East-India-HouseThe headquarters of the East India Company, the ‘New’ East India House, was built in the 1720s at the corner of Leadenhall and Lime Streets on the site of what had been a late Elizabethan mansion known as Craven House.

The company, which was founded in 1600, was housed in several different properties (including Crosby Hall – now located at Chelsea) until it moved into Craven House in 1648 – built by a former Lord Mayor, Sir Robert Lee, and named after one of its later occupants Sir William Craven. In 1661 an ornamental wooden structure featuring paintings of some of the Company’s ships and a wooden sculpture of a seaman, was added to the facade of the building.

By the 1720s, the mansion was crumbling and so construction began on a new building on the site designed by Theodore Jacobsen (the Company was relocated to a temporary premises in Fenchurch Street while it was built).

The three storey building on Leadenhall Street was designed with five bays and beyond the facade featured grand meeting rooms including the Directors’ Court Room, offices for the directors as well as a hall, courtyard, garden and warehouses. Famous art works inside included the fresco The East Offering its Riches to Britannia by then little known Greek artist Spiradone RomaThe East Offering its Riches to Britannia which once adorned the ceiling of the Revenue Committee Room (it’s now in the collection of the British Library).

The building was renovated and extended significantly in the 1790s creating what was essentially a grand new neo-classical building. Among the new additions – although it seems a matter of some debate the building was apparently designed by Henry Holland with the work was overseen by the Company’s surveyor Richard Jupp until his death in 1799 – were a museum and library. A new pediment topped by Brittania dominated the facade.

When the East India Company was wound up in 1858 after the Indian Mutiny its assets were transferred to the government and the building briefly became home to the India Office (which subsequently moved to a new purpose-built building which still stands in Whitehall).

In 1861, the building was sold for redevelopment and subsequently demolished. Many of its fittings, art collection and furnishings were transferred elsewhere including the British Library, V&A and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall where many of the fittings of the Directors’ Court Room – including a great marble chimneypiece – were reused.

The location of the property is now covered by the landmark Lloyd’s building with little to indicate such a grand premises had once stood here.

PICTURE: The extended East India House in about 1800, by Thomas Malton the Younger (1748-1804)/via Wikipedia.

For more on the history of the East India Company, see John Keay’s The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company.

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East-India-ArmsBuilt in 1829 on a site which has apparently hosted a pub since 1630, this red brick pub in Fenchurch Street in the City is named for the East India Company.

Created by a charter signed by Queen Elizabeth I which gave it a monopoly on all English trade east of the Cape of Good Hope, the East India Company was incorporated in 1600.

It dominated British trade in Asia, in particular in India which it ruled over from 1757 until its final demise in the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny in 1857 after which the British Government took direct control of India.

The company headquarters was located in East India House in nearby Leadenhall Street (the rather grand building was demolished in 1861 and the site is now occupied by the architecturally adventurous Lloyd’s Building).

The small, one-roomed pub, at 67 Fenchurch Street, is now part of the Shepherd Neame chain. For more see www.shepherdneame.co.uk/pubs/london/east-india-arms.

• It includes everything from the iconic Lloyd’s Building in the City to the former Strand Union Workhouse in Fitzrovia which may have inspired scenes in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist and the red phone boxes which sit outside the British Museum in Bloomsbury. English Heritage this week released it’s London List 2011 which documents the more than 100 sites in London which have been awarded listed status by the organisation last year. They include 19 Underground stations (among them that of Oxford Circus, St James’s Park and Aldwych), four war memorials (including the grand Central Park War Memorial in East Ham) and two schools as well as various cemetery monuments (including at Highgate and Brompton Cemeteries, and Bunhill Fields Burial Ground) and parks (the status of Green Park was upgraded to Grade II*), religious and commercial premises, public libraries and homes. To download a copy, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/london-list-2011/.

It’s just one week to go until the Open House London weekend when more than 750 buildings of all sorts open their doors to you. We’ll be talking more about some of the special places open this year in next week’s update – this is, after all, one of our favorite London events of the year, and while, if you haven’t already entered, you’ve missed on the balloted openings, there’s still plenty of places where you can simply turn up on the day (and entry to all is free). If you haven’t already bought one, you can buy the Guide online – just follow the links from www.openhouselondon.org.uk. It can also be picked up free at some participating London libraries.

• Dame Ida Mann, Oxford’s first female professor and a pioneering ophthalmologist, has been honored with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at her childhood home in West Hampstead. The plaque, which was unveiled by an Australian opthalmologist who worked with Mann, Donald F. Ezekial, last week, has been placed on a house at 13 Minster Road where Mann lived from 1902-1934. Mann was born in West Hampstead and lived there for 41 years before eventually emigrating to Australia. For more on blue plaques, see www.english-heritage.org.uk.

• On Now: Motya Charioteer at the British Museum. Best be quick for this one, the charioteer, on loan from the Museo Giuseppe Whitaker on Motya, is only around until 19th September (that’s next Wednesday). The stunning statue, displayed near the sculptures from the Parthenon, dates from about 460-450 BC and is generally credited as one of the finest examples of Greek marble sculpture to have survived down the ages. It is believed to depict the winner of a chariot race and is likely to have been commissioned to commemorate a victory by a participant from one of Sicily’s Greek cities. It was found in Sicily in 1979. Admission is free. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.

London’s iconic Lloyd’s Building (also known as the ‘inside out’ building thanks to a design in which utility pipes, lifts and stairways are exposed on the outside) has been listed as a Grade I building, becoming the youngest building to be granted such status. John Penrose, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, made the decision following advice from English Heritage. Roger Bowdler, English Heritage’s designation director, said he was “delighted” at the decision. “Its listing at the highest grade is fitting recognition of the sheer splendour of Richard Rogers’s heroic design. Its dramatic scale and visual dazzle, housing a hyper-efficient commercial complex, is universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch.” The futuristic-looking building is one of very few post war buildings to be protected with a Grade I listing. Construction of the tower started in 1981 and was largely completed by May 1984. It was occupied two years later. As well as its futuristic exterior, the building also features a nod to the past with the Adam Room, which dates from the 1760s and was moved here intact from which was moved from Bowood House in Wiltshire. The building is also home to the Lutine Bell, which comes from a French frigate captured by the British in 1793, and was rung to herald important announcements (today these are generally only ceremonial). The history of Lloyd’s goes back to 1688 when it’s believed the first Lloyd’s Coffee House opened in Tower Street.

• More than 700,000 objects in the care of the National Trust can be accessed virtually via a new online database. The database, accessed via www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk contains details of more than 700,000 objects – everything from artworks by Gainsborough to a laudanum bottle containing remnants of poison and the cotton underwear of a grocer – currently housed at more than 200 properties as well as in storage or on loan to other organisations. Highlights include a costume made from beetle wings for the actress Ellen Terry, an early anti-aging ‘machine’, a furnished Victorian dolls house from Uppark House in West Sussex, and a Bible reputed to have been used at the execution of King Charles I from Chastleton House in Gloucestershire. The database has been in development for 15 years and the work to develop it will continue.

A 1,100-year-old collection of Viking Age objects including silver arm-rings and brooch fragments and coins from the Silverdale Hoard – found in Silverdale, Lancashire, in September – has gone on display in room 2 of the British Museum until early in the New Year. Among the 200 objects in the hoard is a type of coin not seen before and bears the inscription Airdeconut which appears to be an early attempt to represent the name Harthacnut. Lancaster City Museum has reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring the hoard. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.