Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 4Thornbury, Walter
Grosvenor Square, and its Neighbourhood.
Grosvenor Square, and its Neighbourhood.
This square was the last addition in point of date, and also the furthest addition westward, to the metropolis at the time when
was published, namely, in . It was intended to be the finest of all the then existing squares; but the writer of that work condemns it as hopelessly falling short of any such a design. In fact, he laughs at it as a miscarriage in its execution, utterly wanting in harmony of plan, and irregular in its details. He speaks of the east side as the best of the ; but even this he censures severely, and he cannot find terms bad enough to describe the
which, he suggests,
He praises, however, the expensive taste with which the centre of the square was laid out, though he condemns the brick enclosure round it as clumsy, and a
The brick enclosure happily is no more, having long since given place to iron railings. As for the south and west sides, they are, in the author's opinion,
The purer taste of our own day, however, will see merits, if not beauty, in the variety of styles introduced into the houses which form the square; and the owner of the freehold, the head of the Grosvenor family, will be able to laugh at the attempt to
his ancestors' fine and important contribution to the grandeur of the West-end. The real fact is that many of the houses are built of red brick, but they have noble stone facings, and being each of a different pattern, though uniform in general appearance, they give to the square a pleasing variety in details, without detracting from its dignity.
That the square was built a long time before the year above mentioned is clear from the fact, that as early as Pope speaks of it in a letter to his friend and correspondent, Miss Martha Blount.
Previous to the completion of the houses between and , the erections here were called
but in the year , says the author of the
Sir Richard, to whom this square owes its origin, was, says Malcolm,
The landscape garden, which occupies the centre of the square, was laid out by Kent,
|and the enclosure can boast a few trees, though not so handsome as the plane-trees of .|
There was formerly in the centre of the square a gilt statue of George I. on horseback, but the pedestal is now vacant. This statue was made by Van Nort, and was erected by Sir Richard Grosvenor in ,
Soon after it was put up, says Malcolm,
Before several of the houses in this square, and indeed in other streets at the West-end, may still be seen specimens of the iron link-extinguishers on the top of the railings. Numerous allusions to the link-boys and their calling are to be found in the plays and lighter poems of the last century, and links were commonly carried before carriages at the West-end until about the year , when the introduction of gas gradually superseded their use. The link-men and link-boys would appear to have been a disorderly class, and the profession to have been followed as a cloak for thieving. Thus Gay writes in his
It is worthy, perhaps, of a note, as showing the reluctance of our aristocracy to adopt new-fangled fashions, that was the last street or square which was lit with oil; the last oil-lamp there was not superseded by gas until . The inhabitants for many years opposed the intrusion of so vulgar a commodity as gas, and preferred to go on as their fathers had gone on before them. What we have here said about the opposition to the introduction of gas in this locality may serve to remind the reader of Macaulay's words respecting the obstruction offered, less than centuries ago, to Edward Fleming's attempt to light the streets of London with oil.
In , says a writer in the ,
The house was built on ground held by Sir Richard Grosvenor for years from , at a ground-rent of per annum.
Malcolm, writing at the commencement of this century, humorously observes that his readers
, as may naturally be supposed, though only a century and a half old, has had plenty of distinguished inhabitants. In it, in , was living Mr. Thomas Raikes, the accomplished author of the
from which we have so often quoted. Here Mr. Raikes used to entertain not only many of the leading politicians and statesmen of the day, but also Pope the actor, the elder Mathews, Tom Sheridan, Charles Calvert, and other genial acquaintances. evening, when the above-named guests were present, a comical incident occurred, which Mr. Raikes records in his
It had been foretold to Mr. Raikes at Paris some years previously that he would day be arrested for debt; and the prophecy was thus fulfilled. Mr. Raikes shall tell his own story:--
The town residence of [extra_illustrations.4.340.1] , the famous owner of Fonthill Abbey, in Wiltshire, was in this square; and on occasion Lord Nelson was on a visit here, at a time of general scarcity, when persons in every rank of life denied themselves the use of that necessary article of food, bread, at dinner, and were content, for the sake of example, with such vegetables as the season afforded. Lord Nelson, however, contrary to the established etiquette of the dinner-table, called for bread, and was respectfully told by of the servants in waiting that, in consequence of the scarcity of wheat, bread was wholly dispensed with at the dinner-table of Mr. Beckford. Nelson looked angry; and desiring his own attendant to be called, he drew forth a shilling from his pocket, and commanded him to go out and purchase him a loaf; observing, that after having fought for his bread, he thought it hard that his countrymen should deny it to him.
Here, at No. , lived Edward, the Earl of Derby, after his marriage with Miss Farren, the celebrated actress, whose mother lived with his lordship and her daughter, and died here in . Miss Farren's patronesses and acquaintances in London were Lord and Lady Ailesbury and Mrs. Damer, to whom she had been introduced by the Duchess of Leinster, who knew something of her family in Ireland. The house was the town residence of the Earls of Derby until about the year , when the then head of the house of Stanley removed to .
It was at No. in this square, then, as now, the house of the [extra_illustrations.4.340.2] , that the Cabinet Ministers of George IV. had arranged to dine on the , when they were prevented by a preconcerted plan for their assassination, which is known to history as the Cato Street conspiracy, from the place between Marylebone and the where it was concocted, and which is now called . The head of this conspiracy was a discharged soldier, named Arthur Thistlewood, who had been imprisoned for months for annoying Lord Sidmouth. Along with a band of a dozen or more desperadoes, it had been arranged that some of them should watch the door of Lord Harrowby's house, where, whilst of the gang delivered a pretended dispatch-box, the rest were to rush in and kill all the King's ministers, Lords Sidmouth and Castlereagh being especially marked out for vengeance. From they were to rush off to the barracks in , and thence to attack the and the , as they expected that they would have the people with them. Meantime, however, the Government had obtained scent of the intended massacre, through the agency of a spy, and whilst the assassins were assembled in a stable-loft in Cato Street, and arming themselves by the light of a candle for the execution of their plan, they were surprised by a body of officers, who made their way up the ladder into the loft. The leader of the officers, on calling upon Thistlewood to surrender, was shot dead; the lights being put out, a fearful followed; in the midst of it Thistlewood managed to escape, but he was captured early next morning. Along with of his comrades, he was safely lodged in the Tower next day; and it may be remarked that they were the last prisoners confined in that fortress. In the following April the conspirators were brought to trial, when Thistlewood and of his chief accomplices were sentenced to death, and the rest were transported for life. It is stated in Mr. John Timbs'
on the authority of the late Sir R. Thierry, a judge in the Australian colonies, that at least of the persons transported for this crime rose in the course of time to independent positions at Bathurst and Sydney, and became respectable members of society.
The corner house of the square, between Upper Grosvenor and South Audley Streets, has been for many years the residence of Lord de Redcliffe, better known by his former name of Sir Canning,
Here he produced a drama., a volume of poems, and sundry essays on religious subjects at an age when most men are rather inclined to throw the pen aside than to take it in hand.
Besides the members of the aristocracy named above, this square has numbered among its inhabitants, at time or another, Bishop Warburton, author of the
Lord Chancellor Hardwicke; Lord North, when Premier; Henry Thrale, of Streatham; Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles; and John Withers and Sir George Beaumont, the great patron of art and artists. He had part of his gallery at the house already mentioned as belonging to Lord de Redcliffe. In Lord Canning and Lord Granville (then Lord Leveson) were living together at No. . Among its more recent inhabitants may be mentioned the late Mr. Joseph Neeld, M.P., whose fine gallery of paintings was at No. ; and the Earl of Shaftesbury, who has lived at No. for more than years. The philanthropy of the last-named nobleman, although so well known, is fairly entitled to a word or of recognition here, particularly in his efforts to ameliorate the condition of the lowest orders of society. The Ragged School movement, of which Mr. John Forster epitomises the history in his
by saying that it was begun by a shoemaker of Southampton and a chimney-sweep of Windsor, was carried out to its present length and its present success mainly under the auspices of Lord Shaftesbury; and the same writer tells us that in years the schools had passed some children through them, and that it is computed that for a of that number honest means of employment have been found by the same agency.
We have already had occasion, more than once, to speak of the conflicts that took place in this neighbourhood during the civil wars. It is said that the line of fortifications thrown up at that time, by order of Cromwell, ran diagonally across the space occupied by this square from the mound, or mount, at the western extremity of what is now, from that circumstance, called , as we have already mentioned. Apart from this, there are few, if any, historical events connected with the square; indeed, it may be said that it is almost of too recent growth to have much of a history.
That Johnson was a frequenter of so fashionable a region as may be set down by Mr. Timbs, or by others, among
But Mr. Smith, in his
tells us that he once saw the burly doctor
Independent as he was in all his ideas, the learned doctor once fairly owned that if he was not plain Dr. Johnson, of Lichfield, Oxford, and Bolt Court, he would desire to be
The Count de Melfort, in his
remarks that Grosvenor and St. James's Squares clearly have the rank to themselves. This may have been a just remark at the time when he wrote, in the reign of William IV., but it would scarcely be true now that has come to be the centre of attraction and fashion. However, they all owe their precedence to the fact that they are mainly occupied by the highest of the aristocracy, and that there is not a plebeian
man--not even a titled M.D.-living in them.
At the south-eastern corner of the square, and extending eastward towards , is Lower . Writing at the commencement of the present century, the author of the
: states that it
Here, in , was living Mr. John Crewe, M.P. for Cheshire, and subsequently Lord Crewe, already mentioned as the last survivor of Fox's friends at
Club. His wife, who was a most zealous Whig, gave at her house a splendid entertainment in commemoration of the return of Mr. Fox for , in May of the above year.
writes Sir N. W. Wraxall,
Mr. Peter Cunningham enumerates among the other residents the Countess of Hertford (celebrated in Thomson's
Spring), Miss Vane, the mistress of Frederick, Prince of Wales; Mrs. Oldfield, the actress; Admiral Jervis, afterwards Earl St. Vincent; Dr. Matthew Baillie (brother of Agnes and Joanna Baillie); and last, not least, Sir
| Humphry Davy, when he became President of the Royal Society. Mr. Fox Maule, afterwards Lord Dalhousie, and the accomplished Mr. H. Gally Knight, M.P., author of |
also lived here.
And yet this highly aristocratic street has been occasionally invaded by plebeian exhibitions. At No. , for instance, was, in -, Duburg's Exhibition. This consisted of models in cork of ancient temples, theatres, &c., in Rome and other Italian cities, and in the south of France, all formed to a scale, and executed so as to convey a faithful representation of the ruins as they then stood. Mr. Rush, the ambassador from the United States of America, writes in his
under date May, I:
No. i was for some time the home of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
On the north of the open fields, says Macaulay, the , in the reign of Charles II., ran between hedges.
From this stream or brook--which came down from Tyburn, and found its way across , as we have already seen--the neighbourhood was called the Brook Field. The earliest instance of the name occurring is, perhaps, in the of :--
The land, however, being wanted for building purposes, and the market not proving very attractive, the latter was dropped, and the services of designers and architects were called in. Many of the original houses still remain; they mostly
|date from the middle of the last century. The principal street that sprung up in these fields-running from across , , and , towards --naturally took the name of . [extra_illustrations.4.343.1] [extra_illustrations.4.343.2] [extra_illustrations.4.343.3]|
This street has for a century been the residence of successful surgeons and physicians. Hither Sir Charles Bell, in the height of his fame, removed about the year , and here he lived till his final settlement in Edinburgh, in . Sir Henry Holland, the fashionable Court physician, resided for upwards of years at No. , formerly the residence of Edmund Burke. His house was a centre of literary and scientific society, and around his table often were gathered the Macaulays, the Wilberforces, and Sydney Smith (whose daughter he married), as well as Lord John Russell, Lord Melbourne, and other political leaders. He attended the deathbeds of no less than Premiers, and of several members of our own and some other royal houses. He was the physician to the Princess Charlotte, and at a later date to Her Majesty and the late Prince Consort. He was created a baronet in . He was the author of very many important medical works and books of travel, and he made it a rule of his life, and which he observed until the very last year of his life, to travel abroad every summer. He died in , at the age of . Lady Holland's name is well known in the world of letters as the author of the
of her accomplished and witty father,
Sir William Gull, physician extraordinary to Her Majesty, is another distinguished resident in this street. He was created a baronet in , on the recovery of the Prince of Wales, after a dangerous attack of fever, through which Sir William attended his Royal Highness as his chief medical adviser.
At No. lived [extra_illustrations.4.343.4] , the restorer of the architecture of Windsor Castle.
[extra_illustrations.4.343.5] . Mr. J. T. Smith, in his
fixes the house exactly; it was
On the same side of the street, between Bond and Davies Streets, is Claridge's-formerly Mivart's-hotel, noted as the place where royal and distinguished personages from foreign countries usually
At No. was held the entertainment given by the Society of Painters in Water Colours.
In , which lies between and , Johnson was once living in lodgings, accompanied by his wife, on his journey to London, in the autumn of , before he took up his residence in , and made the acquaintance of Edmund Cave. He does not, however, appear to have remained here long, finding it possibly too far from the scene of his literary labours at Clerkenwell in the days when there were no omnibuses or
is connected with , at its north-east corner, by a thoroughfare of inferior appearance, built about , and called , probably after the Duke of Cumberland. It requires no further notice here.
At the north-west corner of the square, which also it connects with , is North Audley Street--so called, not from the Lords Audley, as is often supposed, but after Mr. Hugh Audley, a barrister of the Inner Temple, who, seeing the tendency of London to increase in a westerly direction, bought up the ground hereabouts for building purposes, and having started with a very small capital, died in , leaving property to the tune of nearly half a million. The land taken up by
| him is described in an old survey, to be seen among the maps of George III., in the , as |
The history of this individual may be found in a curious pamphlet, entitled,
Here lived and here died, in , at the age of upwards of , General Lord Ligonier, of the last survivors of the Duke of Marlborough's campaigns, and the correspondent of nearly all the eminent statesmen of the reigns of George II. and George III.
In this street is the
the sign of [extra_illustrations.4.344.1] , the hero of Portobello, set up in commemoration of the capture of that town in . Close by is St. Mark's Church, originally a chapel of ease to , , though now it has a district assigned to it, and has become, to some extent, independent of the mother church. It is in the Ionic style of Grecian architecture. It was erected by Mr. John Deering, RA., in .
, which runs southward from the south-western corner of , was not built till many years after , namely, about ; it comprises far finer houses, and has been tenanted by the highest families; and many foreigners of distinction, diplomatists, and others, have lived in it temporarily. Charles X. of France, for instance, in his exile, occupied No. ; Louis XVIII. also lived here at time, but the house is not identified, even by Mr. P. Cunningham. General Paoli, of Corsican fame; Sir William Jones, the great Eastern scholar; and Sir Richard Westmacott, the sculptor, are also named as residents here. Mr. Cunningham also tells us that Sir Richard Westmacott executed all his principal works at the house No. , now the residence of the Hon. Edward Leveson-Gower, brother of Lord Granville.
In this street, too, lived Mr. Robert Berry, the father of the charming Misses Berry, the friends and correspondents of Horace Walpole, of whom we shall have more to say in our next chapter.
Horace Walpole complains, in a letter to of these ladies, that he has
to receive him of an evening-alluding, no doubt, to his cousins, the Conways, to whose house he also refers in another letter, complaining that
and that town is dull and lonely.
No. in this street, now the residence of the Earl of Cawdor, was for the best part of a century the house of the Portuguese Ambassador. In this street, at No. , was living, in , Alderman (afterwards [extra_illustrations.4.344.2] ; and here, on the in that year, Queen Caroline, the injured consort of George IV., arriving from the Continent, took up her residence. Here she received the formal addresses from the common councilmen and livery of London, and here she would appear on the balcony, and bow to the mob assembled in the street below. Here her Majesty continued to reside till the commencement of her trial in Hall, which lasted from the down to the . During these long and weary weeks, the Queen was accommodated with apartments more conveniently situated in , at the house of Sir Philip Francis, as we have already seen. The sad story of the Queen's last few days is thus told by Hughson:--
It is difficult to imagine what the special mercies were for which her Majesty gave
on this occasion. Her death happened in the following August.
Queen Caroline, however, was not the only royal personage who has lived in this street; for, in , at Cambridge House (now Curzon House) resided the Duke of York, after he gave up his newly-built mansion in the stable-yard at St. James's. The house has been, at a later date, the residence of Earl Howe.
In the above year, too, [extra_illustrations.4.345.1] lived in this street; his house, however, has been converted to business purposes, and now serves as a
|hairdresser's shop. In the name of Lord Sydenham occurs among the list of residents here.|
Among the inhabitants of this street, in , was Lord Bute, as we learn from a notice in a contemporary journal, which tells us that,
On the eastern side of this street is of those proprietary chapels of ease, with which we have seen this fashionable district abounds. It is a dull, heavy structure, dating from the last century. In its vaults repose some distinguished characters: Lady Mary Wortley Montagu; Ambrose Philips, the poet; Philip, Earl of Chesterfield, who was carried hither from , in ; and John Wilkes, who was buried here from , in . A mural tablet in the chapel bears an inscription, said to be from his own pen :--
In this street are the pottery-galleries of Messrs. Goode, where are displayed the celebrated productions of the Messrs. Minton. The chief stores of the Art have for many years past been kept at this establishment, which is said to be the most extensive of its kind in Europe.
At the corner of stands a house of a very marked character, and by many attributed to Inigo Jones. The building is heavy and dull to a degree; massive cornices, small window-panes set in massive frames, and a bay-window over a portico, projecting partly over the pavement in , are its chief architectural features. The house was formerly the residence of General Gascoyne, the colleague of Canning in the representation of Liverpool.
Audley Square--as it is the fashion to style a few dull, heavy, substantial houses which recede a little from the road on the eastern side of , just above Chesterfield House-scarcely deserves a separate notice, but may be regarded as a part of ; and the only fact recorded in its annals is, that Mr. Spencer Perceval, the premier, whose assassination we have recorded, was born in it in the year .
, at the bottom of this street, we shall describe in our next chapter.
[extra_illustrations.4.340.1] Mr. Beckford
[extra_illustrations.4.340.2] Earl of Harrowby
[extra_illustrations.4.343.1] Claridge's, 1906
[extra_illustrations.4.343.2] Claridge's, Restaurant
[extra_illustrations.4.343.3] Claridge's, Foyer
[extra_illustrations.4.343.4] Sir Jeffrey Wyatville
[extra_illustrations.4.343.5] Handel likewise resided in this street
[extra_illustrations.4.344.1] Admiral Vernon
[extra_illustrations.4.344.2] Sir Matthew) Wood
[extra_illustrations.4.345.1] Lord John Russell
 See Vol. III., p. 530.