“One of the most unpleasant habitations in London.”

Princess Charlotte and her new husband were given Camelford House as their London residence.  “One of the most unpleasant habitations in London,” a certain Lady Williams-Wynn is reported to have said.  This view from Oxford Street executed in watercolor in 1850 by J. H. Shepard seems to support her ladyship’s remark:

The front portico beyond the Oxford street entrance is little more distinguished in this early twentieth century photograph. It is remarkable that a house with such a modest exterior should survive for so long when the far more grand Carlton House belonging to the Prince Regent had been torn down nearly a century before.   And why should the newly married prince and princess want to live in such a place?

The answer may lie in a variety of circumstances.  The house lay in the very fashionable environs of the Grosvenor estate end of Mayfair.  In my Notorious series, the Northam townhouse was merely blocks away and Vivien’s townhouse just down the street along Park Lane.   Also, the lease on Camelford House was available–the previous tenant Lord Grenville had moved out.  He had been Prime Minister, notably heading a coalition government called the “Ministry of all the Talents,” a term that one encounters even today to describe various political coalitions and collaborations, albeit rather loosely.

Another attractive feature was Camelford’s highly refined interior.  The first-floor reception rooms were several in number but diverse in design and decoration.  Perfect for receptions and entertaining.  The marvelous plasterwork crafted in the neoclassical style was particularly notable, if difficult to discern in this 1912 photograph taken just before the house was demolished.

Happily, much of the elegant fittings of Camelford were saved before the wrecking ball.   They were purchased intact and reinstalled in a Northumberland Grade II listed building called Lemmington Hall.  At one time this Georgian country mansion was a ruin before its restoration in the early twentieth century.  Then it became a convent.

Today, the interior of the newlyweds’ London home provides a perfect setting for celebrating one’s nuptials. Lemmington Hall is now a wedding venue.

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3 thoughts on ““One of the most unpleasant habitations in London.”

    • When Camelford was originally built, the intersection of Park Lane and Oxford Street was an outlying area that had been only sporadically developed. The main house lay in a courtyard originally, with gardens surrounding it. The mansion’s modest exterior was probably well-suited to this setting at the time. Unfortunately, later development of Grosvenor Square and areas north toward Marylebone crowded out the gardens and courtyard that complimented Camelford. As these disappeared, larger mansions and shops were built in their place lending Camelford its squat appearance.

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  1. It’s so sad that such historical sites are gone!
    Thank you for sharing this information. It’s always interesting to learn a bit more info on things – especially if it might give you an insight into the people involved.

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