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Royal Family: The giant mansion Princess Diana's family owns that looks out of place in the middle of London

MyLondon 26/09/2022 Tilly Alexander
Spencer House in St James's is a stone's throw away from Buckingham Palace with its own connection to the Royal Family © Getty Spencer House in St James's is a stone's throw away from Buckingham Palace with its own connection to the Royal Family

Whether you're a Londoner or a tourist, Buckingham Palace is probably the first building you think of when you read the words 'incredible giant mansion in the middle of London'. However, it's not actually the only one - or even the only one linked to the Royal Family.

Only eight minutes' walk away through Green Park you'll find Spencer House, a similarly stunning, similarly spacious residence that looks just as out of place in Central London. And while it might not be the reigning monarch's administrative headquarters or official London residence, it does have some beautiful features - and royal links - of its own.

Built in the mid 1700s by the first Earl Spencer, the Grade I-listed aristocratic palace on St James's Place has consistently belonged to Princess Diana's family and is now owned by the late Princess of Wales' brother Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer. Queen Victoria is also known to have attended a ball here in 1857, with her grandson King George V - Queen Elizabeth II's grandfather - said to have been a regular visitor while he was still the Duke of York.

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Sadly for those hoping to walk the same halls as the People's Princess, Diana didn't grow up at Spencer House. The restored 18th century townhouse has actually been consistently rented out since World War II, with the 21st century seeing it opened to the public for guided tours too.

The upside of this, though, is that plenty of celebs and other famous faces have visited the stunning London mansion. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch, for example, held his wedding reception here after marrying model - and Mick Jagger's ex-wife - Jerry Hall at St Bride's Church in 2016.

A launch event for Disney's live-action remake of Beauty and The Beast starring Emma Watson was also held at the elegant venue in 2017. But you don't have to be famous to visit - the venue can be booked for weddings and events, or else visited for a guided tour on Sundays.

The interior of the house is as impressive as the stately exterior, with crystal chandeliers, crimson rugs and an incredible collection of artwork making it feel very much like a regal residence. As well as a dining room, music room, library and stunning terrace looking out onto the garden, there's also multiple state rooms.

Chief among these is The Great Room, an impressively large space with intricate ceiling artwork depicting Bacchus, Apollo, Venus and the Three Graces. It's a particularly popular choice for wedding ceremonies and balls.

Another especially gorgeous feature is The Palm Room. Based on a classical architect John Webb's plans for the King's Bedchamber at Greenwich Palace, the beautiful room is decorated with gilded palm trees, with a Venus statue at its centre.

Spencer House is open to the public for guided tours on Sundays, between 10am and 5.30pm, all year except August. House tours take approximately one hour, with an additional 15-minute talk about the garden's historical context afterwards; guests can then explore the gardens at their leisure.

Tickets for House Tours cost £18.50 for adults or £9.50 for Art Fund members and £15.50 for other concessions; Historic Houses members can get in for free with no booking required, though proof of membership will be required - book here. The venue is also bookable for weddings and other events.

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