As we walked through Green Park Mr Bradshaw mentioned that ‘..the eastern side is bounded by many of the finest mansions of the nobility..’, so I set off to investigate and this map explains the area which occupied me.
Stafford House, (mentioned by Mr Bradshaw), the residence of the Sutherland family, started as York House, commissioned by the Duke of York in 1825. Unfinished at his death, it was sold to the 2nd Marquess of Stafford and eventually completed in 1841 for the 2nd Duke of Sutherland. It was sold in 1912 to Sir William Lever who named it after his county, and as Lancaster House it later passed into government control, and is now within St James’s Palace. (In a previous post; and the government used the money to buy Victoria Park.) ‘..Queen Victoria is said to have remarked to the Duchess of Sutherland on arriving at Stafford House, “I have come from my House to your Palace.”..’ .
Bridgewater House, in nearby Cleveland Row, was built for the Earl of Ellesmere, the second son of the 1st Duke of Sutherland, by Sir Charles Barry between 1845 and 1864. Sir Charles also laid out the garden, with raised walks, and this design is in place today. (Bridgewater House replaced Cleveland House, named after the Duchess of Cleveland, remembered in the nearby Cleveland Row.) Bridgewater House was known for its art collection which included the Orleans Collection, now held in the National Gallery of Scotland, with another group from the collection in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. The house is now owned by the family of Yiannis Latsis.
Spencer House , in St James’s Place, was built in 1756-58 for John, the 1st Earl Spencer. The architects were John Vardy the elder, and James Stuart, who decorated the first-floor rooms. The mansion set out to imitate Greek and Roman styles of architecture and decoration in an extremely impressive, grand, family mansion. The garden was laid out in 1795 and was the largest in St James’s. It was restored to the original plan in the 1990s, but is not currently open to the public, although guided tours (ticketed) of the house are available.
The ancestral home of the Spencer family since the 16th century is Althorp.
I walked down Cleveland Row, ‘..the paragon of distinguished retiredness in the West End..’, according to Pevsner, to find these grand mansions. It is a ‘quaint’, narrow street abutting St James’ Palace, if I may use such a term in this very exclusive area!
Heading towards St James’s Street there is an opening on the left to Russell Court, and a cobbled courtyard with stables dating from the 1790s, and clearly connected to the grand mansions.
And I noticed a curious area on the map, Blue Ball Yard. This is the rear of the Stafford Hotel, whose entrance is in St James’ Place and which can be accessed from Green Park via this curious little passage under the buildings.
And also in St James’s Place –
Another quiet and fascinating few hours, away from the tourists, but too hot to continue!