Opposite Bond Street tube station can be found a small brick building, with a lion on top. At least, you can usually, as for the past few years it’s been covered in Crossrail hoardings, as the building next to it was demolished to make space for an upgrade of the tube station.
Fortunately, the tiny brick building was saved, and new images of the planned shops/block of flats that will be built here have confirmed that the odd little thing will remain in place.
But what is it?
It is the remaining one of a pair that used to stand on either side of the road fronting onto Oxford Street.
This was the London residence of the Earl of Aldborough, who leased the land from City of London (it used to be their Banqueting House), where he built a grand residence, Stratford Place, in 1771-4. Consisting of two uniform rows of houses, leading to a small square to the north side closed by the Classical front of Aldborough House (now Stratford House). The entrance was marked on the Oxford Street front by two brick gatehouses, crowned by lions, originally closed by railings and a gate.
The road is the sort of road that grand people visiting grand buildings would expect to see staff waiting for them — and the odd little building on the corner is a porters lodge, to carry bags and the like for the grand visitors.
There used to be two, but sadly the western partner was removed in 1915 when the current building there was erected as a Lyons tea house.
Fortunately the remaining lodge is now protected as a heritage asset.
The protection is a slight surprise, as it sat next to a rather “of its time” concrete building from 1969, replacing an 1890s bank, and keeping the totally out of place 18th century brick box next to their new concrete block must have irked the architects Seifert and Partners no end.
There have been attempts in the past to reuse the porters lodge as a small retail cubicle, but Westminster Council keep refusing, which is wise.
The 1969 building was demolished during Crossrail works, as underneath two huge shafts were dug down to the tunnels to provide access to the construction site, and one of them was later reused as a lift shaft.
Now that the concrete office block has gone, it’s to be replaced with a less distinctive, but more appropriate for the area brick building with shops and flats, and the old porters lodge, temporarily removed during the Crossrail works, is to be restored.
The old lion of Oxford Street will be back.