Cumberland Lodge

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Cumberland Lodge
View from the garden.

Cumberland Lodge is a 17th-century Grade II listed country house in Windsor Great Park located 3.5 miles south of Windsor Castle.[1] It is now occupied by a charitable foundation which holds residential conferences, lectures and discussions concerning the burning issues facing society. The primary beneficiaries of the charity are university students, 4,000 of whom visit the Lodge each year. Its Patron is The Queen who has granted the foundation sole occupancy of the house. The chairman of trustees is Sir Stephen Wall, former British diplomat. The gardens of Cumberland Lodge are Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.[2]

History of the building[edit]

The house was built by John Byfield, an army captain, in 1650 when Oliver Cromwell divided up and sold off lots in Windsor Great Park. The house was called Byfield House until 1670. It was then renamed New Lodge, and at times was also known as Windsor Lodge or Ranger Lodge.

After the Restoration, King Charles II made the house the official residence of the Ranger of the Great Park — a Crown appointment always held by someone close to the Sovereign.

Among those who have lived at the Lodge were:

During 1936 Cumberland Lodge was used for key meetings between the King’s Private Secretary and the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, which eventually led to the abdication of King Edward VIII.

History of the Foundation[edit]

In 1947, King George VI granted the use of the lodge to the St Katharine’s Foundation – now known as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St Catharine's. The foundation is a Christian educational trust which was the product of the imagination and insight of Amy Buller. A commissioned portrait of Amy Buller by the Scottish painter Helen Wilson (RA) can be seen at the lodge. In 1968 it acquired a new appellation, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St Catharine’s, Cumberland Lodge. In June 2005 a new incorporated charity, called simply Cumberland Lodge, assumed the operating role and the assets of the Foundation. However, the original charity continues to exist as the holder of the warrant for the property.

In 1943 Amy Buller’s book Darkness Over Germany was published. Drawing on her experiences in Germany between the two world wars, she believed that the rise of Nazism had been significantly aided by the great German universities not teaching students to use their critical judgment on the world around them and not providing an environment where the great issues of the day could be openly discussed. The book impressed leading people in a nation still at war. It led to a determination to set up a place where students, and those responsible for the guidance of young people, could meet to discuss what contribution they could make, through their studies, to the betterment of society and towards a lasting peace. Amy Buller conceived the idea of a residential centre where students could come with their teachers and, in a relaxed atmosphere, consider important ethical and social issues outside the normal confines of their degree courses. She gained the active support of the King and Queen. Queen Elizabeth explained her understanding of the scheme in a letter to Queen Mary in November 1944, emphasizing its purpose as a centre for the study of the Christian philosophy of life, attempting to attract especially teachers of medicine, science, psychology etc. from the best universities. To recognise the prime role played by their Majesties in establishing the Trust, its name was changed in 1968 to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St Catharine's. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was Patron of the Foundation from 1947 until her death in 2002. In February 2003 she was succeeded in this role by her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

The Foundation has developed its role with students, so that it now regularly organises cross-disciplinary postgraduate conferences. Since the 1980s it has also run over one hundred conferences, for a wider constituency than the universities, on moral, ethical, spiritual or social issues, publishing reports, blogs and podcasts on most of them.

Cumberland Lodge today[edit]

Today Cumberland Lodge is an educational charity initiating debate on the questions facing society. It is used for academic workshops and short residential courses by groups of students, primarily from universities, who go there to examine the fundamental assumptions underlying political, economic and scientific activities. In addition, through a programme of conferences, discussions and external events, Cumberland Lodge encourages discussion on issues of national and international significance. It is an independent foundation. Cumberland Lodge initiates about ten conferences a year, as well as a series of free evening talks. Their aim is particularly to explore connections in the following areas: International affairs, especially concerning the Commonwealth or Europe; Religion and Ethics; Education; Culture and Society; Law and Order; Media and Society.

At least one conference a year is dedicated to postgraduate students, bringing them together from many institutions and disciplines.

It is not open to the general public for viewing, however there are open days, conferences and free lectures throughout the year. Various interior and exterior shots of Lodge of included in the film The King's Speech.

Cumberland Lodge reports[edit]

Previous conferences of note include:

  • The People Are The Police?[4] Cumberland Lodge's 30th Police Conference. Transforming 21st Century Policing through New Partnerships and Engagement.
  • Drugs and Harm[5] A new agenda for a new government?
  • The Future of the Third Sector[6] Taking stock of the impact of policy context changes, service delivery reforms, and the emerging priorities of the big and civil society.
  • Religion and the News[7] Over the past twenty years the coverage of religious news in the media has radically changed: religion is no longer a "soft" story.
  • Surveillance and the Limits of Law Enforcement [8] Is the loss of liberty the price we pay for freedom?
  • Changing Expectations of Life[9] This conference sought to expose the prevalent misconceptions about ageing, to examine the latest medical, epidemiological and demographic research, and to consider societal and cultural responses to the challenges of ageing.

Cumberland Lodge has held over 100 conferences since 1986, after each conference a report is compiled and can be viewed on the Cumberland Lodge Website.


Letter from Queen Elizabeth to Queen Mary 13 November 1944, published in 'Counting One's Blessings, The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother', Ed, William Shawcross, Macmillan, 2012, p374 - 375

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°26′02″N 0°36′28″W / 51.4339°N 0.6079°W / 51.4339; -0.6079