Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Open House (4): Prudential Building

An extravagant, enormous piece of Victoriana, the Prudential Building sits at the eastern end of High Holborn. While Prudence stands on the facade holding her mirror, there is little evidence of prudent restraint elsewhere in the building.

While my exploration of the courtyards with their fine war memorials was curtailed by heavy rain, the interior was generously open for us to wander at will. Now a corporate venue known officially as Holborn Bars, the building retains many magnificent original features from the exuberant tiling to the vast and imposing safe doors. These once led into the muniment room where deeds and securities were stored.

If all of this seems excessive, ponder the incredible fact that in 1905, one-third of the population was insured by the Pru.


Thom White said...

There is a smaller, but no less gothic, Prudential Building in Nottingham which is modeled after the London one.

Anonymous said...

Well done for getting a photo of the larger safe's door. I tried but there were too many people milling around and peering inside. I had to make do with the smaller safe.

"Exuberant" is the right word but I like it and find it beautiful.

Such a building would be impossible to build today (even discounting the poor taste and artistic sense of modern architects) because the cost would be astronomical. That's why I think we have to preserve and treasure these monuments because they cannot be reproduced.

CarolineLD said...

Thom, I haven't been to Nottingham for a long time but will look out for it when I go back.

SilverTiger, it took a lot of waiting around to get a clear shot! I loved the building too, I have a real weakness for over-the-top Victoriana and agree that it needs to be treasured.

Deptford Pudding said...

Years ago I hired the safe rooms for a photo shoot. We had a model that looked suspiciously like Robert Maxwell trying to open one of those huge doors. We were told first ever episode of 'Porridge' was filmed down there. Apparently the Prudential had to keep vast amounts of cash on hand, this was in the days before everyone had a bank account.

Jane said...

I just wandered in the front tiled room today... an event was on. I even had free coffee!!
I am assuming that's Doulton...?