Salisbury House (1901)

Image: former City of London School, by Davis and Emanuel.


“Davis and Emanuel were an architectural firm that featured prominently in the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods of large-scale transformation of the City of London. They had an office at 2, Finsbury Circus.

Salisbury House’s first impression is given by its sheer scale.  With over 800 office rooms, it required a large number of large internal light-wells.  As Buildings of England notes, this (and other edifices around Finsbury Square) are a very good example of the transition in scale and grandeur from the moderation typical of the mid-late Victorian to the expansiveness of the Edwardian period.  This can be said both of the overall size but also the complexity and plasticity of subsidiary elements and applied ornament.  Finsbury Circus, which had been laid out at the very start of the 19th C., was completely rebuilt at the beginning of the 20th, after the 99-year leases fell due on what were by then uneconomically small buildings.

Not counting the ‘blind’ western end which abuts Electra House directly, or the light-wells, Salisbury House boasts well over 300 window bays (most of them rather large).  It also has six imposing entrances.  A full description of its horizontal and vertical organisation would require several paragraphs.  Suffice it to say that the long, straight (roughly 90 metres) London Wall aspect is considerably different in organisation from the equally majestic (and taller), concave Finsbury Circus ‘main’ facade.

While certainly replete with detail and enrichment, Salisbury House is not tiresomely over-complex.  Despite its monumentality of scale, the wealth of detail and varied treatment across breadth and height effectively create relief of mass.

Another massive building designed by Davis & Emanuel for City clients in this period was Finsbury Pavement House (1890), at the eponymous address, which was replaced by a Brutalist-style building (by Seifert) in the 1970s.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s