London, Volume 6
CXXXII.--Houses of the Old Nobility.
CXXXII.--Houses of the Old Nobility.
The stranger will seek in vain in London for palaces of the nobility, such as abound in Rome, Florence, and Naples-structures which bespeak their patrician ownership, and have each a history of its own as old almost, and as full of matter, as the city of which it forms a part. Equally vain will be the search of the amateur of gossiping memoirs and letters of literary men and women, or their patrons, for hotels like those of Paris, which have been the scene of world-famous petit-soupers, and other intellectual re-unions. The shadow of the royal tree prevented the aristocracy of England from bourgeoning into such exuberant rankness as the aristocracies of the Italian cities; and the high billows of popular wealth and independence, surging around and submerging their old civic mansions, prevented them from becoming landmarks of history.--Something, too, must be attributed to the rural tastes of the English aristocracy; or perhaps the very causes alluded to helped to create these rural tastes. King Jamie, of blessed memory, need not have been so desperately anxious to convince the magnates of the land that they were much greater men on their own estates than in London. The power of the Crown, and still more the power of its ministers generally, selected from the gentry or younger nobility, on the hand, and the shouldering of the mob on the other, have kept them sensitively alive to it. In short, whatever the cause, London is, less than the capital of any other country, the
| place where the power and prestige of the nobility are conspicuously displayed. The aristocracy of England have always been inclined to hold with the old Douglas, that
Scattered, however, through the multitudinous habitations of London there are a few aristocratic mansions to which associations of social or public history do cling; and accidental circumstances--such as the name of a street or court--recall the memory of others which have long been swept away, enabling us to trace the gradual westwardly migrations of the nobility.
In the earlier periods of our history a good many of the nobility appear to have possessed residences in the City. A nobleman, who stood well with the citizens, might not unfrequently find such a mansion a more secure abode than his strongest castle, on hill or on the open plain. There was policy, too, in retaining these civic abodes: it enabled their noble owners to flatter the Londoners by affecting to call themselves citizens. These city residences of the aristocracy appear to have been frequently occupied so late as the wars of the Roses. Many of them remained in the possession of their families as late as the Revolution of , and their sites are in some instances possibly still retained by their descendants. Nay, as late as the reign of Charles II. they had not been entirely evacuated by their titled occupants: some old-fashioned dames and dowagers, some old-world lords, still nestled in the walls peopled with the shadowy memories of their ancestors.
It would require a big book to trace all the lordly mansions within the City walls, and their histories: a few only of the more interesting can be here noticed as specimens.
In , at the south end of , there stood in a house built of stone and timber, then appertaining to Lord Windsor, and bearing his name. This building had been in olden times known as
In the of Richard II. it was found by inquisition of a jury, that Elizabeth Neville died, seized of a great messuage, in the parish of St. Olave, in , in London, holden of the king in free burgage, which she held of the gift of John Neville of Raby, her husband. The house continued in the possession of the Nevilles, at least until the year of Henry VI., when Ralph Neville, Earl of Westmoreland, died, seized of
in the parish of St. Olave, in Farringdon ward,
The Nevilles owned also another London residence--the great old house called
near the Church of St. Mary Bothaw, on the east side of Dowgate Street. Edward III. granted this messuage to of the family of Scrope: its last proprietor of that name, in the reign of Henry IV., gave it for life to his brother Ralph, Earl of Westmoreland. Richard, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker, inherited the mansion, and retained possession of it till he fell in Barnet Field. George Duke of Clarence, the hero of the Malmsey-butt, obtained a grant of the house from Parliament in right of his wife Isabell, daughter of the Earl of Warwick. Richard III. appears to have taken possession of it; for, in his reign, it was called the , and a ledger-book of that King shows that it was occupied for him by Ralph Darnel, a yeoman of the crown. On the death of Richard it was restored to Edward, son of the Duke of Clarence, in whose hands it remained till his attainder in the of Henry VII.
It appears, from an entry in the Archiepiscopal Registers of , that
|when the king-making Warwick had his town-house in Dowgate Street, Ciccly, the dowager Duchess of York, resided in the parish of Parva, , united since the great fire, to the parish of St. Benedict. The register referred to states, that on the , the archbishops, prelates, and nobles, who were nominated executors of Edward IV., met in the Duchess's house, in the parish above mentioned, to issue a commission for the care and sequestration of the royal property. This is the only mention known to exist of the Duchess's city-house. It is curious, and worthy of note, that the will under which this assembly acted is not known to exist: some writers have conjectured that it was intentionally destroyed during the reign of Richard III.
Crosby House was occupied about the same time by the Duke of Gloucester, who continued to reside there as Lord Protector before he assumed the kingly title. Some of his retainers were lodged in the suburbs beyond Cripplegate, as appears from the following passage in Sir Thomas More's
A palace, built of stone, is said to have stood in old times at the end of Crooked Lane, facing in the direction of what is now Monument Yard; and here tradition says Edward the Black Prince had his residence.
Great and Little Winchester Streets, in ward, occupy the site of Winchester House and gardens, but that mansion belongs to a later period. It was built by Sir William Paulet, created Earl of Wilts and Marquis of Winchester, who was Lord High Treasurer under Edward VI. The ground was a grant made to the Marquis, when Lord St. John, by Henry VIII., of part of the foundation of Fryars Eremites of St. Augustine, settled there in . Lord Winchester pulled down the east end of the Augustine friars' church to obtain room for his own mansion. The steeple and choir were left standing and inclosed; and in they were let to the Dutch nation in London, as their preaching-place. , in the same ward, occupies the site of a house and garden, the property of the Earls of Arundel, and purchased from the Earl then living, by Sir William Petty, in the reign of Charles II.
The ward of Castle Baynard was thickly studded in old times with noblemen's houses. The royal mansion designated
probably constituted the centre of attraction, and gathered
of those days around it. This house, which bore the name of the King's Wardrobe as early as the of Edward III., was built and inhabited by Sir John de Beauchamp, Knight of the Garter, Constable of Dover and Warden of the Cinque Ports, son of Guido de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick. Sir John dying in , the house
|was sold to the king by his executors, and from that time the property of it remained in the Crown. Richard III. resided here a short time, in the year of his reign. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was occupied by Sir John Fortescue, Master of the Wardrobe, Chancellor and Under-Treasurer of . The secret letters and writings touching the estate of the realm were wont to be enrolled in the King's Wardrobe, and not in Chancery.
Among the residences of the nobility clustering round the Wardrobe, in addition to the house of Cicely, Duchess of York, noticed above, were-. a large house originally called Beaumont's Inn, belonging to the family of that name, in the of Edward III. It afterwards fell into the hands of the Crown, and Edward IV. in the of his reign gave it to his, Chamberlain, William Lord Hastings, from whom it descended to the Earls of Huntingdon, and being occupied by that family as a town residence, was known in the time of Henry VIII. by the name of Huntingdon House; . Near St. was another great house, called Scrope's Inn, which belonged to that family in the of Henry VI.; . The Bishop of London's Palace stood on the north-west side of ; the Abbey of Fescamp, in Normandy, possessed a messuage between Baynard's Castle and , which, having been seized by Edward III., was by that prince granted to Sir Simon Burleigh, and afterwards called Burleigh House; the Prior of Okeborn (in Wiltshire) had his lodging in , but the priory, being of a foreign order, was suppressed by Henry V., who gave this messuage to his college in Cambridge, now called .
But a more celebrated building than any of these was Castle Baynard itself, from which the ward derives its name. It was built by Baynard, a follower of the Conqueror. After his death the castle was held in succession by Geffrey and William Baynard. The latter lost the honour of Baynard's Castle by forfeiture, in . It was then granted by King Henry to Robert Fitz-Richard, son of Gilbert, Earl of Clare, and came by hereditary succession, in , into the possession of Robert Fitzwater. This Robert played a conspicuous part in the Barons' wars in the time of King John; and the guilty love of that monarch for Fitzwater's daughter, the fair Matilda, is of the legends with which the struggle for Magna Charta has been adorned or disfigured--the reader may choose the epithet which pleases him best. On the , another Robert Fitzwater acknowledged his service to the City of London for his Castle of Baynard, before Sir John Blunt, Lord Mayor of London. Stow has recorded the rights ceded by the Commonalty of London in return to Robert Fitzwater as their Chatelain and Banner-bearer. These consisted of a certain limited jurisdiction within his hereditary Soke or Ward of Castle Baynard, and the following privileges and authority in time of war :
These rights continued in the possession of successors of Robert Fitzwater; how or when the family lost them does not appear. In (the of Henry VI.) a great fire happened at Castle Baynard: it was re-built by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in whose possession it continued till his death. By the Duke's death and attainder it came to Henry VI.; and from him to the Duke of York, who occupied it as his own house in . When the Earls of March and Warwick entered London in , the former took up his abode in his paternal mansion of Baynard's Castle; there it was that he received the intimation of the resolution of the Londoners, convened by Warwick in Field, to have him for their King; and there he summoned a great council of all the Bishops, Lords, and Magistrates, in and about London. Richard III. took upon him the kingly title in Baynard's Castle. Henry VII. repaired and embellished it--rather as a palace than a fortress--and resided there with his Queen in the , eighteenth, and years of his reign. The castle came afterwards into the possession of the Earls of Pembroke. The last great business of state transacted within its walls was by the council which had previously proclaimed
| Lady Jane Grey, meeting there, and resolving to proclaim the Lady Mary Queen; moved thereto either by some new light as to the better title of Henry's daughter, or by seeing that the majority of the nation was on her side. Was it as a reward for lending his house to this meeting that the Common Council, in the and of Philip and Mary,
We might go on for many pages to show how the houses of the nobility were sprinkled over the surface of the City of London, while barons were barons; before the wars of the Roses had so effectually weeded them, that the few who remained, and the mushroom race which sprung up to fill their vacant places, were cropped, by the topiarian art of Henry VII., into forms beseeming the
of a constitutional monarchy. The banner-bearer of the City, with the nobles who held messuages within the walls,
along with the lordly Abbots and Prelates, like the Prior of Trinity, who, in virtue of his office, was Alderman of the Soke or Ward of Portsoken, on the hand, and the Mayor and other corporate dignities on the other, formed connecting links between the barons of the realm and the
An alliance, offensive and defensive, was contracted between a portion of the nobility and the City: the metropolis became an , with a nobility and commonalty of its own; and the experience of the wars of the Roses showed that London was England--that the master of the former was master also of the latter.
This circumstance lends an air of greater likelihood to the traditionary pranks of Prince Hal in . There is a legend of a frolicsome excursion of Charles II. to the environs of or , but that was like her present Majesty's trip to the Chateau d'Eu, an exceptional case. The difficulty has been to conceive a Prince habitually resorting to the taverns of the City. That difficulty is removed when we see that a great number of the nobility resided in the City; that even royalty took up its abode within the walls. The City was then what is now: and wild Prince Hal ranged about the former as the wild sons of George III. are shown by the records of Parliamentary Committees, Courts of Justice, and the equally veracious pages of
and columns of the newspapers, to have ranged about the latter. Nay, Harry Prince of Wales was no more the solitary scapegrace of his family than George Prince of Wales, though Shakspere has made Falstaff call Prince John of Lancaster a
Stow is our witness. Speaking of the year , the th of Henry IV., at which time
he informs us, in connection with a previous statement of friendly entertainments being made in
that the King's sons, Thomas and John,
For this interference the Mayor, Aldermen, and Sheriffs were cited to appear before the King,
Gascoigne, the Chief-Justice, advised the citizens
but they replied
continues the historian,
A new world came up with Henry VII. There was now a King in Israel, and both Lords and citizens were forced by him to take their due places in the Commonwealth, as some of these Lords and the same citizens were mainly instrumental in making his descendants do centuries later. The City, however, especially its west-end, the portions of Baynard's Castle, and the neighbouring Blackfriars, continued to be a fashionable quarter for some centuries after Henry VII. But even before this, a taste for suburban villas had sent the aristocracy in different directions in search of new sites and country air. To the east there was little attraction: the marshes of the Lea were in too close proximity, and in those days, even more than in the present, the Essex Marsh fevers were no joke. To the north-east Finsbury was then a great fen. Some sought to plant themselves northwards in the direction of , and some on the banks of the Oldbourne (now the sewer of ); but the far greater number affected the line of
and, combining rurality with courtliness, perched themselves midway between the City and the Court, for even in those days, the Palace of was
though not to the same extent as after and St. James's were appropriated by the Sovereign.
The prelates, a pursy and short-breathed generation, were the to set the example of flying from the City smoke. Along and the line of , and , their
were frequent at an early period. Thomas Hatfield, Bishop of Durham, about the year , built a house to serve as a City mansion for himself and his successors, near to where now abuts upon . Contiguous to on the west, was from an early period the City residence of the Bishops of Norwich, purchased in by the Archbishop of York, for himself and his successors. A little to the east of a small water-course ran down from the fields, and was crossed in the line of by a bridge, called Strand Bridge. On the south-east side of this stream stood the City Mansion of the Bishop of Llandaff, and west of the bridge were the residences of the Bishops of Chester and Worcester. , in , occupies the site purchased in from the Prior and Canons of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, by Walter, Bishop of Exeter, who erected a mansion on it for himself and his successors. The Palace of the Bishops of Bath occupied the site of the present Arundel and Norfolk Streets. William de Luda, Bishop of Ely, who died in , bequeathed his manor, on the north side of , to his successors, upon condition that his next successor should pay towards the finding of chaplains in the chapel there. The residence of the Bishops of Salisbury was at the west end of ; that of the Bishops of St. David's at the east end.
Even at that early age we can trace the palaces of the lay dignitaries mingling with those of the prelates, but it is not till after the wealth and power of the church had been shorn by the Reformation, that the former came to preponderate. From the time of Elizabeth downward to the Revolution in we find mansions of the nobility in the region now under review, superseding the palaces of the prelates and shouldering them out of sight.
Of some of the houses appertaining to the dignified clergy, the nobility who rose with the Reformation, whether of new families or old, obtained possession by avowed grants of confiscated property from the Crown. Others they acquired by
but the new bishops of those days were in no case to drive hard bargains with the court favourites who invited them to barter. The way in which good part of the property attached to Ely House changed masters in the time of Elizabeth is no bad sample of the way in which such transfers were made. At her Majesty's request, Bishop Cox
(says a MS. case for the Bishop of Ely in the Harleian Collection),
This lease was confirmed by the Dean and Chapter of Ely; but in the following year, in consequence of some doubts of its validity, Bishop Cox granted all the above property, in fee, to the Queen herself, her heirs and assigns, yet with a clause of resumption, either by himself or his successors, on payment of the sum of , which had been expended by Hatton on the premises. About months afterwards (), her Majesty, by her Letters Patent, consigned this estate to Sir Christopher Hatton, to hold of the manor of East Greenwich. In the reign of Charles I. proceedings were instituted by Matthew Wren, Bishop of Ely, for the recovery of this estate; and the Court of Requests, in , decided that the Bishop had a right to redeem the premises; but soon afterwards Wren was committed to the Tower, and the nullified the proceedings of the Court, and dismissed the cause. After the Restoration, Bishop Wren, who had been reinstated in his diocese, exhibited a bill in Chancery against the then Lord Hatton and others for the redemption of the premises; but no decision could be obtained either by him or his successors, until at length, in the reign of Queen Anne, Bishop Patrick agreed to terminate this long protracted suit, by leaving the property in the possession of the then occupants, on condition that per annum should be settled on the see of Ely in perpetuity.
The case of is still more gross, as related by Stow; that favourite child of the proud Protector, Somerset, swallowed up it is hard to say how many episcopal residences, churches, etc, &c.
There is something Homeric in the pains-taking detail with which each tenement is described, and then, after the mind has been duly impressed by this tedious process with the importance of each, they are merged together by a rapid recapitulation, solely for the purpose of showing them swept away to make room for the princely palace of the proud Protector. And, after all, this enumeration conveys but an inadequate idea of the dilapidation effected by Somerset. Spelman says that neither the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry nor the Bishop of Llandaff had any recompense for their destroyed palaces: the Bishop of Worcester, who had been chaplain to Somerset, was glad to put up with a house in White Friars. Besides the palaces above-mentioned, several other buildings were pulled down to supply materials for the erection of . Among others were the nave, aisles, and bell-tower of the Priory Church of St. John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell; the chapel called Pardon Church Haugh, or Hawe, on the north side of , with the cloisters surrounding it (except the east side), in which was painted Macabee's, or Machabree's,
a chapel founded by Walter Sheryngton, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and a Canon of in the reign of Henry VI., near the north door of the same cathedral; and the contiguous charnel house and chapel on the same side, which was probably of very early foundation. Stow says (quoting Reginald Wolfe as his authority in the margin) that the bones of the dead, which had been
The indignation which this heartless and indecent violation of the sepulchre excited in the public mind was made of the means of accelerating Somerset's downfall. The space for his palace was levelled in ; in the October of that
| year he was proclaimed by the Lords of the Privy Council; and in -, he was beheaded on . The house devolved to the Crown, of which it has ever since remained an appanage. It has, however, been so tenacious of its founder's name, in tie quaint words of Fuller,
Could the walls of the old have spoken they might have unfolded many a strange tale. In Elizabeth's time it was assigned at different periods for the reception of foreign ambassadors. In Lord Burghley's of this reign, printed at the end of Marsden's
is the following singular passage :--
Anne, the consort of James ., held her court here, which, according to Arthur Wilson,
was afterwards the scene of the bickerings between Charles I. and his new-made wife's French domestics, which elicited from that King a brief and pithy note, often re-printed, to
(the Duke of Buckingham), directing him to dispatch
to France without delay. Oliver Cromwell lay here in state; and here was laid the scene of the tragic romance of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey's murder.
A like fate awaited most of the episcopal residences along after the triumph of Lutheranism. The Inn of the Bishops of Exeter became Paget House, and afterwards Leicester House, and finally Essex House, being the residence of that favourite of Elizabeth, and the covert where he turned to stand at bay. The Inn of the Bishop of Bath became Arundel House. The Inn of the Bishop of Durham passed into the possession of the Beaufort family. The Inn which belonged originally to the Bishops of Norwich, and had been by them transferred to the Archbishops of York, was acquired by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. The water-gate erected for that favourite by Inigo Jones still survives, under the designation of York Stairs, and, with the names of the neighbouring streets, is all that remains to mark the place of the mansion. And what became of the bishops? A curious document, exhibited at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries in , in part answers the question. It is indorsed
and contains a claim for allowance for
in delivering letters, by Queen Elizabeth's command, to several prelates in the year . Thomas Shakespeare states that he found the Bishop of London
the Archbishop of York
the Bishop of Chichester
the Bishop of Durham
and the Bishop of Worcester
The right loyal nobles of England seem to have followed closely the example set them by King Henry VIII., who laid violent hands on , and even to have
Of residences of the nobility, only of any note were not transferences from the bishops-and even these were acquired at the expense of the Church.
In , a patent was granted to John Russell, Earl of Bedford,
This was a modest slice of the church lands the Duke had obtained possession of. On this grant the Earl of Bedford shortly after erected a mansion, principally of wood, for his town residence, near the bottom of what is now called . This building was called Bedford House; it was inclosed with a brick wall, and had a large garden extending northward nearly to the site of the present-market place: it remained till .
, at once the oldest and most aristocratic in its appearance of the existing houses of the nobility, was also erected on ground that had once pertained to the Church. On its site once stood an hospital or chapel of St. Mary, founded in the time of Henry III.; suppressed along with the alien priories by Henry V., but restored for a fraternity by Edward IV. After the dissolution of monasteries, this site was granted by Edward VI. to Thomas Carwardon. The estate afterwards came into the possession of Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton, who erected on it a splendid mansion designated Northampton House. On his death, in , it was inherited by his kinsman, Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk, from whom it received the name of Suffolk House. On the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of Theophilus, Earl of Suffolk, with Algernon Percy, Earl of Northumberland, the mansion passed with the bride into the possession of her husband, and was re-baptised , which name it has since retained. The edifice originally formed sides of a quadrangle, the side remaining open to the Thames. The reputed architect was Bernard Jansen, but the frontispiece to the street has been attributed to Gerard Christmas, who rebuilt Aldersgate, in the reign of James I. The principal apartments were originally on side; but Earl Algernon (who disliked the noise of that crowded thoroughfare) had the quadrangle completed by a side (including the state rooms) towards the river, under the direction of Inigo Jones. Considerable alterations and additions were made by Sir Hugh Smithson, who became a Percy on the decease of Algernon, Duke of Somerset, in -; new wings were annexed to the garden front; the quadrangular court was faced with stone; great part of the northern front was rebuilt, but the central division--the entrance gateway-still exhibits the original work of Gerard Christmas. Other alterations and repairs were made after a fire, which, in , consumed most of the upper rooms on the north side.
has its social and political associations. Evelyn visited it in , and has left in his diary a criticism of the mansion and inventory of the pictures. The collection has been greatly increased since his time, and is now extremely valuable. There is likewise a noble library. Horace Walpole attended a fete here in the reign of the Smithson; his caustic yet brilliant account of it has been quoted in an earlier number of
It was from that Horace sallied with a gay party to pay a visit to the ghost. In General Monk, who had taken up his quarters at , was invited to this house by Earl Algernon; and here, in conference with him and other nobles and gentlemen, some of the measures were concerted which led to the re-establishment of the monarchy. With such
|reminiscences to inspire him, the Northumbrian lion above the gateway might will hold out his tail as stiffly as he does, even if he were not the guardian of the mingled bloods of Smithson and Percy.
|At the corner of and stood Craven House (rebuilt on the site of that of the Druries, the father the friend of Essex, and the son the patron of Donne the poet), the residence of Earl Craven, and the abode also of the daughter of James I., the wife of the unfortunate Elector Palatine, King of Bohemia. On her husband's death she became a dependent on this nobleman who had fought valiantly in her cause, and who, at the restoration, brought his royal mistress here. She died in a few months after her arrival, but the Earl lived till . Portions of the house remained till a comparatively recent period, and a painting of the Earl was preserved on the wall at the bottom of Craven Buildings. The Olympic Theatre now occupies the site on which the house formerly stood.
During the time of Charles I. and the Commonwealth the houses of the nobility were influenced by diverging attractions. On the hand there was the desire to be near , and (which influenced politicians of the lower House as well as those of the upper) to be near the Houses of Parliament. On the other, there was the desire---the necessity with the nobility of the popular party, to keep well with the City. In these unsettled times the City of London, for a brief period, almost entirely re-assumed its ancient importance. It was the treasury of the Commonwealth party, and supplied them with some of their best regiments. Accordingly we find the Parliamentary General-Robert, Earl of
| Warwick, occupying at this time what is still proudly called Warwick House, in the vicinity of Smithfield, though occupied by a shopkeeper. This mansion, though it has now lost all external appearance of antiquity, is believed to have been built in the time of Elizabeth, on ground once belonging to the Priory of St. Bartholomew, purchased by the Earl's ancestor, Sir Robert Rich, from Henry VIII., in , for the sum of The right to continue St. Bartholomew's Fair, as when in possession of the Prior and Convent, was conveyed along with the land. Hence the origin of the title
which used to be bestowed on the uproarious crowd which was wont to congregate on the eve of St. Bartholomew, to
as the French say, in proclaiming the fair. It is strange the influence that property exercises over men: might almost say with more propriety, that they are possessed by it, than that it is possessed by them. Queen Elizabeth was mainly made and kept a
of the reformed Church of England by the necessity of adopting its tenets as the only ones upon which her right to the crown could be argumentatively established; and the nobility whose houses were built on church land were, by their ownership, impelled, reigns later, further than their natural likings would have led them, in the ways of revolution. It is not in fables like those of the Niebelungen alone, that wealth sways the destiny of its seeming master. Even an empty name would seem to have its influence, and the collocation of the words
to be typical and prophetic of the popular tendencies of those who bear the title, through all generations.
Even after the Restoration, when London had again subsided from its temporary and factitious importance, it proved no easy matter to weed the old nobility entirely out, of the City and the liberties. In Aldersgate they were thickly sown, as the name of many a court and blind alley, erected on the sites of their mansions, testifies to this day. In some solitary instances the houses themselves may have survived, though at present the only that dwells in our recollection is Shaftesbury House, now, by the transmutations of Spencer's
converted into a Lying--in Hospital. There was a propriety in an Earl of Shaftesbury residing so close to the City--the old political fox, who, among his other devices, had himself elected alderman at time.
Among those families which lingered longest in the precincts of the City was that of Newcastle, the site of whose mansion, erected where once the Convent of Benedictine Nuns stood in , is still pointed out by the buildings called
The ground on which it was built was alienated by the crown in the time of Edward VI., and came afterwards into the possession of Sir Thomas Challoner, who, if Weever may be believed, built a house in it:--
Challoner died in , From his family the house and grounds passed into the possession of Sir William, afterwards Earl, Marquess, and Duke of Newcastle, distinguished for his loyalty to Charles I. Newcastle House was the residence of singular women. came the right noble Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle, authoress of a multitude of high-flown and most unreadable works; of whose history of her husband Pepys says, that it
and of whose
| self that very husband said,
Next came Elizabeth, Duchess of Albemarle, and afterwards of Montague, an incident in whose life has been dramatised, by Colley Cibber, in
This lady, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Henry, Duke of Newcastle, after the death of her husband, resolved with all the gravity of lunacy, that a lady of her personal charms, mental gifts, and vast estates, was entitled to a royal husband. On this hint Ralph, Duke of Montague, wooed and won her, as Emperor of China. After marriage he played the tyrant to the poor insane creature he had wedded for her property, and kept her in such strict confinement, that her relations compelled him to produce her in open court, to prove that she was alive. She survived him nearly years, and at last
at Newcastle House, in . Till the time of her death she is said to have Empressed it, and to have been constantly served on the knee. The last occupant of Newcastle House, according to Brayley, was
after whose death, about the close of last century, it was demolished.
But even in the heart of the City some of the old nobility continued to linger till the commencement of the eighteenth century. , in the Ward of Bishopsgate, marks the site of a residence of that noble family, inhabited as late as , by a Countess of Devonshire, and frequented by numerous aristocratic visitors.
These, however, were exceptions. Immediately after the Restoration the full tide of aristocratic life set in with a strong current westward. It crossed the valley from Clerkenwell, and straggled along the north of the line. There was , now the , and disappearing by piecemeal as the new and larger buildings, required to contain the continually increasing collections, grow up around it. To this associated itself in time a Bedford House, on the north side of , and a ,
| near where the was afterwards erected.
the gregarious portion of the nobility settled down for a time in and , but even these have long been abandoned through the unaccountable propensity to be, in Wordsworthian phrase,
Even the west end of began in time to be thought too remote. The declivity which shelves down towards was most affected by those who wished to sun themselves in the rays of majesty.
Beginning with the Restoration, and coming down to the present day, the houses of the nobility have gravitated towards St. James's as to a centre, forming concentric semicircles round it. In front there is, or was, Arlington House (where Buckingham Palace now stands); Stafford House (which, destined originally for a scion of royalty, has passed into the hands of a mere nobleman, inverting the order of the other's progress); Marlborough House, the tribute of a nation's gratitude to a successful warrior, and the scene of the magnificent impertinence of his wife and daughters, who, when he quarrelled with Queen Anne, used to show themselves at their windows in on levee-days, in order to denote that they had
(poor Brummell only threatened to cut the Regent!); Schomberg House (which has been cut up into private dwellings); Carlton House (which, like Arlington House, passed into the occupancy of royalty, and has since disappeared) ; Wallingford House (converted into the Admiralty);--Melbourne now Dover House (called, by Sheridan, a
), in which the Duke of York had been incarcerated. Between these and the next semicircle stand, or stood, groups: at the corner of the , consisting of Bridgewater House (recently pulled down), Spencer House, &c.; the other in , Litchfield House (of political notoriety), Norfolk House, &c. The semicircle alluded to may be called the line of , and has been sufficiently noticed in our paper on that street. It begins with the mansion of
and ends with the site of Leicester House, the pouting-place of the Princes of Wales of the Hanoverian line, or perhaps it may be extended down to . Some of these are rich in associations. and among those still existing, and Arlington and Clarendon House among those which have passed away, live in the pages of Pepys and Evelyn. Bath House (near Ashburnham House) is memorable as the seat whence the Tantalus of modern English politics, old Pulteney, looked out upon St. James's; and Apsley House is, in our day, what Marlborough House was in the age of Queen Anne. Almost in a line with the mansions now under consideration is , where Johnson sat
at being made to kick his heels in the antechamber, and burst into a Johnsonian explosion; when Collcy Cibber, issuing from the penetralia of the patron's shrine, showed whose conversation had been preferred to his; and , whose noble owner followed Bentham, when that most
of sages was on a visit to him, to his bedchamber, with the awkward question-
A but more straggling semicircle is formed by Grosvenor House, near , the mansion of the Duke of
|Portland in , and was terminated by Newport and Grafton Houses, near where there is now a market named after the former.
Few of the existing mansions of the nobility differ in their external appearance from those of other wealthy individuals; and their internal arrangements, though sumptuous, are all of a strictly private character. Nothing of the feudal or governing character remains about them to warrant public intrusion. The mansion of a Roman noble is the mansion of a public character--of the princeand, with its halls and galleries, is meant to be public. But the mansion of a British nobleman is the residence of the man, where none but friends are expected or allowed to enter. Some of them, however, do still bear on their front the characteristic stamp of a lordly residence. This has been already remarked of , and applies to , and to the ducal mansion of the Bentincks in . There is an exclusive, almost fortified air about these buildings, as if meant to lodge troops of retainers and: keep the at a distance. They are citadels, into which the may withdraw and secure itself from intrusion. The solidity and almost gloom of the Bentinck mansion, in particular, seems to fit it for being tenanted with--
Spencer House is also remarkable for its architectural pretensions, and Grosvenor House for its combination of sculpture with architectural ornament.