The Spencer House


George John, second Earl Spencer, was born in the Marlborough House in 1758 and grew up to love the lake. He was Lord Privy Seal under Pitt and First Lord of the Admiralty during Trafalgar. In 1785 the Marlborough House was burnt down and for a while the family used the servants' quarters as a "pied a terre".  It was not until 1801 that a new manor house was completed, incorporating the old servants' wing. Henry Holland was engaged as the architect and the house was designed to face gardens in the south with a view over the North Downs, rather than the parkland which had provided the principal view for previous manor houses. The Earl's major passion was collecting books which filled the library. In the 1820's his wife persuaded him to leave Wimbledon and the house was leased to the Duke of Somerset. Although the third Earl inherited the house, the Spencer family never returned to live in Wimbledon.

The Duke and Duchess of Somerset occupied the house from 1827 to 1860. She was a renowned hostess and the young Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor in the 1830's.