Spencer House is a mansion in St James’s and is one of the last of the many private palaces which once adorned central London. Eight State Rooms are open to the public for viewing on Sundays throughout the year (except August).
The 1st Earl Spencer decided that he required a large London house to cement his position and status. In 1756 he commissioned the architect John Vardy to design the house. Vardy is responsible for the facades of the mansion that we see today. However Vardy was replaced in 1758 by James Stuart, who had studied the Arcadian values of Ancient Greek architecture. As a direct result of this, Spencer House was to have authentic Greek details in the internal decoration. Thus it was to become one of the first examples in London of the neoclassical style, which was to sweep the country.
The first Earl Spencer and his wife were prominent figures in London society and during their lifetime Spencer House was often the setting for lavish entertainments frequented by London high society. Their descendants, notably the fourth and sixth Earls, both of whom served as Lord Chamberlain of the Royal Household, continued this tradition. The Spencer family lived at the mansion continuously until 1895, when the house was let. The Spencer family returned for a brief while in the first quarter of the 20th century. Thereafter the house was again let at various times being either a club or offices. During the Blitz of World War II it was stripped of its few remaining authentic treasures, which included specially made furniture and the fireplaces.
Spencer House remains in the ownership of The Earls Spencer, the current titleholder being Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer, brother of Princess Diana. Since World War II, the house has been continuously let out. In 1986, RIT Capital Partners, the family company of Jacob Rothschild, 4th Baron Rothschild, secured a 96-year lease with an option of an additional 24-years. In a highly acclaimed restoration the state rooms and garden were returned to their original appearance.
For further information go to www.spencerhouse.co.uk/
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