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.

Google Street View 2008

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.

Stratford Place, 1815

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.

Oxford Road and Stratford Place, 1881

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.

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8 comments on “The old lion of Oxford Street
  1. Sandra Lawrence says:

    Excellent winkling-out, Ian. Fascinating – thank you!

  2. Susan Allen says:

    As usual, an interesting gem of information relating to something I’ve walked past hundreds of times and idly thought – I wonder what that’s a relic from!
    Have just donated a little to contribute to your ongoing research.

  3. Normando Stevenson says:

    Thanks Ian – another fascinating thing to look out for when I’m allowed back into Central London!
    Thanks for what youdo – stay safe.

  4. Andy Taylor says:

    Thanks for this. I was going to ask what Stratford House is now used as, as it always looks like an embassy, but apparently it’s a club (not like the Ministry of Sound).

  5. Simon Diable says:

    On the site of the old Lyons tea House, so where the other Lion stood is the HMV building. I worked there when it was Lilley and Skinner and it’s basements hold the original street facade, with pavement, bow windows and little shop fronts; clearly hundreds of years old.They probably pre date the Earl’s, banqueting house as they are on a level below the current level on which the Lion stands. These were hidden behind the stock rooms and to my knowledge are still there. Further down in the basements are rooms known as the dungeons and the story was that they held prisoners waiting to transfer to Tyburn, up the road, to be hung.

    • ianvisits says:

      Sorry – but that’s a total myth.

      The building replaced a grand building that never had shop frontages to preserve, and certainly not in their basement where shoppers would never have seen them — the same for the claims about the jail.

      I see this story crop up time and again with people claiming to have been in there, and yet even the most cursory searches of the area’s history will show it’s not possible, and more recent survey works for Crossrail etc show no such basements.

  6. Margarita says:

    Interesting article, I’ll look out for the lion when I’m next in the area. If only I could travel inside a time machine but this is the next best thing. Thank you.

    PS I’d be happy to contribute when I’m working.🍀

  7. Margarita says:

    PS. Take care and stay safe.

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