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Standing on the edge of Greenwich Park, Ranger’s House offers a romantic, elegant location to exchange your vows in front of your loved ones. This sophisticated red brick Georgian villa is filled with breathtaking statues and beautiful paintings, lending an air of exclusivity to a wedding ceremony.Find out more
In the 1670s, and without consent, Andrew Snape, Serjeant Farrier to Charles II, occupies a strip of land between Greenwich Park and Blackheath. By approximately 1688, three houses are built, one of which is on the site of the present day Ranger’s House and was later occupied by Captain Francis Hosier.
By 1723, Francis Hosier, by now a vice-admiral, demolishes the previous house and builds a handsome red-brick villa. The location is perfect for a naval man. The design has been attributed to John James, clerk of works for the Royal Hospital for Seamen.
Francis Hosier, along with 4,000 other men, dies of yellow fever in Jamaica following the blockade of Porto Bello in modern-day Panama. An inventory of his effects at Ranger’s includes ‘a straw hammock’ and ‘India bow & sheath of Arrows’. A drawn-out legal dispute erupts between Hosier’s wife and his mother’s relations over who inherits the house.
In 1740, the lease to the house is sold to John Stanhope, the younger brother of Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield and Secretary of State. On John’s death in 1748, Philip inherits the property, enjoying the peace and quiet after a lengthy career in politics. He refers to Ranger’s as ‘My Hermitage’.
Lord Chesterfield almost doubles the size of Ranger’s House through the addition of a gallery to the south to house his impressive collection of art. He writes of the windows that they offer some of the ‘finest prospects in the world’.
Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, dies in 1773, leaving the property to his godson, also called Philip, the 5th Earl of Chesterfield.
A six-day sale takes place at Ranger’s House of ‘all the elegant household furniture, collection of pictures, china, linen, plates ... of the Earl of Chesterfield’. The following year, 1783, Ranger’s House itself is sold to Richard Hulse – barrister, art collector, and Deputy Governor of the Hudson Bay Company of Canada. Hulse adds a wing to match that built by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield.
Augusta, Dowager Duchess of Brunswick and sister of George III, moves to Ranger’s House, known as Brunswick House, to be closer to her daughter Caroline, after fleeing the continent due to the Napoleonic Wars. Caroline is appointed Ranger of Greenwich Park in 1806 and lives next door in Montagu House.
Amid tense relations with her husband, the future George IV, Caroline leaves England in 1814. After her departure, Montagu House is deemed unfit for use and demolished, and instead Brunswick House becomes the new residence for the Rangers of Greenwich Park.
Princess Sophia Matilda of Gloucester (1777–1844), niece of George III, becomes the first Ranger to reside at Ranger’s House. She is popular with the local community for her ‘acts of private beneficence’.
Princess Sophia Matilda passes away in November 1844 and is laid in state in the dining room of Ranger’s House, which is decorated in black cloth and lit by wax candles. Before the princess is taken by procession to Windsor Castle for burial, the public are permitted to file past and pay their respects.
Prince Arthur of Connaught, the 12-year-old third son of Queen Victoria, arrives at Ranger’s House with his tutor, Major Elphingstone. While there, he adheres to a strict regime to prepare him for admittance to the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich. He is only allowed to play with friends twice a week and builds forts in the grounds.
Lady Blanche, Countess of Mayo, is appointed as Ranger of Greenwich Park by Queen Victoria. Her husband, Lord Richard Bourke, was the former Viceroy of India and was assassinated in the Andaman Islands.
In 1888, Field-Marshal Lord Garnet Wolseley moves to Ranger’s House on being appointed Ranger of Greenwich Park. Now remembered for his actions in Sudan to relieve General Gordon of Khartoum, Wolseley becomes the last Ranger to live at Ranger’s House, leaving in 1896.
Queen Victoria makes an exchange with the Commissioners of the Woods and Forests, transferring Ranger’s House in return for the repair of Kensington Palace.
Ranger’s House is sold to London County Council ‘for the purposes of public recreation’ and opens the following year for use as changings rooms for those playing sport on Blackheath. The grounds are converted into a bowling green and tennis courts.
Ranger’s House is requisitioned for use during both world wars. In 1915, Ranger’s and neighbouring McCartney House became the headquarters for the No. 2 Reserve Horse Transport Depot. During the Second World War, Ranger’s is again pressed into service, during which time the stable is damaged by bombing and demolished.
After the war, Ranger’s is renovated and used for several cultural purposes. The Suffolk Collection, now at Kenwood in North London, is gifted to the nation and displayed at Ranger’s House. This important collection of artwork was acquired by the Earls of Suffolk and Berkshire over a period of 400 years.
Ranger’s House opens as the home of the Wernher Collection, a world-class art collection amassed by the 19th-century businessman Sir Julius Wernher.