The architect Sir Aston Webb’s dream was to refurbish the Mall in London and make it a grand homage to Queen Victoria. Admiralty Arch was part of this grand design. It seals off the east end of the Mall and separates the tonier parts of London from Trafalgar Square, even though traffic can still pass through the larger side gates. As for the main central gate, it is only for royalty and ceremonial processions. Smaller gates on each side of the trio accommodate pedestrians. Admiralty Arch has a Grade I ranking which means that the structure is of exceptional architectural and historical interest.
The Arch was commissioned by Edward VII to commemorate Queen Victoria, his mother. Webb designed the Arch and it was finished in 1912, after Edward’s death. The arch housed offices of the Cabinet Office and other instruments of the government. In 2011 the government put the building on the market. There are now plans to turn Admiralty Arch into a luxury hotel.
About the Arch
The arch is made up of five arches that are veneered with Portland Stone, a type of limestone from Dorset in southwest England. The arch itself is built in a grand Beaux Arts style. If a person faces Trafalgar Square and walks into the gate just left of the central gate, he or she will find a nose about seven feet up the wall. Nobody quite knows why the nose was put there or whose nose it represents. It may be the nose of the Duke of Wellington, Edward VII or Napoleon, but it is said that it comes up to the waist of an equestrian. Some people claim that it was installed very recently by an artist, while others claim that equestrians in the early 1900s used to rub the nose as an insult to the diminutive Napoleon.