Foley House, Portland Place, London: unexecuted design for a ceiling for Thomas Foley, 2nd Baron Foley, by an unknown architect, 1762 (1)
Foley House was built by Stiff Leadbetter (d1766) for Thomas Foley, 2nd Baron Foley of Kidderminster (1703-66) in c1754-62. It was around Foley House in the 1770s that the Adam brothers arranged Portland Place, the widest contemporary street in London. The width of Portland Place was conditioned by the breadth of Foley House as Lord Foley did not want any of the windows on the north front of his house to be obscured. The Adams had intended Portland Place to be a piazza of urban mansions, enclosed at the southern end by Foley House, and overlooking the fields of Marylebone Farm at the northern end. Owing to the financial constraints caused by the American War of Independence it became instead a street of townhouses.
There is a ceiling design for Foley House, datable to 1762, in the Adam drawings collection, and although it makes use of neo-classical motifs, it is highly uncharacteristic of Adam's oeuvre. According to Bolton it 'cannot be Adam'. It is possible that this design is by Stiff Leadbetter, the architect of Foley House, who did not die until c1766, but it does not make use of his characteristic scale bar, and as such it is difficult to attribute authorship. As far as is known Robert Adam did not make any contribution to Foley House itself.
The 2nd Baron Foley died unmarried and intestate, and his estate passed to his cousin Thomas Foley of Stoke Edith. Foley House was demolished in c1815, and the site is now occupied by the Langham Hotel.
See also: Stoke Edith, Herefordshire
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, pp. 102-3, Index pp. 45, 71; J. Lees-Milne, The age of Adam, 1947, p. 37; D. Yarwood, Robert Adam, 1970, p. 164; B. Weinreb, and C. Hibbert, The London Encyclopaedia, 1983, p. 633; B. Cherry, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 3: north west, 1991, p. 647