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Caledonian Club

Built in Neoclassical style for Hugh Morrison (1868-1931), was the last mansion house of its kind to be built in London. The club, founded in 1891, moved to the premises in 1946.

Architect

Detmar Blow

Date

1908

9 Halkin Street SW1X 7DR

Sun 10am-4pm. Hourly tours. Pre-book ONLY on 020 7333 8712. Last tour 4pm. Max 12 per tour.

Hyde Park Corner

38, 22, C2, 19, 73

  • Partial disabled
  • Toilets available

CALEDONIAN CLUB Most properties in and around Belgrave Square are huge mansions; terraces of cream stucco facades exuding massive confidence. A refreshing contrast to its showier neighbours, 9 Halkin Street is a smaller yet substantial town house with a pleasing rosy brick frontage and a friendly Jacobean-style porch, which seems to imply you don_t have to be an important personage to enter. In 1946, the Caledonian Club (founded in 1891) moved into the house that Hugh Morrison, a Conservative MP for Salisbury, built as his London base, circa 1910. Client, architect, and the house itself show how elite society and its patronage of architecture operated in the Edwardian era. Morrison_s fortune enabled him to acquire a building plot from the Duke of Westminster whose family, the Grosvenors, began lucratively leasing chunks of their estates in Belgravia and Mayfair in the late 19th century. They were prime sites for the houses of the aristocracy and newly rich industrialists and bankers.Morrison commissioned the firm of Blow and Billerey to design his house. Detmar Blow (1867-1939) better known than his partner, had married well, and cultivated both old wealth and new money as his clients. The upwardly mobile Blow came under the influence of John Ruskin early in his career, and his first buildings were in Arts and Crafts style. He progressed to fame and fortune and latterly, shame (after falling out with the Duke of Westminster) by indulging their whims. Beaux Arts or Florentine; Parisian or Palladian: what ever took their fancy, Blow designed it. Exteriors, interiors, country seats or town pads, he master-planned them all at a time when turn-of-the-century taste was for historical revival as a reaction against Victorian eclecticism. Leading practices like Blow and Billerey thrived in this booming, competitive market.For Number 9, Blow chose an early Neo-Georgian style, with every detail of its symmetrical three-storey facade in brick _ door columns, pediment over the doorway; even the cornerstones _ other designers might have used contrasting material, but Blow stuck to brick, up to the chimneys and the dormers under the red-tiled Mansard roof. There are handsome rooms on the two main floors, linked by a grand staircase, which opens up the centre of the house. This was a must-have feature in houses aiming to impress. The long first floor ballroom is now the members_ dining room (the carpet is still rolled up on Burns Night). Also noteworthy, on the ground floor, is the oval-shaped salon, in pale pastel shades with slim plaster moldings lightly trimmed in gold. The Caledonian has changed the use of some rooms, but the clubbable Blow would appreciate the provision of a bar and library. Unchanged are the small details that show his careful hand: shallow alcoves, molded ceilings, comfortably wide corridors. The top floor is given over to members_ bedrooms. The wing on the right side of the house is 1960s addition.