Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park

Pembroke Lodge, Richmond Park

Pembroke Lodge is a magnificent Georgian mansion in Richmond Park, London. It is located on high ground with spectacular views across the Thames valley to Windsor and Surrey. It has eleven acres (45,000 m²) of beautifully landscaped grounds, including King Henry VIII's Mound.

The Lodge began life, sometime prior to 1754, as a humble cottage of one room, occupied by a molecatcher whose sole duty was to reduce the peril presented to huntsmen by moles. This cottage was enlarged to form a dwelling with four principal rooms and renamed Hill Lodge. It was granted to the Countess of Pembroke, a "close friend" of King George III, at her request in 1787. Between 1788 and 1796 she extended the building to form the entire Georgian wing and part of the north wing.

In 1847, Queen Victoria granted the Lodge to Lord John Russell, then Prime Minister, who conducted much government business there and entertainedQueen Victoria, foreign royalty, aristocrats, writers (Dickens,
Thackeray, Longfellow, Tennyson) and other notables of the time,including Garibaldi. Lord John was much taken with the Lodge – "an asset that could hardly be equalled, certainly not surpassed in England." Earl Russell (as he had become) died there on 28 May 1878; Fanny, his second wife, in 1898. Their daughter Lady Agatha Russell left a memorial, still standing in the rose garden: "Pembroke Lodge 1847–1902 — In loving memory of my Father and Mother, Lord and Lady Russell and of our supremely happy home at Pembroke Lodge."

Other occupiers included Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and mathematician, who grew up there between 1876 and 1894. At "PL", he wrote, "I grew accustomed to wide horizons and to an unimpeded view of the sunset." In 1911 the occupant was the Dowager Duchess of Dudley. During World War II, the GHQ Liaison Regiment (also known as Phantom) established its RHQ at Pembroke Lodge. Some of the members of the squad went on to become privy councillors, law lords, judges, MPs, a commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Robert Mark, and actors – including David Niven, who remarked in a letter, "these were wonderful days which I would not have missed for anything."

Thirty-five years ago, Pembroke Lodge offered the visitor a government-run tea room. Now in private hands and restored to its former architectural glory, Pembroke Lodge is open to the public forrefreshments, weddings and conferences.

External links

* [ Pembroke Lodge]
* [ Richmond Park]
* [ Interview on the Restoration]

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