Posts Tagged ‘The Prince Regent’

Carlton House was the town house of the Prince Regent for several decades from 1783 until it was demolished forty years later. It faced the south side of Pall Mall, and its gardens abutted St. James’s Park in the St James’s district of London. The location of the house, now replaced by Carlton House Terrace, was a main reason for the creation of John Nash’s ceremonial route from St James’s to Regent’s Park via Regent Street, All Souls, Langham Place and Park Square. Lower Regent Street and Waterloo Place were originally laid out to form the approach to its front entrance

An existing early eighteenth century house had been sold in 1732 to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and son of George I. William Kent had been employed to lay out the garden of which no trace remains. Frederick’s widow, Augusta, enlarged the house, had the entrance gates and porter’s lodge redesigned and a colonnaded porch built. She died in 1772 and for some years the house was unoccupied.

Portrait of The Prince of Wales, later King George IV (1762 – 1830) 1790. John Russell RA

In 1783 George III handed the house over, with £60,000 to refurbish it, to George, Prince of Wales on his coming of age. During the following years the interiors were remodelled and refurnished on a palatial scale.

Carlton House ca.1825. As published in Britton and Pugin, Public Buildings of London. 1825. Patrick has worked on elements from the areas marked with a cross

Initially Sir William Chambers was appointed as architect, but he was quickly replaced by Henry Holland. Both Chambers and Holland were proponents of the French neoclassical style of architecture, and Carlton House would be extremely influential in introducing the Louis XVI style to England.

The Grand Staircase

Holland began working first on the State Apartments along the south (garden) front, the principal reception rooms of the house. Construction commenced in 1784. By the time of his marriage to Mrs Fitzherbert in December 1785, however, construction at Carlton House came to a halt because of the Prince of Wales’ mounting debts. Costs continued to soar and more money had to be found by the Prince…  Continue to read this post on Patrick Baty’s blog.

Inquiring Readers, Patrick Baty is one of the foremost authorities on architectural paint and colour on historic architecture and interiors. These days, the majority of Patrick’s time is spent as a historic paint consultant, sampling paint layers on buildings, bridges and architectural details to produce a forensic history of the decoration from creation to the present day. He has graciously allowed me to link to his post about Carlton House.

Other posts by Patrick Baty on this blog:

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I’ve written posts about the Prince Regent and his lavish lifestyle before. Click here, here and here to read a few of them. The Prince’s association with Jane Austen is minor but crucial: He admired her novels, and she dedicated Emma to him.

The conventional wisdom is that Austen tried to squirm out of the tribute to the Prince. Was it “incumbent on [her] to shew her sense of the Honour” by dedicating her forthcoming novel to His Royal Highness? she asked Clarke. “It is certainly not incumbent on you” to do so, he responded, “but if you wish to do the Regent that honour either now or at any future period, I am happy to send you that permission which need not require any more trouble or solicitation on your Part” (16 November 1815). – Colleen A. Sheehan, Jane Austen Society of North America

Aside from his admiration of Jane Austen, this extravagant, dissolute prince was known for sponsoring major building and park projects that transformed London, including the renovations of Carlton House in London and the sumptuous Pavilion at Brighton. Both were designed in the neoclassical and Gothic styles we’ve come to associate with the Regency era’s furnishings, fashion, and architecture.

Carlton House, sumptuously decorated in the height of fashionable Francophile taste in line with the prince’s Whig sympathies by the important architect Henry Holland (1745–1806), was the setting for a series of the extravagant parties which the prince so loved to give, culminating in the famous Carlton House fete in 1811 on his appointment as Regent. The dazzled Thomas Moore wrote to his mother about this fete, detailing the delights of the indoor fountain and the artificial brook that ran down the centre of the table, and concluding, ‘Nothing was ever half so magnificent. It was in reality all that they try to imitate in the gorgeous scenery of the theatre’ (quoted in Hibbert, 1973, p.371). (A Prince at Seaside, Learning Space)

(Image from Old London Maps)

You can view some of the rooms at Carlton Hose, such as the crimson drawing room, in this link to Decorative Arts and Design History in this link.

Blue Closet, Carlton House, The Royal Collection

The Prince Regent’s friends were also known as the ‘Carlton House Set.’ Read a detailed description of the Prinny’s high roller friends in this link: The Prince Regent and His Set from the Georgian Index.

From left to right depicted are the Earl of Sefton, The Duke of Devonshire, Lord Manners, “Poodle” Byng, Byng’s poodle (name unknown), and the Duke of Beaufort.

Post script: Today is the one-year anniversary of this blog! Since early April of this year, over 20,000 of you have dropped by to visit, and I want to thank you for your support.

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Without Prinny, the Regency Era (1811-1820) would have had a decidedly different character. He was a libertine and gifted wastrel who set the tone and style for the age.

George IV, The Prince of Wales lived life extravantly and was enormously unpopular for it in some circles. This Prince of Pleasure’s once tall slim frame grew heavy and corpulent from overindulgence, as you can see in the illustration above by James Gilray, who satirized the Prince in a number of unflattering cartoons.

But before the Prince Regent took over, the country was already in shambles. Louis Simond, An American in Regency England, observed in his travel journal in 1809: “One thing that surprises me more and more every day; it is the great number of people in opposition; that is, those who disapprove, not only the present measures of ministers,which have not been of late either very wise or very successful, but the form and constitution of the government itself. It is stigmatized as vicious, corrupt, and in decay,without hope or remedy but in a general reform, and in fact a revolution.

The links below define Prinny and his era even further:
1. George IV and the United Kingdom
2. The Prince Regent and His Circle: In Their Own Words
3. Prince Regent
4. Coronation of George IV
5. Prinny’s Many Mistresses
6. Prince George’s Culture Clubs: A Trail Through Regency Brighton

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