Berkeley Square, number 39, London: designs for friezes for the 3rd Duke of Ancaster, ND (2)
Berkeley Square is named after the 1st Lord Berkeley, a Royalist commander in the Civil War, who developed a large area north of Piccadilly following the Restoration. Berkeley Square itself was built up from the 1730s when the 3rd Lord Berkeley sold his house on Piccadilly to the Duke of Devonshire, with the proviso that the vista to the north should be unobscured by future development. The 4th and 5th Lords Berkeley continued to develop the area, leaving a rectangular square to the north of Devonshire's house, facilitating the necessary view. The result was Berkeley Square.
Number 39 in the north-west quadrant was built for Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1714-78). Ancaaster had succeeded his father, the 2nd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven in 1742. He married first, in 1735, Elizabeth Blundell (d 1743), and secondly, in 1750, Mary Panton (d 1793), who was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Charlotte for 32 years. The 3rd Duke was a military man, attaining the rank of Major-General in 1755, Lieutenant-General in 1759, and General in 1772, and he also served as Lord Great Chamberlain and Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire - positions he inherited from his father - and was appointed to the Privy Council, and was president of the Lock Hospital.
Two surviving drawings for friezes provide evidence that Robert Adam was commissioned by the 3rd Duke of Ancaster to make interior decorative designs for his house on Berkeley Square. The extent of these designs and whether or not they were executed is unknown. It is not possible to date the two surviving drawings as they are part of a folio of record drawings produced as a single project, possibly many years after the commission itself, but it is likely that the designs were originally made at around the same time that Adam was commissioned to work on the Duke's house in Richmond, Ancaster House, in 1772-73.
Alterations to 39 Berkeley Square were made to designs by Joseph Bonomi in 1797. The house was demolished in c.1935 to make way for a block of flats.
See also: Ancaster House, Richmond.
Literature: A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 35, 61; B. Weinreb, and C. Hibbert, The London encyclopaedia, 1983, p. 58; S. Bradley, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 6: Westminster, 2003, p. 498
Frances Sands, 2013 Updated 2021
I am extremely grateful to Oliver Bradbury for information regarding the ownership and history of 39 Berkeley Square.