65 Basinghall St EC2 from the plaza

In a previous post I presented a drawing of 65 Basinghall Street done from the bridge which is on the North side of the building. Here is the south side.

65 Basinghall Street is the building in front, with the scalloped arches. Behind it is City Place House.

65 Basinghall Street EC1 (foreground), City Place House (background) 8″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 9. 23rd April 2021

City Place House was built in 1992, and is due for demolition and replacement by a building which is taller and broader.

65 Basinghall Street is listed Grade II. The Historic England website gives the reason for the listing:

No 65 and 65a Basinghall Street, 1966-69, by Richard Gilbert Scott, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

  • for its creative composition of plane, form and interconnected masses;
  • for its use of materials, in particular the elegant polished white cement cladding and distinctive, celebratory, concrete shell-vaulting;
  • in its skilful planning, providing varied accommodation, open space and a high-level pedestrian link, on a corner plot.

Historic interest:

  • as the first part of the architect’s most significant secular commission, distinctively expressing his personal style and establishing his creative, Modern, response to the medieval Gothic of this important site;
  • as one element of the contribution made to the site over a period of almost seventy years by England’s most celebrated architectural dynasty.

The “celebrated architectural dynasty” is the Gilbert Scotts, 4 generations of architects down the male line.

Richard Gilbert-Scott was the fourth in line. He also designed the Guildhall Art Gallery and Guildhall Library.

  • George Gilbert-Scott (1811-78) – Albert Memorial, Midland Hotel, St Pancras Station
  • George Gilbert-Scott Junior (1839-1897)- St Agnes Kennington, [In 1884, he was declared ‘of unsound mind’]
  • Giles Gilbert-Scott (1880-1960) – Guildhall North Wing, Battersea Power Station, Telephone Kiosk, LMH Chapel, Bankside Power Station (=Tate Modern), Cambridge University Library, Cropthorne Court (Maida Vale)
  • Richard Gilbert-Scott (1923-2017) Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Library, 65 Basinghall Street.

65 Basinghall Street was originally an exhibition hall and offices with two temporary magistrates’ courts (with cells) and a records store over basement car parking.

The Historic England website also notes the alterations made to the site in recent years:

The principal alterations to the building’s interior since its construction are the conversion of 65a Basinghall Street (the former exhibition hall) into office space, and the opening-up of the magistrates’ courts (part of 65 Basinghall Street) also to form office space. The hard landscaping has also been altered, the raised terrace to the south has been repaved, losing the original pattern of hexagonal paving and glass lenses, and the flight of steps leading up to the exhibition hall has been reconfigured to create a light well and lifts from the terrace down into the office space below. A scheme of retaining walls and plant boxes which were part of this landscaping has also been lost.

Here is a photo from the Historic England website, and a photo I took yesterday for comparison. I could not stand in exactly the same place as the photographer of 1974, because the walkway has changed. This is the view from the North.

Spot the differences?

  • The bridge has been replaced with something more chunky
  • The little canopy above the entrance to the Magistrates Court has vanished.
  • The building on the right (City Place House) has been rebuilt (1992)
  • You can no longer get a good view of 65 Basinghall Street from the highwalk!

There are many more differences on the South side. I can’t find a picture pre-2002, which was when a major refurbishment started on the Guildhall North wing. As part of this refurbishment, changes were made to the plaza and walkway. If you have a old photo – I’d be very interested to see it.

I made the drawing on a brilliant sunny day, 23rd April 2021, sitting on a bench on the plaza. 65A is currently in use as a non-symptomatic Covid testing centre. It didn’t seem to have many customers. I counted two in the time I was there, about 1½ hours. But I might have missed some.

Here are photos of work in progress.

Map showing location of drawing and viewpoint. From the planning application for City Place House (map drawn by Allies and Morrison LLP, 18/3/2021 [Detail, annotated])

Here are other drawings I’ve done in the area, click the title to read more.


I found a photo on Flickr by Peter Marshall, taken in 1986. Click the picture to go to Peter Marshall’s Flickr album and see a more detailed picture.

Guildhall, Exhibition hall, Magistrates' court, Offices, Richard Gilbert Scott, 65 Basinghall Street, City 86-9b-12_2400

For comparison, here is a photo of the same view in 2021.

The clear horizontal run of steps is now interrupted by various lifts and black blocks. The statue has been moved, and no longer looks North towards Richard Gilbert-Scott’s masterpiece, but West towards St Mary Aldermary. And all the interesting hexagonal tiling on the piazza has gone.

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