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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
25th May 1905 Born today: Binnie Barnes, London, actress (Adv of Marco Polo, Diamond Jim)
25th May 1878 Gilbert/Sullivans opera HMS Pinafore, premieres in London
A magnificent 18th century private palace.
Location: 27 St James's Place, Mayfair, SW1A 1NR
Description: Spencer House was built from 1756-66 for John, the first Earl Spencer, an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales (1961-97).
Situated in the heart of St James's, Spencer House is a short distance from St James's Palace, Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster, and has a splendid terrace and garden with magnificent views overlooking The Green Park.
The Spencer family continued to live at the House until 1895 when the building was let to a series of tenants, including the Duke of Marlborough and his wife, the former Miss Consuelo Vanderbilt. Then, following the death of the fifth Earl Spencer in 1910 the family returned to the House and in 1926 the building was substantially restored. However a year later, the family moved away again and the House was let to the Ladies' Army and Navy Club, which remained in occupation here until 1943.
The contents of the House were removed wholescale to Althorp including chimneypieces, doors and chair rails, prior to the Blitz.
During the war the House was occupied by the nation's nursing services, and then Christie's auctioneers moved in after their premises were badly damaged by bombs.
Spencer House has now regained the full splendour of its late 18th-century appearance after a ten-year programme of restoration undertaken by RIT Capital Partners plc, under the Chairmanship of Lord Rothschild.
The final appearance of the rooms, complete with carved architectural detail, chimneypieces and copies of original furniture, is also a testament to the support of the Spencer family who provided access to Althorp to enable replication work of outstanding quality to be achieved.
The accurate restoration is complimented by a magnificent collection of paintings and furniture, specially assembled for the House, including five Benjamin West paintings graciously lent by Her Majesty The Queen.
The House is open to the public for viewing on Sundays and private tours can be arranged (except January and August).
Tagged in this Tour: The Princess Diana Tour