On the instructions of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO), part of the UK government’s Ministry of Defence (MOD), GVA is pleased to bring to market an outstanding and unique building ....

And I was asked to write a bit about it .. 

The Old War Office Building is a Grade 2 star listed, iconic edifice situated right in the centre of London just moments away from Great Britain’s seat of government, the Housesof Parliament. This grand, architectural gem sits on Whitehall, a street famousfor the many state processions which travel along it heading to and fromWestminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament, Number 10 Downing Street, andBuckingham Palace.

This elegantand historic Edwardian building has 420,000 square feet of gross internal areaspread over seven floors and presents an incredible residential or hotel developmentpotential (subject to the necessary planning consents).

An exquisitebuilding, an unparalleled location, and an unmissable opportunity to continuethe story and become part of London’s future.


London has a long history as a global city and boasts centuries of traditions of parliamentary government. The Old War Office building, workplace of Lord Kitchener and Sir Winston Churchill, is steeped in both.

The Old WarOffice building stands in a prime position on the east side of Whitehall, a name synonymous with government administration. The area has served the Palaceof Westminster, home of English royals until a fire in 1512, and also home of English parliament since the 13th century. A UNESCO world heritage site encompasses both Westminster Abbey and the rebuilt Palace of Westminster, Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin’s masterpiece construction on the banks of the Thames, commonly known as the Houses of Parliament.

“The name Whitehall, first recordedin 1532, comes from the White ashlar stone used in the building of King Henry’sVIIIth ‘s Whitehall Palace.”

SurroundingThe Old War Office building are the Ministry of Defence’s main headquarters as well as Admiralty House, and the Army’s Headquarters to the West of Whitehall.Other government buildings are close by, and 10, Downing Street, home of the Prime Minister is just a short walk down the street.

Behind the building opposite lies Horse Guard’s Parade, the site of the annual ceremoniesof Trooping the Colour , commemorating the monarch’s official birthday, and Beating Retreat.


The Massed Bandsof the Household Division perform in the fireworks finale at Beating Retreat 2013.

Interspersedamongst the Civil Service Office buildings are pubs, restaurants, hotels,shops, galleries and theatres.

Yards away isTrafalgar Square, with its famous lion statues guarding the base of Nelson’sColumn as well as the imposing façade of the National Gallery, home of one ofthe greatest collections of paintings in the world.

The Royalresidences of Buckingham Palace and St James Palace are nearby, both situatedon The Mall which runs alongside one of London’s verdant delights, St. JamesPark.

LeicesterSquare, London’s leading film premiere location, and Shaftesbury Avenue home ofLondon’s world renowned Theatreland are within easy reach and the highlyreputed Westminster School is close by.

The LondonUnderground stations of Westminster, Embankment and Charing Cross with its mainlineRail links are a five minute walk away (?- tbc) and the transport hub of Victoria station with regular connections to London Gatwick Airport is just over a mile away.


The Old WarOffice Building’s elegant façade graces the street frontage of Whitehall and continues onto Horse Guard’s Avenue. The four bowed corner pavilions topped byflorid cupolas are a dominant feature and an essential part of the Whitehall roofscape when viewed from St James Park.

It wasdesigned in Edwardian Baroque style (a style which paid homage to Renaissancearchitecture), by William Young and completed after his death by his son, ClydeYoung, assisted by Sir John Taylor. The first brick was laid in 1901 and ittook five years to complete using 25 million further bricks and nearly thirtythousand tonnes of Portland and York Stone at a cost – expensive for the time –of just over £1.2 million. Carrying this weight of stone and brick is a hugeunderground concrete tank extending 30ft below street level, with 6 feet thickwalls.

The mainelevation of gracious white stone faces Whitehall and features ionic columns above the second floor, as does the North elevation. Placed along the roofline are sculptured figures symbolising Peace and War, Truth and Justice, Fame and Victory, and the whole is topped by the decorative corner domes intended to disguise the building’s trapezium shape resulting from the need to maximise the spatial use of the available building plot. These corner towers make a dramatic appearance in the film Skyfall when James Bond surveys the London skyline from the roof terrace.

The Whitehall entrance leads through to a club style main staircase which sweeps upwards in a single flight before rising to the fourth floor along three wallsto a glazed domed compartment above. Inside the building, important offices were decorated with great care, some with oak panelling and some fine 18 century marble chimney pieces were brought in from aristocratic residences in nearby Pall Mall.

With four stories above the street and three below and over 1000 rooms connected by two and half miles of corridor, the building is likely to attract interest from developers keen to exploit the residential and hotel possibilities of this fascinating piece of London’s historic architectural landscape.


In the 19 century, War Office accommodation was becoming a problem. With premises spreadout across Pall Mall it was noted that, in 1886, out of 958 officials employed,164 were used as messengers. After many delays and interdepartmental wranglings,a new War Office was commissioned to be built on a site to the East ofWhitehall and work was begun in 1901. A photograph taken in 1902 of King EdwardVII’s coronation procession clearly shows the building under construction.

Above the main entrance is a suite of rooms now known as the Haldane suite after Lord Haldane, the Secretary of State for War from 1905 to 1912. The roll call of subsequent occupants of the cabinet post is a march through British political history: Mr Asquith (1914), Lord Kitchener (1914-16), Mr Lloyd-George (1916) and Winston Churchill (1919-21). T.E. Lawrence was also employed during this time in a lowlier role in the Geography Section making a large scale map of Sinai and a military guide to the region based on his extensive peacetime travels.

The war in 1914 saw many General Staff takeup posts with the deployed Army in Flanders and France and many retired officers filled the vacant positions in Whitehall. It was a busy time with even Boy Scouts brought in to act as messengers and the War Office building was likened to Liverpool Street Station on a sunny Bank Holiday evening. With space becoming cramped, the flat roof of the building proved a valuable resource when extra office accommodation was created by building a fifth storey of wooden huts on the topof the building. This makeshift construction became known as ‘ZeppelinTerrace’.

The inter war years saw life at the WarOffice return to normal, although some reinforcement works were carried out inthe basement as a structural precaution against air raid damage. With the startof World War Two, once again staff worked around the clock, seeking refuge in the basement during air raids - the slamming heavy doors above ground were often mistaken for explosions. Spotters on the roof were used to warn of approaching raids, allowing staff to ignore the air raid warning sirens until the last moment. On October 8 1940, a stick of bombs hit the War Office, killing one person. Despite seven other hits during the war, the building survived remarkably unscathed, and any damage was confined to the upper storeys. Secretaries of State during this period were, Leslie Hore-Belisha, noted for his introduction of the BelishaBeacon; Oliver Stanley; Anthony Eden, who was appointed by Churchill in May1940; and Sir Percy Grigg, who served from 1942-1945.

At the War’s end, routine returned to theWar Office, and notable occupants of the building as Secretary of State were the popular ‘Manny’ Shinwell; J. Hare, who oversaw the end of Army conscription; Christopher Soames; and, in the early nineteen sixties, John Profumo, whose tenure ended in a well-documented scandal in 1963.

1964 saw much of the Army’s department move across the road (Horse Guard’s Avenue) to the Ministry of Defence’s main building. Further administrative reorganisations took place at the “Old” War Office Building, as it became known, where it continued to perform an MOD role for all three of Britain’s Armed Services.

Refurbishment took place from 1985 and the building was reopened in 1992 primarily as the headquarters of the Defence Intelligence Staffs (DIS). Many works of art, artefacts and items of furniture were returned to the building as well as paintings also from the Government’s various collections.

In August 2013 it was announced that the building would be put up for sale on the open market and GVA are proud to play a part in the evolving story of this fascinating building.

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