Albany (London)

The Albany or Albany (since the mid-20th century some sources have claimed that the article is not in use among the fashionable) is an apartment complex in Piccadilly, London, England.


The Albany was built 1770-1774 by Sir William Chambers for Viscount Melbourne, as Melbourne House. It is a three-storey mansion seven bays (windows) wide, with a pair of service wings flanking a front courtyard. In 1791, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany abandoned Dover House, Whitehall (now a government office) and took up residence. In 1802 the duke gave up the house and it was converted into 69 bachelor apartments (known as "sets"). This was achieved not only by subdividing the main block and the two service wings, but also by adding two parallel sets of buildings running the length of the garden.


Since its conversion, the Albany has been the best known and most prestigious set of bachelor apartments in London. The residents have included such famous names as the poet Lord Byron and the future Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, and numerous members of the aristocracy. Nonetheless, occupants have been known to complain that the accommodation is often rather cramped.

Residents no longer have to be bachelors.


About half of the freehold of the Albany is now owned by Peterhouse, a small Cambridge College. The Albany is governed by a Board of Trustees. Rents are well below commercial levels and the apartments or "sets" are rumored to be allocated on the basis of social connections.


Beginning in the latter half of the twentieth century, a number of magazine and newspaper articles about the Albany have claimed that people of fashion only refer to the residence as "Albany," without the article. This claim was made, for example, in an October 1996 "Vanity Fair" magazine profile of resident and famous editor Fleur Cowles. However, the name has historically been "the Albany," and it is thus referred to by a number of sources, such as the play "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde which repeatedly refers to the character Jack Worthing's residence at "the Albany."


The list below is based mainly on the much longer list in the Survey of London. Many tenants were in residence for only a short time when they were quite young.
*Antony Armstrong-Jones, later 1st Earl of Snowdon, photographer.
*Sir Squire Bancroft, actor.
*George Basevi, architect.
*Sybille Bedford, writer, lived in Aldous Huxley's servant's room.
*Sir Thomas Beecham, conductor.
*Isaiah Berlin, philosopher.
*Henry Brougham, later Lord Chancellor.
*Lord Byron, poet.
*George Canning, politician.
*George Cattermole, artist.
*Bruce Chatwin, writer.
*Alan Clark, historian and politician.
*Sir Kenneth Clark, art historian.
*Fleur Cowles, editor.
*William Ewart Gladstone, later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
*Graham Greene, writer.
*Bryan Guinness, poet.
*Georgette Heyer, writer.
*Henry Holland, architect.
*Aldous Huxley, writer.
*Baroness Pauline de Rothschild (socialite, writer, fashion designer)
*Edward Heath, later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
*John Lane, publisher.
*Lord Lee of Fareham, politician.
*Edward Bulwer Lytton, writer and politician.
*Lord John Manners, politician.
*John Morgan, writer on etiquette.
*Malcolm Muggeridge, journalist and broadcaster.
*Sir Harold Nicolson, writer and politician.
*J.B. Priestley, writer.
*A.J. Raffles, fictional gentleman burglar in the works of E.W. Hornung.
*Terence Rattigan, playwright.
*Sebastian Shaw, actor.
*Sir Robert Smirke, architect.
*Terence Stamp, actor.
*Lord Stanley, politician, later 15th Earl of Derby.
*William Henry Fox Talbot, pioneer photographer.
*Herbert Beerbohm Tree, actor-manager.

External links

* [ Survey of London] - detailed history with plans and photographs.
* [ Page on] - but note that the picture at the top of the page is not the Albany. While a number of the residences of past Dukes of York have been known as York House (including the Albany during the residence of Frederick Duke of York), the illustration is of the past York House which went on to acquire an extra storey and to be renamed Stafford House and then Lancaster House

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