Lauderdale House was built c.1580, probably for merchant Sir Richard Martin, Mayor of London and friend of Sir Francis Drake.
It was remodelled in its current form in 1645, but retains much of its earlier structure. It was owned during the 1660s by the powerful Earl of Lauderdale (the ‘L’ of CABAL); visitors included Charles II and Samuel Pepys, but the claim that Nell Gwynn was installed there by Charles II is unsubstantiated.
Its last owner was printing magnate Sir Sydney Waterlow, who bought the house in 1865, and gave it, with 29 acres of grounds – now Waterlow Park – to the public in 1889. Restored in 1964 after a fire, it is now a thriving local cultural centre.
The sundial face informs visitors that it is level with the top of the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.