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On an English, Scottish or Welsh estate, a dower house is usually a moderately large house available for use by the widow of the estate-owner. The widow, often known as the "dowager", usually moves into the dower house from the larger family house on the death of her husband if the heir is married, and upon his marriage if he was single at his succession. The new heir occupies the now vacated principal house.
The dower house might also be occupied by an elder son after his marriage, or simply rented to a tenant.
The British royal family maintains a dower house in London as well as one in the country. Well-known royal dower-houses in London have included Clarence House, Marlborough House, and (for a time during the 18th century) Buckingham Palace (then known as "Buckingham House"). Frogmore House has served as Windsor Castle's dower house.