CHAPTER 10: LXVIII—MALMESBURY HOUSE (FORMERLY No. 8 WHITEHALL GARDENS)
The premises are the freehold of the Crown and are used for the
purposes of the Ministry of Transport.
History and Description of Structure.
In 1721 John Hanbury applied (fn. 1) for and obtained a building lease
of a vacant piece of land next to the house of Lord Herbert, extending
northward towards the building called the Cowhouse, and in depth to the
ground lately granted to Mrs. Darcy. The ground was described (fn. 2) as
abutting west on the Privy Garden and north partly "upon an Old Building
or Cellar" (see p. 145). The measurements were given as from north to
south fronting the Privy Garden 58¼ feet, in depth on the south side 84 feet,
at the east end 73 feet, on the north side 52¾ feet, "then abutts west on the
said cellar 31 feet, then north on the said cellar 14 feet and south on the same
14 feet, and north on the same, returning to the Privy Garden, 15 feet 3
inches." An old building occupied as a workshop by Christopher Shrider,
the King's organ maker (see p. 129), was standing on part of the ground.
On the site thus obtained Hanbury built a house, a view of which
in 1741 is contained in Plate 6. A reversionary lease was granted to his
widow in 1737 (when it was reported (fn. 3) that "a good house" had been
erected which was in good repair), and another (to expire in 1816) to Jane
Hanbury in 1767. On the latter occasion the house was said to be "old
but in good repair." (fn. 4) In 1788–9 the then owner (the Hon. Frederick
Robinson) laid out more than £3000 in repairing and improving the house,
and on the further renewal of the lease to his widow in 1806 it was stated
that "the body of the house" had of late years been chiefly rebuilt and was
very substantial, but that the offices were old and needed repair, as did also
the roof of the house. (fn. 5) A reversionary lease was granted to expire on 5th
In 1829 Mrs. Robinson applied for a new lease. Having regard,
however, to the fact that the next-door house and the whole of the range of
buildings (Nos. 1–3 Whitehall Yard) separating Whitehall Gardens from
Whitehall Court were in official occupation, and "with a view to future
improvements," it was decided not to grant Mrs. Robinson's application.
The matter came up again in 1835, when the Earl of Malmesbury, the then
owner of the house, pointed out that the lease of Pembroke House would not
expire until 1866, (fn. 6) and asked that he might be allowed a new lease to expire
at the same time. This was agreed to, and a new reversionary lease granted
for 21½ years. Before this expired, however, the house was taken over by
The premises adjoin on the south the entrance lodge to Pembroke
House, and on the north are connected with Cromwell House and abut
against the old cellar or undercroft of York
Place. They comprise a semi-basement
and two storeys over, with a tiled roof.
The main front to Whitehall Gardens
is symmetrical and executed in brick, with
plain stone bands across the width of the
front, defining the general floor levels and the
gutter level behind the roof parapet. The
entrance door is approached by a broad
flight of stone steps reducing in width to the
top, while the importance of the entrance is
enhanced by an ornamental iron lampstandard on each side continuing above the
iron railings to the fore-court. The doorway
has moulded stone linings with carved
trusses supporting the head, which intersects
with the soffit of the stone balcony (Plate 63).
The first-floor windows are brought down
to the level of the floor, and lead out on to
the balcony, which continues across the full
front of the house, and is provided with a
light wrought-iron railing (Plate 64). The
premises were probably refronted in 1788,
when the other improvements were in hand. Examination shows that the
jointing of the brickwork differs from that of the southern wall, and the
return pilaster treatment at the corner was consequently found necessary.
Balustrading to Staircase.
The back elevation, now overlooking an internal yard, is probably
a remnant of the earlier house and corresponds to the early front as shown
on Plate 6. It has a brick face with a moulded brick cornice and rubbed
quoins to the dressings of the openings, and a chamfered brick plinth
returned to each side of the garden door. The first-floor windows have
recessed brick apron panels below their sills. The walling on the return to
the north side of the yard is of similar date and treatment, while the
windows have substantial sash bars.
Internally the premises have been much altered, and connections
made with properties on either side.
The staircase, which continues from the ground to the first floor in
two flights, is in stone, the balustrading consisting of panels of wrought-iron
scrollwork, 'interspaced with plain square bars, and finished with a moulded
mahogany handrail. The stone treads have moulded nosings and shaped
ends, which form a moulded soffit.
Rooms Nos. 76 and 77 on the ground floor are panelled and finished
with a moulded wood cornice. No. 77 also contains a marble mantelpiece
with a bolection moulding to the opening.
Room No. 74 has a marble mantelpiece with carved consoles supporting the shelf and a pulvinated frieze with oak leaves and crossed ribbands
On the floor above, Room No. 87 is panelled, and Rooms Nos. 89 and
90 have a decorative plaster cornice and frieze, and ornamental mantelpieces
in marble. It is said that Room No. 90 was at one time lined with Chinese
wallpaper, a small portion of which can still be seen on the walls of the
alcove in Room No. 13 of Pembroke House.
Condition of Repair.
The occupiers of this house so far as they can be ascertained were as follows:
|1728–34||Major John Hanbury|
|1735–39||"John Hanbury Williams" (fn. 7) |
|1739–44||"Lady Hanbury" (fn. 8) |
|1788–92||The Hon. Fredk. Robinson|
|1792–1834||The Hon. Mrs. Robinson|
|1834–61||Earl of Malmesbury|
The builder and first occupant of Malmesbury House was John Hanbury, known as Major
Hanbury, of Pontypool Park in Monmouthshire. He was the son of Capel Hanbury, and was
born in 1664. The fortune which his first wife (Albinia Selwyn) brought him he used in developing
the ironworks on his Pontypool estate, and his wealth was further increased by his second marriage,
and a legacy from Charles Williams of Caerleon, whom he had befriended. Williams left him his
entire real estate, with remainder to his sons in succession, the latter to assume the surname of
Williams. (fn. 9) Hanbury was appointed one of the new directors of the South Sea Company when
reconstructed after the great crash, and was one of Marlborough's executors. He was M.P. for
Gloucester during 1701–15, and from 1720 until his death represented Monmouthshire. He died
By his will (fn. 10) Hanbury left his "dwelling house … scituate … near Whitehall" to trustees
on behalf of his widow Bridget. (fn. 11) According to the ratebooks, however, she did not reside in the
house, which was occupied from 1735 to 1739 by "John Hanbury Williams."
This name is probably a mistake. The eldest son of John and Bridget Hanbury was named
John, and the provision in the will of Charles Williams above referred to might suggest that John
was the first of the family to take the estate and surname of Williams. There are, however, several
objections to this view. (i) His brother Charles is said to have taken the name of Williams and so
fulfilled the conditions of the bequest when he came of age in 1729. (fn. 12) As there could have been
only one "Hanbury Williams" at a time, John is apparently excluded. (ii) John died in 1740;
in his will (fn. 13) he describes himself simply as John Hanbury. (iii) An entry in the baptismal register (fn. 14)
of St. Margaret, dated 22nd March, 1734–5, relates to "Frances, daughter to Charles Hanbury
Williams, Esq., by Lady Frances his wife, Privy Garden." It therefore appears that John Hanbury
was never "Hanbury Williams," and that in 1735, when the ratebook shows "John Hanbury
Williams" in occupation of the house, Charles Hanbury Williams was actually living there. It
is therefore probable that "John" in the ratebooks is throughout a mistake for "Charles," and in
that case "Lady Hanbury," whose name is given in the ratebooks from 1739 to 1744, was the
latter's wife. (fn. 15)
Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, satirical writer and diplomatist, was born in 1708. He
represented Monmouthshire from 1734 to 1747, and Leominster from 1754 to 1759. He was
paymaster of the Marine forces from 1739 to 1742, Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire, 1742–7, and
was created K.B. in 1744. He was noted for his wit and gallantries, and published numerous
satirical verses and other writings. His diplomatic career lasted from 1746 to 1757, when he was
envoy to the courts of Dresden, Berlin, Vienna and St. Petersburg. He died by his own hand in
In 1740 Bridget Hanbury died, (fn. 16) leaving (fn. 17) the house to her second son Capel, who, however,
according to the ratebooks, did not take up his residence there until 1743–4. Capel Hanbury
died in 1765, and by his will (fn. 18) bequeathed to his widow Jane (fn. 19) "all my Household furniture, Jewels,
Plate, which shall be in my House in Privy Garden, Whitehall, at the time of my Decease."
Jane Hanbury resided at the house until her death in 1787. (fn. 20)
On 10th April, 1788, the premises were purchased (fn. 21) by the Hon. Frederick Robinson,
second son of Thomas, 1st Baron Grantham. He died on 28th December, 1792, "in Privy
Gardens." (fn. 22) His widow (fn. 23) continued to reside at the house until her death, on 8th June, 1834,
also "in Privy Gardens." (fn. 24)
She was succeeded in the occupancy of the house by her nephew, the Earl of Malmesbury.
James Edward, 2nd Earl of Malmesbury, was born in 1778. He was educated at Eton
and Christ Church, Oxford, and in 1802 entered Parliament as member for Helston. In 1807 he
was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and shortly afterwards was appointed Governor of
the Isle of Wight. He succeeded to the earldom in 1820, and died in 1841 at Earl de Grey's residence
on Putney Heath.
Harris, Earl of Malmesbury.
James Howard, 3rd Earl of Malmesbury, was born in 1807. After an education at Eton
and Oriel College, Oxford, he spent some time abroad, returning to England in 1829. He was
for a short time in 1841 a member of the House of Commons (for Wilton), but his father's death
in the same year raised him to the Upper House. He gradually came to the front in the Conservative party, and on its accession to power in 1852 became Foreign Secretary. The outstanding
event of his term of office, which only lasted till the end of the year, was the recognition of Napoleon
III. He again held the same office in 1858–9. During this period he re-established good relations
with Napoleon, helped to compose the dispute between France and Portugal, and delayed the outbreak of the Italian war of liberation. His policy was one of strict neutrality. On his retirement
he was made G.C.B. On his party coming into power once more in 1866, he declined the Foreign
Office on the plea of ill-health, and was made Lord Privy Seal. In 1868 he was for a time leader of
the House of Lords. He died on 17th May, 1889.
The last issue of the Post Office Directory which shows the earl at No. 8 Whitehall Gardens
is that for 1861. The issue for 1863 shows the house as used for the purposes of the Passport
In The Council's Collection are:—
(fn. 25) General exterior to Whitehall Gardens (photograph).
(fn. 25) Detail of entrance doorway and lamp-standards (photograph).
View of back elevation (photograph).
General back exterior (measured drawing).
Detail of mantelpiece and panelling in Room No. 77 (measured drawing).
(fn. 25) Marble mantelpiece in Room No. 74 (photograph).
Marble mantelpiece in Room No. 89 (photograph).
Marble mantelpiece in Room No. 90 (photograph).
(fn. 25) Ground and first-floor plans (measured drawings).
(fn. 25) Sketch of staircase balustrading (measured drawing).