I've been working on a project to map out locations in Georgian/Regency London
. Currently my Google Map has upwards of 200 locations (I think it might be closer to 300). I have everything from shops to pubs to historical residences, which can prove a bit tricky as a lot of the houses changed hands FREQUENTLY. I had this idea that prominent families had a town house much like they had a rural seat and that it was something long standing. And while that appears to be true for some (like Devonshire House), it's not at all true for many others. This became VERY clear as I combed my way through the Survey of London
and looked to see who lived where during our period.
Some houses I could easily label, but others had far too many occupants even during the few decades of the "extended Regency", and I only attempted the major squares! For example, here's the complicated history of No 8, St. James's Square (which during most of the Regency was the Wedgewood showroom):
"This house was the last in the square to be granted away by the representatives of the St. Albans interest, being owned by the Earl's heirs until 1721. The earliest evidence of its existence is in 1676 when it was occupied by the French ambassador, Honoré Courtin, on a yearly tenancy from the Earl of St. Albans at £400 per annum. (fn. 3)
It first appears in the ratebooks in the following year, and until 1684 was occupied by Sir Cyril Wyche, the Earl of St. Albans, or the French ambassador for whom St. Albans seems usually to have paid the rates. It was here that in July 1684 Henry Compton, Bishop of London, received from the representatives of the deceased Earl the title-deeds of the site of St. James's Church and took sustenance during an interval in the ceremony of consecrating the church (see page 33). In 1685 the Earl of Pembroke occupied the house and from 1686–8 the French ambassador was rated as occupant. (fn. 1)
From 1689 to 1693 the house was inhabited by the Earl of St. Albans's nephew, Henry, Lord Dover.
In June 1721 (fn. 4)
Lord Dover's executor and heirs sold the house to Sir Matthew Decker, a banker, who lived here until his death in 1749, after which his widow continued to occupy the house until 1759. Bowles's view published in c
. 1752 compared with Sutton Nicholls's shows that the house then still retained its original appearance except for the insertion of a new doorway of round-headed form (Plates 128, 130).
In 1768 Sir Sampson Gideon, later Lord Eardley, bought the house from the trustee and heiresses of Lady Decker, (fn. 5)
and soon afterwards the house was altered or perhaps rebuilt for him by the firm of Henry Holland, senior. A record of the work of the mason, Joseph Dixon, survives (fn. 6)
and includes work to the value of some £374 on the house, stables and street paving: old chimneypieces were cleaned and reset and plain mason's work carried out. It was perhaps at this time that the entrance to the house, which in c
. 1752 was still in the square, was moved to York (now Duke of York) Street as shown on a plan of 1793 by John Soane.
Sir Sampson left the house in 1784 and for twelve years it stood empty. (fn. c1)
Towards the end of this period Soane surveyed it. (fn. 7)
In 1795 the house was bought by the younger Josiah Wedgwood for £8500, and a further £7000 is said to have been spent on the house, (fn. 8)
the showroom here in 1809 being illustrated in a plate in Ackermann's Repository of the Arts
, and the plain exterior in the Ackermann view of the square in 1812 (Plate 131). Wedgwood and his partner, Thomas Byerley, used the premises until, trade apparently becoming depressed, they were given up in 1830. (fn. 9)
In August 1830 the property was sold by Wedgwood to the Earl of Romney. (fn. 10)
Until 1839 the house was occupied by the Earl as a private residence but was not again used as a private residence alter that date, being usually occupied as a club-house."
LINK TO MY MAP