Author Topic: Grace and Favour residences  (Read 34048 times)

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Offline Cunarder

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Grace and Favour residences
« on: April 05, 2006, 12:18:44 AM »
I was enjoying the Royal Interiors thread (newbie that I am, trying to catch up to the rest of you!) when a question came to mind. I am curious about the Grace and Favour system, specifically for servants of the Crown, and other non-royals. I'm assuming the honor provides for rent, but anything else? Utilities? Also, is this system on the wane? I toured several vacant G&F flats in Hampton Court last May, and was told by a guide that now after a tenant vacated an apartment, that these were no longer being occupied. Is this specific only to Hampton Court? Or to all such properties?

What a treat it was to visit Princess Margaret's apartment at Kensington last year. It seemed that these rooms had only been on public display since 2004 or so. There was a bit of remodelling being done at the time, and I'm wondering if anyone has visited her rooms since then and what has been done? Thanks! :)

Offline CHRISinUSA

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2006, 03:19:06 PM »
As you rightly indicated, there has long been a system of providing accomodation to royal retainers and others at the "grace and favour" of the sovereign.  These homes are traditionally in one of the occupied or unoccupied royal palaces.   Kensington and Hampton Court Palaces have been the largest locations for such residences in recent centuries - although Windsor Castle & Parks, St. James Palace, the Tower of London, Marlborough House Mews, are also used.

Residents are varied, and included current and retired courtiers and royal staff, royal relatives and even foreign royalty, current and former government officials and diplomats, retired military leaders, and even regular old people.  This system made sense, since royal and civil staff were frequently ill-paid or even not paid at all, and accomodation was a natural substitute for salaries.

The terms of the tenancy varied, but generally these residents lived rent-free, but were responsible for interior maintenance and decor.  The page I mentioned above says that HCP residents often had to haggle with the Lord Chamberlain over who paid to install or fix bathrooms, lifts, or kitchens...

The practice of granting grace-and-favour accomodation has definitely declined in recent decades as the overall cost of the monarchy has come under scruitiny.  HCP is slowly being abadoned for such purposes and it would seem that so is Kensington Palace.  (Side note:  check out the HCP section of the HRP website - they have a very detailed history of who lived where over the centuries!)

According to Parliamentary records, there were 244 self-contained residences on the Royal Estate (the property directly occupied by the Crown) as of 2001.  They house a mix of residents - from current royal household employees (private secretaries and royal chauffeurs all the way down to people who maintain the palaces and grounds), to retirees and widows/widowers.  Parliiament has complained about the costs of maintaining these properties, and even more so of refurbishing them.  One apartment was recently refurbished at the cost of 250,000 pounds for the Queen's Private Secretary!!!!

It should be noted that it isn't just the Royal Household who enjoy grace and favour residences.  There are official residences at Downing Street, the Palace of Westminster, Admirality House, and other locations where government officials have such accomodation!

Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2006, 04:55:52 PM »
There were some good tidbits on the HRP website:

One long-term resident was Miss Millicent Gordon who holds the record for being the only grace-and-favour resident to have lived in the palace for over one hundred years. During Miss Gordon's residency the apartment was neither modernised nor updated and, notably, had no bathroom. In 1941 the Housekeeper wrote on Millicent's behalf to request the installation of a bath. Her application, nevertheless, was turned down by senior officialdom. Miss Gordon's longevity was not taken into consideration and she had to manage without a bathroom for a further eight years until her death in October 1949, aged almost 105 years.

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh (1876-1948) lived in Faraday House, opposite Hampton Court Green, as a Grace and Favour resident. She was the daughter of Duleep Singh, Maharajah of the Punjab until 1849 when he surrendered the region to the British Empire along with the famous Koh-i-noor diamond. Princess Sophia lived there with two of her sisters, Bamba and Catherine. The princesses raised funds during both world wars for Indian soldiers, and to a greater or lesser extent, were active in the Suffragette Movement at both local and national levels. Sophia has been described as a 'suffragette fanatic' and as a member of the Tax Resistance League, was fined several times and had jewellery confiscated for non-payment of taxes. The 1934 edition of Women's Whose Who listed 'the Advancement of Women' as her only interest. The Suffragette movement had a deep impact on the palace. Some of its residents were militant supporters and in February 1913 the palace was closed to the public for seven months "owing to the fear of damage by women suffragists". There were also extra policemen employed to guard the palace during the height of the potential threat.

Grand Duchess Xenia lived in Wilderness House next to the maze. Xenia was the highest-ranking member of the White Russian aristocracy in London and as a result Hampton Court became an important place of pilgrimage for Russia's exiled society. Visitors were astonished at the simple life that she led during her twenty-three years tenure at the palace. Her simple reply was: 'The Russian Revolution took almost everything from me, but the Bolsheviks left with me with one privilege - to be a private person'.

The famous Antarctic explorer, Sir Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912) was married in the palace's Chapel Royal on 2 September 1908. He was 40, and his bride, Kathleen Bruce, a famous sculptor in her own right, was 28. Kathleen was living in a grace-and-favour apartment in the palace with her aunt, Mrs Zoe Thomson. In 1915 a grace-and-favour warrant was granted to Scott's mother, Hannah, who lived in Apartment 44 (currently part of the offices of the Palace Director), until her death in 1924. Curiously, some years later it was allocated to Ernest Shackleton's widow, Lady Emily, who lived there from 1930 until her death in 1936. Shackleton (1874-1922), a fellow famous Antarctic explorer, served in 1901 as a junior officer under Captain Scott in Discovery.

A celebrated and much-loved 20th century figure, Lady Baden-Powell, moved into her palace apartment in 1942. She was heavily involved in the Scouting Movement that her husband had founded. She described how, during the war, she survived a bomb, which exploded causing her ceiling to collapse in 1944.  "I was astounded; I had never dreamed of such a privilege being accorded me'. The apartment was 'a bit dilapidated' because of the war but most importantly would be 'home'". Lady Baden-Powell's response following the offer of a palace apartment in 1942.

 Hampton Court had very successful football and cricket teams, which consisted of palace residents & employees. In the early 1920's they won numerous awards, with the football team Champions of Division I in the Kingston League for three successive years. The trophies were presented to the teams by the palace grace and favour ladies - which the palace still holds.

The palace founded its own Infant's School 1877. It closed its doors in the early 1950s and has since become home for the security team of the palace. Alongside the children of palace staff and local people, palace residents the young Russian Romanov princes and princesses, who lived at Wilderness House next to the maze, also attended the school.

 
 





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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2006, 04:58:58 PM »
about one of the non-royal Grace & Favours

Prescott 'has 46,000 income tax liability on his Whitehall flat'
By Neil Tweedie
(Filed: 14/01/2006)

John Prescott should be paying more than a third of his ministerial salary in tax for the benefit-in-kind that he receives from living in his Government-owned flat in Whitehall, a senior tax accountant said yesterday.

The Deputy Prime Minister admitted on Thursday that he had not paid a penny in council tax on the 2.3 million flat in Admiralty House in more than eight years owing to a misunderstanding between himself and his department.

The man responsible for overseeing repeated council tax rises will now pay about 6,000 to remedy the situation. But Michael Warburton, the senior tax partner at Grant Thornton, said that Mr Prescott's council tax woes were as nothing compared with what his income tax liabilities should be.

Mr Prescott disclosed in a written answer to the Commons apologising for the council tax mistake that he paid 10 per cent of his 134,000 salary for "utilities and services" associated with the occupancy of his official residence.

But, according to Mr Warburton, that is a tiny amount compared to what he should be paying for the benefit-in-kind represented by the flat.

The three flats in Admiralty House, all occupied by Labour Cabinet ministers, are together worth about 7 million. Under current rules the tax liability on such a benefit is calculated by finding five per cent of the property's value and taxing it at 40 per cent.

The annual bill for the 2.3 million grace-and-favour residence is thus 46,000, a hefty slice of Mr Prescott's income. Added to that are expenses of running the property, such as heating and council tax if paid by the landlord.

The same tax liability should apply to the other ministerial tenants, Geoff Hoon, the Leader of the House of Commons, and Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary. The three escape full income tax liability on the grounds that they inhabit "official residences", but why exactly that should be so is a mystery.

According to an answer given by the Prime Minister in February 2002, the three flats in Admiralty House are by tradition assigned to senior ministers, but on what grounds is unclear. The Defence Secretary was usually one of the residents, but Mr Hoon stayed in his flat despite losing his job. Mr Warburton explained: "Unlike the Prime Minister, who is obliged to live in Downing Street, and the Foreign Secretary, who should do the same at 1 Carlton Gardens, there is no particular reason why those three ministers should inhabit Admiralty House. You only escape liability if you must live in a residence on security grounds.

"Why do these three ministers require more security than, say, the current Defence Secretary? Rules on benefits in kind are clear and there is really no reason why Mr Prescott should get away with enjoying such a huge benefit-in-kind for 13,400 in income tax when he should be paying more than 46,000." The Deputy Prime Minister was hoping to a draw a line under the council tax affair yesterday, but questions remain.

In his statement, Mr Prescott said he had "no legal obligation" to pay council tax on the flat, but Mr Warburton said that was "nonsense".

"Why doesn't he? Someone - either himself or his department - have to pay. And if the department does, then he should register that on his tax form as a benefit-in-kind".

Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Prescott said the Deputy Prime Minister did not know of the mix-up because it was "never raised". When asked why it not been, given repeated queries from the Tories, he replied: "I don't know."

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Offline grandduchessella

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2006, 05:00:47 PM »
Friday, October 28, 2005

Daily Mail: Grace and favour fury

By Tim Shipman
TONY BLAIR and his senior ministers pocketed nearly 130,000 of taxpayers' money in housing allowances last year despite being given the run of lavish grace-and-favour homes paid for by voters.

David Blunkett, who enjoyed the use of a free apartment in Belgravia even when he was not in government, claimed more than 20,000 last year to cover his housing costs back in Sheffield.

Mr Blair claimed 16,417 for the upkeep of his home in his Sedgefield constituency on top of 10 Downing Street and the Chequers country residence of which he has sole use completely free of charge.

Anti-sleaze campaigners last night said the ministers were being subsidised twice by the taxpayer and effectively having their mortgages paid from the public purse.

MPs claimed a total of 81million in expenses last year, a rise of 3million over 2004, according to figures released yesterday under freedom of information laws. Each MP claimed an average of 122,000, some 4,000 more than the year before. That means they are pocketing in expenses more than double their 59,000 salary.

The most expensive MP was Labour's Geraint Davies, who lost his Croydon Central seat at the General Election. He claimed an astonishing 176,026 in housing, travel, postage and staff costs. The worst sitting MP was Margaret Moran from Luton South, who racked up 168,569.

Eight of the top ten were Labour MPs, including former minister Alan Milburn who has twice received lucrative payoffs for leaving the Cabinet. But Labour stalwart Dennis Skinner gave best value to his constituents, claiming just 75,487. The seven ministers, including Mr Blair, who are given grace-andfavour homes for free claimed a total of 129,246 in Additional Costs Allowance - helping them to pay their council tax and utility bills at their second and third homes.

The money is paid to MPs for costs incurred when staying overnight away from their main home. The payments are tax-free and senior ministers also profit by renting out the London homes they occupied before they moved into their grace-and-favour homes.

Most surprising was Mr Blunkett's claim of 20,608. In addition to the Belgravia apartment gifted by the state, he gets a rental income from a house in Southfields in South-West London and has the use of a property on the Chatsworth estate owned by the Duchess of Devonshire.

Downing Street excused the payments to Mr Blair on the grounds that his Sedgefield home is used as an office. But he and wife Cherie are also claiming rental income from the two flats they own in Bristol and their 3million townhouse in London.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw claimed 17,780 despite enjoying two grace and favour homes.

Gordon Brown, who rents a separate flat in Central London and only uses his Downing Street residence for official receptions, claimed 20,285 in Additional Costs Allowance. He also has the run of the 214-acre Dorneywood estate in Buckinghamshire, which he shares with John Prescott.

The Deputy Prime Minister, who claimed 14,166 in housing allowance, also has a flat in Admiralty House, along with Geoff Hoon, who claimed 20,902 and Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett, who claimed 19,088 for her home in Derbyshire which she already owns outright.

Both Mr Hoon and Mrs Beckett supplement their income by renting out their old London flats. Mrs Beckett also pocketed 91,136 in staff costs, which include money paid to her husband Leo who runs her parliamentary constituency office.

All the payments are within the rules, but Lib Dem MP Norman Baker said: 'It looks like ministers are ripping off the system. We have come a long way from homes fit for heroes from the socialist government after the war to third homes fit for Cabinet ministers from this Labour Government.'

Martin Bell, the former independent MP and anti-sleaze campaigner, said: 'It is reasonable for MPs to have a home in London and a home in the constituency but if you're a government minister and you've got a grace-and-favour home there's no justification for making any further claim.

'I think MPs do damage to themselves by the way some of them abuse their positions.'

Matthew Elliott of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: 'It's ridiculous that Ministers get both a housing allowance and a free house. People who receive such a package in the private sector normally pay tax on the perk. It's outrageous to have one rule for taxpayers and another rule for MPs. Some MPs are abusing the generosity of taxpayers.'

A spokesman for Mr Blunkett said: 'There are published rules which Cabinet ministers follow exactly. They do not receive an allowance for a London home but can claim the Additional Costs Allowance for a constituency home if it is outside London. This is agreed by Parliament.'

It is not only senior ministers who are cashing in on the second homes allowance. Husband and wife Labour MPs Alan and Ann Keen whose constituencies are side by side in West London came under fire a year ago for claiming for a Central London flat even though they live only nine miles from Westminster.

Unrepentant, they claimed 31,583 last year in Additional Costs Allowance.

One MP has been shamed into partly changing her ways. Claire Curtis-Thomas, Labour MP for Crosby, topped the expenses league of shame last year, spending nearly 169,000. This year she was only the 16th most profli
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Offline Cunarder

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2006, 09:58:09 AM »
I was stunned :o by the wealth of information in your replies! Thank you CHRISinUSA and grandduchessella! :)

Offline Caleb

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2006, 08:13:26 PM »
Am I just making up things, or was John Brown given a house by Queen Victoria?

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2006, 05:58:58 PM »
There is an extremely interesting online book called "Grace & Favour:  A handbook of who lived where in Hampton Court Palace 1750 - 1950."   There are floor plans showing the rooms and divisions of each apartment.  It's kept me occupied on a very snowy day.


http://www.historicroyalpalaces.org/Downloads/989B4A_7112_4a%20WEBHampton%20Court.pdf

Offline Duke of New Jersey

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2007, 03:50:27 PM »
Does anybody have floor plans of Hampton Court?  The link that on the HRP website does not work anymore, and has not been working for some time.

This is the only thing I have on Hampton Court:



Some exterior pics:





I have always found Hampton Court one of the most interesting palaces and it is really a shame that nothing is being done with it. 

-Duke of NJ

Leuchtenberg

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2007, 10:36:18 PM »
Does anybody have floor plans of Hampton Court?  The link that on the HRP website does not work anymore, and has not been working for some time.

This is the only thing I have on Hampton Court:



Some exterior pics:





I have always found Hampton Court one of the most interesting palaces and it is really a shame that nothing is being done with it. 

-Duke of NJ


This should give you what you are seeking.


http://www.savefile.com/files/773115

Offline Duke of New Jersey

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2007, 05:46:54 PM »
Many thanks Leuchtenberg!!  That was great, it kept me busy.   ;D

Does anybody have labeled plans of Wren's Hampton Court as they were at the time of William, Mary, Anne or George?  I looked in a few books but they seem to concentrate on Wosely's old palace. 

Also, why did William and Mary decide to build their palace attached to Henry's palace.  Was it because of the garden and location of Hampton Court? I think it the facade of Henry's palace looks nice but it would look better if Wren's facade was the principal facade. 

-Duke of NJ

Offline Martyn

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2007, 03:45:10 PM »
I have just been in London and took the opportunity to visit Hampton Court, somewhere that I have always wanted to visit.

Hampton Court is simply stunning.  Such an eclectic mix of styles and periods that really create a unique atmosphere, from the intricately painted and panelled (but tiny) Wolsey Closet to the sumptuous yet restrained State rooms of William and Mary, it really is worth a visit.

I took the trouble to look at the exhibition that dealt with the grace and favour residences at the Palace and it really was fascinating.  I believe that there are still some residents who occupy these properties but I think that the ultimate aim is for them all to be vacated.

One reason for this may be due to the fact that there was a terrible fire in one of the apartments in the 1980's (indeed not the first fire either), but the problem with this incident was that it was located in an apartment that was directly over the State Rooms.  Although the fire was contained, much damage was done to several rooms in the area of the palace created by William and Mary and it was costly in terms of time, money and expertise to restore these historically important rooms.  Also, sadly, the occupant of the apartment died in the fire...........
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Offline Martyn

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2007, 03:58:49 PM »

What a treat it was to visit Princess Margaret's apartment at Kensington last year.  It seemed that these rooms had only been on public display since 2004 or so.   There was a bit of remodelling being done at the time, and I'm wondering if anyone has visited her rooms since then and what has been done?   Thanks!  :)

I've just been to visit this Apartment as well.  I was amazed at the size of the flat, although only a selection of its rooms are open to the public.  I was particularly enervated at not being able to enter Pcss Margaret's drawing room (such a horrible shade of blue), but visitors are on;ly allowed to peer through a small hatch, formerly used for a projector, into the room.  At the far end was displayed an evening dress in a glass case but it was so far away, in the room beyond, that it was impossible to see!

I was more interested in the fact that Pcss Louise had lived in this apartment and there were some great photos of how it looked when she lived there (Louise had far better taste in decor than Margaret!).  There was also displayed the most beautiful head and shoulders portrait of Louise in her wedding dress but the name of the painter escapes me....I had a look for the window that Louise allegedly bricked up to prevent Lorne from roaming in the gardens at night when his mind was starting to be affected.

It was quite fascinating to see the rooms where these two royal princesses had lived, but how I wish that we could instead see the late Princess of Wales's apartment..........
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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2007, 11:02:20 AM »

I've just been to visit this Apartment as well.  I was amazed at the size of the flat, although only a selection of its rooms are open to the public.  I was particularly enervated at not being able to enter Pcss Margaret's drawing room (such a horrible shade of blue),

If I am not mistaken, what little professional decorating help Margaret had came from David Hicks.

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Re: Grace and Favour residences
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2007, 01:16:37 PM »

What a treat it was to visit Princess Margaret's apartment at Kensington last year.  It seemed that these rooms had only been on public display since 2004 or so.   There was a bit of remodelling being done at the time, and I'm wondering if anyone has visited her rooms since then and what has been done?   Thanks!  :)

I've just been to visit this Apartment as well.  I was amazed at the size of the flat, although only a selection of its rooms are open to the public.  I was particularly enervated at not being able to enter Pcss Margaret's drawing room (such a horrible shade of blue), but visitors are on;ly allowed to peer through a small hatch, formerly used for a projector, into the room.  At the far end was displayed an evening dress in a glass case but it was so far away, in the room beyond, that it was impossible to see!

I was more interested in the fact that Pcss Louise had lived in this apartment and there were some great photos of how it looked when she lived there (Louise had far better taste in decor than Margaret!).  There was also displayed the most beautiful head and shoulders portrait of Louise in her wedding dress but the name of the painter escapes me....I had a look for the window that Louise allegedly bricked up to prevent Lorne from roaming in the gardens at night when his mind was starting to be affected.

It was quite fascinating to see the rooms where these two royal princesses had lived, but how I wish that we could instead see the late Princess of Wales's apartment..........

Which of Margaret's rooms are open to the public?  Are they confined to the ground floor?

 The hatch you described for use by a projector is between the Library and the Drawing Room.