20 Aldermanbury


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
20, Aldermanbury


Ordnance survey map of 20 Aldermanbury
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Statutory Address:
20, Aldermanbury

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

Greater London Authority
City and County of the City of London (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Chartered Insurance Institute. 1932-34 by M.E. and O.H. Collins with murals by C. Walter Hodges. Portland stone with mullioned and transomed windows, with steel frames; grey slate tile roof. Tudorbethan style. Five storeys plus basement and attics.

Reasons for Designation

The Chartered Insurance Institute of 1932-34 has special architectural interest as an appropriately traditional insurance institute in a Tudorbethan style with smooth Portland stone exteriors, mullioned and transomed windows with heraldic glass, and richly fitted out interiors with extensive panelling and other joinery. There is particular interest to the unusual and striking murals by the noted illustrator C. Walter Hodges of 1934 representing the four types of insurance: fire, accident, marine and life. The building fits into the longstanding tradition of City livery halls and possesses special architectural, artistic and institutional interest.


The Institute was granted its Royal Charter in 1912 and formed out of the 1897 Federation of Insurance Institutes. The first offices were in an existing building on Cheapside, but the purpose-built headquarters was begun in 1933 and opened in 1934 by King George V. The building escaped an air raid in January 1941, which destroyed many nearby buildings, and the Institute was noted to have survived due to its conformity to all the requirements of the Fire Offices. The murals were painted in 1934 by C. Walter Hodges (1909-2004), a noted illustrator of children's books and Shakespeare scholar who studied at Goldsmiths College, was involved with early discussions about reconstruction of Globe theatre.


EXTERIOR: To Aldermanbury, an advanced range of three-window bays to the right under a shaped gabled with finial and central four-light mullioned and transomed window; below this the third floor has three three-light windows above a cornice that wraps around the building. There is an oriel in the central bay of the first and second floors, under which is the CII arms (salamander for fire, wheat sheaf for life, anchors for marine and chains for accident). To the left of this is the entrance with a two-bay arcaded porch at ground floor that has a Romanesque style column capital and within the porch a timber oriel and timber double doors with overlight to the entrance; inscribed to the right of this is commemoration of the 1934 opening of the building by King George V and Queen Mary. At first floor is a six-light window of single lights, and second floor is a four-light window next to a longer two-light window. At third floor, above the cornice, is a three-light window then at fourth floor is a three bay colonnaded porch with two dormers above. The north return with chimney stack is blind and then attached to the 1964 extension which is not of interest.

The south elevation is defined by the mullioned and transomed windows, those to the Great Hall of double height, and those to second and third floors nearly square. Stepping back above this is the roof with large windows, some replaced and then dormers, these hidden from Aldermanbury by the large gable. The east elevation has an advanced porch with the name of the building inscribed over the door, under a strapwork balustrade with finials. Above this is the window of the great hall, and a small balcony at second floor on corbelled brackets.

INTERIOR: The entrance hall has a groin vaulted ceiling and three rounded arch openings, that to south with heraldic glass in the doors and relief wood carving above. The ground floor room is the Great Hall, with moulded beams on scrolled corbels, half height pegged plank and muntin panelling with linenfold pilasters, and smooth coursed ashlar walls above; dais to east end and gallery to west end, this with metal work in the balustrade and with sympathetic c.2000 screen below; large lights of three tiers in Deco style; the windows carry heraldic glass representing the different insurance companies. The main stair hall has two-thirds height plank and muntin style panelling and similar double doors with semi-circular heads bearing relief wood carving into the great hall. The upper floors and basement have similar panelling at the landing. The stair is open well and in a grand C17 style with closed string, turned balusters and heavy newels with acorn finials. The stair well has dado panelling in similar style, above which are boards carrying a large collection of fire plaques from around the world. At second floor is the main chamber with similar panelling, heraldic glass, beams, and lights, yet smaller, as in the hall below. The anteroom serves as the fire plaque museum and is lined with grey marble and green marble cornice and architraves; above this are the murals by C. Walter Hodges, representing the four insurance types: Fire is represented by a dramatic scene of the Great Fire of London; Marine by a New World scene with a ship wrecked on a shore; Life with a rural collage of a funeral procession and the planting of crops and a young family; and Accident with two unusual 1930s scenes of a car and work accident. There is also trompe l'oeuil brickwork to integrate the scenes into the architeceture. The main stair has a late C20 skylight over moulded base, and there is a secondary stair to the rear. The offices are modernised and have no features of special interest.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Metal railings to front with large stone piers with domed heads. Railings to rear marked for 'Trades'.

SOURCES: Buildings of England, London 1: The City of London, p. 292. The Journal of the Chartered Insurance Institute, March 1997. Times Online obituary for C. Walter Hodges Dec. 7 2004.




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

End of official listing

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