Stair Parts Fig. 118 South or Principal front of Albemarle House
Lord Chancellor Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, built a fine house during the heyday of his prosperity, on a site in Piccadilly, opposite the top of St James's Street (Stair Parts Fig. 118). It was highly extolled by Evelyn !especially- when writing to Lord Cornbury, the chancellor's eldest .son), and after him by Pepys, who went to sae it, ' hearing so much from Mr Evelyn of it." He declared it to be the finest pile he ever (lid see, and on a subsequent visit he climbed with some trouble to the top, and there found the noblest prospect that ever he saw, Greenwich being nothing to it. The engraving hardly bears out this extravagant praise for the design of the Grand Staircase and carved stair parts, but it must have been a stately house. The architect was Roger Pratt, afterwards knighted, another of the men whom the great fire appears to have brought into the service of architecture. Fvelvn mentions him more than once ; he was a fellow coin missioner of his in the inquiry as to, the rebuilding of St Paul's, and Evelyn had met him years before in Italy. The house was begun in 1664, and was approaching completion in November 1666. But misfortune dogged it from the outset. The populace, with whom Clarendon was no favourite, dubbed it Dunkirk Mouse, in allusion to his supposed connection with the sale of that town to the French. The chancellor occupied it but a single year before he fled the country ; his son occupied it for another year or two, and it was then let on lease to the Duke of Ormond. After Clarendon's death at the end of 16i4, it was sold to the second Duke of :Albemarle, and became known as Albemarle House ; 11e again sold it some three years later to a kind of building syndicate, who in a few years pulled it down and its Grand staircase with impressive stair parts was lost the house was demolished and laid out its site and the surrounding land in streets, one of which was called Albemarle Street, and another Bond Street, after Sir Thomas Bond who was one of the principals concerned in the transaction, The house was regarded as an unwarrantable extravagance, and Clarendon himself is reported to have eventually looked upon the building of it as a " vanity and folly of the impressive and Grand Staircase with its impressive carved stair parts." But after all it only cost £,5o,ooo, which was a small sum compared with the cost of many houses both before and since. It is interesting because of its short life-less than twenty years from foundation to demolition-and from the character of the design, which follows the lines laid down by Jones and Webb.
Stair Parts Fig 119-Staircase of a house between Love Lane, London
Apart from the large houses which were built for wealthy persons, the new London which sprang up after the fire must have been widely different from the old. The houses which were burnt down were, many of them, built of wood and plaster relics of medieval times. Their fronts leaned across narrow lanes, each story projecting over the one beneath it, after such a fashion as may still be seen, though ever less frequently, in some of our ancient country towns. The houses vvhich replaced them followed in most cases the old frontage lines, but their fronts were vertical and admitted as much light and air as the width of the street allowed. Nevertheless, the width was fre asquently but little, and houses of great size and finely treated within, were built in streets and lanes which in the present day we should regard as mere alleys, and which, indeed, vv ould not be permitted under any modern by-laws. London still preserves many of these old houses (Stair Parts Fig. 137,, although they are gradually being improved away. They are generally built of brick, with very little relief to their fronts ve a good (l)ot'waV' and a good cornice, and pt'I"flaps a feVl' touches iii some ironwork. The same general treatment pn-vailcd for half a century or more, with a tendency, however, to even greater simplicity: the result was that, although in the city vv here the narrow lanes vv ere crooked and had here and there unexpected projections, the effect was interesting, yet where the same plain treatment to the staircase and stair parts was applied to interiors of houses of the long straight streets, the effect became dull and monotonous. Most of these houses had interesting detail within them, many of them were actually sumptuous, and of a richness suitable to the merchant princes who dwelt there. They had fine staircases and carved stair parts and ceilings like those in a house in Botolph Lane 'Stair Parts Figs. 119, 120), and good doorways and panelling like that in a house in College Hill 'Fig. 121).
London Houses After The Fire Re-Building and The Changes In Design of Stair Parts
Stair Parts Fig. 120 Ceiling In A House Between Love And Botolph Lanes
Stair Parts Fig. 121 House in College Hill London
Stair Parts Fig. 122 The Great House. Leytons
London City Halls and Churches Their Staircases and Designs of the Stair Parts Used
A fine example of the treatment, prevalent at this period, of a staircase and hall was to be seen, before its destruction, at the Great House at Levton, in Essex, not far from London (Stair Parts Fig. 122). It is designed in a broad, simple, yet monumental manner, which, however, has led to the dividing of the lower part of the staircase into two separate flights, which merge into a single flight of the same width at the half-landing. The treatment is not quite logical, but-which was held to be more important-it is,symmetrical. The Great House was built by Sir Fisher Tenche, Bart., whose father was an Alderman of London, and it is a good example of the houses built by wealthy citizens out in the country, but within reach of the city.'
Although, strictly speaking, rather outside the subject of domestic architecture, the city halls and churches should not be overlooked, as they contain splendid specimens of decoration in stair parts and ceiling plaster of the same kind as those to be found in houses. At the period under consideration, as in former times, the same sort of embellishment was applied to churches as to houses ; it is quite a modern idea, born of revivals and restorations, to consider it necessary that a church should be Gothic in style; to think of Gothic as essentially ecclesiastic and of Classic as secular. Accordingly in Wren's churches there are admirable bits of woodwork, which illustrate the methods of design then in vogue in houses. So, too, in the halls of the great city coinpanies. All this work was the consequence of the destruction of the older buildings by the great fire. The new church of St Lawrence, Jewry, was begun in 1671, Wren being the architect, and it was opened in 1677. The woodwork in its design of stair parts of the interior is as fine as anything that this age of fine woodwork produced, and that of the vestry is designed after the same fashion as the stair parts and the panelling and doorways of a large house (Fig. 124); it is, if anything, more superb.