Great Britain: A Whitehall Elephant

On the outside, Britain's Foreign Office is bastard Byzantine; inside it is a stately slum. A grimy, drafty pile of Victorian granite opposite 10 Downing Street, it has been likened to a provincial Italian museum, a stranded gunboat, a monument to Muddling Through. Yet when the government announced plans last month to demolish the building, traditionalists reacted as if Eton were being nationalized. "Magnificently British!" harrumphed Lord Harrowby. "Representative of our greatest period!" snapped Lord Salisbury.

In fact, the Foreign Office was a Whitehall elephant almost from the day it opened...

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