Clarence House – guided tour

From the announcement in the Spring Newsletter:

Clarence House has been a Royal Residence for over 180 years. It was built between 1825-1827 for William, Duke of Clarence by John Nash on the site of William’s old lodgings. In 1830 he became King and because Buckingham Palace was not finished he continued to live here. He tried St. James’s Palace for a time but found there was so little room that he and his Queen had to move all their books and letters out of the rooms before they could receive any guests. So a passage to connect the Palace with Clarence House was built.

During the second half of the Second World War it was the headquarters of the Red Cross and the St.Johns’s Ambulance Brigade. In 1947-50 it was the home of Princess Elizabeth before her accession. Princess Anne was born here. In 1953 the Queen Mother moved to Clarence House with Princess Margaret. Although twice remodelled, enlarged and restored after bomb damage, three storeys remain of Nash’s building as well as a number of ceilings and mantelpieces of the same period. Clarence House remained the home of the Queen Mother until her death in 2002. Thereafter it was refurbished by the Prince of Wales. The arrangements of the rooms and the groupings of their contents remain much as they were in the Queen Mother’s time, with important works from Her Majesty’s famous collection of art.

Today it is the official residence of Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. Here they receive official guests from the country and overseas on behalf of the nation.

The tour includes the five rooms on the ground floor where official engagements are undertaken. This will be a unique tour as the house is only open to the public during August each year.


From the report in the Autumn Newsletter:

Visit to Clarence House

Report, by Jack Bayliss, on the tour of Clarence House on Sunday 12 August

A group of members of the Society, led by Connie Sangster, had a most interesting and informative guided tour of Clarence House, the official residence and home of HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. We learned that it was built by John Nash in 1825 for the Duke of Clarence who was the third son of King George III. It was for a time the home of Princess Elizabeth, as she then was, and Prince Phillip. Then it was the home of Queen Elizabeth, the current Queen’s mother, from 1953, after the death of her husband King George VI, until 2002 when it was refurbished by the Prince of Wales.

We were shown through the principal downstairs rooms, starting with the Waiting-Room where visitors to the Prince of Wales or the Duchess are offered by the butler a drink of their choice.

Not surprisingly each of the members of the royal family whose home Clarence House has been has stamped their mark on it in one way or another and the paintings and photographs on display reflect that.

Over the doorway in the Waiting Room is a drawing of Prince Phillip by Annigoni as a preliminary to a portrait of him. In the sitting room was a beautiful portrait of the current Queen when she was seven years old, apparently the first portrait ever made of her. Another portrait was that of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother painted in 1952 shortly after she was widowed. The Chippendale sofa shows signs of the damage done by her corgis who were also residents in Clarence House. The library, we were told, was where Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, would herself serve tea to visitors such as Nelson Mandela and President Reagan. On one of the bookshelves we spotted a well thumbed first edition of Peter Pan.

In the Dining Room we got the story of how the theme for the decoration of the Christmas tree, which is put there every year, is chosen and how the star on the top of it is put in place by the tallest guardsman using his sword. The Garden Room has ‘corgi’ half doors but these are currently not used for that purpose. The theme of the room now reflects the Prince of Wales’ love of the Middle East and is dominated by a huge tapestry with a Middle Eastern theme. It also reflects the Prince of Wales’ love of music with a Steinway baby grand piano and a very beautiful golden Welsh harp.

We were indeed very fortunate to have been able to make this visit because Clarence House is only open to the public during the month of August.