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Palaces & Buildings

How Buckingham Palace Came To Be

Buckingham_Palace_engraved_by_J.Woods_after_Hablot_Browne_&_R.Garland_publ_1837_editedBuckingham Palace is well known for being the home of the British Monarch and some of his/her immediate family. But few know the history of this grand and sumptuous building; here is our guide to Buckingham Palace and its history.

Buckingham Palace began life not as a Palace but as a house for a Duke. The Duke Of Buckingham had owned the previously named ‘Buckingham House’ when it began life. It was a modestly sized property, housing initially the Duke and his family. In a different setting, the reigning King, George III was living just down the road from Buckingham House in what is now the administrative HQ of the Monarchy, St James ‘s Palace. For those of you that don’t know, St James’s Palace is far from the splendour of today’s palaces, it looks from the outside more like a slightly older governmental building. At the time this was the home of the Monarch.

George III wanted a new home for his Queen Consort (Queen Charlotte) and his family. After surveying several properties, they determined that Buckingham House would be a suitable property. George III acquired this property and from thereon in, it became known as ‘Queen’s House’. The Queen’s House became a popular and well-used feature of the Royal Family, in fact 14 out of 15 of the King and Queen’s children were born there.

King George III had decided that this modest ‘Queen’s House’ could be put to a better use at a greater size so in 1765, he commissioned works to revamp the Queen’s House into a bigger and grander affair. Once George’s reign had ended, his successor (George IV) continued remodelling this property into something more Kingly, in fact, the new King decided that in 1826 he’d commission architect John Nash to completely remodel the Queen’s House into what would eventually become Buckingham Palace. The King’s architect (John Nash) came up with such elaborate designs that eventually in 1829, he was removed as architect by Parliament. On the death of George IV in 1830, his younger brother, who succeeded him as William IV, hired Edward Blore to finish the work.

The new Buckingham Palace was finished… 11 years after works began, in time for Queen Victoria to take a direct transfer to the new Palace upon its completion at the beginning of her reign. Far from the image of the secure and well-rounded Palace we see today, upon its completion in 1837, it bore very little resemblance to today’s Buckingham Palace.

The front façade only came into existence many years after its supposed completion during refurbishments. So, in 1847, The Queen (Victoria) decided that due to a need for extra room, a new wing was to be added to the Palace.

What would be known as the ‘East Wing’ was eventually completed, closing off the previously exposed quadrangle in the centre of the Palace.

The new East wing is not quite the same as it is today. When it was completed it featured a brickwork on the front that matched the rest of the Palace,this due to the invention of cars and other road vehicles caused terrible damage to the front façade and many years later, Edward VII had to order it to be replaced and so, extensive repair works took place, producing the distinctive and famous front white-brick façade we all know, recognise and love today.

Work on the actual Palace continued, although not as significantly or prominently as the aforementioned changes. The biggest change from thereon in was to the outside of the Palace, that is to say the area beginning at the Mall, was the addition of the Victoria Memorial outside the Palace. Commissioned and opened by George V in 1911, it is said that The King was so pleased with the sculpture that he called for a sword and knighted the sculptor (Sir Thomas Brock) on the spot!

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