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Old Admiralty Buildings

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The Admiralty buildings lie between Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade and The Mall in the heart of London. The structure is split between five interconnecting buildings, the oldest was once known as ‘The Admiralty.’ Today it is officially known as the Ripley Building. The brick building with its iconic U-shape set over three floors was designed by English architect Thomas Ripley and was completed in 1726. It is thought to be the first ‘purpose built’ official building in Britain.

The Admiralty Board Room boasts a large ornate table with a cut out section that accommodates the Secretary and his papers that was repaired and restored to its original condition after being damaged by a bomb during in the Second World War.

This room is still in use by the Admiralty today although the building is now occupied by the Department for International Development. It contains artefacts and carvings of nautical interest. There is even a room where Lord Nelson’s body lay at rest in January 1806, just prior to his funeral.

To the south of the Ripley Building stands Admiralty House, built in the 18th century as a residence for the First Lord of the Admiralty and once the home of Winston Churchill.

Admiralty Arch is linked to the old Admiralty building by a bridge and is used as a ceremonial route from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace.

On the inside wall of the Arch on the northern side is a small sculpture of a human nose protruding from the wall. This is the work of artist Rick Buckley and was sculpted in 1997 as part of a campaign against the ‘Big Brother’ Society. Before Buckley was ‘unmasked’ by a local newspaper as being the artist behind the sculpture, urban myth proclaimed the ‘nose’ was there to honour the Duke of Wellington who was known to have a big nose.

The Admiralty Buildings are visited by many international visitors every year and are on the list of London’s top tourist attractions.

MOST MYSTERIOUS

The house is reputed to be haunted by a lady called Margaret Reay. During the 18th century she was said to have been killed by her lover. There is a suggestion that she was the mistress of the Earl of Sandwich but at the same time had a lover called James Hackman, who wanted to marry Margaret. She would not marry him because he was ‘too poor’ for her expensive tastes. He became madly jealous of her relationship with the Earl and one night outside a theatre in Covent Garden he shot her dead with a pistol.

Her friendly apparition is reported to haunt the halls of the house and it is claimed that she was seen by Winston Churchill when he lived there.

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Contact Details

  • Address: Horse Guards Rd, Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom, SW1A 2PA
  • GPS: 51.505528,-0.127931
  • Part of UK: England
  • Sat Nav Postcode: SW1A 2PA
  • Entrance Fees: Free access to view exterior / No general access to interior
  • Visibility from Road: Excellent
  • Image Credits: Header Image: Deymos.HR

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