Begun in 1825, the house was originally built for George IV’s brother, the Duke of York, and was known as York House. After he died in 1827,
it was acquired, with the interior uncompleted, by the 2nd Marquess of Stafford and was renamed Stafford House. He became the 1st Duke of
Sutherland in 1833 and died later that year. His son, the 2nd Duke, inherited the house and completed its construction. It was assessed for
property taxes as the most valuable private house in London.
The 2nd Duke's wife, Harriet Sutherland,
was Queen Victoria’s best friend and Mistress of the Robes. On arriving at Stafford
House from Buckingham Palace, the Queen told Harriet, “I have come from
my house to your palace.”
In 1912 the house was acquired by Sir William Lever of Lever soap fame. He renamed it Lancaster House in honour of his home county of
Lancashire and presented it to the nation the following year. Until 1945 it housed the London Museum. Queen Elizabeth’s coronation banquet was
held there in 1953. It is now used for government receptions.