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Hertford Street, number 10 (now Sheridan House), London: designs for interior decoration for Lieutenant-General John Burgoyne, 1769-71 (15)

Signed and dated

  • 1769-71


Hertford Street is an L-shaped street between Park Lane and Curzon Street, and mainly contains terraced houses dating from the 1760s when the street was developed. It is thought to have taken its name from a nearby inn, the Hertford Arms, which no longer exists. Numbers 8-13, and possibly also 17-22 were built in 1768-70 by the builder Henry Holland the elder (1712-85) in partnership with his architect son, Henry Holland the younger (1745-1806), and the carpenter, John Eldridge (ND). Number 10, on the south side of the street, is larger than most, and is composed of a five-storey, three-bay, brown brick house with a stuccoed ground storey. Its first owner was General John Burgoyne (1722-92) who took the house in 1769, even before its completion.

John Burgoyne was the second son of Captain John Burgoyne, and the grandson of Sir John Burgoyne, 3rd Baronet, of Sutton Park, Bedfordshire. He had little money of his own, relying on an income from his military career. He became lieutenant-colonel in 1758, major-general in 1762, and lieutenant-general in 1777. Moreover, he was commander of the British forces in America from 1776, devising the plan to lead the British forces south from Canada, but eventually surrendering to the Americans at Saratoga in 1777. He returned on parole from the army the following year. He also served as MP for Midhurst in 1761-68, and Preston in 1768-92; as commander in chief in Ireland in 1782-84; and later in life he was also a playwright, his most famous works being 'The Heiress', and 'Maid of Oaks'.

In 1743 Burgoyne eloped with Lady Charlotte Stanley (d 1776), the youngest daughter of Edward, 11th Earl of Derby, whom he had met through his school friend Lord Stanley, Charlotte's brother. The Earl did not approve of the match, and denied the couple Charlotte's dowry. The Burgoynes suffered financial difficulties as a result of this, fleeing to France in a bid to avoid their creditors in 1749. This did mean that the Burgoynes became friendly with Robert Adam during his Grand Tour (1755-58), but they were only able to return to England in 1756 when the Earl relented and gave them £25,000.

Having leased the house on Hertford Street from Holland in 1769, Burgoyne commissioned his friend, Robert Adam, to made designs for the interior. Much of the interior was executed in accordance with Adam's designs, being completed in 1771, and survives in situ. Moreover, through this connection, Adam became acquainted with Charlotte's nephew, Lord Stanley (later 12th Earl of Derby), who commissioned him to make substantial alterations to Derby House at 23 Grosvenor Square from 1773.

Following Charlotte's death in 1776, Burgoyne remained at 10 Hertford Street. In 1780 he took the actress Susan Caulfield as his mistress, and fathered four illegitimate children. He died at the house in 1792, whereupon its contents were sold at Christie's. After Burgoyne's tenure, 10 Hertford Street was acquired by Richard Brinsley Sheridan the politician and dramatist, who lived there in 1795-1802 (hence Sheridan House). The building was used as offices between the Second World War and 1990, when it was listed Grade I. In 1998 it was placed on the English Heritage ‘buildings at risk register’. Happily, the building is now in private ownership, and has been restored for domestic use.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 40, 64; E. Harris, The furniture of Robert Adam, 1963, Index p. 55; B. Weinreb, and C. Hibbert, The London encyclopaedia, 1983, pp. 385-86; J. Ingamells, A dictionary of British and Irish travellers in Italy: 1701-1800, 1997, p. 159; T. Draper, RCHME survey report, No 10 Hertford Street, Westminster, 1998; T. Draper, 'No 10 Hertford Street', The Georgian Group Journal, Volume IX, 1999, pp. 116-38; E. Harris, The genius of Robert Adam: his interiors, 2001, p. 236; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 307, 309-10; S. Bradley, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 6: Westminster, 2003, pp. 536-37; History of Parliament online: 'Burgoyne, John (1723-92)'; British listed buildings online: 'City of Westminster Hertford Street W1, No. 10'

Frances Sands, 2013



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Contents of Hertford Street, number 10 (now Sheridan House), London: designs for interior decoration for Lieutenant-General John Burgoyne, 1769-71 (15)