Locarno Suite

Locarno Agreement Signature.jpeg

The Locarno Suite, the three reception and dining rooms in the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, demonstrate the importance of social spaces in international relations. Designed in the mid-19th century by George Gilbert Scott for state dinners and receptions, they were described as ‘the drawing room of the nation’, an imposing yet intimate social environment in which Britain’s relations with foreign powers could be negotiated. Converted into offices in World War One, the rooms were used, despite their shabby state, for the official signing in December 1925 of the Locarno Treaties, negotiated that autumn in Switzerland. Officially re-named the ‘Locarno Suite’ as a memorial to international agreements that facilitated Germany’s entry into the League of Nations, the rooms were again divided into offices in World War Two and only restored to their original design and function in the 1990s.

Further information:

Martin Redmond (2013) “The Locarno Suite: ‘Drawing room for the Nation’”, History of government blog (6 Sep), https://history.blog.gov.uk/2013/09/06/the-locarno-suite-drawing-room-for-the-nation/

FCO Historians (1991, revised 2000) “Locarno 1925: The Treaty, the Spirit and the Suite”, History Notes 3 (October), https://issuu.com/fcohistorians/docs/history_notes_cover_hphn_3

For a virtual tour of the present Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including the Locarno Suite: https://blogs.fco.gov.uk/fco-virtual-tour/