Blue Plaques

TEMPLE, Henry John, Lord Palmerston (1784-1865) (Carlton Gardens)

Plaque erected in 1907 by London County Council at 4 Carlton Gardens, St James's, London, SW1Y 5AB, City of Westminster

All images © English Heritage




Politics and Administration


LORD PALMERSTON 1784-1865 Statesman Lived Here




Tablet beneath plaque reads: Tablet fixed 1907, Premises rebuilt 1933, Tablet refixed 1936

The statesman Lord Palmerston twice served as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century. He lived at 4 Carlton Gardens in St James’s from late 1846 until January 1855. 

Lord Palmerston – painted here in 1844–5 – was nicknamed ‘Cupid’ in his younger years on account of his notorious womanising © National Portrait Gallery, London


Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, was one of the most colourful and commanding of Victorian politicians. An MP from 1807, he sat in 16 parliaments – at first as a Tory, later as a Liberal – and is best remembered for his use of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ in defence of British interests. Palmerston became Foreign Secretary for the third time in the year he moved from 5 Carlton House Terrace to 4 Carlton Gardens.

His maverick approach to the niceties of diplomacy frequently brought him into conflict with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and the Court used the pretext of his unofficial recognition of Napoleon III to secure his dismissal from office in 1851, though he was subsequently appointed Home Secretary (1852–5). In 1855 Palmerston began the first of two spells as Prime Minister, and left Carlton Gardens for 94 Piccadilly, which also bears a plaque commemorating his stay there. A third plaque to Palmerston can be found at 20 Queen Anne’s Gate in Westminster.


Carlton Gardens is a secluded terrace laid out by John Nash in the 1820s as part of the southern termination of his classical via triumphalis. Palmerston’s wife – Emily, née Lamb (1787–1869), sister to the former Prime Minister Lord Melbourne – lent powerful support to her husband’s career by holding a sophisticated and cosmopolitan salon at Carlton Gardens. It has been said that she ‘surrounded his political existence with a social charm which gave to his hospitality an attraction that at once enthralled his friends and softened his opponents’. She was Palmerston’s lover for many years before they married; both were notorious for their many affairs, and he was nicknamed ‘Cupid’ in his younger years, recording both his conquests and failures meticulously in a pocket-book.

When the plaque was erected at number 4 in 1907, it was the residence of Arthur Balfour (1848–1930), Prime Minister in 1902–5, who had acquired the property in 1870. The house was demolished in 1933, but three years later the plaque and a supplementary tablet recording its history were installed on the imposing stone-built office block built on its site by Sir Reginald Blomfield & Son. They were joined in 1984 by a blue plaque commemorating the offices of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Forces.

Nearby Blue Plaques

Nearby Blue Plaques