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Archers & Green and Alfred Waterhouse
Whitehall Court, Westminster, London, SW1A
Built during the mid-1880s
City Of Westminster
Whitehall Court is ideally located for the transport links of Westminster, Embankment and Charing Cross rail and underground stations.
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Whitehall Court, an Overview
Whitehall Court situated in the midst of everything that represents Englishness and London life in particular, must surely be an Anglophiles dream residence.
The two buildings that make up Whitehall Court are a tribute to Victorian Britain, being a mix of neo-gothic meets classical architecture. Developed by the then feted but ultimately fraudulent, Jabez Spencer Balfour, Whitehall Court was one of the pioneering developments of residential architecture making apartment living desirable and fashionable.
While Balfour never recovered from his downfall his developments have lived on and now boast grade-1 listed living in one of the most prestigious parts of London. Overlooking the Embankment and just minutes away from Trafalgar Square, Whitehall Court is one of those buildings that features in picture postcard London and yet remains an exceptionally discreet residence with many Londoners not even being aware of its mixed use of apartments, private members club and exclusive hotel.
A History of Whitehall Court
Built around the mid 1880’s, Whitehall Court was a landmark development actually designed by two architects. The principal building which is the Royal Horse Guards Hotel at numbers 1-2 Whitehall Court, was designed by Archers & Green. The duo also built the splendid Hyde Park Hotel now called the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The residential part of Whitehall Court which also houses the National Liberal Club and The Farmers Club was designed by esteemed architect, Alfred Waterhouse, who is perhaps more famously known for his building of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.
Stylistically the trio of Archer, Green and Waterhouse represent some of the most magnificent buildings of Victorian England. Their styles are described variously as; neo-gothic, French-chateau, baroque and classical. In truth their styles are a fusion of architectural influences popular at the time reflecting the advances in engineering and increasing popularity of foreign travel, especially ‘the grand tour’, (which was taken by many Victorians coming of age, equivalent to today’s gap year generation and whose tastes were therefore inspired by their exotic experiences).
An array of decorative gables, prominent towers and tiled features made Whitehall Court an attractive feature of London’s skyline and still today it is a striking building that makes up part of the iconic skyline from the Houses of Parliament to St Paul’s.
Its splendour outside was reflected inside and although many of the apartments have of course been modernised and refurbished their individuality remains. Layouts varied, with the original flats once being renowned for having twenty bedrooms, dwarfing many of today’s penthouses.
Indeed Whitehall Court was very much a pioneer of modern day apartment blocks, being at the time full of ‘mod cons’ including; a lift to all floors, electric lighting and sound proofing. In fact the electric lighting was so popular that bare bulbs were left on display as their hue was considered so charming.
What hasn’t changed is the type of resident that Whitehall Court attracts. Although set in a political heartland Whitehall Court has appealed to many writers and creative types as much as it has politicos and likewise today it is very much seen as a residence for ladies and gentleman of means.
Living & Investing In Whitehall Court
With its grade-1 listed status and much of the surrounding area also being listed, Whitehall has changed very little over the years.
This means exclusivity has been retained as property of such pedigree and calibre remains rare. The result is a development whose prices have held firm as other developments come and go with fashions and fads for types of building. If you are seeking a modern, glazed, cookie-cutter apartment then Whitehall Court is not for you. Those seeking a slice of idiosyncratic London property will not be able to get enough of Whitehall Court. Very much having its lovers and haters, Whitehall Court is like that other Victorian innovation, Marmite.
Throughout its history Whitehall Court has played many roles within political circles its proximity to the Houses of Parliament and other key government buildings making it a popular choice for meetings and during the First World War part of it was requisitioned as a headquarters for the British Secret Service.
Jabez Spencer Balfour’s own political career saw him first become Mayor of Croydon and later Liberal MP for Tadworth and then Burnley. So it is no surprise that part of Whitehall Court was built to house the National Liberal Club, though its grandeur was regarded with bemusement by some of its members, who were expecting a simple meeting house for members to be able to attain the comforts of life at reasonable prices.
With members such as the politically outspoken George Bernard Shaw and the decadently outré Oscar Wilde, its reputation was always going to be more bohemian than it originally intended and rumour has it that members would finish off an evening’s debating, dining and drinking by diving into the Thames. This was despite a strong element of the temperance movement within the Liberal party!
More modestly the Farmers Club also found a permanent home here. Set up to represent the farmers of Britain with a base in the metropolis and provide a platform from which all news of farming could be broadcast. Originally just big enough to have an office for the secretary, a small club room and a bar, the Farmers Club now has 56 bedrooms for its members, a number of meeting and function rooms and some of the friendliest and most down to earth staff to be found in a private club.
Membership to the Farmers Club is possible for residents of Whitehall Court and the club proudly boasts a restaurant serving some Britain’s finest produce. Similarly, Whitehall Court residents can also negotiate the services of the Royal Horse Guards Hotel and the National Liberal Club.
Whitehall Court & Beyond
Whitehall Court is going to appeal to those who truly appreciate being part of London Life and want to be in the epicentre of this fantastic global City. With everything that London has to offer on ones doorstep, Whitehall Court will attract purchasers who seek a pied-a-terre or permanent residents wanting not just easy access, but immediate access to the best that London has to offer.
Culturally such a location is a dream, with many of the West End’s best theatres within walking distance including; the Trafalgar Studios on Whitehall and the Adelphi, Vaudeville and Savoy Court theatres all being found on the Strand nearby.
Understandably there are also many restaurants in the area. From the simple, but upmarket burger bar, Byron on Haymarket to the swankier Brummus and Mint leaf within the same vicinity eating out in the area will leave you spoilt for choice.
It’s no coincidence that Coutts, Drummonds and C Hoare & Co, also have branches in the area which should indicate the stature of resident that Whitehall Court attracts.
Ultimately, Whitehall Court residents know what they want out of London and don’t need a guidebook-tour of local amenities. What they may require is a fireplace on which to display invitations to the various private views and gallery openings that one is invited to with many corporate companies still discreetly hosting evenings in the nearby National Gallery and Somerset House. The latter being one of London’s most popular venues for exclusive events, not least London Fashion Week.
Like its original tenants, Whitehall Court’s current occupants are part of the London that leads the fashions rather than follows.
Whitehall CourtSEARCH CURRENT AVAILABILITY
Court rises over London skyline
Overlooking the River Thames, this Grade II-listed French chateau-style mansion block enjoys an enviable location in the heart of the City of Westminster.
Charing Cross, Embankment and Westminster Underground stations are under five minutes’ walk from this prestigious address, while St James’s Park, the Houses of Parliament, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square are also within easy reach.
Sales Prices From £1.150.000
Rental Prices From £775 Per Week
Whitehall Court residents also have a number of prestigious neighbours. Facilities in the building include fine restaurants in the five-star Royal Horseguards Hotel and possible membership of The Farmers Club and The Liberal Club, which are found on either side of the late Victorian building.
From a murky history…
Built between 1884 and 1887 by architects Thomas Archer and Arthur Green, Whitehall Court has been home to politicians, actors, writers and gentlemen of means. In fact, William Gladstone, George Bernard Shaw, HG Wells, Lord Kitchener and Grand Duke Michael of Russia are among its former residents.
The building was also used as the headquarters of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) until the end of World War One, while during World War Two both the US and the Soviet Union used different parts of Whitehall Court as a base.
But less celebrated are Whitehall Court’s links to the man known as the Champion Hypocrite of England.
The original building was financed by Jabez Spencer Balfour, who at the time was Mayor of Croydon and later became Liberal MP for Tamworth and then Burnley. In 1887, Balfour established the Liberator Building Society, which grew at a fantastic rate on the back of a property boom.
But just five years later fraud caused the building society’s downfall. Some of Balfour’s investors are reported to have committed suicide when they realised they had lost everything. In 1893, Balfour himself went missing, only to reappear two years later in Argentina. Brought back for trial in 1895, he was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment of which he served 11.
…To a magnificent future
Whitehall Court remains a well-known feature of the London skyline and often appears in photographs taken by tourists standing on the bridge in St James’s Park and looking towards Horse Guards Parade.
The building also dominates the view from the South Bank looking towards the north side of the Thames.
Inside, many of Whitehall Court’s one, two and three-bed apartments – plus multi-level penthouses – have been tastefully refurbished to the highest standard while retaining the original high ceilings and French windows leading onto stone balconies.
With lift access to the first floor, communal heating and hot water plus larger than average room sizes, Whitehall Court provides its discerning residents with 21st century facilities – including 24-hour porterage – set in the historic SW1 postcode area of London.
Garton Jones has a range of apartments available for sale or rent within this impressive building. For more information about Whitehall Court and other luxury homes in central London, contact our Westminster office today.