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    Harley Street

    By the Survey of London, on 13 October 2017

    Harley Street has long been synonymous with the top echelon of the medical profession, a Harley Street consultant the apogee of the profession. This reputation was forged in the second half of the nineteenth century, and although it dimmed a little in the years after the Second World War, it enjoyed a resurgence in the late twentieth century with the growth of private health care.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    General view of the west side of Harley Street looking south from New Cavendish Street. Photographed by Chris Redgrave for the Howard de Walden Estate and the Survey of London. © Historic England

    The street itself has preserved its residential appearance, despite the fact that for the most part residence is now confined to upper-floor flats. It was first conceived in the early eighteenth century, but largely laid out and built up between the 1750s and 1780s. Although much Georgian fabric remains, there has been considerable rebuilding, particularly in the southern stretches of the street.

    Detail of the 1 - 5 Harley Street on the corner with Cavendish Square. Photographed by Chris Redgrave

    Detail of  1–5 Harley Street on the corner with Wigmore Street, designed by Robert J. Worley and built in 1896-9. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    From the beginning Harley Street was one of the more fashionable addresses hereabouts, with aristocracy, gentry, politicians, high-ranking clergymen, military and naval officers resident for the London season. Here too were the portraitist Allan Ramsay, and J. M. W. Turner before he decamped round the corner to Queen Anne Street. Increasingly in the early nineteenth century wealthy merchants took up residence. Many owed their wealth to slavery, from sugar plantations in the colonies and later from the huge sums paid out in compensation to plantation owners following the abolition of the slave trade. Others had grown rich through the East India Company, so many that Harley Street became as notable for its ‘nabobs’ as it became for its doctors. As late as 1841 Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine reckoned that ‘the claret is poor stuff, but Harley Street Madeira has passed into proverb, and nowhere are curries and mulligatawny given in equal style’.

    DP176911

    This general view of 74 to 82 Harley Street gives a good impression of the street’s Georgian character, and perhaps a sense of that monotony so disliked by the Victorians. The houses date from the 1770s, with the usual later alterations of balconies, stuccoed ground storeys and raised upper floors. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    During the earlier decades of Victoria’s reign members of parliament and lawyers were prominent in Harley Street. The street so epitomised dull respectability that it was chosen by Charles Dickens as the home of Mr Merdle in Little Dorrit, first published in 1855–7. Disraeli too, in Tancred published in 1847, derided ‘your Gloucester Places, and Baker Streets, and Harley Streets, and Wimpole Streets, and all those flat, dull, spiritless streets, resembling each other like a large family of plain children’. Disraeli’s great political opponent Gladstone occupied 73 Harley Street from 1876–82. His arrival coincided with his campaign on the Eastern Question, arising from the massacre of Orthodox Christians in the Balkans. On a Sunday evening in 1878 a ‘jingo mob’ gathered outside his house, hurling stones and verbal abuse at his windows.

    73 Harley Street. Gladstone lived in the house previously on this site, which would have resembled those on either side. The present No. 73

    73 Harley Street. Gladstone lived in the house previously on this site, which would have resembled those on either side. The present No. 73 was rebuilt in 1904 to designs by W. Henry White for the ophthalmic surgeon Walter Hamilton Hylton Jessop. The blue plaque commemorates not only Gladstone’s residence from 1876–82 but also Sir Charles Lyell who lived there from 1846–75. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    By this time Marylebone had long been associated with medicine. Indeed, medicine arrived at the same time as the housing boom of the 1750s onwards. Most of the early evidence relates to institutions for treating the poor. Hospitals, like housing, gravitated to healthy suburban locations close to open fields and fresh air. When the Middlesex Hospital was built on Mortimer street in 1757 it was at the very edge of the expanding city, as was the parish workhouse in Paddington Street.

    Entrance to No. The size and number of doctor's brass plates were strictly controlled by the Howard de Walden Estate, with regular checks against the Medical Directory to weed out interlopers.

    Entrance to No. 118. The Georgian house on this site was rebuilt in around 1909–10 to designs by F. M. Elgood with stone carvings by A. J. Thorpe. Together with its neighbours to the south, Nos 114 and 116, it was reconstructed behind the retained façade in 2005–9 as consulting suites and a pathology laboratory for the London Clinic by the architects Floyd Slaski Partnership. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Today, Marylebone generally, and Harley Street in particular, is most closely linked with front-rank medicine and private consultants. From the mid eighteenth century, proximity to London’s teaching hospitals became important for top medical men who held prestigious posts in them. Closeness to aristocratic patients was another major consideration. By the 1840s there were sufficient eminent physicians and surgeons in Cavendish Square and Queen Anne Street to act as a magnet for others. However, around this time those at the top of their profession were as likely to reside south of Oxford Street as north. The medical directory for 1854 shows an even distribution between Marylebone, Mayfair and Bloomsbury.

    Detail of the door to No. 72. The size and number of doctor's brass plates were strictly controlled by the Howard de Walden Estate, with regular checks against the Medical Directory to weed out interlopers.

    Detail of the door to No. 72. The size and number of doctor’s brass plates were strictly controlled by the Howard de Walden Estate, with regular checks against the Medical Directory to weed out interlopers. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Harley Street’s subsequent primacy is probably accounted for by its immediate proximity to Cavendish Square – the acme of fashionable Marylebone. Even by 1874, when Harley Street’s significance was already established, being close to the square still mattered. In that year Sir Alfred Baring Garrod, physician and gout specialist, moved from 84 Harley Street further south to No. 10 simply to be nearer to Cavendish Square. Twelve years later the surgeon Sir John Tweedy’s move in the opposite direction, from No. 24 to No. 100, was regarded by colleagues as committing professional suicide.

    For most of its history, the southern end of Harley Street was the more fashionable address. Nos 6 and 8 to the left were built in 1825-7, probably by the architect Thomas Hardwick.

    For most of its history, the southern end of Harley Street was the more fashionable address. Nos 6 to 10 (to the left) were built in 1825–7, probably by the architect Thomas Hardwick. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    As fashionable society ebbed away from Marylebone in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a similar shift of smart medical practice might have been expected, but that never happened. By then many patients of all classes were travelling to see doctors rather than the reverse. But the main reason seems to have been that once a distinct medical community had been established it was found to be enormously beneficial to those within it. This professional interaction is recalled in many memoirs of consultants, who placed great value on the ability to call on the advice or second opinion of a neighbour. In the twentieth century there was also an active policy on the part of the Howard de Walden Estate to preserve the Marylebone grid as a medical enclave.

    Nos 51 (left) and 53 Harley Street. No. 51was built in 1894 to designs by F. M. Elgood for the surgeon William Bruce Clarke on the site of the Turk's Head pub. No. 53 was designed by Wills & Kaula and completed in 1914-15 as a home and practice for the surgeon and urologist Frank Seymour Kidd.

    Nos 51 (left) and 53 Harley Street. No. 51 was built in 1894 to designs by F. M. Elgood for the surgeon William Bruce Clarke on the site of the Turk’s Head pub. No. 53 was designed by Wills & Kaula and completed in 1914–15 as a home and practice for the surgeon and urologist Frank Seymour Kidd. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    The image of the Harley Street doctor relies much on the traditional kind of premises he inhabited. The standard London town house needed little alteration to turn it into a doctor’s house. Ground-floor front rooms became waiting rooms instead of dining rooms, with a consulting room either immediately behind or in the closet wing.

    Nos 82 to 86 Harley Street. No. 84 in the centre was rebuilt in 1909 to designs by Claude W. Ferrier. The neurologist Walter Russell Brain had consulting rooms in No. 86 (on the left) in the 1960s.This retains its rich Georgian interior and was home to Russian ambassadors after 1780, including Count Simon Woronzow and Prince Andreyevich Lieven.

    Nos 82 to 86 Harley Street. No. 84 in the centre was rebuilt in 1909 to designs by Claude W. Ferrier. The neurologist Walter Russell Brain had consulting rooms in No. 86 (on the left) in the 1960s. This retains its rich Georgian interior and was home to Russian ambassadors after 1780, including Count Simon Woronzow and Prince Andreyevich Lieven. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    Originally, the doctor’s dependants occupied the remainder of the house above, but after families moved to the suburbs, houses might be converted or rebuilt as suites of consulting rooms for multiple medical occupation.

    40 and 42 Harley Street show the contrasting architectural taste of the 1890s (No. 42 on the left, by C. H. Worley) and 1930s (No. 40 on the right, by Charles W. Clark, architect to the Metropolitan Railway Company). No. 40 was designed to resemble a private house but provided suites of consulting rooms behind a modish Art Deco entrance hall. No. 42 decked in Worley's characteristic orange-pink terracotta was given Jacobean-style interior decor.

    Nos 40 and 42 Harley Street show the contrasting architectural taste of the 1890s (No. 42 on the left, by C. H. Worley, brother of Robert J. Worley) and 1930s (No. 40, on the right, by Charles W. Clark, architect to the Metropolitan Railway Company). No. 40 was designed to resemble a private house but provided suites of consulting rooms behind a modish Art Deco entrance hall. No. 42 decked in Worley’s characteristic orange-pink terracotta was given Jacobean-style interior decor. Photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England

    In the later twentieth century many consultants gave up their private rooms for the better-equipped universities and hospitals. In their place came alternative practitioners and aesthetic therapists for whom the individual consulting rooms in elegant domestic settings provided a soothing backdrop. In the latest conversions encouraged by the Howard de Walden Estate there has been a policy of reconstruction to create purpose-built consulting suites over reinforced basements, allowing the latest diagnostic equipment to be installed behind retained facades, which preserve the historic character of the district.

    Early twentieth century Birn Brothers postcard, poking fun at the Harley Street consultants and their patients. © H. Martin. Reproduced by permission of H. Martin

    Early twentieth century Birn Brothers postcard, poking fun at the Harley Street consultants and their patients. © H. Martin. Reproduced by permission of H. Martin

     

    South-East Marylebone Old and New

    By the Survey of London, on 24 February 2017

    In 2017 the Survey of London will publish two volumes (Nos 51 and 52) covering a large swathe of the parish of St Marylebone, an area comprising much of the West End north of Oxford Street, otherwise bounded by Marylebone High Street and the Marylebone Road, west and north, and Cleveland Street and Tottenham Court Road to the east. Like many of London’s place-names, Marylebone means different things to different people. To some it connotes the Marylebone Road and its penumbra, scarred by grinding traffic, to others the area adjacent to the two Marylebone Stations, main-line and underground, while those with a sense of civic history may call to mind a once-proud parish stretching from Oxford Street through St John’s Wood to the edge of Kilburn. By far the most famous association is with Lords, and the Marylebone Cricket Club founded in 1787. But the enduring image of Marylebone as a district is of the grid of alternating streets and mews, leavened by the occasional square, that picks up the West End’s uncertain structure beyond Oxford Street and shakes it into order and urbanity.

    The aura of south-east Marylebone is various. Time-honoured medical connections have bequeathed cosmopolitanism and gravity to the central grid. Here patients for private clinics or guests at serviced apartments and hotels alight at the kerbside, chauffeurs linger on the qui vive for parking attendants, and pedestrians scurry rather than saunter, pressed forward by the rhythm of the streets. A mundane mews behind may be disrupted by a vision of nurses on tea-breaks clad in overall green, or a lorry backing in with oxygen canisters. Marylebone High Street and its boutiques draw their constituency of well-heeled shoppers and loafers. Yet Paddington Street Gardens and Marylebone Churchyard close by convey an air of ease, with old people reflective on benches or gaggles of schoolchildren on the grass. Lunchtime sprawlers in Cavendish Square are different – a mélange of shop assistants, office workers and tourists taking their breaks. On the fringes of Fitzrovia, the livelier portions of Great Titchfield Street and its surroundings exude conviviality, mixing pubs, small shops and cafés even now not all gentrified, patronized by the copious media businesses that have spread outwards from the BBC and taken over the premises of the dwindling garment trade.

    Parts of south-east Marylebone have resisted change during the last century. The following photographs taken by Bedford Lemere & Co. at the turn of the nineteenth century are shown alongside recent photographs by Chris Redgrave.

    Debenham and Freebody department store during construction, 27–37 Wigmore Street, in 1907 (Historic England Archive)

    Former Debenham and Freebody department store, Wigmore Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from north west.

    Former Debenham and Freebody department store, 27–37 Wigmore Street, in 2013 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    The south side of Wigmore Street offers a sudden change in scale and monumentality with the silvery bulk of No. 33, built as headquarters for the drapery business of Debenham & Freebody in 1906–7. A public offer was made in 1907 to help pay for a grand reconstruction of the Wigmore Street premises, ‘rambling and incoherent’ after 90 years of piecemeal development. The London Scots architects William Wallace and James Glen Sivewright Gibson were chosen to design the new building. The frontage was conceived as symmetrical across the whole of the block, but because of the bank there is an extra bay at the west end, devoted originally to a discrete fur shop. A giant arcade runs across the ground and first floor, with plate-glass windows to what were originally single large shops either side of the entrance, their semi-circular tops lighting the first-floor showrooms. Three segmental pediments top three bays set slightly forward with paired giant-order Corinthian columns of grey-green Truro marble forming a vestigial screen to the third and fourth floors. Decoration is mostly channelled ‘stone’ work to the first floor, applied garlands, and two seated female figures within the central pediment, all executed in Doulton’s Carrara Ware. Crowning all is a columned lantern-turret on an octagonal plinth.

    46 and 48 Portland Place in 1903 (Historic England Archive)

    Howard de Walden Project. General view with 46 & 48 Portland Place, Marylebone, Greater London. View from north west.

    46 and 48 Portland Place in 2013 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    Nos 34–60 is the best run of surviving Adam-period houses in Portland Place, still with its eye-catching stuccoed and pedimented central pair at Nos 46 and 48, with their ingenious mirrored angled entrance doors. It is here that one gets the strongest sense of the Adam brothers’ original palace-front design concept. Various alterations have changed the appearance of the middle pair at Nos 46 and 48, marring though not completely obliterating the powerful original composition. Its crowning balustrade has gone but for once, when the upper floor was extended around 1870, rather than building up the front wall as elsewhere in the street, the builders left the central pediment in situ, with an enlarged mansard roof and dormers rising behind. Like its partner opposite (No. 37, now demolished), this façade was faced entirely in stucco and decorated with a frieze, pilasters, roundels and characteristic Adam panels of griffins and urns of the same material. Unusually the rusticated ground floor has the windows flanking the entrance set within relieving arches. Particularly elegant is the shared entrance within a shallow apse under a segmental arch, with the two doorways set at an angle.

    28 Portland Place in 1903 (Historic England Archive)

    28 Portland Place in 2013. (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    28 Portland Place in 2015 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    No. 28 Portland Place retains its Adam pediment and Ionic pilasters (though both were raised in the nineteenth century to accommodate an extra storey), as well as a later Doric entrance porch. Despite many changes it still exudes an aura of old-world elegance. Though it was sold by the Goslings to the Institute of Hygiene in 1928 and has been in institutional or corporate use ever since, No. 28 is still a first-rate example of a London society townhouse adapted and added to over time by one family. The interiors have survived well, of which the most notable is an exceptionally fine ballroom, comprising a suite of linked first-floor drawing rooms fitted out in an elaborate late-Victorian Adam Revival style, with an abundance of painted and gilded plaster decorations and a figurative front-room chimneypiece in the manner of Wyatt.

    11 Harley Street in 1903 (Historic England Archive)

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    11 Harley Street in 2013 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    9 and 11 Harley Street are tall red-brick rebuildings, of 1891 and 1886 respectively, in similar styles, with plentiful stone dressings and pediments. No. 9 was designed by F. M. Elgood as a speculation for W. H. Warner (of Lofts and Warner, estate agents). Elgood was also involved in the design of No. 11, one of his earliest works in the area, whilst still in partnership with Alexander Payne (to whom he was articled) as Payne & Elgood. Their client was the physician and surgeon William Morrant Baker. The building was extended to the rear in 1906 for another doctor, the dermatologist J. M. H. McLeod. Stone figures on the gable were removed in 1937.

     

    Bedford & Co. offices at 24 Wigmore Street in 1894, No. 22 to the right (Historic England Archive)

    18–20 Wigmore Street in 2014. (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    18–24 Wigmore Street in 2014 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    Nos 18–22 Wigmore Street were built by Holloway Brothers in 1892–3 to the designs of Leonard Hunt, as showrooms and offices for the piano manufacturer John Brinsmead & Sons. The business, founded in 1837, moved to No. 18 (then 4) in 1863 and subsequently expanded into 20 and 22. The works moved from Charlotte Street to Kentish Town in 1870, and by 1893 produced around 3,000 pianos a year. Hunt’s building, expensively finished with mahogany panelling and leaded glass, was ‘one of the sights of fashionable London’. The ground floor was given over to display space, divided by a hallway with pavement lights illuminating basement showrooms, the upper floor comprising offices and chambers. In 1895 a recital room was added at the back of the basement, seating 130. Lit from two sides with leaded windows, it had mirrored columns and fully-tiled walls. Bedford & Company, surveyors, had offices next door at No. 24. Brinsmeads went out of business in 1922, but was re-established at 17 Cavendish Square in 1924. Lloyds Bank acquired the Wigmore Street building, creating a strong room within the former recital room, and subletting the western shop, which retains a 1928 neo-Georgian bronze shopfront fitted for the opticians Curry & Paxton. The upper floors were converted to flats in 1933.

    34 Weymouth Street in 1910 (Historic England Archive)

    34 Weymouth Street in 2014. (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    34 Weymouth Street in 2014 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    On the other side of Upper Wimpole Street, of 1908 in a strong, shaped-gable style, is 34 Weymouth Street, by F. M. Elgood for the developer W. H. Warner. Here the gables have oculus windows with attractively sculpted stone surrounds and festoons beneath, the work of A. J. Thorpe, who was also responsible for the carved stone consoles to the door surround.

    30–31 Wimpole Street in 1917 (Historic England Archive)

    30 wimpole street and New Cavendish Street corner 8 bit

    30–31 Wimpole Street (left) and 30a and 30b New Cavendish Street (right) in 2014 (Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    Though treated as one architectural piece, this large and imposing Portland stone corner block of 1910–12, extending round the corner into New Cavendish Street, appears to have been a joint redevelopment and was built as four separate ‘houses’, each originally comprising doctors’ consulting rooms on the lower floors and residential accommodation above. The two properties facing Wimpole Street (originally numbered 30 & 31) were designed by F. M. Elgood, working for the developer Samuel Lithgow. But the two houses fronting New Cavendish Street (30a & 30b) were by Banister Fletcher & Sons, acting for Dr James Lennox Irwin Moore, who had consulting rooms at 30a – and it was these two ‘doctors’ houses’ that attracted attention in the architectural press. The style is a muscular free Jacobethan, with mullioned and transomed windows, and a stone balcony resting on decoratively carved console brackets, all topped off by pedimented gables with deep modillion eaves  – offering a strong contrast to Wimpole House opposite, with its dressing of florid salmon-pink terracotta. The composition is stylistically dissimilar to most of the Edwardian buildings on the Howard de Walden estate (and is none the worse for that) but there are a few oddities about the design. For instance, above the deep modillion cornice on the New Cavendish Street elevation, instead of gables as elsewhere, broad dormers flank a flat-roofed pavilion with a concave façade in what appears to be Bath stone but is probably coloured render. In terms of their construction, the buildings made use of expanded-steel reinforced concrete, with interiors awash with oak panelling and polished oak to the floors and staircases.

    In advance of the publication of Volumes 51 and 52 of the Survey of London, on South-East Marylebone, in 2017, the draft chapters have been made freely available online.

    37 Harley Street

    By the Survey of London, on 9 September 2016

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England). 

    Perhaps one of the most widely admired late-nineteenth century buildings in South East Marylebone is 37 Harley Street, built in 1897-9 to designs by Arthur Beresford Pite. It is remarkably different from the houses and flats around it, and when newly built the architectural press proclaimed it to be ‘nothing short of a revolution in Harley Street architecture’.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of oriel window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).  

    Marylebone was once the heartland of Beresford Pite’s London buildings, and his office was just around the corner at No.48 where he added turquoise mosaic tiles to the ground-floor front. Many of his Marylebone buildings have gone, although his earlier 82 Mortimer Street survives, with its still arresting sculptural window treatment. At both houses Pite was working with a local building firm, Matthews Brothers. But while the Mortimer Street house was built with a specific client in mind, the anaesthetist Dudley Buxton, this one in Harley Street was a speculation. This was a boom time for medicine in the area, when houses were being snapped up by physicians and surgeons as homes with consulting rooms, and so it was designed with that end in mind.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of bay window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The Georgian house that formerly stood at this corner was narrow and relatively small, without back yard or mews. By shifting the main entrance from Harley to Queen Anne Street (without altering the address) Pite created a more open and versatile layout within. But the real charm of the building is on the outside, in the use of warm Bath stone, a rarity hereabouts, and the harmonious integration of the architectural sculpture that adorns it. It is not bold and thrusting, as in the Mortimer Street figures, but sinuous and restrained.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of bas-relief panel by Schenck depicting anatomy (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The success of the sculptural element can be ascribed at least in part to the close collaboration between architect and carver. The many bas-relief panels of allegorical figures are the work of the architectural sculptor Frederick E. E. Schenck. Low-relief friezes on the bay windows are arranged with figurative subjects, flanked by flowing branches and leaves, representing Grammar, Astronomy, Justice and Philosophy, with Poetry represented by Homer. A dramatic winged figure atop the oriel symbolises Fame.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of Schenck panels on the oriel window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The first occupants in 1901 were (Sir) Edward E. Cooper, an underwriter (later deputy chairman) at Lloyds, talented amateur singer, chairman of the Royal Academy of Music and future Lord Mayor, and his wife (Lady) Leonora.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of the iron railings (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    The Coopers later moved out to Hampshire and by 1905 the surgeons Edred Moss Corner and (Sir) Percy William George Sargent were both practising and resident here; Corner’s son, the botanist Edred John Henry Corner (d. 1966) was born at No. 37 in January 1906. Other medical men associated with the building included the surgeons Sir Henry John Gauvain and Sir James Cantlie, both in the 1920s.

    Howard de Walden Project. Harley Street, Marylebone, Greater London. View from.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, detail of coloured glass in the circular window in the door (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    Though now subdivided and in mixed residential and office use, the building  retains much of its original character.

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, first-floor landing with Pite-designed stair balustrade and coloured glass in landing window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    37 Harley Street, Marylebone, first-floor landing with Pite-designed stair balustrade and coloured glass in landing window (photographed by Chris Redgrave © Historic England).

    Text taken largely from the draft chapter from the forthcoming South East Marylebone volumes, which can be found online here.

    Cavendish Square 3: Nos 15 and 16 (with 2–14 Harley Street)

    By the Survey of London, on 19 February 2016

    This is the third in an occasional series of posts about Cavendish Square. At the corner of Cavendish Square and Harley Street is ‘les 110 de Taillevent’, a recently opened branch of a Parisian restaurant. This is the latest twist in the convoluted history of a building that despite serial alterations stands as a remnant of the square’s aristocratic origins.

    16 Cavendish Square, Marylebone, Greater London. View from the south west. (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave)

    Nos 15 and 16 Cavendish Square on the corner with Harley Street, from the south-west in 2014 (© Historic England, Chris Redgrave). If you are having trouble viewing images, please click here.

    After Cavendish Square was laid out in 1717–18, the Duke of Chandos intended to build himself a palace across the whole of its north side. He was obliged to back-pedal after the South Sea Bubble burst, and in 1724–5 began building a pair of houses at either end of the frontage, to designs by Edward Shepherd. Dilatory and indecisive, Chandos left the carcasses incomplete. He eventually decided to take that to the west for himself, and returned to complete it in 1733–5. Entered from Harley Street, the house had a painted imperial staircase, expensively decorated by Gaetano Brunetti and Jacopo Amigoni.

    by Herman van der Myn, oil on canvas, 1725 or before

    James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos, by Herman van der Myn, c.1725 (Reproduced by kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London).

    by Philip Mercier, oil on canvas, 1733

    ‘The Music Party’ by Philip Mercier, 1733, depicting (from left to right) Princess Anne, Princess Caroline, Prince Frederick and Princess Amelia reading from Milton. In the background is a depiction of the Kew Palace, or the Dutch House at Kew Gardens (Reproduced by kind permission of the National Potrait Gallery, London).

    From 1762 Princess Amelia, George II’s second daughter, lived here and there was it seems a decline from Chandos’s opulence. After she died in 1786, The Times (21 Feb 1787, p.3) reported, ‘Of all the ill-furnished houses – perhaps that of the late Princess Amelia was the worst. With the exception of one large glass, it was much of the same sort as might have been expected at a plain Esquire’s in the country.’ James Hope, the 3rd Earl of Hopetoun, then undertook substantial improvements with Robert Adam as his architect. The entrance moved northwards within a tetrastyle stone porch (now gone) and under a pedimented aedicule (extant) and the north wing was much enlarged. In 1795 in moved Henry Hope, a distant cousin, Europe’s pre-eminent merchant banker, a great art collector and a refugee from Amsterdam. Poussins faced the front door and the front drawing room was graced by a Titian, two Veroneses and several Van Dycks. The last occupant of the whole house from 1816 to 1824 was George Watson Taylor MP, another art collector and, as an heir to a Jamaican fortune, a defender of Caribbean vested interests in Parliament.

    by Charles Howard Hodges, published by John Boydell, published by Josiah Boydell, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, mezzotint, published 1 January 1788 (1787)

    Henry Hope by Charles Howard Hodges, after Sir Joshua Reynolds, c.1787 (Reproduced by kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London).

    by Pieter Christoffel Wonder, oil on canvas, 1826-1830

    Study for ‘Patrons and Lovers of Art’ by Pieter Christoffel Wonder, 1826-1830, depicting George Watson Taylor kneeling in front of Titian’s ‘Bacchus and Ariadne’ (Reproduced by kind permission of the National Portrait Gallery, London).

    Such a vast house in this location was no longer tenable and in the later 1820s Thomas Hardwick oversaw the separation of the capital mansion from its back parts with remodelling that included a top-lit staircase that is still extant. Hardwick added what is now 15 Cavendish Square and, on the garden, 6–14 Harley Street. The largest dwelling, on the corner, was taken by William Carr Beresford, Viscount Beresford, a hero of the Peninsular campaign. Dr Henry Herbert Southey, an eminent physician and younger brother of the poet Robert, took what became 4 Harley Street. Further division and alterations followed in 1863 and further eminent doctors and merchants moved in. The last private resident of the corner property was Edward Berman, a German button importer. No. 15 saw Beaux Arts alterations for the Jockey Club in 1913 and the corner block was converted with ground-floor rustication in 1926–7 to be a branch of Coutts Bank that closed in 2012.

    (© Survey of London, Helen Jones)

    Phase plans of Nos 15 and 16 Cavendish Square and 2-4 Harley Street. Please click on the picture to expand (© Survey of London, Helen Jones).