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History of Claremont House

The Claremont estate has a rich and fascinating history, a summary of which can be found below. Alternatively, you can download a copy of A brief history of Claremont.

  • 1709-1714

    Sir John Vanbrugh

    The famous dramatist and architect bought Chargate Farm and Wood and built a house for himself.

  • 1714-1768

    The Duke of Newcastle

    The Duke bought the estate from Vanbrugh, changing the name to Claremont after inheriting the title Earl of Clare. He commissioned Vanbrugh to enlarge the house and create the gardens on a lavish scale, including building the Belvedere on the 'mount' in 1715. As Prime Minister he entertained George II here.

  • 1769-1774

    Lord Clive of Plassey

    On his return from India Clive acquired Claremont from the Duke of Newcastle's widow and demolished the house because it was on a damp site.   He commissioned Capability Brown to build him the present house and remodel the park. His family kept the estate until 1786 after his death in 1774.

  • 1816-1865

    Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg

    On the occasion of the marriage in 1816 of the Prince Regent's only daughter, Charlotte Augusta, to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, the government granted Claremont to them for life which entitled Prince Leopold, later King of the Belgians, to retain it for his own use after the early death of the Princess in 1817. Leopold had an annual income of £50,000, much of which he spent on improvements to the house and estate.

  • 1848-1866

    Former King Louis Philippe and Queen Marie-Amélie

    The last King and Queen of the French were forced to flee from France with all their family following the 1848 Revolution. Leopold, now King of the Belgians, offered them the use of Claremont and Louis Philippe died there in 1850. His family stayed on until Marie-Amelie's death in 1866.

  • 1865-1901

    Queen Victoria

    Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, was Leopold’s sister. As a child Victoria spent long periods at Claremont, the home of her "beloved uncle", and continued her interest in the place for the whole of her life. After Leopold’s death in 1865 the estate reverted to the Crown and Parliament granted it to the Queen for her life. Later she acquired personal ownership of it.

  • 1879-1922

    The Duke and Duchess of Albany

    Queen Victoria granted the house to the Duke of Albany, her youngest son, on his marriage to Princess Helena of Waldeck. They had a daughter, Princess Alice (later known as Princess Alice of Athlone).  The Duke died aged 30 shortly before the birth of their son Charles Edward.

  • 1922-1926

    Sir William Corry

    As director of the Cunard Shipping Line Corry made many improvements to the interior of the mansion and began to sell off the park for housing development.

  • 1922-1931

    Claremont School

    In 1922 Clear View School for girls was opened in Norwood, north London. The school opened with eight girls.

    In 1930 the directors of Clear View bought Claremont House and 34 acres and in January 1931 opened with 45 girls formally changing the name of the school to Claremont School.

  • 1932-1967

    Fan Court School

    Fan Court School, situated in Longcross, Surrey, was a Preparatory School, founded by Geith Plimmer and Guy Snape.

    The lion of the tribe of Juda was taken as the school’s emblem representing moral courage; the quality it was felt that boys of the day most needed. The school’s motto ‘Be Strong’, taken from the Bible, were the words spoken by the angel to Daniel.

    The school opened with five boys.

  • 1940-1946

    Hawker Aircraft Company

    During World War II, Claremont School evacuated the mansion leaving Surrey to relocate to Llandrindod Wells, Radnorshire.

    The Mansion was leased to The Hawker Aircraft Company and, for six years, Claremont House housed the design offices for the company under the leadership of Sir Sydney Camm.

    The Belvedere was used by the Home Guard as a watch-tower.

  • 1967-1978

    Fan Court Junior School

    Fan Court Junior School opened as a day school for girls and boys between the ages of 5 -7 years. At the age of seven, girls would be taken as day girls at Fan Court until the age of 10 when they would be eligible to join Claremont School.

  • 1978-2005

    Claremont Fan Court School 

    In 1978 Claremont School and Fan Court School amalgamated at Claremont, forming a co-educational school from 3-18 years to be known as Claremont Fan Court School.

    In 1979 Joyce Grenfell, one of our best known and most distinguished performing arts alumna, gave her name to the new arts centre including the music school, performance space and dining hall.

    The schools facilities were greatly enhanced in 1999 with the addition of a new sports hall, paid for with the generous contributions from parents, friends and alumni.

    In 2005 after 70 years of boarding, Claremont Fan Court closed its boarding house and became a day school only.

  • 2005-Present

    The school at present

    Today, Claremont Fan Court has over 850 pupils from 2½ - 19 years across three schools. As a non-denominational school, it continues to embody its early foundations of courtesy, respect, trust, moral integrity, self-discipline, love for others.

    We maintain a holistic approach to improvements and restoration of the buildings and school grounds and have some exciting development plans in place. For more information, please visit our looking ahead pages.