Metro Weekly

Buckingham Palace might have been site of a gay brothel in the 1600s

England's monarch sleeps in an area known for gay brothels and sex workers, LGBTQ historian claims

buckingham palace, gay, brothel
Buckingham Palace — Photo by Jean Carlo Emer on Unsplash

Buckingham Palace, the home of Queen Elizabeth II, reportedly stands on the site of a former gay brothel.

Norton Rictor, an LGBTQ historian, suggested in his 2013 essay The Gay Subculture in Early Eighteenth-Century London that brothels and gay cruising spots appeared in London in the early 17th century, PinkNews reports.

He cited the writings of English politician Clement Walker, who noted in 1649 the existence of “new-erected sodoms and spintries at the Mulberry Garden at S. James’s.”

“Sodoms” referred to brothels, with “spintries” referring to gay sex workers, according to PinkNews.

The location of those brothels and sex workers, Mulberry Garden, is now occupied by the northwest corner of Buckingham Palace, the official London residence and administrative headquarters of United Kingdom monarch.

In addition, Rictor noted that gay sex in the English capital was usually about “pleasure rather than profit,” and that contemporary commentators lacked the language to appropriately describe gay people and gay sex workers.

As such, they altered the language used for heterosexual sex workers to describe the city’s burgeoning gay population.

“The commentators upon morality probably could not deal with the concept of homosexuality except by labeling its practitioners with terms borrowed from the underworld of heterosexual prostitution,” Rictor wrote.

Commentators would “misleadingly use terms such as ‘He-Strumpets’ and ‘He-Whores’ even for quite ordinary gay men who would never think of soliciting payment for their pleasures.”

Some were also open about their homosexuality, including poet and Earl of Rochester John Wilmot, who wrote about his liaisons with other men.

“There’s a sweet, soft page of mine. Does the trick worth forty wenches,” he wrote.

In another poem, Wilmot wrote, “Nor shall our love-fits. Chloris, be forgot. When each the well-looked linkboy strove t’enjoy. And the best kiss was the deciding lot. Whether the boy fucked you, or I the boy.”

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