English Embassy Residence Neo-Gothic Building
The history of the building started in 1870th when the company “Kharitonenko and son,” the biggest sugar manufacturer in Russia bought the property on the Sofiyskaya embarkment and used it as a warehouse and offices for a while. Ten years later Ivan Kcharitonenko applied for the permit to start a construction of a mansion. After getting it he hired the architect Zalesskiy to build this palace-looking mansion placed nicely into the architectural style of the embarkment.
The facade of the building was designed in eclectic style with tendencies of French architecture 0f 18-19th centuries. Elegant wrought-iron gates and fence around the premises add to the beauty of the architectural ensemble.
After the death of his father in 1891, Pavel Kharitonenko became the owner of the mansion. The heir of a big family business, he was a very educated man who also studied in Germany specializing in economics and natural sciences. Bringing new technology from abroad, keeping to modernize the production he managed to make their “Sugar Impire” prosper more. The company got high awards in Russian and international agricultural exhibitions such as in Paris and Glasgo in 1900-1901.
A talented entrepreneur, he was known as a generous Arts contributor. In 1913 he was elected as the first Chairman of donators to Russian (nowadays Pushkin) Museum. He personally paid for the education of gifted students of Moscow Conservatoire. The family was donating a lot of money to hospitals, children orphanages, villages and for erection of churches.
Lovers of Arts, they had a beautiful collection of paintings at their house. They had paintings by Repin, Surikov, Polenov, Vereshchagin, Vasnetsov and other talented Russian artists who were regular guests of the hospitable family. “Portrait of a woman” by Kramskoy was one of masterpieces they possessed. You can see this painting at Tretyakov’s Gallery now.
The interior design of the house was done by young Schechtel, an architect popular among the rich. In his early work Schechtel loved the elements of gothic style.
The wooden panels of the impressive central hall and the staircase leading to the second floor were specially designed in gothic style for this house.
The most beautiful and luxury hall of the mansion was the White Hall, or the Dancing Hall. The white and gold furniture with Egyptian motives, an expensive parquet and a huge crystal chandelier glittering with thousand lights made the room look marvelous. There were Scriabin and Shaliapin playing in this hall.
The library is a special place in the house. It is so elegant and relaxing that it keeps you in for hours. It has a unique collection of rare books and old manuscripts.
There are so many beautiful doors in the house. It might lead you to a dining room, a meeting room or to the room with the portrait of Robert Sherrard, the 4th Earl of Harborough by Gainsborough, the property of The British Embassy in Moscow.
In 1931 the estate housed the British Embassy. Over the years British diplomats and politicians as Winston Churchill, Harold Macmillan, Margaret Thatcher stayed here. Queen Elizabeth II stayed here during her official visit to Russia in 1994. At the moment the residence of the Ambassador of the United Kingdom is located here.
With gratitude to Fiona Bristow, the British Ambassodor’s wife!
Thank you for kind invitation!