Regency Hot Spots: The White House

A “discreet side entrance”  alluded to the mystery and magic of Soho’s The White House brothel (Pursuit of Pleasure: Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London, 2010, p.136).  The “famous magic brothel” in Soho Square combined commercial sex with “dark, baroque special effects and natural magic devices” (Modern Enchantments, 2002, p. 110).

In the 1770s, the site of the Spanish embassy No. 21 (Manor House) Soho Square became a hotel in 1778 until 1801 kept by Thomas Hooper.  Recption rooms “were garishly decorated” with three known by their fittings as “Gold”, “Silver” and “Bronze” (  The walls were said to be inlaid with mirrored panels (

In addition to being known for flagellation, the house also had themed rooms including the “Painted Chamber,” the “Grotto”, the “Coal Hole” and the “Skeleton Room” where a skeleton popped out of cupboard with the aid of machinery (  Kinky!

Wikipedia has this description supposedly from Mayhew’s London and the London Poor which I couldn’t find in the online copies, but is nonetheless interesting: “Some of the apartments, it is said, were furnished in a style of costly luxury; while others were fitted up with springs, traps, and other contrivances, so as to present no appearance other than that of an ordinary room, until the machinery was set in motion. In one room, into which some wretched girl might be introduced, on her drawing a curtain as she would be desired, a skeleton, grinning horribly, was precipitated forward, and caught the terrified creature in his, to all appearance, bony arms. In another chamber the lights grew dim, and then seemed gradually to go out. In a little time some candles, apparently self-ignited, revealed to a horror stricken woman, a black coffin, on the lid of which might be seen, in brass letters, ANNE, or whatever name it had been ascertained the poor wretch was known by. A sofa, in another part of the mansion was made to descend into some place of utter darkness; or, it was alleged, into a room in which was a store of soot or ashes.”

I am fascinated by the skeleton, and thought it was ghoulish enough to celebrate in honor of All Hallow’s Eve.

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