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The Bride of Denmark's Lion Bar

As a pre-internet salon, the Bride’s sensuous conviviality could be described as the original ‘social media’


The Bride of Denmark’s Lion Bar

Depicted here is the Lion Bar in the famous Bride of Denmark, a private pub squirrelled away in the basement of The Architectural Review’s historic former offices in Queen Anne’s Gate in central London. Named after Queen Anne, whose consort was Prince George of Denmark (hence the Bride of Denmark), it was conceived in 1946 by the AR’s then proprietor Hubert de Cronin Hastings and populated by an eclectic and glittering bricolage, much of which was salvaged from postwar London bombsites. Taxidermy was a common theme, and the stuffed lion can also be glimpsed lurking behind Frank Lloyd Wright in this issue’s ‘Humanplan’ (AR April 2015). Famous visitors such as Wright would be invited to inscribe their names on a mirror with a diamond stylus. Over the decades, the Bride played host to generations of AR staff, and within its welcoming warren of nooks and crannies, intrigues would take place, deals be done and trysts sealed.

It was an atmospheric world within a world, a glorious sum of its scavenged parts. As a delightful pre-internet salon where you could smoke, drink and gossip to your heart’s content, the Bride’s sensuous conviviality might also be described as the original ‘social media’, but sadly its largesse now seems implausibly at odds with the arid world of dynamic working and al desko lunches. Yet like all classy femmes d’un certain age, the Bride met a sticky end in 1991 when media tycoon and robber baron Robert Maxwell acquired the AR. Staff were expelled to Clerkenwell and the Bride’s contents were dismantled and auctioned off. This interior study is taken from a hand-drawn survey carried out prior to the final dismembering. However, in a warning of the perils of corporate hubris, Maxwell also came to a sticky end when he fell off his yacht and drowned. What goes around, comes around. But the Bride still calls to us across space and time, a drink in her hand and a glint in her eye.

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