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Bill-head for Edward Berry, Ironmonger, St Paul's Churchyard

A full transcription of the bill is available on the museum's online collections explorer.

The total on this bill from the ironmonger Edward Berry is for £33 15s 7d, one of the highest on any of the bills in the Fitzwilliam's collection. The sheet is dated 14 November 1765 and appears to have been written in one session, rather than over a period of time. A closer look at the items in the list reveals that some items are repeated throughout. For instance, the phrase 'Set shovel & tongs' is the most numerous, appearing eight times. The items must have been of different quality and sizes as they vary in price, but because they are listed individually rather than as '8 shovels & tongs', it gives the impression that the person placing the order was thinking room by room, possibly from top of the house to the bottom. One of the last items is a 'box iron', which occurs frequently in contemporary inventories of kitchens, usually situated on the lowest level of a townhouse. The fact that larger items also appear, such as stoves and fenders, suggests that the whole house was being furnished.

In 1765 William Blathwayt (1719-87), twice-widowed grandson of the Secretary of War to William III, married a woman called Mary Creighton. The eldest of his siblings, William inherited the family estate of Dyrham Park in Gloucestershire, but soon after his marriage he and his wife took up rented accommodation on north-west corner of Golden Square, in the parish of Westminster (see the illustration below). Golden Square was completed in 1707 but it had undergone a transformation in 1750, as had a number of other London Squares in the years after 1725, when the residents of St James's Square successfully petitioned Parliament for a bill for better maintenance of the Square, setting a major precedent. Other resident groups followed suit and were allowed to raise money for repairs and were permitted to fine perpreetratots of 'outrages'. The Squares became exclusive, closed areas, since residents were also permitted to exclude 'beggars and disorderly persons'. In 1753 the garden was changed from a rectangular shape to an octagon and enclosed with an iron railing. The heyday of the Square was long over: the aristocracy had moved to newer areas, and had been replaced by a commercial and professional mixture, including harpsichord and piano makers, tailors, military men and artists.

Fig. 1. Sutton Nichols, 'View of the north prospect of Golden Square'. Pl. for A survey of the cities of London and Westminster... (6th ed.) The Fitzwilliam Museum. Highlighted to show the Blathwayts' house

The interior of the Blathwayts' new home apparently needed a fair amount of work before the newly-weds could move in. A surviving bill in Gloucester Archives dated 24 Dec 1766 from the firm of James Moss, Carpenters and Joiners, records the work done for 'Wm Blathwayt Esq at his House in Golden square', including 'making a safe for meat, putting shelf in wine cellar', 'cutting hole in stable door & putting slide to ditto' and 'easing doors through the house & sundry other jobs'. The order of 'one large and engraved door plate' from the ironmonger John Pitts on 22 March 1766 (in the Fitzwilliam's collection) perhaps marks the time when the couple moved in.

The image to the right shows nos. 23 and 24 of Golden Square, a few doors down from the Blathwayts' residence at no. 28. These are the only orginal facades on the square to have survived (albeit slightly altered). On Sutton Nicholl's view (above) they are shown as some of the tallest houses on the square (halfway up the left side, opposite the carriage), with four storeys as opposed to three. During the Blathwayts' time on the square both houses were the residence of the Bavarian Envoy. The Blathwayts' house probably conformed to the following layout: basement (kitchen); ground (parlours); first (formal dining); second (bedrooms and dressing rooms); garrets (servants' quarters). This ties in with Edward Berry's bill, where the items described as 'Fine Steel stove best Engraved border' (as opposed to 'plain') and 'Fine Engraved Scollopd steel Fender', appear mid-way down the list, i.e. for the first and second floors.

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