14 March 2014

Court Martial of Josef Jakobs held at Duke of York Headquarters, Chelsea

On the morning of 4 August, 1941, Josef Jakobs was driven from Wandsworth Prison to the Duke of York's Headquarters. His court martial convened at 10:30 am and concluded at 1 pm the following day.
Location of Duke of York's Headquarters.
Google Map - Location of Duke of York's Headquarters, London

The Duke of York's Headquarters is a building located on King's Road in the Chelsea area of London, just southwest of Sloane Square. The government bought the land from the Cadogan family in 1801 in order to build a co-educational boarding school for the children of soldier's widows. The original building was designed by John Sanders and was completed in 1803, known as the Royal Military Asylum for the Children of Soldier's of the Regular Army (commonly shortened to Royal Military Asylum).
Duke of York's Headquarters.
1928 - Duke of York's Headquarters (Britain from Above).

The school housed about 1000 children with 300 girls housed in the south wing and 700 boys in the north wing. The central block housed the dining room and communal areas. In 1892, the Royal Military Asylum was renamed the Duke of York's Royal Military School, becoming an all-boys school. In 1909, the school relocated to a new building near the cliffs of Dover in Kent.
Duke of York's Headquarters.
Postcard of Duke of York's Headquarters, Chelsea. North wing is the building to the left.

In 1911, the building was taken over by the Territorial Army and renamed the Duke of York's Headquarters.  In 1999, the Ministry of Defence sold the site to Cadogan Estates. The site was redeveloped to include a public square, upmarket housing, restaurants and retail outlets. The main block has been leased to the Saatchi Gallery.
Location of North Wing of Duke of York's Headquarters.
Duke of York's Headquarters, 2013 (Google Maps).

On a warm summer's day, one can stroll through the Duke of York's Square perusing the high-end shops and enjoying a cafe-latte at Patisserie Valerie. For dinner one could stop at the posh Italian restaurant, Manicomio, located in the north wing of the former Duke of York's Headquarters.
Manicomio Restaurant, Duke of York's Headquarters.
Manicomio Restaurant (from Manicomio website)

The patio seating looks tempting and many people take advantage of the warm summer evening.  But, if you were to look up to the second floor, you would see two windows flanking a drain (see below).
Location of room in which the court martial of Josef Jakobs was held.
Arrows mark the two windows leading to the room in which the court martial of Josef Jakobs was held.

In 1941, those two windows marked the room wherein the court martial of Josef Jakobs took place on 4 and 5 August, 1941.

Two hundred years ago, orphaned boys of British soldiers studied for their future. A hundred years ago, volunteer soldiers of the Territorial Army geared up for the First World War. In 1941, dozens of people gathered to witness, testify and determine the outcome of one man's life. Today, diners sit and eat their tiramisu and sip their red wine. Do they know the storied history of this building?

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