The In and Out Club
Film & Text by Kevin Murphy
One of London’s most well known properties is poised to become one of the cities most prestigious addresses. The In and Out Club, also known as Cambridge House, was purchased by Reuben Brothers in 2012 and will undergo an extensive three years or more refurbishment to be a single family residence. Also included in the development are two adjacent properties, The American Club and Green Park Chambers that were also acquired in the 2012 purchase.
The construction of the four storey Cambridge House at 94 Piccadilly was from 1756 to 1764 for Sir Charles Wyndham, the Second Earl of Egremont. The architect and designer was Matthew Brettingham who developed a plan to reflect the 17th century French design or ‘hôtel particulier’ with the main residence placed back from Piccadilly Street with a courtyard and a wall in the front. The main portion of the building was designed to include the Palladian style with an additional wing which included kitchens added to one side that is adjacent White Horse Street. Brettingham had designed other Palladian style homes in London including Norfolk House (1752) at St James Square. Palladian homes became popular with the main floor everyday rooms being used were connected to each other and bedrooms on upper floors. The Second Earl of Egremont died as the house was near completion and the property was passed on to his twelve year old son, the Third Earl of Egremont who occupied the property from 1764 to 1794.
The home had other prominent residents including a royal household steward First Marquis of Cholmondeley from 1822-1829 and the Prince Adolphus, the Duke of Cambridge, a son of George III from 1829-1850 and the home became known as Cambridge House. The Duke died in 1850 and the home was purchased by Lord Palmerston who would later become Prime Minister from 1855 to 1865. Lord Palmerston died in 1865 and shortly thereafter the building was purchased by the Naval and Military Club because of its size and location. The prominent ‘In’ and ‘Out’ signs at the front gates on Piccadilly gave the residence a new name as The In and Out Club with members including Ian Fleming, Rudyard Kipling and T.E. Lawrence.
In 1940 the building was heavily damaged by aerial bombardment. This required an extensive restoration of the roof and all floors of the building.
In 1996 the Naval and Military Club was sold for £50 million to businessman Simon Halabi who had planned to redevelop the property into a private club and hotel. By 1999 The Naval and Miltary Club that had resided for years in 2/
Cambridge House moved to its current location at No. 4 St James’s Square in London. Halabi’s plans for the property did not materialize and since 1999 the building has stood vacant with its front gates fitted with chains and locks with a bleak future until it was purchased by Reuben Brothers in 2011 for £130 million.
Earlier this year I contacted Reuben Brothers to request permission to enter the property to see its current condition and to learn more about the plans for refurbishment. My request was granted and I also had the opportunity to interview architect Daniel Smith of Motcomb Estates Ltd about the future construction. Plans for the project were recently approved by the Westminster borough council after an agreement was reached regarding a contribution of £5.5 million to the councils affordable housing fund.
The first impression when you enter the front doors is the size and scope of the property. As you make your way through each floor it is understandable that this is going to take quite a bit of time to restore. Plaster litters the floor along with holes in the ceilings, wallpaper peeling, water damage, and original wood floors that have become too brittle to walk on and in some of the rooms the flooring have been partially removed. While some of the decorative and intricate woodwork on ceilings, walls and around windows will need replacement other rooms are intact and in relatively good condition.
The conversion plans drafted by Paul Davis And Partners for the 5,630sq m home will include a ballroom, library, underground gym, pool, spa, and a wine cellar. The home will also feature a state of the art car park system that will allow the vehicles to be stacked and later retrieved in order to manage space. The front gates on Piccadilly will be replaced from the current see-through wrought iron to wooden doors for privacy and security. There will also be additional space for service staff. A terrace area on the roof will provide spectacular views of Green Park in the front and Shepherds Market behind the property.
The American Club adjacent to the In and Out Club at 95 Piccadilly and White Horse Street is also a historically listed building that was built in 1884 as a residence. It was converted to a club in 1919 to accommodate the growing number of American expat members. Like Cambridge House the building has suffered from neglect and has not been inhabited for years. The interior of the future multi-level home will undergo a majour renovation to return it to a private family residence. The size of the home will be about 1,400sq m when completed and will also include a lift to service the upper floors. The location is an excellent one because of its closeness to dining and shopping within a short walking distance to Shepherds Market.
On the other side of Cambridge House at 90-93 Piccadilly Street are the listed Grade II Green Park Chambers. Rebuilt in 1883 in the Queen Anne style this property was originally designed to have retail space on the ground level with residences on the upper four floors. The future residences to the front of the building will have impressive views across Green Park looking toward Buckingham Palace which should be visible in winter when the leaves are off the parks trees. The new plan will also have retail spaces available for possible art galleries and other tenants and six apartments will be constructed on the upper levels.
Adjacent to the Green Park Chambers at 42 Half Moon Street is the Naval and Military annex which was constructed in 1919. It was designed to be a four storey dormitory for members of the Naval and Military club with the lower floor for socializing and the upper floors for bed and bath rooms. Both buildings were eventually joined together in the 1930’s. The refurbishment of the property will be for duplexes. Both buildings currently provide about 2976.4sq m. of space.
One may ask, who would buy it and for how much?
Buyers more than likely will be either from Asia, maybe Russia or Middle Eastern. The Qatari Al-Thani family have previously bought two other high cost properties the Dudley House on Park Lane the Lombard House on Curzon Street. The current assumption was that Cambridge House could fetch up to £250 million upon completion. Reuben Brothers some years later decided that rather as a residence it would be converted into a hotel property.