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Business Centre

A brief history and overview of the Business Centre at Chartered Accountants' Hall, home to ICAEW since 1893.

Chartered Accountants' Hall, headquarters of ICAEW in the City of London, was built between 1890 and 1893. The Business Centre was added later during the 1930s' extension by J.J Joass, and then further enlarged during the 1960s extension by William Whitfield.


Described by architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as 'eminently original and delightfully picturesque', Chartered Accountant's Hall is a fine example of Victorian neo-Baroque. Its architect John Belcher drew inspiration from the work of the Italian Renaissance, which he had seen while travelling in Europe.

When the building was first opened in 1893, ICAEW had just 1,700 members. As ICAEW's membership grew, so did the building. By 1930 there were approximately 9,000 members and so larger facilities were needed.

The first extension was built by Belcher's pupil, John James Joass, in 1930-31 as a continuation of the original design. This more recent facade, extending down one side of the 19th century original on Great Swan Alley, begins after the unused entrance into the alley. 

A more radical expansion took place after the Society of Incorporated Accountants was integrated into the national bodies of accountants in 1957, boosting ICAEW's membership by 10,000. In 1959 architect William Whitfield was commissioned to extend the building and provide a Great Hall for large gatherings. His design juxtaposes the clear, simple lines of contemporary architecture with the more ornate work of his predecessors.

The Business centre which exists today straddles the original Members' Room, a staircase and the 1960s Library.

The Members' Room (latterly referred to as the Members' and Guests' Room) is one of the spaces in Chartered Accountants' Hall that has undergone the most change over the years. In Belcher's original plans this space was occupied by a series of offices, but by 1900 these had been converted to create a Members' Room. Photographs from the 1930s show the room with a mahogany overmantel, now gone, which was decorated with golfing trophies and a plaque of Edwin Waterhouse, ICAEW President 1892-94.

The 1960s library space occupied part of the 1930s extension and Whitfield's faithful continuation of this, providing much needed space for the library to expand after outgrowing the old library.

These rooms were connected following a major building project in 2008, creating a single room that runs the length of the building - taking in the original building, the 1930s extension and the 1960s extension. The Business Centre officially opened in January 2009 and underwent a further refurbishment in 2017.

The Business centre now incorporates the ICAEW Library and Information Service, with books and study space, a set of nine bookable meeting rooms and a cafe, providing a modern space where ICAEW members and their guests can meet, eat, drink and work in.


ICAEW Business Centre (formerly the Members' Room), photographed 1936
Business Centre (formerly the Members' Room), photographed 1936

Further sources of information

The ICAEW Library & Information Service holds a collection of books and articles on Chartered Accountants' Hall, covering the original building and the later extensions. See our Further reading page for details of these, as well as links to web pages on the sculptors and artists whose work decorates the building.

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One Moorgate Place

Information on how to hire One Moorgate Place, home of Chartered Accountants' Hall, for conferences, meetings, weddings, parties, private dining and special occasions.

Main Reception Room

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