Soho House 76 Dean Street is a mid-Georgian townhouse built in 1732 by Thomas Richmond. The original tenant was the seventh Earl of Abercorn, a fellow of the Royal Society and author of a work on magnetism who lived in the building from 1735 until 1742.
One of Westminster’s oldest townhouses, the Grade II-listed building is spread over four floors. A distinguishing feature of the property are the naval-themed murals in the main entrance hall and around the staircase by artist John Devoto, a well-known theatrical painter. These were probably commissioned by the Earl’s son, James Hamilton, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy with a distinguished career.
Subsequent tenants at 76 Dean Street include the Hon. Henry Bathurst, who would become Lord Chancellor of Great Britain, and Hon. Edward Stratford, later second Earl of Aldborough. In the course of the nineteenth century, the townhouse was occupied at different times by ‘300 women at work for the army’, by a school of industry for children, and by the leather cutters Georgy Marley and Joseph Clark.
On 10 July 2009, a fire broke out in the air conditioning system and caught hold of the building, ravaging everything but the building’s masonry shell. The Evening Standard reported that a pall of smoke could be seen from as far away as Canary Wharf and the Oxo Tower. Miraculously, the staircase and its murals suffered only smoke damage.
Soho Estates undertook a major project to rebuild the townhouse with Soda Architects. The intention was not merely to produce a ‘typical’ Georgian townhouse from the pages of a book but to conserve and restore the details particular to 76 Dean Street and create a building deserving of its heritage.
The entrance murals have been restored and recreated by Stephen Paine and John Brinklow; the original wood panelling has been incorporated wherever possible; reclaimed wooden floors have been laid; the elaborate cornicing has been replicated; original Georgian furniture and fireplaces have been added.
With the inclusion of a courtyard, providing one of the few outdoor dining spaces in Soho, 76 Dean Street marks the start of a new chapter in this landmark Georgian building which has risen, quite literally, from the ashes.