Admiralty Arch

Admiralty Arch is a large office building in London which incorporates an archway providing road and pedestrian access between The Mall, which extends to the South-West, and Trafalgar Square to the North-East. It was designed by Sir Aston Webb, constructed by John Mowlem & Co and completed in 1912. It adjoins the Old Admiralty Building, hence the name.

Admiralty Arch is a landmark building in London providing road and pedestrian access between The Mall, which extends to the southwest, and Trafalgar Square to the northeast. Admiralty Arch, commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother, Queen Victoria, and designed by Aston Webb, is now a Grade I listed building. Leading from the southwest corner of Trafalgar Square into The Mall, the quintuple arched ceremonial gateway of Admiralty Arch is one of London’s most famous landmarks. The Arch was built to house naval offices and residences. Admiralty Arch was designed in 1910 by Sir Aston Webb (who also worked on Buckingham Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum) to provide an elegant ceremonial passage from the hectic Trafalgar Square towards Buckingham Palace. Note that traffic does not pass through the massive central arch – that is only opened for state occasions. The small outer arches are for pedestrian traffic and the remaining central arches for vehicles. The Arch was originally commissioned by King Edward VII in memory of his mother, Queen Victoria, though Edward did not live to see the work completed. A Latin inscription on the underside of the Arch denotes this memorial connection.

As part of the same development scheme that saw the Admiralty Arch built, Sir Aston Webb also widened The Mall (the old Mall, which dates from the time of Charles II, still exists beside the current thoroughfare). He also designed the gilt statue of Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace that provides such a striking counterpoint to the Admiralty Arch at the other end of The Mall. At the same time, Webb refaced Buckingham Palace and laid out the Memorial Gardens. This ambitious building scheme was financed by donations from across the British Empire. While Sir Aston Webb designed the Arch, construction was carried out by the John Mowlam Company. The arch is flanked by sculptures of Navigation and Gunnery, designed by Thomas Brock. Above the arch is a Latin inscription reading:

ANNO DECIMO EDWARDI SEPTIMI REGIS VICTORIAE REGINAE CIVES GRATISSIMI MDCCCCX

The inscription translates as:

In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910

History

A flat in the north wing of Admiralty Arch was intended to be a residence for the First Lord of the Admiralty, but in the end, the flat was used as the official residence of the First Sea Lord. It was here that Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg gave the order to mobilise the fleet when the First World War broke out in 1914. The flat was later the residence of his son Lord Mountbatten of Burma. Another First Lord to work here was Sir Winston Churchill (twice). Another famous name linked to Admiralty Arch is Ian Fleming. Though known today as the author of the James Bond series of spy novels Fleming was a real-life intelligence officer, acting as a Personal Assistant to the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division, Admiral John Godfrey and as liaison to Bletchley Park, the secret code-breaking facility in Buckinghamshire. The Royal Navy left Admiralty Arch in the 1990s for new headquarters on Whitehall. The Arch remained empty until 2000 when the Cabinet Office occupied the building.

 

 

 

 

 

London Multi-Entry Multi-Directional VVIP Visitors Guide © Simon Newbound

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