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Spencer House

Milan, Italy
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Spencer House

Hello,

as a regular traveller to London, I already have visited lots of places in and around London, but it seems that there are always new places to discover, which is why I come back every year!

My next visit will be in June, for 9 days (including the Diamond Jubillee long weekend) and this time I was thinking to give a try to Spencer House, which seems interesting judging from the website, but which doesn't seem to get much mention among London's attractions on this forum and elsewhere. Maybe it's because it seems a bit overpriced (£12!) when you can visit the Wallace Collection and Kenwood House for free?

Would you experts - or previous visitors - recommend visiting it? I'd be glad to hear your opinions.

Thanks

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Hitchin, United...
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1. Re: Spencer House

"Maybe it's because it seems a bit overpriced (£12!) when you can visit the Wallace Collection and Kenwood House for free?"

I suppose the big difference in the admission policies stem from the fact that Kenwood House is owned by English Heritage who aim to show off places like that to as many of the tax paying public as possible, (they pay for it with their tax money after all), similarly The Wallace Collection is also a public / Government funded body, whereas Spencer House is privately owned so the owner's restoration came at a great personal expense with no public money involved. I think a charge is reasonable.

I like it. Very few tourists make it to there, not because of the admission charge I suspect, more because it doesn't appear on the radars of those who are not here too often / too long... you've come across it thanks to a long standing interest in London.

If you like ostentatious private palaces I think it's worth a visit once, there are not many similar private houses in town. I think I paid £10 a couple of years back and I thought it was worth that, don't forget that you pay more than double that to get in to Madam Tossauds hall of tackiness.

Edited: 26 April 2012, 10:28
Milan, Italy
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2. Re: Spencer House

Hi CanucksTraveller,

thanks for your prompt response!

Of course I have no objections to paying for the admission charge, if it's worth it, and I perfectly agree with your analysis; I was simply curious about the reasons why such an apparently interesting attraction received so little mention in travel websites and guidebook.

More opinions by other forumites will be welcome, but I'm very much leaning towards visiting.

(and I'm proud to claim I've never considered setting foot in Madam Tussaud's!) :-)

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Spencer House

It was on my list for my last visit but I did not get around to it. It's higher up the list for the next visit. :-)

If you do go, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts afterwards.

London Walks do an interesting walk called 'The Old Palace Quarter' which goes past Spencer House. It's a great walk - the only downside is it's not on Sundays which from memory is when Spencer House is open.

Ossett, United...
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4. Re: Spencer House

Not a house I'd known of before, so thanks for flagging it!

It's on my to-do list, and climbing. :D

Milan, Italy
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5. Re: Spencer House

Hi Mez and Ailidh, I'm glad to have raised some interest on a possibly good house!

Most visitors to London must walk past it, as it is round the corner from Buckingham Palace and St. James' Palace, facing Green Park.

I've seen it myself from the outside many times, so I thought it must be about time to have a look at the interiors.

I'd have expected there would be more publicity about it, due to its connections to the family and ancestors of the late Princess of Wales, Lady Diana Spencer, but I really appreciate that the website mostly focuses the attention of the prospect visitor on the house itself, with its furnishings, paintings, garden etc.

I'm afraid the same can't be said about Kensington Palace, where a lot of the marketing seems to be about the connections of the palace to Lady D, rather than on its historical, artistic and architectural value, which is probably why I haven't still considered visiting it, even though I may do so in one of my next visits.

It would be interesting to hear which one is better according to previous visitors of both palaces, from the "purely artistic" point of view...

Milan, Italy
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6. Re: Spencer House

... and yes, Spencer House appears to be only open on Sundays (except January and August), with access exclusively by guided tours on a first-come-first-served basis:

http://www.spencerhouse.co.uk/index.shtml

spencerhouse.co.uk/tourist-information.shtml

Edited: 26 April 2012, 12:37
Ossett, United...
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7. Re: Spencer House

but I really appreciate that the website mostly focuses the attention of the prospect visitor on the house itself, with its furnishings, paintings, garden etc.

=============================================================

Me too, I was never a Dianophile!

Next time I get a Sunday in London, I'll give it a go.

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Spencer House

>> Most visitors to London must walk past it, as it is round the corner from Buckingham Palace and St. James' Palace, facing Green Park. <<

I think that's part of the issue - perhaps they don't. I have walked up and down Piccadilly and The Mall countless times and rarely walked around the streets between them. It's a fabulous slice of London.

Well, perhaps at the end of the year at least another 3 of us (DottIng, Ailidh and I) will have added to the visitor numbers. :-)

Detroit, Michigan
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9. Re: Spencer House

It is often overlooked, but lovely. We toured Spencer House several years ago and thought it well worth seeing. It is a lovely example of a Regency period London town house (mansion to most of us!) If I remember correctly, there was very little mention of Diana - just a brief mention of her family's connection to the house. The main focus of the tour was around the couple (can't remember the names now) who had the place built and how they married because of love, rather than for position as was popular at the time.

When we went, there were a couple of architech's on the tour, so the guide spent a little more time on the architectural details than we would normally prefer, but I'm sure that was just because of their interest and questions.

Chicago, Illinois
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10. Re: Spencer House

Spencer House is well worth a visit---I went a couple of years ago. The interior is lovely, really taking one back in time. As kayb95 notes, there is only a passing reference to Diana, and emphasis on the history of the house. It was built for the 1st Earl Spencer in the mid-18th century. It's somewhat of a miracle that the house has survived both the breakup (and often demolition) of great 18th century "townhouses", and war damage.

IMHO Spencer House is greviously overlooked by London visitors, but on the other hand, I do kind of like that it's a bit "undiscovered"!