Ranger's House - The Wernher Collection
London, SE10 8QX
An elegant Georgian villa dating back to 1723, Ranger's House includes sumptuous collections of silver and jewels, paintings and porcelain.
The red brick mansion was originally built by Captain Francis Hosier on wasteland adjacent to Greenwich park. At the time, it boasted easy access to London by road and river. After contracting yellow fever at sea, Hosier died in the 1700s and the lease of the house was inherited by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield – a politician and diplomat who was later named Secretary of State. He added a bow windowed gallery to the property, which he used for entertaining and displaying his collection of art. Chesterfield wrote that the view from the gallery gave him 'three different, and the finest, prospects in the world'.
In the early 19th century the property was bought by the Crown, and it became the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park; previous incumbents had previously stayed at the nearby Queen's House. In the same year Sophia Matilda, daughter of the Duke of Gloucester, was appointed Ranger and the house was modified to make it suitable for a princess. Sophia was very popular with the local community and was described as 'a kind and liberal benefactor to the poor of the town'.
From 1862 to 1873 the house was occupied by Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and third son of Queen Victoria, while he studied at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich and completed his military service in Canada.
Since 2002 Ranger's House has housed the Wernher Collection – previously at Luton Hoo. Assembled by the German diamond magnate Sir Julius Wernher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the collection consists of more than 700 works, including paintings by Francesco Francia, Hans Memling and Gabriel Metsu and portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Romney and John Hoppner.
Also in the collection is a range of medieval, Byzantine and Renaissance decorative art, and a life size marble sculpture of an angel kissing a semi-nude woman by Bergonzoli.