Thursday, 4 June 2015

3 St James's Square

THE MARQUESSES OF DONEGALL WERE MAJOR LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY ANTRIM

ST JAMES'S SQUARE, London, remains one of the most exclusive addresses in the Metropolis.

In the 18th century, seven dukes and three earls had their town residences here.

3 St James's Square, London, was, from 1762-99, the town-house of the 1st Marquess of Donegall, who bought it from Henry, 2nd Viscount Palmerston, in 1770 for £12,000 (£1.6m in today's money).

This town-house was perhaps altered during Lord Donegall's ownership, but there is no documentary evidence of this.

It became vacant in 1772.

If an alteration was made in that year it may have been carried out by 'Capability' Brown, who was at that time building Lord Donegall's country seat in Staffordshire, Fisherwick Park.

Lord Donegall enjoyed an annual income from his 250,000 acre estates of £48,000 in 1797 (£4.5m today).

St James's Square in 1753

Following the 1st Marquess's decease in 1799, the house descended to his younger son, Lord Spencer Chichester, who evidently determined to dispose of it.

In 1800, the house was surveyed by John Soane on behalf of Philip, 3rd Earl of Hardwicke, for whose father he had worked at Wimpole in 1791–3.

A plan was made and Soane reported that the premises were extensive and substantial, with 'very large and low' back rooms.

He suggested that the 'common staircase', being 'steep and confined', should be altered; and that, as there was room for further building, dressing-rooms should be added to the library and to the chamber over it.

Soane thought the house was worth £11,500 as it stood, though a purchaser might have to go to £12,500; and that needful repairs and additions would cost a further £3,500.

From 1801, Lord Hardwicke appeared as the ratepayer for Number 3, though his purchase of the house was delayed, perhaps by his appointment, in March 1801, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

The purchase was, in the end, made for only £10,500.


The present building (above) is a 1930s office-block.

The 3rd Marquess's town residence was at 25 Grosvenor Square from 1857 until 1883.

First published in March, 2010.  Donegall arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

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