The first British ambassador to Persia (called Iran since 1935) in 1811 straightaway built a mission house in the old city of the capital, Tehran. (His successors were ministers: there was not to be another British ambassador until 1944.) By the 1860s, this mission house had fallen beyond repair and a second legation was built in a new compound on what became Ferdowsi Avenue, just outside the old city walls, in 1868-75. That compound remains the embassy’s main home.

In the mid-1830s, the Shah granted the legation the right to camp during the summer at a village called Gulhak in the foothills north of the capital. Permanent summer legation buildings replaced the tents in the early 1860s. The summer evacuation to Gulhak ceased in 1942, and that compound is now used mainly for embassy staff accommodation.

About 20 consulates, of varied dates of establishment and durations of existence, came and went in Iran between the early nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries.


Indispensable to any consideration of Britain’s diplomatic buildings in Iran are Hugh Arbuthnott’s contributions (Chapters 1 and 2) in British Missions around the Gulf, 1575-2005: Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Folkestone: Global Oriental, 2008.