Monday, 27 May 2013

(8) Carlton House London - Demolition and Disbursement

The North Court and Frontage of Carlton House London facing
Pall Mall. Eight of the pillars you can see at left were 'recycled'.
From an engraving by T. Malton, 1800.
[Source : The Royalty Society]

This is the conclusion of my eight part series on Carlton House which included a fully guided 'virtual tour' of this great London 'Town House'. Should you not have read the earlier instalments in this series, please commence from HERE.

Should you reference this Blog elsewhere, please cite

As we know, Carlton House was 'pulled down' during 1826-27. But what prompted this seemingly wilful act of vandalism? 

It had simply "fallen from favour". His Majesty King George IV considered that its rooms were too small for large receptions, it lay too close to the busy Pall Mall, and that despite huge expenditure it was "antiquated and decrepit". The almost non-stop remodelling and redecoration of Carlton House effectively ceased after the celebrations marking the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. The Prince then toyed with the idea of almost totally rebuilding Carlton House to a grand plan produced by his Architect John Nash which was to include a dome and a pair of large flanking wings. But in the end the proposed site facing Pall Mall was considered too restrictive and the Government Treasury would not support the cost. The landscape painter and diarist Joseph Farington relates that on the 27th October 1821 Nash told him that "[the King] ...had felt a dislike to Carlton House and wished to remove to Buckingham House". The latter had been the residence of his late Mother, The Queen, and after her death in 1818 he had now 'transferred' his ambitions to "The Queen's House". Nash produced his first designs for the new Palace in 1821. 

Amusingly, on the 29th July 1831, Nash recounted to a Government Select Committee looking into the cost over-runs on Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace that the late King had declared to him that "I am too old to build a Palace. If the Public wish to have a Palace, I have no objection to build one, but I must have a pied-à-terre [a small private residence away from a primary residence]. I do not like Carlton House standing in a street...." No doubt the King meant that Windsor Castle would be his 'pied-à-terre'! One way or another the King would still have his Palace.

The previously mentioned fire in June 1824 appears to have further diminished the King's interest in Carlton House while he also lost a number of irreplaceable paintings. The fire-damaged painting below is described by the Royal Collection as "a wreck of what might once have been an imposing full-length portrait".

A monochrome copy of the badly
fire-damaged painting of the
Duke of Clarence by Hoppner,

In 1806 there had been no less than 40 indoors personal staff and servants working in Carlton House including, "a housekeeper, a wardrobe keeper, a maître d'hôtel, an inspector of Household deliveries, nine housemaids, four cooks, three watchmen, two kitchen boys, two confectioners, two coal porters, a coffee-room woman, a silver-scullery woman, and a table decker." This increased still further after George became Prince Regent in 1811 and no doubt again after 1820 when he finally became King George IV. 

Interestingly, while the frontage of the house was lit by gas from 1808, parts of the house are also recorded as being lit by gas prior to 1820. 

Carlton House London, as it appeared in "A Description of London :
Containing a Sketch if its History and Present State, and of All the
Most Celebrated Public Buildings, &c.", by William Darton, 1824.

Besides the King, Carlton House now had some quite vocal detractors. The House was "constantly under repair, but never improved, for no material alterations were made in its appearance". The King now craved privacy and found the workmen constantly engaged on repairs and maintenance at Carlton House "a great source of annoyance", not least for their natural curiosity. By now Carlton House was "blackened with dust and soot" and even a simple coat of lime-wash would not have gone amiss. 

The Italian Sculptor Antonio Canova, who had undertaken commissions for the Prince Regent, bluntly described Carlton House thus : "There are at Rome a thousand buildings more beautiful, and whose architecture is in comparison faultless, any one of which would be more suitable for a princely residence than that ugly barn". In his memoirs published in 1866, Captain Gronow described it as, "One of the meanest and most ugly edifices that ever disfigured London, notwithstanding it was screened by a row of columns...". 

A Plan of the Principal Floor of Carlton House as it stood in 1761.
Comparing this to our plan of 1813 below reveals considerable
 alterations and enlargements to the original fabric of the building.
[Source : Wikipedia Commons]

During a fractious Parliamentary debate on the question of the Royal Palaces in 1824, the Hon. Sir MW Ridley succinctly summed up his opinion on the matter :

"...he would put it to any man who heard him, whether there was any private Gentleman in the Kingdom so ill lodged as his Majesty. The situation of Carlton House was, he believed, well known to be so bad, that it could not possibly go on longer without a thorough repair. [He urged] the House to make a stand, and refuse to continue the wasteful system of voting away money year after year for small repairs, and require the attention of the Treasury to be directed to the providing at once of some more suitable residence, upon a grand and magnificent scale, fitting the dignity of the Sovereign of this country." Despite some dissention the vote was carried.

A Plan of the Principal Floor of Carlton House as
drawn in 1813.
[Source : British History Online]

It is apparent that the King, together with his Architect John Nash, jointly did their best to persuade Parliament that Carlton House was beyond economic repair and that public monies were now better spent elsewhere. Nash was not backward in actively promoting his grand scheme for not only the new Buckingham Palace but also for the grand Regency buildings which would replace Carlton House. 

In 1826 Nash went so far as to claim that Carlton House was in "poor structural condition and should be demolished". While he was naturally biased one must remember that parts of the original house dated from the beginning of the eighteenth century and had been enlarged even before the Prince took possession in 1783. Therefore parts of the house had already been standing for up to 120 years so there could still have been some truth to his claim. 

Buckingham House was fortuitously located on a large section of land which would allow for almost absolute privacy and future expansion. Carlton House was, one must freely admit, inconveniently wedged up against Pall Mall, surrounded by other residences in close proximity, with a long but perhaps not always private garden. As Queen Victoria inconveniently found at another of George's residences, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, one could simply be too close to one's subjects. 

What would replace Carlton House - A view of the East Front of
Buckingham Palace from St James's Park, as painted in 1846
[Source : The Royal Collection]

King George IV is noted as having used Carlton House on the 10th Dec 1825 when he inspected a "curious pony which stood only 32 inches high". The King asked that the pony be brought inside for him to view it whereupon it was allowed to trot up to his apartments. But by this stage the King was residing in 'Cumberland Lodge' in the grounds of Windsor Castle. 

The last recorded evidence of full-time occupation of Carlton House is the 5th November 1826 when a delivery of meat was made by Mr R. Hudson the Butcher. But we know that during 1826 the task of emptying the house had begun in earnest with the contents being stored in both the Riding House adjoining Carlton House and at St James's Palace - despite the latter having had a very serious fire in 1806. And as previously noted, many of the King's paintings had been placed on public display in the National Gallery in Pall Mall during 1826. By July 1827 the demolition of Carlton House is recorded to have been well under way. Unfortunately two workmen were killed while this work was being carried out but the circumstances are unknown. 

But what became of the valuable furniture and architectural fittings? 

In order to keep the cost of the new Buckingham Palace down, the furniture and very many of the "choice fittings" would be transferred primarily to the new Palace but also to Windsor Castle which was also being concurrently rebuilt. These very considerable cost savings helped persuade His Majesty's Government to provide additional funds from the public purse. But all would not be plain sailing. While The King would later be sternly criticized for his expenditure on Windsor Castle, he would also be "severely censured" after expenditure on his new Palace eventually rose from £252,690 to £700,000 But the commitment to build a new palace had been made. In the light of current values it was probably still an absolute bargain.

Much of the furniture and many of the architectural features at Carlton House would have proved impossible or at least very expensive to replace. The loss of Carlton House was but a small price to pay to achieve far greater things. 

A fine oak cabinet veneered with tulipwood, purplewood, mahogany
and boxwood; fitted with brocatello marble, gilt bronze mounts and
inset with ten soft-paste porcelain plaques; by Martin Carlin c.1783.
Purchased by the Prince of Wales for the 'Saloon' at Carlton House
around 1790.
[Source : The Royal Collection]

Fortuitously the sale of land leases upon which Carlton House and Gardens stood could also be used to defray the cost of the new Buckingham Palace. As the freehold belonged to the Crown Estate (and still does) a steady income could be derived from any new buildings. While the space where the actual Carlton House stood provided the central opening of the present day Waterloo Terrace, the Architect John Nash designed a series of handsome and still extant Regency buildings along the newly named 'Carlton Terrace'. These beautiful buildings are still an asset to central London.  

The West Terrace of Carlton House Terrace.
Built 1827-32 to an overall design by the Architect John Nash
but with detailed input from Decimus Burton.
[Source : Wikipedia Commons]

The majority of significant paintings and furniture are well recorded within the Royal Collections, having been safely transferred to either the new Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. Very many architectural features in both these Royal residences also have a Carlton House provenance. 

"In the year 1828 [sic?]....Carlton House was demolished; much of the ornamental interior details—such as marble mantelpieces, friezes, and columns - being transferred to Buckingham Palace." "Old & New London", Vol IV by Edward Walford, 1878.

King George IV himself also insisted that "...he did not want his beautiful fireplaces and doors from Carlton House to disappear with the rest of the building; those that were not required at Buckingham Palace must be found a place at Windsor Castle". Wyatville, the architect for the 1823-26 rebuilding of Windsor Castle, duly obliged, also being asked to re-use some armorial stained glass from the Carlton House Conservatory. Through some interesting 'architectural archaeology', a number of doors from Carlton House have been positively identified at Windsor Castle.

The White, Green and Crimson Drawing Rooms in Windsor Castle include a total of sixty-two 'trophies' comprising of carved, gilded wooden panels illustrating weapons and the spoils of war, many with Masonic meanings. These were originally brought from Carlton House in 1826, some being originally imported from France and others carved by the English Carver and Gilder, Edward Wyatt. Restored or replaced after the fire in 1992, these trophies are well-known for their "vitality, precision and three-dimensional quality".

Armorial stained glass from the Conservatory was also incorporated into the windows at Windsor Castle however I have been unable to locate any images to display on this page.

But it would appear that architectural features not wanted at the two primary Royal residences were also made use of in at least one other property having a strong association with the King. In some cases it would now appear that items of no use such as panelling and other 'architectural salvage' were simply sold, either commercially or through the Office of Works. Recent 'architectural archaeology' has proved quite fascinating and further interesting discoveries may yet be made.

Painted detail of a door at Tor Royal in Dartmoor,
reliably confirmed as having been the Prince's
Bedchamber door at Carlton House, London.
[Used with kind permission of Patrick Baty]

Through some clever research Patrick Baty, a qualified "Paint Detective", has proven beyond reasonable doubt that two sets of decoratively painted doors from Carlton House are now located at Tor Royal House in Dartmoor, a house which does have a proven association with the Prince of Wales. More precisely, Mr Baty's research established that one set of doors had hung between the Blue Velvet Room and the Prince Regent's own Bedchamber. The full article may be read Here. As previously mentioned, Mr Baty had also rediscovered the gilded panelling from the Gothic Dining Room, "which had been dismantled and moved to another location and was hidden under layers of later paint." Unfortunately the location has not been divulged, I believe at the request of the current owner.  

The Gothic Dining Room - Research has shown
 that panelling survives from this room, but
sadly under subsequent layers of paint.

Interestingly, only about ten years ago, I can recall seeing an old and rather large Georgian styled open cast iron fireplace pan with supporting side andirons, and carrying George's Royal Cypher on the back plate, and quite surprisingly sitting for sale in a second-hand shop in a country town here in New Zealand. A written note stated that it had originally come from Carlton House, most probably a less important service room or bedroom. The provenance would have been hard to prove but for its obvious age and the indisputable inclusion of George's own cypher. While I use the word "cypher" this may have been the Prince of Wales's feathers but my memory unfortunately eludes me on that exact point. I was fascinated but had no desire to pay the asking price. I wish now that I had taken a photograph.  

An "elaborate fountain in imitation of the Temple of Jupiter at Rome" had been proposed for the space between the two new Nash ranges on Carlton Terrace, utilising eight columns from the portico of Carlton House. But it then occurred to those in authority that this area couple be opened up to create a grand entrance from Pall Mall through to the Mall and St. James Park. William Wilkins, the Architect for the new National Gallery in London was then "forced" to use the columns due to "a thrifty piece of Government recycling" which caused him to alter his plans to suit. Apparently the front elevation of Carlton House had been advantageously viewed from "rising ground" but the National Gallery is viewed from a "low viewpoint" which did not best suit the architectural style employed. This has led to some derision, then - and now. Interestingly, the National Gallery state that the Architect, William Wilkins, "selected eight of the columns for use in his new National Gallery building. In the event, he then decided they were too small for the central portico. However, it is conceivable that they were eventually used in the east and west porticos." This is quite plausible but it would also appear that the central portico does not, as many believe, include any columns from Carlton House nor in any case was Wilkins particularly keen to make use of them! 

The National Gallery London, Jan 2013.
Four of the Ionic columns believed to have come from
Carlton House are highlighted in the red box.
[Source : "The Anglophile"]

Columns from the Ionic 'screen' which separated the Principal Court from Pall Mall were used in the construction of (I believe) all four Buckingham Palace [Nash designed] Conservatories, one later being moved to Kew Gardens in 1836. 

These columns from the portico and the screen were, even as early as 1832, believed to be the only remaining and identifiable exterior parts of Carlton House remaining. 

The Nash Conservatory at Kew Gardens, having been moved from
the grounds of Buckingham Palace in 1836. The Ionic columns from
the Carlton House 'Screen' are marked in a red box at right.
[Source : Wikipedia Commons]

All items from the Armoury were also transferred to two new rooms in a purpose built Armoury in the "South Tower" of the new Buckingham Place located next to the Chapel.

The greatest loss appears to have been the elegant cast-iron Carlton House Conservatory, I can find no confirmed reference to its fate other than the Armorial glass mentioned above which was re-used at Windsor Castle. Perhaps rust and brittle cast iron construction took their toll? 

While elements of Carlton House remain, primarily still in Royal ownership, we shall ever be thankful that two Master Engravers preserved so many views of this great house for posterity.  

In 1991, The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace held a fascinating exhibition "Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV's Palace" which brought together many objects previously within Carlton House. The Director of the Gallery, Sir Geoffrey de Bellaigue, observed that "One could easily do another exhibition of equally important material without a single duplication." One hopes that this shall be possible, even dare I suggest, the interesting scenario of recreating one or two rooms within a painted backdrop complete with all extant objects which had been placed within these rooms. Either way, we wait and hope....

Comments correcting any unintentional errors are welcome but a reference source would be appreciated.

Should you reference this Blog elsewhere, please cite

Bibliography :

- Unless otherwise stated all images are from Wikipedia Commons and are in the Public Domain.
- Please refer to the first instalment in this series for the full bibliography.

Monday, 20 May 2013

So What Do You Think of New Zealand?

Lake Ada, Milford Sound, Fiordland, New Zealand

For almost 150 years practically the first question asked of visitors to these fair isles has always been "So what do you think of New Zealand?" By and large, most early visitors were indeed impressed but for others the vast distance from their own homeland, the lack of familiar surroundings, the relative lack of cultural pursuits and amenities, and the absence of close friends and family obviously influenced their enjoyment of a visit "down-under". Perhaps our intense loyalty to New Zealand but also our relative insecurity as a young and sparsely populated sovereign nation, at least by European standards, has meant that we have not always appreciated - or expected - a negative response.

A shearing gang, along with the property owner and his wife,
William & Agnes Watson of "Mayfield" Heddon Bush, enjoying
a tea break. All are of Scottish or Irish descent. Taken circa 1915

My own Great Uncle, Jack Watson, and upon his arrival in New Zealand from Scotland in July 1910, wrote to his Sister in Scotland :

"Almost the first thing that strikes the new chum on his arrival is the open, free and easy nature of the people and the almost total absence of that class distinction so marked in the old country. Here everyone is alike socially; more like a member of a great family than an individual in a civil community."

So, let us now read some of the comments made by others after having visited or arrived in this far flung and loyal outpost of the [then] British Empire. Interspersed with these comments are some early postcards and photographs which portray something of the still young and emerging nation of New Zealand. All images are from my own collections.

Cranmer Square, Christchurch with the English Gothic styled
Christchurch Normal School in the background

The great drawback to New Zealand – or should I more properly say to travelling in New Zealand – comes from feeling that after crossing the world and journeying over so many thousand miles, you have not at all succeeded in getting away from England” – Anthony Trollope, English Novelist (1815-1882)

A Māori Village, Rotorua. I do believe the top-hatted
European gentleman at right is preaching to the group.
Photographer : Mr R.A. Cook, taken c.1900-1901

I am persuaded the inhabitants of New Zealand will become a great and powerful nation when once the Light of Divine Revelation begins to dawn upon them.” – Samuel Marsden, English Missionary (1764–1838)

"A Māori Wahine [woman]"

New Zealand, my Dear Father and Mother, and the natives thereof, remain much the same; savage warlike disposions [sic] are the predominant features of a New Zealander” – George Clarke, CMS Missionary and founder of the Waimate Mission (1798-1875)

The Postmaster at Paterson's Inlet Post
Office Stewart Island, the southernmost
Post Office in New Zealand, takes time
out to greet the local dogs. Note the
 "VR" [Victoria Royal] enamel sign

Well, to tell you the truth, I never was in a place where they talked more about work and did less of it” – Rudyard Kipling, English Writer (1865-1936)

"The Remarakables", as viewed from Frankton on Lake Wakatipu

The trouble with New Zealand is that it is rather too pleasing a place. There is a danger of it being over-run by the riff raff of Europe. I suggest it might be a good idea to instruct the Tourist Department to say something about the horrors of New Zealand” – George Bernard Shaw, Irish Journalist, critic and playwright (1856-1950)

The southernmost gas lamp and omnibus in the world,
South Invercargill New Zealand

I suppose they are happy. I couldn’t bear it” – Lady Diana Cooper, Viscountess Norwich, English Socialite (1892-1986)

Larnach Castle, Otago Peninsula, built 1871-1887, has 43
rooms and required 46 servants. Taken during the Castle's
 revival under the Purdie family. The building at right
is the ball room, now the castle tea rooms. c.1930's

This was my first visit and extraordinary is the only word I can find for the country and its people. Everything appears to be marvellously well done. Whether it is from a sense of conscience or perfection I don’t know” – Baroness Philippe De Rothschild, French Aristocrat (1908-1976)

A mountain & forest scene

It’s a beautiful place, you must go” – H.M. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002)

A group attired in fancy dress during the Lacrosse
Games, Auckland. Taken circa 1901.
Photographer : Mr R.A. Cook

I thought, that if you put a selection of people from the British Isles into antipodean cool-storage for a century and a half and then opened the door, we are what would emerge” – Dame Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand Novelist (1895-1982)

Mitre Peak in the famous Milford Sound,
Fiordland, New Zealand

It appears to me, too, that the national name which New Zealand bears is a very mean and sorry name. No man ever did less for any country he discovered than the Dutchman Tasman did for New Zealand. He came, saw and left it…” – Charles Flinders Hursthouse, English writer (1812-1876).

Lower Queen Street Auckland, pre 1910

Being an old Victorian, am much more at home here than in London. You are quite natural to me, but to the English visitor born after 1900 you probably appear quaint, foreign and incredible” – George Bernard Shaw, Irish Journalist, Critic and Playwright (1856-1950)

The Kelburn Cable Car and Tea Kiosk (with fanciful towers)
overlooking the capital city of Wellington

My Dearest Mother, … You will wish to know what this place is like and I will try to describe it, though as I know of no part of England at all like it, it will not be easy to give you a clear notion of it” – Thomas Arnold, English Educationalist (1823-1900)

Washing the dishes after an outdoors summer Christmas
picnic lunch at Heddon Bush in Southland, 25 Dec 1916

You can never make New Zealand like Britain. The difference in the vegetation and seasons prevents it, and it is not to be desired. Eating plum pudding and roast goose, with thermometer 100 in the shade, simply because it is Christmas is nonsense…” – Charles Edward Douglas, Scottish Explorer, Naturalist and Surveyor (1840-1916)   

Mt. Egmont / Taranaki, North Island, New Zealand

A mountain here is only beautiful if it has good grass on it. Scenery is not scenery – it is ‘country’… If it is good for sheep it is beautiful, magnificent, and all the rest of it; if not, it is not worth looking at” – Samuel Butler, English Explorer, Sheep Farmer & Author (1835-1902)

The evidently quiet "one horse town" of Paeroa
in the Northern Waikato of the North Island

Welcome to purgatory!” – Rev James Watkin, English Wesleyan Missionary and the first European Preacher in the South Island (?-1886)

A canoe on the Waikato River at Ngaruawahia

Farewell, New Zealand! I shall never see you again, but perhaps some memory of my visit may remain… Every man looks on his own country as God’s own country if it be a free land, but the New Zealander has more reason than most…” – Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, Scottish Writer, Doctor and Spiritualist (1859-1930)

Lower Queen Street Auckland with the new Chief Post Office at left.
This building now serves as the Britomart Transport Terminal

It is apparent from reading these papers, as from a thousand other signs, that it is London which is the true capital for New Zealanders and that they derive thence their ideas, their fashions and their catchwords” – André Sigfried, French Political Scientist (1875-1959)

The famous White Terraces on Lake Rotomahana
were unfortunately  obliterated in 1886, not by
the hand of man but by the forces of nature 

I have never ceased to be thankful for two things. One is that I was born with an intense love for the beautiful in Nature, and the other that I came to New Zealand before the hand of man had spoiled most of its natural beauty” – Charles Blomfield, English Landscape Artist and Explorer (1848-1926)

Dunedin in 1859. The 'first' First Presbyterian Church
is at bottom right, being now the Dowling Street car park

I believe we were all glad to leave New Zealand. It is not a pleasant place” – Charles Darwin, English Naturalist (1809-1882)

The Boer War Memorial, Invercargill,
unveiled by the Premier, Sir Joseph Ward,
on the 3rd June 1908

This is a wonderful country – or would you call it an archipelago? ... You see a lot of beards and knee socks. And sweaters. You also see an awful lot of war memorials” – Paul Theroux, American Author (1941-)   

The suspension bridge over the Kawarau River in Central
Otago, having been built in 1880 and now used
 as a platform for bungy jumping

I had the impression that it [New Zealand] was close to Australia or Asia or somewhere, and that one went over to it on a bridge” – Mark Twain, American writer and Novelist (1830-1910)

Moray Place Dunedin and the imposing Gothic styled
First Church of Otago [Presbyterian], c.1910  

Such nice people! And the civilisation they represent, that’s nice too. Nothing very exciting or spectacular, of course… And everything in a quiet provincial way, thoroughly cosy and sensible” – Aldous Huxley, English Novelist (1894-1963)

Part of a tinted black and white panorama photograph of sheep
at "Mayfield", the property of William Watson, at Heddon Bush
in Southland, taken by RP Moore of Wellington, 1920's
[The original negative for this image is held by the
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington , Ref 30652875]  

“…Where men but talk of gold and sheep and think of sheep and gold” – William Pember Reeves, New Zealand Barrister, Journalist, Sportsman and Politician” (1857-1932)

Use of Images :

All images are from my own collection  and may be freely copied for non-commercial use provided a link is given back to this site. If you require high resolution copies of any images please contact me using the email link in the right-hand menu bar.

Monday, 13 May 2013

(7) Carlton House London - A Virtual Tour of the West Range of State Apartments on the Lower Floor including the Gardens

"The King at Home, Carlton House", 1825-26

This is a continuation of our fully guided 'virtual tour' of Carlton House, London. Should you not have read the earlier instalments in this series, please commence from HERE.

Should you reference this Blog elsewhere, please cite

Marked plans of each floor will show your location as you progress through each room.

To refresh our memory, we are now back in the 'Ante-Chamber' or Lower Vestibule on the Basement Floor.

Location of the Ante-Chamber or Lower Vestibule

The image below reminds us of the view as we stand by the windows and look back through the Corinthian style columns towards the entrance from the 'Great Staircase'.

The 'Ante-Chamber or Lower Vestibule'

We now turn and enter the 'Bow Room' through the folding doors which can be seen to our left.

Location of the "Bow Room"

Unfortunately there is no known engraving of the 'Bow Room'.

We do know that the Bow Sitting-Room was adorned with decoration of scarlet cloth with gold mouldings. Also placed in this room were several beautiful cabinets of ormolu, gilt tables, China vases, and candelabras of elegant design. 

Paintings in this room, being from the Flemish and Dutch Masters, included "The Wise Men's Offerings" by Rembrandt; two interiors by Teniers; "Boy with an Ass" by Van de Velde; "Sleeping Pigs" by Van de Velde; "Portrait of a Painter" by Metsu; "A Lady at a Window" by Douw, a portrait by Metzer, a Landscape by Poelemburgh; a Landscape by Berghem, a landscape by du Jardin; two interiors by Ostade; "The Assumption of the Virgin" by Reubens; "A Castle Piece" by du Jardin; "Robbers Attacking a Waggon" by Wouvermans, a self-portrait by Sir Peter Paul Reubens; a portrait of Reuben's wife by Reubens; and a self-portrait by Vandyke.  

Peter Paul Rubens -
[The Royal Collection]
Lady at a Window
by Gerrit Douw [Dou]
[The Royal Collection]

The Assumption of the Virgin
by Peter Paul Rubens
[The Royal Collection]

We now enter the 'Ante-Room to the Dining Room' (previously the Prince's 'Chinese Drawing Room') :

Location of the Ante-Chamber to the Dining Room

Again, there appears to be no later engraving of this room except for that reproduced below which dates from 1793. Originally fitted up in the Chinese style, the Prince had much of his "Chinese Room" dismantled and transferred to the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, possibly around 1811 but elements of it may have been removed as early as 1802. In 1811 many of the remaining furnishing were transferred to the Chinese themed 'Rose Satin Drawing Room' on the Principal Floor. All evidence of the previous Chinese decoration appears to have been removed. The two Chinese themed panels either side of the windows would presumably have gone to Brighton. The style of decoration thereafter is described as being "in the same elegant style as the [previously described] Bow-Room, and ornamented with a profusion of splendid articles in cabinets, vases, and ormolu, with richly gilt mouldings and candelabra." 

An Engraving of the Chinese Drawing Room at Carlton House.
 The cabinet, Chinese figure and candelabra show here are now
in Buckingham Palace. From "Cabinet Makers and Upholsterers
Drawing Book", by Thomas Sheraton, 1793.

A period observer from 1821 at least tells us that this room "is extremely interesting, from its fine chimney-piece, magnificent clock, set in marble, cabinets of ebony, valuable stones, slabs of red porphyry, and a great variety of superb porcelain vases. The sofas and chairs are richly gilt and covered with scarlet cloth, as are also the walls of this room." It is therefore unfortunate that no later engraving exists.

A chinoieserie chimneypiece, previously located in the
Chinese Drawing Room at Carlton House and
now situated in Buckingham Palace.
[Source : Country Life]

The numerous paintings displayed in this room are given as "A Conversation Piece' by Mieris; "Pan and Syrinx" by Reubens; "Hawking" by Wynants; "The Blind Fiddler" by Ostande; "A Farrier's Tent" by Wouvermans; "Cavaliers" by Cuyp; "A Lady and Parrot" by Mieris; "Maternal Affection" by Mieris; "Cattle" by Potter; "The Drummer" by Teniers; "Returning from Hawking" by Wouvermans; "An Interior" by Ostade; "Cattle" by du Jardin; "Milking" by Van de Velde; "Fishermen" by Teniers; "Domestic Employment" by Douw; "An Arbour" by Ostade; "A Poulterer's Shop" by Mieris; "A Village Fête" by Teniers; and "A Conversation Piece" by Mieris.

Pan & Syrinx
by Peter Paul Rubens
[The Royal Collection]
by David Teniers
[The Royal Collection]

We now walk through to the Dining Room.

Location of the Dining Room

Apparently used as the 'Prince's Dining Room' from at least 1795, this room is shown with chairs in the engraving below but devoid of a dining table. It no doubt became multi-use after the opening of the 'Gothic Dining Room' in 1814. The Architect has again employed the technique of painting the large flat ceiling in a scene reminiscent of a slightly cloudy sky to give the illusion of height while the columns, which actually help to 'break up' such a large room, support the 'Throne Room' above.

The Dining Room

The large Ionic columns are of scagliola in imitation of porphyry with gilt capitals and bases, while looking-glasses have been "placed in all the advantageous parts of the room". The ornaments within this room are described as being "extremely numerous" with window-curtains of scarlet silk, chairs of corresponding coloured fabric which are also richly carved and gilt.  The panelled folding doors we have just passed through at the western end are of black and gold and match the colour of the window shutters. Five folding French doors also give direct access to the front garden.

"The King at Home, Carlton House", 1825-26
The setting is the Dining Room looking through the glazed folding
doors to the Conservatory. Taken from a larger engraving drawn
by Bernard Blackmantle and published by Sherwood, Jones & Co.

Paintings include four different views of "A Calm", by Van de Velde [two of these show "the splendid yacht which usually conveys King George in his voyage between Holland and England"]; "The Billet-Doux" by Terburg; an "Interior" by Steen; "A Music Party" and "An Interior", both by Scalcken; "An Interior" by Ostade; "An Approaching Gale" by Van de Velde; and "A Merry-Making" by Steen.

Merrymaking in a Tavern
by Jan Steen
[The Royal Collection]
A Calm
by W. Van der Velde
[The Royal Collection]

Before we leave the Dining Room, we note that almost adjoining the Dining Room on the room plan above can be seen part of a circular room which matched the outline of the Dining Room / Music Room directly above. This is recorded on plans as the 'Confectioners Room' with the 'Coffee Room' on the opposite side. We know that two 'Confectioners' were employed by the Prince and one can only wonder at the delectably sweet delights they must have created. 

The western end of the 'Dining Room' is comprised of a large centrally placed double sash door but with additional sash-doors placed on each side, all being in black and gold with panelled glass [as opposed to panels at the eastern end] which open out into the absolutely breathtaking fan-vaulted Conservatory. 

Location of the Conservatory

A very talented young Architect named Thomas Hopper designed and oversaw the construction of this exquisite space in 1807-09. Hopper achieved an architectural masterpiece by utilising the neo-gothic style, modelling his design on aspects of King Henry VII's Chapel in Westminster Abbey. The design resembles a cathedral in form, having a nave and two side aisles. Constructed of cast iron with translucent glass, sunlight filtered through producing a "chaste mellow light", while also highlighting the delicately moulded ironwork. The effect, as we can glimpse below, would have been simply quite wondrous. The architectural style is know as "Florid Gothic".

The Conservatory, looking back through the
glazed doors towards the Dining Room. Here we
can appreciate the enfilade of doorways through
to the Gothic Dining Room.

"The windows are ornamented with stained glass, on which are painted the arms of all the sovereigns of England from William the First to the present reign [King George III], those of the Electoral Princes of the House of Brunswick, and all the Princes of Wales, in chronological order, inscribed with their names and dates of creation... [sixteen Princes in all from Prince Edward in 1284 to Prince George Augustus Frederick in 1762].

On the same side are emblazonments, in stained glass, of the illustrious ancestry of his present Majesty... [nineteen Rulers from Henry, Duke of Bavaria and Saxony who married Matilda, daughter of King Henry II of England, and died in 1195 to King George III, King of Great Britain, &c.&c.]  

On the windows of the south side [to correspond with the north side] are the armorial bearings of the Kings of England, in regular succession, from William I. to the present reign; the west end of the building is filled with niches, and appropriate figures; from the point of the interior arches are suspended Gothic hexagonal lanterns, ornamented with stained glass." [C.M. Westmacott, 1824]

"Tabernacle work and appropriate figures give a delicate finish to the west end of the building; among which is a most exquisitely finished piece of sculpture... in white marble by Canova,... it is a master-piece of the art. Candelabras support lamps of six burners each; and also from the arches are suspended Gothic lanterns, decorated with figures in stained glass. The pavement is composed of Portland stone." [Pierce Egan, 1821]     

The "Fountain Nymph" by Canova was joined by "Mars and Venus", also by Canova, in 1824. 

"Fountain Nymph"
by Antonio Canova, 1817
[The Royal Collection]
"Mars & Venus"
by Canova, 1822
[The Royal Collection]

On the 19th June 1811, and to celebrate his Regency, George threw a lavish party for 2,000 persons which included a long table set up in the Conservatory for two hundred of his most honoured guests :

"Along the centre of the table about six inches above the surface, a canal of pure water continued flowing from a silver fountain beautifully constructed at the head of the table. Its banks were covered with green moss aquatic flowers; gold and silver fish swam and sported through the bubbling current, which produced a pleasing murmur where it fell, and formed a cascade at the outlet. At the head of the table, above the fountain, sat his Royal Highness...on a plain mahogany chair with a feather back...." [The Gentleman's Magazine"] A full account can be found in "The Regency Fete".

The Conservatory, looking towards the end doorway
which gave access to Carlton House Gardens

 But what did our 1816 visitor have to say about this architectural masterpiece? 

"The new conservatory is a most rich display of what is called the florid Gothic style : inferior, it is true, to that master-model of this species of ornament in Henry VIIth's Chapel in Westminster Abbey; but in the groinings of the roof, the drops, or pendants, the tracery, &c. are not a disgraceful imitation of it. It is seventy-two feet in length, twenty-three feet in breadth, and twenty high.

It was built under the superintendance [sic] of Mr. Hopper. The selection and arrangement of its parts have been made with infinite judgement and taste; so that, notwithstanding their extreme richness, they are perfectly free from confusion. A great degree of cheerfulness pervades the whole, from the admission of the light from the roof; and, in this respect, it has somewhat the advantage of the chapel just mentioned, in which many of the beauties of the ornaments are hidden from the sight for want of sufficient light from above." [J.N.B., 1816] 

At the annual Carlton House Children's Ball in 1822, the [then] King George IV sat for an hour and a half in the Conservatory with Lady Conyngham and Mme de Lieven, "...while the children, including his niece Princess Victoria - danced before him and the company stood around him". Princess Victoria - later to become Queen Victoria in 1837 - would then have only been about three years of age. The King became very fond of the young Victoria who later visited him at Windsor Castle. King George IV, according to Lord Melbourne, was in fact always fond of children, buying "an enormous amount of playthings to give away as presents. His accounts are replete with bills for dolls and lead soldiers, boxes of ninepins, miniature farm yards, play houses, [and] mechanical animals...."[Hibbert]    

An early 19th century engraving showing
the exterior of the conservatory.
[Source : Wikipedia Commons] 

Notably, despite being called a 'Conservatory', no plants are shown in the above two engravings. 

"Doubtless the great banks of flowers, which were such a feature of nineteenth-century festive occasions, could be installed as and when the Prince required them.
[Ref : "Nineteenth Century Decoration- The Art of the Interior", by Charlotte Gere, 1989]    

Interestingly, it would appear that prior to the construction of the Gothic Conservatory in 1811 there existed a "Temporary Conservatory". This is referred to both in the engraving below held in the Royal Collection and a reference to an item placed in this temporary building. This earlier building would appear to fulfil our description of a 'conservatory', being full of small trees with ivy trailing up to the glass roof. It would also appear to be built up against a solid wall.

The Temporary Conservatory, Carlton House, London
 a watercolour as drawn by Humphrey Repton 1752-1818
[Source : The Royal Collection]
The Gardens :

The walled gardens at Carlton House had originally been the work of William Kent, the great Architect, Designer, Painter, and Gardener, being completed in 1734. 

Carlton House Gardens as it appeared in a coloured engraving
 by William Woollett, c.1775. This is just prior to the Prince's
occupation of Carlton House sometime after 1783

In May 1784, not long after the completion of the initial alterations, and to celebrate the return to parliament of his controversial friend, the Whig politician Charles Fox, "...nine huge marquees were put up in the gardens for an even more magnificent fête during which the guests were entertained on the newly mown grass by four bands playing triumphant airs." [Hibbert] Although the engraving below is dated 1784 there is no indication that it is set during this particular event.

Neopolitan Ballad Singers entertaining guests in
Carlton House Gardens, by Henry W. Banbury, 1784.
[Source : Wikipedia Commons]

At his Regency celebrations in 1811, "...matting had been laid over the smooth grass of the lawns; and covered walks, decorated with painted trellises, flowers and looking-glasses, had been specially built as promenades and supper galleries..."

In 1814, the Prince Regent arranged another large fête in the gardens for 2,000 guests as a personal tribute to the Duke of Wellington, "...he had a special polygonal building put up in the garden. It was a solid structure, one hundred and twenty feet in diameter, built of brick with a leaded roof; but the interior was to give the impression of summer light, airiness and festivity. This effect was achieved by painting the umbrella-shaped ceiling to resemble muslin and decorating it with gilt cords, by fixing looking-glass to the walls and hanging them with muslin draperies, and by the sparkling illumination of twelve chandeliers.... Huge banks of artificial flowers were arranged on the floor in the shape of a temple behind whose walls of petals and foliage were concealed two bands." [Hibbert] 

Elsewhere in the gardens were supper and refreshments tents and a covered promenade leading to a Corinthian temple. But rather than being a permanent structure, the 'polygonal structure' was moved to Woolwich where it then served as a weapons museum and armoury. 

A view of existing and planned improvements to the front
lawn and garden, as viewed from the Principal Floor.
Drawn by Humphrey Repton, 1808
[Source : The Royal Collection]

Although stables appear in the c.1783-84 engraving below - and the house would always of necessity have had stabling of some form or other, we know that a new stables and riding house were constructed after this date.

Our correspondent from 1816 notes a visit to the gardens and the adjoining stables :

"The gardens behind Carlton House are very beautiful, and full as retired as if in the country. At the end of the Palace are the stables, which are of brick, and semicircular : to say they are admirably contrived for the accommodation of the noble animals they contain is superfluous, when the predilection of the prince for his stud is remembered." [J.N.B., 1816]

The 'Stables' referred to, including the 'Riding House', took over three years to build, partly owing to the difficulty of obtaining timber of sufficient size during the French blockade of Continental ports but also because the Prince could not afford to pay the tradesmen due to his mounting personal debts. Finished in the Indian style around 1808 and together with the central 'Riding House' both cost over fifty-five thousand pounds. Stabling provided accommodation for fifty-five horses as well as living accommodation for the ostlers and grooms.  

An engraving (unfortunately low resolution) from c.1784-86 depicting
a crowd gathered in Carlton House Gardens, some with umbrellas, on
what appears to be a rainy day. The old stables appear at rear. But quite
why a milk-maid and cow appear in the foreground I do not know!
Drawn by John Nixon 

My references also refers to "the vast dome" or central cupola eighty-five feet wide which covered the stables, hence the need for timber of sufficient length. While our correspondent from 1816 refers to the "semicircular" stables we therefore know that the stables shown on the plan below have not already been partially reduced in size. As to the cupola, we can sadly only surmise as to its form of construction and appearance nor of the "Indian" form of the whole building.

A Plan of the Carlton House Stables drawn around 1850.
The Stables were not demolished until 1858 

After the demolition of Carlton House, the adjoining Stables and Riding House were allowed to stand for some years, being converted into a storehouse for some of the public records. It was long known as Carlton Ride. Its antiquarian contents were subsequently transferred to a building in Fetter Lane.

"The Garden side of Carlton House", 1820
[Source :]

It is recorded that also situated in the gardens were statues, a waterfall, a temple with an Italian marble floor, and even an observatory. Altogether, a 'perambulation' around the gardens must have proved most interesting. A period publication notes that upon the demolition of Carlton House the grounds were "to use a somewhat grandiloquent phrase, dis-afforested and the sweet shady side of Pall Mall marked out for public instead of Royal occupation".

This concludes the series of 'Virtual Tours' however our last Blog in this series [Click HERE to View] takes a more in-depth look at why Carlton House was pulled down and what happened to its architectural elements as well as its many exquisite fittings and treasures. 

Bibliography :

- Unless otherwise stated all images are from Wikipedia Commons and are in the Public Domain.
- Please refer to the first instalment in this series for the full bibliography.

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