DiCamillo Companion

Marlborough House

  • Built / Designed For: John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough.

    House & Family History: Built as the London residence of the 1st Duke of Marlborough on land leased from the crown by Sarah Churchill, 1st Duchess of Marlborough, the lease reverted to the crown in 1817, upon the death of the 4th Duke of Marlborough. Marlborough House was designed by Wren, with later work by Sir William Chambers (1771), with further alterations by Pennethorne in the 1860s. The House still contains some of Wren's original decorations, including military wall paintings by Laguerre and the Gentileschi ceiling removed from the Queen's House in Greenwich and reset in Marlborough House. Edward VII lived here as prince of Wales, from 1863 until he became King Edward VII in 1901; his son, later George V, was born here, and George V's widow, Queen Mary, lived here. Today the House serves as the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth of Nations).

    Collections: The Marlborough ice pails, a pair of solid 22-karat gold ice pails, cylindrical in shape with lion mask handles, were made for the 1st Duke of Marlborough and sold by the 8th Earl Spencer to the British Museum in 1982. The two pails together weigh approximately 25 pounds (365 ozs 6 dwts Troy) and are the only surviving English examples made of pure gold. They are very likely unique, as no other gold ice pails from the late 17th or early 18th centuries are documented in Britain or abroad. As is generally found with English gold plate of the period, the pails were not hallmarked and carry no date letter; however, it is very likely they were made in London circa 1700, probably by a Huguenot goldsmith (Huguenot craftsmen were noted for their work in gold plate). David Willaume is frequently mentioned as a possible maker; he was a Huguenot working in London at the right time and he made the earliest known pair of ice pails: in silver in 1698 for the 1st Duke of Devonshire. Upon her death on October 18, 1744 at Marlborough House at the age of 85, Sarah, 1st Duchess of Marlborough, one of the richest women in Europe, left the ice pails, together with much else, to her favorite grandson, John Spencer (1708-46). The ice pails remained at the Spencer seat, Althorp in Northamptonshire, where they descended upon the earls Spencer in direct succession until the sale in 1982 by the 8th Earl.

  • Garden & Outbuildings: When the Carlton House Stables and Riding House were demolished in 1861, the materials were reused in the building of the Stables at Marlborough House.

  • Architect: William Oldham Chambers

    Date: 1771
    Designed: Reworked House

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    Architect: Christopher Wren

    Date: 1709-11
    Designed: House for 1st Duke of Marlborough

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    Architect: James Pennethorne

    Date: Early 1860s
    Designed: Additions and enlargements to House

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  • Title: Carlton House: The Past Glories of George IV's Palace
    Author: Exhbition Catalog
    Year Published: 1991
    Reference: pg. 34
    Publisher: London: The Queen's Gallery
    ISBN: 095133736X
    Book Type: Softback

    Title: Blenheim Revisited: The Spencer-Churchills and their Palace
    Author: Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pg. 92
    Publisher: New York: Beaufort Books
    ISBN: 0825302978
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Treasures of the British Museum
    Author: Caygill, Marjorie
    Year Published: 1985
    Reference: pgs. 172, 174
    Publisher: New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
    ISBN: 0810916878
    Book Type: Hardback

    Title: Georgian: The Magazine of the Georgian Group, The
    Author: NA
    Year Published: NA
    Reference: January 2002, pg. 11
    Publisher: London: The Georgian Group
    ISBN: NA
    Book Type: Magazine

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Not Listed

  • "The Woman He Loved" (1988 - as the exterior of Marlborough House, home of Queen Mary).
  • Past Seat / Home of: Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough, 18th century; Spencer-Churchill family here until 1817. Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII, 19th century. Queen Mary, consort of George V, 20th century.

    Current Ownership Type: The Crown / Royal Family

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Offices

    Ownership Details: Queen Elizabeth presented the house to the nation in 1959 to become the Commonwealth Conference Centre, headquarters of the The Commonwealth, formerly the Commonwealth of Nations and the British Commonwealth of Nations.

  • House Open to Public: No

    Phone: 02077-476-491

    Website: https://thecommonwealth.org/

    Historic Houses Member: No