Lord Hatherton visits Buckingham Palace, 1836

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Lord Hatherton visits a newly re-furbished Buckingham Palace, and is not impressed.

At 3 o'clock I accompanied Lady Hatherton and my daughters over Buckingham Palace which is now finished. The curtains and carpets are new, but most of the other moveable furniture is from St. James' and other palaces, ill assorted with the apartments, not suiting in point of size or character. I saw chairs of Gothic pattern in rooms with decoration of Grecian character or of the time of Louis Quatorze. In short decorations and furniture everywhere of various eras. Pillars of the most horrible colour, resembling no marble ever yet found on earth, resting on bases utterly unsuited to them. Doors of various sizes in the same room. Marble pilasters and architraves in one apartment and plain painted wood in the next of the same suite.

And then a long gallery on the ground floor which is to be converted into a sculpture gallery whenever there is sculpture to fill it, faute de mieux, but in which on a midsummer moon no statue could be seen without a torch. Miserable provision made for lighting the apartments, the lights not providing more than a tenth part of what will be requisite. Not a lamp in the whole palace except in the picture gallery, cut glass chandeliers being the universal means of eclairage - most of them old blackish glass contrasting disadvantageously with the new whiter ones. Throughout the whole palace there is not one fine mirror. I did not see one that was not small, short and mean-looking in its place.

It is impossible to deny that there are some fine apartments and decorations. A million cannot be spent without some effect even by English architects. But no one whose eye is familiar with decent models can fail to be offended and mortified at such an exposure of the National Taste. Our architects and furnishers are always aping the Louis 14 or Grecian style but they never catch either the lightness or grace of the one nor the solid grandeur united with grace of the other. They produce something heavy and incongruous - generally a bad mixture of both.