A historic hotel in the heart of Knightsbridge
No. 17 and No. 19 Egerton Terrace now stand on what was part of an 84-acre parcel of land left in trust in 1627 by Henry Smith, Alderman of the City of London, ‘for the relief and ransom of poor captives being slaves under Turkish pirates’. The site was either very close to, or formed part of, The Grange, a large mansion constructed in the later 18th century by Polish architect Michael Novosielski. On his death it was acquired by the celebrated tenor, John Braham [1774c-1856], who ruined himself through disastrous theatrical speculation.
The houses of Egerton Terrace first begin to appear in the court guides in the early 1820s. No. 17 first features in Boyle’s Court Guide in 1824 when it is shown in the occupancy of Philip Edwards, a gentleman of private means, who remained here until about 1832. It then passed to Thomas Purvis Q.C., who commuted each working day, almost certainly by private carriage, between this house and his chambers in Bloomsbury. By 1851 the house was occupied Christopher Preston, a 61-year-old ‘annuitant’. About 1855 it passed to Charles Adam Woolley, a prosperous cab proprietor or ‘jobmaster’ who rented his horse drawn carriages out to drivers by the day.
Charles Woolley died at his house in Egerton Terrace 14 January 1858 aged seventy-two. His widow, Eleanor, lived on here a year or so more. By 1861 the property had passed to a jeweller William Cooper who was a skilled wire-drawer who could turn an ounce of gold into a strand, thinner than a human hair, that would stretch for several thousand feet. His widow, Elizabeth, who was twenty years his junior, lived on in this house until about 1880, by which date it had adopted its present name and numbering.
By 1888, the year Jack the Ripper was stalking the fog-bound streets of Whitechapel, No.17 was in the occupation of Countess Berchtold, the wife of the Austro-Hungarian politician Count Berchtold [1863-1942], one of the richest men in the Hapsburg Empire. He is best remembered today for delivering the ultimatum to Serbia after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which led to the outbreak of the First World War.
In November 1891 No. 17 got itself into the newspapers when a young actress named Ella Gottschall was assaulted in her bedroom here by one Archibald Pinchin 38, who she had met the same evening at the Continental Theatre. At the trial in the Old Bailey Ella and her witness failed to appear, suggesting that ‘actress’ was a euphemism for an older profession. Thirteen months later, Pinchin shot himself in the vicinity of the Victoria Gate, Bayswater.
No. 19 had a different set of occupants. In 1824 it was the home of Benjamin Jutsham, who for many years kept the library at Carlton House, the home of the Prince Regent [afterwards George IV]. In his youth, Benny Jutsham was one of the Prince’s fellow roustabouts. Both loved to gamble and the Prince once bet Benny on the outcome of a race between two drops of rainwater on a window-pane.
His job as Royal Librarian was very much a sinecure post because the Prince was never known to have read a book willingly. However, he took his duties, and guarded his domain and its contents, very fiercely. Books could be borrowed - by the right sort of chap - but woe betide anyone who overlooked their return. Not all those who visited Jutsham in his lair were academically minded and he had once to chastise Colonel Hanger [afterwards Lord Coleraine] for spitting on the carpet.
By 1851 the house had passed to William Hope, a collector for a brewery. Hope continued to occupy this house, with his wife, Amelia, and after her death with his second wife, Rosina.William and Rosina Hope continued here until about 1877, which may have been the year of William’s death.
By about 1880 it was occupied by a Mrs Emma Formby who sold on in 1889 to Reginald A. Coleridge, a classics’ tutor and a descendant of the poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. His cousin, the author, artist and barrister, Stephen William Buchanan Coleridge [1854-1936]was a frequent visitor. Stephen was an extremely handsome man who ‘caught the attention’ of the actress, Ellen Terry, the muse of Sir Henry Irving. She wrote him several love letters. He was a passionate opponent of vivisection and a co-founder of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
By the late 1890s No. 17 and No. 19 had passed into use as a private hotel. No. 17 returned to single family occupation between the wars but No. 19 continued to take paying guests. From 1943 onwards until at least the mid-1980s both were occupied by the London Hostels Association, which provided affordable accommodation for visitors to London, including many who flocked to the capital for the 1948 Olympic Games and the present Queen’s coronation in 1953. By 1992 both properties were appearing in the London Post Office directories as ‘The Egerton House Hotel’. They continue so today as part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection. In 2009 this five-star boutique hotel of 28 bedrooms was voted ‘London’s Most Excellent Hotel’ by Conde Nast Johansens.