across without affording an avenue
through! Whoever therefore seeks to enter, must walk round either to the right
or left; and in the corners he may perhaps gain admittance.
This edifice is a mixture of brick and stone; a broad flight of steps lead up to
the door, which is between four tall Corinthian pilasters, that are fluted and reach
to the top of the second story. Within this compass are two series of very
large and lofty windows, overy which is the entablature; and in the middle
was this inscription in large gold characters; which has lately been taken
SIC SITI LÆTANTUR LARES.
The houshold Gods delight in such a situation.
Over this is an attic story with square windows and Tuscan pilasters, above
which was an Acroteria of figures representing Mercury, Secrecy, Equity,
Liberty, &c. but these figures were taken away soon after the death of the late
Duke of Buckingham. On each side of the building are bending colonades
with columns of the lonic order, crowned with a balustrade and vases. These
colonades join the offices at the extremity of the wings to the main building,
and each of these offices is crowned with a turret, supporting a dome, from
which rises a weathercock. Behind the house is a garden and terrace, from
whence there is a fine prospect of the adjacent country, which gave occasion to
the following inscription on that side of the house, Rus in urbe: intimating
that it has the advantage of both town and country; above which were figures
representing the four seasons.
Originally this building had an air of elegant uniformity; but though the
front view is not yet damaged, so many irregular additions have been made on
each side, as to inspire the spectator with the idea of a country parsonage house,
to which every incumbent has added something; one a wash-house, another a
stable, another a henroost, &c. till the whole is made a meer jumble of patchwork.
On the north west side of the queen's-palace lies the Green-park, which
extends between St. James's-park and Hyde-park. The road up it, as a fine
walk, is called Constitution-hill. This park adds greatly to the pleasantness of
both palaces, as well as of the surrounding houses that are situated so as to overlook it; among which the most conspicuous is that lately built by lord Spencer.
Altogether it appears very noble, but considering it as a front, we are disappointed in not seeing any entrance, which surely should have been made conspicuous. The irregularity of the other side or principal front which is in St.
James's place is excusable, as the adjoining houses cannot yet be purchased; but
the flatness of it will always make it subordinate to the side that fronts the
Next to St. James's palace on the north east side, behind the houses in Pallmall, stands Marlborough-house; a large brick edifice, ornamented with stone.
The front is extensive, and on each side, the wings are decorated at the corners
with a stone rustic: formerly the top was finished with a balustrade, but lately an
attic story has been raised over the cornice that crowns the first story. On the
sides of the area next the wings a small colonade extends on each side, and the
side opposite to the abovementioned area is taken up with the offices. The late
duchess of Marlborough, when this structure was finished, intended to have
opened a way to it from Pallmall, directly in the front, but Sir Robert Walpole
having purchased the house before it, and being upon no good terms with the
duchess, she was prevented in her design. The front toward the park resembles
the other, only instead of the two middle windows in the wings, there are
niches for statues, and instead of the area in front, you descend by a flight of
steps into the garden, along the park wall. The apartments are noble, well
disposed, and the furniture is rich. In the vestibule at the entrance, is painted
the battle of Hochstet, in which the most remarkable scene is the taking Marshal Tallard, the French general, and several other French officers of distinction
prisoners. The figures of the duke of Marlborough, of prince Eugene of Savoy,
and General Cadogan, are finely executed.
To the north east of Marlborough-house, in Pallmall, fronting the west
opening into St. James's square, is the house built for the late duke of York;
a large regular lofty building standing back from the street, but with no exterior
pretensions to ornament. It is now the town residence of his brother the duke of
Cumberland; and is pleasant because the back front over-looks the park.
Beyond this house, toward the east end of Pallmall on the same side, is Carlton-house, the favourite residence of the late princess dowager of Wales: little
can be said in praise of this as a building, it having been enlarged and opened,
as opportunities offered for taking in or pulling down the adjoining houses.
There is however a pretty piece of garden ground behind, extending along
the wall of St. James's park; over a gate into which is built an agreeable summer-house.
At the south east corner of St. James's-park, fronting the parade, stands the
Treasury, an elegant stone building, though the regularity of the design is disputed by architects. The whole front is rustic; it consists of three stories, of
which the lowermost is of the basement kind, with small windows, though they
are contained in large arches: this story has the Tuscan proportion, and the
second the Doric, with arched windows of a good size; but what is very
singular, the upper part of this story is adorned with the triglyphs and metopes
of the Doric freeze, though this range of ornament is supported by neither
columns nor pilasters. Over this story is a range of Ionic columns in the center,
supporting a pediment. Upon the whole the treasury must be allowed to be a
building composed of very beautiful parts, but it were to be wished they were
sewer and larger, as there is a sufficient distance to view it.
Banqueting House and Treasury
This edifice has on the inside a court surrounded with buildings, and here is
not only the treasury, but the office of trade and plantations.
The treasury is under the government of five lords commissioners, one of
whom is called first lord of the treasury, and has a salary of 4000l. per annum,
and the rest have 1600l. a year each.
A little to the north of the Treasury, and opposite to the Banqueting-house at
Whitehall, is the grand entrance into St. James's-park, through the building
called the Horse-guards. This building consists of a center and two wings,
and has an air of solidity perfectly agreeable to the use for which it was constructed. It receives its name from the horse-guards, who, while the king is at
St. James's, are here on duty, two at a time being constantly mounted and
completely armed, under two handsome porches detached from the building
toward the street, and erected to shelter them from the weather. This structure
is equally calculated for the use of the foot as well as the horse on duty.
In the center of this edifice is an arched passage into St. James's-park, and the
building over this has a pediment, in which are the king's arms in bass relief.
But this arch, as it is the passage of his majesty to and from the house of Peers,
should have been more lofty and noble. At each extreme of this center is a
pavilion. The middle face of the cupola presents a dial; and the aperture in the
lower part of this, and on the several stages of the other, are well calculated to
break the plainness, without weakening the building, either in reality or appearance. The wings are plainer than the center. They each consist of a fore front,
projecting a little, with ornamented windows in the principal story, and a plain
one in the sides. Each has its pediment, with a circular window in the center:
and the whole has a proper air of strength and plainness. The view given in the
annexed plate is the back front in the park; as the street front on account of the
projecting wings, and the porches, would not have appeared to equal advantage.
On the same side of the street, a little to the northward of the Horse-guards
and facing Scotland-yard (fn. 4) , stands the Admiralty-office, a strong building of
brick and stone. This edifice has two deep wings, and is entered by a lofty
portico supported by four very large stone columns of the Ionic order, to which
there is an ascent by a few steps. The importance of this building is what
recommends it to notice. The portico, which was intended as an ornament,
rather disgusts than pleases, by the immoderate height and size of the columns.
The new wall before the court is built in an elegant stile, a piazza of neat
columns extends along the front, with a stone arched gateway in the center;
over the arch runs a balustrade between two pedestals on which are two sea horses
cut in stone. It is to be lamented that there was not room to place this ornamental frontispiece at a due distance from the building; but as there was not,
the wall ought to have been in a more simple stile.
Horse Guards and Admiralty
The office of high admiral is now put in commission and is held by six commissioners who reside in the houses which compose the wings of this building,
three in each wing. The salary of the first lord commissioner is 3000l. per
annum, the others 1000l. per annum, each. In this office are transacted all maritime affairs belonging to the jurisdiction of the admiralty board; who here regulate the affairs of the navy, nominate admirals, captains, and other officers to
serve on board his majesty's ships of war, and give orders for the trial of those
who have failed in their duty, or been guilty of other offences expressed in the
articles of war.
Banqueting house Whitehall.
Directly opposite the Horse-guards is the Banqueting-house belonging to the
old palace of Whitehall; and which was almost the only part that escaped the
fire in 1698 (fn. 5) .
This palace was originally built by Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, who, in
the year 1243, bequeathed it to the Black-Friars in Chancery-lane, Holbourn,
in whose church he was interred. But in 1248, these friars having disposed of
it to Walter de Grey, archbishop of York, he left it to his successors, the archbishops of that see, for their city mansion, and hence it obtained the name of
York place. However, the royal palace at Westminster suffering greatly by fire
in the reign of Henry VIII. and that prince having a great inclination for York
place, purchased it of Cardinal Wolsey, in the year 1530. In the reign of king
James I. the Banqueting-house belonging to this palace being in a ruinous condition, that monarch formed the design of erecting a palace on the spot, worthy
the residence of the kings of England. The celebrated Inigo Jones was employed to draw the plan of a noble edifice; this was done, and the present structure
erected, as a part of the great intended work, for the reception of ambassadors,
and other audiences of state. It is a regular and august building of three stories.
The lowest has a rustic wall, with small square windows, and by its strength
happily serves as a basis for the orders. Upon this is raised the Ionic, with columns
and pilasters; and between the columns are well proportioned windows, with arched
and pointed pediments. Over these is placed the proper entablature, on which is raised
a second series of the Corinthian order, consisting of columns and pilasters like the
other; column being placed over column, and pilaster over pilaster. From the capitals are carried festoons, which meet with masks and other ornaments in the middle. This series is also crowned with its proper entablature, on which is raised the
balustrade with Attic pedestals between, which crown the work. Every thing
in this building is finely proportioned, and as happily executed. The projection
of the columns from the wall has a fine effect in the entablatures, which being
brought forward in the same proportion, gives that happy diversity of light and
shade so essential to fine architecture.
To render this edifice as perfect as possible, the ceiling of the grand room is
richly painted by the celebrated Sir Peter Paul Rubens, who was ambassador
here in the time of Charles I. The subject is the entrance, inauguration, and
coronation of king James I. represented by Pagan emblems. It is esteemed one of
his most capital performances, and may be justly esteemed one of the finest ceilings in the world. This apartment is at present used for a chapel; but the
great offices of state are kept in other parts of the building behind, and all public
business is still dated from Whitehall (fn. 6) .
The west end of the Strand terminates at Charing-cross; so denominated
from the antient village called Charing, in which Edward I. caused a magnificent
cross to be erected in commemoration of his queen Eleanor, part of which continued till the civil wars in the reign of Charles I. when it was entirely destroyed
by the populace, as a monument of popish superstition. An equestrian statue of
king Charles I. was afterward erected on the spot where this cross stood, which
is still called Charing-cross. This statue has the advantage of being well
placed, at the meeting of three great streets; the pedestal is finely elevated, and
the horse full of fire and spirit; but the man is not thought to be equally well
executed. It is said that Oliver Cromwell after king Charles I. was beheaded,
ordered this statue to be taken down and sold to a founder to melt; but that a
royalist contrived to get it and conceal it until the Restoration, when it was
On the north side of Charing-cross is the King's Meuse, or more properly
Mews, a place of great antiquity, and so called from having been used for the
accommodation of the king's falconers and hawks, so early as the year 1377:
but the king's stables at Lomesbury, since called Bloomsbury, being destroyed by
fire in the year 1537, king Henry VIII. caused the hawks to be removed, and
the Mews enlarged and fitted up for the reception of his horses; and the royal
stables have been kept there ever since.
The building on the north side was rebuilt in a magnificent manner by his late
majesty, in the year 1732. There is something in this part of the intended
building very noble, particularly the center, which is enriched with columns and
a pediment, and the continuity of the architecture preserved. The smaller pediment and rustic arch under the cupolas or lanthorns are properly subordinate,
but set so close to the balustrade that its appearance as a gallery, is thereby
destroyed. After viewing this edifice, it is impossible not to be offended at the
wretched buildings that form the other sides of the square; and which make it
look like a common inn-yard. It is indeed much to be wished that they were
made to correspond with the main building, and a suitable regular entrance
made from Charing-cross: the royal stables would then be an ornament instead
of a disgrace to the part of the town where they stand.
Northward of the Mews is Leicester-fields or square; which derive their name
from Leicester-house, a large old brick building on the north side with a court
yard before it; once the mansion of the earl of Leicester, and afterward inhabited by Frederic prince of Wales. This is a handsome square, the inner part
of which is enclosed with iron rails, and adorned with grass plats and gravel
walks. In the center is an equestrian statue of his present majesty gilt, which
was brought from Cannons the ostentatious transitory seat of the duke of Chandos at Edgware.
On the west side of Leicester-fields is a long wide street extending from the
end of Pallmall up to Piccadilly, and known by the name of the Haymarket, as
being a market for hay and straw, every Tuesday Thursday and Saturday. On
the west side of this street is the Opera-house, and on the other side a playhouse, called the Little Theatre; where Mr. Foot has entertained the town with
his comic pieces every summer for several years past.
At the south west end of the Strand opposite St. Martin's-lane, stands the
noble palace of the duke of Northumberland; which merits particular notice
as being almost the only house remaining in town, where the antient magnificence of the English nobility is upheld. It was first built in the reign of
James I. by Henry Howard earl of Northampton, during whose life it was
called Northampton-house; and consisted originally of three sides only. After
the death of the above nobleman, it came to the possession of his relation the
earl of Suffolk, and was then known by the name of Suffolk-house; but does
not appear to have undergone any alteration in his time. In 1642, Algernon
earl of Northumberland (fn. 7) , lord high admiral of England, became proprietor of
this house by marrying lord Suffolk's daughter, at which time it obtained the
name it now bears of Northumberland house. This earl, to remove his apartments from the street, compleated the present quadrangle by building the fourth
side parallel to the street front; in which Inigo Jones appears to have been
employed. In 1682, Charles duke of Somerset married the lady Elizabeth
Percy, daughter and heiress of Jocelyne earl of Northumberland, and thus
became possessed of the house; which descended to his son Algernon, who
succeeded to the title and estate in 1748. This nobleman began to rebuild the
street front, and to alter the apartments, but died before his design was accomplished: when the house descended to his son in law and daughter, the present
duke and duchess of Northumberland, who compleated the house as it now
The front to the street is magnificent, but in a singular stile which cannot be
characterized either as purely Gothic or Grecian. There is a grand arched
gate in the center, the piers of which are continued up to the top of the building
with niches on each side, from the ground, four niches in height: these are
decorated with carvings in a sort of Gothic stile, which admit of little being
said in their praise. They are connected at the top by uniting to form an arch
in the center, opening from the top of the house to a circular balcony standing
on a small bow window over the gate beneath. On a pedestal over this arch stands
a carved lion, the crest of the duke's arms. The building on each side the center
is of brick, containing two series of rectangular windows, five on each side,
over a like series of niches on the ground story; beside a tower at each extremity with rustic stone corners, containing one window each in front, corresponding with the building. These towers rise above the rest of the front,
first with an arched window, above that a port hole window, and terminate
with a dome crowned with a vane. The center is connected with the turrets
over the building, not by a proper balustrade, but by a breast work of solid
piers and open lattice work alternately, corresponding with the windows beneath,
which have stone work under them carved in like manner.
On entering the first gate under the front, the four sides of the inner court
are seen, new faced with Portland-stone, in a more correct stile than the outside
above described: and two new wings above 100 feet in length, now extend from
the garden front toward the river. The principal door of the house opens to a
vestibule about 82 feet long, and more than 12 feet wide; properly ornamented
with columns of the Doric order. Each end of it communicates with a staircase, leading to the principal apartments, which face the garden. They consist
of several spacious rooms, fitted up in the most elegant manner. The ceilings
are embellished with copies of antique paintings, or fine ornaments of stucco,
richly gilt. The chimney pieces consist of statuary and other curious marble,
carved and finished in the most correct taste. The rooms are hung either with
tapestry or damasks, and are furnished with large glasses, chairs, settees, marble
tables, &c. with frames of exquisite workmanship, richly gilt. They also contain a very large and valuable collection of pictures by the greatest masters, of
which our limits will not allow the detail: but among them are the works of
Raphael, Titian, Lucca Jordano, Paul Veronese, Dominicho Fatti, Salvator
Rosa, Tempesta, Albert Durer, Old Frank, Rubens, Vandyke, Snyders, Dobson, &c. not to mention more modern masters. The Cornaro family painted by
Titian will always claim the highest attention: this picture which was lost by
the family, and made its way to England in an unaccountable manner, was sold
to Algernon earl of Northumberland in the reign of Charles I. by Vandyke for
1000 guineas: an Ixion by Lancetti, a very uncommon master, is in the most sublime stile of painting: a Bacchus, and an Ariadne, in two small tablets by Hussey,
are of first rate merit. In some of the rooms are large chests, embellished with
old genuine japan; which being great rarities are almost invaluable.
The left wing contains a state gallery or ball-room, elegant in every respect,
whether we consider the dimensions, the taste, and masterly manner in which it
is finished, or the magnificence of the furniture. It is 106 feet long, the breadth
being a fourth part of the length, and the height equal to the diagonal of the
square of the breadth. The ceiling is coved and ornamented with figures and
festoons richly gilt. The flat part is divided into five compartments, ornamented with heathen deities. The entablature is Corinthian, and the light is admitted through nine windows in the side next the garden; above which is another
row of windows, not visible in the room, but so artfully placed as to throw a
proper quantity of light over the cornice: so that the highest parts of the room
are as much enlightened as the lowest. In the spaces between the windows
there are tables of antique marble, and stools covered with crimson damask,
alternately. The piers are ornamented with large square and oval glasses; the
frames of which form a beautiful variety of foliage to adorn the higher parts
quite up to the entablature. The opposite side is divided into three large spaces
by two chimney pieces made of statuary marble, with cornices supported by
figures of Phrygian captives, copied from those in the capitol of Rome. The
finishing above the chimney pieces consists of termini, sphinxes, festoons, &c.
and within the spaces formed by those ornaments are placed whole length portraits of the duke and duchess, when earl and countess of Northumberland,
in their robes, by Hudson. This gallery is lighted up for the reception of company, by means of four glass lustres, consisting in all of as many branches as
will receive 100 large wax candles; and suspended from the ceiling by long
chains, magnificently gilt.
There are in all above 140 rooms in this palace: the apartments of the duke
and duchess are very commodious and elegantly furnished: her grace's closet is a
repository of curiosities, that will afford a most pleasing entertainment to a connoisseur. The two libraries consist of a great variety of well chosen books on
the most useful and curious subjects.
The garden between the house and the Thames forms a pleasing piece of
scenery before the principal apartments; for it consists of a fine lawn surrounded
with a neat gravel walk, and bounded next the walls by a border of curious
flowers, shrubs, and evergreens. Could it have been extended quite to the
banks of the river, the enlargement would be an advantage both to the owner and
to the public in general.
Eastward from Northumberland house is Hungerford market, situated between
the Strand and the Thames. In this place was anciently a large house, with a
garden, the seat of Sir Edward Hungerford, which he converted into buildings. There is here a good market house, and over it a French church: but
the market house turns to little account, notwithstanding its convenient
situation for gardeners and others to bring their commodities to it by water.
Adjoining to Hungerford market are several streets which go under the name
of York buildings, which they retain from the archbishop of York's house
which antiently stood there. This house coming to George duke of Buckingham,
he disposed of it to builders, who converted it into handsome streets and alleys,
in which his name and title are still preserved: they being called George street,
Villars street, Duke street, Of alley, and Buckingham street. A handsome
terrace walk planted with trees extend along these streets on the bank of the
river; in the center of which is a handsome stone gate to the stairs, of the Tuscan order with rustic work; the design of the celebrated Inigo Jones. At the
east corner is a high wooden tower for the purposes of the York-buildings water
To the east of York-buildings was antiently the house of the bishop of Durham, afterward converted into buildings and wharfs, and called by the name of
Durham-yard. Before this house, in the Strand, king James I. erected a magnificent stone building for an Exchange, and called it Britain's burse, which
name it afterward lost for that of the New Exchange. This building in the
year 1737 was taken down and a handsome line of houses were erected in the
place. Durham-yard behind these houses falling into ruins, three spirited builders and brothers of the name of Adam agreed with the duke of St. Alban's, proprietor of the ground, and as the situation was advantageous, have converted it
into one of the most elegant pile of buildings to be found in all the town. (fn. 8) . As
Durham-yard went down with a steep descent to the river, these gentlemen have,
by raising their buildings upon strong lofty arches, built a street at the east end
down to the river upon a level with the Strand. Along the river westward runs
a broad terrace secured with elegant iron rails, on which a noble row of houses
front the Thames: the center house is now inhabited by David Garrick Esq.
Another street extends between the river and the Strand, parallel to the terrace,
which leads into York-buildings; and in this street is an elegant edifice for the
use of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (fn. 9) . From the western extremity of this cross street, another leads to the
other end of the terrace. The end and central houses are ornamented with
pilasters and cornices of artificial stone; a valuable improvement, as it is found
by experience that baked earthen compositions resist the injuries of the weather
much longer than natural stone.
There was too much room in the vaults under these houses, though they are
allowed two stories under ground; to remain useless on the banks of the river in so
populous a town. These vaults are converted into ranges of warehouses, stables, and
coach houses; with proper subterraneal communications reserved between,
enlightened by wells in the back yards between the houses above. From the old
entrance to Durham-yard is a wide archway for carriages under the houses
down to these warehouses, and to a spacious wharf below the terrace; which the
annexed copper plate exhibits with great exactness. Another entrance opens to
the street on the side next York-buildings. The summits of the arches fronting
the river are appropriated to the purposes of compting houses for the warehouses below; or of kitchens to the opposite houses above. From this terrace
is a fine view of the river between the bridges at Westminster and Blackfriars:
than which there could not be finer boundaries of so agreeable a prospect. In
short it is impossible to view this grand improvement without admiring the
spirit that could undertake the execution of such a scheme.
In justice however to Mr. Lacy, joint patentee with Mr. Garrick in Drurylane theatre, it must be observed, that some years since, that gentleman formed
an idea of improving the north bank of the river regularly from Blackfriarsbridge to Westminster bridge, upon a plan similar to that now carried into execution at Durham-yard: of which scheme a large copper plate was engraved at
the time for private distribution.
In proportion as the buildings increased between London and Westminster,
the parish of St. Martin's in the fields became too large for the inhabitants to be
accommodated in one place of worship; by an application to parliament therefore (fn. 10) , a church dedicated to St. Anne was in 1686 erected in a spot of ground
then called Kemp's-field, but which is now situated on the west side of Dean-street
Soho: the parish was separated from St. Martin's in 1687.
The walls of this church are of brick with rustic quoins. The tower which
is square, is strengthened with a kind of buttresses, and at the springing of the
dome, which supports the lanthorn, there are urns on the corners with flames.
The lanthorn, which is formed of arches, is surrounded with a balustrade at the
bottom, and over it is a turret crowned with a globe and vane. The rectory is
in the gift of the bishop of London.
The most remarkable place in this parish is Soho-square, or King's-square,
an area of considerable extent, surrounded with iron rails and including a garden
in which is a statue of king Charles II. standing upon a pedestal placed in the
midst of a small bason. At his majesty's feet lie the representations of the four
principal rivers, the Thames, Trent, Humber, and Severn, pouring out their
waters. The buildings round this square have neither much regularity nor
taste; the most noted is Carlisle house, where the nobility of this kingdom long
protected Mrs. Cornelys in entertaining their masquerade and gaming assemblies,
in violation of the laws, and to the destruction of all sober principles.
At the northwest angle of Newport-street was formerly a town house of the
family of Newport, which is now converted into a small market that still retains
St. James's church.
As our nobility and gentry continued to remove to the western parts of the
town, the out parts of the parish of St. Martin were found to extend too wide
to lie conveniently for the parish church. Henry earl of St. Alban's therefore
with other persons of distinction, in the reign of Charles II. erected St. James's
church, on the south side of Piccadilly, as a chapel of ease, at the expence of
about 7,000l. It was consecrated in 1684 and dedicated to St. James in compliment to the duke of York; and when that prince ascended the throne, the
district for which it was built was by act of parliament separated from St. Martin's, and made a distinct parish (fn. 11) .
The walls are brick, supported by rustic quoins of stone; and the windows,
which are large, are also cased with stone. The tower at the east end rises
regularly from the ground to a considerable height, and is finished with a neat
spire. The rectory is in the presentation of the bishop of London.
St. James's square.
In this parish, between Pallmall and Jermyn-street, is St. James's-square, perhaps the most pleasing square in all London. The middle is encompassed with iron
rails which form an octagon, and in the center is a fine circular bason of water.
This is in true taste, for while the buildings form a square, the inclosed area
should be circular; by which the passage round is rendered spacious, instead of
being confined to four narrow streets. The contrast of figure gives beauty to the
whole. On the north side of the square is St. James's church, in a very fine
situation with respect to the prospect. An ingenious author observes, that
though this square appears extremely grand, yet this grandeur does not arise
from the magnificence of the houses; but from their regularity, the neatness of the pavement, and the beauty of the bason in the middle: and that if the
houses were built more in taste, and the four sides exactly correspondent to each
other, the effect would be much more surprising, and the pleasure arising from
it more just (fn. 12) It is certain that to render a square compleat, a relative correspondence ought to be observed in all the buildings that surround it: but though
there are many fine houses in St. James's-square, they are so individually. The
largest house here is Norfolk house, at the south east corner; a building which
gives great offence to a late critic; who observes that in such mansions we expect
something beyond roominess and convenience, the meer requisites of a packer or
a sugar baker. "Would any foreigner beholding an insipid length of wall
broken into regular rows of windows, ever figure from thence the residence
of the first duke of England (fn. 13) ?"
On the east side of Warwick-street lies Golden-square, a very neat but small
square, containing about two acres. A large space on the inside, adorned with
grass plats and gravel walks, was till lately surrounded with wooden pales; but
these have been removed for handsome iron rails.
This parish abounds with many elegant mansions, the town houses of noblemen and gentlemen of fortune, too numerous to particularize: but the most celebrated, and most in the stile of a palace, is Burlington-house, the residence of the
earls of that title, on the north side of Piccadilly. But this house has the misfortune to be totally hid by a high gloomy brick wall that would mislead a stranger
into an opinion that there was a convent or a gaol within. This dead wall, as
ill suited to the residence of an English nobleman, as to the safety of the passenger in dark winter nights, is about 220 feet in length; and in it are three
coach gates. The front of the house is of stone, and is remarkable for the
beauty of the design and workmanship. It has two wings, joined by a circular
colonade of the Doric order. The front was built by the late earl of Burlington. The apartments are in a fine taste, and the stair case painted with great
spirit, by Sab. Ricci. Behind the house is a spacious garden.
St. James's and Carnaby markets.
There are two markets for the sale of provisions in this parish; the one
between the Hay-market and St. James's square, called St. James's market:
the other to the north of Golden-square, on the east side of Carnaby-street,
called Carnaby, or Marlborough market. This latter market stands on part
of a piece of ground formerly distinguished by the name of the Pest-field, where
was a lazaretto consisting of 36 small houses for the reception of persons seized
with the plague in 1665; and near it, at the lower end of Marshall-street,
was a common cemetery where some thousands of bodies were buried in that
St. George's Hanover square.
Another parish dismembered from the extensive parish of St. Martin's, is that
of St. George Hanover square: for the commissioners for building 50 new
churches, perceiving the need of one in that quarter of the town, erected an
elegant church on the east side of George-street which opens into Hanoversquare on the south side, which was finished in 1724, and dedicated to St. George
the martyr. The ground on which it was erected was given by lieutenant
general William Stuart.
This church, considering the great extent of the parish, is too small. It has
a plain body with an elegant portico: the columns, which are Corinthian, are
of a large diameter, and the pediment has its acroteria, but without farther
ornament. It has a tower, which, above the clock, is elegantly adorned at the
corners with coupled Corinthian columns that are very lofty. These are crowned
with their entablature, which at each corner supports two vases, and over these
the tower still rises till it is terminated by a dome crowned with a turret which
supports a ball, over which rises the weather-cock. This church is a rectory;
the gift of which is in the bishop of London.
This parish includes great part of the most airy elegant parts of the north west
end of the town; and several noble squares, as follow.
Hanover-square, from which the parish is denominated, lies between Georgestreet and Oxford-road; and was so called in compliment to the present royal
family. The area of this square contains about two acres of ground, and was till lately
railed round from carriages, but left open for cross paths to foot passengers: this
however has been remarked as an ill judged plan (fn. 14) , as the area was thus
rendered a dirty place of resort for the idle and vulgar. It is now just inclosed
with neat iron rails, so that this evil is remedied. The houses round, which
are inhabited by persons of distinction, have an elegant appearance. An author
often consulted in this work, observes, that "the upper end of Great Georgestreet toward Hanover-square is laid out so considerably wider than at the
other end, that it quite reverses the perspective, and shews the end of the
vista broader than the beginning; which was calculated to give a noble view
of this square from its entrance, and a better prospect down the street from
the other side, and both ways the effects answer the intention.—The view
down George-street, from the upper side of the square, is one of the most
entertaining in this whole city: the sides of the square, the area in the
middle, the breaks of building that form the entrance of the vista, the
vista itself, but above all, the beautiful projection of the portico of St.
George's church, are all circumstances that unite in beauty, and make the
scene perfect (fn. 15) ."
South-west from Hanover-square, behind Devonshire-house and gardens in
Piccadilly, is Berkeley-square, which contains about three acres of ground, laid
out in the form of a long parallelogram. In the center is an equestrian statue of
his present majesty, erected there by the princess Amelia. This statue has a
heavy look with it, owing to the stile it is dressed in; and this is armour, with something fastened over the shoulders, by a knot at the breast; from under which
two naked arms appear: and however it may be dignified by the name of a
mantle, it is as clumsy as a piece of rug tied over the shoulders of a gypsy woman
with a child in it behind. If there is no danger of the statue catching cold, it
would be a kindness to take away this ill judged piece of drapery, which only
obscures the proportions of the figure it covers. The square is well built on the
east, and west sides; the south side was till lately a piece of waste ground, until
the earl of Bute built a noble house at the south west corner, fronting the east,
which was afterward sold to the earl of Shelburne; and this ground now forms
a fine area before it at the bottom of the square.
Westward from the above two squares lies Grosvenor-square, a little to the
east from Hyde-park-wall. The area of this square contains about five acres,
and in the middle is a large garden surrounded with palisado pales placed upon a
circular dwarf wall. This garden is laid out into walks, and adorned with an
equestrian statue of king George I. gilt, which stands upon a pedestal in the
center. The buildings that surround this square are magnificent, but no regard
has been had to uniformity; some being of stone, others of brick; some ornamented, and some plain. Three houses on the north side have indeed been
constructed to represent one grand mansion; but beside the absurdity of three
inhabitants collecting their powers to exhibit a shew of magnificence that no one
of them can lay claim to, this triple alliance not being in the center of that
side, throws an air of burlesque on their joint attempts.
On the north side of Oxford road, and directly opposite to Hanover-square,
is Cavendish-square; an area of between two and three acres encompassed with
handsome buildings: the lord Harcourt has a fine house on the east side; on the
west is a noble edifice belonging to Mr. Lane, formerly the Lord Bingley's; and
in the center of the north side is a space left for the house intended to have been
erected by the late Duke of Chandos, the wings only being built; however,
there is a handsome wall and gates before this space, which serve to preserve the
uniformity of the square. In the center of this square was lately erected an equestrian
gilt statue of the late duke of Cumberland; a grateful monument placed there, as
the inscription on the pedestal informs us, by lieutenant general William Strode.
A late anonymous writer has affected to make himself very merry with this statue, because the figure is dressed in the British regimental uniform (fn. 16) . But cavilling apart, there is strict propriety in exhibiting a hero in the dress of his age,
country, and profession: any other is a masquerade habit. For however custom
may have sanctified the forcing a Roman dress on the statues of those who never
wore it: there is as little reason for dressing our duke of Cumberland like Julius
Cæsar or Pompeius Magnus, as for habiting him like Heider Ali, or Attakullakulla.
The square is now laying out in an elegant manner round this statue, with a fine
circular fence of iron-rails. Adjoining to this square on the north-east, a grand
house has been just erected by Lord Foley.
Queen Anne square, and Portman square. Middlesex hospital
Northward of Cavendish-square toward Marybone, a new square is now compleating, called Queen-Anne square; as is another on the west near Tyburn turnpike, called Portman square.
On the north side of Oxford road stands the Middlesex hospital, for the reception of sick and lame persons, and pregnant married women; instituted in the
year 1745. The charitable purposes of this hospital were first carried on in two
private houses in Windmill street, Tottenham-court-road; but the benevolence
of the contributors enabled them in 1755 to erect the present building, which
then stood in the open fields, though now connected to the town by new streets.
It is a neat, plain, and not inelegant brick building: it has the decent appearance and all the accommodations to be wished for in a house devoted to charity,
without that ostentatious magnificence which is unnecessary in such a fabric, and
which swallows up too much of that money which is better employed in extending the purposes of the institution.
On the south side of Oxford-road, nearly opposite to the market, there has lately
been constructed a superb building, of which the principal part is a grand rotunda,
crowned with a fine dome. This edifice is dignified with the name of the Pantheon.
The temple of that name at Rome was dedicated to all the heathen deities, who
had but very indifferent characters according to their own poets: this Pantheon
is dedicated to the nocturnal revels of the British nobility; and may possibly
furnish characters for modern poets to celebrate.
St. George's hospital, Hyde-park corner.
There is another hospital in this parish, though it stands at a great distance from
the former, and this is St. George's hospital, Hyde-park corner. This hospital
was opened for the admission of patients, on the first day of January 1734,
and has ever since been supported by voluntary subscriptions and donations; and
so well attended and managed, that now it is one of the most flourishing hospitals in the kingdom. It enjoys a fine situation, has all the benefit of a clear and
pure air, with the advantage of being a very neat though not an expensive
building. It has two small wings, and a large front, with only one door, which
is in the middle, and to which there is an ascent by a few steps. On the top of
this part of the building is a pediment raised above the rest of the edifice, and under this ornament is a stone with an inscription, expressing the noble use to which
the structure is applied.
On the north side of Oxford-road, which, for its length, width, and strait
direction, is now one of the finest streets in the metropolis, is Oxford market;
which with the street derive their name from being on the estate of the late earl
St. Paul's Convent-garden.; Long Acre.
The remaining parishes of the liberty lie eastward from those already mentioned; and the next in order of place is that of St. Paul's Convent-garden, or as it
is corruptly called Covent-garden, or Common-garden. The ground on which
the greatest part of this parish stands was antiently a large garden belonging to
the abbot and convent of Westminster; which garden after the dissolution of
religious houses was bestowed by king Edward VI. upon Edward duke of
Somerset. But upon his attainder, Edward, on the 6th of May, Anno 1552,
granted it together with a field contiguous on the north, denominated the
Seven Acres, but from its length, vulgarly the Long Acre, which name is still
preserved in the street since built upon it, to John earl of Bedford. This earl
erected a house for his town residence on the north side of the Strand, at the
bottom of what is now Southampton-street: this, which was a mean wooden
building, inclosed by a brick wall, remained till the year 1704; and had a
garden, whose northern boundary was the south side of the present market.
The estate being greatly improved, Francis earl of Bedford, in 1640, employed
Inigo Jones to build a chapel of ease to the parish of Saint Martin's, for the conveniency of his tenants; which chapel is the present parish church (fn. 17) .
In 1645 the precinct of Convent-garden was separated from St. Martin's, and
constituted an independent parish, which was confirmed after the restoration in
1660 (fn. 18) , by the appellation of St. Paul's Convent-garden; when the patronage
was vested in the earl of Bedford. This church never fails to attract the curious
eyes of judges in architecture; some praising it as one of the most perfect pieces of
architecture, in simplicity and grandeur (fn. 19) ; while others degrade it to a meer barn (fn. 20) .
The front is a plain but noble portico of the Tuscan order; the columns are
massy, and are four in number, the two extream ones square, the inner round:
and the intercolumniations being large, no criticisms can destroy the noble air of
simplicity produced by the proportions. These columns support a large plain
pediment that extends over the whole front, in the middle of which is a dial,
and on the apex, a vane. However destitute of ornament this building may be,
it is happily proportioned: the walls are of brick covered with plaister, and the
corners of stone; the roof is slat, and, though of great extent, is supported by
the walls alone. The pavement is stone; the windows are of the Tuscan form
like the portico, and the altar piece is adorned with eight sluted columns of
the Corinthian order, painted in imitation of porphyry. The altar is placed as
usual at the east end, so that what appears to be the grand door under the portico,
is only a representation.
Convent garden market; Theatres royal.
This church has the rare good fortune to be placed where it is seen to advantage; it stands on the east side of a fine square, the area of which is the greatest
market for greens, fruit, and flowers in the metropolis; a circumstance which it
must be owned has more of utility than elegance in it. The lofty piazza on the
north, and part of the east sides (fn. 21) , has a grand effect, and the buildings over it
are light and elegant: had Inigo Jones's plan been compleated, this would have
been the most finished square any where to be found. Under the piazza at the
north east corner is the principal entrance to Convent Garden Theatre, all the
elegance of which is within; it being entirely included in the area formed by the
surrounding houses. The same may be said of the neighbouring Theatreroyal in Drury-lane; the principal avenue to which is from Bridges-street.
St. Mary le Strand.
In the Strand, a little to the eastward from Somerset-house, stands the church
of St. Mary-le-Strand; commonly called the New-church in the Strand. An
old church, belonging to this parish, is mentioned in the year 1222; when it
was called St. Mary and the Innocents of the Strand: but how old it might then
have been, is uncertain. It was then situated on the south side of the Strand,
where the east end of Somerset-house is placed; and for the erecting of this last
edifice it was taken down in 1549, by order of Edward Seymour, duke of
Somerset (fn. 22) : the parishioners thus deprived of a place of worship joined themselves to the church of St. Clement's Danes, and afterward to that of St. John
Baptist in the Savoy, where they continued till the year 1723. At length, the
act having passed for erecting the fifty new churches within the bills of mortality
one was appointed for this parish (fn. 23) ; though it was not consecrated till the 1st
of January 1723, when, instead of its ancient name, it was called St. Mary-leStrand. It was the first finished of any of the fifty new churches; and is a
rectory in the gift of the king.
This is a very superb, though not a very extensive edifice; massy, without the
appearance of being heavy, and formed to stand for ages. At the entrance on
the west end is an ascent by a slight of circular steps, which lead to a circular
portico of Ionic columns covered with a dome, crowned with an elegant vase.
These columns are continued along the body of the church, with pilasters of the
same order at the corners, and in the intercolumniations are niches handsomely
ornamented. Over this dome is a pediment supported by Corinthian columns,
which are also continued round the body of the structure, over those of the
Ionic order beneath: between these are the windows placed over the niches.
These columns are supported on pedestals, and have pilasters behind with arches
sprung from them, and the windows have angular and circular pediments alternately. A handsome balustrade is carried round the top, and its summit is
adorned with vases. The steeple is light though solid, and ornamented with
Composite columns and capitals (fn. 24) . It is surrounded by a handsome strong iron
rail on a dwarf stone wall.
Though this church is well situated to be seen at an advantageous distance;
yet a large watch-house is absurdly placed before the principal entrance; as if
purposely to spoil the effect. On the spot where this church is built, there formerly stood a very lofty may-pole, which on public occasions used to be decorated with flags, streamers, and garlands of flowers.
On the south side of the Strand, near the church above mentioned, is the old
palace called Somerset-house; which, though so far neglected as to be suffered to
fall to ruin in some of the back parts, is reckoned one of the royal palaces: and
as such is settled on our present queen for life (fn. 25) . This palace was built about
the year 1549 by the duke of Somerset, uncle to Edward VI. and protector of
England; who demolished the palaces of the bishops of Chester and Worcester,
an inn of chancery called Strand-inn, with the church of St. Mary-le-Strand,
that stood there, and building this palace with the materials, it from him
obtained the name of Somerset-house. But the duke being soon after attainted,
it fell to the crown, and has usually been assigned for the residence of the queen
dowager. In this palace Anne of Denmark, queen to king James I. kept her
court, whence it was called Denmark-house during that reign; but it soon after
recovered the name of the founder.
The front in the Strand is adorned with columns and other decorations,
which are much defaced by time and the smoak of the city, the principal ornaments having mouldered away. This front together with the quadrangle seem
to have been the first attempts to restore the ancient architecture in England.
In the middle, is a handsome gate which opens into the quadrangle, the inner
front of which is adorned with a piazza, perhaps more in taste than any other in
the kingdom of the same antiquity; and the whole building on this side has an
air of grandeur. The most beautiful front is the back of this toward the
garden, situated upon an elevation, part of which was new built, by Inigo
Jones, with a fine piazza and lofty apartments over it: the stairs and gate to the
water shew where he intended the center. His design being left unfinished, the
building toward the garden is very irregular; some of the old edifice being left
standing, or rather falling on that side. The garden was adorned with statues,
shady walks, and a bowling green: but as none of the royal family have resided
here since queen Catharine, dowager of Charles II. several of the officers of the
court, and its dependants, are permitted to lodge in it; and great part of it has
been lately used as barracks for soldiers. The garden, after being spoiled
by the exercising recruits in it, has been shut up and totally neglected, but the
Royal Academy have lately obtained a grant of apartments in the house.
Adjoining to the west side of Somerset-house, between the street and the river,
is Somerset-yard; containing coach-houses, stables, and a guard room for the
use of the soldiers on duty at the palace to which it appertains. It has a gateway
into the Strand fronting Catharine-street.
Westward from Somerset-house on the north side of the Strand fronting
the Savoy, stands Exeter exchange, an old building erected for the purposes of
trade; but which would be better answered by taking it down to open the street,
which is greatly contracted by its projection, and by the sheds stuck round it on
the outside. It consists of a long room with a row of shops on each side; a
large room above, now used for auctions; and received its name from the mansion
of the earls of Exeter, which stood near it.
St. Clement's Danes.
Between the New Church in the Strand and Temple bar, on the north side
of the street, stands the church of St. Clement Danes; which is dedicated to St.
Clement, a disciple of St. Peter the apostle; and the addition of Danes is given
to it on account of this being originally a burial place for people of that nation:
a church has accordingly been found to have stood here for 700 years. The present stone edifice was raised in 1682, but the steeple was not compleated until
several years after.
The body of the church has two series of windows, the lower plain and the
upper well ornamented, and the termination is by an attic, whose pilasters are
crowned with vases. On the south side it is entered by a portico to which there
is an ascent of a few steps; this portico is covered with a dome supported by
Ionic columns. On each side of the steeple in the west front is a small square
tower with its dome. The steeple is carried to a great height in several stages:
where it begins to diminish, the Ionic order takes place, and upon its entablature supports vases. The next stage is Corinthian; and above that stands the
composite, supporting a dome which is crowned with a smaller one, from whence
rises the ball and its vane.
This church stands in an open paved church-yard, but by an absurd complaisance to the superstitious obligation of placing it due east and west, the backside of the church is thrust out into the street. A double range of houses behind,
erected to the extent of the contraction, have increased the nusance, and made
two ugly narrow streets branch from Temple-bar, where daily stoppages of
carriages obstruct the high thoroughfare between London and Westminster.
The advowson of this rectory, which was antiently in the neighbouring
Knights Templars, is, after passing through several hands, at present in the earls
Between St. Clement's church yard and Clare-market, is Clement's-inn, an
inn of Chancery belonging to the Inner Temple; containing three courts, in the
middle one of which is a small hall with a neat front. The buildings are old,
excepting those in the north court, which contains a pleasant garden. In the
center of this garden is the statue of a negro kneeling and holding a horizontal
sun-dial on his head.
Adjoining to this inn on the west, separated only by iron rails with a gate,
is New-inn, an inn of chancery and an appendage to the Middle Temple. It
consists of one large, airy, and well built court, with a handsome hall and a
Opposite to New-inn on the south side of Wyche-street is situated Lyon's-inn,
said to have been antiently a common inn for travellers with the sign of the
Lyon: it is now an inn of chancery, and a member of the Inner Temple; consisting of one small court in which stands a neat hall.
On the north side of Lyon's-inn stands Clare-market which derives its name
from John earl of Clare, who built and opened this market in the year 1656 (fn. 26) ;
it was declared to be a free market by an act of Cromwell's parliament; being
excepted in one of the provisionary clauses of the act against new buildings (fn. 27) .
This market contains two market houses; and is one of the best markets in town
for all kinds of provisions.
On the west side of Somerset-yard, between the Strand and the Thames, is
situated the precinct of the Savoy, which obtained its name from Peter earl of
Savoy and Richmond, who built it about the year 1245; and afterward transferred it to the friars of Montjoy, of whom queen Eleanor, the wife of king
Henry III. purchased it for her son Henry Duke of Lancaster. The duke enlarged and beautified it, at the expence of 52,000 marks, at that time an immense
sum. Here John king of France resided, when a prisoner in England in the
year 1357, and upon his return hither in 1363; when it was esteemed one of
the finest palaces in England.
The Savoy was burnt in 1381 by the Kentish rebels, on account of some
pique they had conceived against John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, who was
then the proprietor. But the ground devolving to the crown, Henry VII. began
to rebuild it as it at present appears, as an hospital for the reception of an hundred distressed objects; but not living to see it compleated, Henry VIII. his
son, not only granted his manor of the Savoy to the bishop of Winchester and
others, executors of his father's will, toward finishing the hospital; but by his
charter of the 5th of July 1513, constituted them a body politic and corporate,
to consist of a master, five secular chaplains, and four regulars, in honour of
Jesus Christ, his mother, and St. John Baptist; the foundation to be denominated the hospital of king Henry VII. late king of England, of the Savoy. This
hospital was suppressed in the reign of Edward VI. when the revenues were
found to amount to 530l. per annum, which that prince gave to the city of
London toward the hospitals of Bridewell, Christ-church, and St. Thomas: but
queen Mary converted it into an hospital again, and it was again suppressed upon the
accession of queen Elizabeth, when the revenues were applied to the uses intended by her brother.
The Savoy now consists chiefly of the old buildings of free stone and flints;
among which is the chapel of St. John the Baptist at present in a very decaying
condition, though it was repaired by George I. in 1721. The presentation to
this chapel is in the lords of the treasury. Barracks have been built here for the
use of the three regiments of guards; some battalions of which are always stationed
in them by rotation: and at the west end, by the river side, is the Marshalsea
prison, for the confinement of deserters and other offenders. The east side of the
square, called the Jesuits ground, is occupied by an infirmary for the use of the
soldiers, and a well built house for the adjutant on duty there. On the west side is
a very neat new built chapel belonging to German Lutherans, who have a good
organ in it, and a small burial ground on the west side. In the old buildings
below on the side next the river is a German Calvinist meeting. There was a
French chapel; but this having been long deserted and falling to ruins, the
ground has since been built upon for other purposes.
There are two gateways from the Savoy into the Strand, and the claim to the
houses in front to the street has been so long dormant, that the tenants in
possession have supported an exclusive title to the premises they occupy. Hence
lodgers and even servants, when their principals have been unguardedly absent,
have sometimes turned their goods into the street, and shut the doors against
them. But the claim of the crown is reviving, and it is said to be in contemplation to convert the precinct to some public uses.
Liberty of the Dutchy of Lancaster.
The Savoy having been a part of the possessions of the house of Lancaster,
which were separated from the crown for politic reasons by Henry IV. it is
now called the liberty of the dutchy of Lancaster. This liberty begins on the
outside of Temple-bar, and extending along the south side of the Strand, to the
east side of Cecil-street, reaches down it to the Thames. On the north side it
extends from Temple-bar to where the Maypole stood, and extending down
Holywell-street, commonly called the back of St. Clement's, passes by Butcherrow, taking in all that range of buildings. Beyond the place of the Maypole,
this liberty begins again by the Fountain-tavern in Catharine-street, and reaches
from thence into the Strand, as far as Exeter Exchange; then turning up Burleigh-street, it runs up within four houses of the corner of Exeter-street, and,
crossing it, proceeds into Catharine-street, by the Fountain-tavern.