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Ancaster House, Queen’s Road, Richmond: designs for the house for the 3rd Duke of Ancaster, 1773, executed with alterations (8)

1773
Peregrine Bertie, 3rd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven (1714-78) succeeded his father, the 2nd Duke of Ancaster and Kesteven in 1742. He married firstly, in 1735, Elizabeth Blundell (d 1743), and secondly, in 1750, Mary Panton (d 1793), who was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Charlotte in 1761-93. The 3rd Duke was a military man, attaining the rank of General in 1772, and he also served as Lord Great Chamberlain in 1742-78, Master of the Horse to Queen Charlotte in 1765-66, Master of the Horse to George III in 1766-78, and Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire - positions he inherited from his father - and was appointed to the Privy Council, and was president of the Lock Hospital.

In 1772 Ancaster was granted Crown ‘waste’ land on Queen’s Road outside Richmond Park in gratitude for his military service, and a year later he commissioned Robert Adam to design a house for the plot facing the Richmond Gate to the Park. According to Robey, this was intended as a weekend retreat from the Ancaster townhouse on Berkeley Square (on which Adam also worked). The eight extant Adam office drawings at Sir John Soane’s Museum show the fabric of the house as executed with some alterations, for example, the mezzanine level with windows on the northwest front appears to have been omitted. It is not known if Adam was responsible for the interior decoration of Ancaster House. A single surviving eighteenth-century neo-classical plaster ceiling was removed in 1979 as it had become unsafe, but there is no evidence that this had been originally executed to a design by Adam. The Imperial staircase was executed in accordance with Adam’s designs and survives in situ.

The house was sold following Ancaster’s death in 1778, and it is apparent from observation of the extant building that the fenestration has been altered, and that various extensions were added to Adam’s fabric during the nineteenth century. Ancaster House and the surrounding land were purchased by Royal Star and Garter in 1915. The Star and Garter Home was built for the rehabilitation of servicemen, across the road from Ancaster House in 1921-24, to designs by Sir Edwin Cooper (1874-1942). From this time Ancaster House provided residential accommodation for the medical commandant and nurses. The house suffered bomb damage in 1944, following which a plan to demolish the building was quashed by the Georgian Group, who persuaded the Royal Star and Garter to undertake repairs in 1947. In 2013 both properties were sold by Royal Star and Garter to developers. The Star and Garter Home is to be converted into flats, and planning consent is currently being sought to convert Ancaster House back into a single or smaller number of dwelling.

I am grateful to Ann Robey, an independent scholar who wrote an historical report on Ancaster House to accompany the 2014 planning application to redevelop the building for domestic use, for her thoughts and allowing me access to her research.

See also: Berkeley Square, number unknown, London: designs for friezes for the 3rd Duke of Ancaster

Literature:
A.T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 26, 61; B. Cherry, and N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: London 2: south, 1983, p. 533; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 105, 124-125; ‘Ancaster House, Star and Garter nurses’ home’, British listed buildings online; A. Robey, ‘Final report on Ancaster House, Richmond Hill’ planning application historical report, 2014

Frances Sands, 2014

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