This Grade I-listed building, opened in 1828, was designed by John Nash for the United Service Club. It has been home to the Institute of Directors since 1978.
Lord Lynedoch, a hero of the Peninsular War who served under five monarchs and lived to the age of 95, met with 80 army generals to discuss the creation of a club where they could relax and meet with colleagues. Thus the United Service Club was born.
The Prince of Wales vacates his London residence at Carlton House to prepare for his accession to the throne as George IV. Carlton House is demolished and celebrated Regency architect John Nash, who famously designed the Marble Arch and Brighton Pavilion, is commissioned to create a new building on the site of the new king’s former home. This will eventually become 116 Pall Mall.
Building work begins on 116 Pall Mall, which will become the new location for the United Service Club, which had outgrown its original home in Charles Street. It was also noted that the cellars were “too warm for French wine”.
The work takes two years and runs £7,000 over budget. The total bill now comes to £45,000 (£40m in today’s money). George IV donates a 15ft Regency chandelier, which still hangs above the main staircase, to commemorate victory in the Battle of Waterloo.
Among the many artworks purchased by the USC are two magnificent 16ft-wide oils depicting the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar and portraits of Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.
The USC purchases a marble bust of Lord Admiral Nelson for 100 guineas. It is said to be the only bust of Nelson created from life and still resides at 116 Pall Mall on a plinth made from part of HMS Victory.
Decimus Burton, a protégé of John Nash, is employed as architect to the club and instigates a complete redecoration along with some structural alterations. Burton’s other credits include The Athenaeum, which still stands opposite 116 across Waterloo Place.
The funeral procession for the Duke of Wellington is routed to go past 116 Pall Mall, where he was a regular guest. All heads of foreign missions attending the funeral are invited to become USC members, regardless of rank.
The dramatic marble mosaic in the inner hall of 116 is laid down. It remains a listed and unchangeable feature of the building.
Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, becomes a regular visitor during World War II while serving in the Naval Intelligence Division as Lieutenant Commander RNVR.
Exiled Norwegian monarch, King Haakon, regularly meets his officers in the Smoking Room (which has since become The Restaurant) to plan strategy during World War II. Following the war, Haakon begins the annual tradition of Norway sending a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square as a thank-you gift to the UK.
The USC falls on hard times and is declared insolvent. The members and staff walk out one night never to return and the building rapidly declines into a state of disrepair.
The IoD moves into 116 Pall Mall. One of the conditions of the sale is to retain the USC’s original fixtures and fittings.
116 Pall Mall becomes the location for a number of famous films and TV dramas beginning with the Oscar-winning epic Gandhi. A scene depicting the Viceroy’s Office in India is filmed in the Nash Room.
Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for Ronald Reagan is filmed at 116 Pall Mall.
A scene from the blockbuster Batman movie The Dark Knight is shot in The Brasserie.
The IoD hosts bilateral trade talks between Chancellor George Osborne and China’s vice premier, Wang Qishan.
The dining areas and members’ lounges at 116 Pall Mall undergo a redesign and refurbishment as the venue looks to cater for the needs of modern business.
The IoD hosts a heated London mayoral debate between the main candidates, Sadiq Khan for Labour and Zac Goldsmith of the Conservatives.
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