Section of Richard Horwood’s London map of 1792-99, showing 22, Grosvenor Street at the bottom with Brooks Mews and Brook Street above it. Top centre is the location of 18, South Molton Street.We do not yet know in what ‘obscure street of London’ Louis lived and worked before 1779, when he took premises at 18, South Molton Street. If it is the original building and number (location at the time is shown in the above map), it is now occupied by a branch of Dune shoe-shops. It is interesting that the clothing areas of London in Louis’ time are substantially the same today. From here, by June 1784, Louis, Catherine and their young family moved to 22, Lower Grosvenor Street. This house backed on to 22, Brooks Mews, which is where the tailor’s shop and ‘manufactory’ were located. Nos. 21 and 22, Grosvenor Street were demolished around 1900 and replaced with the present double building, in which for a while were situated the offices of Sir Alexander Korda, the British film pioneer.
Louis also had a house in Lower Brook Street, probably on a short lease, which may also have backed on to Brooks Mews, and which he retained until at least 1806 as a workshop, after selling the Grosvenor Street and Brooks Mews houses.
In 1792 Louis also purchased a family house in the relatively-rural Turnham Green, known as Pond House, situated in Chiswick Lane, close to where it meets Chiswick High Road. This house is still in existence, and is known as No.2, Chiswick Lane.
Oakley Farm, Mottisfont, Hampshire was bought by Louis from Walter Smythe, of Brambridge, on 4th June 1799 for £5,350. This property, which contains probably the best trout fishing in England, was always let to a tenant farmer until sold around 1831, but we have no idea why Louis bought it. Walter (Wat) Smythe’s sister was none other than Maria Fitzherbert. Oakley Farm is now part of the Mottisfont estates owned by the National Trust.
Sometime between April 1800 and March 1801, Louis sold his premises in Lower Grosvenor Street to Thomas Shepperd, who continued to carry on a tailoring business there. Louis moved his business to 41, Dover Street, Piccadilly, which is now numbered 43, and was until recently occupied by the Portal Gallery. The house has a smaller floor plan than the Grosvenor Street house, though it has six storeys. There is an alley beside it to the north, still visible, which leads to Dover Yard, which served as the mews, with carriage access on the west side, between what was then Nos. 7 and 8 Berkeley Street.
In 1804, Louis moved from the Turnham Green house, although he did not sell it, renting it out for at least another 20 years, He bought South Stoneham House near Southampton from Hans Sloane Stanley. This impressive building, attributed to the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, still exists as a residential hall for Southampton University. Louis sold the estate at a profit in 1809.
The new London house that Louis bought in 1805-6 was 45 Gloucester Street, Portman Square. With the rapid expansion north of what became Gloucester Place, the house was soon renumbered to 86, Gloucester Place, and it still exists as No. 73. By the good offices of Herr Hitler it was badly damaged in WWII but the ground floor appears to be much as it was originally. In rebuilding it lost its top floor, but we only need to look at the house next door to get a good idea how it used to be. The house is now the rectory of the parish of St. Mary’s, Marylebone, which is ironic because it was in the vault of St. Mary’s Church that Louis was buried after he died in 1830. The large vault under this church accommodated a large number of coffins, and was open and well cared-for in the 1930’s. Some time before WWII it was sealed up, and there Louis and his many bedfellows slept undisturbed, save for the constant rumble of heavy traffic along Marylebone Road, until one of the first bombs of the Blitz fell in September 1940 and surgically removed the cinema at Madame Tussaud’s just across Marylebone Road. (This made room for the London Planetarium to be built on this site much later). Moving on to about 1980, the then rector of St. Mary decided that it was time for the dead to make way for the living, and that a ‘healing centre’ should be established in the vault instead. Farebrother Funeral Directors were given the unenviable task of clearing out the remains. When they reopened the vault a scene of utter chaos greeted them, with coffins and remains tossed about everywhere, presumably caused by the shock of the bombs that fell nearby. The grisly job of re-coffining and moving everyone to a mass grave at Brookwood Cemetery was completed in about 1982.
1809 was the year when Louis decided to give up South Stoneham, which he sold to John Lane for upwards of ₤15,000, and to buy a more conveniently-situated country estate – Eastwick Park, Great Bookham, Surrey, which was his last residence. It was built by the French Huguenot architect Nicholas Dubois (c.1665-1735) in 1726-8 for the recently-widowed Countess of Effingham and her new husband Sir Conyers Darcy. Dubois was a leader of the Palladian revival and built or altered many houses in London, but it appears that he built only two country houses from scratch – Eastwick Park, and Stanmer Park near Brighton. Eastwick was demolished in the 1950’s to make way for a school. Stanmer still exists, and gives a good impression of what Eastwick looked like, since in many respects the houses are of similar design. An engraving of Eastwick made by J.T. Allom in 1833 is below.