Essential Architecture-  London

Clarence House

architect

John Nash

location

The Mall

date

1825-27

style

Regency 

construction

brick

type

House
 
 
   
Clarence House is a royal home in London, situated in The Mall. It is adjacent to St. James's Palace and shares the palace's garden. For nearly 50 years from 1953 to 2002 it was home to HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, but is now the official residence of The Prince of Wales, his second wife, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall and his sons, the princes William and Harry of Wales. It is open to visitors for approximately two months each summer, but tickets must be booked in advance.

The house was built between 1825 and 1827 to a design by John Nash. It was commissioned by William IV who was known as the Duke of Clarence before he inherited the throne in 1830. He lived there in preference to the nearby St James's Palace, which he found too cramped. It passed to his sister Princess Augusta Sophia and, following her death in 1840, to Viktoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the mother of Queen Victoria. In 1866, it became the home of Queen Victoria's second son and fourth child Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Duke of Edinburgh until his death in 1900. His younger brother Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria's third son, used the house from 1900 until his death in 1942, during which time the house suffered damage inflicted by enemy bombing. It was used by the Red Cross and the St. John Ambulance Brigade as their headquarters during the rest of World War II, before being given to Princess Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. HRH Princess Anne, Princess Royal was born there in 1950. After the death of George VI, the Queen Mother and HRH Princess Margaret moved there in 1953, though the latter eventually moved to Kensington Palace.

Clarence House shares a garden with St. James's Palace.
The house has four storeys, not including attics or basements, and is faced in pale stucco. It has undergone extensive remodelling and reconstruction over the years, most notably after the Second World War, such that relatively little remains of Nash's original structure. It was most recently redecorated for the Prince of Wales by interior designer Robert Kime. The house is part of a wider complex of buildings around St James's Palace, to which it is connected by passageways.

HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales moved here in 2003 after the house underwent massive refurbishment after the death of his grand-mother HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The house had a complete re-wire, redecoration of most major rooms, and an external facelift. It is now the official residence of HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.

The term "Clarence House" is often used in the media to refer to the Prince of Wales's private office, for example a statement might be said to have been issued "by Clarence House" (an example of metonymy).

 

links

Clarence House page on the official Royal Residences site
www.essential-architecture.com