HOUSES OF OLD LONDON.
ANTERIOR to the reign of Stephen, Houses in London were built much as they
had been in the earlier Saxon times, almost wholly of wood, roofed with straw
and reeds: thus a carpenter is described as "making houses and bowls."
Hence the frequent fires; and especially the great conflagration of 1097, which
spread from London Bridge to the church of St. Clement Danes, in the Strand. By
an assize (1st year of Richard I.) all houses in London were hereafter to be
built of stone, with party-walls of the same: but this mandate was rarely
complied with; and it was not until the reign of Edward IV., when brick was made
from the clay of Moorfields, that it occasionally took the place of the timber
which had hitherto been used for houses; reeds were then replaced by tiles and
slates. In two centuries, to gain ground, many stone houses were taken down, and
others of timber built in their place; and it is distinctly stated that London,
to the period of the Great Fire 1666, was chiefly built of chestnut, filled up
with plaster. After the Great Fire, the houses were rebuilt with brick; but
between 1618 and 1636 several fine brick houses were erected in Alders-
gate-street, Great Queen-street, Lincoln's-inn-fields, and Covent Garden. Still,
the general form of roof was the high-pitched gable, whole rows of which have
disappeared in our time, with several specimens of florid plaster and carved
wood fronts. Very few specimens, however, remain.* [* The remains of
Roman London consist chiefly of portions of the City wall, foundations of
buildings; tesselated pavements, often of so much beauty as to denote a
corresponding style in the superstructure; baths, sewers, bronzes, and various
ornaments admirable as works of art. A Roman bath nearly complete still exists
in Strand-lane; and a Roman hypocaust is preserved beneath the Coal Exchange (see
p. 329). The remains of the superstructures el Roman London which
have yet been discovered, are, however, unimportant.]
Aldersgate-street has several house-fronts with remains of sixteenth and seventeenth century carving and other ornaments. (See also p. 449.)
Aldgate High-street, No. 76, with central bay-windows, enriched brackets, and a projecting penthouse-shop, has panels decorated with the Prince of Wales' feathers, the fleur-de-lis of France, the Thistle of Scotland, portcullis of Westminster, &c.
Ashburnham House, Little Dean's-yard, and Cloisters, Westminster Abbey, was originally built by Inigo Jones, on chapter land, for the Ashburnham family; it was purchased by the Crown of John Earl of Ashburnham, in 1730. Here the Cotton Library of MSS. was deposited. On October 23, 1731, a fire broke out here, when of the 948 volumes, 114 were lost or spoiled, and 98 much damaged. All that remains in the western portion of the house, are an exquisitely proportioned drawing-room; the dining-room, once a state bed-room, with a graceful alcove; and a staircase, one of the finest of Inigo Jones's interior works. Sir John Soane had careful drawings made of the house. In the cellars, it is said, were some remains of the conventual buildings; and a capital of the time of King Edward the Confessor, which was built into the modern wall.
Bagnio, the, in Bath-street, Newgate-street, was built by Turkey merchants, and first opened in 1679 (Aubrey), for sweating, rubbing, shaving, hot bathing, and cupping, after the Turkish model. The cupola-roof and walls neatly set with Dutch tiles, described by Hatton in 1708, exist to this day: it is now a cold bath.
Bangor House, Shoe-lane, south of St. Andrew's Church, is described as the palace of the Bishops of Bangor in a roll of 48 Edward III. Being deserted as an episcopal residence, some mean dwellings were built upon the grounds; yet a garden with lime. trees, and a rookery, long remained. The last of the mansion, octangular and two-storied, was removed in 1828; but is kept in memory by "Bangor House;" and by Bangor-court, opposite which are some remains of "Oldborne Hall," in Stow's time "letten out in divers tenements."
Baumes, or Balmes (from two Spanish merchants so named), stood west of the Kingsland-road, Hoxton, and was taken down in 1852. It was built by the Balmeses, about 1440; Sir George Whitmore resided here occasionally when lord mayor, 1631; and on this spot Sir W. Acton, lord mayor, with the aldermen, &c., waited the arrival of Charles I. on his return from Scotland, Nov. 25, 1641; when the royal coaches were conducted, by a road formed for the occasion, through Balmes's grounds to Hoxton, and thence to Moorgate, into the City, the road between Kingsland and Shoreditch being then impassable by "the depth and foulness of it." Baumes-march was long a favourite archery and artillery exercise;* [* The Robin Hood public-house (now refronted) originally looked over Finsbury-fields, and was much frequented by the metropolitan archers; the sign, Robin Hood and Little John, in Lincoln-green, formerly swung from a tree before the door. A few dealers in archery implements, and preservers of animals, have lingered in the City-road to our day-the last relics of the chivalry of Hogsden, Finsbury, and Moorfields.] but the ground attached to the house is now the site of De Beauvoir Town, named from the De Beauvoir family, its owners since 1696. A print of 1580 shows Baumes, with its gate-house, farmery, spacious gardens and grounds, avenues of fruit-trees and stately elms; and the Italianized brick mansion with its two-storied roof, moated and approached by a drawbridge; the house and moat were supplied from the ancient well in Canonbury Field. The interior of Balmes was rich in carved ceilings, panelling and staircase, armorial glass and tapestry.
Brook's Menagerie (subsequently Herring's), an old wooden house at the western corner of Brook-street, New-road, was standing when Tottenham Fair was in its glory; and almost the only house between St. Giles's Pound and Primrose-hill was Tottenham, a house of entertainment in 1645, on the site of which is the "Adam and Eve tavern."
Bulk Shops have only disappeared in our time. In 1846 was taken down an old house south-west of Temple Bar, which is engraved in Archer's Vestiges, part i. A view in 1795, in the Crowle Pennant, presents one tall gable to the street; but time pitch of the roof had been diminished by adding two imperfect side gables. The heavy pents originally traversed over each of the three courses of windows; it was a mere timber frame filled up with lath and plaster, the beams being of deal with short oak joints: it presented a capital example of the old London bulk-shop (sixteenth century), with a heavy canopy projecting over the pathway, and turned up at the rim to carry off the rain endwise. This shop had long been held by a succession of fishmongers, among whom was the noted Crockford, who quitted it for "play" in St. James's (see CLUB-HOUSES, pp. 246, 247). Crockford would not permit this house-front to be altered in his lifetime.
Burnet's (Bishop) House, St. John's-square, Clerkenwell, is now let in tenements, and has an arched thoroughfare to a court of houses built on the site of the garden. In this house Burnet died 1715, and was buried in St. James's Church, when the rabble threw dirt and stones at his funeral procession. The Bishop's house and tomb are engraved from original drawings in the Mirror, 1837, No. 836.
Campden House, Kensington, originally approached from the town by an avenue of elms, was built about 1612 by Sir Baptist Hicks, afterwards Viscount Campden, who purchased the property of Sir Walter Cope; or, traditionally, won it of him "at some sort of game." The house was of red brick, with stone finishings, and had a centre porch, bay-window once fitted with armorial glass, and flanking turrets with cupolas. The great dining-room, in which Charles II. supped with Lord Campden, had a rich armorial ceiling in stucco, floridly carved wainscot, and a tabernacle mantelpiece, with Corinthian columns and caryatidal figures, finely sculptured. The State apartments on the first floor included Queen Anne's bedchamber; and the Globe room, originally a chapel, and communicating with the garden terrace: time other rooms had richly stuccoed ceilings and marble mantelpieces. During the Protectorate, the Sequestration Committee sat here. Queen Anne, when Princess of Denmark, resided five years at Campden House, with her son time Duke of Gloucester, who kept a regiment of boy- soldiers here, and had a puppet-theatre built. Lord Lechmere, time lawyer and staunch Whig, lived here when he had his quarrel with Sir John Guise, ridiculed in Swift's ballad of "Duke upon Duke :"
"Back in the dark, by Brompton Park,
He turn'd up thro' the Gore,
And slunk to Campden-house so high,
All in his coach and four.
The Duke in wrath called for his steeds,
And fiercely drove them on:
Lord! Lord! how rattled then thy stones,
O kingly Kensington!"
Swift land lodged at Kensington, and well knew the locality. The gardens, in which time wild olive and the caper-tree once flourished, had been much reduced; but time house retained its original front. In the spring of 1862, by a conflagration of remarkable rapidity, Campden house was reduced to blackened and windowless walls: it has been rebuilt in the same style. The historic interest of the place had ceased some sixty years before. Among the relics are two dogs (supporters of the Campden arms), which formerly surmounted the gateway-piers, and are cleverly sculptured. Westward is Little Campden House, built during the Princess Anne's residence at Campden House: it hens an outer arcaded gallery; and was once occupied by the Right Hon. William Pitt.
Canonbury Place, Islington, was originally the country-house of the Priors of St. Bartholomew. (See CANONBURY TOWER, p. 78.)
"Canonhury House internally is one of the richest specimens of the architecture of James I. in the neighbourhood of London. The house, or rather the remains, form at the present time several large dwelling-houses; including a portion of the old great chamber, with a rich ceiling, date 1599, a quaintly carved oak fireplace, with statuettes of Mars and Venus draped, and a doorway with bust of an old English gentleman and dame, the Roman mouldings and enriched frieze very fine; several other rooms are sumptuously carved, and the parlour retains its original decoration" - C.J. Richardson, F.S.A
Carlisle House, Carlisle-street, Soho-square, formerly the mansion of the Dowager Lady Carlisle, was built temp. James II.: it has a marble-floored hail and grand decorated staircase; the rooms are large and lofty, and have enriched ceilings. The mansion originally stood in the midst of a garden, a portion of which remains in the? rear; the "cherry-garden" is built upon. The lower walls of Carlisle House are of old English; bond, of brilliant red brick; the leadwork of the cistern is dated 1669, the year of time creation of the Earldom of Carlisle. The mansion was long tenanted by Angelo, the fencing-master; also by W. Gibbs Rogers, the carver: and in the ball-room the College of the Freemasons of the Church held their monthly meetings.
"Caxton's House," Westminster, and other old houses in the Almonry, are described at p. 6. The identification of the old Printer's house is very doubtful.
Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate-street, the finest specimen of olden domestic architecture in the metropolis, is described at p. 297.
Drury-lane has the Cock and Magpie, a low public-house of the seventeenth century, with a panelled house next door, and a range of tenements in Drury-court of the same date. These were then the only houses in the eastern part of Drury-lane, except the mansion of the Drurys. Hither the youths and maidens who on May-day danced round the May-pole in the Strand, were accustomed to resort for cakes and ale: Pope has named it the scene of "the high heroic games devised by dulness to gladden her sons." The old public-house is now otherwise occupied.
"Dyott's House," Dyott-street, now George-street, St. Giles's, was the mansion of Richard Dyott, Esq., a vestryman of St. Giles's parish temp. Charles II., and was inhabited till our time by his descendant, Philip Dyott, Esq.
Elizabethan Houses. Among the earliest examples of the Elizabethan period was a house in Grub-street, engraved in Smith's Antiquities, in which the mouldings, quatrefoil, and other Gothic ornaments, were combined with the Italianized panels and brackets of a later date. Malcolm in his Anecdotes, has engraved two Elizabethan houses in Goswell-road, built about 1550, and standing in 1807; with bay-windows, over-hanging upper story, and gable: next door, for contrast, is a house built about 1800, three floors of the former being scarcely equal to two of the latter.
"The roofs (ceilings) of your houses are so low, that I presume your ancestors were very mannerly, and stood bare to their wives, for I cannot discern how they could wear their high-crowned hats." - Sir William Davenant.
Fowler's House, Islington, fronts Cross-street: a ceiling bears thee date 1595: at the extremity of the garden is a lodge, probably built as a summer-house by Sir Thomas Fowler the younger, whose arms and the date 1655 are in time wall. Sir Thomas Fowler the elder, who died 1624, was a juryman on Sir Walter Raleigh's trial.
Fulwood's Rents, Holborn, has a house temp. James I. (See p. 363.)
Gray's-Inn-lane, east side, north end, has three Elizabethan houses, originally nice, and probably a hostelry on the road to Theobalds: its three stories project over each other upward, the top one being of weather-board plastered inside, and the roof having four pointed gables: at the ends of the first and second stories are carved brackets, one dated 1559.
Grub-street. In Sweedon's passage, Grub-street, was an ancient timber-built house, traditionally the residence of Sir Richard Whittington, temp. Henry IV.; and of Sir Thomas Gresham, temp. Elizabeth. The massive timbers were oak and chestnut, the ground-floor chimneys being of stone: it had a boldly projecting staircase, which, with the house, was taken down in 1805, and three small houses were built upon its site, one inscribed "Gresham House, once the residence of Sir Richard Whittington, Lord Mayor 1406, rebuilt 1805." (See Smith's Ancient Topography.)
Holborn. In the volume of MS. drawings by John Thorpe, preserved in Sir John Soane's Museum, is a sketch of a wooden house described as standing in Thorpe's time at the "water end of Holborn."
"From the garden you ascend by five steps the enclosed terrace in front of the building; this has, as Thorpe expresses it, a 'terrace overhead:' a small porch leads into the great hall. The kitchen is on the right; the larder is the small square room leading out of it. The small room in front on the same side as the kitchen, is the buttery, with cellar under, the small steps conducting down to it. Above the hail is 'the great chamber,' the staircase leading to which opens into a gallery communicating to the rooms of the rest of the building. The square compartments at the back of the house, represented in plan as staircase and harder, are carried up above the roof as turrets; a small prospect tower is placed in front of the building." - C.J.Richardson, F.S.A.
Holland House, Kensington, is described at pp. 431-433.
Hoxton. A few years since there stood in Hoxton Old Town the reputed "oldest house in the metropolis," in taking down which was found a brick dated above 150 years back; but most of the bricks were of a much earlier period, being deep-red and highly glazed: the door was beautifully carved with the oak and vine, &c. The Parliamentary Survey, No. 78, as reported in Sir H. Ellis's History of Shoreditch, of which Hoxton is one of the divisions, states that about this spot, during the Interregnum, a house was in the possession of Charles Stuart, some time King of England, in 1653, which was valued at 4l. per annum.
Kennington Manor-house, a portion of the royal lodging built of brick upon part of the site of the old palace near Kennington-cross, exists to this day. Its last royal tenant was Charles I., when Prince of Wales, Kennington having been an occasional residence of the Kings of England prior to the Conquest. The manor was annexed to the Duchy of Cornwall, temp. Edward III., and was tenanted by the Black Prince. John of Gaunt took refuge here in 1377 from the exasperated Londoners. Henry VII. and Katherine of Arragon resided here; and James I. settled the manor on Henry Prince of Wales, his eldest son; and upon his decease, 1612, on Prince Charles, afterwards Charles I. The stables of the earlier palace, built of flint and stone, and known as the Long Barn, remained till 1795; and fragments of flint, chalk, and rubble-stone walls of the ancient palaces are traceable in houses in Park-place.
Kensington house, nearly opposite the palace-gates, was the residence of the Duchess of Portsmouth, the French mistress of Charles II. Here Elphinstone, the friend of Jortin, Franklin, and Johnson, kept a school from 1776 till 1788: he is unsparingly ridiculed in Smollett's Roderick Random. The mansion was next a Roman Catholic boarding-house, where Mrs. Inchbald, the player and novelist, died in 1821. Colby House, facing the Palace-road gates, was built about 1720, for Sir Thomas Colby: it has a painted grand staircase with Herculaneum ceiling, and a small chapel. Kensington National Schools, a stately pile of brickwork, west of the church, were built by Sir John Vanbrugh, who "is singularly fortunate in this design, his lines presenting a restrained degree of civil architecture, in the middle class of uprights" (John Carter). Here are costumed figures of a charity boy and girl of the last century.
Hale House, Earl's-court, traditionally thee residence of Oliver Cromwell, long remained dilapidated and desolate; but retained a few seventeenth-century decorations. Near thee West London Cemetery is Coleherne House, temp. Charles I., the property of Sir William Lister; next of Gen. Lambert, the first President of Cromwell's Council.; and in 1820, of the widow of Major-Gen. Sir W. Ponsonby, who fell at Waterloo.
Lindsey House, Chelsea, west of the old church, was built by Bertie, Earl of Lindsey, upon the site of the mansion of Sir Theodore Mayerne, physician to James I. and Charles I. In 1751 Lindsey House was purchased by the United Brethren, or Moravians, whose Bishop, Count Zinzendorf, died here in 1760: in the rear of the house is a burial-ground for the Brethren, with a small chapel; but their only place of worship in London is the chapel in Fetter-lane (see p. 220). Lindsey House is now five residences: the central one was tenanted by Sir I. K. Brunel and Son, and Bramah, the engineers; and next inhabited by John Martin, the epic painter, who in a summerhouse in the garden executed a fine fresco.
Lindsey House, on the centre of the west side of Lincoln's-inn-fields, was built by Inigo Jones for the above Bertie, Earl of Lindsey, and was for some time the residence of the proud Duke of Somerset: it has a handsome stone fa?ade, and lead formerly vases upon the open balustrade. At the south-west angle of Lincoln's-inn-fields is Portsmouth House, built in Inigo Jones's rich style for the Earl of Portsmouth, but now let in chambers. It gives name to Portsmouth-street, where is the Black-Jack public-house, frequented by Joe Miller, and long known as "the Jump," from Jack Sheppard's leaping from one of its first-floor windows, to escape his pursuers.
Little Moorfields, No. 23, was formerly the King's Arms public-house, with a plaster front richly wrought with flowers, and, a pair of large scrolls surmounted with the Ionic volute. In London Wall was a house-front, temp. Charles I., enriched with groups of foliage aced figures, and engraved in Lester's Illustrations, 1818.
Long-lane, Smithfield, has a few houses remaining of Elizabethan date; and Cloth Fair has relies of this and a later period.
Marylebone Manor-house, attached to the Royal Park, was built temp. Henry VIII., and was a palace of Mary and Elizabeth. Here, about 1703, was established a school of great repute; the interior had a beautiful saloon and gallery, in which private concerts were given. The house, which stood at the top of High-street, nearly opposite the old church;, was taken down in 1791. South of the Manor-house site was Oxford House, built especially for the Library and MSS. (Harleian) of the Earl of Oxford, now in the British Museum.
Milborn's Almshouses, Crutched Friars, were built of brick and timber, in 1535, by Sir John Milborn, lord mayor in 1521, for thirteen aged poor men and their wives, of the Drapers' Company. Over the Tudor gateway was sculptured in stone the Assumption, the Virgin supported by six angels. The Almshouses were taken down in 1862.
Newcastle House, at the north-west angle of Lincoln's-inn-fields, has beneath its south wing an arcade over the southern footway of Great Queen-street. It was originally Powis House, built for the Marquis of Powis, about 1686, by Captain Wil1mm Winde, a scholar of Webbe, a pupil of Inigo Jones. It was bought by Holles, Duke of Newcastle, and inherited by his nephew, who led the Pelham administration under George II.
"Old City of London Workhouse," Bishopsgate-street Without, the first workhouse built in London, dates from 1680: in the court-room is a portrait of Sir Robert Clayton, the first governor. The house was originally partitioned into the steward's side, for poor children; and the keeper's side, for "rogues and vagabonds."
Post-office, Lombard-street, formerly the General Post-office, was originally built by "the great banquer," Sir Robert Viner, on the site of a noted tavern destroyed in the Great Fire. Here Sir Robert kept his mayoralty in 1675. Strype describes it as is very large and curious dwelling, with a handsome paved court, and behind it "a yard for stabling and coaches."
Queen-street, Lincoln's-inn-fields, has on the south side some early brick houses, built by Inigo Jones and his pupil Webbe; those on the south being charged with the fleur-de-lis, in compliment to Queen Henrietta-Maria, daughter of Henry IV. of France, after whom the street was named: it was said to have been designed for a square, and built at the charge of the Jesuits on the site of the common path which anciently separated Aldewych Close from the northern division of Aldewych, extending to Holborn. The street was originally entered from the west by "the Devil's Gap," a narrow passage; altered 1765.
"In the last century Queen-street was the residence of many people of rank. Among others was Conway House, the residence of the noble family of that name; Paulet House, belonging to the Marquis of Winchester; and the house in which Lord Herbert of Cherbury finished his romantic career. The fronts of certain houses, possibly of those of others of the nobility, are distinguished by brick pilasters and rich capitals." -Pennant.
Howel writes to Lord Herbert, 13th; July, 1646: "God send you joy of your new habitation, for I understand your Lordship is removed from the King's-street to the Queen's." - Familiar Letters.
Here lived Sir Thomas Fairfax, the Parliamentary general, when he took possession of Holland House, Kensington. Also, Sir Godfrey Kneller; Hudson, Sir Joshua Reynolds's master; and Sir Robert Strange, the engraver. Lord Herbert's house is near the east corner of Great Wild-street. Another of Howel's Familiar Letters is addressed "To the R. H. the Earl Rivers, at his house in Queen-street."
"May 26th, 1671. The Earl of Bristol's House, in Queen-street, Lincoln's-inn-fields, was taken for the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, and furnished with rich hangings of the Kings. It consisted of seven rooms on a floor, with a long gallery, gardens, &c." -Evelyn's Diary.
Schomberg House, Pall Mall, Nos. 81 and 82, south side, was built about 1650, when Pall Mall was planted with 140 elm-trees, "standing in a very regular and decent manner on both sides of the walk;" and the above house is described as "a fair mansion enclosed with a garden." In 1660, at the Restoration, it was occupied by several Court favourites; and subsequently by Edward Griffin, Treasurer of the Chamber, and ancestor of the present Lord Braybrooke. In 1670 Schomberg House and the adjoining mansions had gardens which extended to St. James's Park, and had earthmen mounds or terraces, from which was a view over the green walks to thee Palace.
Next door, on the site of the present No. 79 (tenanted by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts), lived Nell Gwvn, after her removal from a house at the east end of the north side of Pall Mall. Evelyn records a walk made March 2, 1671, in which he attended Charles II. through St. James's Park, where he both saw and heard "a familiar discourse between the King and Mrs. Nellie, as they called an impudent comedian, she looking out of her garden on a terrace at the top of the wall, and the King standing on the green walk under it." Part of the terrace or mound on which Nelly stood may still be seen under the park wall of Marlborough House; and among Mr. Robert Cole's Nell Gwyn papers, now dispersed (bills sent to Nelly for payment), there is a charge for this very mound. (Cunningham's Story of Nell Gwyn, p. 119.) Timis scene has been admirably painted by E. M. Ward, RA.
Here lived the Duke of Schomberg, who was killed at the Battle of thee Boyne, 1690, and alter whom the house is named. It was beautified for Frederick, third and last Duke of Schomberg, for whom Peter Berchett painted the grand staircase with landscapes in lunettes. In 1699, the house had nigh been demolished by a mob of disbanded soldiers; and in the Gordon riots of 1780, attempts were made to sack and burn it. William, Duke of Cumberland, the hero of Culloden, took the house in 1760. John Astley, the painter and "the Beau," who lived here many years, partitioned the mansion into three, and placed the bas-relief of Painting above the middle doorway. Astley also built on thee roof a large painting-room, his "country-house," looki;mg over the Park, to which and some other apartments he had a private staircase. After Astley's death, Cosway the portrait-painter tenanted the centre. Gainsborough occupied the west wing from 1777 to 1788, when he died in a second-floor room: he sent for Sir Joshua Reynolds, and was reconciled to him; and then exclaiming, "We are all going to heaven, and Vandyke is of the company," he immediately expired. Part of the house was subsequently occupied by Robert Bowyer for his "Historic Gallery;" and by Dr. Graham, the empiric, for his "Celestial Bed" and other impostures, advertised by two gigantic porters stationed at the entrance, in gold-laced cocked heats and liveries. The house was a good specimen of the red-brick seventeenth-century mansion. It was partly occupied by Payne and Foss, with their valuable stock of old books, until 1850. The eastern wing of the old mansion has been taken down, and rebuilt in Italian style, but incongruously, for the War Department.
Shaftesbury House, originally Thanet House, on the east side of Aldersgate-street, was built by Inigo Jones for the Tuftons, Earls of Thanet; whence it pressed into the family of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury. In 1708 it returned to the Thanet family; in 1720, became an inn; in 1734, a tavern; 1750, a Lying-in-Hospital : and in 1819, a Dispensary. The fa?ade is of reel brick, decorated with eight pilasters, but painted stone colour. Nearly opposite was London House, originally Peter House, of handsome brick: it was the town-mansion of the Bishop of London after the Great Fire of 1666.
Southwark retained in High-street some of its olden house-fronts, almost to the rebuilding of London Bridge. In 1830 were removed two houses with enriched pilaster decoration and armorial ensigns of the sixteenth century; and the writer witnessed about 1809, the demolition of a long range of wood and plaster and gable-fronted houses on thee west side of High-street.
"The Spanish Ambassador's House," eastward of Houndsditch, in Gravel-lane, was taken down in 1814. This was one of the "garden-houses," which Stow describes as built amidst "fair hedgerows of chive-trees, with bridges and easie stiles to pass over into the pleasant fields." More therein a century later Strype adds: "There was a house on the west side, a good way in the lane, which, when I was a boy, was commonly called The Spanish Ambassador's House, who, in King James's reign, dwelt here; and he, I think, was the famous Count Gondomar." The house was built temp. James I., in a courtyard, with; a fine gateway, upon a flight of steps, approached by "Seven-Step Alley:" it had three stories, with pilasters between the windows, the lower rooms were oak-panelled, and had richly-carved fireplaces and stucco ceilings; and on the first floor was a large chamber, with an elaborately-traceried ceiling in Italian taste, charged with Latin mottoes, and the arms of the founder, Robert Shaw, and those of time Vintners' Company, of which he was master: here, too, was a superb fireplace, of coloured marbles and carved oak (see Archer's Vestiges, part v.).
Staple Inn, Holborn, has three overhanging stories, the upper one within four pointed gables; the ground-floor has modern shop-fronts, but the central arched entrance to the Inn has the original term pilasters of thee Jacobean style.
Star Chamber and Exchequer-buildings, the, stood on the eastern side of New Palace-yard; and adjoining northward was an arched gateway (Henry III.), communicating by stairs with the Thames. These buildings, bay-windowed and gabled, were taken down between 1807 and 1836; the last remaining were the offices for trials of the Pix, and printing Exchequer bills. In an apartment here the Court of Star Chamber sat from temp. Elizabeth until its abolition, 1641: over the doorway was the date 1602, E. R. and an open rose on a star. It head a richly-carved Tudor-Gothic oak ceiling, with moulded compartments, roses, pomegranates, portcullises, and fleurs-de-lis; and it had been guilt and coloured, though it had not a trace of gilt stars. The mantelpiece was decorated with fluted columns, and the chimney-opening was a Tudor arch. Drawings of the whole were made in 1836. Behind the Elizabethan panelling were found three Tudor-arched doorways, and under the staircase a Gothic wood-hole entrance, its spandrels ornamented with roses; proving this to have been the original Camera Stellata, newly fitted temp. Elizabeth. The panelling of the Chamber has been removed to a room at Leasowe Castle, Shropshire, the seat of the Hon. Sir Edward Cust; here, too, is "the Dosel, a screen of ornamental woodwork, at the back of the chair of state." -Sir Bernard Burke's Visitations of Seats and Arms, vol. ii. p. 126, 1853.
St. Mary Axe- A four-storied Tudor Louse, opposite the church of St. Andrew's Undershaft was taken down in 1864: it had three overhanging floors, the front was entirely of wood and plaster, not unpicturesque; and it had some finely-panelled oak apartments. Nearly opposite this house was erected on May morning "the great Shaft of Cornhill," as the street was then called.
The Strand retains a few old house-fronts: as west of the Adelphi Theatre; rend immediately east of Strand-lane are three houses of the reign of Charles I., retaining a few of their classic mouldings, cornices, and window pediments.
Tradescant's House, South Lambeth-road, a large brick edifice, nearly opposite Spring-lane, was the residence of the Tradescants, father and son; and of Elias Ashmole, who "added a noble room to it, and adorned the chimney with his arms, impaling those of Sir William Dugdale, whose daughter was his third wife." The house, with its museum, was called "Tradescant's Ark." (See GARDENS, p 368)
Warwick House, Clothe Fair, Smithfield, built temp. Elizabeth, was bought with the Priory of St. Bartholomew, and the right to hold the Fair, by Sir Robert Rich, in 1544, and devolved to his descendants, the Earls of Warwick and Holland; whence that "uproarious rabblement," called Lady Holland's Mob, which assembled on the eve of St. Bartholomew in mock proclamation of the Fair.
Weather-boarded house-fronts, in part plastered, are of old date: there was, until 1853, a row of these wood tenements on the east side of Milford-lane, Strand; and up a passage in Bell-yard, Fleet-street, a little north-west of a house temp. Charles I., is a square court entirely of weather-board and plaster, bespeaking the inflammable nature of London before thee Great Fire.
Winchester-street, Old Broad-street, the most curious specimen of ancient domestic architecture to be found in the City, disappeared in 1865. It occupied the site of the gardens of the Priory of St. Augustine. Part of the house which the Marquis of Winchester built here still remains. Pinners' Hall, an old building at the upper end of Princes'-court, in Winchester-street, was also part of the Augustine Priory; and was converted into a glasshouse before it became the property of the Pinmakers' Company, and, with its gabled house-fronts and ancient air, was rendered still more curious in contrast with the magnificent edifices and the great railway works around it. Some of the old shops, without fronts, in this street were very remarkable. During time removal were dug up some remains which carry us far beyond the Priory occupancy - as a piece of Samian ware and part of a well-wrought bone stylus; and an iron knife, or perhaps a Roman razor, almost exactly like that engraved in Mr. Roach Smith's Catalogue, p. 72.
Several examples of Old London Houses are engraved and described in the Builder, Nos. 486, 489, 494, and 515.
John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867