Lancaster House in London

Sunday, 18 September 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, London
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© Gryffindor

© Gryffindor

Lancaster House (originally known as York House and then Stafford House) is a mansion in the St James’s district in the West End of London. It is close to St James’s Palace, and much of the site was once part of the palace complex. This Grade I listed building> is now managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Construction of the house commenced in 1825 for the Duke of York and Albany, the second son of King George III, and it was initially known as York House. Sir Robert Smirke was originally hired to design the house, until under the influence of the Duke’s mistress the Duchess of Rutland, he was replaced by Benjamin Dean Wyatt who mainly designed the exterior. The house was only a shell by the time of the death of the Duke in 1827. It is constructed from Bath stone, in a neo-classical style, being the last great London mansion to use this essentially Georgian style. The lease of the house was purchased by and completed for the 2nd Marquess of Stafford (later 1st Duke of Sutherland) and was known as Stafford House for almost a century. It was assessed for rating purposes (i.e. for property taxes) as the most valuable private house in London. The completed building was three floors in height, the State rooms being on the first floor or piano nobile, family living rooms on the ground floor and family bedrooms on the second floor. There is also a basement containing service rooms, including the government wine cellar. The interior was designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt, Sir Charles Barry and Sir Robert Smirke and was completed in 1840.

The Sutherlands’ liberal politics and love of the arts attracted many distinguished guests, including factory reformer the Earl of Shaftesbury, anti-slavery author Harriet Beecher Stowe and Italian revolutionary leader Giuseppe Garibaldi. Chopin gave a recital there in 1848 in the presence of Queen Victoria. Almost as influential as the visitors was the décor, which was to set the fashion for London reception rooms for nearly a century. The mainly Louis XIV Style interiors created a stunning backdrop for the Sutherlands’ impressive collection of paintings and objets d’art, much of which can still be seen in the house today. Queen Victoria is said to have remarked to the 2nd Duchess of Sutherland on arriving at Stafford House, “I have come from my House to your Palace.” With its ornate decoration and the dramatic sweep of the great staircase, the Grand Hall is a magnificent introduction to one of the finest town houses in London. The house went out of royal favour after the 3rd Duchess died, in 1888, and her husband remarried his mistress within months.

© flickr.com - Financial Times/cc-by-2.0 © Edwardx/cc-by-sa-4.0 © flickr.com - Financial Times/cc-by-2.0 © Edwardx/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Edwardx/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Edwardx/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Edwardx/cc-by-sa-4.0 © Gryffindor © Edwardx/cc-by-sa-4.0
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© flickr.com - Financial Times/cc-by-2.0
In 1912 the lease was purchased by the Lancastrian soap-maker Sir William Lever, 1st Baronet (later 1st Viscount Leverhulme) who renamed it in honour of his native county of Lancashire and presented it to the nation in the following year. Since 1922 the building has housed the Government Wine Cellar. From 1924 until shortly after the Second World War, the house was the home of the London Museum, but it is now used for government receptions and is closed to the public except on rare open days.

The European Advisory Commission met at the house in 1944. In January 1947 a special envoy meeting on affairs concerning occupied Austria was hosted here. The year 1956 saw the signing of the agreement of independence for Malaya. In 1961, South Africa affirmed its intention to become a republic, inside the Commonwealth. In 1979 it was the scene of the Lancaster House Agreement, which was the agreement of independence from the United Kingdom and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. The house was the venue for the 10th G7 summit in 1984 and the 17th G7 summit in 1991. A new 35-foot-long table was built for the Long Gallery, where the main negotiating sessions were planned in 1991. Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech at Lancaster House in January 2017 outlining Britain’s intended future relationship with the European Union following the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum which resulted in a vote to leave. The speech is commonly referred to in the media, and in political discourse, as the “Lancaster House speech”.

Read more on GOV.uk – Lancaster House, VisitBritain.com – Lancaster House and Wikipedia Lancaster House (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Johns Hopkins University & Medicine - Coronavirus Resource Center - Global Passport Power Rank - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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