The Entrance Hall and Stairwell

Foto: Rikard Österlund

The Butler: a British servant in Sweden’s service

Welcome to 27 Portland Place! Had you stepped through the doors of the Swedish legation a hundred years ago, it is highly likely that you would have been met by the probing gaze of Mr Myhill, the legation’s faithful servant since 1911. Clad in a well-pressed suit and shiny shoes, Myhill was a distinguished gentleman and as English as afternoon tea.

Ambassadors came and went, but Robert Myhill remained a fixed point at Portland Place for 40 years. It was he who was tasked with representing Sweden at the London wedding of Prince Sigvard in 1934 and, when the legation’s annex was hit by a firebomb during the war, it was Mr Myhill who extinguished the fire. He was granted a Swedish pension and his third long-service medal in 1950, by which time he had served no fewer than five ambassadors.

Did you know: The very first telephone call between Stockholm and London was placed on 22 June 1927.

Butler Mr Myhill answered and connected the call. On hanging up, Envoy Palmstierna was able to confirm that it was raining in Stockholm.

Foto: Rikard Österlund

Foto: Rikard Österlund

A magnificent entrance

From the relatively simple exterior, one steps into the magnificent hall, with original decor dating from the time of the Adam brothers. The hall connects the main ground-floor rooms with the first-floor state rooms. The high walls are painted in cool Wedgwood Green, the ceiling is covered with a white circle ornamented with feathers, while the floor is white marble with a black check pattern. Guests are greeted by Grecian ornament such as griffins, tripods and Greek gods.

Before them, the grand stone staircase ascends into a stairwell that rises almost 20 metres through three floors, culminating in an oval roof lantern. This ingress for natural light was especially important in the days before the invention of gas and electric lighting.

After World War II, the embassy found itself in need of more space and from 1945 until 1971 neighbouring property 29 Portland Place was leased to accommodate operations. Among other alterations, a sliding wall was installed so that space could be opened up as a banquet room. This was used for the state banquet given in honour of Elizabeth II by King Gustaf VI Adolf and Queen Louis of Sweden during their state visit of 1954. During this period, Nos. 27 and 29 were connected by a discreet door situated beneath the main staircase. The door itself is still visible, although the doorway has been bricked up.

From the relatively simple exterior, one steps into the magnificent hall, with original decor dating from the time of the Adam brothers. The hall connects the main ground-floor rooms with the first-floor state rooms. The high walls are painted in cool Wedgwood Green, the ceiling is covered with a white circle ornamented with feathers, while the floor is white marble with a black check pattern. Guests are greeted by Grecian ornament such as griffins, tripods and Greek gods.

Foto: Rikard Österlund

Länken till grannfastigheten Portland Place 29 har murats igen. Foto: Rikard Österlund

Before them, the grand stone staircase ascends into a stairwell that rises almost 20 metres through three floors, culminating in an oval roof lantern. This ingress for natural light was especially important in the days before the invention of gas and electric lighting.

After World War II, the embassy found itself in need of more space and from 1945 until 1971 neighbouring property 29 Portland Place was leased to accommodate operations. Among other alterations, a sliding wall was installed so that space could be opened up as a banquet room. This was used for the state banquet given in honour of Elizabeth II by King Gustaf VI Adolf and Queen Louis of Sweden during their state visit of 1954. During this period, Nos. 27 and 29 were connected by a discreet door situated beneath the main staircase. The door itself is still visible, although the doorway has been bricked up.

Did you know that: As the Blitz ravaged London, a very welcome guest made an appearance in the hall of 27 Portland Place.

At an auction at Margam Castle, Wales, in 1941, Ambassador Björn Prytz bought a marble statue of the ancient hero Diomedes by Sergel.