Tomorrow, on 11 November The Duke of Gloucester will attend a dinner as patron of the Heritage of London Trust in quite a special building, Spencer House.
Spencer House was built between 1756 and 1766 by John Spencer, 1st Earl Spencer. He initially employed architect John Vardy, who was responsible for the external elevations and the design of the ground floor rooms. He was succeeded as its architect in 1758 by James Stuart, who had just returned from Greece. The Greek influence can be found in the details in the interior decoration.
The first Earl and his wife were very present in the London social scene and they often used Spencer House to entertain lavishly. This tradition was continued by their descendants, most notably the fourth and sixth earls.
Henry Holland partly remodelled the house after the first Earl Spencer died in 1783. He added Greek Ionic columns in the Dining Room and large mahogany doors in the Staircase Hall, the Ante Room and the Library. He was later hired by the Prince Regent for the construction of Carlton House.
The Earls Spencer lived in Spencer House until 1895 when it was let to a number of tenants, which included the Duke of Marlborough and his wife, formerly Consuelo Vanderbilt. The family returned to Spencer House in 1910 after the death of fifth Earl and it underwent restoration in 1926. By 1927 the family once again left the house and it was let to the Ladies Army and Navy Club until 1943. During the war, Spencer House was occupied by the nation’s nursing services and afterwards in 1948, it was let to Christie’s, whose own building was bombed in the war. Spencer House was occupied by several companies until 1985 when it was let to J. Rothschild Holdings PLC.
Today Spencer House is still splendid with its late eighteenth century appearance after being restored for ten years. Althorp was given access in order to replicate the architectural work. It is now partly used as offices and it’s available for events in the historic setting of the eight state rooms. Her Majesty the Queen has lent several paintings to add to Spencer House’s magnificent collection of paintings.
Spencer House is also open to the public on Sundays and for private tours.