Northumberland House Arch
Restoration of Northumberland House arch in Bromley-By-Bow
Northumberland House arch was once part of Northumberland House – a vast Jacobean mansion built at the far western end of the Strand in 1605. For most of its history it was the London residence of the Percy family, earls and later dukes of Northumberland. The stone arch was originally part of the house’s north courtyard elevation, the inner side of the main Strand wing which was partly refurbished in the 1750s by Daniel Garrett.
Northumberland House one of the most ambitious private houses ever built in London, “the most notable house in the most characteristic of streets”. Famously painted by Giovanni Canaletto, it had 150 rooms and “everything in it, pictures, furniture, &c., were massive and costly in the extreme.”
In 1851 the house opened to the public for the Great Exhibition. However by the 1860s its location blocked direct access from Trafalgar Square to the newly built Thames Embankment. Newspapers reported: “The Metropolitan Board of Works are desirous that this house, which, with its garden, is one of the landmarks of London, and is probably the oldest residential house in the metropolis, should be destroyed.” Despite alternative schemes and the best efforts of the Duke, Northumberland House was demolished in 1874.
It was the last to go of all the palaces which had lined the river front of the Strand in the 17th century and one of London’s greatest losses.
Much of the building material was sold off, but the arch was bought in 1874 as a decorative feature by George Rutty who owned a large house (‘Tudor House’) in Bromley-by-Bow. Tudor House house, along with its grounds, was sold in 1898 to the LCC to convert it into a public garden. The site opened to the public in 1900.
The arch was re-erected in 1998 on St Leonard's Street as the entrance to a new community centre, the Bromley-By-Bow Centre.
By 2020 the arch was in poor repair. Atmospheric pollution had created a thick black sulphation crust and water damage was eroding its fine decorative detail. In July 2020 HOLT funded and led a restoration project at the arch, removing the sulphation, repairing damaged stonework and restoring lead flashing.
The project was the first of HOLT’s Proud Places projects. Young people from a youth group in Newham were introduced to stonemasonry at the site by the conservation team at London Stone Conservation and fifteen local families visited to find out about its history.
In October 2020, HRH The Duke of Gloucester, HOLT’s Patron, joined us to unveiled a plaque, alongside members of the local community, the conservation team and all the young people involved.