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Cranbourne Lodge, Berkshire, England

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Cranbourne Lodge, Berkshire, England

Cranbourne Lodge Round in Cranbourne Chase, now part of Windsor Great Park with only the Grade II* listed Cranbourne Tower remaining, it was originally a keeper's lodge for the royal hunting grounds of Cranbourne Chase.


Dating from as early as the 13th Century when the royal forest of Windsor was divided up, a substantial house and the first tower was built there in the 1480's just prior to the commencement of the reign of Henry VII who threw out William Staverton from Warfield, the then Keeper as he was a suporter of his enemies, the Yorkists. During the reign of his son, Henry VIII, his favourite, Richard Weston took up residence here and repairs were undertaken. The Stavertons eventually returned to favour as keepers. They were succeeded by the Wards fo Hurst and Winkfield.

The Keeper during the 1630s was Sir Thomas Aylesbury, Surveyor of the Navy. In 1637/8 Anne Hyde, mother of Queen Marry II and Queen Anne, was born here and lived here until reaching the age of twelve at which point Captain James Whitelocke, eldest son of Sir Bulstrode Whitelocke, took possession of the lodge following the Parliamentary victory during the civil war. Anne Hyde's father, the 1st Earl of Clarendon had it as a retreat from public life following the Restoration. Some of the most notable alterations to the building were carried out by Sir George Carteret who, as his superior entertained Samuel Pepys many times during his residence during the 1660s. They would discuss Navy business whilst walking together in the Great Park. On one ocassion, when his guide got lost on the way there Pepys navigated by the stars and on arrival found that because the lodge was in the middle of being rebuilt there was no way in so he climbed a ladder and through the window into Carteret's bedroom.

According to John Evelyn there was grand dinner given in 1674 for the King and in the 1690's the Paymaster General of the Army, Lord Ranelagh lived at the lodge amassing, rather dubiously a massive fortune much of which he spent on improvements to the gardens and park of Cranbourne in addition to founding Ranelagh School in Winkfield and now Bracknell.

During the 1750s renovations were executed by the 2nd Duke of St. Albans after which the Duke of Cumberland moved in whilst Cumberland Lodge was being renovated at the height of his patronage of Royal horse-racing. In 1764 in the field below the tower, Eclipse, a famous racehorse, was born. The Duke had Pineapples supplied from a specially built 'pinery' and enjoyed his own bowling green. Later his nephew, Edward, Duke of York took up residence and entertained the King of Denmark in grand style in 1768. Although Cranbourne Lodge underwent extensive repairs in the 1770s by 1791 it was apparently in a most decrepit state leading to both the lodge and the tower being largely rebuilt by George Villiers, between 1804 and 1808, creating the largest house on the site. He was the younger brother of the 6th Earl of Clarendon, bailiff at the farms of George III in the Great and Home Parks who had to leave when more than a quarter of a million pounds went missing from his office as Paymaster of the Marines.

Princess Charlotte

It is well known that the Prince Regent, later George IV and Caroline of Brunswick were long estranged. His relationship with his daughter, Princess Charlotte was little better and she was kept a virtual prisoner at the Lodge from July 1814 with staff of his choice replacing her loyal servants from Warwick House which she was forced to leave following conflicting views of who she should marry. George arranged an engagement to William II of the Netherlands which was soon broken off and Charlotte had an infatuation for Prince Augustus of Prussia which was far from a suitable match partly because he was considered below the station of a likely future Queen of England but importantly he was already married. Whilst George was becoming increasingly unpopular with the people, Charlotte was seen as a populist reformer with her Whig sympathies meaning that this virtual imprisonment was not a favoured move and drew the attention of people such as the Romantic poets, Byron and Shelley and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfield who, with the Prince's permission, courted her at Cranbourne and following her release from Cranbourne in January 1816 he married her at Carlton House in May but happiness was shortlived and she died in childbirth little more than a year later resulting in a mad dash by all her bachelor uncles to marry for she was the only clear royal heir. This race led eventually to Queen Victoria taking the crown.


Cranbourne Tower

Cranbourne Tower is all that remains as the rest of the house fell into a poor state of repair during the 19th century and was as a result demolished in 1865. // Main Reference WIKI Berkshire Information shared under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License - see Creative Commons Licenses