|LOST HOSPITALS OF LONDON|
Aubrey House Auxiliary Hospital
Aubrey Road, Kensington, W8 7JJ
|1916 - 1920
In October 1914, soon after the outbreak of WW1, the Garden Room of Aubrey House became a convalescent ward for 15 Belgian soldiers discharged from the London Hospital. This arrangement continued until July 1915, when most of the soldiers returned to active service. A few stayed on longer, and three of them remained for over a year, quartered in the stables.When the owner, Mr William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), died following a fall down the basement stairs of his country residence, Heathfield Park in Sussex, the family offered Aubrey House to the War Office in April 1916 for use as a Hospital for Officers in conjunction with the adjacent property Moray Lodge, which had become an annexe to the Special Hospital for Officers in Palace Green.
The house was then adapted internally for use as a VAD hospital and opened in the autumn of 1916 for convalescent officers to be "lured back to health of body and mind by the beauty of their surroundings". The Hospital had 20 beds and the nursing staff consisted of a Matron, 8 trained nurses and many members of the local VAD.
It continued in use as a hospital until April 1920, when it was reclaimed by the Alexander sisters.
Present status (August 2010)
The Grade II* listed mansion is now a private residence, purchased some seven years ago for £20m.
Aubrey House has the second largest private garden in London (the Queen has the largest at Buckingham Palace).
The blue plaque refers to four famous former residents.
The main part of the House can only be glimpsed through the railings along Aubrey Road (above and below).
A brief history of Aubrey House
In 1696 a mineral spring had been discovered on the site, and the Kensington Wells developed from it. The first building to be erected at the spring was The Wells spa, which operated until the mid 18th century.
A new building was then built - The Villa - which became Notting Hill House in 1795. This was renamed Aubrey House in the 1850s, after the new Aubrey Road had been built up to its gates from Holland Park Avenue (the name Aubrey refers to Aubrey de Vere, the Norman feudal lord of the area).
The history of Aubrey House is tied up with the neighbouring Moray Lodge, which is located at the bottom of the Aubrey House gardens. Moray Lodge had originally been a small dwelling named West Lodge, built in 1817. James Malcolmson bought West Lodge in 1844, renaming it after his Scottish home. He then bought Notting Hill House in 1859 for £7,000, principally to take over part of its gardens for his own Moray Lodge.
In 1861 Malcolmson sold Moray Lodge to Arthur James Lewis, of the silk mercers' firm Lewis & Allenby, who made it a centre of artistic and literary social events. It was subsequently much altered. The gardens reverted to Aubrey House.
In 1873 William Cleverly Alexander, a leading City banker of Harringay House, Hornsey, purchased Aubrey House for about £15,000, and moved in with his family of seven children (two more daughters were born in the house). The Alexanders were both from Quaker families (although they joined the Church of England after their marriage) and their lifestyle was relatively modest for their position in society.
Alexander was a patron of the artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). Whistler sketched Alexander's children, but only completed one painting - Arrangement (or Harmony) in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander (which is now in Tate Britain).
Whistler was also asked to redecorate the reception rooms in Aubrey House - the Red Room and the White Room - and the library - the Pink Room. (It is unclear whether these decorations survived WW1.)
Mrs Rachel Alexander died around 1900 and her husband in 1916. The Misses Alexander inherited the house and continued to use it as a venue for various humanitarian meetings.
Gladstone FM 1922 Aubrey House 1698-1920. London, Arthur L. Humphreys
|Return to alphabetical list
Return to home page