Hyde Park Corner (site of 145-146 Piccadilly), London: unexecuted designs for a house for the 2nd Earl of Shelburne, c1761 (9)
William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne (1737-1805), was the eldest son of John Petty, 1st Earl of Shelburne (1706-61). In 1765 he married Lady Sophia Carteret (1745-1771), the daughter of John Carteret, 2nd Earl Granville, and he married again in 1779, Lady Louisa Fitzpatrick (1755-89), daughter of John Fitzpatrick, 1st Earl of Upper Ossory. Shelburne was an army officer, attaining the rank of General in 1783. He also served as MP for Chipping Wycombe in 1760-61, until he succeeded his father as the 2nd Earl of Shelburne (an Irish peerage), and the 2nd Baron of Wycombe (a British peerage). He then served as First Lord of Trade in 1763, Secretary of State for the southern department in 1766-68, Secretary of State for Home Affairs in 1782, and following the death of Lord Rockingham he was First Lord of the Treasury for eight months in 1782-83. Much of Shelburne’s time as First Minister was engaged in peace negotiations with America via France. In 1784 he was rewarded for his long public service and created 1st Marquis of Lansdowne.
On succeeding his father as 2nd Earl in 1761, Shelburne commissioned Robert Adam to made additions and alterations to the family seat at Bowood, Wiltshire. At around the same time he also acquired a plot of land at Hyde Park Corner (the site of 145-146 Piccadilly) with the intention of building himself a townhouse. This was presumably motivated by Shelburne’s numerous public activities regularly bringing him to London. For this too, Adam was commissioned to make designs, and the extant drawings show a Greek cross-shaped house, with an elliptical court at the front, and a service wing to the rear. This house was not executed, and instead Shelburne purchased the shell of a new house on Berkeley Square in 1765. This alternative house came to be known as Lansdowne House, but had been begun to designs by Adam in 1762 for Lord Bute. As a condition of the sale Adam continued his work on the house, and although still incomplete, Shelburne took up residence in 1768. Lansdowne House was largely demolished in 1929.
See also: Bowood,Calne, Wiltshire; Lansdowne House, Berkeley Square, London.
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 45, 87; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy: 1701-1800, 1997, p. 852; F. Russell, ‘The house that became a hostage’, Country Life, 29 October 1998, pp. 65-67; E. Harris, The genius of Robert Adam: his interiors, 2001, pp. 114-115; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, pp. 129-130; S. Bradley, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 6: Westminster, 2003, p. 498; L. Namier, ‘Petty, William, Visct. Fitzmaurice (1737-1805), of Bowood, Wilts.’, History of Parliament online