As Lord Chamberlain and later Lord Steward to Queen Victoria, the 4th Earl Spencer hosted entertainments for virtually the whole of court society, one reception described as “brilliantly and numerously attended”, with "nearly all the principal aristocracy and the leading fashionable people now in town being present during the evening."
Joseph Friedman, 2011
This is the architectural climax to the ground floor and survives largely as designed by Vardy.
The gentlemen retired here after dinner while the ladies processed upstairs to Lady Spencer’s Room on the first floor.
The fantastical architecture with carved and gilded palm trees is based on John Webb’s design for the King’s Bedchamber at Greenwich Palace, which was then thought to be by Inigo Jones and therefore within the accepted canon of Palladianism. The palm trees were chosen as a symbol of marital fertility and also serve to underline the eighteenth- century belief in the close connection between classical architecture and nature.
The frieze of griffins and candelabra is derived from the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina in Rome and its use at Spencer House is especially apt as the griffin is the heraldic supporter of the Spencer arms.
Vardy’s drawing of 1757 shows the original colouring with the coffers of the dome in the alcove alternately tinted pink and green behind Joseph Rose’s superb plasterwork.
When to visit
Open every Sunday (except during August) from 10.30am – 4.30pm (last tour).
Access is by guided tour, which lasts approximately 1 hour.