Artillery Passage and south side of Artillery Lane


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'Artillery Passage and south side of Artillery Lane', Survey of London: volume 27: Spitalfields and Mile End New Town (1957), pp. 226-236. URL: Date accessed: 21 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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CHAPTER XIV - Artillery Passage and South Side of Artillery Lane

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries Artillery Passage was commonly known as Smock Alley and the eastern part of Artillery Lane outside the Old Artillery Ground was usually known as Raven Row, though it was sometimes also known as Smock Alley and sometimes as Artillery Street or Lane.

The southern side of this line of street between Middlesex Street and Bell Lane was, like the area to its south (see Chapter XV), built up comparatively early: Ryther's imprecise map ofc. 1640 suggests that there were then buildings along this line. Faithorne and Newcourt's map, published in 1658 but probably surveyed in the 1640's, and Hollar's map of 1667 both suggest that the line was built though perhaps not continuously. In Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1677 it appears as a virtually unbroken line of building, except for a yard or garden near the west end.

In the later seventeenth century this range was part of the estate of William Wheler of Datchet, Buckinghamshire, and at the partition of this part among his seven daughters in 1675, it formed part, under the designation ’Smock Alley’, of the ’seventh schedule’ which fell to Katherine Wheler, wife of John Balch (sometimes Blatch or Black), the recipient of the Spital flelds Market grant of 1682 (see page 128). (fn. a) From him the property passed to his daughter Elizabeth and from her to relations of her father by whom in July 1708 it, together with other parts of the ’seventh schedule’, was conveyed to trustees for Charles Wood and Simon Michell, who developed an estate on other parts of this property (see Chapter XIII). They disposed of the Smock Alley property, however, to Richard Griffen of Whitechapel, gentleman, who speaks in his will made in January 1711/12 of his freehold estate in Smock Alley as lately purchased. In February 1734/5 the property was owned by Richard Griffen's son, George Griffen of Plaistow, Essex, esquire. On 6–7 February he mortgaged it to Ambrose Page of Bow, esquire, to secure £820, and on 7 February an assignment in trust to attend the freehold and inheritance of the same was made by William White of Doctors’ Commons, at the appointment of George Griffen, to William Newland of the Inner Temple, gentleman. (ref. 1)

The subsequent history of the freehold is not clear, but in 1756 it may have been vested in Sarah Wescomb of En field, spinster, who in that year granted a lease of six houses, from the present No. 8 Artillery Passage to No. 58 Artillery Lane inclusive, and is there said to have possessed the houses on which these six abutted to east and west. It is not clear whether her own interest was freehold or leasehold. Her granting of the lease coincides with the expiry of the lease of at least one of these houses granted by executors of Thomas Wilkes, a lessee of the estate. (ref. 2)

Nos. 3 and 9A Artillery Passage and No. 52 Artillery Lane

Formerly Nos. 3 and 9 Artillery Passage and No. 1 Raven Row

Nos. 1–8 (consec.) Artillery Passage were described in 1707, in terms probably taken from an earlier deed, as newly built by William Parker, (ref. 3) presumably the bricklayer who built houses on the south side of Spitalfields Market and in South Street in 1685 (see Plate 51a), and two houses on the north side of Artillery Passage in 1682 under a lease from Nicholas Barbon. (ref. 4) Of these eight houses one, No. 3, survives.

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries No. 9a Artillery Passage and No. 52 Artillery Lane (Plate 54a) may, like Nos. 56 and 58 Artillery Lane, have formed part of the leasehold estate of Thomas Wilkes, weaver (see below sub Nos. 56 and 58 Artillery Lane).

The rate books (ref. 5) indicate that No. 9a dates from before 1700, when it was occupied by Robert Chilman. It was perhaps also built by Parker at the same time as Nos. 1–8.

No. 52 Artillery Lane was built as a pair with No. 9a. In 1713 and 1716 it was occupied by Ephraim Montague, citizen and silk thrower of London, who also occupied the cellar of No. 54. (ref. 6) In 1724 the house was occupied by Benjamin Barrineau who was included as of Smock Alley in a list of Eminent Merchants and Tradesmen in and about London in 1740. (ref. 7) The following year he moved to No. 28 Spital Square, where he was described as a silk merchant in 1763. (ref. 8) In 1743 the occupant of No. 52 appears as Peter Motteux, (ref. 9) an apothecary and probably the son of Peter Anthony Motteux, the dramatist and translator of Cervantes and Rabelais. (fn. b) In 1717 he had taken an assignment of two messuages on the north side of Artillery Passage in the Old Artillery Ground, (ref. 4) in 1718 of ground on the east side of Gun Street (ref. 12) and in 1739 of land in Bethnal Green when he was described as of Widegate Alley (by which Artillery Passage and Lane was probably meant). (ref. 13) He died in 1748 leaving his property to his son Peter. (ref. 14) (fn. c) In July 1756 this Peter Motteux occupied No. 52 but no longer did so on 25 March 1757, when he received a sub-lease of the present Nos. 8 and 9a Artillery Passage and No. 52 Artillery Lane for seventy and three-quarter years from the occupant of No. 58 Artillery Lane, being described as of Charterhouse Square, esquire. (ref. 15) He is so described in his will made and proved in 1769, which mentions his ’leasehold estate in Raven Row and Frying Pan Alley’. (ref. 16) (fn. d)

No. 3 Artillery Passage is a small house, three storeys high and one room deep. Above the shop is a largely original front of late seventeenth century date faced with mixed stocks and having a bandcourse between the storeys. The stone coped parapet may be a later alteration from an eaves-cornice. There are two windows in each storey, with rough segmental arches of brick. The lower windows are furnished with flush-framed sashes and the upper with mullioned and tran somed casements.

No. 52 Artillery Lane and No. 9a Artillery Passage were built with mirrored plans as a pair of houses, each containing a basement cellar, three storeys, and a roof garret. Both houses have modern shop-fronts and the front of No. 52 Artillery Lane has been rebuilt above the level of the first-floor window-sills, but the red brick face of the upper two storeys of No. 9a Artillery Passage is largely original. Each storey has two windows and, against the west party wall, a narrow recessed panel, all equal in height and having flat arches of gauged brickwork. The windows have exposed flush frames with sashes of later date. A raised brick bandcourse marks the second-floor level and the front is finished with a moulded eaves-cornice of wood.

Nos. 56 and 58 Artillery Lane

Until 1895 Nos. 3 and 4 Raven Row

Precise identification of sites from Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1677 is hardly possible, but on this map the site of Nos. 56 and 58 appears to be occupied by a small building at the east end, divided by a small yard from a larger building occupying most of the site, and part of a smaller building at the west end. Between this site and the corner of Bell Lane three buildings are shown. In the rate book of 1700 (ref. 17) ’Mathew Hebart’ appears as the occupant of a house rated at 5d. per week, apparently in succession to Jonas Cole since the previous assessment. Subsequent continuity of tenure by Hebart or Herbert in the rate books of 1713 and 1716 (ref. 9) and a deed of 1711 identifies this house as occupying a site corresponding to that of the present No. 56. The deed of 1711 states that Herbert was a mercer, and that the house was known by ’the sign of the catt’, by which No. 56 was also known in the later eighteenth century. (ref. 18)

In the rate book of 1700 four houses are listed east of this, that adjoining Matthew Herbert's, approximately on the site of No. 58, being occupied by Widow Fisher and rated at 6d. per week. The other three houses eastward were rated at 1d. or 1½d. per week.

The deed of 7 February 1734/5 between White, Griffen and Newland gives an obscurely worded description of the whole south side of Artillery Passage and Artillery Lane. This seems to have been taken from an indenture of 27 November 1707, probably the conveyance from Charles Wood to Richard Griffen. But the frontage running west from Bell Lane to include the site of No. 58 and apparently part of the site of No. 56 is described as in the occupation of ’John Thair’, abutting westward on four messuages in the occupation of Thomas Wilkes or his undertenants; and the western end of the range is said to be occupied by eight houses newly rebuilt by William Parker (ref. 3) (see above). This description, therefore, probably dates back to an earlier period, perhaps not long after the partition of the Wheler estate in 1675, when the Smock Alley property was described as being leased to Matthew Dent yer, Thomas Wilkes and John Thayer. (ref. 19)

In the early eighteenth century Thomas Wilkes, described as citizen and weaver of London, appears to have held on lease premises occupying the sites of Nos. 54, 56, 58, 62 and 64 Artillery Lane. Presumably No. 60 was also held by him, and his possessions probably stretched further west, as the description recited in the deed of 1734/5 suggests; (fn. e) he also held an interest in the other parts of the ’seventh schedule’ of Sir William Wheler's former estate, including part of the site of Christ Church.

Shortly before his death in June 1711, Thomas Wilkes started to rebuild some of his property; in his will he left to Wilkes James, the son of a ’kinsman’ two houses ’by me lately rebuilt’, in the occupation of Samuel Rayley, apothecary, and John Lawrence, tobacconist. (ref. 20) These can be identified as the easternmost houses on the south side of Artillery Lane, later Nos. 62 and 64: between 1700 and 1713 the rateable value of these houses and also of the later No. 60 rose considerably and their occupancy changed.

Rebuilding evidently went on after Wilkes's death, for on 30 November 1711 his executor, Philip Humphreys, sub-let No. 54 to John Furnis or Furnes, citizen and clothworker. (ref. 18) In 1717 an assignment of adjoining property describes No. 54 as ’a new built brick messuage’; (ref. 21) this description may derive from an unspecified lease of unknown date, but it is probably later than Wilkes's death in 1711.

The fragmentary series of rate books provides most of the evidence for the date of the building of the present Nos. 56 and 58, which until Furnes's death in 1720/1 were held by him on lease from Thomas Wilkes. (ref. 22) These two houses appear to have been constructed in the early eighteenth century as a pair of houses with equal frontages and identical plans. In the rate books the occupancy of No. 56 (and also of Nos. 60, 62 and 64) can be traced continuously from 1700. In the rate book of 1713, however, there is no entry corresponding to No. 58: the premises occupied in 1700 by Widow Fisher do not appear. In the rate book of 1716 William Jourdain appears as the occupant of No. 58, and thenceforward the house can be traced continuously, remaining in the occupation of a ’Jourdain’ or ’Jordain’ as late as the rate book of 1773. It may be, therefore, that Widow Fisher's house was demolished in 1713 for the erection of No. 58, which was occupied by 1716; and that No. 56 was also rebuilt without changing its occupancy since 1713, as a pair to No. 58, and on a rather smaller scale than that suggested by Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1677, as its rateable value fell between 1713 and 1716 from £24 to £18. (ref. 9)

Alternatively, it may be that the omission of Widow Fisher's house in 1713 was due only to its being unoccupied, and that the building of Nos. 56 and 58 in their present form occurred between 1716 and 1720. During this period the occupancy of No. 56 passed from Matthew Herbert to Samuel Rybot or Ribault: the occupancy by the Rybots continued to at least 1777. In 1716 the rateable value of No. 56 was £18, compared with £14 for No. 58; in 1724 it was £15, which is a little more consistent with the construction of a pair of virtually identical houses. £15 and £14 are the rateable values at which the houses on the site were assessed in 1743 when the present pair were almost certainly in existence. (ref. 9)

On 26 November 1720 John Furnes made his will (proved on 15 March 1720/1 (ref. 23) ). He made bequests of his leasehold houses in Raven Row, that is, the present Nos. 54, 56 and 58 Artillery Lane, occupied respectively by John Lee, Samuel Rybot and William Jourdain. Nos. 56 and 58 he left to his cousin, Mary Jaggard, and No. 54 to his cousin, Samuel Jaggard, who is subsequently described as citizen and joiner of London. (ref. 24) Conceivably Jaggard had built Nos. 56 and 58 between 1716 and 1720, a new tenant, Rybot, then coming into possession of one of the houses, No. 56.

In 1724 the two houses were occupied by William Jourdain and Samuel Rybot, in 1743 by William Jourdain and Thomas Bonofous (perhaps a business associate of the Rybots), and in 1750 by Nicholas Jourdain and Thomas and Philip Bonofous and Francis Rybot. In the latter year Thomas and Philip Bonofous also occupied No. 24 Fournier Street. (ref. 9)

It was between 1750 and 1759 (probably in 1756–7) that the fronts of the two houses were rebuilt, the existing shop-front of No. 56 inserted, and the elaborate embellishments of the first-floor rooms of the two houses undertaken. (See figs. 60–62 for plan, section and elevation: Plates 84, 85 and 86 for the exterior: Plates 88a, 90, 91, 92a, 96b, 99b, c, 102a, 108b for the interior.)

In June 1756 Nicholas Jourdain, the occupier of No. 58, described as a mercer, took a lease for an unspecified term of years from George Montague Dunk, second Earl of Halifax of the third creation, of a piece of ground at the back of Nos. 52–58, abutting south on Frying Pan Alley, and including the back-yards of the houses in Artillery Lane. (ref. 25) In the following month Jourdain took a lease from Sarah Wescomb of Enfield, spinster, of the sites of the present Nos. 8 and 9a Artillery Passage and Nos. 52 and 54 Artillery Lane for slightly less than seventy-one years from April 1757, and of Nos. 56 and 58 Artillery Lane for twenty-eight years from April 1799, together with all messuages to be erected on the same: he was then said to be already entitled to the latter two houses until April 1799 (ref. 26) In March 1757 Jourdain leased Nos. 8 and 9a Artillery Passage and No. 52 Artillery Lane to Peter Motteux, together with land behind them abutting south on Frying Pan Alley, for seventy and three-quarter years. (ref. 15) In June 1757 he leased No. 56 to its occupier, Francis Rybot, mercer, for a similar term. (ref. 27)

In this lease No. 56 was described as a ’new built messuage’. The survival of earlier interior features indicates that neither No. 56 nor No. 58 can have been wholly rebuilt at this time, but, the lease not being in the form of an assignment, the words are unlikely to be survivals from an earlier deed and presumably indicate the date at which the fronts of the houses were reconstructed and the shop-front of No. 56 inserted, perhaps at Jourdain's initiative. In December 1758 Francis Rybot assigned the residue of this lease to Thomas Bonofous of Newington, gentleman, perhaps his partner. (ref. 28) Between 1750 and 1759 the rateable value of the two houses was doubled, from £15 to £30 each.

The first-floor interior of both houses and the shop-front of No. 56 have been attributed on stylistic grounds to Abraham Swan, some of whose designs they resemble, but there is no documentary evidence of this. (ref. 29)

After their rebuilding both premises were occupied as shops. In 1763 Jourdain and Rybot are included as mercers in a list of ’warehouse men and shopkeepers’, as distinguished from ’manufacturers’ or ’merchants’. (ref. 8)

Francis Rybot, the occupant of No. 56, had property interests elsewhere in the Spitalfields neighbourhood. In 1751 he acquired a house on the west side of Crispin Street from Samuel Ireland, bricklayer, and in 1753 he assigned it to Philip Bonofous of Sydenham, gentleman. (ref. 30) In 1755 he took a lease of another house, No. 40 Crispin Street (see page 140), slightly north of the former, from David Garnault. (ref. 31) Rybot does not occur in Crispin Street in the rate book for 1759 or subsequently. In all these transactions he was described as of Spitalfields, mercer, but he also appears as a silk weaver at the sign of the Cat in Raven Row (i.e. No. 56 Artillery Lane) in about 1760, and again in 1777; he is said to have been preceded by Elizabeth Rybot at the same address in 1726. (ref. 32) In 1775 Francis Rybot appears as a member of the Spitalfields Vestry. (ref. 33) In 1780 he is described as a mercer of No. 3 Raven Row (i.e. No. 56 Artillery Lane). In the same year he is also described as a weaver and mercer of No. 106 Cheapside, while Francis Rybot, junior, is similarly described as of No. 110 Cheapside. (ref. 34) Shortly afterwards the family connexion with No. 56 Artillery Lane seems to have ended, for in 1782 the London Directory contains only one entry, for Francis Rybot, senior, mercer and weaver, of No. 106 Cheapside. Probably more than one Francis Rybot occupied the house successively. (fn. f) In 1908 specimens of silk were found among early papers (which have now disappeared) relating to No. 56.

From 1782 to 1799 the house was occupied by Thomas Blinkhorn, silk weaver. (ref. 37) From 1813 to 1858 it was occupied by Edward Jones, grocer, and from 1859 to 1904 by Cornelius Barham, grocer; it remained a grocer's shop until 1935.

Nicholas Jourdain, the lessee of both houses in 1756 and occupant of No. 58, was elected a Director of the French Protestant Hospital of ’La Providence’ in 1749 (ref. 38) and one of the Governors of the Spitalfields workhouse in 1754. (ref. 33) In 1755 and 1763 he appears to have had a partner named De Gron, (ref. 39) and in 1772 another named Rich. (ref. 40) His connexion with No. 58 seems to have ended shortly after 1772, when he was perhaps in financial difficulty as his will, made on 1 September 1784 and proved on 18 July 1785, describes him as formerly of Spitalfields, mercer, but then of Morden College on Blackheath. It is not informative about his estate, which he left to his granddaughter, Mary Risoliere. (ref. 41)

In 1783 the house was occupied by Andrew Fowler, grocer and tea dealer, (ref. 42) who was also rated for No. 52 and No. 9a Artillery Passage. (ref. 9) From 1817 to 1836 the house was occupied by a firm of silk and satin dressers described as Perry and Co. (ref. 43) or Perry and Archer. (ref. 44) Until 1857 it was used as a glass warehouse, (ref. 45) and from 1858 to 1935 by a firm of cigar makers. (ref. 46)

In 1923 the chimneypiece and panelling of the first-floor front room of "No. 58 (Plate 92a) was in the Geffrye Museum. (ref. 47) It is no longer in the Museum, and may have been withdrawn by the owner in the same year. Its present whereabouts is not known.<According to John Harris in 1961 this room was in the United States of America, possibly in the Art Institute of Chicago.>

The carved Rococo chimneypiece (Plate 90, fig. 63) formerly in the first-floor back room of No. 56 was purchased in 1927 by Messrs. Moss Harris and Sons. (ref. 48) It is thought to be now in America.

Nos. 56 and 58 Artillery Lane are paired houses, well built and larger than the majority of houses in the neighbourhood, each containing a basement cellar and four storeys, the attic perhaps replacing an earlier roof garret (figs. 60–2). The ground floor of No. 56 contains the shop and a back room, and alongside the party wall with No. 54 is a narrow hall leading to the stair compartment. The first floor has a large front room with three windows and a back room. The same arrangement occurs on the two upper floors, except that there are two front rooms, one with two windows and the other with one. The chimney-stack serving the back rooms adjoins the staircase wall, an unusual position. The plan of No. 58 mirrors that of No. 56, and both houses have back additions with rooms entered from the staircase half-landings.

Apart from the shop-fronts filling the ground storey, the houses share a front of yellow and pink stock bricks, built to a design that reflects the sensible good taste shown in the smaller London houses of Ware and Flitcroft. (fn. g) Each house has three windows evenly spaced in each upper storey, the groups being linked on the first and second floors by recessed panels against the party wall. A block cornice of stone defines the attic storey, the brick face of which is carried up to form a parapet with a narrow stone coping. The window openings have stone sills, flat arches of gauged brickwork, and plastered reveals framing the double hung sashes, most of which retain the original stout-section glazing bars. While the windows are all equal in width, their height decreases with each successive storey.

No. 56 has the finest mid-Georgian shop-front surviving in London (Plates 84, 85). Extending the full width of the house, it is divided into four bays of different width by Doric three-quarter columns, which stand on plain stone pedestals and have moulded bases, plain shafts, and enriched capitals, all of wood. The extreme left-hand column has a much smaller girth than the others, and its capital is not enriched. From the left, the first and third bays are equal and contain the shop- windows; the shop entrance is in the second bay, and the house door in the fourth. The windows form projecting bays with straight fronts and rounded angles, and they rest on stallboard gratings of vertical iron bars. Stout glazing bars divide each window, horizontally into five panes, each end one quadrant curved, and vertically into four panes with a fifth above the moulded transom. Stone steps rise to the shop's door of two leaves, each with a tall upper panel of glazing set in a ’Chippendale’ geometrical fret pattern of moulded bars. The house door has six panels, the lower two flush and the others raised and fielded. The plain jambs of the doorway have enriched Doric imposts, the top members continuing on the transom beneath the wrought iron fanlight grille of Chinese-Rococo fret design. The shop-windows and flanking columns are surmounted by an architrave and triglyphed frieze, the triglyphs centred over the columns being truncated by the shaped brackets that project in support of the overhanging corona of the mutuled cornice. Architrave and frieze are omitted above the doorways in favour of two elaborately carved motifs set against a plain ground (Plate 86). An oval cartouche in a Rococo frame flanked by palm branches marks the shop entrance, and the house doorway has a double festoon of drapery centred on an Aurora mask encircled by rays with scrolls below. The first-floor windows of No. 56 have been lengthened to give easy access to the balcony formed over the shop-front cornice. The castiron railing of the Regency period has four identical panels, with anthemion ornaments and a diagonal bracing of spearheads enclosed in a border of small circles.

The shop interior has been considerably altered, but the deal fitting that lines the east wall is probably original. It is divided into three shallow recesses of equal width, by plain pilasters with moulded imposts. Each recess has an arched head and the face is finished with a block cornice which returns round the room. An elliptical-arched opening leads to the back room.

The decorative treatment of the house entrancehall suggests a mid-eighteenth-century date. Tuscan pilasters divide each side wall into three equal bays, and transverse arched soffits parcel the ceiling into three square compartments, the first and third cross-vaulted and the second having a circular panel with four pendentives and a central boss. The floor is paved with stone slabs of different sizes, inset with a regular pattern of slate diamonds, originally linked by incised lines simulating joints. An arched opening with panelled pilasters leads to the oblong compartment containing the staircase, which appears to belong to about 1720. It is generally constructed of deal and rises on each side of a narrow well. In accordance with the custom of the time, the cut strings extend as far as the second-floor landing, with carved brackets up to the half-landing below, and shaped plain brackets above. The balusters, of similar turning but with plain and twisted shafts used alternately, are spaced two to each tread, and the moulded handrail of mahogany begins with a spiral curtail and is ramped up over the newels, which are treated as fluted Doric columns. The top flights of the staircase have moulded closed strings, turned balusters, and straight handrails of deal housed into the plain column-newels. Up to the half-landing above the first-floor level there is a panelled dado matching the balustrade, the wallface above being plastered and ornamented with Rococo panel-mouldings of papier mâché. Each of the two doorways on the first-floor landing (Plate 96b) has a six-panelled door framed by a moulded architrave, surmounted by a pulvino frieze and a triangular pediment with a modillioned cornice. The wall-face surrounding the front-room doorcase is adorned with a motif of floral festoons and pendants linked by rocaille ornaments.

Figure 60: No. 56 Artillery Lane, plans

Figure 61: Nos. 56 and 58 Artillery Lane, front elevation,?1757

Figure 62: No. 56 Artillery Lane, section

The two first-floor rooms still retain much of their fine mid-eighteenth-century decoration. The large front room (Plate 91), now divided, is lined with deal panelling. The plain dado, with a moulded skirting base and a cornice chair-rail, forms a pedestal for the series of tall plain panels, wide alternating with narrow, set in cymamoulded framing. An enriched modillioned cornice of plaster surrounds the plain ceiling. The fireplace centred in the east wall has a French Rococo chimneypiece of veined white marble, framing a fine basket grate of Empire design. The wainscoted face above the chimneypiece is not panelled, being intended as a ground for a picture or looking-glass. This field is framed by an elaborate garland of fruits and flowers, suspended by three ribbon-bows to form a double festoon with long pendants terminating in Rococo ornaments, the whole modelled, apparently, in compo or papier-mâché. On each side of the chimney-breast is an arch-headed recess, filled to the arch springing with a china or book cupboard, across the front of which are continued the skirting, the chair-rail, and the impost cornice, the top members of the last curving to crown a simple swan-necked pediment. The lower compartment of each cupboard has plain flush doors to match the dado, but the upper part has a pair of curiously patterned glazed doors of mahogany. At each end of the long wall opposite the windows is a doorway, with a pedimented doorcase, like those on the landing. The splayed shutters and moulded architraves of the three windows appear to date from the early nineteenth century.

The wainscot lining of the back room (Plate 90) is more elaborate and slightly earlier in style than that in the front room. Raised-and-fielded panels of varying width and two heights are set in ovolo-moulded framing, with a moulded and fretcarved chair-rail. The enriched dentilled and modillioned cornice is again of plaster, and the ceiling is plain. The simple Venetian window has a plain ovolo-moulded architrave. There are two doorways, one on the right of the chimney-breast and one in the back wall, each having a six-panelled door, framed by a Classical architrave and surmounted by an ogee pulvino frieze and a scrolled swan-necked pediment. The finest feature of the room has, unfortunately, been removed. This was a continued chimneypiece of carved wood in the Chinese Rococo taste (fig. 63). The dark-veined marble surround of the fireplace opening was framed by C-scrolls, two large ones on each side, the lower outcurved and the upper incurved, and four smaller incurved ones across the head. All had rocaille fringes and those on each side were partly overlaid by acanthus scrolls. The upper stage enclosed a picture space, on each side being a tall Gothick shaft and a fantastic tree, both rising from and supporting Rococo cornices dripping with icicles. Below and above the picture space were chains of C-scrolls with floral festoons intertwined with acanthus scrolls, and over the centre rose an open pagoda. The tent roof of this last, and the fantastic birds that must originally have been perched on the cornices, were restored by the time the chimneypiece was in the hands of Messrs. M. Harris and Sons. The present chimneypiece is of no interest, but it frames the very fine Empire basket grate of steel and brass that was probably installed in the early nineteenth century, in odd contrast with the Rococo exuberance of its original setting.

The mid-eighteenth-century refashioning did not extend to the second-floor rooms. The front rooms are lined with plain rebated panelling, with a moulded chair-rail and a box-cornice. The larger room has an excellent chimneypiece of wood (Plate 102a), with an eared egg-and-dart architrave, a fret-ornamented frieze with a profile console at each end, and a bracketed cornice-shelf. Panelling of a finer quality and an earlier date lines the back room, where the panels of two heights are raised on bolection mouldings, there being no chair-rail. The fireplace contains a fine hobgrate and has a wooden chimneypiece with an eared ovolo-moulded architrave, an ogee pulvino frieze, and a cornice-shelf. Nothing of interest survives in the top-storey rooms.

Figure 63: Chinoiseri chimneypiece formerly in No. 56 Artillery Lane first -floor back room

The early nineteenth-century shop-front of No. 58 is in poor repair and cannot compare in interest with its splendid neighbour. Doric pilasters with narrow shafts, half plain, half fluted, divide the front into four unequal bays and support the simple entablature. The shopwindows, above high-panelled stallboards, were originally divided into small panes.

The house entrance-hall and stair compartment (Plate 88a), except for the splayed linking arch and the omission of the Rococo panels on the staircase walls, are almost identical with those in No. 56. The finest interior was, undoubtedly, the first-floor front room (Plate 92a), now stripped of its panelling and chimneypiece, but retaining its ceiling of Rococo plasterwork. The walls were lined with plain panels in two heights, set in ovolomoulded framing with a moulded skirting and a cornice chair-rail. The six-panelled doors were framed by triangular-pedimented doorcases similar to those in No. 56. The fine continued chimneypiece (Plate 99b, c) was in the style of Abraham Swan, being Classical in form and Rococo in detail. The marble slips of the fireplace opening were framed by a bold ovolo architrave, carved with scallop-shells and darts. Pendants of ribbons, fruits and flowers stood in high relief from the recessed jambs, and the frieze above was adorned with rocaille-fringed C-scrolls entwined with floral garlands on each side of a plain central tablet. This supported a forward projection of the cornice-shelf, which had three enriched members and a fretted dentil course. The upper stage rested on a plinth adorned with palm-branches and flowers, and it consisted of an oblong panel first enclosed by a raised ribbon-and-flower moulding, and then by an ovolo architrave carved with a guilloche and flowers. This architrave was eared and the head curved to form a swan-necked pediment, its tympanum filled with rocaille work and foliage scrolls. Flattened profile-consoles of Rococo form flanked the architrave frame. An enriched modillioned cornice of plaster finished the walls and framed the ceiling, all that survives in situ (Plate 108b). This is decorated with lowrelief plasterwork. A large oblong panel with incurved corners is formed by a plain moulding which is partly overlaid by Rococo motifs, one in the middle of each side, and one placed diagonally at each corner. These motifs are composed of linked C-scrolls, rocaille work, and curling foliage branches, each corner motif being finished with a trumpet-shaped vase of flowers. The side motifs only are linked by chains of acanthus buds to the central motif, roughly oval in form, which surrounds the chandelier-boss of acanthus leaves.

The front rooms on the second floor are lined with plain panelling, and the front room contains an early eighteenth-century chimneypiece of marble, now painted, with wide flat jambs and a shaped lintel. The back room retains only the plain panelling on the fireplace wall, with a simple chimneypiece of wood. This room and the upper part of the house have been damaged by fire and are of no further interest.


a This part formed a narrow westward projection from the south-west corner of the Wheler estate. It was the only part of the estate to be included in 1675 in one of the ’schedules’ as a fragment disconnected from the rest of the schedule. It may be noted that Agas's map seems to confirm that this area was a similarly projecting part of Lolesworth field (called by Agas ’The spitel Fyeld’), with which the Wheler estate as a whole was coextensive.
b P. A. Motteux came to England after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and is said to have lived at first with his ’godfather and relative Paul Dominique’. (ref. 10) In or shortly before 1669 six houses were erected at the cost of a Paul Docminique on the west side of the present Crispin Street near the corner of Artillery Lane, and used by the hamlet of Spitalfields as alms houses (ref. 11) (see page 137).
c Among his bequests was £20 to ’the Dissenting Charity School commonly called the Charity School in Fashion Street but now kept in Keate Street’. His son made a similar bequest in 1769.
d The Dictionary of National Biography appears to err in describing Peter Motteux, surgeon, of Charterhouse Square as the son and not the grandson of the translator.
e Further evidence for the extent of Wilkes's leasehold property is to be found in M.L.R. 1718/2/52, which states that in 1717 the present Nos. 9a Artillery Passage and 52 Artillery Lane adjoined eastward on ’other houses heretofore of Thos. Wilkes’, which suggests that Nos. 9a and 52 were similarly held by Wilkes; the lease of the six houses ranging from No. 8 Artillery Passage to No. 58 Artillery Lane in 1756 coincides with the expiry of the lease of No. 54 by Wilkes's executor, which also suggests that all six were held on leases from Wilkes. (ref. 2)
f The will of a Francis Rybot of St. Margaret's, Rochester, gentleman, dated 7 May 1773, left everything to his wife Elizabeth. It was proved on 27 August 1776. (ref. 35) The Francis Rybot who occupied the rebuilt house in 1757 was probably related to the Francis Rybot who in that year and 1758 was a churchwarden of St. Martin in the Fields and had a silk mercer's business in Round Court, on the north side of the Strand. (ref. 36)
g In view of the lack of knowledge of Isaac Ware's early life it may be worth noting here that an ’Isaac Ware’ occurs as a. ratepayer in the Commissioners of Sewers’ Spitalfields rate books of 1713 and 1716, which do not indicate streets. In April 1727 ’Mr. Isaac Ware’ was excused from serving as overseer of the poor for the hamlet, on payment of £12. (ref. 49) A Charles Ware, sometimes described as citizen and carpenter of London and sometimes as carpenter of Shoreditch, had built houses in Spitalfields in about 1659–77. (ref. 50)


1. M.L.R. 1734/5/388–90.
2. Ibid., 1757/3/128.
3. Ibid., 1734/5/391.
4. Ibid., I7I7/5/39.
5. S.C.L.L.C., Poor and Scavengers rate book, 1700; L.C.C.R.O., Commissioners of Sewers rate books.
6. M.L.R. 1733/1/476; R.B.
7. J. Osborn, A Complete Guide to … London, 1740.
8. The Universal Director… by Mr. Mortimer, 1763.
9. R.B.
10. D.N.B.
11. M.L.R. 1745/1/91.
12. Ibid., 1718/6/23.
13. Ibid., 1739/4/487.
14. P.C.C. 186 Strahan.
15. M.L.R. 1757/1/591.
16. P.C.C. 388 Bogg.
17. S.C.L.L.C., Poor and Scavengers rate book, 1700.
18. M.L.R. 1733/1/476.
19. L.P.L., Deeds, Christ Church, 30 April-i May 1675.
20. P.C.C. 45 Young.
21. M.L.R. 1718/2/52.
22. Ibid., 1733/1/477.
23. P.C.C. 48 Buckingham.
24. M.L.R. 1733/1/477–8.
25. Ibid., 1756/3/115.
26. Ibid., 1757/3/128. The frontage of Nos. 56 and 58 is given as 33 feet, probably by a mistake in copying the original lease.
27. Ibid., 1757/3/129.
28. Ibid., 1758/4/495.
29. See Arthur Stratton, Some XVIIIth Century Designs for Interior Decoration … of Abraham Swan, 1923, Introd., p. vi, and The Evening News, 29 Oct. 1934, citing opinion of Mr. Ernest Hawking, Curator of the Geffrye Museum, that the shop-front was probably the work of Swan.
30. M.L.R. 1751/1/324, 360; 1755/2/561.
31. Ibid., 1755/3/375.
32. Ambrose Heal, The Signboards of Old London Shops, 1947, pp. 156, 180.
33. S.C.L.L.C., Vestry Minutes.
34. Kent's Directory, 1780.
35. P.C.C. 373 Bellas.
36. Procs. Hug. Soc, vol. xii, 1924, pp. 364–5.
37. London Directory, 1782; Kent's Directory, 1799; R.B.
38. Procs. Hug. Soc, vol. vii, 1905, p. 212.
39. A Complete Guide to … London, 1755; The Universal Director … by Mr. Mortimer, 1763.
40. Kent's Directory, 1772.
41. P.C.C. 374 Ducarel.
42. Kent's Directory, 1783.
43. Ibid., 1817.
44. Robson's Directory, 1836.
45. Pigot's Directory, 1840; P.6.D., 1853.
46. P.O.D., 1858 et seq.
47. Stratton, op. cit. (29 above), Introd., p. vi.
48. Illustrated in Country Life, 9 April 1927.
49. S.C.L.L.C, Hamlet of Spitalfields Minutes, 3 April 1727.
50. M.L.R. 1724/3/478; 1729/3/57; 1733/3/373.