The Egyptian House, Penzance
A brief introduction to A spotter's guide to Architecture

Where to Find Ancient Egypt in England

Here are just some of the places you can spot Egyptian style architecture across England.

The influence of Ancient Egypt on British culture has been long-lasting and widespread.

In the 18th century, European travellers to Egypt began to bring back accounts of ancient remains. ‘Egyptomania’ subsequently became the height of fashion in Regency England and Napoleonic France, and its influence on architecture continued long after.

Here are some places you can spot Egyptian-style architecture across the country.

The Carlton Cinema, London

The Carlton, built as a cinema, opened in 1930 and was designed by architect George Coles.

Former Carlton Cinema, Essex Road, London. © Historic England Archive. DP103867.

The columns are characteristic of architecture from Amarna, an archaeological site of the capital city built under the pharaoh Akhenaten. The site was excavated during the 1920s and 1930s and inspired many architects.

Later used as a Mecca Bingo and now on our Heritage at Risk Register, the exterior of the building is London’s only Egyptian-style cinema to survive.

Greater London House, London

The former Carreras cigarette factory is one of London’s finest Egyptian-style buildings.

Greater London House, Hampstead Road, London. © Historic England Archive. DP103866.

Originally built between 1926 and 1928, the façade was described as a ‘copy of the Temple of Bubastis, the cat-headed goddess of Ancient Egypt’. Whilst this is possible, it’s more likely that this was claimed to create a link with one of the company’s best-known cigarette brands: The Black Cat.

The factory was sold in 1959 for office conversion and renamed Greater London House in 1961. By 1962, all Egyptian detail had been removed, but in 1996, a new owner restored the building using the original plans.

Pumping Station, East Farleigh

Known locally as ‘the Egyptian House’, the former Maidstone Waterworks buildings at East Farleigh are one of only a few buildings associated with water in the Egyptian style.

Former East Farleigh Waterworks, Maidstone, Kent. © Historic England Archive. DP139351.

Designed by civil engineer James Pilbrow, an inscribed plaque suggests it was built in 1860. Pilbrow was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and it’s probably through these interests that he became familiar with Ancient Egyptian architecture.

The Old Synagogue, Canterbury

This building is unique in England and one of only a few examples of Egyptian-style synagogues anywhere in the world.

Kings School Music Room, Canterbury, Kent. © Historic England Archive. DP139129.

In 1847, local architect Hezekiah Marshall was appointed to design a new synagogue. His initial design had to be modified to bring it within budget, but the choice of the Egyptian style seems to have been there from the outset.

In 1982, the synagogue was sold to the King’s School. After restoration, it is now used as a rehearsal and recital space by its music department. The Canterbury Jewish Community holds occasional services.

Civil and Military Library, Devonport

The Civil and Military Library was designed by architect John Foulston in 1823.

Ker Street Social Club, Ker Street, Devonport, Devon. © Historic England Archive. DP130084.

The Library was intended to show that the Egyptian style could be adapted to what he called ‘modern and domestic purposes’.

At some point, the Odd Fellows friendly society took over the building, and ‘Odd Fellows Hall’ can still be seen above the windows. It is now the Ker Street Social Club.

The Egyptian House, Penzance

One of the most spectacular buildings in the southwest is the Egyptian House in Penzance, built between 1834 and 1837 to house the mineral collection of dealer John Lavin.

The Egyptian House, Penzance, Cornwall. © Historic England Archive. DP114986.

The choice of the Egyptian style for a mineral shop may seem odd, but the building was inspired by the now-lost Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly, London, which opened in 1812 to display the private museum of collector William Bullock.

Today, the building is occupied by shops and apartments.

Blickling Park, Blickling

The pyramid is an icon of Ancient Egypt. However, although pyramidal mausoleums have been built in England, their main inspiration was Roman.

Mausoleum, Blickling Park, Norfolk. © Crown Copyright. Source: Historic England. BB93_09310.

The Roman, Caius Epulo Cestius, who visited Egypt and died around 12 BC, was buried in a steeply sloping pyramidal mausoleum. It survived and would have been seen by many 18th-century travellers and architectural students visiting Rome.

In 1794, the architect Joseph Bonomi built a mausoleum for John Bobard, the 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire. It stands on the grounds of Blickling Hall and was probably inspired by the Cestius pyramid.

Freemasons’ Hall, Boston

Several Masonic temples in England have been built with Egyptian decoration, but the most impressive example is the Freemasons Hall created for the Lodge of Harmony in Boston between 1860 and 1863.

Freemasons Hall, Boston, Lincolnshire. © Historic England Archive. DP103991.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea that Freemasonry had its roots in Ancient Egypt was popular within some Masonic circles.

The building was described as a ‘reproduction of the Temple of Dandour, in Nubia’. The Boston Hall does indeed resemble it without being a direct copy.

Undercliffe Cemetary, Bradford

The Illingworth family made their fortune in spinning wool, and the mausoleum of Alfred Illingworth can be found in the central avenue of Undercliff Cemetery.

Illingworth Mausoleum, Undercliffe Cemetery, Bradford, West Yorkshire. © Historic England Archive. DP116904.

A Member of Parliament for Knaresborough and later Bradford West, Illingworth was a member of the Peace Campaign and opposed many of Britain’s military campaigns.

He was against British intervention in Egypt, and his political interest in the country may have inspired his choice of a monument.

Temple Mill, Leeds

Egypt had an important flax industry in the ancient world, inspiring the design of the Temple Mill in Leeds.

Temple Mill, Leeds. © Historic England Archive. DP033127.

Representing the peak of the Marshall Mills flax business, the building acquired a legendary local reputation within a few years of its construction.

The mill’s architect was Ignatius Bonomi, though the design has been attributed to his brother, the Egyptologist Joseph Bonomi. Completed in 1843, the building is a copy of the Temple at Edfu.

Pyramid Cinema, Sale

The Pyramid was one of the last Egyptian-style cinemas to be built in England.

Former Pyramid Cinema, Washway Road, Sale, Manchester. © Historic England Archive. DP109990.

Built in 1933, it was designed as the Pyramid Theatre by architect Joseph Gomersall. The Egyptian theme of the cinema extended to the programme (which featured hieroglyphics) and an Egyptian-style organ for theatre productions.

The cinema closed in 1984, but the building became listed in 1987 (although its original clock and name have been lost from the façade). It has been converted into various businesses, including a nightclub, a conference suite and a fitness centre.

Further reading

39 comments on “Where to Find Ancient Egypt in England

  1. Gillian Darley

    Temple Works Leeds

    • Christine Kay

      I was thinking about Temple Works too. My great gradfather William Kay owned or used it at some point for Kay and Co (later Kays catalogue)!

    • Historic England

      We’ve updated the blog to include the mill. Great idea.

    • There’s a pyramid tomb in Rodney Street Liverpool as well. It was the burial place of William Mackenzie

  2. What! No Temple Mill in Holbeck, Leeds! With sheep on the roof, one falling in through the skylight? (not very Egyptian, I know)

  3. Richard Taylor

    Thanks for this good selection but I’m very surprised that you haven’t included Temple Works in Leeds. It must surely be the largest Egyptian-style site in England.

    • Historic England

      Great shout. We’ve updated the blog to include the mill!

  4. Don’t forget Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol 🙂

  5. Marshal’s flax Mill in Leeds….

    • Matthew Hatton

      What about the Pyramid at Castle Howard, nr Malton, North Yorkshire

  6. OMG

  7. No Temple Mills, Leeds!

    • Historic England

      Great idea. We’ve updated the blog to include the mill.

    • Historic England

      We’ve updated the blog to include the mill!

  8. The old M&S building on Whitefriargate in Hull

  9. Hester Huttenbach

    Kilmorey Mausoleum St. Margaret’s near Twickenham

  10. Phil Ward

    No Temple Mill? This must be deliberate, or a very large oversight: described by its contemporaries as the largest room in the world!

    • Historic England

      We’ve updated the blog to include the Temple Mill 🙂

  11. Kate Harwood

    Abney Park Cemetery
    The Egyptian House, Hertford
    Highgate Cemtery
    The Deepdene, Dorking
    Biddulph Grange gardens

  12. foxydevonlady

    What a fabulous collection. One that’s fairly local to me in East Devon is the Egyptian styled Catacombs in Exeter, opened in 1837 five years after the cholera epidemic of 1832 when burial space was at a premium.

  13. Charles Boot

    I was going to say the Homebase on Warwick Road, West London, but it seems to have gone. A great shame as it was one of the wittiest home stores ever erected.

    Good to see Temple Mill is to become a new home for part of the British Library collections (SAVE).

  14. Add my name to those noting the omission of Leeds – why not produce a revised version?

    • Historic England

      Great shout. We’ve updated the blog with this suggestion.

  15. Some amazing buildings. You could also add Egypt in Biddulph Grange Garden.

  16. John Regan

    Don’t forget the Gillow Mausoleum at Thurnham Church, Lancaster

  17. Julian Vincent

    There’s the clock tower on the London Road campus of Reading University, a memorial to those killed in action in the first World War.

  18. Jonathan Wignall

    William MacKenzie’s pyramid memorial in Liverpool.

  19. Temple Mill, Holbeck, Leeds. Former flax mill and Grade 1 Listed building.

    • Historic England

      Great shout. We’ve updated the blog with this suggestion.

  20. jon wallsgrove

    You should include Arnussi, an amazing Egyptian style house on The Creek in Sunbury on Thames. It was built in 1923 by a colonial official who worked in Egypt then designed exotic Egyptian movie sets in the 1920s for the adjacent Shepperton Studios. It has a dome, a minaret, sphinxes, Egyptian gods, heiroglyphs and even a mummified cat built into the wall.


    Can I please ask if you can check out. Turkish Baths & Swimming Baths in. Doncaster, South Yorkshire. They are a old Architecture Building standing empty. Council don’t seem to what to save them. Please, please someone look at this place. We need History Saving in Doncaster.yours,

  22. Ian Yarham

    Mad Jack Fuller’s tomb in Brightling Churchyard, East Sussex :

  23. Please don’t forget the lovely little gem that is Reliance Arcade in Brixton. Grade II listed. The rear entrance on Electric Lane is in the Egyptian style and very recently restored with money from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Lambeth Council and the Heritage of London Trust.

  24. Palladium House/Ideal House, Great Marlborough St (opp Liberty) a great example of Egyptian-influenced Art Deco

  25. Paul Nathan

    Hannah Courtoy’s mausoleum in Brompton Cemetery,

  26. Many of these wonderful structures and more are described in a new book titled ‘The English Folly’ to be published this month by, umm, err, Historic England. Just thought you’d like to know.

  27. Robert Donald

    Several Burton stores were erected in the Egyptian, mainly ceramic/Art Deco, style, in the 1930s. Good example in Batley West Yorkshire. Also the Alexandra ballroom extension, exterior, of the Halifax Building Society, Halifax.

  28. I wanted to point you to a very unlikely modern building – Homebase in Kensington. But I looked it up and found it had been demolished in 2014.

  29. Andrea Elliott-Denham

    I remember the catacombs in exeter and an Egyptian style house

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