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List Entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.


List entry Number: 1237041



The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: City of Westminster

District Type: London Borough


National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: I

Date first listed: 05-Feb-1970

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 428227

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


TQ 3080 NE CITY OF WESTMINSTER STRAND, WC2 73/43 Somerset House and 5.2.70 King's College Old Building G.V. I Government offices and college. The New Public Offices 1776-96 by Sir William Chambers; sculpture by Carlini, Bacon, Cezacchi, Banks, Nollekens, Silton;and Coade stone urns; the east extension for King's College 1829-35 by Sir Robert Smirke and the west extension of offices to Lancaster Place by Sir James Pennethorne, 1853-56. Portland stone to all main elevations, stock brick for rear to subsidiary courts, slate and leaded roofs. Chambers' dignified neo-classical interpretation of established Palladianism, but with some markedly Parisian neo-classical details, rising to features of Piranesian originality in the river front but not entirely resolved as design,viz the scale of the dome - all executed in the finest masonry and with excellent examples of late C18 sculpture. Smirke and, more remarkably for the date, Pennethorne, laudably followed the precedent set by Chambers. The Strand block with carriage archway leads into grand quadrangle of buildings with subsidiary courts and the later flanking ranges of the east and west extensions; the great river front is raised on a mighty basement/terrace, originally opening directly on to the Thames with water-gates. 3 main storeys throughout on 2½ storeys of basements. The Strand block has a 9-window wide entrance front. Rusticated arcaded ground floor, the central 3 bays open as carriage arches into finely detailed triple vaulted,columned vestibule and on into the quad. Piano nobile with pilastered and pedimented windows with square architraved windows to half storey 2nd floor, articulated by giant order of Corinthian columns; full entablature with balustraded parapets flanking 3 bay central attic with wreathed oculi with statues on vertical accents and crowning sculptural group. Quadrangle side similar but able to be fully developed across width of site behind Strand with projecting, 3-bay, giant order dressed wings and plainer subsidiary wings. The quadrangle building on the south, east and west sides is completely rusticated (with greater emphasis to ground floor) with giant order centre-piece pavilions, that to the south with modest pedimented attic and dome, the other 2 with small cupolas; arcaded ground floor fenestration; pediments to piano nobile windows of pavilions. Rusticated gateways link north ends of side ranges with Strand side range and give access to subsidiary courts and Smirke's King's College range to east (25 bays wide with central and end pavilions with giant orders of columns and pilasters respectively) and on the west to Pennethorne's extension; the latter has a 13-bay front to Lancaster Place flanked by 4-bay projecting wings and admirably reworks Chambers' design for the quadrangle elevation of the Strand block. To the river front the whole vast complex presents one great facade of which Chambers' original work forms the major portion, a monumental palace elevation 45 bays wide with central 5-bay giant order pavilion, surmounted weakly by the pediment-attic-dome, and, the most original feature, the giant ordered, pedimented colonnade screens set on giant semicircular archways, providing the 2 major flank accents linking the wings. The massive arcaded basement/terrace has central semicircular water arch and water gates flanked by pairs of giant rusticated Tuscan columns. A number of Chambers' very fine interiors survive, of particular note the former rooms of the Royal Acadamy and the Learned Societies with their staircases; the Navy staircase with its flying span in the west end of the south block; chimney pieces, doorcases etc. Smirke's King's College retains classical entrance hall and staircase either side; low great hall with chapel above remodelled 1861-72 by Sir George Gilbert Scott in Normano-Byzantine style with painted and mosaic decoration, arcaded semi-domed altar apse, etc. Sir William Chambers; John Harris 1600 History of the King's Works; Vol VI

Listing NGR: TQ3077880767

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Harris, J, Sir William Chambers Knight of the Polar Star, (1970)
Mordaunt Crook, J, Port, M H , 'The History of the Kings Works' in The History of the Kings Works 1782-1851, , Vol. 6, (1973)

National Grid Reference: TQ 30725 80870


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End of official listing