The Montcalm London Marble Arch spans across 34-40 Great Cumberland Place, London and is located within Westminster's Portman Square conservation area. This area, within the arish of St. Marylebone was once covered with trees and marshland as part of the ancient forest of Middlesex.
In 1532 Sir William Portman took on a lease of around 270 acres that included this area of which in 1554 the freehold was conveyed in perpetuity to Sir William and his heirs. The grid of streets that now make up the Portman Estate began to be laid out in 1757 when Marylebone Road was sited to provide a route to the City bypassing the West End. In 1763 the peace negotiated between France and England made London's landowners more confident about leasing their lands for development, and by 1764 the laying out of Portman Square and some neighbouring streets had begun. By 1820 the development of the Estate was complete.
The original houses at 34-40 Great Cumberland Place were erected speculatively by developers who leased plots from the Portman family from 1789. Each house probably had four storeys (including an attic storey) over a basement, and was three bays wide. All the houses came with stabling in Quebec Mews, directly behind, which was accessed from New Quebec Street.
Exterior alterations were made to the houses during the nineteenth century and this included the conversion to cottages of Quebec Mews. In January 1941 a bomb landed close to the Great Cumberland Place crescent and damaged all of its buildings. Numbers 34-38 suffered minor blast damage and number 40 was recorded as seriously damaged, but repairable. A bunker was built during the war immediately outside the front of these buildings on the crescent. Following the war numbers 34-40 continued as individual dwellings until sometime before 1964, when 34-38 were converted into one building called East Africa House. Number 40 was still a separate house or office.
In 1967 the London Borough of Westminster's Portman Square conservation area was designated and extended in 1979 and 1990. In the early 1970's Piccadilly Estate Hotels Ltd put forward a plan to build a 112 bedroom hotel on the site of 34-40 Great Cumberland Place. Westminster Council insisted that the crescent-shaped Georgian facade was retained. The new hotel opened in 1973 and was named The Montcalm, after the Marquis de Montcalm, who commanded the French forces defeated by the English in the struggle for possession of Canada in the mid-eighteenth century. The link being the date of this battle and of the original building, also the Canadian province Quebec, which had leant its name to the original mews to the rear of the building.BACK