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The Royal Lodge: A Private Home for the British Royals

Royal Lodge's entrance gates. Image from Wikimedia Commons


The Royal Lodge  is one of the private residences of the British Royal Family and, many times in the past, by various officers of the Royal Household.   It is located within the Windsor Great Park in Berkshire, England, half a mile north of Cumberland Lodge and three miles south of Windsor Castle.

History of the House

There appears to have been a house situated on the site as far back as 1662. By 1750, the small brick house was used in conjunction with the adjacent dairy. Around such time, it was known as Lower Lodge, Great Lodge, and Dairy Lodge.

In the mid-18th century, the house was called the Deputy Ranger’s House after it became home to military topographer and artist Thomas Sandby, then the Deputy Ranger of the Windsor Great Park. It was enlarged in 1792 and was occupied by the Park Bailiff, Joseph Frost, and then by the General Superintendent of Farms.

In 1812, the future King George IV used the house as temporary lodging while rebuilding his intended residence, the nearby Cumberland Lodge. He went on to expand the house with the help of renowned British architect John Nash with the original intention of using it to accommodate guests during the Royal Ascot. After alterations were made—the house was now a huge and elaborate cottage in the contemporary cottage orné style (see Adelaide Cottage), complete with thatched roofs, veranda, and a conservatory—the Prince Regent moved into it in 1815, neglecting the renovation of the Cumberland Lodge. It became known as The Prince Regent’s House, and later as the King’s Cottage following his ascent to the throne. The house saw additional changes by architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville in 1823, and was renamed into the Royal Lodge in the late 1820s

A hundred yards from the Royal Lodge, the Royal Chapel of All Saints was built by Sir Wyatville in 1825 as the chapels of the Royal and Cumberland Lodges were deemed to be too small for the Royal Household.

Following William IV’s kingship in 1830, he ordered the demolition of the Royal Lodge, saved for the conservatory, and had the house rebuilt in its current style. Year 1840 saw the house becoming a residence again, accommodating officers of the Royal Household up until 1843, then from 1873to 1931.

A painting of Royal Lodge by William Daniel, c1827, before much of it was demolished.

A Home for the Windsors

In 1931, King George V bequeathed the Royal Lodge to the future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to serve as their country retreat. Queen Elizabeth continued to stay in the house even after the death of her husband in 1952, using it as one of her country retreats and as a grace and favour residence. She died at the Royal Lodge in March 2002.

In August of 2003, the Crown Estate granted Prince Andrew a lease agreement for 75 years, which covered properties including the Royal Lodge, a Gardeners Cottage, the Chapel Lodge, six Lodge Cottages, Police security accommodation, as well as 40 hectares of land. The lease required Prince Andrew to personally shoulder extensive refurbishing work that cost £7.5 million. No rental would be required on Prince Andrew’s part once he committed to spending the said amount as he would then be treated as having effectively bought out the annual rental payment. After extensive refurbishing, Prince Andrew, Duke of York, together with his daughters Beatrice and Eugenie moved into the Royal Lodge in 2004. Sarah, Duchess of York, joined the family in 2008.

Features

The Royal Lodge sits on a 98-acre ground. Wings were added on each flank in the 1930s. Two lodges can be seen at the entrance, and groups of three cottages embellish each side of the lodges. The main building has 30 rooms, which include seven bedrooms, a 48' by 30' by 30' saloon, as well as the original conservatory. The Royal Lodge is also home to the miniature cottage Y Bwthyn Bach, gifted by the people of Wales to Princess Elizabeth in 1932.

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