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Royals & Architecture

Updated: Dec 20, 2022


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Throughout England’s different epochs, the construction & design of her buildings has undergone a labyrinth of prominent shifts through social & political reflection.

The 6 main factors that have influenced, and continue to influence, architectural design in the United Kingdom are...

1. Budget

2. Culture

3. Climate

4. Religion

5. Geography

6. Technology


In the latter years, codes & regulations, along with social & community concerns, have all played their part in providing a further dynamic to the decision-making process of construction. As we say goodbye to 2022, and in memory of Queen Elizabeth II, we look at how the establishment has influenced architecture, and review some of the buildings.


The record-breaking legacy of Her Majesty, our late Queen Elizabeth II, is evident in the field of British architecture. While she was less vocal than others before her, about architecture, we'll come on to her son shortly, she was present for the opening of many famous British & Commonwealth buildings and cut her fair share of red ribbons, opening numerous public buildings across the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, in her role as head of state.

The Queen opened modernist buildings designed by Basil Spence and Frederick Gibberd, brutalist structures by Powell & Moya and Denys Lasdun, and high-tech creations by Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, as well as more recent contemporary structures by Herzog & de Meuron and WilkinsonEyre. These include:

(1955) - The Queen's Building, Heathrow, England, (Frederick Gibberd)

(1962) - The Commonwealth Institute, London, England, (RMJM)

(1962) - Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England, (Basil Spence)

(1963) - New Zealand House, London, England, (RMJM)

(1968) - Euston station, London, (William Robert Headley & Ray Moorcroft)

(1973) - Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia, (Jørn Utzon)

(1976) - Museum of London, London, England, (Powell & Moya)

(1976) - Royal National Theatre, London, England, (Denys Lasdun)

(1977) - The Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand, (Basil Spence)

(1982) - Barbican Centre, London, (Chamberlin, Powell & Bon)

(1986)- Lloyd’s building, London, (Richard Rogers)

(1988) - Parliament House, Australia, (Mitchell Giurgola & Thorp Architects)

(1991) - Stansted Airport, Stansted, (Foster + Partners)

(1998)- Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, (Benson + Forsyth)

(1998) - British Library, London, England, (Colin St John Wilson & MJ Long)

(2000) - Tate Modern, London, England, (Herzog & de Meuron)

(2000) - Great Court at the British Museum, London (Foster + Partners)

(2002) - Gateshead Millennium Bridge, Newcastle, England, (Wilkinson Eyre)

(2004) - Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh, Scotland, (EMBT & RMJM)

(2006) - Senedd Cymru, Cardiff, Wales, by RSHP


Whilst our late Queen was heavily involved in the inaugurations of many UK establishments, King Charles III is an avid fan of architecture; a fact that came to light in 1984 when the then-Prince added his views to Ahrends Burton Koralek’s “high-tech” plans for an extension to the National Gallery. The royal described the architectural designs as “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend.” King Charles’ comments effectively condemned the proposal alongside a suggestion from Mies van der Rohe for a 19-storey tower in the heart of the Square Mile, which Charles described as a “giant glass stump, better suited to downtown Chicago than the City of London.”

Under his previous title of Prince of Wales, Britain's new monarch exerted significant influence on the built environment through campaigning and designing his own traditional towns. As a vocal critic of modernist architecture, he scuppered schemes by architectural heavyweights including Richard Rogers (three times), and Ludvig Mies van der Rohe, and prevented modernist additions from being built at the National Gallery and Royal Opera House.

As Rogers was later quoted as saying: "Charles knows little about architecture. He sees this debate as a battle of the styles, which is against the run of history because architecture evolves and moves, mirroring society."

He was equally vocal in his support for traditional architecture, with articles, speeches, a TV documentary and even a book all dedicated to promoting its cause. How times have now changed. With society waking up to sustainability, home-grown building skills, nearly forgotten in the annals of time, and a focus on community infrastructure, it seems our latest King has been drumming a tune we’re now turning our heads to.

Charles has also put his money where his mouth was and backed the development of several traditional towns, with Poundbury being the most notable.

Planned by Leon Krier, with a central square designed by Quinlan Terry, Poundbury is an extension to the town of Dorchester for 6,000 people built on Duchy of Cornwall lands, which Charles controlled.

The classical aesthetic has been described by some as a theme park model village; however, the development has proved popular with residents and is beginning to win over its critics. In a 2016 piece on the town, Guardian critic Oliver Wainwright wrote "it's getting a lot of things right".

Following the principles laid out at Poundbury, an addition to the Cornish town of Newquay called Nansledan is now being developed. Charles also recently announced a "landscape-led" new town in Faversham, Kent.

The key thread connecting all of Charles' architectural interventions has remained a desire to promote traditional architecture over modern designs, which he has done in numerous ways.

Along with his speeches, he translated his ideals into a BBC documentary called HRH Prince Of Wales: A Vision of Britain, which was later published as a book. Charles also published his 10 principles for architecture in the magazine Architecture Review in 2014. His vocal interventions contributed to a feeling of animosity between classical and modern architects, which has been described as a style war. Charles alluded to this in a 2009 speech given at RIBA to mark the institution's 175th anniversary.

"There is something I've been itching to say about the last time I addressed your institute, in 1984; and that is that I am sorry if I somehow left the faintest impression that I wished to kick-start some kind of 'style war', between classicists and modernists; or that I somehow wanted to drag the world back to the 18th century," he said. "All I asked for was room to be given to traditional approaches to architecture and urbanism."

Looking further back in time at some of the most cherished buildings our previous prominent Royal figures have been involved with…


King William I (Reign: 1066-1087)

Legacy: Tower of London, Windsor Castle, New Forest, 20+ castles, Lincoln, Durham, Chichester & Ely Cathedrals

To your average autocratic monarch, dictator, tyrant, or property developer architecture serves as a useful physical manifestation of symbolic power. However, William the Conqueror was a calculating tactician and understood that architecture could also serve a clear strategic function: defence.

After overcoming the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings, one of the king’s first policy decisions was to ensure that no other invader could do the same to him. So, he set out building an impregnable phalanx of castles across the land and in so doing hard-wired the concept of fortification into the DNA of English architecture for the next 500 years.

Ironically, in the centuries that followed, much of the militaristic apparatus of this strategy, such as turrets, battlements, drawbridges, and moats, became inextricably linked with an idyllic, highly romanticised view of medieval England whose mythological allure enthralled Victorian culture and still manages to captivate historians and Hollywood producers alike to this day.

In the frenzy of church and cathedral building the king initiated to cement his power among his newly appointed bishops, the king also introduced Romanesque architecture into England from the continent. Its English variant, the Norman style, gave life to some of Europe’s most spectacular ecclesiastical architecture and laid the foundations for the glories of the Gothic age that followed.

Finally, for relaxation the king liked hunting so ordered the planting of extensive woodland in Hampshire. Unfortunately for him two of his sons were killed there. Fortunately for us the New Forest is the largest remaining tract of unenclosed pastureland in crowded south-east England.

The Battle of Hastings has become a part of English folklore. William the Conqueror’s contribution to the fact that England has never been successfully invaded since 1066, and his transformation of our physical, as well as our political, landscape deserve a place there too.

In 1078, on the orders of William the Conqueror, the construction of the White Tower–a symbol of Norman dominance–was begun. Though its defining whitewash is all but gone, this building is today considered the “hall keep” of the Tower of London complex. The King’s College Chapel (Henry VI) was begun in 1446, witnessed the Wars of the Roses, and was finished in 1515 by Henry VIII. This classic example of late Gothic architecture also marks the beginning of a transitional period in building styles.


The 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries:

Under the rule of the Tudor monarchy, England found peace and prosperity. Architecture saw the final stages of Medieval design, and the development of more refined architecture, such as the depressed arch and fan vaulting. The King’s College Chapel, of course, is famous for its Tudor Arch. There are many examples of Tudor and Elizabethan architecture throughout Great Britain, including Hampton Court Palace and Hardwick Hall.

In the 1600’s, Palladianism, (based loosely on a philosophy centred around a 16th Century Italian architect named Andreas Palladio), inspired such English architects as Inigo Jones, who designed the Queen’s House in Greenwich for the wife of James I. Of the Classical styles, Palladian architecture is the most unremarkable, though it was easily ahead of its time.

In the 18th Century, England witnessed a new era and new styles when King George I and the Whigs took the throne. An example of implemented change may be found in Chiswick House, which may be considered Lord Burlington’s attempt to challenge the popularity of Baroque styles.

Buckingham Palace: Originally purchased by her husband, King George III in 1761, Queen Charlotte may have considered Buckingham House a comfortable place to raise her 15 children. Remodelling of what was then called “the Queen’s House” began in 1762. The estate has undergone several changes since then: in the 1820’s, George IV demolished and replaced the north and south wings, and added the Marble Arch; after her marriage to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria added nurseries in the 1840’s; the famous forecourt where the “Changing of the Guard” commences, as well as many gates and railings, was added around 1911, and in 1913, the Palace received a facelift to remove damage caused by soot.


King James I (Reign: 1603-1625)

Legacy: Queen’s House Greenwich

The Stuarts were an incredibly cultured bunch. Charles I amassed Europe’s greatest art collection and had plans to transform Whitehall Palace into the biggest palace in the world (which were interrupted by the minor inconvenience of his beheading).

Between siring an estimated 18 illegitimate children, Charles II commissioned Wren to rebuild St Paul’s Cathedral and, in bequeathing several of London’s royal parks to its citizens established the libertarian principles for which the capital’s public realm has since become famous. Towards the end of the period, even William III, who was a military obsessive and considered every minute not spent pounding Frenchmen on a battlefield wasted, transformed Tudor Hampton Court into England’s royal version of Versailles.

But it was James I who changed the course of British cultural and architectural history forever. In 1616 he commissioned legendary English architect Inigo Jones to design a small palace for his Danish queen. The building Jones created came to be known as the Queen’s House in Greenwich and it was the first classical building in Britain.

To Jacobean eyes the whitewashed walls, unadorned roofline and orthogonal proportions of the Queen’s House might as well have been an extra-terrestrial visitation. While our own royals may actively nurture a reputation for conservatism, it is incredible to think that 400 years ago it was the king who was at the forefront of pioneering futuristic and radical design.

It is hard to overstate the impact of the Queen’s House. In the early 17th century England was still clinging stubbornly to renaissance variations of what was essentially still the Gothic style while the rest of Europe was surging ahead with classicism. By the time the first brick for the Queen’s House was laid St Peter’s in Rome was already 110 years old.

The Queen’s House dragged England kicking and screaming into the classical age and ultimately the modern world.


King George IV (Reign: 1820-1830)

Legacy: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Marble Arch, London’s West End, Regent’s Park, Brighton Pavilion, Regent’s Canal, London Zoo, King’s College, National Gallery. George IV was decadent, dissolute, and debauched and led the kind of hedonistic, extravagant lifestyle that makes today’s oligarchs and celebrities look like choirboys. During his long stint as Prince of Wales and later Prince Regent he was the ultimate caricature of the playboy party prince and his enormous appetite for profligacy, gluttony and licentiousness enraged parliament, delighted satirists, and allegedly earned him a monumentally regal 56-inch waist.

But despite the king’s best efforts, there was more to him than wine, women, and gambling. He was not only a prolific patron of architecture and the arts but a paragon of fashion, style, and taste. Moreover, in the Regency, he leant his title to one of the most enduring cultural movements of the 18th and 19th centuries and helped found both the National Gallery and King’s College. Even the famously irascible Duke of Wellington - far more at home on a battlefield than in a ballroom - dubbed him the “First Gentleman of Europe”.

Critical to the king’s architectural influence was his friendship with and patronage of the great Regency architect John Nash, arguably the most successful public private partnership in British construction history. Together they created Buckingham Palace, London’s Regent’s Park and its spectacular terraces, Regent Street and Brighton Pavilion and laid the foundations for an unbuilt summer palace that eventually became London Zoo. By developing crown and commercial lands in central London the duo forged much of the urban character of the West End today and transformed London from a renaissance capital into an imperial metropolis. Paris is often considered the epitome of the formally planned classical city. But the sweeping urbanism of Haussmann’s Grand Boulevards was directly inspired by the parks, streets and terraces of Regency London produced 50 years earlier.

When the king died The Times, with barely concealed euphoria that today’s Murdoch-press would never dare emulate, declared: “There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow-creatures.” What they couldn’t possibly know at the time was that, despite his deep personal flaws, George IV had arguably had the biggest direct impact on English and European architecture and urbanism of any British monarch before him or since.

St James’s Palace was built by Henry VIII as the residence of the heir to the throne, a function it retained until 1702 when Queen Anne made it into the principal London house of the monarchy. In common with many of the lesser houses built by Henry, St James’s was already a substantial comfortable manor house, once a leper hospital, but granted to Eton College by Henry VI as the London residence of their provost. George I, II and III all used St. James’s as their principal residence when in London. No significant alterations were made, but George III acquired Buckingham House as residence for his queen giving up Somerset House to the government.

Under the Georges there were once again Princes of Wales and because St James’s had now become the principal residence of the sovereign, they had to rent houses in the West End. As Prince of Wales George IV built himself Carlton House in the former gardens of St James’s and, when he became King, decided to convert the queen’s house (Buckingham House) into a more comfortable, and larger, private residence for himself. The state rooms at St. James’s were enlarged and redecorated at this time. Buckingham House was occupied from 1837 and St. James’s then ceased to be the place where monarchs lived, although it retains the distinction of being the official seat of the British Royal court and family.


Clarence House

Clarence House was built between 1825 and 1827 to the designs of John Nash as the new London home of George III’s third son, Prince William Henry, Duke of Clarence, and his wife Adelaide (the future William IV). The house incorporated the south-western corner of the Tudor buildings of St James’s Palace.

The house created by Nash was a bright, stuccoed mansion of classical proportions. Facing west on to Stable Yard Road, it had three storeys above a basement and a hipped slate roof. There was a double portico at the centre of the new west front, leading to the entrance hall (now the library), which in turn connected with a long corridor or gallery running the whole width of the house. To either side of the entrance hall, Nash created a Breakfast Room (now the Morning Room) and Dining Room, with three principal reception rooms directly above on the first floor. The interior of Clarence House was plain in comparison to Nash’s designs for Buckingham Palace. Ornamental plasterwork was confined to the reception rooms on the first floor, which were hung with crimson damask.

Nash made numerous alterations to his original plan as work proceeded, and the final cost of £22,232 was more than double what he had originally estimated.


Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace was once a small and suburban villa, known as Nottingham House. New monarchs William III and Mary II chose this modest mansion in 1689 to be their country retreat. Over the years, Stuart and Georgian monarchs transformed the palace into a fashionable home for Britain’s young royal families.

Queen Caroline shaped the palace and gardens, and Queen Victoria spent her childhood here. She left to live in Buckingham Palace in 1837. Kensington later became home for minor royals, including her daughter, the talented sculptor Princess Louise.

More recently, the palace has been home to Diana, Princess of Wales, Princess Margaret and The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It is also the London home of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children.


Ivy Cottage, Wren House, and Nottingham Cottage

These smaller properties on the grounds of Kensington Palace have been popular homes in the royal family for years. Nottingham Cottage was the former home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle before they moved into Frogmore Cottage. Prince William and Catherine Middleton also resided in the cottage before moving into Apartment 1A.

Ivy Cottage is currently the first home of Princess Eugenie and her husband, Jack Brooksbank. Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, lives at Wren House with his wife, Katherine Worsley.


Windsor Castle

For over 900 years, the crown-owned Windsor Castle has acted as both a private home and an official royal residence for the United Kingdom’s monarchs. Inside the property is the famous St. George’s Chapel, the location where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle married in May 2018 and Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbanks married in October 2018. Queen Elizabeth would spend weekends at Windsor Castle away from the bustle of London. The Queen also stayed at the castle for a month over Easter during a period known as Easter Court.

Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years.

Some of the greatest treasures in the Royal Collection can be seen in the Castle’s magnificent State Apartments. The Royal Archives, the Royal Photograph Collection, the Print Room, and the Royal Library are all based here. The Castle grounds cover 13 acres.

There were more than one million visitors to the Castle between 2010 and 2011. St George’s Hall is the biggest room in the Castle. It is 55.5m long and 9m wide and can seat up to 162 for a State Banquet. 40 monarchs, including Her Majesty the Queen, have called the Castle home. The motte on which the Round Tower sits is the oldest part of the Castle. The newest part is the Lantern Lobby in the State Apartments. The oldest glazed window in the Castle dates to approximately 1236. It is thought to have been a wedding gift from King Henry III to his wife Eleanor of Provence. The Great Fire at Windsor started on 20 November 1992. It took 15 hours and 1.5million gallons of water to put it out. The fire damaged or destroyed 20% of the Castle area. The Great Kitchen at Windsor is the oldest working kitchen in the country and has served 33 monarchs, currently being served by 33 kitchen staff, 20 chefs and sous chefs, 3 pastry chefs and 10 porters. The clocks in the Great Kitchen are always five minutes fast to ensure that the food served to the monarch is never late. The whisk in the kitchen can hold up to 250 eggs at one time. Some 18,000 bottles of wine are kept in the cellar. During the reign of George IV, the 'Round' Tower was raised by some 30ft to improve the Castle’s skyline and to fit in with his romantic ideal of a Gothic castle. It is not actually round.


Fort Belvedere

A part of the Windsor Estate, Fort Belvedere was built in the Gothic Revival style by English architect Jeffry Wyatville in the 1820’s. Most famously, the manor house served as the royal residence for Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor, between 1929 and 1936. During his stay, the then-Prince renovated many of the rooms to include more contemporary details and added horse stables, a swimming pool, and tennis courts. It was there that Edward signed his written abdication notice, stripping him from his royal title and his home.

A few others have lived in the manor house, but recently, rumours have started that the forgotten castle may become the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's official new home.


Balmoral Castle

Five years after ascending the throne Queen Victoria made her first visit to Scotland. The ancient palace of Holyrood House was in no condition to receive her and so she stayed instead at Dalkeith Palace belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch. She and Prince Albert adored Scotland, the Prince remarking that Dalkeith and its residents reminded him of home and ‘very German-looking’. In 1847 they rented Ardverikie on the shores of Loch Laggan but the next year, based on three watercolours showing a house they had never visited, they took a 27-year lease on Balmoral Castle. Although the house had a seventeenth century core what the royal couple had bought was a ’castle’ remodelled by John Smith of Aberdeen, often known as ‘Tudor Johnny’ because of his liking of sixteenth and seventeenth century architectural styles.

Victoria and Albert’s house remains virtually unchanged from its form in 1901 when the Queen died. There is an enormous ball room 68ft by 25ft. The estate was, at first 10,000 acres, in 1849 another 14,000 were added and when the next-door estate of Birkhall was added the total size reached 30,000, not particularly large amongst the great Scottish estates.


Birkhall

Birkhall, a 6,000-acre estate with an early eighteenth-century house, is the neighbouring estate to Balmoral purchased by Prince Albert in 1849. The idea was for it to be a separate, but nearby, Scottish home for the future Edward VII. He seems not to have cared for it and the queen bought it back in 1885 and it became the residence of Sir Dighton Probyn Keeper of the Privy Purse to Edward VII.

In the 1930s The Duke of York (the future George VI) asked whether he and the Duchess could rent a house near Balmoral, and they were granted Birkhall where they set up a Scottish home retaining much of the old furniture and pictures. Here the Queen and Princess Margret spent many holidays.


Craigowan Lodge

Technically on the grounds of the Balmoral estate, Craigowan Lodge is a more rustic stone cottage about a mile from the main castle.

Then-Prince Charles and Princess Diana would often opt to stay in the seven-bedroom house during their visits to the Scottish countryside.


The Castle of Mey

As depicted in the first season of The Crown, The Queen Mother purchased deteriorating Barrogill Castle in 1952 after seeing it on her visit with Commander and Lady Doris Vyner. After extensive renovations of the castle and gardens in 1955, Her Majesty made the decision to restore the structure's original name, The Castle of Mey. Today, the property is under the stewardship of The Prince's Foundation, which recently opened The Granary Lodge Bed & Breakfast on the grounds.


Dolphin House

While he may be currently leasing it out, the island of Tresco was technically owned by Prince Charles as it's a part of his Duchy of Cornwall. This means the dreamy Dolphin House, which many members of the royal member flock to for vacation, is also owned by the family. Hidden behind a walled garden, the former rectory offers impeccable views of Round Island Lighthouse from each of its six bedrooms. The best part: you can rent out this idyllic Scilly residence for yourself.


Sandringham House

As Edward Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria, approached the age of twenty Prince Albert began the search for a suitable country seat for his son. He had already been promised Marlborough House in London, but a country house was for his health and sanity, a refuge from the whirl of London life. Several estates for sale were considered but, in the end, Sandringham was chosen, perhaps partly because it belonged, at the time, to the near-bankrupt stepson of the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston. The prince purchased the estate in 1862, the year after the premature death of his father. He paid £220,000 for a 29-bedroom mansion dating from the early 1770s and 5,500 acres of land. The prince immediately started to improve the estate and, after his marriage to Princess Alexandra, started both to entertain there and enjoy the hunting and shooting. His architect was the now forgotten Albert Jenkins Humbert who started work on building new lodges, stables, and cottages. It was not until 1868 that he was instructed to abandon plans to extend the old house and knock it down. Of the old house some chimneys were kept, the conservatory preserved and the Princesses sitting room retained. The rest was replaced in a building campaign lasting three years, the prince taking up residence in time for Christmas 1870. Since 1977 it has been open to the public.


Hampton Court Palace

One of the most iconic of British Royal Residences. Hampton Court was originally one of the farms belonging to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem. In the 14C. Hampton Court was used by the royal family as a staging post to the Black Prince’s house at Byfleet, in the 15C. as a steppingstone to the Lancastrian house at Sheen and in the early 16C. as a base for Richmond.

It was purchased by Thomas, Cardinal, Wolsey, in 1514 to be his private country residence, close to the King at Richmond. Wolsey transformed what had been a modest house into one of the largest and most impressive houses in England. What remains of his work today is, most impressively, the outer courtyard set aside for his guests. When Henry VIII took Hampton Court from Wolsey in September 1529 it is doubtful that he had properly formulated his plans for the building. But it is likely that in the next two or three years he decided to turn it into his most important and lavish country palace. Building works to do this continued for eight years and cost £47,000, making it one of the single most expensive royal building projects ever. Jacob Rathgeb tells us that ‘This is the most splendid and magnificent royal palace that may be found in England or indeed in any other kingdom’.


Highgrove House

The house was originally styled ‘High Grove’ and was built between 1796 and 1798 on the site of an older property. In Georgian neo-classical style, its most likely architect was Anthony Keck, a local mason. Immediately before HM The King's arrival, Highgrove was the home of Maurice Macmillan, son of Harold Macmillan, who was the British Prime Minister in the 1950s and early 1960s. His Majesty the King Charles III came to Highgrove in 1980 and the house and gardens have since undergone many thoughtful innovations. When His Majesty first arrived, Highgrove possessed little more than a neglected kitchen garden, an overgrown cop, some pastureland, and a few hollow oaks.

Today, after the hard work of many people, an interlinked series of gardens now unfolds in a succession of personal and inspiring tableaux, each reflecting HM The King's interests and enthusiasms. Highgrove now welcomes up to 40,000 visitors a year.

Above all, Highgrove is the family home of Their Majesties the King Charles III and The Queen Consort.


Gatcombe Park

Gatcombe Park is nestled between the villages of Minchinhampton (to which it belongs) and Avening in Gloucestershire.

This 700-acre royal estate is home to the late Queen’s only daughter and her family, and regularly hosts equestrian events held by the Princess.

Built in the late 18th century to the designs of George Basevi, it is a Grade II* listed building.

The grounds of Gatcombe Park are known in the eventing world for hosting the Festival of British Eventing every year, over the first weekend in August. Organised originally by Mark Phillips, with considerable input from Princess Anne, the event now attracts the world's top equestrian Olympians and over 40,000 paying spectators, as well as BBC Television coverage. Two smaller horse trials, in the spring and autumn, also take place on the estate, with courses designed by Princess Anne, and there is a biannual craft fair, with around 160 exhibitors, in May and October.


We have mentioned only a few Royal residences and architectural buildings influenced by the British Monarchy, past and present. Notable absentees from our blog include...


Adelaide Cottage

The old keeper's lodge on the Windsor estate converted in 1830 for Queen Adelaide, wife of William IV.

Ampthill

The royal house of Ampthill, Bedfordshire, though now completely forgotten was once one of Henry VIII’s favourite houses.

Ashridge

After the dissolution of the monasteries, Ashridge became one of Henry VIII's favoured nursery houses, with all his children spending time there.

Audley End

One of the largest houses to be built in James I's reign, Audley End House was acquired by Charles II after the Civil War.

Bagshot Lodge

A foresters' lodge reconstructed by James I and extended by Inigo Jones for Charles I, the house was situated in the wider Windsor hunting grounds.

Bagshot Park

Commissioned by one of Queen Victoria's sons, the Duke of Connaught, the house is currently leased to Prince Edward.

Baynard’s Castle

Baynard’s Castle was a large 15th century riverside mansion in the City of London which Henry VII extended and granted to the queen’s consort.

Beaulieu (New Hall)

Beaulieu, sometimes known as New Hall, was an Essex country house that Henry VIII purchased, expanded, and furnished with fine tapestries.

Beddington

Site of secret meetings between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Beddington was taken by the king when the house's owner was executed for treason.

Bridewell

This royal residence started life as Thomas Wolsey's first major building project, before hosting Henry VIII's parliament twice in the 1520s

Brooke House (Hackney)

Bought by Henry VIII from "the unthrifty earl", the manor house had a fine hall and chapel which was bombed in WWII

Byfleet

A medieval timber framed house extensively rebuilt for King Edward II; it became a hunting lodge for Henry VIII

Canterbury

A monastic property on the route between London and Dover converted into a royal residence entered through a handsome gatehouse

Carlton House

A major renovation project of George IV before he became king and switched his attention to Buckingham Palace.

Charing

One of the houses Henry VIII exchanged with Thomas Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury, the king liked its location between London and the south coast.

Clarendon

One of the most important royal domestic sites in England, continuously in use as a residence by monarchs from the 11th to the 15th century

Collyweston House

The country seat of Lady Margaret Beaufort, the Countess of Richmond, Henry VII's mother, remains relatively unknown.

Dartford

One of the former monastic residences that Henry VIII converted into royal accommodation after the suppression of the monasteries.

Dover

One of the great royal fortresses of England, the site of the castle has been used as a fort since before the Romans.

Dunstable

Famously the chapter house that Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon was pronounced null and void.

Durham House

The London residence of the Bishops of Durham. The buildings, started in the 14th century included a great hall on the waterfront of the Thames.

Eltham Palace

A favoured royal residence for nearly two centuries, Eltham Palace occupied an elevated site in southeast London just four miles from Greenwich.

Esher Place

Esher was one of the manors belonging to the exceedingly rich bishopric of Winchester conveniently located on the road from Winchester to London.

Fotheringhay

One of Edward IV's favourite country seats, it became the site of Mary Queen of Scot's imprisonment, trial, and execution.

Grafton Regis

Grafton Manor was a house set on rising ground in Northamptonshire improved by Elizabeth I

Guildford

One of the most important residences for the early medieval kings, halfway between Westminster and Winchester and a day's ride from London.

Holyrood House

Of all Queen Elizabeth II’s palaces the palace of Holyrood House can claim, with Windsor, to be the most venerable.

Hull

One of the sites in northeast England that Henry VIII fortified against a potential attack by the Papal powers of Europe.

Hunsdon House

A splendid mansion in Hertfordshire acquired by Henry VIII, almost completely rebuilt in the early 1800’s.

Kenilworth Castle

Kenilworth in Warwickshire was chosen by Henry VIII as one of the great ancestral castles of the realm.

Kew Palace

Kew, like Hampton Court, became important because of its proximity to Richmond Palace. The Palace was a favourite of George III and his Queen.

Leeds Castle

A Norman lodging on a strategic route, owned by a succession of queens until it was refurbished for Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle was one of the first generation of stone fortresses built after the Norman Conquest.

Newmarket

Charles II built the first stables at Newmarket and by doing so founded England’s most venerable training establishment

Nonsuch Palace

A royal palace, now completely lost, built to be without equal by Henry VIII during his architecturally profligate reign.

Nottingham Castle

For six hundred years Nottingham Castle was one of the most important royal castles in England, guarding the bridge on the river Trent.

Oatlands Palace

Few people have heard of Oatlands Palace, but in the 1500’s and 1600’s it was as well-known as Hampton Court, royal residence of successive queens.

Osborne House

Sir Robert Peel helped Queen Victoria and Prince Albert find the Osborne estate in 1844, which they turned into a large and comfortable family home.

Otford

Otford was one of Tudor England's largest houses, comparable in size to Hampton Court, before falling into disrepair in the 17th century.

Pontefract Castle

The most important castle in the North of England during the Civil War, with 15th century royal lodgings.

Richmond / Sheen

Starting as Edward III's riverside retreat and rebuilt by Henry V, it was one of Elizabeth I's favourite residences and where she died in 1603.

Royal Pavilion Brighton

A project of George, Prince of Wales (later George IV), the three building phases created the elaborate structure we have today.

Royal Train

The railways made a huge difference to the way monarchs used their houses, with Edward VII's train becoming, in effect, a mobile palace.

Royston

An unusual palace comprising town centre lodgings favoured and developed by James I

Somerset House

Between 1603 and 1692 Somerset House was the official residence of the Queen of England and one of the most controversial buildings in Britain.

Theobalds

Originally built by William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth I's chief minister, it was an unusual courtier house which became one of James I's favourite houses

Whitehall Palace

Principal official residence of Henry VIII designed across a busy road in London, the palace covered much of the area that still bears its name.

Winchester

A magnificent royal house commissioned by Charles II on the site of a medieval castle, designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren.

Windsor

The longest occupied royal residence in Britain, Windsor Castle has been at the centre of court life for more than one thousand years.

Woking

A royal possession from before the Norman Conquest, the substantial house in the Thames valley was favoured by three Tudor monarchs.

Woodstock

Woodstock, Oxfordshire, was one of England’s oldest royal houses occupied by the Saxon monarchs before the Norman Conquest

Sources: Royal.uk, Royal Palaces: Simon Thurley, Royal Collection Trust, Dezeen, Building.co.uk, hrs.org.uk


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