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Berkeley Square, number unknown, London: designs for friezes for the 3rd Duke of Ancaster, ND (2)


Berkeley Square is named after the 1st Lord Berkeley, a Royalist commander in the Civil War, who developed a large area north of Piccadilly following the Restoration. Berkeley Square itself was built up from the 1730s when the 3rd Lord Berkeley sold his house on Piccadilly to the Duke of Devonshire, with the proviso that the vista to the north should be unobscured by future development. The 4th and 5th Lords Berkeley continued to develop the area, leaving a rectangular square to the north of Devonshire's house, facilitating the necessary view. The result was Berkeley Square.

One of the houses on the west side (number unknown) belonged to the Dukes of Ancaster. Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1714-78) succeeded his father, the 2nd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven in 1742. He married first, in 1735, Elizabeth Blundell (d 1743), and secondly, in 1750, Mary Panton (d 1793), who was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Charlotte for 32 years. The 3rd Duke was a military man, attaining the rank of Major-General in 1755, Lieutenant-General in 1759, and General in 1772, and he also served as Lord Great Chamberlain and Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire - positions he inherited from his father - and was appointed to the Privy Council, and was president of the Lock Hospital.

Two surviving drawings for friezes provide evidence that Robert Adam was commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Ancaster to make interior decorative designs for his house on Berkeley Square. The extent of these designs and whether or not they were executed is unknown. It is not possible to date the two surviving drawings as they are part of a folio of record drawings produced as a single project, possibly many years after the commission itself, but it is likely that the designs were originally made at around the same time that Adam was commissioned to work on the Duke's house in Richmond, Ancaster House, in 1772-73.

See also: Ancaster House, Richmond.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 35, 61; B. Weinreb, and C. Hibbert, The London encyclopaedia, 1983, p. 58; S. Bradley, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 6: Westminster, 2003, p. 498

Frances Sands, 2013



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Sir John Soane's collection includes some 30,000 architectural, design and topographical drawings which is a very important resource for scholars worldwide. His was the first architect’s collection to attempt to preserve the best in design for the architectural profession in the future, and it did so by assembling as exemplars surviving drawings by great Renaissance masters and by the leading architects in Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries and his near contemporaries such as Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam and George Dance the Younger. These drawings sit side by side with 9,000 drawings in Soane’s own hand or those of the pupils in his office, covering his early work as a student, his time in Italy and the drawings produced in the course of his architectural practice from 1780 until the 1830s.

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Contents of Berkeley Square, number unknown, London: designs for friezes for the 3rd Duke of Ancaster, ND (2)