Ranger's House is a medium-sized red brick Georgian mansion in the Palladian style, adjacent to Greenwich Park in the south east of London. It is situated in Blackheath and backs directly onto Greenwich Park. There is currently a rose garden behind it. Since 2002 it has housed the Wernher Collection of art.
The house dating from c.1700, was originally built by Capt., later Vice-Admiral Francis Hosier(1673–1727), on wasteland adjacent to Greenwich park. The House then had a superb view and easy access to London by road and river. Admiral Hosier occupied the house from 1700–1727. He had made his fortune through trade at sea and both the ship he served on as a lieutenant and his own ship were called the Neptune. Hosier died of yellow fever at sea in 1727, during the disastrous Blockade of Porto Bello off Panama.
In 1748 the lease of the house was inherited by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield. He was a politician, diplomat, man of letters and wit who eventually became Secretary of State. He added the splendid bow windowed gallery for entertaining and displaying his art treasures. Chesterfield wrote that the view from the gallery gave him "three different, and the finest, prospects in the world".
In 1782, the next purchaser was Richard Hulse (1727–1805), 2nd son of Sir Edward Hulse, 1st Bt., physician to George II and Elizabeth Levett. He was High Sheriff of Kent in 1768 and a JP. He held the office of Deputy Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company between 1799 and 1805. He lived at sometime at Baldwins, Kent, and died unmarried without progeny. Hulse added a room with a bow window on the north side to balance Chesterfield's gallery and this is how the house appears today.
The house was later passed to the Crown and in the early 19th century became the residence of Princess Sophia Mathilda of Gloucester.
It was first used as the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park in 1816, when it was called Chesterfield House. The first Ranger of the park was Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset, who was appointed in 1690. At first, the Rangers resided at the Queen's House, Greenwich.
In the 20th century it became a council sports and social club and was later used to display collections of musical instruments and Jacobean portraits.
The Wernher Collection was assembled by the German-born diamond magnate Sir Julius Wernher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Wernher lived at Bath House in Piccadilly and Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire. At one time part of the collection was on display to the public at Luton Hoo, which was owned by Sir Julius' descendants until the early years of the twenty first century. There are about 700 items on display at Ranger's House occupying twelve rooms, some of which have been decorated to evoke the way the collection was displayed when it was at Bath House.
The collection includes paintings by Francesco Francia, Filippino Lippi, Hans Memling and Gabriel Metsu and portraits by the English painters Sir Joshua Reynolds, George Romney and John Hoppner. However the larger part of it consists of an eclectic mix of decorative art, including Renaissance jewellery, medieval, Byzantine and Renaissance ivories, tapestries, furniture and Sèvres porcelain, as well as a life size marble sculpture by Bergonzoli of an angel kissing a semi-nude woman entitled "The Love of Angels".
Ranger's House is in the care of English Heritage.
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Media related to Ranger's House at Wikimedia Commons