It stood at the far western end of the Strand from around 1605 until demolished in 1874. In its later years it overlooked Trafalgar Square, in the 16th century the Strand, which connects the City of London with the royal centre of Westminster, was lined with the mansions of some of Englands richest prelates and noblemen. Most of the grandest houses were on the side of the road and had gardens stretching down to the River Thames. In around 1605 Henry Howard, 1st Earl of Northampton cleared a site at Charing Cross on the site of a convent and built himself a mansion, the Strand facade was 162 feet wide and the depth of the house was marginally greater. It had a central courtyard and turrets in each corner. Many of these apartments were reached from external doors in the courtyard in the manner still seen at Oxbridge colleges, the exterior was embellished with classical ornament in the loose way of ambitious Jacobean buildings. The most striking feature was the elaborate four storey carved stone gateway fronting the Strand. The garden was 160 feet wide and over 300 feet long, regular alterations were made over the next two centuries in response to changes in fashion and to make the layout more convenient for the lifestyle of the day. John Webb was employed from 1657 to 1660 to relocate the familys living accommodation from the Strand front to the garden front, in the 1740s and 1750s the Strand front was largely reconstructed and two wings were added which projected from the ends of the garden front at right angles. These were over 100 feet long and contained a ballroom and a picture gallery, the style of the new interiors was late palladian and the architects were Daniel Garrett until his death in 1753, and then the better known James Paine. In the mid-1760s Robert Mylne was employed to reface the courtyard in stone, in the 1770s Robert Adam was commissioned to redecorate the state rooms on the garden front. The Glass Drawing Room at Northumberland House was one of his most celebrated interiors, part of the Strand front had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1780. In 1819 Thomas Cundy rebuilt the front five feet further south as the wall was unstable. By the mid 19th century all of the mansions on the Strand had been demolished. The area was largely commercial and was not a place to live. After a fire, which caused damage, the Duke eventually accepted an offer of £500,000 in 1866. Northumberland House was demolished and Northumberland Avenue was constructed in its place, one of the largest buildings on Northumberland Avenue was a 500 bedroom hotel called the Victoria Hotel. During the Second World War, it was taken over by the Government for use by the Ministry of Defence and this new Northumberland House was left empty for several years until it was purchased by the Wellcome Trust
The Strand front of Northumberland House in 1752 by Canaletto. Note the Percy Lion atop the central facade.
Northumberland House, shortly before it was demolished in 1874.
This painting of circa 1865, in which Northumberland House is centre left, puts the location of the building into its modern context. The view is southwards across Trafalgar Square, with the towers of the Houses of Parliament on the skyline.