03.04.2015
13:58

The Royal Mews

Address:

Buckingham Palace Road, SW1 W1QH

Phone:

020-7766 7302

Website:

www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/royalmews

Opening times:

Feb-March and Nov Mon-Sat 10:00-16:00, March-Oct daily 10:00-17:00

How to get there:

Tube: Victoria/Green Park

Entry fee:

Admission charge

Additional information:

Shop (free entry)

The Royal Mews is a working department of the Royal Household, responsible for the care and maintenance of the sovereign’s horse-drawn carriages of state, official cars and internal mail. Likened by members of the Royal family to a small village, it now occupies the south corner of the gardens of Buckingham Palace, beyond the conspicuous pediment of the Riding House. Designed by Sir William Chambers in 1765–66, this was one of George III’s early improvements to his new purchase, Buckingham House. The pediment was adorned in 1859 with a sculpted relief of Hercules and the Thracian Horses, the man-eating mares whom Hercules tamed by feeding them their master’s flesh. Queen Victoria watched her nine children learn to ride here, where royal horses are still trained to become accustomed to the sounds of marching bands, crowds and flag waving. Beyond the Riding House are the main quadrangle, stables, coach houses and clock tower, all designed in 1825 by John Nash, as part of his renovation of Buckingham House for George IV.

 

The Royal Transport

Queen Alexandra’s State Coach is considered to be the finest built in the collection, converted by Hoopers into a ‘glass state coach’ in 1893. Decorated with 67 different crowns, it has now been adapted to carry the Imperial State Crown to the State Openings of Parliament. On these occasions, the Queen normally travels in the Irish State Coach, originally built by Hutton’s of Dublin 1803–04. First favoured by Queen Victoria after the death of Prince Albert, and later severely damaged by a fire, it was meticulously restored, and carried Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother to the Queen’s coronation in Westminster Abbey in 1953. The 1902 State Landau, built by Hoopers for King Edward VII, is used by the monarch to meet visiting heads of state. Prince Charles travelled to St Paul’s in this open coach for his wedding to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. She herself was conveyed to the cathedral in the Glass Coach, first used for King George V’s coronation in 1911. The Scottish State Coach was built in 1830 and used at the coronation of King William IV. In the late 60s, on the wish of the Queen, it was adorned with the Order of the Thistle and Royal Arms of Scotland and refurbished by the St Cuthbert’s Co-Operative Society in Edinburgh. Also on display are some of the five royal Rolls-Royce Phantoms IV to VI. In place of the marque’s ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’, a silver statuette depicts St George and the Dragon, designed by Edward Seago.

Some of the Queen’s horses, the famous Windsor greys and Cleveland bays, can also be seen in loose boxes on the south side of the quadrangle. Apart from the thoroughbred bays, their names are each chosen by Her Majesty.

The extraordinary Gold State Coach was built for George III in 1762 to a design approved by William Chambers, costing eight thousand pounds. It has been used at every coronation since that of George IV in 1821, weighs nearly four tonnes and is pulled by eight horses proceeding at a walk. William IV likened the ride to ‘a ship tossing in a rough sea’. After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria refused to use it, complaining of the ‘distressing oscillations’. A fantastic showpiece designed to trumpet British sea power, the gilded body framework carved by Joseph Wilton comprises eight palm trees, each of the four corner trees rising from a lion’s head, and supporting trophies symbolising British victories against France in the Seven Years War (1756–63). The body is slung on braces of morocco leather held by four gilded tritons or bearded sea gods, half-man half-fish, the front pair blowing conch shells, the winged pair behind holding trident fasces, symbols of the King’s maritime authority. Putti symbolising England, Scotland and Ireland stand at the centre of the roof, supporting the royal crown. The design of the wheels is based on those of an ancient triumphal chariot. Eight side panels painted by Wilton’s assistant, the Florentine artist Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727–85), depict classical scenes celebrating the wealth and success of Britannia. The carriage is displayed here complete with four model horses in full harness and livery, ridden postillion by two mannequins also in livery. Encircling the room is a frieze painted by Richard Barrett Davis, animal painter to King William IV, showing the carriage and that monarch’s coronation procession in 1831. King William had wanted a relatively quiet affair compared to that of his predecessor George IV ten years earlier, which had cost 240 thousand pounds. At the Duke of Wellington’s insistence, parliament voted 50 thousand pounds for the event; it in fact ended up costing slightly less.

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Gravatar: MuseumMuseum
14.04.2015
13:25
Update from The Royal Mews

The Royal Collection is among the largest and most important art collections in the world, and one of the last great European royal collections to remain intact. It comprises almost all aspects of the fine and decorative arts, and is spread among some 13 royal residences and former residences across the UK, most of which are regularly open to the public. The Royal Collection is held in trust by the Sovereign for her successors and the nation, and is not owned by The Queen as a private individual.

At The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh and in the Drawings Gallery at Windsor Castle, aspects of the Collection are displayed in a programme of temporary exhibitions. Many works from the Collection are on long-term loan to institutions throughout the UK, and short-term loans are frequently made to exhibitions around the world as part of a commitment to public access and to show the Collection in new contexts.

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MUSEUMS & GALLERIES OF LONDON

Details below are taken from our Blue Guide Museums and Galleries of London.  This is a 2005 title, here generally updated for website address and opening times, with useful comments from some of the museums themselves.  More recent information is given in Emily Barber's magisterial new Blue Guide London, "Exceptional update to a classic and useful guide to this amazing city" (Amazon reader review).

FULL LISTING of CURRENT EXHIBITIONS in London from Apollo Magazine »

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