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Monmouth House, King’s Square (later Soho Square), Soho

Posted in Architecture, Famous landmarks, Historical articles, History, London on Tuesday, 21 May 2013

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Monmouth House, picture, image, illustration

Monmouth House, Soho Square, London

Monmouth House was built for the handsome and roguish Duke of Monmouth, bastard son of Charles II, who had royally been given the lease to this rural part of London, which remained so popular with serious huntsmen. It occupied a commanding site on the south side of the then King’s Square, and was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built in 1677 by a Mr Ford. Indeed, the square itself was almost certainly first laid out around this grand building by the famous architect. The Duke of Monmouth is now remembered for starting the doomed Rebellion which bears his name, and which brought him more fame and notoriety than his magnificent town house, which was demolished in 1773 to make way for several smaller houses. The splendid wrought iron gates and their elegant piers provided an imposing entrance for this Renaissance-style palazzo masquerading as an Italianate mansion in this newly fashionable square. In the Eighteenth Century it became the French Ambassador’s residence, but its fate was perhaps entwined with that of its beheaded former owner, and it was scheduled for demolition. Monmouth House boasted some remarkable interior decoration by Thornhill and others, but no fragment of this has survived or been preserved elsewhere.

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