How were London’s most iconic buildings constructed?
In this article we are going to look at the History of just a few of the most iconic luxury properties in London and how they were constructed. We’ll be focusing on Buckingham Palace, Number 1 Hyde park, Queens House Greenwich
One of the most famous buildings in London, this is the residence that everyone associates with the Queen. Located at the end of the Mall, ownership lies with the current reigning monarch, so it is not the Queen’s personal property. The government are responsible for keeping the palace well maintained and in return, they receive profits created by the Crown Estate.
With hundreds of rooms, the palace also has its very own swimming pool, doctor’s surgery, post office and jeweller’s workshop. Its garden is the largest private garden in the London area.
One Hyde Park
Often referred to as one of the most expensive residential buildings in the world, One Hyde Park can be found in Knightsbridge. Styled from huge towers of concrete, glass and metal, it is strikingly positioned on the edge of Hyde Park next to the Victorian building of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Besides being one of the world’s most exclusive addresses, it holds the title of being the most expensive residential building ever built.
Queen’s House in Greenwich
This is a former royal residence, built between 1616 and 1635. King James I’s wife, Anne of Denmark, commissioned Inigo Jones to design it. Sadly, she died in 1619 so never saw the progressive Classical design completed. Work began again in 1629 when James’s son gave the building to his wife. Completed in 1635, it is renowned for breaking the mould and moving away from the traditional red-brick Tudor style, becoming the first totally Classical building in England. It was used by the royal family until 1805 when George III gave it to a charity school for the orphans of those at sea, the Royal Naval Asylum. When the school moved, it became the National Maritime Museum in 1934.
Construction history: Buckingham Palace & Queen’s House
- Formerly referred to as Buckingham House, originally the palace was a huge townhouse built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham. Prior to that, the site had been owned privately for 150 years. In 1761, King George III turned it into a private residence for Queen Charlotte, causing it to be referred to as the Queen’s House. Later in the 19th century it was enlarged by architects Edward Blore and John Nash, becoming the London home of the reigning British monarch in 1837 when Queen Victoria was on the throne. The famous balcony was added in the late 19th/early 20th century.
- Because the royal family live in it, the State Rooms can only be seen by the public during August and September which is when the Queen is in Scotland.
- Containing many works of art such as paintings, sculptures and tapestries, only a small amount of what the palace owns is on display. Expect to see originals by Rubens and Rembrandt and the gigantic painting of Queen Victoria’s coronation.
- Hundreds of people live in the palace, including not only the royal household but about 800 permanent staff.
- During WW2, the palace was a major target, but the royal family refused to move, even though it was struck by nine bombs in total.
- When the Queen is in residence, the Union Flag will be flying – if not, she is elsewhere.
Queen’s House in Greenwich
- A stunning Classical design, the Queen’s House is a very important building within the field of English architecture.
- The Great Hall is a perfect cube with a magnificent marble floor, patterned with a black and white geometric design. This was laid back in 1635.
- On display you will find impressive works of art, such as the Elizabeth I Armada Portrait as well as a commission by Richard Wright, the Turner Prize artist.
- The graceful and elegant Tulip Stairs are the very first self-supporting geometric spiral stairs in Britain.
- The Queen’s House is now part of the Royal Museums, Greenwich. These comprise: the Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark.
Construction history: Number 1 Hyde Park
With so many buildings in London that could have made it into this article, it can be seen that the best way to find out about the cultures and societies that have existed in the city is to look at its iconic buildings. Not all of them are luxury, but here are a few more properties in London that you may wish to check out:
- The Barbican – a Brutalist design and originally a social housing exercise, not only did a castle originally stand on the site but it also fills in a bomb crater.
- Broadcasting House – pure 1930s Art Deco and a true Gothic masterpiece, this truly is a pioneering building.
- The Shard – raising a few eyebrows when it opened in 2013, now it is a well-known section of the South London skyline. The 72nd floor offers 360° views across the city.
- Liberty’s – built in the 1920s, it looks like a Tudor mansion and has remained much as it is for the past 100 years.
- St Pancras International – who cannot love the red brick, spikes and spires of this Gothic Victorian masterpiece.
- The Natural History Museum – located in South Kensington, since 1881 it has been one of the city’s finest examples of Victorian Romanesque architecture, designed to be a ‘cathedral to nature’.
Without doubt, London has one of the finest arrays of iconic properties to be found in the world. Constructed to last, they continue to provide inspiration and stimulus to many designers and architects as well as many London property developers and their clients, all looking to create something very special, memorable and unique.