I read recently that the Rueben brothers have bought 94 Piccadilly for a reported £130 million. It was sold by the creditors of bankrupt property mogul Simon Halabi, well short of the hoped for £200 million and yet tons more than the £50 million he paid for in 1996. These are strange, dark days indeed.
The neo-Classical premises has been empty since vacated in 1999 by the Naval and Military Club: it was the their home for nearly 150 years. In the short time since then, it has become seriously dilapidated as I discovered this afternoon when taking these pictures; the dead pigeon in the driveway seemed symbolic. More properly known as Cambridge House, it was more famously known as the “In and Out” thanks to signage on its two distinctive gates, rare survivors from the coaching age when this configuration was quite commonplace. I love the way that the Club has humorously put “In” and “Out” on the single main entrance of their current home at 4 St James’s Square.
The In and Out is more properly known as Cambridge House, named after its most high-ranking resident the 1st Duke of Cambridge who lived there between 1829 and 1850. But a more prominent former owner was Lord Palmerston, who possessed the property immediately afterwards until his death in 1865. He was, of course, prime minister for much of this period and Cambridge House became a nexus of the wealthy and powerful. The Naval and Military Club took it over after the great man’s death.
The property was originally built in the 1750s during the tailend of the first Mayfair property boom by the Earl of Egremont and designed by Matthew Brettingham, a master of the grand town house. It is, as you would expect, Grade I listed and one hopes that its new owners will restore it quickly and sympathetically for whatever purpose they have in mind.