Just off the Embankment, between Embankment Tube Station and Temple Tube Station, is an address known just as Number 2, Temple Place. It may sound very ordinary but the house itself is, in my opinion, one of the most amazing houses in the whole of London. It was built in 1895 for the American multi-millionaire, William Waldorf Astor. He had many successful interests including the Waldorf Hotel chain. Although American, he wished to have an office in London. And it was to be no ordinary office.
He employed the architect John Loughborough Pearson to design him something special. The whole building is made of Portland stone. But it is the interior which is breath-taking. The building itself consists of two floors above ground and one lower ground floor. Although there was a bedroom on the upper floor for the use of Astor, it was primarily built as his private office.
The exterior is designed to Early Elizabethan (Elizabeth I that is), whilst the interior is based on the French Renaissance towards the end of the nineteenth century. Astor’s intention was to make it a “crenelated Tudor stronghold.” He wanted to achieve a number of things with the building. It should be a home and office where he and his children could stay whilst in London. It should be built with the finest of materials and be able to house some of his collections of valuable paintings, musical instruments and other treasures.
The cost would run into tens of millions of pounds today. These days it is open to the general public and I have visited it on a number of occasions. I can honestly say that it is very much worth the effort. However, if you work in an office, you might feel just a little envious.