Spencer House, London
The house was commissioned by John, 1st Earl Spencer in 1756, the Earl requiring a large London house to cement his position and status. The architect he chose was John Vardy who had studied under William Kent. Vardy is responsible for the facades of the mansion that we see today.
In 1758 James 'Athenian' Stuart who had studied the arcadian values of Ancient Greek architecture replaced Vardy as the architect of the project; as a direct result of this Spencer House was to have authentic Greek details in the internal decoration, and thus it became one of the first examples in London of the neoclassical style, which was to sweep the country.
As the home of successive Earls and Countesses Spencer the state rooms of the house became a theatre for the pageant that was London high society. The Spencer family lived at the mansion continuously until 1895, when the house was let. The Spencers returned for a brief while in the first quarter of the 20th century; then again the house was let, at various times as either a club or offices. During the Blitz of World War II it was stripped of its few remaining authentic treasures, specially made furniture, and fireplaces.
In 1948 the house was leased to Christie's auctioneers, and then in 1956 to British Oxygen Company and in 1963 the Economist Intelligence Unit. In 1986 a 96 year lease (with an additional 24 year option) was purchased by RIT Capital Partners, the family company of Lord Rothschild, and the state rooms and garden restored to their original appearance. Leased out by the Spencer family, Spencer House remains, with Lancaster House, and Bridgewater House, one of the last of the many private palaces which once adorned central London.
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