Westside, Wimbledon Common, London, SW19 4UE - Guest Rating: 84%
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However, its true, Cannizaro is hardly a name one would expect to find in Wimbledon. In fact, the mansion took its name from an earlier resident, the Sicilian Duke of Cannizaro and his Scottish wife. They lived here from 1817 until 1841, when they died within a few months of one another.
By the time of the census in 1874, their name remained attached to the house, although the spelling had been accepted as Cannizaro House. When the Duke of Cannizaro first took the house, it was already over a hundred years old, having been built in the architecturally notable reign of Queen Anne.
In 1705, a wealthy London merchant, William Browne, had bought the Old Park. His new estate enclosed just over 300 acres of poor quality land, almost certainly once part of the Common. He immediately ordered the building of two fine residences, today known as Westside House and Cannizaro House. Browne let The Warren House, today known as Cannizaro House, to wealthy London friends who were looking for a country house within easy reach of the capital.
In the words of Daniel Defoe, they were looking for an escape from the hurries of business to draw their breath in a clear air and to divert themselves and their families in the hot weather. The same is certainly true today.
Over subsequent years The Warren House was occupied by many distinguished residents, including Thomas Walker, Surveyor General and MP, from 1738-1748, Lyde Browne, a wealthy City businessman, from 1757-1785, Henry Dundas, and Viscount Melville, a bon vivant and politician, from 1785-1806.
1817 saw the arrival of two of the most colourful characters in the history of the house, the Duke and Duchess of Cannizaro. Over the next twenty four years the couple entertained many famous people, including Mrs Fitzherbert, Princess Esterhazy and the Duke of Wellington. As noted by Greville, the Duchess all absorbing passion was music. She was a great patron of musicians and built up a valuable library of manuscript and printed music. After the Duke ran off to Milan to join a certain Madama Visconti, the Duchess consoled herself with her music and a strapping young Italian singer who plundered her without mercy or shame.
Later residents included Arthur Eden, an important Civil Servant at the Exchequer, from 1842 to 1854, Duleep Singh, the deposed Maharajah of the Punjab in 1854, John Bousted, a former Ceylon tea planter, from 1860 - 1879, and a Mrs Schuster, from 1879 to 1896, who held amateur dramatic evenings in a glade in Cannizaro Wood for the likes of The Prince and Princess of Wales, The Duchess Of Roxburghe, Sir Frederick Leighton and Lady Randolph Churchill.
Londons first country house hotel opened in June 1987 and todays guests still enjoy the perfect tranquillity and classic elegance of a past era.
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