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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ribsden Holt is a former royal residence at Windlesham, Surrey Heath, Surrey, England, for part of the 20th century used by minor royalty, built in the late 1870s. The building is set back behind a long drive and former outbuildings once for estate servants, The Gatehouse and The Coach House. It is accessed from road leading to Chertsey and also known today as Ribsden Hall, marked as Ribsden Holt on its gates.

Its effective owner-occupiers (and their trustees or widows) were from construction until 1974: Henry Cadogan Rothery, Richard Copley Christie, Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll and Princess Patricia of Connaught, with one period of uncertainty — Princess Louise occupied for a time from its sale by auction in 1911 until 1939. During the set of years mentioned may have been intermediate owners as it is unknown whether the trustees for the Princess bid at the auction in 1911 or afterwards.

History and architecture

Extract from Map of Surrey, Ordnance Survey, 1871-1882.

Ribsden House was built for Henry Cadogan Rothery in the late 1870s who died there in 1888.[1] The site north of Chertsey Road, then a barren track, formed part of fuel allotments to the poor in the Enclosure Act of 1814, where they were allowed to carry away “turves, furze, fern or other fuel.” The money the parishioners raised from the land/rights sale was used, until the late 20th century, “for the distribution of the “Ribsden Coals” at Christmas, mainly to senior citizens or to other needy persons in the village".[2] The Ribsden Coal Charity has now been incorporated into The Poor Allotments Charity, covering the then-parish (now Bagshot, Lightwater and Windlesham).[3]

In 1867 Rothery was appointed by the Government as their Commissioner enquiring into maritime losses and casualties, which enabled him to travel extensively to Australia, British Guiana, Dominica and Madagascar and pursue his keen interest in botany, particularly ferns, at the same time. His wife Madelaine continued to live here until her death in October 1891. The house maintained a library, photographed in one source.[2]

The Surrey Heath Museum retains Mr Rothery’s accounts book for 1879 / 1880 — e.g. an entry in 1879 records these costs:

Coal and Wood 2 shillings
Help and luggage to the station 4 shillings 6 pence
Stable broom 2 shilings 6 pence
Telegram 1 shiling.[2]

A second notebook records various remedies for the horses, including how to make a poultice for wounds of the joints or tendons: “sal-ammoniac powder"[2]

Ribsden was bought by Richard Copley Christie and his wife Mary Helen in circa 1891 / 1892. Educated at Oxford, he was called to the bar in Lincoln’s Inn in 1857 and in 1872 he became chancellor of the diocese of Manchester, in post until 1893. He was appointed trustee of the extensive benevolent settlements (trusts) of industrialist, Sir Joseph Whitworth (d.1887). Funds from this estate were used to build a home for people with cancer – renamed the Christie Hospital in their honour. Confronted with new diseases such as mule spinners’ cancer and chimney sweeps’ cancer, doctors started to look for possible links to machine oils and airborne soot. The use of x-rays in 1901 and radium in 1905 were developed at this hospital.[2]

On moving to Windlesham the Christies brought with them their groom, Harry Carnell, who was the grandfather of local resident, Joan Weymouth.[2] In 1901 he is recorded as living in accommodation above the stables and coach house with his wife, sister-in-law and daughter of 2 years, and employed in the position of groom and coachman.[2]

Richard Christie died on 9 January 1901 at Ribsden and in honour of his memory Mary donated funds to the Windlesham Institute, which were used to develop its building to include a stage to enable concerts and theatre performances. The entrance door to the theatre bears a plaque “1901.”[2]

There are a considerable number of gentlemen's [large] houses about Windlesham. The Camp is the residence of Sir Joseph Hooker, F.R.S., &c., &c.; Ribsden, of Mrs. Christie; The Towers, of Lady Elvey. Woodcote House is a boys' school.

— The Victoria County History, collaborative history books, 1901, Surrey: Volume 3: Parishes: Windlesham[4]

On 1 February 1911 Mary Helen Christie died, aged 73,[5] leaving no issue. Her estate was held in trust, one of the trustees being her relation, Samuel Fletcher and sold by public auction. Carnell remained the coachman and is recorded on the census in 1911 as living at Ribsden Cottage with his family.[2]

The original house built in the late 1870s was demolished and a new house built in 1913.

No building in the area is today a listed building for heritage nor architecture (excluding local listing status which carries a low status).[6] In local government approved landscaping works in 1991 to cut and fill land to provide a field for grazing and practice of polo ponies. It made the planning condition that the land shall be used for private domestic purposes only in connection with the property as a single private residence to protect the amenities of the Green Belt Countryside area. Its owner had become Mr A A Morello.[7]

Royal residents

The royal residents were:


  1. ^ The Times, 3 Aug. 1888 p.10, 6 Aug. p.9, 8 Aug. p.9
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Windlesham Magazine, Feb. 2014 edition, Sally Clark.
  3. ^ The Windlesham Magazine, December 2013 edition
  4. ^ A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3, ed. H E Malden (London, 1911), pp. 376-378. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2018].
  5. ^ General Register Office registers, March Quarter of 1911, Volume 2a page 61, Chertsey Reg. Dist.
  6. ^ "Search the List - Map Search | Historic England".
  7. ^ Published planning permission 90/0851 - "Land at Ribsden Holt Chertsey Road Windlesham" Surrey Heath Borough Council, Committee Meeting date 20/03/1991 Delegated Decision date 09/04/1991
This page was last edited on 13 September 2020, at 03:27
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