An earlier view of Old Palace Yard, by Leonard Knyff
Inset: the full drawing

Monamy's House
c 1730 - 1749/50

"The auctioneer, Mr Heath, announced in the 'General Advertiser' of July 26th, 1750:

'By virtue of a distress, tomorrow, the 27th inst. the household furniture, pictures and china of Mr.Peter Monnamy, sea painter, deceased at his late dwelling house, next to King Henry's Chapel in Old Palace Yard.     Likewise his collection of prints and drawings, amongst which are many of William Vandervelde, Senior and Junior.     The whole collection will be exhibited to view this day to the time of sale. which will begin at 11 o'clock precisely.     The whole to be sold in one day.
N.B. ---- The prints, drawings and models, will begin selling at six in the evening.
The house is to let with good vaults opening in the street.'"

It took a full day to auction Monamy's possessions, eighteen months after his death, and the house must still have been a residence of some consequence. Monamy may have died in debt, and, as Vertue put it "decayd and Infirm ..... his works being done for dealers at moderate prices ..... kept him but in indifferent circumstances to his end", but indifferent circumstances are not the same thing as poverty; nor do a man's circumstances "at his end" reflect his prominence in his prime.

The above image comes from Chamberlain's New and Compleat History and Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, 1770. At first I thought the only building which fitted the description "next to King Henry's Chapel" was the warehouse-looking erection, which I tinted red. However, since discovering the image below, I realise that it must be the original depiction, and that what looks like a much more convincing house, with an obvious front door, is tucked away behind the seemingly doorless building, prominent at right. No house could be called more obviously "next" to the chapel than this, and it really must be the one described in the auction advertisement.



From London and its Environs described, Vol 1, published by R & J Dodsley, 1761

In his Catalogue of Engravers, Walpole has a note, in connection with John Kip, remarking that: "John Kip ..... did a great number of plates, and very indifferently, of the palaces and seats in this kingdom. They were first drawn by one Leonard Knyff, his countryman, who also painted fowls, dogs, &c, and dealt in pictures. The latter died in Westminster 1721, aged between 60 and 70, having been many years in England. His pictures, which were not extraordinary, were sold in 1723." See Panoramas.

The death of Leonard Knyff in 1721, if Walpole has his facts right (he may not), coincides precisely with the first indications of Monamy's residence in Westminster. Knyff's studio, presumably left empty in 1723, was in Old Palace Yard. It is a distinct possibility that Monamy took over Knyff's residence, or studio, in about 1722/23.

However, the City of Westminster rate book records a 'Peter Moneyman' in St Margaret's Lane, in 1723. 'Peter Monyman' is recorded again in 1725, and 'Peter Moneyman' in 1728, when his address is precisely given as Fish Yard. St Margaret's Lane runs into Old Palace Yard, where King Henry VII's chapel abuts Westminster Abbey. Monamy's move to the house "next to King Henry's Chapel" seems, therefore, to have taken place after 1728: hence my guess at about 1730.



two views of the houses next to the chapel

Above is Samuel Wale's view of Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's Church, published 1761. Samuel Wale, with Thomas Gainsborough and Peter Monamy, formed the trio of artists who presented their paintings to the Foundling Hospital in 1747.

Monamy's grandson, Peter Monamy Cornwall, went to Westminster School and grew up in Marsham Street; see below.

To the right, the relative locations of Fish Yard and the houses next to K H 7 Chap are precisely mapped out by Rocque, 1746. The place had its attractions. King Henry VII was the founder of the Tudor dynasty, and a couple of lines attributed to Andrew Marvell come to mind:

A Tudor a Tudor! wee've had Stuarts enough;
None ever Reign'd like old Besse in the Ruffe.

Fish Yard is directly behind St Margaret's church, below. Behind the church the roof of Westminster Hall is clearly seen.

more westminster topography
timeline 1: 1652-1698       timeline 2: 1697-1750
back to timeline 3: 1749-1755
timeline 4: 1755 --- francis swaine
article 1981       article 1983
artistic range
monamy website index


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© Charles Harrison Wallace 2007
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