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The Building in History

Cumberland Lodge, the largest house in Windsor Great Park, was built in 1652 on land which Oliver Cromwell had appropriated from the Crown. The land was sold to one Lieutenant John Byfield for the sum of £4,000.

Cumberland Lodge Side ViewThe house was variously known as Byfield House, New Lodge, Ranger’s Lodge, Windsor Lodge and Great Lodge, only acquiring its present name in the period of the Duke of Cumberland’s residence there in the mid eighteenth-century.

After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the Lodge quickly became the home of the Ranger of the Great Park, an office in the gift of the sovereign. Each Ranger made his – or in one case, that of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough – her own mark on the features of the house and its surroundings.

After Cumberland’s death in 1765 the Lodge continued to be ‘improved’ according to the taste of individual occupants. Though King George III never lived at the Lodge he often visited it and stored part of his book collection there, works which became the nucleus of both the British Library and the library at Windsor Castle.

Throughout her life Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor . Her daughter Princess Helena lived at the Lodge for over fifty years, presiding over elaborate re-building after a bad fire in 1869 and extensive alterations in 1912. Lord FitzAlan, last British Viceroy of Ireland, was the last private person to be entrusted with the Lodge. It was in his time, in 1936, that the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, discussed the crisis over King Edward VIII's desire to marry Wallis Simpson, talks which led to his Abdication of the Crown a few weeks later.

In 1947, the King made the Lodge available to the newly established St. Catharine’s Foundation, later known as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St. Catharine’s. Today the organisation is simply known as Cumberland Lodge.

 

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