42 Portland Place
- Original design
- James Adam, 1776
The 2017 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2018 programme on 21st August.
Designed by Robert and James Adam in the 1770s
Grade II* listed
Date listed: 10 September 1954
Owned by the Howard de Walden Estate
Currently occupied by Christie’s Education (since July 2018)
42 Portland Place was originally designed around 1770 as a gentleman’s residence by brothers Robert and James Adam. It is a five storey, Grade ll* listed Georgian town house. To the rear there was a single storey build out flanked by two light wells which in turn gave onto an original two storey Victorian Mews House.i
In the late 19th century the balustrade was replaced and many of the main rooms refurbished in an Aesthetic style, with tall friezes, Lincrusta-type ceilings, much panelling, chimneypieces and other fittings in dark wood, and plush upholstery. A billiard room and a conservatory were added at the rear, approached by a glazed passage. In 2002 CSK Architects extended the billiard room into a contemporary two-storey link between the house and mews block, with a glass pyramidal roof, to modernise the building. The front drawing room retains an Adam-style ceiling with complex geometrical frameworks.ii
Portland Place was designed by Robert and James Adam for the Third Duke of Portland (William Cavendish-Bentinckand, 1738-1809) in the 1770s and it originally ran north from the gardens of Lord Foley’s mansion (Foley House) at the southern end of Portland Place. It was said that the exceptional width of the street was due to the Duke’s promise to Lord Foley, his tenant, not to obscure the view from the house.iii
With its exceptional width and Adam architecture, Portland Place was one of the outstanding developments of its day, and for a century was one of London’s most exclusive residential streets. The large, expensive-to-run houses had lost their appeal by the early 1900s, when taller blocks of flats, often in a Beaux-Arts style, began to take their place. Subdivision and medical use, resisted at first by the Portland Estate, saved some; others have survived as consulates and embassies. Despite extensive change Portland Place remains one of London’s most memorable streets.iv
Previous residents at No 42 include the leading West End moneylender Julius Calisher and his widow, Arthur Lewis Raphael of the banking family (mid 1880s to 1891) and Lt-Gen Sir Andrew Clarke (1890s).v
Today 42 Portland Place is home to Christie’s Education, the only academic institution wholly-owned by an auction house.
i CSK Architects, 42 Portland Place, London W1B, accessed 9 August 2018 http://www.cskarchitects.co.uk/projects/offices-and-workshop/42-portland-place
ii Philip Temple, Colin Thom, and Andrew Saint, Survey of London, Volume 52: South-East Marylebone, Part 2 (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 2017), 518.
iii Caroline Taggart, The Book of London Place Names (New York City, New York: Penguin Random House, 2012), 134.
iv Temple, Thom, and Saint, Survey of London, 489.
v Temple, Thom, and Saint, Survey of London, 518