Tuesday 1st March 2012

£2.75 million redevelopment opened by Rt. Hon. David Willetts MP

Crowds thronged to its doors shouting for Gladstone in the 1860s, and the great Prime Minister is said to have held Cabinet meetings there - and now Gladstone’s former house, 11 Carlton House Terrace in central London, has been given a new lease of life.

Following an extensive redevelopment by the British Academy, the Minister for Universities and Science, the Rt. Hon. David Willetts MP, officially opened the refurbished No. 11 today (Tuesday 1 March) before giving a speech on the importance of the humanities and social science disciplines which the Academy champions.

The opening marks the end of a year-long project to bring this magnificent Georgian building to life. The redevelopment involved knocking through three-foot thick walls in the Grade 1 listed buildings to unite No. 11 with No.10 and restore the public rooms.

These rooms include the Music Room, classical in style with intricate plasterwork on its panelled walls. It was on the balcony of this room that in 1866, after the defeat of the Government on the Reform Bill, Gladstone’s wife appeared, dispersing a crowd that had thronged to Carlton House Terrace shouting for Gladstone and liberty.

The new Wolfson Auditorium, made possible by generous support from the Wolfson Foundation, offers views of The Mall, St James’s Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye. When Gladstone was in residence at No. 11, the Cabinet occasionally met in his home – after the defeat of the Irish University Bill in 1873, for example – and it is believed the meetings were held in this room, overlooking Whitehall.

The new facilities at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace will provide a larger base for the activities of the British Academy, and will be available to hire for meetings, conferences, and other functions.

Both 10 and 11 Carlton House Terrace have had an eminent list of residents, from William Crockford (inventor of the casino), to the Guinness family in No.11; and the Ridley family in No. 10. The British Academy has been based there since 1998.

Robin Jackson, Chief Executive and Secretary of the British Academy said:

“The splendid rooms in No. 11 have now been brought back to life. We have sought to ensure they are not only fit for contemporary purpose, but also retain their historic character. I am confident Gladstone would approve.

“We are delighted that the Minister, David Willetts MP, was able to open the refurbished building, one of London’s most notable addresses.”