Open House Festival

1-4 Suffolk Street: Uni of Notre Dame & G.K Chesterton


Reginald Blomfield, 1906

1-4 Suffolk Street, SW1Y 4HG

Built for the United Universities Club, 1-4 Suffolk Street is now home to the University of Notre Dame and its G.K Chesterton Collection. Visitors will be able to enjoy both this Edwardian listed building and the unique collection within.

Getting there


Charing Cross, Piccadilly Circus


Charing Cross



Accessibility notes

Step-free access is possible for about two thirds of the tour, including the G.K. Chesterton collection and exhibition, but parts of the building are only accessible via stairs. We would be happy to offer a step-free modified tour to anyone who needs one: simply email us and let us know once you have booked a tour.


History of building

Originally constructed in 1823 by architects William Wilkins and J. P. Gandy-Geering, 1 Suffolk Street served as the United University Club, an esteemed gentlemen's club exclusively for members affiliated with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The property underwent a full reconstruction in 1904, led by the new architect R. A. (later Sir Reginald) Blomfield, who infused a "Baroque design with a French flavour" into the structure. Subsequently, in 1924, the United University Club expanded its lease to include numbers 2, 3, and 4. Once again, Sir Reginald Blomfield was commissioned to oversee the project, which reached completion in the same year. To accommodate the growing membership, an extension was added towards Whitcomb Street during the interwar years of 1939/40.

In 1971, the renowned banking institution Coutts & Co assumed the lease of the building, which they occupied until 1983. Following their departure, the British School of Osteopathy took over the premises. The school initiated renovations to transform the building into a suitable educational space while also establishing a clinic for public use and recreational facilities for faculty, students, and staff.

In 1997, the University of Notre Dame embarked on a ten-month construction endeavour to adapt the building into a suitable facility for students studying in London. Simultaneously, efforts were made to restore the structure to its original design in compliance with the requirements set by English Heritage

History of the University

The University of Notre Dame is an American institution highly esteemed for its academic excellence and emphasis on global education. The university's affiliation with London dates back to 1968 when it began an international study program, initially involving law students. In 1981, the London Undergraduate Program was introduced, initially catering to students from the College of Arts & Letters. As the number of participants increased, Notre Dame relocated its London programs to Fischer Hall in 1998, offering enhanced academic facilities to accommodate the growing student population.

To further enhance the experience of its students, the university inaugurated Conway Hall in 2011, a dedicated residence for Notre Dame students studying in London. This addition not only provided comfortable accommodations but also fostered a sense of community among the students.

Notre Dame's London presence encompasses a diverse range of academic programs, internships, and cultural immersion opportunities. This commitment underscores the university's dedication to offering a comprehensive global education and ensuring that its students gain a transformative and enriching experience while studying abroad in London.

G.K. Chesterton Collection

G.K. Chesterton, a prolific English Catholic writer and philosopher, left a profound impact on literature, journalism, theology, and social criticism. His diverse body of work encompassed fiction, poetry, essays, and plays, showcasing his broad talents and intellectual curiosity. Notably, Chesterton held a special connection with the University of Notre Dame, where he was appointed a visiting professor and bestowed an honorary degree in 1930.

Located at 1-4 Suffolk Street, the G.K. Chesterton Collection serves as a hub for fostering interest and scholarly engagement with Chesterton's legacy. It is a comprehensive archive spanning his life and career, featuring an array of materials such as books, his own artwork, and personal belongings, like his glasses and pocket watch. The collection was meticulously curated by Aidan Mackey, a renowned Chesterton expert, who dedicated years to acquiring these valuable resources. Previously housed at the Oxford Oratory library, the collection found its new home at Notre Dame's London Global Gateway in 2019, furthering its accessibility and potential for research and study.

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