Gloucester Road, TW9

Place Name

This was the site of Gloucester House, which was originally built for Prince William Henry (November 14, 1743 – August 25, 1805), 1st Duke of Gloucester, who was a younger brother of George III, so that he could be near the royal court at Kew, where he had grown up. In November 1764 he was made Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh and Earl of Connaught in Ireland. In the same year William had started seeing Maria, the Countess Dowager Waldegrave. She was the illegitimate daughter of Sir Edward Walpole and the widow of 2nd Earl Waldegrave. However, such a union was not approved of by William’s brother because of her non-royal status and, moving against the relationship, the king sent his brother to Europe as an envoy. Despite this William and Maria married in secret on September 6, 1766, at the Duke’s house in Pall Mall. When George found out he did his best to get the marriage declared invalid, only resigning himself to the fact when he was informed it was legitimate. For a time relations between the two brothers became so strained that William was banned from court. They reconciled when William led troops to quell the Gordon riots running rampage throughout the City. On the family front the couple had three children including one son, Prince William Frederick (January 15, 1776 – November 30, 1834), who used Gloucester House while his father was away. When his father died he became the 2nd Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh. In 1789, William embarked on a career in the army in the First Foot Guards, taking the rank of colonel. He saw active service in Europe and was known for his bravery and enthusiasm, if not for his professionalism. He was rapidly promoted, becoming a major-general before he was 20 and ultimately becoming a field marshal. George III provided for William’s education to be completed at Trinity College, Cambridge. Despite being renowned for his lack of intelligence, he became chancellor of the University of Cambridge in 1811. He was not a pleasant man, using his royal privilege he was known for being extremely pompous. He was the subject of many satirical cartoons, where he was referred to as “Slice of Gloucester” and “Cheese”. His most widely used nickname, however, was “Silly Billy” on account of the fact that he was “in the habit of saying very ludicrous things”. The Gloucester House estate extended across Kew Heath and Mortlake Road. When Queen Victoria moved the royal court to Buckingham Palace, the house ceased to be a royal residence and from 1840 to 1919 was known as plain 334 Kew Road. It was sold in 1862 following the death of the 2nd Duke’s widow, Princess Mary. For a time it was occupied by a Jewish school until it was demolished in 1928 to make way for the present block of 146 flats, built by a developer called William Stern. In 1974 Stern’s business went into bankruptcy and the block was bought out by the residents to manage it themselves. This was the first road to be built in the development that included Kent Road and Cambridge Road until Richmond Council split it in three roads in 1895.


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