Orignally built in 1843-45 as the Conservative Club, the building was a joint venture by leading Victorian architects Sydney Smirke and George Basevi.
Following the removal of a “temporary” wall in the smoking room, the scagliola columns and pilasters with corinthian capitals were repaired and re-instated. Many coats of discoloured varnish were removed from the ornamental and baroque figure painted ceiling panels and careful conservation and reinstatement techniques employed. Further uncoverings revealed trompe l’oeil wall panelling in the Music room, which was not undertaken. The original lavish gilding scheme was enhanced to recreate the clubs original splendour.
David Watkin : the gallery “is lit by a domed skylight and is dramatically open to the saloon below through a large circular well surrounded by a balustrade.” He adds that this “theatrically baroque spatial experience is in contrast to the neo-Renaissance decoration,” and brings in here the lower saloon as well, for it is really impossible to describe the two separately. Wherever you stand, whether below or above, the effect is amazing.