Prior to our AGM at the offices of … we will be visiting Chandos House, a grade I listed building designed by Robert Adam, the most prominent architect in Georgian Britain. The house was speculatively built between 1769 and 1771 on land which was part of the Duke of Portland’s estate. It remained unsold until 1774 when it was bought by James Brydges, the third Duke of Chandos. For over 130 years Chandos House was home to such notable residents as the Duke of Chandos, the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, the Countess of Stafford, the Earl of Shaftesbury and finally the newspaper tycoon Sir James Gomer Berry, Viscount Kemsley.
For a period in the 19th century Chandos House was also used as the Austrian Embassy. The first resident Ambassador was Prince Esterhazy and for 25 years the house was the scene of entertainment on a most lavish scale. He left the Embassy in 1842 and was succeeded by various Ambassadors until the lease on the property expired in 1866. The house was then acquired by the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos, a descendant through marriage of the third Duke of Chandos. He only lived there for a short time but it remained in the possession of the family until the end of the century.
In 1963 ownership passed to the Royal Society of Medicine, who used it as a hotel and events venue for members until it was sold in 1986 to finance the refurbishment of the Society’s headquarters at 1 Wimpole Street. Unfortunately the house was then unoccupied and neglected, so much so that it was placed on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk list. The Howard de Walden estate saved the house in 2002 by purchasing the lease, and identifying the RSM as future tenants. After extensive restoration work the house was returned to its former splendour and since 2005 it is open again for use.