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Buckingham Palace
The Mall, London, UK
Buckingham Palace
associated engineer
Not known
Thomas Cubitt
date  1762, 1820 - 1847, 1914, 2002
era  Georgian  |  category  Building  |  reference  TQ289797
photo  Paul Cliff
Now the London residence of the United Kingdom's reigning monarch, Buckingham Palace began life as a non-royal country house, which seems far-fetched nowadays given its central location. The building was remodelled extensively in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Originally called Buckingham House, the future palace was bought by King George III in 1761 for use as a family home near his official residence, St James’s Palace. It was named Queen’s House in 1774, and Queen Charlotte gave birth here to 14 of the king’s 15 children.
The first remodelling began in 1762, to designs by Sir William Chambers costing £73,000. In 1820, King George IV ascended the throne and engaged architect John Nash to reconstruct the house. Some time near the end of 1826, the king decided to transform the house into a royal palace.
Nash doubled the size of the main house by adding a suite of new rooms on the garden (west) side. The external façade was faced with Bath stone, in the French neo-classical style the king preferred, and remains intact today. The original north and south wings were demolished and rebuilt to grander plans. The courtyard was enlarged to accommodate a memorial to the British victories at Trafalgar (1805) and Waterloo (1815) — the famous Marble Arch (now relocated).
By 1829, the unfinished works had cost parliament close to £500,000 and Nash was dismissed. When King William IV (George IV’s younger brother) became king in 1830, he commissioned Edward Blore to complete the long-running project.
The first monarch to reside in Buckingham Palace was Queen Victoria, following her accession in 1837. There were no nurseries and not enough bedrooms, which became a problem after the queen’s marriage to Prince Albert in 1840.
To create space for additional accommodation, Marble Arch was moved to its present position near Speakers’ Corner at Hyde Park — ready for the Great Exhibition of 1851. A fourth (east) wing was then constructed, creating a quadrangle. The East Front was faced with soft French stone. An attic storey was added to the main (west) wing, and the friezes intended for Marble Arch were used as external decoration.
Blore and his engineer, Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855), completed the works in 1847 for £106,000 with funds raised from the sale of the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
Between 1911 and 1914, as part of the Victoria Memorial, the present palace forecourt was laid out and the gates and railings were installed.
In 1913, Sir Aston Webb was engaged to devise a replacement façade for the East Front, which had deteriorated under the acid attack of London soot. He chose to use Portland Stone, and removing the original stonework and replacing it with the new design was completed during 13 weeks in 1914.
A private chapel adjoining the south west corner of Buckingham Palace was bombed in World War II (1939-45), and converted into the Queen’s Gallery in the 1960s. It displays items from the royal collection. To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee, the gallery was enlarged and refurbished extensively and was reopened by the queen on 21st May 2002.
In addition to the gallery, the project included work on the garden pavilion bridge link, the new entrance hall, the eight-columned portico and the Nash staircase. Bath and Portland stone were used for the new stonework. The contract value was £1,100,000.
In the south of the royal gardens, south west of the palace, lie the Royal Mews where the state vehicles, carriages and coaches are kept.
The palace is open to the paying public between July and September. The State Rooms are almost unchanged since Nash’s remodelling.
The Changing of the Guard ceremony takes place at 11.30am in the palace forecourt — daily in April, May, June and July, and on alternate days during the other months (weather permitting).
Architect (1762): Sir William Chambers
Architect (1820-9): John Nash
Architect (1830-47): Edward Blore
Architect (Queen's Gallery 2002): John Simpson & Partners
Research: ECPK

Buckingham Palace