History

  • 1901 - 1912

    The British government commissioned Admiralty Arch in memory of Queen Victoria. The building forms part of a wider national memorial designed by architect Sir Aston Webb, which includes The Mall, the Victoria Monument, the Memorial Gardens and the re-facing of Buckingham Palace. The grand project was funded through donations raised in the United Kingdom, the overseas realms and territories and had a dedicated committee chaired by Lord Salisbury. The Latin inscription above the arch reads: “ANNO DECIMO EDWARDI SEPTIMI REGIS VICTORIAE REGINAE CIVES GRATISSIMI MDCCCCX” which translates as, “In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910.”

     

    The construction of Admiralty Arch was carried out by John Mowlem & Co.

     

    (Portrait of Queen Victoria courtesy of Getty Images)

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  • 1911 - 1915

    Aged 37, Sir Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Upon learning of his new role, Churchill commented, “This is a big thing – the biggest thing that has ever come my way – the chance that I should have chosen before all others. I shall pour into it everything I’ve got.”

    The flat in the north wing of Admiralty Arch was originally intended as the new official residence for the First Lords, replacing Admiralty House, but it proved impossible to winkle them out and the flat instead became the official residence of the First Sea Lords.

    As First Sea Lord, Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg therefore occupied the flat in the north wing when the order was given to mobilise the fleet in 1914. His son Lord Mountbatten of Burma was also a resident in later years.

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  • 1914 - 1919

    Admiral Sir William “Blinker” Hall was appointed Director of the Intelligence Division by the Admiralty. Within Room 40 of the Ripley Building (the oldest building in the Admiralty complex) he encouraged code breaking and radio-intercept efforts and provided the fleet with good intelligence, making the DID the pre-eminent British intelligence agency during World War I. He also encouraged cooperation with other intelligence organisations, such as the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Special Branch. Perhaps the most important contribution of Room 40 to the war was the decryption of the Zimmermann Telegram, which led the United States to declare war on Germany and join the Allied side.

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  • 1922

    As First Sea Lord, Admiral David Beatty was involved in negotiations of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which limited the navies of Britain, USA and Japan to a ratio of 5:5:3, with France and Italy maintaining small fleets. In 1927, Beatty led preparations for the Geneva Naval Conference from Admiralty Arch but the parties failed to reach an agreement and the naval arms race continued unabated afterwards.

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  • 1939 - 1945

    Ian Fleming worked as Personal Assistant to the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division, Admiral John Godfrey. Their department became collectively known as Room 39, after the eponymous room at its heart, and Fleming played a key role in 30 Assault Unit, formerly the Special Intelligence Unit. Fleming went on missions throughout Europe, America and Africa, coordinating special operations for the Allies. He also liaised between the Admiralty and Bletchley Park, the top-secret code-breaking institution in Buckinghamshire. By the end of the war, Fleming, codename 17F, had been promoted to Commander.

    After his career at the Admiralty, Fleming became a journalist and author and went on to pen the James Bond novels. His experience at the Admiralty undoubtedly provided huge inspiration for the James Bond character while Admiral Godfrey is generally considered to be the real “M”. Fleming and Godfrey’s confidential missions to the United States, and their work with William Stevenson and Bill Donovan, contributed to the establishment of the office which became the CIA.

     

    (Aston Martin image courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

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  • 1939 - 1940

    During World War II, the Admiralty provided command and control for the Royal Navy. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain invited Winston Churchill to join the War Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty. On hearing of his appointment, the Board of Admiralty signaled to all ships and naval bases: “Winston is back.” However, Churchill held the post only briefly, for in May 1940 he replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister and moved to 10 Downing Street.

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  • 1953

    At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the return procession followed a five-mile route from Westminster Abbey, through Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, and finally down The Mall to Buckingham Palace. When Her Majesty travels to the Palace of Westminster, for example at the State Opening of Parliament, she follows the old ceremonial route through Horse Guards. For longer processions to and from St Paul’s Cathedral, Admiralty Arch is used.

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  • 1955 - 1959

    Following a distinguished career as a naval officer and statesman, Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma served his final naval posting as First Sea Lord and retired as a full Admiral. This was the first case in history where both father and son had served as First Sea Lord. During his tenure, Lord Mountbatten occupied the official residence in the north wing of Admiralty Arch. He subsequently served as the Chief of the Defence Staff until 1965 and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

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  • 1960

    During the Cold War, the Admiralty buildings contained many secretive departments involved in the planning in case of World War III. Admiralty Arch is known to have housed many of the records produced during this time. The Citadel, built in the early 1940s and known as the bunker, would have been used as a nerve centre in the case of a nuclear strike on the Old Admiralty building on nearby Horse Guards Parade. Two spy films featured the exteriors of Admiralty Arch, The Ipcress File starring Michael Caine and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, starring Richard Burton.

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  • 1977

    Admiral Sir Terence Lewin was regarded by many as the best Admiral the Royal Navy has produced since World War II. During his tenure at Admiralty Arch as First Sea Lord, he secured a 32% pay rise for sailors, to keep wages in line with civilian rates. Previously NATO Commander in Chief and Commander-in-Chief Fleet (responsible for the operation, resourcing and training of the ships, submarines and aircraft, and personnel of the Royal Navy until 2012), Lewin went on to be a member of the War Cabinet during the Falklands War, providing key support to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. According to one MoD deputy secretary, Lewin became, “the most powerful man in England”. Lewin was also a keen amateur naval historian and a leading authority on Captain Cook.

     

    (Toby Harnden, Independent, Obituary, 25 Jan 1999)

    (Map of the world exhibiting the researches of Capn James Cook from the David Rumsey Map Collection)

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  • 1990 - 2001

    The Royal Navy moved out of Admiralty Arch in the 1990s, when the army, navy and air force headquarters amalgamated in a single building known as Main Building on Whitehall.

    Admiralty Arch remained empty until 2000, when the Cabinet Office moved in, whilst still maintaining its headquarters on Whitehall.

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  • 1996

    Admiral Sir Jock Slater was the last Admiral to live in the north wing of Admiralty Arch and played a key role in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, having previously served as Commander-in-Chief Fleet and a Major NATO Commander. On separate occasions, he invited HM Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother to lunch. Neither had been inside Admiralty Arch before then.

    In retirement, Sir Jock has been Chairman of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Chairman of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum and Chairman of the Council of the White Ensign Association.

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  • 2011 - 2015

    In 2011, HM Government ran a competitive bidding process seeking a purchaser for a long lease of Admiralty Arch. Prime Investors Capital brought together a unique team of 20 British companies, each a world leader in its particular field of expertise, to bid for the building, and, after four rounds, the company was selected as the preferred bidder and awarded a 250-year lease.

    In 2013, Westminster City Council granted full planning permission for the restoration and conversion of Admiralty Arch into a 100-room hotel, one to four private residences and a private members’ club.

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  • 2016

    Celebrations took place along and over The Mall, and around Admiralty Arch, to mark Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. These included a ceremonial parade down The Mall and a Patron’s Lunch to celebrate the Queen’s remarkable achievements on the throne. It is worth noting that the Queen honoured the Duke of Edinburgh on his 90th birthday (in 2011) by appointing him Lord High Admiral, titular head of the Royal Navy.

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1901s

The British government commissioned Admiralty Arch in memory of Queen Victoria. The building forms part of a wider national memorial designed by architect Sir Aston Webb, which includes The Mall, the Victoria Monument, the Memorial Gardens and the re-facing of Buckingham Palace. The grand project was funded through donations raised in the United Kingdom, the overseas realms and territories and had a dedicated committee chaired by Lord Salisbury. The Latin inscription above the arch reads: “ANNO DECIMO EDWARDI SEPTIMI REGIS VICTORIAE REGINAE CIVES GRATISSIMI MDCCCCX” which translates as, “In the tenth year of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria, from most grateful citizens, 1910.”

 

The construction of Admiralty Arch was carried out by John Mowlem & Co.

 

(Portrait of Queen Victoria courtesy of Getty Images)

1911s

Aged 37, Sir Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Upon learning of his new role, Churchill commented, “This is a big thing – the biggest thing that has ever come my way – the chance that I should have chosen before all others. I shall pour into it everything I’ve got.”

The flat in the north wing of Admiralty Arch was originally intended as the new official residence for the First Lords, replacing Admiralty House, but it proved impossible to winkle them out and the flat instead became the official residence of the First Sea Lords.

As First Sea Lord, Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg therefore occupied the flat in the north wing when the order was given to mobilise the fleet in 1914. His son Lord Mountbatten of Burma was also a resident in later years.

1914s

Admiral Sir William “Blinker” Hall was appointed Director of the Intelligence Division by the Admiralty. Within Room 40 of the Ripley Building (the oldest building in the Admiralty complex) he encouraged code breaking and radio-intercept efforts and provided the fleet with good intelligence, making the DID the pre-eminent British intelligence agency during World War I. He also encouraged cooperation with other intelligence organisations, such as the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Special Branch. Perhaps the most important contribution of Room 40 to the war was the decryption of the Zimmermann Telegram, which led the United States to declare war on Germany and join the Allied side.

1922s

As First Sea Lord, Admiral David Beatty was involved in negotiations of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, which limited the navies of Britain, USA and Japan to a ratio of 5:5:3, with France and Italy maintaining small fleets. In 1927, Beatty led preparations for the Geneva Naval Conference from Admiralty Arch but the parties failed to reach an agreement and the naval arms race continued unabated afterwards.

1939s

Ian Fleming worked as Personal Assistant to the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division, Admiral John Godfrey. Their department became collectively known as Room 39, after the eponymous room at its heart, and Fleming played a key role in 30 Assault Unit, formerly the Special Intelligence Unit. Fleming went on missions throughout Europe, America and Africa, coordinating special operations for the Allies. He also liaised between the Admiralty and Bletchley Park, the top-secret code-breaking institution in Buckinghamshire. By the end of the war, Fleming, codename 17F, had been promoted to Commander.

After his career at the Admiralty, Fleming became a journalist and author and went on to pen the James Bond novels. His experience at the Admiralty undoubtedly provided huge inspiration for the James Bond character while Admiral Godfrey is generally considered to be the real “M”. Fleming and Godfrey’s confidential missions to the United States, and their work with William Stevenson and Bill Donovan, contributed to the establishment of the office which became the CIA.

 

(Aston Martin image courtesy of RM Sotheby’s)

1939s

During World War II, the Admiralty provided command and control for the Royal Navy. In September 1939, Germany invaded Poland and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain invited Winston Churchill to join the War Cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty. On hearing of his appointment, the Board of Admiralty signaled to all ships and naval bases: “Winston is back.” However, Churchill held the post only briefly, for in May 1940 he replaced Chamberlain as Prime Minister and moved to 10 Downing Street.

1953s

At the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the return procession followed a five-mile route from Westminster Abbey, through Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, and finally down The Mall to Buckingham Palace. When Her Majesty travels to the Palace of Westminster, for example at the State Opening of Parliament, she follows the old ceremonial route through Horse Guards. For longer processions to and from St Paul’s Cathedral, Admiralty Arch is used.

1955s

Following a distinguished career as a naval officer and statesman, Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma served his final naval posting as First Sea Lord and retired as a full Admiral. This was the first case in history where both father and son had served as First Sea Lord. During his tenure, Lord Mountbatten occupied the official residence in the north wing of Admiralty Arch. He subsequently served as the Chief of the Defence Staff until 1965 and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

READ MORE

1960s

During the Cold War, the Admiralty buildings contained many secretive departments involved in the planning in case of World War III. Admiralty Arch is known to have housed many of the records produced during this time. The Citadel, built in the early 1940s and known as the bunker, would have been used as a nerve centre in the case of a nuclear strike on the Old Admiralty building on nearby Horse Guards Parade. Two spy films featured the exteriors of Admiralty Arch, The Ipcress File starring Michael Caine and The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, starring Richard Burton.

1977s

Admiral Sir Terence Lewin was regarded by many as the best Admiral the Royal Navy has produced since World War II. During his tenure at Admiralty Arch as First Sea Lord, he secured a 32% pay rise for sailors, to keep wages in line with civilian rates. Previously NATO Commander in Chief and Commander-in-Chief Fleet (responsible for the operation, resourcing and training of the ships, submarines and aircraft, and personnel of the Royal Navy until 2012), Lewin went on to be a member of the War Cabinet during the Falklands War, providing key support to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. According to one MoD deputy secretary, Lewin became, “the most powerful man in England”. Lewin was also a keen amateur naval historian and a leading authority on Captain Cook.

 

(Toby Harnden, Independent, Obituary, 25 Jan 1999)

(Map of the world exhibiting the researches of Capn James Cook from the David Rumsey Map Collection)

1990s

The Royal Navy moved out of Admiralty Arch in the 1990s, when the army, navy and air force headquarters amalgamated in a single building known as Main Building on Whitehall.

Admiralty Arch remained empty until 2000, when the Cabinet Office moved in, whilst still maintaining its headquarters on Whitehall.

1996s

Admiral Sir Jock Slater was the last Admiral to live in the north wing of Admiralty Arch and played a key role in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, having previously served as Commander-in-Chief Fleet and a Major NATO Commander. On separate occasions, he invited HM Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mother to lunch. Neither had been inside Admiralty Arch before then.

In retirement, Sir Jock has been Chairman of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Chairman of Trustees of the Imperial War Museum and Chairman of the Council of the White Ensign Association.

2011s

In 2011, HM Government ran a competitive bidding process seeking a purchaser for a long lease of Admiralty Arch. Prime Investors Capital brought together a unique team of 20 British companies, each a world leader in its particular field of expertise, to bid for the building, and, after four rounds, the company was selected as the preferred bidder and awarded a 250-year lease.

In 2013, Westminster City Council granted full planning permission for the restoration and conversion of Admiralty Arch into a 100-room hotel, one to four private residences and a private members’ club.

2016s

Celebrations took place along and over The Mall, and around Admiralty Arch, to mark Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. These included a ceremonial parade down The Mall and a Patron’s Lunch to celebrate the Queen’s remarkable achievements on the throne. It is worth noting that the Queen honoured the Duke of Edinburgh on his 90th birthday (in 2011) by appointing him Lord High Admiral, titular head of the Royal Navy.