For this post we thought it would be fun to look at a royally historic address in London and to see how it has changed over the years.
17 Bruton Street in Mayfair was the London residence of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore. The Earl and Countess (their Christian names were Claude and Cecilia) were Elizabeth Bowes Lyon’s parents, shown here on the left in this famous wedding portrait.
This photograph of Bruton street was taken in 1904. The street stretches towards the lovely Berkeley Square Gardens.
The Strathmore’s moved into 17 Bruton Street in 1920 from their previous residence at 20 St. James’s Square. Several of the letters documented in the book Counting One’s Blessings The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth were written there or reference going to and from the house. It seems that some extensive work was done on the house before the family moved in. In April 1921 Elizabeth wrote this letter to her governess Beryl Poignand from the Strathmore’s stately Hertfordshire home St. Paul’s Waldenbury:
12 April 1921 to Beryl Poignand
St. Paul’s Waldenbury
I haven’t heard from you for years fickle Beast. I am longing to hear, so take up your pen oh Medusa, & forthwith set down on paper all your doings & thoughts […]
Mother & I have been here since Xmas now- isn’t it extraordinary? I am longing for ’17’ [Bruton Street] to be finished, and then you must instantly come and see it…”
It was at that point that Elizabeth struck up a closer friendship with Prince Albert. She left from the house on her way to Westminster Abbey on her wedding day April 26, 1923:
Another look. We wrote about her very of the moment dress here, if you’f like to see.
Three years the Duke and Duchess of York moved there for a few months for the birth of their first child. They had previously lived in Chesterfield House and Curzon House in Mayfair. The future Queen Elizabeth was born at 17 Bruton on at 2:40am 21 April 1926. Home Secretary Sir William Joynson-Hicks was present in the house following tradition. At the time, Princess Elizabeth was third in line to the throne after her dad and uncle, and was named HRH Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York after her mother, paternal grandmother Queen Mary and great-grandmother Queen Alexandra. Both King George V and Queen Mary visited the home to see the new baby and massive crowds gathered at the house to witness it all. Despite that – no photos of the King and Queen’s arrival can be found. By the way, they switched things up for Princess Margaret, who was born at her maternal grandparents Scottish estate Glamis Castle on August 21 1930.
Princess Elizabeth was christened on May 29, 1926 at the private chapel in Buckingham Palace. At the time, she was still living on Bruton Street, and here she is heading to BP with the Duchess of York. This is also a a rarely seen look at the famous christening gown (lots more about the christening gown can be found here).
Here’s an excerpt of one from 1926, which goes to show how much the Duke and Duchess of York appreciated being able to stay and live at the house. It wasn’t until later that the Duke and Duchess of York took a London house at 145 Picadilly, which we’ll just have to write about in a future post.
28 October 1926 to Lady Strathmore
My Darling Mother
Thank you a thousand times for your two last letters. I am so sorry that poor father has a cold, and I do hope he is better now. I wonder when you will be coming south? […]
We leave here tomorrow, & return to B.[ruton] Street. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without it.
The baby is very well, and now spends the whole day taking her shoes off & sucking her toes! She is going to be very wicked, and she is very quick I think…
Sadly, the house has been demolished and we haven’t yet unearthed when this happened or when the Strathmores decided to sell (do you know?). However, a plaque is on the building that now stands in its place. The plaque was added as part of the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations in 2012.
It reads On this site at 17 Bruton Street stood the townhouse of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne where Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, later to become Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, was born on 21 April 1926.
Here’s the building that stands there now.
In fact, there’s a restaurant there that holds the address 17 Bruton Street. It’s highly rated and called Haakasan.
As a side note, favourite royal Designer Norman Hartnell also has some history on Bruton Street. On 11 May 2005, Hartnell was commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at 26 Bruton Street, London W1, where he lived and worked from 1935 to 1979.
Do you know anymore about 17 Bruton Street? Have you taken a stroll by where it once stood?