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Photographer: Benjamin J. Hatherell

85 Fleet Street

Gazetteer No. G0504

Date 1935

Address London, Greater London EC4P 4AJ England


Built in association with the architects Smee and Houchin, this was Lutyens’s last commercial building and is ‘modern’ in its design. This impression is created by the shallow reveals of the window openings, making them seem like ‘Thirties’ strip windows, and the fact that there is no crowning cornice. There are many intricacies: the upper walls are battered and the windows decrease in width as they rise. Note, too, that the building is crowned with a recessed structure with concave front surmounted by a drum, and the wide deep entrance niche flanked by tapering pilasters. (Amery et al, 1981, Cat no.195)

Beyond Salisbury Court, the great stone bulk of REUTERS and the PRESS ASSOCIATION, 1934-8 by Lutyens (associate architects Smee & Houchin). Lutyens is recognizable by the wide, deep entrance niche on the narrower Fleet Street front, the doorway flanked by tapering pilasters and surmounted by a circular window with a bronze figure of Fame (originally on the parapet); also by rustication into which Doric pilasters disappear on the corner (formerly a bank). The rest seems straightforward, until one looks steeply up and discovers the fun the architect has had at the top: a recessed structure with concave front and pedimented extremities, crowned by a broad circular drum without a dome. This tripartite division into ornamented base, plain middle and eyecatching top suggests a skyscraper in parvo rather than Lutyens’s commercial palaces of the 1920s, with their lovingly differentiated storeys. Upper storeys not as simple as they first appear: walls are subtly battered like shallow buttresses, and windows diminish in width as they rise. The main entrance is a tight succession of Travertine- clad spaces: a lobby apsed to 1. and r. leads to a small hall with semicircular arches reminiscent of Soane; on its 1. side a staircase climbs around a square stairwell. In the hall a jolly wooden post- box-cum-clock. Reuters’ executive suites were in the set-back seventh floor, with a separate entrance from Salisbury Square. (Bradley & Pevsner, 1997, p.498)


Amery, C., Richardson, M. and Stamp, G., (1981) Lutyens, the Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944): Hayward Gallery London, 18 November 1981 – 31 January 1982. London: Arts Council of Great Britain.

Bradley S & Pevnser N (1997) LONDON 1: THE CITY. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.

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Sir Roderick Jones