Cavendish Square (unknown number), London, preliminary design for a house, ND, unexecuted (1)
The development of Cavendish Square and its surrounding streets began in the early eighteenth century in what had previously been Marylebone Fields, situated to the west of the City. The area formed part of the estates of Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford, who employed the builder John Prince to layout the Square and its surrounding tributaries, with the project overseen by architect James Gibbs. Several of the new streets were named after the Earl’s relatives, with Cavendish Square named in honour of his wife, Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles, the daughter and heiress of John, 1st Duke of Newcastle.
In 1720, following the ramifications of the South Sea Bubble, construction in the Square was halted and it remained unfinished for several years. Expansion of the area continued into the nineteenth century, with just 577 houses recorded in Marylebone in 1739 and 9000 houses noted by 1806.
This undated preliminary design is for an unknown site in Cavendish Square. The plan is for an extensive house, 159ft by 65ft and containing an impressive gallery 60ft by 24ft. Bolton suggested that the design formed part of an early scheme by Adam for an unknown client. He compared the plan to designs for Harewood House with its inclusion of lunette courts and flanking wings.
E. Walford, ‘Oxford Street and its northern tributaries: Part 2 of 2’, Old and New London: Volume 4, 1878, pp.441-467; A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 35