Pall Mall, South Side, Past Buildings: The Ordnance Office and the War Office in Pall Mall

Pages 359-360

Survey of London: Volumes 29 and 30, St James Westminster, Part 1. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1960.

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The Ordnance Office and the War Office in Pall Mall

In 1806 the lease of Cumberland House (Nos. 85–87 (consec.) Pall Mall) was acquired by the Board of Ordnance, whose offices were shortly afterwards established there. By 1859 the Ordnance Office's successor, the War Office, occupied all the premises between and including Nos. 80–91 (consec.) Pall Mall, with a total street frontage of nearly 400 feet (Plate 204). The whole of this large site formerly occupied by the War Office is now occupied by the Royal Automobile Club and its westward extension, and by the new Schomberg House.

The expansion of the Board of Ordnance and the War Office was gradual; Nos. 85 and 87, the two houses used as wings to Cumberland House, were first occupied in 1811 by the Board of Ordnance, and Nos. 83 and 84 (Christie's) in 1810 and 1807 respectively. (fn. 2) (fn. 1) All these premises were retained when the War Department absorbed the Ordnance Office in 1855 (fn. 3) and in the same year the newly created department took over No. 91 (fn. 4) (Buckingham House).

In 1856, when new government offices in Downing Street and Whitehall were being considered, it was proposed to erect a new War Office building in Pall Mall. (fn. 5) This proposal came to nothing, and in 1859 the War Office took over Nos. 80–82 (consec.) Pall Mall (Schomberg House) and Nos. 88–90 (consec.) Pall Mall, which stood between Cumberland House and Buckingham House. (fn. 6)

In 1898 the construction of the present War Office building in Whitehall began, and in 1906 all the offices in Pall Mall except those at Schomberg House were vacated. (fn. 7) Apart from Schomberg House, all the buildings occupied by the War Office were pulled down between 1908 and 1912 for the erection of the Royal Automobile Club and its extension.

The buildings occupied by the War Office are individually described below.


  • 1. Among the works which were said to have 'engaged the attention' of William Atkinson, architect to the Ordnance Office from 1813 to 1829, was the Ordnance Office in Pall Mall. As far as is known no rebuilding took place on the sites in Pall Mall occupied by the office during Atkinson's term of employment and he was therefore presumably only engaged on minor internal alterations.
  • 2. C.E.O., file 11341; R.B.
  • 3. The War Office List, 1927 ed.
  • 4. C.E.O., file 10520.
  • 5. The Builder, 12 April 1856, p. 208.
  • 6. C.E.O., file 11678; P.O.D.
  • 7. The Builder, 29 Dec. 1906, p. 747.
  • 8. Colvin; A.P.S.D.