I would presume that anyone raised in England, or anyone who has the smallest interest in the British monarchy will have heard of Windsor Castle. Yet hardly anyone is aware of Frogmore House.
Nestled in between the Great Park and Home Park of Windsor Castle is the secluded, royal home of Frogmore. The present house was built around 1680 but was not acquired by the royal family until it was bought for Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. It was never really used as an alternate home for Charlotte, instead it was more of an escape where she could go with her daughters for the day, before retiring to Windsor in the evening.
Under Queen Victoria, the House became the country residence of her widowed mother, the Duchess of Kent.
More recently, the house has been used on and off by various members of the royal family and is still frequently used today to appreciate it’s tranquil gardens and more private setting.
I would guess that the main reason the House is so unknown is that it is only open to the public for one weekend a year. Perfectly timed, my parents were visiting that weekend so we jumped in the car to go have a snoop.
Frogmore is perfect for highlighting that the royal family are normal people. Yes there are some very grand features, notably the staircase, but ultimately it feels lived in. There is clutter on the desks and collections of trinkets – Queen Mary’s flower room being the most bizarre. The décor is dated with an abundance of clashing patterns that I found reminiscent of my Great-Grandparents home. It does not ooze the timeless opulence that state-apartments do but instead gives insight into the personal preferences of the people who have lived here.
The gardens of Frogmore are of a complete contrast to its interior, with the hectic designs of some rooms becoming quite stifling. Once outside, everything is serene. You are free to walk the grounds to your hearts content and it is easy to quickly find a spot to settle down in and open up a picnic like we did.
I thoroughly enjoyed the gardens. The landscape is most unique due to the wide array of trees planted here. Whenever the Queen is given unusual seeds from all over the world, it is usually at Frogmore that they are planted.
There are also some architectural wonders hidden away too. The mausoleum for Victoria’ mother as well as the even grander mausoleum for Victoria herself alongside her beloved Albert. There is a tea house where Victoria would go to sit and drink tea, and ‘the Gothic Ruin’ that was actually built in the late eighteenth century and became used as a breakfast or a reading room.
You access the House via the Long Walk and so you get a fabulous view back up to the Castle.
The opening weekend is usually in August and even though it is only open then, it’s lack of fame tends to mean it is surprisingly quiet. I found my visit refreshing and eye-opening and it is worth visiting if you get the chance.