The Old East India House
|The Old East India House (1648-1726). © NMM|
The East India Company's first premises were in the City at Leadenhall Street. This was the 'great mansion house' of Sir William Craven, who had been Lord Mayor of London in 1610.
This structure was rebuilt in 1726 and then replaced in 1799-1800 by a much larger building designed by the architect Richard Jupp.
The New East India House
Opened in April 1800, the 'New East India House', was described by C. Northcote Parkinson:
Austere, classical and built of stone. The pillars crowned by a pediment containing figures in relief, designed to indicate the nature of the business transacted within its walls.
|New East India House, Leadenhall Street. © NMM|
Commerce, represented by Mercury, attended by Navigation, and followed by Tritons on Sea Horses, is introducing Asia to Britannia, at whose feet she pours out her treasures.
|East India Company House in 1817. © NMM|
The King is holding the shield of protection over the head of Britannia and of Liberty, who is embraced by her - By the side of His Majesty sits Order, attended by Religion and Justice. In the background is the City Barge etc. near to which stand Industry
and Integrity - The Thames fills the angle to the right-hand, and the Ganges the angle towards the East.
|Interior of East India House. © NMM|
It was within the opulent surroundings of East India House that the courts of the Company were held, and all its official and general business conducted. Later on, as the Company grew to become the dominant commercial and political power in India, huge areas of the sub-continent itself were governed from Leadenhall Street.
The Company's power and prestige always ensured that events at East India House captured the attention of the British government and the capital's elite.
The end of an era
|Mantlepiece from East India House. © NMM|
James Mill, the Scottish philosopher and author of the History of British India (1817) worked there, as did his son, J. S. Mill, who entered as a clerk in 1823 before eventually becoming head of his department.
The building was pulled down in 1862 to make way for the offices of Lloyd's. Its furniture had already disappeared several years before into the India Office in Whitehall.
Today, no trace remains of the Company's splendid headquarters. The new Lloyd's Building stands in its place.