The site was originally occupied by the Golden Cross coaching inn, a meeting place for travellers, which was recorded by Dickens in Great Expectations. In 1837 it became Morely�s Ho Sir Herbert Baker, architect of the South African Government buildings in Pretoria, was commissioned and undertook to complete the job in an incredible eighty five weeks. Baker decorated his otherwise simple design with imported materials and carvings of exotic animals around the building�s facade.

In 1933 King George V inaugurated South Africa House, which was the British headquarters of the South African High Commission.

Contemporary photographs by Jeremy Young Architectural drawing by Sir Herbert Baker
RIBA Drawings Collection
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