Visiting 3 Cleveland Row, London, SW1, England: Frank T. Verity's 'Maisons De Luxe'-Style Building, Completed in 1906
Remembering the court of King Charles II & past British reliance on Egypt's King Farouk
[The exterior of this building may be viewed from Cleveland Row, SW1; the interior is open only to those with official business at the Sudanese Embassy. This visit occurred a number of years ago.]
3, Cleveland Row, London, SW1 (formerly known as 3-7 Cleveland Row) was designed by architect Frank W. Verity (1864-1937) (1). Construction on the present building was started in 1905 and completed in 1906; the building's original owner was J. H. Lukach.
Features of this building include ornate frontages at its Cleveland Row and Russell Court elevations. Wrought iron balconies complement second-, third- and fourth-storey windows. The building is executed in plain ashlar. Doric columns, with a plain entablature adorn the main entrance at Cleveland Row. While the Neoclassical origins of the building's Beaux-Arts style are evident, its style is also sometimes referred to as 'Maisons de luxe', common in Parisian buildings influenced by Second Empire styling (2).
The name 'Cleveland Row' refers to the close proximity of the former Cleveland House — no longer in existence — itself named for Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland (1640-1709), who was a prominent member of the social circle of King Charles II (reigned 1660-1685). The Duchess of Cleveland was also identified with her residence at Nonsuch Palace, but in terms of the built environment and the former Cleveland House's spatial radiation, its proximity to St James's Palace was thus undoubtedly significant to that social circle.
The building's current occupant is the Sudanese Embassy.
At the time of writing, Sudan was being headed by the collective leadership of the Sovereignty Council (2). When the previous government was in office in Sudan, the relationship between the Embassy and the Mukhabarat (Sudanese Security Services) came under scrutiny in relation to the Mukhabarat's alleged monitoring of Sudanese exiles in the United Kingdom; the precise relationship between the Embassy and the Mukhabarat remained unclear, while an undoubted part of the Embassy's mission was to advocate for the Sudanese government's role in maintaining the country's territorial integrity. Far-reaching matters arising from the country's wide, ethno-religious diversity had for long been a subject of scrutiny by prominent United Kingdom Parliamentarians; these issues gave rise to spirited interventions regarding externally proposed solutions to Sudan's problems, as variously analyzed. Some of the rationale behind these interventions was undoubtedly well founded, while a broad, historical assessment of the history of the former Anglo-Egyptian Sudan would likely reveal the British government's own historical role in some of these problems. In the decades prior to Sudanese independence, Great Britain's role as the colonial power in the former Anglo-Egyptian Sudan rested in the claim exercised by Egypt's King Farouk to reign over Sudan, while simultaneously the British government was studiously denying a meaningful Egyptian role in the actual governance of Sudan. This divide-and-rule strategy rapidly unravelled particularly after the 1952 revolution in Egypt, when King Farouk was deposed by the Egyptians themselves (against which the Suez attack in 1956 by Great Britain and allies was in some sense a rearguard reaction). I have supplied (below) a photo of Sudan's first post-independence Prime Minister and (from 1965 until 1969) President: Ismail al-Azhari, seen with Egyptian President Nasser and other Middle Eastern heads of state.
The flag of Sudan, shown above, significantly resembles that of various other countries, including Jordan, Palestine, and Western Sahara; the Sudanese version of the pan-Arab colours is in a variant of its own (4).
For serving diplomats, 3 Cleveland Place is also conveniently located for access to the Middle East Association, at Bury House, Bury Street, SW1, a fairly short distance from the Embassy. The Association thus offers an interface forum for serving and former diplomats, business investors and others (5).
The name plate of the Embassy (see photo, above) carries a reflection of St. James's Palace, situated opposite the Embassy. Regarding the vicinity of Cleveland Place in its historical setting, and in the light of a reading of Philip Ziegler's biography of Edward VIII, I am somewhat reminded that the vigorous pursuit of socialite priorities has strong royal antecedents. A biographer of former British protégé Egypt's King Farouk would probably come to similar conclusions.
May 28, 2020
(1) Other works by Architect Frank Verity include various public buildings in the category of restaurants and theatres; and private residences in Park Lane. His father Thomas Verity (1837-1891) was also a prominent designer of theatre buildings; he notably also designed the Pavillion at Lord's Cricket Ground.
(2) See also: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vols29-30/pt1/pp487-509
(3) In very broad terms, other countries which are or have in the past been led by a collective Presidency have included Switzerland and Uruguay.
(4) Equatorial Guinea's flag is also quite similar to that of Sudan; Equatorial Guinea is, however, not a member of the Arab League.
(5) Many years ago I myself attended a meeting at the Middle East Association, at Bury House, addressed by a former, long-serving London Representative of the Arab League, diplomats with Middle Eastern connections, and others.
Some sourcing: Wikipedia
Also worth seeing
London has such huge numbers of visitor attractions that I will refer to only a small fraction of the principal ones; these include: Trafalgar Square; the Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster; Westminster Abbey; St. Paul's Cathedral; the Royal Albert Hall; and many others.
How to get there
United Airlines flies from New York Newark Airport to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Underground and train services link Heathrow Airport with Central London. Grosvenor Square, W1 is close to Bond Street and Marble Arch Underground Stations. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada
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