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London: Old Foreign Office, Downing Street: designs for alterations, 1825 (24)


Founded in 1782 the Foreign Office 'was responsible for correspondence and negotiations with other states and the conduct of British foreign policy' (National Archives web site). "The Foreign Office ... first operated from houses in Cleveland Row. From 1795 it was on the S side of Downing Street .... Soane adapted the premises in 1825, but complete rebuilding was soon projected. Decimus Burton's schemes of 1836-9 remained on paper, as did Pennethorne's persuasive Italianate of 1854-5' (S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, London 6: Westminster, 2003, p.263). After an international competition in 1856-7, two changes of government and the addition of the India Office to the brief, Sir George Gilbert Scott designed the building in an Italianate style while Matthew Digby Wyatt (former surveyor to the East India Company) designed the interiors of the India Office (1862-75).

A later design for the Foreign Office appears on a drawing (SM 49/5/25) dated 15 April 1826. This is a plan of Soane's work in Whitehall that includes the State Paper Office, the Board of Trade and Privy Council Offices and alterations to the Old Foreign Office. In this last, Soane regularises the scheme by removing the northern end of Fludyer's old house so that it is more or less parallel with the houses on Fludyer Street.

J. M. Crook and M. H. Port (eds), The History of the King's Works: Vol. VI: 1782-1851, 1973, pp. 562-66; S. Bradley and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 6: Westminster, 2003, p. 263.

Jill Lever / Tom Drysdale, August 2013



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Contents of London: Old Foreign Office, Downing Street: designs for alterations, 1825 (24)