What Is Ranger's House?

Daphne Mallory

Originally built by Vice-Admiral Francis Hosier, Ranger's House is a red brick Georgian villa located southeast of London. The Palladian-style mansion, once called Chesterfield House, is located in Blackheath, next to Greenwich Park. Ranger's House holds the Wernher Collection, a series of works that showcase famous artists. Close to 700 pieces are on display here, including the Dutch Old Masters, early religious paintings, and Gothic ivories and Renaissance treasures that reveal the details of medieval craftsmen.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Built on a wasteland in about 1700, Ranger's House had an accessible route to London. Admiral Hosier, made his fortune through trade, lived at the home until 1727, when he died from yellow fever. The fourth Earl of Chesterfield, a politician and former Secretary of State, inherited Ranger's House. He added a bow window gallery to the house to display his treasures.

The next owner of Ranger's House was Richard Hulse in 1782. He added a second bow window gallery in order to balance Chesterfield's addition. In the 19th century, the house became Princess Sophia Mathilda of Gloucester's place of residence, and eventually became the official home of the Ranger of Greenwich Park in 1816.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the London County Council acquired the house; the portico was removed, and portions of the interior altered. During the 1920s, Ranger's House was primarily used for its tea rooms. It was used by the army during World War II, and was subsequently damaged by bombs from German war planes. The house was restored in 1960, when its use as an exhibition space began.

Since the early 21st century, Ranger's house has been the home of the Wernher Collection, an art collection assembled by Sir Julius Wernher, a diamond magnate. Among the collection are the works of Gabriel Metsu, Hans Memling, and Francesco Francia, as well as portraits from John Hoppner, Joshua Reynolds, and George Romney. There is a wide collection of tapestries and furniture, including Sevres porcelain and a marble sculpture of an angel kissing a woman, created by Bergonzoli.

Ranger's House is maintained by the English Heritage group. The museum offers an opportunity for visitors to view an earlier time in England's history, and to explore all of the unique artwork available there. Admission is required and subject to change.

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