Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Devonshire House

Devonshire House was not just a fantastic mansion, it was an elite social club and a state of mind. It was the be all and end all of the ton, a gathering place for Whigs, and where Georgiana spent most of her life.

Before I get into that, I would like to talk about the more physical aspects of the Devonshire House. It was built on the site of Berkeley House, the home of the most conniving (and kind of bitchy) of King Charles II's mistresses, Barbara, Duchess of Cleveland. It was in prime location on Piccadilly Street, across from Green Park. Anyone who has been to London has likely walked past its ghost; before it was demolished (in 1925), Devonshire House was located across from the present day Ritz Hotel. The building was huge and aesthetically unappealing. Worst of all it had a massive brick wall encircling it which clashed with the architectural line of Piccadilly and attracted only graffiti.

Many complained of the ugliness of the structure in the wittiest of ways but what mostly interested people was what was on the inside. Devonshire House had one of the greatest collections of art and some of the grandest rooms, in both size and decor. However it was the people inside that was of the most curiosity. Not only was the leading lady celebrity housed behind it's doors, but all her friends, the ton. The Devonshire House circle consisted of the young, rich, talented and snobby with people such as Charles Fox, the Prince of Wales, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and too many others to name. They were the coolest social club and Devonshire House was their clubhouse, perfect for dancing and gambling and any other debauchery one could think of. Devonshire House remained a great place for entertainment up into the Victorian Age; Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Ball was celebrated in the house's ornate public rooms.

With the demolition of the house, we loose a stunning visual into the life of Georgiana, her friends and family; as well as an important puzzle piece in the social structure of London high society.

2 comments:

  1. id so want to go but it would prly be like trying to get into Paris Hiltons house. SIGH

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