The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 2 Whitehall

Whitehall 2

Previous - Next

The Banqueting Hall is adjoined on the south by the buildings (1893-95) of the Royal United Service Institution (founded in 1830), with a lecture-hall and library. Next door is Gwydyr House, built in 1796, now a government office. Behind the Banqueting Hall lie Whitehall Gardens, on the site of the Privy Garden of the later Stuarts. No. 1 was the National Club; No. 2 was occupied by Disraeli in 1873-75; at No. 4 Sir Robert Peel lived from about 1825 until his death in 1850. No. 6, now the Ministry of Transport, was the first office of the Ministry of Munitions. Farther south, and lying back from the street, is Montagu House, a French Renaissance mansion built in 1858-60 by William Burns. It occupies the site of an earlier house built in 1734 for the Duke of Montagu, from whose family it passed by marriage into the possession of the Duke of Buccleuch in 1767. Since 1916 it has been occupied by the Ministry of Labour. Opposite Montagu House, on the west side of Whitehall, is the Treasury, the long facade of which was added by Sir Charles Barry in 1846-47 to an older building. The portion fronting the Horse Guards Parade is ascribed to William Kent (circa 1733). The Treasury is the office of the commissioners who now discharge the duties of the office of Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain and Ireland (in abeyance since about 1612), viz. the First Lord of the Treasury (or Prime Minister), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and several Junior Lords. The Treasury is skirted on the south by Downing Street, a narrow street built about 1663-82 by Sir George Downing (who graduated at Harvard in 1642) and famous out of all proportion to its appearance. The first door on the right admits to the office of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, especially interesting to Dominion, Colonial, and Indian visitors as the final Court of Appeal for this Empire. The Council Chamber, where cases are heard (open to the public), contains fine oak panelling. No. 10 Downing Street is the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, and in its Cabinet Room many momentous meetings have been held. George II. offered this house in 1731 as a personal gift to Sir Robert Walpole, then Prime Minister, but was induced by the latter to annex it to his office instead, and Walpole removed to it in 1735. The present No. 10 retains its old facade, but internally it was altered by Wren and by Soane and is much more commodious than its dingy brick exterior suggests. Among the numerous portraits it contains is a copy of Peale's full-length of George Washington, presented in 1919. The house is connected with the Treasury by a private passage. No. 11 is the official residence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer; No. 12 is the Government Whips' Office.