Buckingham Palace is one of the most famous buildings in the world. The site of the Queen waving from the East Balcony and the changing of the guard are familiar to people around the world. But beyond the façade, Buckingham Palace has a fascinating and rich history.
Added to by various monarchs and decorated by others, Buckingham Palace in its current state is the result of hundreds of years of work and input from innumerable people. And the palace is only a short journey from The Chilworth London Paddington, so you don’t have to go far to see it.
So, with all this in mind, let’s dive in to the history behind this most famous of buildings.
Before Buckingham Palace was home to royalty – and before it was even a palace – it was known as Buckingham House.
The core of today’s palace is still the same large townhouse that the Duke of Buckingham built back in 1703. At that time, the land where the palace now sits had been in the Buckingham family for more than 150 years and the duke thought it the perfect place to set up home.
However, the duke’s son – Sir Charles Sheffield – sold the house and surrounding land to King George III in 1761 for the not-small sum of £21,000. Today, with the site in such a commanding position and so close to the many restaurants near Paddington, this seems like a steal.
From Home to Palace
Designating the home the new residence of his wife Charlotte, George III quickly changed the name of Buckingham House to ‘Queen’s House’. Renovation was soon underway, turning the house into a home fit for royalty.
In 1820, George IV abandoned the notion of a small royal getaway and began expanding the property into a full-blown palace. Even though George IV was the first monarch to make Queen’s House into a royal palace, the term ‘Buckingham Palace’ had been in use since at least the early 1790s. Working with architect John Nash, George IV eventually came to realise the huge sums the renovation was costing and promptly fired Nash. It fell, then, to George’s son – William IV – to finish off the palace.
As an interesting aside, William IV seriously considered turning the palace into the new Houses of Parliament after the original was destroyed in a fire in 1834. For whatever reason – perhaps he just liked his palace too much to give it up – he ultimately decided against this course of action.
Victoria and Official Royal Residence
Ascending to the throne in 1837, Queen Victoria wasted no time making Buckingham Palace the official royal residence.
However, Victoria did not find a seamless pleasure palace, but a building that had significant problems. William IV had spent a great deal of time and money making the interiors look very royal, but the chimneys smoked so much a good fire was impossible, the interior ventilation was so poor the palace smelled and there was a very real risk of carbon monoxide poisoning from the poorly-fitted gas lamps. By 1840, however, Victoria and her husband Albert had squashed all these problems and began a life of true royal luxury.
Plush, decadent and stunningly beautiful, today the palace draws millions of visitors every year, and it’s easy to see why. And you won’t have any trouble seeing it with our London hotels deals special offers.
Even though the palace has seen modern updates in terms of heating and plumbing, today’s Buckingham Palace is much the same as it was during the era of Queen Victoria.