Steeped In History
The original Church House was founded in 1887 and built to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. In 1931 plans were prepared to erect a new Church House in its place that was more in keeping with the needs of the time. However, it was considered that it would not be appropriate to proceed due to the world recession and plans were put in abeyance until 1937.
The current building was designed by the renowned architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and the foundation stone was laid by Her Majesty, Queen Mary on 26 June 1937. It took until 1940 to complete and was officially opened by His Majesty, King George Vl, on 10 June 1940.
The building suffered a direct hit in the early part of WWII but due to its exceptional construction only minimal damage was done. The Prime Minister of the day, Winston Churchill, was so impressed by this that the building was refurbished for use by the two Houses of Parliament for the remainder of the war. Many historic speeches and events took place within the building during this time, in particular the announcement by Churchill from the stage of the Hoare Memorial Hall, of the sinking of the battleship Bismarck.
In 1945 the first meetings of the United Nations Preparatory Commission and Security Council were held in the Hoare Memorial Hall. The building was granted Grade II listed status in 1988 with the present Conference Centre opening officially on 19 November 1990. In 2006 the Conference Centre underwent a major refurbishment with the reconfiguration of the large Assembly Hall to a more flexible event space seating up to 664 for a conference or 372 for a seated dinner.