East India HouseEdit profile
East India House in Leadenhall Street in the City of London in England was the headquarters of the British East India Company. It was built on the foundations of the Elizabethan mansion Craven House, the London residence of Sir William Craven, Lord Mayor of London, to designs by the merchant and amateur architect Theodore Jacobsen and completed in 1729. Much of British India was governed from here until the British government took control of the Company's possessions in India on November 1, 1858. The exterior as Jacobsen originally designed it is known from a detailed wash drawing by Samuel Wale, ca 1760. Its five-bays were three storeys high, with an attic storey disguised behind the cornice balustrade. A giant order of Doric pilasters under an academically correct frieze of triglyphs demonstrated the East India Company's soundness and seriousness of purpose: the Directors' "aim was resolutely down to earth" to inspire confidence and impress the shareholders." The structure was unexpectedly deep, affording large meeting rooms and Directors' offices, as well as a hall, a courtyard and a garden, all of which could serve for receptions. The Directors' Court Room featured a marble chimneypiece with bearded term figures that supported the mantel shelf and an overmantel bas-relief panel, Britannia Receiving the Riches of the East, under a pediment, the work of Michael Rysbrack (1728”“30). In the Directors' Court Room, six canvases by George Lambert appropriately illustrated the East India Company's main "factories": St. Helena, Cape Town, Fort William, Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and Tellicherry; East Indiamen in the foregrounds were painted by the marine artist Samuel Scott. Carvings in the interiors were carried out by John Boson. An oval ceiling painting for the Revenue Committee Room, The East Offering Its Riches To Britannia, was painted by a little-known Greek artist Spiridone Roma in 1778. With the growth of the East India Company, additional space was required, and adjoining structures to either side were purchased and pulled down; East India House was extended and refaced to designs commissioned, after some canvassing among John Soane and George Dance, from Henry Holland, though the Company's Surveyor, architect Richard Jupp, insisted in overseeing construction. Work began in 1796. After Jupp's sudden death in April 1799, the construction was completed by Henry Holland. The Company's museum was housed in one extension, the library ( illustration, left) in the other. The building was put up for sale in 1868 and demolished in 1869; the site is now occupied by the Lloyd's building. Some of its fittings, art collection and furniture were moved to India House.