Piccadilly, number 147, London: unexecuted design for a screen and gateway, for Henry Fox, 1st Lord Holland, 1764 (1)
Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland (1705-74) was the second son of the wealthy financier Sir Stephen Fox (1627-1716). In 1744 he married Lady Georgiana Caroline Lennox, the daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond, and was created Lord Holland and Baron Foxley in April 1763, after a lengthy political career. He served as MP for Hindon in 1735-41, New Windsor in 1741-61, and Dunwich in 1761-63. Fox also served as Surveyor General in 1737-43, Lord of the Treasury in 1743-46, Secretary of the War Office in 1746-55, Secretary of State for the southern department in 1755-56, and Paymaster General in 1757-65. These various public positions, particularly that of Paymaster General, provided Fox with a lucrative income throughout his career, and in his retirement he took to building.
In 1763 Lord Holland purchased a seventeenth-century house on Piccadilly for £16,000. Robert Adam was commissioned to produced designs for rebuilding a year later, in 1764, including a screen wall and gate to the front. None of these designs were executed, most likely as Holland's political career was coming to an end, and his building efforts were concentrated on his country house at Kingsgate, Kent. The house was sold after only eight years of ownership, in 1771, to Sir Peniston Lamb (1745-1828) for £16,500. Sir Peniston, who was created 1st Viscount Melbourne in 1772, immediately rebuilt the house to designs by Sir William Chambers (1722-96). Melbourne House was complete in 1774, and is now the Albany.
The only record of Adam's unexecuted seven-bay house for the site can be seen in a copy made by Sir William Chambers, and preserved in Sir John Soane's Museum (SM 17/7/4-5). The only extant Adam drawing at the Soane Museum for the scheme shows a 100 foot screen wall and gateway, of which there is a variant preliminary version in the V&A Museum.
See also: Kingsgate (or Old Holland House), Broadstairs, Kent
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 45, 75; F.H.W. Sheppard, (ed.)., Survey of London, Volume 32, 1963, p. 369; A. Rowan, Robert Adam: catalogue of architectural drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1988, p. 60; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume II, p. 130; 'Fox, Henry (1705-74), of Holland House, Kensington', History of Parliament online