In the Eighties, the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building was a hedonist's heaven. But all good parties must come to an end
Queen Victoria would turn in her grave. In 1857, she laid the foundation stone of the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building in Wandsworth, London, built by public subscription to house children orphaned by the Crimean war. But its fiercely Gothic turrets, echoing cloisters, and chilly iron stairways proved a poor substitute for the family home - in 1862 a girl called Charlotte died in a fire while locked in solitary confinement in a bathroom. It was finally shut down in 1938. These days the regime is more lax, even, some might say, quite debauched.

Fathers set free from their families are now more likely to be found at the RVPB than fatherless children. After serving as a hospital in the First World War, a detention centre in the Second, and a comprehensive school well into the Eighties, the grade-two listed building was converted into 29 luxury flats plus workshops and a drama school. It gained a reputation for its swinging bachelor parties as an assortment of divorced middle- aged men began to colonise the flats and monopolise the building's restaurant and bar, Le Gothique. But now they are starting to make way for City boys and girls, if only for the sake of their health.

Who's in your house?

If you are a group of people who live, or work, within the same building and would like to be featured on this page, write to Who's in the House?, The Independent Magazine, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, giving a contact phone number, your address, and details of the type of building you occupy. Please also include recent photographs (which you do not want returned) of your homes or offices.

Adam Whipps

34, management consultant

Resident for five years

Adam is about to move out of his one-bed flat in the north courtyard. "You get drawn in," he says. "I'd be going to bed at six and getting up at seven, three days a week. It's great for a bit but you don't end up making much money." He has kept mosaics and murals which were there when he moved in. Also breaking up the otherwise stark white of the walls is a large photograph of a woman in fishnets, taken in the flat next door by a fetish photographer who used to live at the RVPB.

Cian O'Hare

26, works in the City Resident for four months

Cian bought his 1,600sq ft two-bed flat in the north courtyard from the photographer grandson of the ex-king of Egypt. He counts himself one of the RVPB's "new breed": "I spend a lot of time travelling and I'm rarely in the bar." The photographs are of his Irish ancestors. "I wanted to optimise the Gothic feel. I painted this room red and the hall purple, but I want to keep the mezzanine neutral, or it's overkill. I bought the chandelier in France - isn't it just right? But my girlfriend refuses to come here."

Alan Bayne

50s, architect

Worked in this studio for two years

Alan designed many of the original RVPB flats and studios. He lives in Esher and works from this corner studio, which boasts a 4.5m-high ceiling, in what was a classroom in the north courtyard. Square-legged tables came courtesy of John Elbert, a designer who used to have a studio here. One of the pictures by the fan is of the RVPB penthouse Alan designed in 1985 for Andy Taylor of Duran Duran. "I love this building," he says. "I feel at home working here."

Philip Livingstone

50s, game show producer

Resident for three years

Philip's daughter is happy to visit his one-bed flat overlooking the car park in the rear courtyard. "Adam's daughter won't come here, but Charlotte feels she cancels out the ghost of her namesake," he says. Philip goes for Timney Fowler and Designer's Guild - "honestly, don't ask me why" - and has fruit bowls, bought on trips to South Africa, that are made of old pilchard tins. "I came to some wild parties when the Thompson Twins lived in the building, but I never thought I could be living here myself."

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