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Visiting the Former Charing Cross Hotel, London, England: By Edward Barry, Completed in 1865, With a Fine Frontage

Updated on November 14, 2020
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Charing Cross main line station building
Charing Cross main line station building | Source

By one of the distinguished Barry family of architects

[NB: A succession of hotels have occupied this building.This short hubpage concentrates on a few historical and architectural aspects of the structure. For information regarding the services provided by the fine Amba hotel housed in the building, contact should be made directly with its management. This visit occurred some years ago.]

This ornate frontage belongs to a building, dating from 1865, which forms the backdrop to the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners and visitors, and yet — unless they are hotel guests — it is a structure that people typically pass rather than specifically go to see (which is in some ways a pity).

It belongs to the former Charing Cross Hotel, which is to be found at a highly central locality close to the iconic Trafalgar Square.

Generations of Londoners and other travellers have entered and emerged from the building as users of Charing Cross Station, one of London's highly significant mainline rail facilities; and the building has long been known by those who have bought early editions of newspapers (1).

The building is executed in French Renaissance style (2). The structure is in an L-shape, extending into Villiers Street, off the Strand. Terracotta and artificial stone were extensively used materials in the building. During World War Two, the building suffered bomb damage; and in 1953 the upper storey was rebuilt according to a design by FJ Wills and Son.

The building's architect was Edward M. Barry (1830-1880) (3).

Charing Cross Station dates from 1864, then operated by South Eastern Railway, today by Southeastern.

In England the building has heritage (Listed) status.

The former Charing Cross Hotel building is located at: Strand, Charing Cross, London, WC2N 5HX, England.

May 8, 2020


(1) The longstanding tradition of selling early editions of newspapers here may relate to the closeness of Fleet Street where much of the newspaper industry was formerly based.

(2) See also:

(3) Other works by Architect Barry include: the Queen Eleanor Memorial Cross, close to the former Charing Cross Hotel building; the Royal Opera House, London; New Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster; Halifax Town Hall; and many others. His father was Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860), the celebrated architect of the Palace of Westminster and many other designs; a brother was Charles Barry, Jr. (1823-1900), known for the forecourt of Burlington House at the Royal Academy, London, and many other designs; his nephew Arthur John Barry (1859-1943) was a distinguished military figure, civil engineer and architect responsible for many railway projects, both in Great Britain and in Asia; another nephew was Sir John Wolfe Barry (1836-1918), known particularly for designing Tower Bridge, London.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

The front entrance to en:Charing Cross railway station in a 19th century print.
The front entrance to en:Charing Cross railway station in a 19th century print. | Source

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 (where Queen Elizabeth II was crowned and where Prince William and Kate Middleton were married); St. Paul's Cathedral; the Royal Albert Hall; and so 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. In the same building as the former Charing Cross Hotel are Charing Cross Railway and Underground (Bakerloo and Northern line) stations. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of London, England
Map location of London, England | Source

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