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Mount Street (later 34 Berkeley Square), designs for a porch for Claudius Amyand, 1761-74, unexecuted (3)

Sir Claudius Amyand was born on 10 August 1718, the eldest son of Claudius Amyand and Marie, daughter of Daniel Rabache. Amyand’s father served as Serjeant-Surgeon to both George I and George II. A pre-eminent surgeon, he successfully inoculated the royal children against smallpox in 1722 and performed the first successful appendectomy in 1735. Amyand was educated at Westminster School from 1726, going on to study at Christ Church, Oxford in 1736.

Initially Amyand pursued a legal career. In 1734 he was accepted at Lincoln’s Inn and he was subsequently called to the bar in 1742. In 1745 he was appointed Keeper of the King’s Library and in 1747 he began his political career as MP for Tregony, Cornwall. In the General Election of 1754 he was offered the seat of Bossiney for the sum of £1500. Amyand professed the sum to be beyond his means and he instead secured himself the seat of for Sandwich, standing in the Government's interest. In 1750 he was appointed Under-Secretary of State, however in 1756 he was relocated to a post within the Board of Customs, supposedly due to his unpopularity.

On 26 November 1761 Amyand married Frances, daughter of Rev. Thomas Payne and widow of George Compton, 6th Earl of Northampton. Frances, Dowager Countess of Northampton was said to be ‘very amiable’ and held an annuity of £2,500.

In 1765 Amyand was offered the lucrative post of receiver of land tax for the areas of Middlesex and London, a position he held until his death on 1 April 1774.

Forming part of the Grosvenor estate, the development of Mount Street began in around 1720 and continued over a period of twenty years. Its plots were leased to numerous builders and craftsmen, many of whom were already engaged in projects elsewhere on the Grosvenor Estate. The street runs from east to west and takes its name from Mount Field which lay close by. The land was said to contain a simple earthwork defence dubbed ‘Oliver’s Mount’, a remnant of Civil War fortifications.

Mount Street consisted predominately of small and irregular houses with rear courtyards and stable blocks. By the late eighteenth century it was firmly established as a street of tradesmen and craftsmen, home to the workshops of cabinet makers and upholsterers.

Bolton’s catalogue of the Amyand scheme records that it is for an unknown house in Mount Street. However, the property in question has been identified by Sheppard. Situated at the corner of Davies Street, Sheppard notes it to be one of the most desirable locations, the property gaining a southern aspect over Berkeley Square when the area was developed in the 1740s. As a result the house was renumbered in the mid-nineteenth century as no. 34 Berkeley Square. The site was first leased to one Francis Commins in 1732 for development, but following his death in 1735, his widow subleased the unfinished property to the upholsterer Thomas How.

From 1736 until 1751 the completed house was occupied by Madame D’Acunha, and from 1754 George Compton, 6th Earl of Northampton took up residence there. Following Compton’s death in 1758, the house passed to his widow Frances, Lady Northampton. As a result Adam’s undated scheme for a new porch must date between the client’s marriage to Lady Northampton in 1761 and his death in 1774.

The Adam scheme for a 9ft 6in porch, articulated by fluted Doric columns, is not known to have been executed. The drawings record the property with a 42ft, three-bay frontage.

In 1775, a year after Amyand’s death, Lady Northampton sold her house to Lady Mary Coke. In 1780 Lady Mary employed Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and Henry Holland in alterations to the property where she continued to reside until her death in 1811.

In 1846 the house was sold to the upholsterer Samuel Pratt of New Bond Street. Pratt employed architect Tomas Little and made significant alterations to the property, converting it into two houses. In 1879 both houses were demolished to form a new junction between Berkeley Square and Mount Street.

A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 42, 60; F. H. W. Sheppard, ‘Mount Street and Carlos Place: Mount Street and Charles Street before Rebuilding’, Survey of London: Volume 40, the Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings), 1980, pp. 316-319; ‘Mount Street’, www.grosvenor.com; J. Brooke, ‘Amyand, Claudius (1718-74), of Langleybury, Herts.’, www.historyofparliamentonline.org: ‘Sir George Amyand 1st Bart.’, www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs; ‘Claudius Amyand, Surgeon, 1680-1740’, www.twickenham-museum.org.uk; ‘portrait of Claudius Amyand (1718-1774)’, www.mutalart.com; ‘Christian Friedrich Zincke (Anglo-German, 1683/84-1767), George Compton, 6th Earl of Northampton’, www.christies.com, L. Namier, ‘Compton, Hon. George (1692-1758)’, www.historyofparliamentonline.org (accessed March 2021)

Anna McAlaney, 2021
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