I’m in an empty hallway with soaring ceilings. In front of me, a staircase lined with flickering candles leads up to an illuminated red cross in a vision hauntingly similar to the tragic final scene in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. At the top of the stairs I’m greeted by a lithe, long-haired, mustachioed man who looks more musketeer than maître d’. He leads me into an expansive, expensive room in this, our setting – 50 St James’s Street. Designed by Benjamin and Philip Wyatt, the brothers behind the Drury Lane Theatre and Duke of York’s Column, the building began life as a gaming house in 1828, oft frequented by the Duke of Wellington. It later went on to become the Devonshire Club – a meeting place for young liberals and home to art historian, antiquarian and man of letters Sir Horace Walpole.
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