CHAPTER 5: LXV—PELHAM HOUSE (FORMERLY NO. 1 WHITEHALL YARD.)
The premises are the freehold of the Crown and are utilised for
the purposes of the Ministry of Transport.
History and Description of Structure.
In 1755 Lady Catherine Pelham applied for a lease of an "old
building" in the Privy Garden, part of which was occupied by the pages of
the Removing Wardrobe, while the other part, next the Banqueting House,
was used as a kitchen to the Cofferer's lodgings. In the report (fn. 1) on her petition
the premises are described as lying between Whitehall Court and the Privy
Garden, and containing 108¾ feet in length and 21 feet in width. Lady
Catherine also asked for a strip of ground on the Privy Garden side about
25 feet wide, in order that she might "make an Addl building of 16 feet
6 inches in bredth, besides the Bow Windows, on the So side of the old
Building." She also desired to block up the existing gateway leading
from Whitehall Court to Privy Garden, and to pull down the cofferer's
kitchen and make a new gateway there 20 feet wide. The proposal as to the
site for the new gateway was rejected as being too near Whitehall Gate, and
it was suggested that a site at the east end of the premises would be more
suitable. With this modification the lease was granted. Evidences of the
new approach thus formed are to be seen in the plans of the present premises.
The view of the Privy Garden by Canaletto (Plate 7) shows the south
front of the "old building" in 1746. Its appearance strikingly corresponds
with that of the north front of Lady Catherine's premises as shown in
Sandby's view some years later (Plate 46). In particular, the south front of
the gateway corresponds very closely with the north front of the same gateway, then blocked up, in Sandby's view. It thus appears that the works
carried out by Lady Catherine in 1755 were in the nature of adaptation
rather than of rebuilding.
The site of the gateway as shown on the plan attached to the report
on Lady Catherine's petition corresponds with that of the opening in the
"new gallery" shown on the plan of 1670. Moreover, the width of the
"old building" (21 feet) is also that of the "new gallery," and the "kinks"
in the latter correspond exactly with those of the northern boundary of the
next-door premises shown in the plan of 1759 reproduced opposite. The
"old building" must therefore have been on the actual site of the "new
gallery." (fn. 2) We are not told to what extent the latter suffered in the Fire of
1698, but it would seem probable from the above that it had not been
entirely destroyed, and it seems likely that the building shown by Canaletto,
and afterwards adapted by Lady Catherine, was substantially the "new
gallery" which had been built in 1669. After the Fire it became known as
"the Cowhouse," and in 1720 the western portion of it was adapted for use
as a laundry. (fn. 3) The south front as shown by Canaletto is no longer visible,
being hidden by Lady Catherine's building erected on the additional 25 feet
on the Privy Garden side.
Plan accompanying report on Lady Catherine Pelham's Memorial of 1759
In 1759 Lady Catherine presented another memorial, in which she
pointed out that the new coachway into Privy Garden from the west then
in contemplation would render useless the arched gateway she had provided
under the terms of the lease, and asked that she might have a new lease to
include the ground under the gateway, as well as a small strip of ground
(3½ feet wide) fronting Whitehall Court. A new lease, embodying these
alterations, was granted, to expire on 28th April, 1809.
Sandby's view was published in 1766, but must have been drawn not
later than 1765, for it shows Whitehall Gate, which was demolished in that
year. The old gateway into the Privy Garden, blocked up by Lady Catherine
in 1755, appears in that condition with an entrance formed therein, and the
new gateway further east, formed in that year, is also bricked in and
advanced to take in a portion of the additional strip, 3½ feet wide, acquired
by Lady Catherine in 1759. The view therefore cannot be earlier than that
year. Another portion of the strip was afterwards utilised for the existing
bay window on the site of the original gateway, but although Lady Catherine
probably had this in contemplation when applying for the additional strip,
and would not delay unduly in carrying out the work, there is no record of
when it was actually done. (fn. 5) In default of more precise information, therefore, the view may be dated approximately 1764.
Plan of No. 1 Whitehall Yard in 1856 (fn. 4)
The front of the premises to Horse Guards Avenue now consists
(Plate 48) of a brick exterior, three storeys in height, relieved by two flat
brick bands, one at the level of the second floor and the other over the
window-heads of the same floor. The portion over the site of the later
gateway mentioned above continues an extra storey in height. Sandby's
view (Plate 46) shows the house only two storeys in height, with the
western corner indicated by a pediment. This western end has since been
rebuilt at a distance further back from the Banqueting House. The plan
(here reproduced) of part of the premises in 1856, before they were converted into offices, shows the bay, mentioned above, with an entrance doorway
leading into the hall. This doorway has since been converted into a
window, but the old lamp brackets still remain.
The south exterior overlooking Whitehall Gardens is symmetrical,
and comprises two storeys with a central bay window. The first-floor
windows of the bay are carried down, and protected by iron balconies. A
brick band continues over the first-floor window-heads at similar level to
the northern front, with a plain brick parapet above screening the lead
gutter (Plate 49). The top-floor rooms on this side have dormer windows
in a mansard roof.
Internally the premises have undergone many alterations, and contain
no features of any architectural interest.
Condition of Repair.
Catherine, eldest daughter of John, 2nd Duke of Rutland, married in 1726 the Rt. Hon.
Henry Pelham, statesman, who died on 6th March, 1754. In 1730 she was appointed Ranger of
Greenwich Park, and held the position until her death. She is first shown in connection with No. 1
Whitehall Yard, in the ratebook for 1756, (fn. 6) but in that and the two following books "E" is placed
against her name. It is possible, therefore, that she did not take up her residence here until 1758–9.
She died "at her house at Whitehall" (fn. 7) on 17th February, 1780.
Lady Catherine's will (fn. 8) contained a provision that her "house at Whitehall" should be
sold and the proceeds divided between her two unmarried daughters, Frances and Mary. After
her death, however, the house is found in the possession and occupation of Mary (fn. 9) , who died in
1794. The issues of Boyle's Court Guide from 1792 (the earliest) until 1804 show "Miss Pelham"
or the "Hon. Miss Pelham" at the house. It therefore appears that on her sister's death the house
passed into the occupation of Frances, who died on 10th January, 1804, "at Whitehall." (fn. 10)
<On the death of Frances Pelham the house was sold by auction on 22nd March 1804 to Richard Tait of Jermyn Street, who on 17th November of the same year disposed of it to the Hon. George Cavendish. See Survey of London, volume XIV, The Parish of St Margaret, Westminster (Part 3), 1931, p.170.>
The lease did not expire until 1809, but the directories contain no entry respecting the
house for some years. In 1812 it was used as the office of the Comptrollers of Army Accounts,
and continued in their occupation until 1835, when it became the office of the Comptroller-General
of the Receipt of the Exchequer, and so remained until 1842. After the lapse of a few years it
was again used for private purposes, and in 1846 was in the occupation of Trenham Walshman
Philipps, who remained there until 1855. In 1856 it was converted into offices, and has ever since
been used for official purposes.
In the Council's Collection are:—
(fn. 11) View of Whitehall Court (Yard) in 1803 (photograph of water-colour drawing in possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown Lands).
(fn. 11) General exterior of premises to Horse Guards Avenue (photograph).
(fn. 11) General exterior of premises to Whitehall Gardens (photograph).
(fn. 11) Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawings).
(fn. 11) Plan of premises in 1759 (copy of drawing in possession of H.M. Commissioners of
(fn. 11) Plan of premises in 1856 (copy of plan in possession of H.M. Commissioners of Crown