Two Temple Place WC2 is an hidden away architectural gem. It was built for William Waldorf Astor primarily for use as his estate office. This was Astor’s “crenellated Tudor stronghold”. It was his office and it had residential space – it was a home away from home (the United States) where he felt his children would be safer from the threat of kidnapping and a place where he could display some of his art, etc.
The house was designed by one of the foremost neo-Gothic architects of the late nineteenth-century, John Loughborough Pearson. Astor had emigrated to England in 1891 as arguably, the richest man in the world and no expense was be spared when work began on Two Temple Place in 1892. In addition to the extraordinary, opulent interior, when it was finished in 1895, Two Temple Place contained the largest strong room in Europe as well as two other enormous fortified safes.
Since the Astor family sold the house it has had various owners: Sun Life of Canada from 1922 to 1928, the Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors from 1928. Smith & Nephew also owned the building.
The building was hit by a German flying bomb on 24 July 1944. There was considerable damage to the house but this has been repaired.
Two Temple Place is now a private house owned by the registered charity, the Bulldog Trust. It is closed to the public except during its annual exhibitions or if you get invited to a corporate event held here, like I was lucky enough to be. The house’s website is: http://www.twotempleplace.org/
But there are many more wonderful pictures on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two_Temple_Place