Albany (London)

The Albany, or simply Albany, is an apartment complex in Piccadilly, London. The three-storey mansion was built in the 1770s and divided into apartments in 1802.

The Albany
Albany Courtyard at dusk
The Albany at dusk (May 2014)
Albany (London) is located in Central London
Albany (London)
Location within Central London
Former namesMelbourne House
Alternative namesAlbany
EtymologyPrince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany
General information
TypeResidential apartment block
LocationPiccadilly, London
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates51°30′32″N 0°8′19″W / 51.50889°N 0.13861°WCoordinates: 51°30′32″N 0°8′19″W / 51.50889°N 0.13861°W
Current tenantsVarious
Construction started1771
OwnerPeterhouse, Cambridge, Various
Design and construction
ArchitectSir William Chambers
Henry Holland
Listed Building – Grade I


The Albany was built in 1771–76 by Sir William Chambers for the newly created 1st Viscount Melbourne as Melbourne House.[1] It is a three-storey mansion, seven bays (windows) wide, with a pair of service wings flanking a front courtyard. In 1791, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, abandoned Dover House, Whitehall (now a government office), and took up residence. In 1802 the Duke in turn gave up the house and it was converted by Henry Holland into 69 bachelor apartments (known as "sets"). This was achieved by subdividing the main block and its two service wings, and by adding two new parallel long buildings covering most of the garden, running as far as a new rear gate building on Burlington Gardens. Holland's new buildings of 1802–3 flank a covered walkway supported on thin iron columns and with an upswept roof. The blocks are white painted render in a simpler Regency style than Chambers' work. Most sets are accessed off common staircases without doors, like Oxbridge colleges and the Inns of Court.


Since its conversion, the Albany has been a prestigious set of bachelor apartments in London. The residents have included such famous names as the poet Lord Byron and the future Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, and numerous members of the aristocracy.

During the Second World War, one of the buildings received significant damage from a German bomb, but was reconstructed after the war to appear as an exact replica.[2]

Residents no longer have to be bachelors, although children under the age of 14 are not permitted to live there.[3]

Ownership and governance

The apartments or "sets" are individually owned as flying freeholds, with the owners known as "Proprietors"; a set that came up for sale in 2007 had an advertised guide price of £2 million.[4]

Around half the sets were owned by Peterhouse, a college of the University of Cambridge.[2] These were acquired by William Stone (1857–1958) during the Second World War.[5] Stone, nicknamed the "Squire of Piccadilly", was a former scholar of Peterhouse, a bachelor and a lifelong resident of the Albany.[6] He bequeathed 37 sets to the college,[6] along with other endowments.[5]

The Albany is governed by a Board of Trustees on behalf of the Proprietors. The annual rent of a set can be as much as £50,000 and prospective tenants are vetted by a committee before being allowed to take up residence.[3]


The Albany by Thomas Shepherd
Drawing by Thomas H. Shepherd, c. 1830

The names "Albany" and "the Albany" have both been used. The rules adopted in 1804 laid down that "the Premises mentioned in the foregoing Articles shall be called Albany". Both names have been used in the 19th and 20th centuries. In a 1958 review of a book about the building, Peace in Piccadilly, The Times wrote, "Albany or the Albany? It has long been a snobbish test of intimate knowledge of the West End. If one was in use, a man could feel superior by using the other. When G. S. Street wrote The Ghosts of Piccadilly in 1907, he said that 'the Albany' was then 'universal', but that to the earliest tenants it was 'Albany'."[7]

In fiction

An early use of the building in fiction was the novel, The Bachelor of the Albany (1847) by Marmion Wilard Savage. Still earlier is the hero of Benjamin Disraeli’s novel Sybil (1845), Charles Egremont, who lives there; he has a portrait by Christifano Allori hung over his fireplace halfway through the book. Mr Fascination Fledgeby, a moneylender in Charles Dickens' novel, Our Mutual Friend (1865) is described as living there. Several scenes from the book take place in his apartment. In the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890) by Oscar Wilde, Lord Fermor, the uncle of the character Lord Henry Wotton, resides in the Albany. In Oscar Wilde's play, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), the character John (Jack) Worthing has a set at the Albany (number B.4), where he lives while staying in London under the assumed name of Ernest.

A. J. Raffles, the gentleman burglar created by E. W. Hornung who first appeared in "The Ides of March" (1898), lived at the Albany, as did the adventurer Lord John Roxton of Arthur Conan Doyle's novel The Lost World (1912), and Roger Sheringham, the amateur detective in the works of Anthony Berkeley Cox who first appeared in The Layton Court Mystery (1925).

In the comic short story "Uncle Fred Flits By" (1935) by P. G. Wodehouse, the young gentleman Pongo Twistleton resides in the Albany.[8] In The Foundling (1948), a novel by Georgette Heyer, Captain Gideon Ware of the Life Guards rents a set of chambers at the Albany. In the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), Louis Mazzini takes a small set at Albany as he moves up the social ladder.

In the James Bond novel Moonraker by Ian Fleming (1955), Max Meyer the bridge partner of Sir Hugo Drax was said to live in Albany. In the Major Harry Maxim novels by Gavin Lyall, George Harbinger, Harry's boss who first appears in The Secret Servant (1980), has an apartment at Albany where he lives with his spouse, Annette. In Julian Fellowes' novel Belgravia (2016), Mr. John Bellasis resides in an apartment at Albany.


The list below is based mainly on the much longer list in the Survey of London. Many tenants were in residence for only a short time, when they were quite young.


  1. ^ Historic England. "ALBANY COURTYARD, City of Westminster (1209755)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 15 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b Arthurs, William. "Philip Bobbitt on life in Albany". London Society Journal. London Society. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b Ingerfield, Mark (10 April 2004). "A cluster of salubrious solitudes". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Historic Albany set for sale". Easier Property. 16 August 2007. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b "The William Stone Society". Peterhouse College. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  6. ^ a b Kloester, Jennifer (2011). Georgette Heyer Biography. Random House. p. 248. ISBN 1446473368.
  7. ^ "Designed for Living", The Times, 26 June 1958, p. 13
  8. ^ Wodehouse, P. G. (2009) [1936]. Young Men in Spats (Reprinted ed.). London: Arrow Books. p. 171. ISBN 9780099514039.

External links

Battle of Famars

The Battle of Famars was fought on 23 May 1793 during the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition. An Allied Austrian, Hanoverian, and British army under Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld defeated the French Army of the North led by François Joseph Drouot de Lamarche. The action occurred near the village of Famars in northern France, five km south of Valenciennes.

Battle of Hondschoote

The Battle of Hondschoote took place during the Flanders Campaign of the Campaign of 1793 in the French Revolutionary Wars. It was fought during operations surrounding the Siege of Dunkirk between 6 and 8 September 1793 at Hondschoote, Nord, France, and resulted in a French victory under General Jean Nicolas Houchard and General Jean-Baptiste Jourdan against the command of Marshal Freytag, part of the Anglo-Hanoverian corps of the Duke of York.

Battle of Lincelles

The Battle of Lincelles was an action that took place as part of a larger manoeuvre on 17 August 1793 in the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition. It was fought between the forces of Revolutionary France under the command of Jean Baptiste Jourdan and Antoine Anne Lecourt de Béru, versus those of Great Britain under the Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany and the Dutch Republic under the Hereditary Prince of Orange. The action resulted in a coalition victory.

Battle of Raismes (1793)

The Battle of Raismes (also known as the Battle of Condé or St. Amand) took place on 8 May 1793, during the Flanders Campaign of the Wars of the French Revolution, between the French Republican army of the Marquis de Dampierre and the Allied Coalition army of the Prince of Saxe-Coburg, and resulted in an Allied Victory.

Battle of Tournay (1794)

The Battle of Tournay (1794) or Tournai was fought on 22 May 1794 as part of the Flanders Campaign in the Belgian province of Hainaut on the Schelde River (about 80 km southwest of Brussels) between French forces under General Pichegru and Coalition forces (Austrian, British, and Hanoverian troops) under Prince Josias of Coburg, in which the Coalition forces were victorious.

In the course of the battle, the enemy forces changed possession of the village Pont-à-Chin four times, until finally the French had to retreat.

Benjamin Garlike

Benjamin Garlike (c. 1766 – 14 May 1815, Albany, London) was a British diplomat, ambassador to Denmark and Prussia.

As a young man Garlike received the patronage of Lord Auckland, accompanying him to Spain in 1788 and The Hague in 1789, where (despite lacking official government appointment) he worked deciphering government dispatches. In 1793 he accompanied Lord Henry Spencer to Stockholm, working as Secretary of Legation until December 1794, when he was appointed Chargé d'affaires at the Court of Stockholm. In July 1796 he was appointed Secretary of Legation at the Court of Berlin, and Chargé d'affaires to the Prussian Court in 1798 and 1799–1800, In May 1801, on the death of Paul I of Russia, he was appointed Chargé d'affaires, and shortly thereafter Minister Plenipotentiary, to St Petersburg. In 1803 he was appointed to, but did not take up, the post of Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of Saxony. In 1804 he became ambassador to the Court of Denmark. In 1807 he was briefly appointed ambassador to the Court of Berlin., leaving in December 1807 when Britain suspended diplomatic relations with Prussia. It has been claimed that he later served as Envoy at Constantinople.Garlike evidently had literary inclinations, and was admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law at Oxford University on 6 July 1810. A friend of William Cobbett in the 1780s, he had advised Cobbett, in memorable terms, to master the world through proper study of English grammar:

Now then, my dear Bill, it is for you to determine whether you shall all your life yield an abject submission to others, or whether you yourself shall be a guide and leader of men. Nature has done her part towards you most generously, but her favour will be of no use without a knowledge of grammar. Without that knowledge you will be laughed at by blockheads: with it, you may laugh at thousands who think themselves learned men.

Charlotte Stuart, Duchess of Albany

Charlotte Stuart, styled Duchess of Albany (29 October 1753 – 17 November 1789) was the illegitimate daughter of the Jacobite pretender Prince Charles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie' or the 'Young Pretender') and his only child to survive infancy.

Her mother was Clementina Walkinshaw, who was mistress to the Prince from 1752 until 1760. After years of abuse, Clementina left him, taking Charlotte with her. Charlotte spent most of her life in French convents, estranged from a father who refused to make any provision for her. Unable to marry, she herself became a mistress with illegitimate children, taking Ferdinand de Rohan, Archbishop of Bordeaux, as her lover.

She was finally reconciled with her father in 1784, when he legitimised her and created her Duchess of Albany in the Jacobite Peerage. She left her own children with her mother, and became her father's carer and companion in the last years of his life, before dying less than two years after him. Her three children were raised in anonymity; however, as the only grandchildren of the pretender, they have been the subject of Jacobite interest since their lineage was uncovered in the 20th century.

John Watkins (writer)

John Watkins (fl. 1792–1831) was an English miscellaneous writer, known as a biographer. He is most famous for being the author of An Universal Biographical and Historical Dictionary.

Keith Coventry

Keith Coventry is a British artist and curator. In September 2010 his Spectrum Jesus painting won the £25,000 John Moores Painting Prize.Keith Coventry was born in Burnley in 1958 and lives and works in London. He attended Brighton Polytechnic 1978–1981 and Chelsea School of Art London 1981–1982. He was featured in the seminal exhibition Sensation at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, in 1997 and in 2006, he received a mid-career retrospective at Glasgow's Tramway (Art Centre). He was also a co-founder and curator of City Racing, an influential not-for-profit gallery in Kennington, South London from 1988–1998.

His work has been exhibited widely in the UK and Europe and is included in collections worldwide, including the British Council; Tate Modern; Arts Council of England; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis;, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York City. In 2010 Coventry was awarded the John Moores Painting Prize.

List of restaurants owned or operated by Gordon Ramsay

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Michael Legge (comedian)

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Robin Ince

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Royal Pavilion, Aldershot

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Siege of Valenciennes (1793)

The Siege of Valenciennes took place between 13 June and 28 July 1793, during the Flanders Campaign of the War of the First Coalition. The French garrison under Jean Henri Becays Ferrand was blockaded by part of the army of Prince Josias of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, commanded by the Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Valenciennes fell on 28 July, resulting in an Allied victory.

Tony Way

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William Brereton (British Army officer)

Lieutenant-General Sir William Brereton (29 December 1789 – 27 July 1864) was a British Army officer of the nineteenth century who served as colonel-commandant of the 4th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery in the 1860s.

William Chambers (architect)

Sir William Chambers (23 February 1723 – 10 March 1796) was a Scottish-Swedish architect, based in London. Among his best-known works are Somerset House, London, and the pagoda at Kew. Chambers was a founder member of the Royal Academy.

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