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8-9 Grosvenor Place

The Embassy of the Czechoslovak Republic in London began work almost immediately after the establishment of the independent Czechoslovak state on the 20th November 1918. The Embassy, first rented and later leased the building at 9 Grosvenor Place, which also served in the times of the First Republic as the residence of the Ambassador and for representative purposes in general. The Embassy´s offices were housed in the neighbouring building, No. 8.

It certainly cannot be said that the young Czechoslovak state did not give these buildings the respect they deserved. Designing the interior was in the charge of one of the leading Czech architects of the time, Jan Kotera. He combined new and old by using new design furniture and rare pieces from the popular Prague antiquarian shop of Christian Rosenkrantz. The buildings were also enriched with antique crystal chandeliers but at the same time underwent modernisation in particular with the installation of central heating, hot water distribution and elevators.

Before the start of World War II the Czechoslovak state considered selling both buildings but the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938 thwarted these plans. The building at No. 8 thus acted as both an Embassy and the seat of the government in exile during the war, while the second building served as President Edvard Beneš’ official office and also contained the military attaché’s office. In April 1944, a bomb shelter was built in the house, which proved a wise move as in June and July of that year the two buildings suffered extensive bomb damage.

After the war the renewed post-war Republic could not use the buildings on Grosvenor Place anymore and it was clear that the agreement on leasing the land on which they stood would not be extended by the owners. The damaged buildings that formerly Czechoslovakia had, with such pomp, reconstructed, received after the war only minimal modifications.  The work of the Czechoslovak diplomats in London continued during this transitional period in several rented buildings.