Cranbourne is split between the parishes of Winkfield and Windsor. The village is in the former and Cranbourne Chase or Walke is in the latter. The Chase was one of the sixteen sub-divisions of Windsor Forest and unusual for its fallow as opposed to the more usual red deer. The home of the Keeper, was Cranbourne Lodge, better known today as the Cranbourne Tower. This office dates back to, at least, the reign of Henry IV, though the lodge was first built by Henry VII. The present building is mostly late Georgian. Thomas Warde was appointed Keeper in 1535. His son later became Lord of the Manor of nearby Winkfield (and Hurst). King James II's first wife, Anne Hyde, was born in the Lodge. Samuel Pepys had an awkward meeting there with his commander, Sir George Carteret, when acting as a naval messenger. He first got lost in Windsor Forest, then, when he eventually arrived, he found the lodge under reconstruction. Pepys had to climb up a ladder to Sir George's bedroom, the only room in use. The peer was still in bed and was not amused by the news of an English defeat off Norway.
Adjoining the Chase is the estate of Fernhill. In the 18th century, it was the last Berkshire home of the ancient Knollys family, descendants of Sir Francis Knollys, Treasurer of Queen Elizabeth I's Royal Household; and, in the 1820s, it became famous as the British residence of Lord Metcalfe, the Governor General of India, who is buried in Winkfield parish church. An adjoining 18th century mansion, Cranbourne Court, was once part of the same estate. It has had various names over the years and a myriad of well-known residents, including Admiral Sir Charles Rowley, General Sir Thomas Willshire, the Victorian actress Edna May and singer Rod Stewart. Bob Hope rented it in the Summer of 1961 when filming 'The Road to Hong Kong' and lived there with Bing Crosby and their families. Slightly nearer the village is Lovel Hill House. In origin, it is a Queen Anne House. Its most famous resident was Admiral Sir Charles Knowles, an illegitimate relative of the Knollyses. Also to be seen in St. Mary's is the brass of Thomas Montague (1630). He lived at Kilbees Manor, near Cranbourne. An arrow kept there for many years was said to have been the one that gave the place its name. It was presented, by Elizabeth I, to one of the Montagues after an extraordinary feet of archery in which he shot it straight into a hive of bees. Other important houses in the area include: Orchard Lea of 1884, the home of the pre-WWI army reformer, Viscount Esher and his family (his daughter, Lady Brooke, was the last Ranee of Sarawak); the late 17th century Winkfield Place where Constance Spry's cookery college began; Thomas Sandby's mid-18th century Ascot Place, a seven-bay two-storey house with flanking pavilions and, in the gardens, the finest man-made ornamental cavernous grotto in the country; the late 18th century Buckhurst Park, remodelled out of all recognition in 1961 and Prince Andrew's now derelict Tesco-style Sunninghill Park of 1990. There is also the Pump Room at the end of Winkfield Lane, dating from about 1800 when Cranbourne its own spa. It was built above a physic well, now covered over. The upper storey of the porch, opening out onto the full-height pump room, was designed to accommodate a small orchestra: one can imagine the merriment that occurred. Ranelagh School in Bracknell started out in Cranbourne. It was founded by the Earl of Ranelagh as the Green School in 1709. It began life at Cranbourne Hall (recently demolished), but moved to Lovel Road in 1878, becoming Cranbourne Ranelagh School. It opened as a Grammar School, Ranelagh School, in Bracknell in 1908.
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