Hotel Cecil

Strand, London, WC2R 0ZA

Mandate Lodge met at Hotel Cecil from its consecration in June 1921 to 1923 when the Lodge moved to the Café Royal.

The Hotel Cecil was a grand hotel built between 1890 and 1896 on the site now occupied by Shell Mex House between the Thames Embankment and the Strand, London. The Hotel took its name from Cecil House (also known as Salisbury House), a mansion belonging to the Cecil family, which occupied the site in the 17th century.

Designed by architects Perry & Reed in a "Wrenaissance" style, the hotel was the largest in Europe when it opened with more than 800 rooms. The proprietor, Jabez Balfour later went bankrupt and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

During the Great War, the Cecil Hotel was requesitioned for the war effort in 1917, and the first headquarters of the newly formed RAF took up part of the hotel from 1918 to 1919. A green plaque was affixed just inside the outer entrance to the building in March 2008, which proclaimed: The Royal Air force was formed and had its first headquarters here in the former Hotel Cecil 1st April 1918. Below it is a brass plate stating: This plaque was unveiled by the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy to mark the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force.

There is an interesting piece of history given Mandate Lodge took its name after the newly created British Mandate for Palestine. Just after Mandate Lodge was consecrated at the Cecil Hotel on Thursday 9th June 1921, the hotel was the base for a Palestine Arab delegation that arrived in London in August 1921 to protest in vain against the proposed terms of the British Mandate.

The Cecil was largely demolished in Autumn 1930, and Shell Mex House was built on the site. The Strand facade of the hotel remains and is now occupied by shops and offices, with, at its centre, a grandiose arch leading to Shell Mex House.

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