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The central hall and principal staircase of Lancaster House.

Lancaster House is a mansion in the St. James'smarker district in the West Endmarker of Londonmarker. It is close to St. James's Palacemarker and much of the site was once part of the palace complex. The a Grade I listed building is now managed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Officemarker.


Construction of Lancaster House commenced in 1825 for the Duke of York and Albany, the second son of King George III, and it was initially known as York House, but it was only a shell at his death in 1827. The exterior was mainly designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt. It is constructed from Bath Stone, in a neo-classical style, being the last great London mansion to use this essentially Georgian style.

The building is three floors in height, the State rooms being on the first floor or piano nobile, family living rooms on the ground floor and family bedrooms on the second floor. There is also a basement containing service rooms. The interior was designed by Benjamin Dean Wyatt, Sir Charles Barry and Sir Robert Smirke and was completed in 1840.

The house was purchased by and completed for the 2nd Marquess of Stafford (later 1st Duke of Sutherland) and was known as Stafford House for almost a century. It was assessed for rating purposes (i.e. for property taxes) as the most valuable private house in London.

The Sutherlands’ liberal politics and love of the arts attracted many distinguished guests, including factory reformer the Earl of Shaftesbury, anti-slavery authoress Harriet Beecher Stowe and Italian revolutionary leader Giuseppe Garibaldi. Almost as influential as the visitors was the décor, which was to set the fashion for London reception rooms for nearly a century. The mainly Louis XIV Style interiors created a stunning backdrop for the Sutherlands’ impressive collection of paintings and objets d’art, much of which can still be seen in the house today.
A plan of the principal floor in 1827.
Only minor alterations have been made to the layout of this storey since then.

Queen Victoria is said to have remarked to the Duchess of Sutherland on arriving at Stafford House, "I have come from my House to your Palace." With its ornate decoration and the dramatic sweep of the great staircase, the Grand Hall is a magnificent introduction to one of the finest town houses in London. More than a century later, its grandeur remains and the house is as popular as ever with those who visit it.

In 1912 it was purchased by the Lancastrian soap-maker Sir William Lever, 1st Baronet (later 1st Viscount Leverhulme) who renamed it in honour of his native county of Lancashiremarker and presented it to the nation in the following year.

From 1924 until shortly after World War II Lancaster House was the home of the London Museummarker, but it is now used for government receptions and is closed to the public except on rare open days.

The European Advisory Commission met at Lancaster House in 1944. In January 1947 a special envoy meeting on affairs concerning occupied Austriamarker was hosted here. In 1979 it was the scene of the Lancaster House Agreement, which was the agreement of independence from the United Kingdommarker of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwemarker.

The venue for the 10th G7 summit in 1984 and the 17th G7 summit in 1991 was Lancaster House. A new 35-foot-long table was built for the Long Gallery, where the main negotiating sessions were planned in 1991.

In 2007 the residence was used in the film, National Treasure: The Book of Secrets, as the supposed interior for Buckingham Palacemarker.

Lancaster House was also used to double for the ballroom, passage and reception room of Buckingham Palace in the movie 'The Young Victoria' released in 2009.

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