From the homes of sixteenth-century royalty to the workplaces of nineteenth century geniuses, one of the pleasures of London living and working is the rich history which lies behind our city and its buildings. Office buildings are no exception – many led varied and intriguing lives before they became office space.
This week we’re taking a look at a selection of London business centres with prestigious former residents.
Pall Mall: Fit for a Royal Princess
From their desks, residents of this business centre in Pall Mall can sit and look out from the generously proportioned windows, much in the same way that royal princesses would have looked up from their writing desks more than a century before.
It might not be obvious at first glance, but this eighteenth-century building was once the home of royalty. Undergoing multiple transformations over the years, the property’s first brush with royalty was in 1863 when its newly installed ballroom was used to celebrate the marriage of the Prince of Wales.
The second and more extended encounter came almost forty years later, in 1902, when the building was granted by royal warrant to Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Christian. In 1923 it passed to her daughters, Princess Helena Victoria and Princess Marie Louise.
There is (alas) no ballroom today, but the property still retains many of its original features, including elegant eighteenth-century hallways and ornate ceilings.
St James’s Square: Home of a Computing Pioneer
Visitors to this business centre in St James’s Square are reminded about its famous former resident by the blue plaque adorning the front. Ada Lovelace was a mathematician recognised as a pioneer of computing thanks to her work on the earliest known general purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.
A remarkable achievement by anyone’s standards, it is all the more impressive when you consider that Ada was born in 1815. Google certainly thought so; in 2012 it celebrated her contribution to computing with its Google doodle.
And if the mathematical connections aren’t enough, the building has a strong literary connection too: Ada was also the daughter of the Romantic poet Lord Byron.
Chancery Lane: The Birth of an Eminent Institution
From one formidable resident to another; Southampton Buildings on Chancery Lane were once the home of The Patent Office. Beginning in a single shared office on this site in 1852, the ‘office’ grew at such a rate that it took over most of the buildings in Chancery Lane, as well as nearby Quality Court, Furnival Street and Staple Inn.
In more recent times, the building was hit by a doodlebug bomber during the Second World War. Thankfully, this prestigious piece of London’s heritage was carefully restored to its former glory and is still used as office space today.
Choosing office space with history
A building’s place in history might not be the first consideration when choosing office space, but for many businesses, the story behind their office creates a talking point, as well as adding to its charm and prestige. In a city as steeped in history as London, there are plenty of opportunities for businesses to take up residence in an office space that’s far from ordinary.
Discover more London offices, from the historic to the ultra-modern, at LondonOffices.com.
(Image of Fitzroy Square by stevecadman via Flickr.)