Main Image
Photographer: Benjamin J. Hatherell

Britannic House

Gazetteer No. G0335

Date 1920-24

Address Moorgate London, Greater London EC2M 7EB England


The stone façade screens seven office floors above the ground floor, and includes an entrance to Moorgate Underground Station. The fenestration does not indicate the floor levels; tall arched windows cut through the fourth and fifth floors and the seventh floor is tucked in behind the hipped roof and is lit entirely from the rear. Particularly splendid are the windows on the upper floors formed from Roman triumphal arches, with a Corinthian order and swags. This is one of the finest Neo-Roman offices to be built. (Amery et al, 1981, Cat no.189)

Finally, at the NW corner leading on into Moorgate, the Circus’s one masterpiece: Lutyens’s BRITANNIC HOUSE, for the Anglo- Persian Oil Company (later B.P.), 1921-5. Done with care and lavish expense, comparable with his near-contemporary Midland Bank, Poultry. Here also the style owes much to North Italian Mannerism, interpreted freely but with great discipline, without shocks or discords. The low ratio of void to solid is particularly striking, with mostly small windows deeply set. Six storeys below the top cornice, divided horizontally into two stages of three. The lower stage projects slightly towards Finsbury Circus as a seven- bay entrance frontispiece that would make a perfectly pro- portioned façade in its own right. Rusticated ground floor, the few accentuated first-floor windows flanked by recessed columns in a very Lutyensesque way. Above, a storey behind a balustrade makes a plinth to a giant Corinthian order, with the cornice broken forward above each column and frothy garlands between the capitals. Triumphal arch rhythm at each end, broken slightly forward in counterpoint to the frontispiece below. Seven bays between, alternately wide and narrow, marking the chairman’s office suite. Plain attic, plainest hipped Coniston-slated roof, with none of Lutyens’s favourite stacks or aedicules. Carved figures by Derwent Wood, distributed about the various corner set-backs, not grouped as the Edwardians would have done them; excellent lesser carving by Broadbent & Son. Plainer s front, without the giant order. The Moorgate front (w) is a straight, slightly over- extended version of that to Finsbury Circus.

The INTERIOR was rebuilt with tact and imagination by Inskip 154 & Jenkins in 1987-9 (executive architects W. Nimmo & Partners, engineers Ove Arup & Partners), who retained Lutyens’s grand circulation spaces, a novelty in a 1920s commercial building. From the broad, columned entrance hall a pilastered corridor on the Circus axis leads to an apsed chamber, which originally met corridors on the other axes. Here a magnificent inlaid marble floor in C17 Italian fashion. A staircase of grey Brescia marble (slightly) altered) opens 1. off the corridor. It climbs slowly through four floors in complex barrel-vaulted flights and landings, crossing and re-crossing the central axis in a graduated, varied progress familiar from Lutyens’s country houses. It leads now to a broad platform made within a semicircular atrium, a reticent, cool space with walls clad in a well-proportioned grid of plain Portland stone. This replaced Lutyens’s twin light-wells and straightforward pilastered boardroom (a replica of which has been made in the basement). Also kept, the fourth-floor chairman’s office, a vaulted space with columns, and two first-floor offices. Externally all that is visibly new is a sheer white- and grey-clad front, tucked away N in South Place Mews. In 1991 B. P. returned to the refurbished building. (Bradley & Pevsner, 1997, p.493)


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.

Also Cited In

Gradidge, R. (1982) Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate. London: Allen & Unwin.

Richardson, M. (1994) Sketches by Edwin Lutyens: Drawings from the Collection of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA Drawings Monographs No. 1). London: Wiley.

Butler, A., 1950. The architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens: the Lutyens memorial series. Vol III: Town and Public Buildings: Memorials: The Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool, Country Life: London and Scibners: New York.

REILLY, P.C.H., 1924. LONDON STREETS AND THEIR RECENT BUILDINGS–X: THE CITY.–I. Country Life (Archive : 1901 – 2005), 56(1458), pp. 941-944.

Listing Grade


Listing Reference



Anglo-Persian Oil Company