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STEELE AND DR. GARTH.
with a warm attachment to virtue, was the frailest smiled on Steele for a time, and we next hear of human beings." The editor of the “Biographia of him as having taken a house in Bloomsbury Dramatica" says: “Sir Richard retired to a small Square, where Lady Steele set up that coach which house on Haverstock Hill, on the road to Hamp- landed its master in so many difficulties. No stead.... Here Mr. Pope, and other mem- mention, apparently, is to be found of Steeles bers of the Kit-Cat Club, which during the summer residence at Haverstock Hill in Mr. Montgomery's was held at the Upper Flask,' on Hampstead work on “Sir Richard Steele and his ContemHeath, used to call on him, and take him in their poraries.” In the Monthly Magazine, Sir Richard carriages to the place of rendezvous.” Dr. Garth, Phillips tells us that in his time Steele's house had
too, was a frequent visitor here. He was a member been converted into two small ornamental cottages of the Kit-Cat Club, and notorious for his indo- for citizens' sleeping boxes. ... Opposite to lence. One night, when sitting at the “Upper it,” he adds, “the famous 'Mother' or 'Moll' King Flask,” he accidentally betrayed the fact that he built three substantial houses; and in a small villa had half-a-dozen patients waiting to see him, and behind them resided her favourite pupil, Nancy Steele, who sat next him, asked him, in a tone of Dawson. An apartment in the cottage was called banter, why he did not get up at once and visit the Philosopher's Room, probably the same in them. “Oh, it's no great matter,” replied Garth; which Steele used to write. In Hogarth’s ‘March “for one-half of them have got such bad constitu- to Finchley' this cottage and Mother King's house tions that all the doctors in the world can't save are seen in the distance . . Coeval with the them, and the others such good ones that all the Spectator and Tatler, this cottage must have been doctors could not possibly kill them."
a delightful retreat, as at that time there were not Here Steele spent the summer days of 1712, in a score of buildings between it and Oxford Street the company of many of his “Spectators,” return and Montagu and Bloomsbury Houses. Now coning generally to town at night, and to the society of tinuous rows of streets extend from London to his wife, who, as we have stated, at that time had this spot.” lodgings in Bury Street. Fortune seems to have Steele's cottage was a low plain building, and
the only ornament was a scroll over the central | as lively as that of 'Sir Roger de Coverley.' In window. It was pulled down in 1867. The 1760 she transferred her services from Covent site of the house and its garden is marked by Garden Theatre to the other house. On the 23rd a row of houses, called Steele's Terrace, and the of September, in that year, the Beggar's Opera “Sir Richard Steele" tavern. A house, very near was performed at Drury Lane, when the play. to Steele's, was tenanted by an author and a wit of bill thus announced her: 'In Act 3, a hornpipe not dissimilar character. When Gay, who had lost by Miss Dawson, her first appearance here. It his entire fortune in the South Sea Bubble, showed seems that she was engaged to oppose Mrs. symptoms of insanity, he was placed by his friends Vernon in the same exhibition at the rival house; in retirement here. The kindly attentions of and there is a full-length print of her in that sundry physicians, who visited him without fee or character. There is also a portrait of her in the reward, sufficed to restore his mental equilibrium Garrick Club collection.” She lies buried behind even without the aid of the famous Hampstead the Foundling Hospital, in the ground belonging waters.
to St. George the Martyr, where there is a tombNancy Dawson died at her residence here in stone to her memory, simply stating, “Here lies May, 1767. Of this memorable character Mr. John Nancy Dawson." Timbs writes thus in his “Romance of London :" | Both Rosslyn and Haverstock Hills, it may -"Nancy Dawson, the famous hornpipe dancer here be stated, have had tunnels carried through of Covent Garden Theatre, in the last century, them at a very heavy cost, owing to the fact that when a girl, set up the skittles at a tavern in the soil hereabouts is a stiff and wet clay. The High Street, Marylebone. She next, according northernmost tunnel connects the Hampstead to Sir William Musgrove's 'Adversaria,' in the Heath station with the Finchley Road station on British Museum, became the wife of a publican the branch of the North London Railway which near Kelso, on the borders of Scotland. She leads to Kew and Richmond. The other tunnel, became so popular a dancer that every verse of a which is one mile long, with four lines of rails, song in praise of her declared the poet to be passes nearly under the Fever Hospital, and was dying in love for Nancy Dawson, and its tune is made by the Midland Railway in 1862–3.
“Estates are landscapes gazed upon awhile,
Then advertised, and auctioneered away.” Grant of the Manor of Belsize to Westminster Abbey-Belsize Avenue-Old Belsize House-The Family of Waad-Lord Wotton-Pepys' Account
of the Gardens of Belsize-The House attacked by Highway Robbers-A Zealous Protestant-Belsize converted into a Place of Public Amusement, and becomes an “ Academy" for Dissipation and Lewdness-The House again becomes a Private Residence-The Right Hon. Spencer Perceval-Demolition of the House-The Murder of Mr. James Delarue-St. Peter's Church-Belsize Square-New CollegeThe Shepherds' or Conduit Fields-Shepherds' Well-Leigh Hunt, Shelley, and Keats-Fitzjohn's Avenue-Finchley Road-Frognal Priory and Memory-Corner Thompson-Dr. Johnson and other Residents at Frognal-Oak Hill Park-Upper Terrace-West End-Rural Fes
tivities—The Cemetery-Child's Hill---Concluding Remarks on Hampstead. On our right, as we descend Haverstock Hill, lies, manor of Belsize, then described as consisting of the now populous district of South Hampstead, or a house and 284 acres of land, on condition of the Belsize Park. It is approached on the eastern monks finding a chaplain to celebrate mass daily side through the beautiful avenue of elms men for the repose of the souls of Edmund, Earl of tioned at the close of the preceding chapter; on Lancaster, and of Blanche, his wife. This earl was the west it nearly joins the “Swiss Cottage," which, a grandson of Henry III. ; he had taken up arms as we have seen, stands at the farthest point of St. against Edward, but was captured and beheaded. John's Wood.
His name survives still in Lancaster Road. It is traditionally stated that the manor of Belsize | About 1870 the Dean and Chapter of Westhad belonged to the Dean and Chapter of West- minster gave up the fine avenue above-mentioned, minster from the reign of King Edgar, nearly a called Belsize Avenue, to the parish of Hampstead, century before the Conquest; but it is on actual on condition of the vestry planting new trees as record that in the reign of Edward II. the Crown the old ones failed. A row of villas is now built made a formal grant to Westminster Abbey of the on the north side, and at the south-east corner, as Hampstead.]
stated above, a new town-hall for Hampstead blunderbuss upon the thieves, which gave the alarm was erected in 1876–7.
to one of the lord's tenants, a farmer, that dwelt not At the lower end of the avenue stood, till very far off, who thereupon went immediately into the recently, a house which, a century ago, enjoyed a town and raised the inhabitants, who, going towards celebrity akin to that of the Vauxhall of our own the house, which was about half a mile off, it is time, but which at an earlier period had a history thought the robbers hearing thereof, and withal of its own. An engraving of the house soon after finding the business difficult, they all made their this date will be found in Lysons' “Environs of escape. It is judged they had notice of my lord's London," from which it is reproduced in Charles absence from his house, and likewise of a great Knight's “ Pictorial History of England.” It stood booty which was therein, which put them upon this near the site of what is now St. Peter's Church, desperate attempt." facing the avenue above mentioned, at right angles. On Lord Wotton's death the Belsize estate fell
Upon the dissolution of the monasteries one to the hands of his half-brother, Lord Chesterfield. Armigel Wade, or Waad, who had been clerk to the The latter, however, did not care to live there, but Council under Henry VIII. and Edward VI., and sold his interest in the place, and the house rewho is known as the British Columbus, obtained mained for some time unoccupied. In the reign of a lease of “Old Belsize ”—for so this house was George I., however, we find Belsize in the hands called-for a term of two lives. He thereupon of a retired "sea-coal” merchant, named Povey, retired to Belsize House, where he ended his days to whom the then French ambassador, the Duc in 1568. There was a monument erected to his d'Aumont, offered the (at that time) immense memory in the old parish church of Hampstead. rental of £1,000 a year on a repairing lease. It His son, Sir William Waad, made Lieutenant of transpired that the duke wanted the place because the Tower, and knighted by James I., also lived it contained or had attached to it a private chapel. at Belsize and died in 1623. Sir William had On this the coal-merchant refused to carry out the married, as his second wife, a daughter of Sir bargain, on the ground that he “would not have Thomas Wotton, who, surviving as his widow, got his chapel desecrated by Popery." For this piece the lease of the house and estate renewed to her of Protestant zeal he hoped that he would have for two more lives, at a yearly rental of £19 25. 10d., been applauded by the magistrates; his surprise, exclusive of ten loads of hay and five quarters of therefore, must have been great when, instead of oats payable to Westminster. She left Belsize to praise, he received from the Privy Council a repriher son, Charles Henry de Kirkhaven, by her first mand, as being an “enemy to the king." It is husband; and he, on account of his mother's recorded that when the Prince of Wales (afterwards lineage, was created a peer of the realm, as Lord George II.) came soon afterwards to see the house, Wotton, by Charles II., and made this place his Povey addressed to him a letter, informing his residence.
royal highness of these particulars, but the prince That old gossip, Pepys, thus speaks of it in his never condescended to vouchsafe him a reply. “Diary,” under date August 17, 1668: “To Hamp- Povey, we may add, made himself notorious in his stead, to speak with the attorney-general, whom we day by the publication of sundry pamphlets exmet in the fields, by his old rout and house. And posing the evil practices of Government agencies. after a little talk about our business, went and saw He also took to himself great credit as a patriot for the Lord Wotton's house and garden, which is having refused to let his mansion to the French wonderful fine : too good for the house the gardens ambassador, and modestly put in a claim for some are, being, indeed, the most noble that ever I saw, reimbursement from the nation, for having “kept and such brave orange and lemon trees."
the Romish host" from being offered in Hampstead, The gardens, indeed, were quite fine enough to at a cost to himself of one thousand pounds. Our offer temptations to thieves and robbers, for soon readers will hardly need to be told that Mr. Povey after this date we find that an attack was made got no thanks for his pains, any more than he did upon the place. In the True Protestant Mercury shortly afterwards for his equally disinterested offer of October 15—19, 1681, we read~"London, of his house and chapel for the use of his Royal October 18. Last night, eleven or twelve highway Highness the Prince of Wales, "for a place of robbers came on horseback to the house of Lord recess or constant residence." Not obtaining an Wotton, at Hampstead, and attempted to enter answer to his impertinent intrusion, he seems to therein, breaking down part of the wall and the have turned Belsize to good account pecuniarily, gate ; but there being four or five within the house, and perhaps, at the same time, to have “paid out” they very courageously fired several musquets and a his neighbours for their coolness to him, by allowing
zeal he by Popery."" would not "the
it to be opened as a place of fashionable amuse- necessity of expense,' &c., &c.-Mist's Journal, ment.
April 16, 1720. For a period of about forty years—in fact, during “A hand-bill of the amusements at Belsize (forthe reigns of George I. and George II.-Belsize merly in the possession of Dr. Combe), which has a ceased to be occupied as a private residence, being print of the old mansion-house prefixed, announces opened by a Welshman of the name of Howell as Belsize to be open for the season (no date), “the a place of public amusement, and sank apparently park, wilderness, and garden being wonderfully down into a second-rate house of refreshments and improved and filled with variety of birds, which gambling. In the park, which was said to be a compose a most melodious and delightful harmony. mile in circumference, were exhibited foot-races, Persons inclined to walk and divert themselves, athletic sports, and sometimes deer-hunts and fox- may breakfast on tea and coffee as cheap as at hunts: and it is said that one diversion occasionally their own chambers. Twelve stout fellows, comwas a race between men and women in wooden pletely armed, to patrole between Belsize and shoes. Upon the whole, it is to be feared that London,' &c., &c. •Last Saturday their Royal Belsize was not as respectably conducted as it Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales dined might have been and ought to have been; the con- at Belsize-house, near Hampstead, attended by sequence was that its customers fell off, and in the several persons of quality, where they were enterend it was shut up.
tained with the diversion of hunting, and such The newspapers of the period announce that the other as the place afforded, with which they house was opened as a place of public entertain- seemed well pleased, and at their departure were ment" with an uncommon solemnity of music and very liberal to the servants.'-Read's Journal, dancing.” It is somewhat amusing to note that July 15, 1721. the advertisements wind up with an assurance that “In the same journal, September 9, 1721, is an for the benefit of visitors timid about highwaymen account of his Excellency the Welsh ambassador “ twelve stout fellows completely armed patrol giving a plate of six guineas to be run for by between Belsize and London." Notwithstanding eleven footmen. The Welsh ambassador appears that the house had been the residence of the lord to have been the nickname of one Howell, who of the manor, better company (we are told) came kept the house. to it in its fallen estate than before. A year or “The Court of Justices, at the general quarter two after it was opened to the public grievous com- sessions at Hickes's-hall, have ordered the highplaints were made by the people of Hampstead of constable of Holborn division to issue his prethe multitude of coaches which invaded their rural cepts to the petty constables and headboroughs solitude. The numbers were often as many as two of the parish of Hampstead, to prevent all unor three hundred in a single night. We glean from lawful gaming, riots, &c., at Belsize-house and the Park's “ History of Hampstead” the following | Great Room at Hampstead.'—St. James's Journal, particulars concerning Belsize House as a place of May 24, 1722. amusement :-"Of Belsize House, as the mansion “On Monday last the appearance of nobility of a manorial district in the parish of Hampstead, I and gentry at Belsize was so great that they have already spoken ; it is introduced again here reckoned between three and four hundred coaches, as a place formerly of considerable notoriety for at which time a wild deer was hunted down and public diversions. The following extracts will give killed in the park before the company, which gave some idea of the nature and character of these near three hours' diversion.'-Ibid., June 7, 1722." amusements, and indicate that it was the prototype. In 1722 was published, in an octavo volume, of Vauxhall, Ranelagh, and many other more “ Belsize House,' a satire, exposing, 1. The Fops modern establishments :—Whereas that the ancient and Beaux who daily frequent that academy. 2. and noble house near Hampstead, commonly The characters of the women who make this an called Bellasis-house, is now taken and fitted up exchange for assignations. 3. The buffoonery of for the entertainment of gentlemen and ladies the Welsh ambassador. 4. The humours of his during the whole summer season, the same will be customers in their several apartments, &c. By a opened with an uncommon solemnity of music Serious Person of Quality.” The volume, however, and dancing. This undertaking will exceed all is of little real value, except as a somewhat coarse of the kind that has hitherto been known near sketch of the manners of the age. London, commencing every day at six in the According to this poetical sarcasm, Belsize was morning, and continuing till eight at night, all an academy for dissipation and lewdness, to a degree persons being privileged to admittance without that would scarcely be tolerated in the present
MR. SPENCER PERCEVAL.
times, and that would be a scandal in any; but originally a large but plain Elizabethan mansion, some allowance must probably be made for the with central tower and slightly projecting wings, jaundiced vision of the caustic writer. We find in was remodelled during the reign of Charles II., it the following brief description of the house : and subsequently again considerably altered. Its “ This house, which is a nuisance to the land,
park, less than a century ago, was a real park, Doth near a park and handsome garden stand, somewhat like that which encompasses Holland Fronting the road, betwixt a range of trees,
House, at Kensington. It was surrounded by a Which is perfumed with a Hampstead breeze;
solid wall, which skirted the south side of a lane And on each side the gate's a grenadier,
leading from the wood of the Knights of St. John Howe'er, they cannot speak, think, see, nor hear; But why they're posted there no mortal knows,
towards Hampstead. Unless it be to fright jackdaws and crows;
Belsize seems, on the whole, to have been rather For rooks they cannot scare, who there resort, an unlucky place. The mansion was pulled down To make of most unthoughtful bubbles sport.”
about the year 1852, and the bricks of the house The grounds and gardens of Belsize continued | and of the park wall were used to make the roads open as late as the year 1745, when foot-races were which now traverse the estate, and to form the site advertised there. In the course of the next gene- of the handsome villa residences which now form ration, however, a great change would seem to have Belsize Park; and at the present time all that is come over the place; at all events, in the “ Ambu-left to remind the visitor of the past glories of the lator," (1774), we read : “Belsize is situated on the spot is the noble avenue of elms which, as we have south-west side of Hampstead Hill, Middlesex, stated, once formed its principal approach. and was a fine seat belonging to the Lord Wotton, On the 21st of February, 1845, Mr. James and afterwards to the Earl of Chesterfield ; but in Delarue, a teacher of music, was murdered by a the year 1720 it was converted into a place of young man named Hocker, close by the corner of polite entertainment, particularly for music, dancing, Belsize Park, in the narrow lane leading from Chalk and play, when it was much frequented, on account Farm to Hampstead. The lane, at that time, as of its neighbourhood to London, but since that may be imagined, was very solitary, seeing that, time it has been suffered to run to ruin.”
with the exception of Belsize House, there were no After the lapse of many years, during which little houses near the spot. The crime was perpetrated or nothing is recorded of its history, Belsize came about seven o'clock in the evening. Cries of again to be occupied as a private residence, and “murder” were heard by a person who happened among its other tenants was the Right Hon. Spencer to be passing at the time, and on an alarm being Perceval, afterwards Prime Minister, who lived here given, the body of the murdered man was quickly for about ten years before taking office as Chan- discovered. Hocker, it seems, had in the meancellor of the Exchequer, namely, from 1798 to while gone to the “Swiss Tavern," and there 1807. Mr. Perceval was the second son of the called for brandy and water ; but on the arrival Earl of Egmont. Having first applied himself to of the police and others, Hocker too appeared on the study of the law, he entered Parliament, in the spot, inquired what was amiss, and, taking the 1796, as member for Northampton, and under Mr. dead man's hand, felt his pulse and pronounced Addington's administration, in 1801, was appointed him dead, and gave some bystanders money to Solicitor-General. Next year he became Attorney- help carry the corpse away. Mr. Howitt, in General, attaining also great distinction as a Par-noticing this tragedy in his “Northern Heights," liamentary debater. On the fall of the Duke of says, “The murder was afterwards clearly traced Portland's Administration, in 1809, Mr. Perceval to Hocker, the cause of it being jealousy and was appointed First Lord of the Treasury and revenge, so far as it appeared, for his being supChancellor of the Exchequer, and he was still in planted by Delarue in the affections of a young office when he was assassinated by Bellingham, in woman of Hampstead. On the trial Hocker read the lobby of the House of Commons, in 1812.* A a paper endeavouring to throw the charge of the portrait of Mr. Perceval, painted by Joseph, from a murder on a friend, whose name, of course, mask taken after death by Nollekens, is to be seen he did not disclose, and added an improbable in the National Portrait Gallery.
story of the manner in which his clothes had beIn more recent times Belsize House was occu- come stained with blood. The reading of this pied by a Roman Catholic family named Wright, paper only impressed the court and the crowd of who were bankers in London. The old house, spectators with an idea of Hocker's excessive
hypocrisy and cold bloodedness. He was con• See Vol. III., p. 530.
victed and executed.” Miss Lucy Aikin alludes to