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History of Warren House, Kingston – historic Surrey homes

PUBLISHED: 00:02 16 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:23 20 February 2013

History of Warren House, Kingston – historic Surrey homes

History of Warren House, Kingston – historic Surrey homes

One of the wealthiest and most exclusive areas in the Royal Borough of Kingston since the reign of Queen Victoria, the Coombe Estate is also home to Warren House.

One of the wealthiest and most exclusive areas in the Royal Borough of Kingston since the reign of Queen Victoria, the Coombe Estate is also home to Warren House.

Until 1837, the land was owned by Earl Spencer, after which the Duke of Cambridge bought it, thereby extending his own land to 535 acres.

After the purchase, the Duke erected a large fence forbidding entry to anyone, and put ornamental gates across the entrance to The Warren (Warren Road, as it is now called), complete with guards. The result was a miniature civil war in Kingston.

Rights of way
Half of the town thought it was the Dukes own right to do as he pleased with his land, whilst the other half declared that The Warren was a vital part of everyday life it was indeed the very track that led the way through to Richmond, Wandsworth, Wimbledon and Putney.

After many angry meetings, and a court case in 1853, a jury gave its verdict: the public were entitled to unrestricted use of The Warren as a footpath, but not as a carriageway.

This whole affair became known nationally as The Battle of Coombe Warren and was reported in the Times.

Today, Warren Road still has a gate that is regularly guarded by a uniformed official, who opens it to vehicle traffic with permits, but he still has no jurisdiction over the pedestrians using the little path that runs up beside it!

In 1865, Hugh Hammersley bought 16 acres of land from the Duke and commissioned the building of Warren House.

Growing from gardens
Intersecting part of Hammersleys plot of land was a section belonging to Coombe Nursery, which was established 1856 and owned by Veitch & Sons.

The nursery was famous for its many rare specimens of flowering trees and shrubs, most notably magnolias, azaleas and acers, and for its Japanese Water Garden, which was apparently inspired by the well-known Willow Pattern plate design.

Indeed, it was these very water gardens that were dividing Hammersleys land and, at some time in the 1870s, Hammersley managed to persuade Veitch to sell the plot, thus completing the land around Warren House.

This unique garden is thought to be the oldest Japanese garden in existence today in the British Isles. In its maturity, it is now even more beautiful than when first planted all those years ago.

After Hugh Hammersleys death in 1880, Warren House stood empty until 1884, when George Grenfell Glyn (the second Baron Wolverton) and his wife acquired it. Lord Wolvertons family founded the Williams and Glyns Bank, which is now the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Lord Wolverton died in 1887, followed ten years later by his wife. Warren House then came into the hands of Sir George Holford, of Westonbirt fame.

In 1907, after changing hands several times, Warren House was acquired by General Sir Arthur Paget, GCB KCVO and remained in the Paget family until the early 1950s.

A national heroine
After the First World War, Warren House was inherited by Leila Paget, daughter of Sir Arthur.

On returning home after the war, she was feted a national heroine for her courageous devotion to the Serbs, and was honoured with the title of Dame and she was indeed Britains first!

After the death of her husband in 1940, Lady Paget converted the house into a military convalescent home, supervising and financing the domestic arrangements herself.

She reluctantly had to sell the house to move to Soames House in Coombe Hill Road and it was at that time in 1954 that Warren House changed hands once again to become a Conference and Training Centre.

Hall of mirrors
Many of the noteworthy features of the house and grounds were added during Sir Arthur Pagets tenancy.

The magnificent ballroom, now a main conference hall, was built as a miniature scale Hall of Mirrors from the Palace of Versailles.

The Persian Room contains an interesting Persian fireplace, probably made to Sir Arthur Pagets order at about the same time, while the Winter Garden with grotto, and the Italian style loggia, are further interesting examples of the architectural and domestic taste of the period.

If Gladstone, Edward VII, George V, George VI, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary (or any of the other famous guests who frequented Warren House) could return to it today, they would find it virtually unchanged. Warren House today is maintained in all of its original character and beauty.

Warren House reopened in 1988 after a major refurbishment and is now one of the most sought-after conference venues in the world.

  • Warren Road,Kingston upon Thames KT2 7HY: 0208 547 1777

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