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Charles Rex

Guidebook: Pall Mall

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Stretching alongside St. James Park and but a stone's throw away from Whitehall Palace is the most exclusive street of London called Pall Mall.

 

Entry Point:

  • The Mansion of Mrs Gwynn
    • (This house is not currently in use. Inquires will be directed to Mistress Gwynn's Chelsea lodgings.)
       
      A house set on several acres, elegantly decorated in the latest fashions. The former home of the Earl of Scarsdale, known as Burford House, it sat on a mount for easier defense, with a walled garden facing St. James park which is said to contain several orange trees and an orangery in which to keep such potted plants and shrubbery in winter. It also contained a bowling green.
       
      Inside the house was a magnificent staircase that was embellished, at the king's request, by the Italian decorative painter Antonio Verrio, who was also commissioned for Windsor Castle.
       
      Thomas Ground was the steward of the estate, with several pages around to run errands.

    [*]The Mansion of Buckingham

    • At the end of the Pall Mall street, wedged between St. James Park and St. James Square, stood a large mansion that in centuries to come would evolve to become far bigger with addition after addition until it was to be called Buckingham Palace.
       
      Such a lofty name however was far in the future. The Buckingham mansion as it was now known was drawn up of fine white marble and sandstone, with clear Baroque geometry. Inside cherubs in a blue sky was fitted over the white plaster. Each room held a different color and nothing was short of lavish. The mansion was square, but inside the servants still had the habit to refer to the left as the west and right as the east wing; the west wing dedicated to the Duke's chambers, and the east wing deserted for he had send his wife to her father in the country, long since grown bored with her behavior which was an impediment on his fun. Paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt and Lely were displayed in the large hallway, created to impress the visitor, an enormous marble staircase drawing in the eye.
       
      The front garden was filled with various flowers, although it was mostly greenery now. In the back there is a long walk designed by a garden architect, so that the duke could walk and find intimacy with his private guests at every turn. A large fountain in the middle sprouted moist into the air.

    [*]Dorchester House (Ladies Boarding establishment)

    [*]Basildon House (Headquarters of WIC)

    [*]Half Moon House (Chilchester town residence)

    [*]Brooke House

 

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Dorchester House

 

Resembling more an immense, if somewhat artificial, urban mansion than a traditional hostelry, Dorchester House is located in Pall Mall and is designed to create, for those without connections passing through the city, the illusion of having some influential acquaintance with whom to reside.

 

It is for ladies only and it has a wealth of chaperones roaming the hallways to make sure that no gentleman might sneak in.

 

Dorchester_house.jpg

 

Set well back from the street, behind wrought iron, a paved carriageway runs parallel to the Dorchester's white stone facade, in the modern neo-classical style. A multitude of capacious sash windows are positioned at perfectly even intervals along each of the building's three floors, and only the most discreet of brass signs, set flush with the wall by the front door, indicate that this is Dorchester House. But for the unusual frequency of residents entering and leaving, this could well be the town residence of an aristocrat of the highest order, inside and out, for enfiladed suites of plush and spacious bedchambers occupy the upper floors above the prerequisite array of salons devoted to entertainment.

 

Here, visitors can experience all the luxury of a true demi-palace - but at a considerable price. For those less well-disposed, there is always London's plethora of flea infested, ramshackle inns.

 

The house accommodates luxury suites (four on the second floor floor and two on the third) The house was originally designed for 8.

 

The first/ground floor has a common dining, ballroom and parlor (and a chaperone's quarters).

 

The third level is for women of more modest means. Two suites and four individual bedrooms.

 

A new wing was added in the Spring of 1677 to accommodate four more luxury suites, two per floor. There is a separate entrance and a backstair. The ground floor has a shared kitchen area and parlor.

 

Sample Room Description

 

A graciously proportioned room, with walls are papered in a cream and pink floral print. The window faces the park and is curtained in velvet the shade of lilacs in bloom.

 

In front of the fireplace is a plump sofa upholstered in velvet to match the curtains. Over the mantle piece is a small painting of a pastoral scene in a scroll-worked gilt frame.

 

Two arm chairs in floral tapestry flank a small walnut table to one side of the fire. A blue and white porcelain vase on the table holds a bunch of forget-me-nots. On the other side of the fireplace stands a small writing desk with a straight backed chair stationed with it. The desk is well furnished with creamy parchment, quills and ink.

 

The great canopied bed is dressed in chintz with patterns of birds and flowers in shades of lilac and pink on a cream ground.

 

Two small doors open off the room. The first leads to a well appointed dressing room, holding a walnut dressing table which is set with its own mirror and a lilac velvet chair where a lady may sit for her maid to dress her hair. The second door opens into a minuscule bedchamber for a maid.

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Basildon House

 

An impressive, but small, house is architecturally built like a small French Chateau of three stories. It was the former embassy of Savoy, with rooms designed to entertain small parties and conduct business. It is the headquarters of the West India Company.

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Half Moon House - Chilchester's Townhouse

 

A short drive ended at a carriage door that led through the soft, parchment-plaster facade of Half Moon House, the face of which is broken by numerous gleaming, white, sculpted window frames.

Centering the front of the house was a pair of heavy doors featuring a bronze knocker fixed by an ornate network of celtic knots. Stretching out before the door was a set of white steps and a path of cut stones that angled through a phalanx of carefully trimmed hedges to the gate leading out to Pall Mall.

A matching coachhouse and service entrance is round behind.

Defined Rooms:

The Lavender Room was just that; predominantly a lavender floral wall paper with accents of sage green on a cream ground. Lovely blousy lavender curtains were plump and fulsome, augmented with sage tassels. The upholstery was another flowery design, on smaller scale to that of the walls, with fat cushions in a range of shades of cream scattered about.  A plush floor rug was in a deeper shade, with dark green leaf motif.  Centre to that was a wooden stool measuring perhaps a foot by a foot by a foot, and some few yards in front of that was a freestanding dress mirror.  A dressing screen was nearby, and near that a stand with numerous quarters of fabrics slung over it. A stack of books were piled on the floor near that.  The tailor was not in the room at that moment.

George’s office: Rather less a place of study and business, and more of paintings and art.  While there was indeed a desk and the expected chairs for it, that was pushed off to the side.  The best lit spot (near the window) was set out with a trio of easels, the paintings themselves covered with oil drenched cloths.   A bench-come-cabinet was against the wall furthest from the fire, there being a collection of bottles, jars, brown paper wrapped parcels, and any number of mortar and pestles there, all of these neatly arranged by the meticulous man. 

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Brooke House

 

BrookeHouseRoses.jpg

 

 

The sandstone Brooke House on Pall Mall is the London residence of the Earl Brooke, Sir Robert Thomas St. Leger, and his family. Set on a few acres with a walled and tiered garden, the house sits on the rise of a small hill which slopes in the back to small fashioned pond. Climbing roses and berries grace walls and terraces interspersed with ivy with the occasional cluster of manicured fruit trees. It boasts a large royal oak just off the back corner of the mansion with two wide swings which used to be a familiar playsite of the younger Lord Beverley, Robert St. Leger and his sister Lady Doneraile. Now it is a frequent site of play for the lady's 3 little boys when they are visiting their grandfather although they most often stay in Battersea a few miles down the Thames. The garden wall and various garden half-walls are a familiar haunt for Lord Beverley to lay about and read or nap.

 

 

Brooke House itself is a large, thick rectangle. While wingless, the set of rooms on the second floor to the right rear, belong to Lord Beverley, the Earl Brooke's heir. The second floor to the left going down to part of the first floor are the rooms of Lord and Lady Brooke who traditionally keep separate bedchambers. Lord Brooke's rooms go down to his study and an anteroom on the first floor. Facing the garden between those apartments on the second floor is a garden room which is popular for a morning meal or tea. The rear of the first floor is dedicated to entertaining space with a large hall/dining room, library, and a gallery. Guest rooms are found on both floors but most specifically on the second floor facing the front of the property.

 

When arriving in front, there are always blue liveried servants with badges of the Earl's arms on their coats to greet you and attend to your needs.

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