Coordinates: 51°30′32″N 0°8′22″W / 51.50889°N
0.13944°W / 51.50889; -0.13944
Burlington House on Piccadilly, 2010
Burlington House is a building on
Piccadilly in Mayfair, London. It
was originally a private
Palladian mansion owned by the Earl of
Burlington, and was expanded in the mid-19th century after being
purchased by the British government.
Burlington House is most familiar to the general public as the venue
for temporary art exhibitions from the Royal Academy, which is housed
in the main building at the northern end of the courtyard. Five
learned societies occupy the two wings on the east and west sides of
the courtyard and the
Piccadilly wing at the southern end.
Collectively known as the Courtyard Societies, these societies are:
Geological Society of London
Geological Society of London (Piccadilly/east wing)
Linnean Society of London
Linnean Society of London (Piccadilly/west wing)
Royal Astronomical Society
Royal Astronomical Society (west wing)
Society of Antiquaries of London
Society of Antiquaries of London (west wing)
Royal Society of Chemistry
Royal Society of Chemistry (east wing)
Burlington House has been listed Grade II* on the National Heritage
List for England since February 1970.
2 Public access
3 See also
5 External links
Burlington House from Jan Kip and Leonard Knyff's Britannia
The house was one of the earliest of a number of very large private
residences built on the north side of Piccadilly, previously a country
lane, from the 1660s onwards. The first version was begun by Sir John
Denham about 1664. It was a red-brick double-pile hip-roofed
mansion with a recessed centre, typical of the style of the time, or
perhaps even a little old fashioned. Denham may have acted as his own
architect, or he may have employed Hugh May, who certainly became
involved in the construction after the house was sold in an incomplete
state in 1667 to Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington, from whom it
derives its name. Burlington had the house completed, which was the
largest structure on his land, the Burlington Estate.
In 1704, the house passed to the ten-year-old Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl
of Burlington, who was to become the principal patron of the Palladian
movement in England, and an architect in his own right. Around 1709,
during Burlington's minority, Lady Juliana Boyle, the 2nd Countess,
James Gibbs to reconfigure the staircase and make
exterior alterations to the house, including a quadrant Doric
colonnade which was later praised by Sir William Chambers as "one of
the finest pieces of architecture". The colonnade separated the house
from increasingly urbanized
Piccadilly with a cour d'honneur. Inside,
Baroque decorative paintings in the entrance hall, and a staircase by
Sebastiano Ricci and Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini, resulted in some of
the richest interiors in London.
One of James Gibbs's colonnades at Burlington House, in a watercolour
In between his two Grand Tours of Italy (1714 and 1719), young Lord
Burlington's taste (the 3rd Earl) was transformed by the publication
of Giacomo Leoni's Palladio which made him develop a passion for
Palladian architecture. In 1717 or 1718, the 3rd Earl began making
major modifications to
Burlington House and the supervision of the
work was undertaken by Gibbs. Later,
Colen Campbell was appointed to
replace Gibbs, who was working in the Baroque style of Sir Christopher
Wren, to recast the work in a new manner on the old foundations. This
was a key moment in the history of English architecture, as Campbell's
work was in a strict
Palladian style, and the aesthetic preferences of
Campbell and Burlington, soon joined by the aesthetic style of their
close associate William Kent, who worked on interiors at Burlington
House, were to provide the leading strain in English architecture and
interior decoration for two generations. Campbell's work closely
followed the form of the previous building and reused much of the
structure, but the conventional front (south) façade was replaced
with an austere two-storey composition, taking Palladio's Palazzo
Iseppo di Porti, Vicenza, for a model, but omitting sculpture and
substituting a balustrade for the attic storey. The ground floor
became a rusticated basement, which supported a monumental piano
nobile of nine bays. This had no centrepiece, but was highlighted by
venetian windows in the projecting end bays, the first to be seen in
England. Other alterations included a monumental screening gateway to
Piccadilly and the reconstruction of most of the principal interiors,
Palladian features such as rich coved ceilings. The
Saloon, constructed immediately after William Kent's return from Rome
in December 1719, has survived in the most intact condition; it was
the first Kentian interior carried out in England. Its plaster putti
above the pedimented doorcases were probably by Giovanni Battista
Photograph of the original main block of Burlington House, before the
addition of the top storey
Lord Burlington transferred his architectural energies to Chiswick
House after 1722. On Burlington's death in 1753, Burlington House
passed to the Dukes of Devonshire, but they had no need of it as they
Devonshire House just along Piccadilly. The 4th Duke's
younger son Lord George Cavendish and a Devonshire in-law, the 3rd
Duke of Portland, each used the house for at least two separate
spells. Portland had some of the interiors altered by John Carr in the
1770s. Eventually Lord George, who was a rich man in his own right due
to a marriage to an heiress, purchased the house from his nephew the
Duke of Devonshire
Duke of Devonshire for £70,000 in 1815. Lord George employed
Samuel Ware to shift the staircase to the centre and reshape the
interiors to provide a suite of "Fine Rooms" en filade linking the new
State Dining Room at the west end to the new Ballroom at the east
end. Like Carr's work Ware's was sympathetic with the
of the house, providing an early example of the "Kent Revival", a
particularly English prefiguration of Baroque Revival architecture. In
Burlington Arcade was built along the western part of the
Burlington House was sold to the British government for
£140,000, originally with the plan of demolishing the building and
using the site for the University of London. This plan, however, was
abandoned in the face of strong opposition and in 1857 Burlington
House was occupied by the Royal Society, the Linnean Society and the
Chemical Society (later the
Royal Society of Chemistry).
The façade of the original main block in the 1870s, showing
additional storey and colonnade added as part of the expansion of the
Royal Academy took over the main block in 1867 on a 999-year lease
with rent of £1 per year; it was required to pay for its top-lit Main
Galleries, designed by
Sidney Smirke on part of the gardens to the
north of the main range and its art school premises; Smirke also
raised the central block with a third storey. The former east and west
service wings on either side of the courtyard, and the wall and gate
to Piccadilly, were replaced by much more voluminous wings by the
Robert Richardson Banks
Robert Richardson Banks and Charles Barry, Jr., in
an approximation of Campbell's style. These were completed in 1873,
and the three societies moved into these. In 1874 they were joined by
the Geological Society of London, the
Royal Astronomical Society
Royal Astronomical Society and
the Society of Antiquaries.
The street façade of the
This arrangement lasted until 1968, when the
Royal Society moved to
new premises in
Carlton House Terrace
Carlton House Terrace and its apartments were split
Royal Society of Chemistry
Royal Society of Chemistry and the British Academy. The
British Academy also moved to
Carlton House Terrace
Carlton House Terrace in 1998 and the
Royal Society of Chemistry
Royal Society of Chemistry took over the rest of the east wing.
In 2004 the Courtyard Societies went to court against the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister over the terms of their tenure of the
apartments in Burlington House, which they have enjoyed rent-free.
The dispute was sent to mediation, after which the following statement
was released: "The
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Learned
Societies had a very constructive meeting on 16 March which envisages
the continued presence of the Learned Societies at Burlington House.
Discussions are continuing with a view to formalising the arrangement
on a basis which is acceptable to all parties."
The courtyard of Burlington House
Sometimes the courtyard hosts temporary sculptures or exhibitions,
such as this one in 2009
The courtyard of Burlington House, known as the "Annenberg
Courtyard", is open to the public during the day. It features a
statue of Joshua Reynolds, and fountains arranged in the pattern of
the planets at the time of his birth.
The Royal Academy's public art exhibitions are staged in
nineteenth-century additions to the main block which are of little
architectural interest. However, in 2004 the principal reception rooms
on the piano nobile were opened to the public after restoration as the
John Madejski Fine Rooms". They contain many of the principal works
in the academy's permanent collection, which predominantly features
works by Royal Academicians, and small temporary exhibitions drawn
from the collection. The east, west and
Piccadilly wings are occupied
by the learned societies, and are generally not open to the public.
6 Burlington Gardens
^ Historic England, "
Royal Academy including
Burlington House and
Royal Academy School buildings (126676)", National
Heritage List for England, retrieved 14 December 2017
^ Date in The John Madeski Fine Rooms: An Architectural Guide (Royal
Academy of Arts).
Burlington House Survey of London: volumes 31 and 32 (pp.
390–429)". British-history.ac.uk. Retrieved 2013-03-26.
^ Pellegrini's decorations were removed by 1727 and survive at Narford
Hall, Norfolk; canvases from Ricci's screen are no longer in situ but
Burlington House (The John Madeski Fine Rooms).
^ "A fairly faithful transcript", according to James Lees-Milne, The
Earls of Creation, 1962:99; Leoni had provided an engraving; Campbell
had already used the scheme in a design dedicated to Lord Islay in his
^ a b The John Madeski Fine Rooms.
^ Now the General Assembly Room, it was originally a bedroom; its
opening into the enfilade was blocked in 1885 by Richard Norman Shaw,
who centred the room on his new staircase; the enfilade has been
reopened with the restoration of the "Fine Rooms".
Charles Barry, Jr.
Charles Barry, Jr. was the son of the better-known Sir Charles
Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament.
^ Adam, David (31 January 2004). "Royal societies facing eviction in
row over rent". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
^ a b "About Us". Burlington House. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
David Pearce, London's Mansions (1986). ISBN 0-7134-8702-X.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Burlington House.
Wikisource has the text of the 1905 New International Encyclopedia
article Burlington House.
Burlington House – arts and sciences in the heart of London – The
Burlington House lectures represent a joint interdisciplinary
initiative organised in conjunction with the
Royal Academy and the
five learned societies that occupy this historic building.
Survey of London – very detailed coverage of
Burlington House from
the government sponsored survey of London (1963).
Article 'The Burlington Five' published in The Time