History and topography
The street was laid out by the brothers Robert and James Adam for the Duke of Portland in the late 18th century and originally ran north from the gardens of a detached mansion called Foley House. It was said that the width of the street was conditioned by the Duke's obligation to his tenant, Lord Foley, that his views to the north would not be interfered with.
In the early 19th century Portland Place was incorporated into the royal route from Carlton House to Regent's Park developed for the Prince Regent by John Nash. The street is unusually wide for central London (33 metres / 110 feet). It still contains many of the spacious Georgian terraced houses built by the Adams, as well as some early 20th century buildings and a few post World War II bombing infills.
Residents and buildings
Many of the houses are now occupied by company headquarters, professional bodies, embassies and charities (including Arthritis Research UK and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund). The landmark building of Royal Institute of British Architects sits directly opposite the Chinese embassy; for years practitioners of Falun Gong have mounted a silent protest in front of the former and facing the latter. Other foreign diplomatic institutions include the Polish Embassy, a Portuguese Consulate, the High Commission of Kenya, the Swedish Ambassador's Residence and the Colombian Consulate. In addition, Portland Place remains a fashionable address with some very exclusive blocks of mansion flats.
Number 1 houses the Institution of Chemical Engineers, number 41 the Academy of Medical Sciences and number 76 the Institute of Physics. The Institute of Physics building replaced two earlier Georgian terrace houses, one of which - number 76 - was the home of John Buchan, the author and politician who lived there from 1912 until 1919, which resulted in Portland Place being the London home of Richard Hannay, the hero of Buchan's most famous novel "The Thirty-Nine Steps".
Its northern end opens into Nash's elegant stucco semicircular Park Crescent, which in turn leads on to Park Square and Regent's Park. There are two landmark buildings at the south end of the street, although both are technically in Langham Place: the grand late Victorian Langham Hotel, and Broadcasting House. Langham Place is a short road which connects Portland Place to Upper Regent Street, although on the ground they all appear to be one street.
- Portland Place was the home of Jane Gamble, the character on whom Henry James based his novel The Portrait of a Lady.
- Jane Gamble was also the real-life subject of My Courtship and its Consequences by Henry Wikoff.
- Portland Place was the London address of Adam Verver and his wife, the former Charlotte Stant, in the last complete major novel by Henry James, The Golden Bowl.
- Portland Place is the home of Richard Hannay in John Buchan's novel The Thirty-nine Steps.
- Portland Place is the home of Stephen Jones in H. P. Lovecraft's short story The Horror in the Museum.
- Portland Place is featured in Daphne Du Maurier's novel ‘Julius’.
Portland Place is the location of the private hotel where Valeria and Eustace stay after their truncated honeymoon in ‘’The Law and the Lady’’ by Wilkie Collins, chapter VI.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Portland Place.|
- List of eponymous roads in London
- August 1967 British Pathe Newsreel covering the "Battle on Portland Place" (which was then without trees)
- Norrie, Ian; Bohm, Dorothy (1984). Walks Around London - A Celebration of the Capital. London: Andre Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-97979-4.
- "Harley Street Conservation Area Map September 2007". Westminster City Council. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- "John Buchan the Presbyterian Cavalier", by Andrew Lownie
- Portland Place on Streetmap.co.uk Map
- Portland Place London
- History of the Langham London Hotel on Portland Place
- Portland Place Community Facebook Page
- Security For Chinese Legation Portland Place Newsreel 1967
- Portland Place and the BBC Video 2007