“For ivy climbs the crumbling hall/To decorate decay.”*

*Philip James Bailey (1857). “Festus: a poem”.

From Wikipedia:

“Following the death of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales in November 1817, the only legitimate grandchild of George III at the time, the royal succession began to look uncertain.

The Prince Regent (later King George IV) and his younger brother Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, though married, were estranged from their wives and had no surviving legitimate children.

The king’s surviving daughters were all childless and past likely childbearing age.

The king’s unmarried sons, William, Duke of Clarence (later King William IV), Edward the Duke of Kent, and Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge, all rushed to contract lawful marriages and provide an heir to the throne.

The king’s fifth son, Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, was already married but had no living children at that time, whilst the marriage of the sixth son, Augustus, Duke of Sussex, was void because he had married in contravention of the Royal Marriages Act 1772.

For his part the Duke of Kent, aged 50, was already considering marriage, and he became engaged to Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld (17 August 1786 – 16 March 1861), who had been the sister-in-law of his now-deceased niece Princess Charlotte. They were married on 29 May 1818 at Schloss Ehrenburg, Coburg, in a Lutheran rite, and again on 11 July 1818 at Kew Palace, Kew, Surrey.

They had one child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent (24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901), who became Queen Victoria on 20 June 1837. He was 51 years old at the time of her birth.

The Duke of Kent purchased a house of his own from Maria Fitzherbert in 1801. Castle Hill Lodge on Castlebar Hill, Ealing (West London) was then placed in the hands of architect James Wyatt and more than £100,000 spent. Near neighbours from 1815 to 1817 at Little Boston House were US envoy and future US President John Quincy Adams and his English wife Louisa. “We all went to church and heard a charity sermon preached by a Dr Crane before the Duke of Kent”, wrote Adams in a diary entry from August 1815.

Following the birth of Princess Victoria in May 1819, the Duke and Duchess, concerned to manage the Duke’s great debts, sought to find a place where they could live inexpensively. After the coast of Devon was recommended to them they leased from a General Baynes, intending to remain incognito, Woolbrook Cottage on the seaside by Sidmouth.

The Duke of Kent died of pneumonia on 23 January 1820 at Woolbrook Cottage, Sidmouth, and was interred in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. He died six days before his father, George III, and less than a year after his daughter’s birth.

He predeceased his father and his three elder brothers but, as none of his elder brothers had any surviving legitimate children, his daughter Victoria succeeded to the throne on the death of her uncle King William IV in 1837.

In 1829 the Duke’s former aide-de-camp purchased the unoccupied Castle Hill Lodge from the Duchess in an attempt to reduce her debts; the debts were finally discharged after Victoria took the throne and paid them over time from her income.”

From the website of St David’s Home:

“Situated at Castlebar Hill, formerly known as Castle Bear Hill, the long house, with a four-columned central portico, commanded a fine view over pastures and woods towards the distant outline of Harrow.

Approximately 100 years later in 1914, the son of Lady Anne Kerr (Daughter of the Duke of Norfolk) was killed aged 21, whilst serving with the Royal Scots. Following the loss of her son David, Lady Anne Kerr felt compelled to help alleviate the suffering of those who, although having survived the war, were returning home wounded and maimed. As a result, Lady Anne pursued an active campaign to raise the funds to provide a place of respite and care for the war wounded. Ultimately in 1918, sufficient monies had been raised to purchase a property and thus it was that Castle Hill Lodge, which by this time was known as Kent House, was purchased and St. David’s Home was born.

The ground floor rooms of the house became make-shift wards along with the original stables. The old hay lofts above the stables, reached only by an outside ladder, served as the orderlies’ quarters and the coach house was divided in two to accommodate a laundry and mortuary. In order to provide the necessary care, Lady Anne Kerr called upon the services of her sister – Lady Etheldreda, who was a member of the order of Sisters of Charity. She, along with five other sisters, moved into the Home and in conjunction
with the Board of Trustees took over the running of the Home.

Many changes took place over the course of the next 80 years until finally in 2002, the Order decided to close the convent and the last of the remaining sisters left to minister elsewhere. The operation of the Home was then fully handed over to the Board of Trustees, who alongside the Home’s management team, continue to run the Home today.”

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