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This text was copied from Wikipedia on 14 June 2024 at 4:10AM.

Plaque marking the site of the King's Wardrobe in Wardrobe Place EC4

The Royal Wardrobe (also known as the King's Wardrobe) was a building located between Carter Lane and St Andrew's Church, just to the north of what is now Queen Victoria Street in the City of London, near Blackfriars. It was used as a storehouse for royal accoutrements, housing arms and clothing among other personal items of the Crown.


The Royal Wardrobe was not, first and foremost, a building, but a department of the Royal Household (and later a Department of State) in medieval and early modern England.

The building in Blackfriars was a 14th-century house sold to King Edward III shortly after the death of its owner in 1359. It served primarily as a storehouse for the king's state and ceremonial robes, as well as those pertaining to members of the Royal Family and Household, to ambassadors, ministers, Knights of the Garter and various other office-holders. Cloths and hangings, as used at coronations, funerals and other occasions of state, were also kept here; as were items such as beds and other furnishings for royal and official use. These items had previously been kept in the Tower of London, but space there was increasingly in demand for storage of arms, armour and ammunition (all of which was also in the keeping of the Wardrobe). The Wardrobe was also responsible for keeping the accounts of the Royal Household; this work too was undertaken at Blackfriars, and it was there that the books were kept.[1]

The Wardrobe was used to house orphans during the Commonwealth of England. Samuel Pepys records that a party of children sang to Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich when he was appointed as Master of the Royal Wardrobe during the Restoration but he was unmoved, the orphans were evicted, and the Wardrobe resumed its usual function.

The Royal Wardrobe was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was not rebuilt on the same site, but relocated, first to Buckingham Street in the Savoy, and later, again, to Great Queen Street.

The building's legacy survives in the street names Wardrobe Terrace and Wardrobe Place, built on the site of the Wardrobe, and in the curious designation of the nearby church, St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe (also destroyed in the fire, but built anew by Sir Christopher Wren).


  1. ^ Weinreb & Hibbert (1993). The London Encyclopedia. London: Pan Macmillan.

51°30′45″N 0°06′03″W / 51.5126°N 0.1009°W / 51.5126; -0.1009

1893 text

The duty of the Master of the Wardrobe was to provide “proper furniture for coronations, marriages, and funerals” of the sovereign and royal family, “cloaths of state, beds, hangings, and other necessaries for the houses of foreign ambassadors, cloaths of state for Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Prince of Wales, and ambassadors abroad,” as also to provide robes for Ministers of State, Knights of the Garter, &c. The last Master of the Wardrobe was Ralph, Duke of Montague, who died 1709.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

11 Annotations

First Reading

Grahamt  •  Link

Can be seen slightly more clearly on this 1746 map:…
In fact two are shown: St Andrews Wardrobe and Wardrobe C. The former is off Puddle Dock hill, so relates more closely to Pepys saying that he went "to Puddlewharf, to the Wardrobe"

David Quidnunc  •  Link


Sir Edward Mountagu
(Pepys's "My Lord")…

(In 1671, Mountagu will sell the office to his cousin, Ralph Mountagu.)

William Rumbold…

Thomas Townshend…

There were about 25 tailors, cutters, lacemen, etc., and "a number of hands."

-- L&M Companion volume, "The Wardrobe" entry

Glyn  •  Link

There is still a plaque at the location of the Wardrobe in Wardrobe Place, which is just off Carter Lane, south of the cathedral. (Perhaps someone could take a photo of it for the Photo Album at:…

Cumsalisgrano  •  Link

" Ward robe " lifted from the OED:
from Ward " ward to watchout for or guard " mangled French and German: wearde,warde, garde [the loo]
like in guaudianship of parentless children
2. The office or department of a royal or noble household charged with the care of the wearing apparel. Also, the building in which the officers of this department conduct their business.

More than just wearing items, there be other items of use and value required for the odd occasion when there be visitors of note.
It also be the place where the Royal household gets its remuneration.

a1700 EVELYN Diary 25 Jan. 1645, In the wardrobe above they shew'd us fine wrought plate, porcelan, [etc.].

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

L&M: Hatton Garden escaped the Great Fire of 1665, and the Wardrobe (whose building by Blackfriars were gutted in the Fire) apparently moved there temporarily. By 1668 the Wardrobe had moved to the Savoy.

L&M: The Wardrobe in the autumn of 1667 was being reorganized and its expenditure being reduced by order of the council committee on retrenchments. Two controllers had recently been appointed to supervise its work, and Thomas Townshend, sen., the Deputy-Master (under Sandwich) was their principal victim. For complaints against him see…

In 1669 Townsend was threatened with arrest if his accounts were not completed.

On 6 April, 1661 Pepys reports an incident which sufficiently suggests Townsend's absentmindedness:…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

30 December, 1667: "... by coach to the Wardrobe, where I never was since the fire in Hatton Garden, ..."

That means the move from Hatton Garden to the Savoy was also due to a fire in 1667. (I wonder what Charles II had left to keep in storage?)

This may give us a clue as to why he and James were sending over old Court clothing to the theaters for costumes; they were consolidating their belonging for yet another enforced move to smaller quarters.

Last I heard the Savoy was a prison for Dutch sailors. This must mean they had gone home during the Summer of 1667.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

As part of the economies at the end of the second Anglo-Dutch war, the Wardrobe's accounts were examined, and economies made:

Jan. 16. 1668
Erection of a new office of Controller of the Great Wardrobe, and grant thereof to Andrew Newport, fee 300l. a year.
[Docquet, Vol. 23, No. 177.]…

Apparently Pepys didn't remember Newport's name when he wrote of the new accountants and supervisors:
Wednesday 29 January 1667/68…
"He tells me that Townsend, of the Wardrobe, is the eeriest knave and bufflehead that ever he saw in his life, and wonders how my Lord Sandwich come to trust such a fellow, and that now Reames and ———— are put in to be overseers there, and do great things, and have already saved a great deal of money in the King’s liverys, and buy linnen so cheap, that he will have them buy the next cloth he hath, for shirts."

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

L&M Companion -- Col. Bullen Reames MP (1613-72) appointed Surveyor of the Wardrobe 1668

Jan. 16. 1668
Erection of a new office of Surveyor of the Great Wardrobe, and grant thereof to Bullen Reymes.
fee 300l. a year.
[Docquet, Vol. 23, No. 177.]…

Third Reading

Mountain Man  •  Link

The early (to 1399) history of the Wardrobe administrative office may be found in Tout, T. F. (Thomas Frederick), Chapters in the administrative history of mediaeval England: the wardrobe, the chamber and the small seals. [Manchester]: Manchester University press. 6 vols.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.