Site Unseen: Chandos House

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.

This little thoroughfare- Chandos Street – is used by cabbies as a cut through from Cavendish Place to Portland Place thus avoiding the traffic lights at Regent Street, coming out at the front of the Langham Hotel.

[W]ith barely a glance at the continuation of Chandos Street extending towards Queen Anne Street, there’s hardly a reason to go there as the road system forces you back towards Cavendish Square.

Recently a passenger asked for Chandos House and proceeded to give directions into this quiet quarter not far from BBC Broadcasting House.

Here was a perfect example of Georgian architecture, you could visualise a middle class character from a Bronte novel walking down the stairs. Grade I listed and designed by the celebrated architect of the period Robert Adam and constructed by the family’s building firm William Adam and Company. Built speculatively and now seen as the precursor to 20 St. James’s Square and Derby House it was completed in 1771.

The property appears to have had a chequered history. When the Adams Brothers failed to find a buyer auctioneers Christie’s described it in their catalogue of June 1772:

a most capital and elegant leasehold mansion, with beautiful stone front…six noble spacious rooms on a floor, a grand staircase . . . and water closets to the different Apartments


It was not until James Brydges, the third and last Duke of Chandos acquired the lease in 1774, paying £11,000 that the Adams managed to get a return for their investment.


Bad luck followed the Duke, he remarried in 1777 dying 12 years later, his widow Duchess, Anna Eliza Brydges was then declared a lunatic and confined to the house losing control of her estate.

The Austro-Hungarian Embassy purchased the remaining lease. The first ambassador then went to a spree described as ’wasteful splendour` eventually leading to his ruin.

During World War II the grand staircase had its ceiling destroyed, and by 1990 the house was sold to Fairgate Estates and remained unoccupied.

The building was neglected and in 1994 was eventually placed on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk Register. This was followed by a Compulsory Purchase Order served by the local authority, which prompted urgent repair work to make the building watertight and secure from dry rot.

Now it now operated by the Royal Society of Medicine who use the beautifully restored rooms for private functions. Follow this link for how its rooms now have been restored.

Featured picture and description:
Grade I listed former town house, built 1769-1761 to the designs of architect Robert Adam. The London home of the Palmers (Imelda Staunton and Hugh Laurie) is Chandos House, 2 Queen Anne Street at Chandos Street, London W1. The house also became ‘The Cheval Club’, run by Eddie Mars (Oliver Reed) in Michael Winner’s 1978 remake of The Big Sleep, with Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe. In 1981, it was used for the ‘Greenwich Village’ party where Jack Reed (Warren Beatty) cuts a rug with Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) in Beatty’s Oscar-winning epic Reds.
After years of neglect, this Grade I-listed Robert Adam mansion, dating from 1769 has been restored to its original splendour, and is owned by the Royal Society of Medicine. If you’re a Jane Austen fan (or an Ang Lee fan or a Warren Beatty fan, for that matter) you can now hire the house for your wedding or social event.
Architectural description at this Link ©Julian Osley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Text picture and description:
This beautiful building at the north end of Chandos Street is owned by the Royal Society of Medicine (RSM). The RSM is an independent medical charity with the primary aim of providing continuing professional development for qualified medical and health-related professionals. Mike Quinn (CC BY-SA 2.0)

2 thoughts on “Site Unseen: Chandos House”

  1. As a fan of the Bronte novelist’s I could definitely imagine a story taking place in this building. What a lovely insight of yet another one of London’s hidden gems !


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