A Brief History of Warren House

Warren House and the Coombe Estate have a rich and varied history. Since the Middle Ages the area has been on the strategic route from London to Portsmouth, and the road on Kingston Hill was well established even before Charles I enclosed Richmond Park in 1637. Small estates were established during the late 18th and early 19th Century, and in 1837 HRH Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, grandson of George III, acquired the seat of the late Earl of Liverpool at Coombe. Improvements in the road to London brought the City within an hours drive by horse drawn carriage, and the area began to attract wealthy city businessmen, bankers and Liberal politicians and their families.

The original Warren House was built in 1860 for Hugh Hammersley (1819-1882) by London builder George Mansfield, on 16 acres of land leased from the Duke of Cambridge. Hammersley was a partner in the successful London firm Cox and Co, bankers to the British Army. The land he leased was intersected by the neighbouring Coombe Wood Nursery, famous for its many rare specimens of trees and shrubs, including Rhododendrons, magnolias, Acers and azaleas brought from the Far East by James Veitch and his collectors. Hammersley negotiated the transfer of this land, including a beautiful Japanese water garden, to his estate. The estate remained his country retreat until his death in 1882, then bequeathed to his wife Dulcibella, a forebearer of Anthony Eden, future Prime Minister.

 

George Grenfell Glynn, (1824-1887) the second Baron Wolverton purchased the House and land in 1884, and immediately commissioned architect George Devey to make substantial large additions to the house and gardens. Wolverton, had turned to politics in 1866, finally giving up his full time career as a banker at Glynn Mills Currie. He served in all three of W E Gladstone’s Liberal governments, initially as an MP until raised to the peerage when he was appointed Paymaster General, and later Postmaster General. He regularly entertained the PM at Warren House. Lady Georgiana Wolverton was renowned for her charitable work, and the establishment of the Needlework Guild. She was great friends with Mary Adelaide Duchess of Teck, mother of the future Queen Mary, who lived at White Lodge, Richmond Park. Baron Wolverton died suddenly in 1887, but his wife continued to live at the house until her death in 1894.

George Cawston, (1851-1918) a wealthy financier and City Stockbroker and one of the first directors of Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company, bought the lease to Warren House in 1895. Financial pressures of business, and a certain extravagance of living, forced him to sell the property in 1907. Despite this he was declared bankrupt in 1913 and died just a year after the discharge.

American heiress, Lady Mary ‘Minnie’ Paget (1853-1919) bought the freehold of the property for £30,000 in 1907. As one of London’s foremost hostesses and a close friend of King Edward VII, Minnie and her husband General Sir Arthur Paget (1851-1928) regularly entertained royalty, diplomats, soldiers, and politicians at Warren House. Lady Paget was also known for the introductions she made of wealthy American ’dollar princess’ to impoverished British aristocrats. Sir Arthur Paget, was himself descended from the Marquis of Anglesey, and served in military campaigns, including Burma, Ashanti, Sudan and the Second Boer War, and later in Ireland as head of British Forces there during the Curragh Incident. Many of the noteworthy features of the House, the Ballroom, the Persian fireplace, the Italian style Loggia and the Winter Garden and it's Grotto were added by the Pagets. Lady Paget died in 1919 and left the house to her husband who remained at Warren House until his death in 1928.

Warren House passed to their daughter, Dame Leila Paget (1881- 1958) and her diplomat husband Sir Ralph Paget (1864-1940) Leila was the first British Dame, honored for her courageous work with the Red cross in Serbia during and before the First World War. She continued this benevolence during the Second World War when she converted Warren House into a military convalescent home. Her sympathy for the Serbs never dwindled and she sold Warren House in 1954 to Imperial Chemical Industries to raise funds for the many in exile in Britain after the War.

ICI used Warren House as a Conference and Training Centre until 2000. In 1986, 12 acres of land was sold off for development, including Veitch Japanese Water Gardens to fund a major refurbishment and extension project. The reorganization of ICI business in the later years of the 1990's led to the decision to sell Warren House, to a group of local businessmen.

Since 2005 Warren House has been in private family ownership, and continues to blossom as one of the finest conference and events venues, hosting as it has in the past, a lively social calendar. The business has been accredited with several industry awards, including Code Nast Johansens’ Best Dedicated venue 2007 and Time and Leisure Food Awards, ‘Best Front of House’ 2011.