Savoy Place history

Savoy Place has been the home of the IET since 1909. This historic building has seen a number of changes in its time including the recent refurbishment. The site also has an interesting history.

IET milestones

  • The IET began life in 1871 as the Society of Telegraph Engineers. It was formed to address the concerns of an emerging profession and within a decade encompassed electrical science
  • In 1887 it became the Institution of Electrical Engineers
  • In 2006 the Institution changed its name to become the Institution of Engineering and Technology
  • 2009 marked the centenary of the IET at Savoy Place. The organisation continues to benefit from the foresight of the leaders who chose the venue
  • Advancing and sharing knowledge about science, engineering and technology remains at the heart of the IET’s purpose today and the refurbishment makes Savoy Place the ideal venue to share ideas

History of the site and building

1200-1500
  • The area of the Savoy manor takes its name from Peter, Count of Savoy, who was given the land by Henry III in 1246
  • He built a palace on the site but after his death in 1268 it was left to a hospice in France
  • His niece, Eleanor of Provence, Queen to Henry III, bought back the land and it was given to her son, Edmund Plantagenet. Successive Earls refurbished and extended the palace
  • During the 1381 Peasants’ Revolt the palace was burnt down and its contents destroyed
1500-1700
  • In 1509 Henry VII left a substantial amount of money in his will to rebuild Savoy Place as a hospital
  • Mismanagement and corruption sent the hospital into decline and it eventually became military barracks and a prison
1700-1900
  • In 1723 a German Lutheran Church was built on the grounds but was destroyed in 1877 to make way for the Victoria Embankment
  • Completed in 1889, Savoy Place was designed by Stephen Salter and H Percy Adams as a joint examination hall for the Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons
1900-today
  • On 1 June 1909, with membership over 5,000, The Institution of Electrical Engineers bought the lease of the building and refurbished it to suit the needs of its members
  • More alterations were carried out in 1910 including renovation of the entrance hall, lecture theatre and creation of the library
  • Behind Savoy Place is the building originally known as Lancaster house, later Savoy Mansions, built in 1880. Early occupants included ale and stout merchants and a Turkish baths as well as architects and solicitors
  • In 1923 the newly formed British Broadcasting Company was offered space at Savoy Place for its broadcasts
  • The BBC moved to Savoy Mansions in 1925. The lease of this building was bought by the IET in 1984 and is now known as Savoy Hill House
  • 2013 saw the start of major refurbishment to make the building more flexible, to adapt to changing technology, improve sustainability, promote accessibility and make the most of the stunning riverside views
  • The building re-opened in 2015 after a £30 million refurbishment; transformed from top to bottom the venue now offers cutting edge technology, inspiring event spaces and London’s newest roof terrace

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