Ribsden Holt

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Ribsden Holt
Grid reference: SU94766454
Location: 51°22’19"N, 0°38’24"W
Village: Windlesham
Built 1870s
For: Henry Cadogan Rothery
Country house

Ribsden Holt is a former royal residence at Windlesham in north-western Surrey. The house was built in the late 1870s, and for part of the 20th century was used by minor royalty. Today it is also called 'Ribsden Hall'.

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.

The 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

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.[2]

Ribsden was bought by Richard Copley Christie and his wife Mary Helen in 1891 or 1892. Christie died on 9 January 1901 at Ribsden and in honour of his memory Mary donated funds to the Windlesham Institute, or which her husband had long been a trustee.

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.
A History of the County of Surrey - Volume 3 : Parishes: Windlesham (Victoria County History)[4]

After Mary Christie's death in 1911, the house was sold by public auction.[2] The next resident was Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, who lived at Ribsden from 1911 to 1939. She was succeeded by Princess Patricia of Connaught from 1939 to 1974. Thereafter the house passed into private ownership.


  1. The Times, 3 Aug. 1888 p.10, 6 Aug. p.9, 8 Aug. p.9
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Sally Clark in the Windlesham Magazine; February 2014
  3. The Windlesham Magazine, December 2013 edition
  4. A History of the County of Surrey - [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/surrey/vol3/pp376-378 Volume 3 pp376-378: {{{2}}} (Victoria County History)]