At a reception in 1864, where guests were regaled with music, dancing, and a ‘sumptuous supper’ while the garden was ‘beautifully illuminated with festoons and columns of variegated lamps’.
Joseph Friedman 2011
The Restored Garden
Laid out in the fashionable area of St. James’s in the late eighteenth-century, the half-acre garden, adjacent to The Green Park, was then and still remains among the grandest in the West End.
Originally purchased as a plot of land by John, first Earl Spencer, for his future town house. He bought both a smart address as well as a splendid, uninterrupted and then unique view of The Green Park.
However, not until the second Earl Spencer succeeded his father in 1783 was the garden created as it can be seen today.
Designed by Henry Holland (the architect working for the second Earl Spencer in the 1790s and the son-in-law to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown), possibly in collaboration with Lavinia, Countess Spencer, it was planted by July 1798 and was one of the largest gardens in the fashionable St James’s precinct.
Restored since 1990 by RIT Capital Partners, under the Chairmanship of Lord Rothschild, the Garden, with a delightful view of the adjacent Royal Park, now evokes its original layout. Paths and lawn have been reinstated along with a number of plants and shrubs suggested by early nineteenth-century nursery lists.
The Garden was designed to be seen from inside the State Rooms of Spencer House and from the west facing terrace and this is still how it is enjoyed and appreciated today.
When to visit the House and Garden
The House is open every Sunday (except during August) from 10.30am – 4.30pm (last tour).
Access is by guided tour, which lasts approximately 1 hour.