Lancaster House in London has been a popular film location for many period dramas. In the last decade it’s been the predominant location for the interior of Buckingham Palace in the following dramas:
- Bridgerton (2020)
- Vanity Fair (2018)
- The Crown (2016-Present)
- The Theory of Everything (2014)
- Downton Abbey S4E9 (2013)
- The King’s Speech (2010)
- The Young Victoria (2009)
Other period dramas that have also used Lancaster House as a backdrop for other settings include The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) and The Golden Bowl (2000).
Located diagonally across from Buckingham Palace (and next to Clarence House), Lancaster House is a three-storey sandy-coloured Neoclassical building. It was originally commissioned by Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (brother of George IV) in 1825 and known as York House. Sadly, the Duke died in 1827 before it was completed. The half-complete mansion was then bought by the Marquess of Stafford (who later became the first Duke of Sutherland), renamed Stafford House, and remained his family’s residence until 1913. It became one of the most valuable homes in London, not just for its Louis XIV-style rooms but also for the priceless collection of decorative and fine art housed inside.
It is said that even Queen Victoria thought Stafford House was more akin to a palace than her official residence (Buckingham Palace):
I have come from my House to your Palace.Queen Victoria to Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland (her Mistress of Robes and dear friend)
And it is no wonder, as you can see in these photos.
We see the Grand Hall regularly in The Crown. If anything, it tells the viewers that we are in Buckingham Palace. The green malachite vase encased in glass on the landing came from Russia in the 19th Century and appears in The Crown without the glass case.
Whilst the original Georgian staircase is quite beautiful, I think Buckingham Palace’s Grand Staircase has one of the most beautiful railings I’ve ever seen.
We first get a glimpse of the Green Room in The Crown S1E1 (where the late King George VI is getting some makeup on his face post-surgery) but finally get a better look (albeit briefly) in S2E8. Interesting fact: it used to have green velvet wallpaper.
We see the State Drawing Room in The Crown and The King’s Speech, which resembles Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room. The latter is probably one of my favourite rooms in Buckingham Palace as it is bright and very elegant.
The Long Gallery is heavily featured in the films. The Queen (i.e. Claire Foy) introduces the gallery to the First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy as ‘The Picture Gallery’ in S2E8. Today, the paintings that adorn the Picture / Long Gallery are from the Government Art Collection. Interesting fact: this is where The Queen’s coronation banquet was held in 1953.
The opulent Music Room with the lead crystal chandelier stands in as the Throne Room in Downton Abbey (where Lay Rose was presented as a debutante to George V and Queen Mary) and in E1 and E8 in The Crown S1. Personally, I find the Music Room more magnificent than Buckingham Palace’s Throne Room (with red walls). Interesting fact: Frederic Chopin performed for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in this room in 1848.
We see the State Dining Room in The Crown S1E6. This room used to have three chandeliers but one had been sold long ago. In this photo, the table has been laid out with the Coronation Golden Persephone china by Wedgwood. The set was designed in 1952 for The Queen’s coronation (which took place in 1953). We were told that all the cutlery, glasses, and plates are washed by hand.
In 1914, Lord Leverhulme, a Lancastrian industrialist, acquired the lease to the property. He would later gift the house to the country, which was renamed Lancaster House in honour of his home county of Lancashire. Following the Second World War, Lancaster House has been used by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to host dignitaries for special events and conferences.
Lancaster House is open to visitors for free during the Open House London weekend in September (you might have to book in advance as it is by guided tour only). Photos are allowed for personal use. For those who cannot make the journey, you can take a 360 degree virtual tour of the Georgian mansion on the Lancaster House website. It is by far one of my favourite architectural gems in London.
Address: Stable Yard, St. James’s, London, SW1A 1BB