Constructed Worlds Wiki
Advertisement

For the TV show, see Martin Hall (TV show)

Martin Hall is the official residence and workplace of the President of Georgeland. It is located in Topstad at 101 Republic Drive, a short distance from the city centre. It is closer to the Houses of Parliament than the Residence, the official home of the Prime Minister, although it is in a more lightly-populated, residential area.

The house is an Edwardian Baroque construction, designed by architect Albert Pierson and built for Victor Martin, a prominent businessman and philanthropist who contributed significant amounts to the development of Topstad as a city and national capital. Construction began in 1909 and ended in May 1910. Martin commissioned the house as a guest house and getaway for his family, but from 1920 used it as his primary residence. Martin was elected Georgeland's first president in 1929 and, as he already had a house in Topstad, the government did not assign him an official residence. When Martin left office in 1941, he donated the house to the nation and it was designated the president's official house in 1943. The Governor-General of Georgeland did not use Martin Hall, as some believe; his residence from 1911 until 1929 was at Runsdale Court.

Every President since Martin has resided at Martin Hall, and the building is used to entertain and house foreign visitors as well. It is customary to receive new ambassadors at Martin Hall, and state dinners are almost always held there.

History[]

Grounds[]

Martin Hall is set on a 72 acre (29.13 ha) ground surrounded by a low wall and hedge. Until 1976, there was little by the way of security around the grounds' perimeter. A security fence was installed atop the wall in that year. In 1994, president Donald Davis asked for the fence to be removed for aesthetic reasons; it was replaced with a less-intrusive 'dip' around the wall, preventing easy access by climbers. Security at Martin Hall has historically been low compared to other government buildings; since 2008, the entire complex has been monitored by CCTV and public access is now prohibited to the gates, which are set back roughly 5m from the road.

The grounds have been extensively remodelled several times, but always using the original concept laid down by Pierson, who designed the grounds as well as the building. At one point, sheep were kept in a paddock on the land to maintain the lawns. A long driveway leads to the main entrance, although most visitors enter from the secure side door. The grounds themselves contain a swimming pool and tennis court. The gardens include an ornamental trout pond, rock garden, Japanese bonzai garden (a gift from the Emperor of Japan in 1987) and more than 300 trees, many of which are foreign species planted by various foreign leaders, including US Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth II, Australian Prime Ministers Malcolm Fraser and John Howard, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, and Pope John Paul II.

Building[]

Martin Hall is a 62-room mansion in the turn-of-the-century Edwardian Baroque style. The front is dominated by a large portico, the doors to which lead directly yo the entry hall and grand staircase. Martin Hall has three floors and a basement. The ground floor used for official purposes and including administrative offices, which are mostly housed in an annex completed in 1973. The State Dining Room is located on the ground floor, as is the State Ballroom; both of these are used primarily for state functions although private functions have been held in both from time to time. The first floor also contains the library, a small gallery which houses temporary exhibitions of art, and the music room, which since 1962 has been used as an official reception room. The grand lobby and double staircase are the main features of the entry hall, but most entry actually takes place on the eastern side of the building, through the administrative annex, or through the president's private entry at the rear. That private entry leads to the president's study, which sits at the far end of the central corridor.

The first floor was originally the president's private residence, but this is now located on the second floor. Since 1953, the first floor has been devoted to guests, and contains multiple bedrooms and staterooms for use by foreign visitors. Protocol dictates that foreign heads of state are allocated suites on the second floor - practicalities and security means more often than not, such guests are actually accommodated at hotels. However, many notable guests have stayed on the second floor even when it was part of the private quarters, including Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, Ban Ki-moon and US Vice President Al Gore. While most of the first floor consists of bedrooms and suites, there is also a reception room, parlour and private balcony for guests, as well as a seldom-used private kitchen.

The top floor of the mansion, located under the roof gables, contains the private quarters of the president and the president's family. It consists of four bedrooms, a parlour/sitting room, small kitchen, dining room, recreation room and a small private study. Most presidents have used only part of the residence since they have had no family present other than their spouse. When Charlton Robards moved into Martin Hall in 2017, he was the first president to have children reside with him in the residence since the 1960s. In a Reddit AMA in 2020, Robards reported both his daughters have 'personalised' their bedrooms and that one of them is now a study containing a Playstation.

The basement contains the kitchens, laundry and what used to be servants' quarters, which have since been converted into office and storage space.

Function[]

Martin Hall, as the official residence of the Head of State, is used primarily for state functions, entertaining, and ceremonies. The president maintains an office there in which they regularly meet with the prime minister and other political figures, as well as foreign dignitaries. Certain state functions are usually performed at Martin Hall, including:

  • commissioning and appointment of government ministers, including the prime minister
  • reception of the credentials of foreign ambassadors and appointment of Georgeland's ambassadors
  • state dinners and receptions for visiting heads of state
  • issuing of election writs for the House of Commons
  • awards ceremonies, notably the induction of various Georgeland honours. including the Order of Georgeland.
  • ceremonies and meetings of organisations of which the president is a patron

Prior to 2018, the building was open to the public for select tours, with pre-booked groups able to gain access through their local member of parliament. In that year, public tours were discontinued, with the justification that teenage children were in residence. The decision was criticised as it had been made following the Martingate scandal and the appointment of a controversial president, with suggestions it may have been taken to avoid protesters from using the grounds.

The grounds opened to the public at Christmas 2019 for the first time, with picnics and barbecues being encouraged. This was intended to be an annual tradition; however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Martin Hall announced it would not occur in 2020.

Architecture[]

Decor and furnishings[]

The internal decor of Martin Hall is at the discretion of the president, though as a heritage-listed building, there are limits to the alterations that can be made. The furnishings are for the most part the property of the government, and are managed by the National Trust, who liaise with the president's office. Much of the furnishings and decor are significant pieces, and most have been present in the building since it was a private home.

The State Dining Room contains the Pryde Table, a cedar-and-walnut dining table that was originally used as a military command table by Arthur Pryde, the third president, during World War II. A desk used by Pryde during his time as adjutant to Adrian Woodside is also part of the building's furnishings, usually displayed in the entrance hall. Much of Martin's original furnishings are retained, including the desk in the president's study which has been used by every successor.

The president is entitled to display art pieces from the National Gallery in the building, in consultation with the Gallery and subject to Cabinet approval. Most presidents have foregone this, however, when President Robards moved in he, he exercised that prerogative to install G.W. Fortescue's The Fields of Home in his private study, which had also once been part of his study at the Residence.

Traditionally, the president's spouse has taken charge of the decor and personalisation of the building, especially in the residence. While some furniture in the private quarters are on loan, most of it is the personal property of the president's family rather than of the federal government.

Occupants[]

Every president of Georgeland has used the house as a residence. As the home was Victor Martin's property, during his presidency it was maintained as a private home, though Martin was given protection by security forces - during World War II armed members of the Georgeland Army took over security of all government buildings, including Martin Hall.

While most presidents have not had families in residence (mostly due to their age, and their children being grown), there have been exceptions. President Arthur Brittan, the first appointed following constitutional changes in the 1950s, had a young son, Charles from his marriage to his second wife, Delilah. Charles was born in 1947 and was only eleven when his father became president, with his two half-brothers being much older. Brittan's successor, William Addison, had a fifteen-year-old daughter, Celia Addison-Cook, and resided in Martin Hall with her father until she was twenty. Charlton and Deborah Robards had two daughters, aged 13 and 11 respectively, when they moved into the house in 2017. It was the first time two children of a president had resided there at the same time.

Other than the president's family, Martin Hall retains a domestic staff of around 30 people including cooks, groundskeepers, custodial and maintenance staff. A small political and administrative staff also work in the building, allocated offices in the annex. Unlike as often depicted on television (most famously in the eponymous program Martin Hall, the president's official staff is not large and largely assist in the ceremonial duties. Martin Hall does have an official Chief of Staff (currently Stephen Story) and though they are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the president, their primary role is to supervise the administration of the office and not to act as a political advisor; they are a civil servant. Martin Hall also has a press secretary (currently Daphne Gupta). The supervision of the custodial and domestic staff is the responsibility of the Chief Usher, currently Daniel Boswell. All internal appointments are at the President's pleasure and traditionally the government, while it can veto them, does not do so. The president's staff also includes a liaison to the Cabinet Office and an attache from the Defence Force.

In 2018, the Robards family scaled back the number of cooks and other household staff. The house formerly employed butlers and valet staff; these positions were made redundant. When butlers and similar staff are required for state functions, they are contracted.

Advertisement