Buckingham Palace and Its Residents
Buckingham Palace. Source: (commons.wikipedia.org)
Buckingham Palace, located in Westminster, has been the home of the royal family for many years, but this year is a special year as it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. She was the first monarch to actually live in the palace. Every summer visitors come and tour the grounds as well as the rooms inside of this beautiful place. The palace is not just a residence but a place where numerous activities and events take place with as many as 800 people on staff. As the visitors take in the brilliance of the royal residence, they also have the opportunity to view all of the artifacts and memorabilia of Queen Victoria and her life.
When Queen Victoria obtained the palace in 1837, it became London’s residence of the British monarch. She played a major role in the redesigning and extension of the palace. It was not always so outstanding. Before the renovations took place, there were many complications and repairs that had to be taken care of. Because of smoky chimneys, whenever the fireplaces were used, they had to let them die down which inevitably caused the place to become quite cold. The ventilation was horrible which caused a terrible smell. When the queen married Prince Albert in 1840, he took care of making sure these issues were resolved which included getting rid of lazy staff. In 1847, as their family grew, a new wing was added as well as some other rooms including a ballroom. Buckingham Palace became a place of entertainment that included musicians and costume balls as well as ceremonies and other momentous occasions. Queen Victoria lived there until Prince Albert died in 1861.
Before Queen Victoria, another queen lived on the property. It was Queen Charlotte. In 1761, King George III bought it for his wife, Queen Charlotte, and it was then referred to as the Queen’s House. There was remodeling done for her as well in 1762. She had a total of 15 children with 14 of them being born there. When King George IV took the throne in 1820, he continued to make renovations. His original intention was for just a small home but, with the help of architects, John Nash and later Edward Blore, who was hired by King William IV, it was increased to become a palace. Unfortunately, in 1834, it was destroyed by fire.
Buckingham House was originally built for John Sheffield in 1703 who became the Duke of Buckingham. The design of it was like a large townhouse with three floors and two small service wings. In 1761, Sir Charles Sheffield sold it to King George III.
Before Buckingham House, there was Arlington House bought by Henry Bennet who was the 1st Earl of Arlington. While in his possession and still bearing the name of the Goring House, it burned down in 1674. Upon rebuilding, it became Arlington House. In 1698 is when John Sheffield obtained it.
It is believed that the very first house on the property was the Goring House in 1624 and built for Sir William Blake. In 1633, Lord Goring became the next owner and expanded the house and garden. Unfortunately, legal issues over the freehold interest in the garden caused him to default on his rent which is when it was transferred to the next owner, Henry Bennet.
Modern Buckingham Palace
Today, the palace is as beautiful as ever with the Grand Entrance, Marble Hall, Grand Staircase, Ballroom, and many other elaborate rooms and décor to make anyone want to live there. The last time anything major was done to the palace was in 1913 during King George V’s reign. Sir Aston Webb redesigned 1850 East Front to look like Giacomo Leoni’s Lyme Park in Cheshire. It became the backdrop to the Victoria Memorial that is outside of the main gates in honor of Queen Victoria.
There are a total of 775 rooms: 52 royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 19 staterooms, 92 offices, and 78 bathrooms which come to a total of 830,000 square footage.
Tags: British history | Buckingham Palace
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