The College Archives
Frequently asked questions about 17 Belgrave Square
When was the house built?
In the early 1830s.
Why was it built?
The whole area was being developed. King George IV had made
alterations to Buckingham Palace and this led to high-class
residential development in the surrounding area.
Who owns it?
The Grosvenor Estates, the head of which is the Duke of
What was it like when it was built?
The rooms on the ground and first floor would have been reception
rooms, with family bedrooms on the second floor, domestic staff
sleeping in the attics and cooking and laundry done in the
basement. There was probably always a water supply and a sewage
Who has lived here?
The first two tenants were MPs, Sir Ralph Howard and Pandeli Ralli.
The next one was Leontine, Lady Sassoon who was tenant from
1929-52. She is said to have had parties here for soldiers here
during the Second World War (1939-45); also part of the property
was used as a Red Cross supply depot during this war.
How long has the College been here?
Who was here immediately before the
The Institute of Metals.
Who is on either side?
The Country Landowners' Association is at number 16. The Austrian
Ambassador lives at number 18 and this house has been the Austrian
Ambassador's residence since at least 1871.
Has anything historically interesting happened
King Edward VIII, when he was Prince of Wales, is said to have met
Mrs Dudley Ward here. She was his mistress for many years before he
met Mrs Simpson, whom he married.
Are there any ghosts?
Possibly. There have been occasional sightings by staff working
Has the College made any alterations?
Yes, it has been extended both at the back and upwards. There was
also an extensive refurbishment of the formal rooms in the late
Are there still any original features?
Yes, many. The 1990s refurbishment took particular care to enhance
the period detail of the property.
Are there any pictures of the house before the
No but there are some architects' plans in the College
Is there a garden?
No. There is a small courtyard but the College has built an
extension in what was the garden. This new extension houses the
Communications and Policy Department
Is there disabled access?
Yes, a ramp can be brought to the front steps.
Can the formal rooms be hired for outside
Yes, please contact the College for a brochure.