FEW people know that Chesham has a connection with Prince Philip’s family.

Prince Louis of Battenberg

Prince Louis of Battenberg had an illustrious career in the Royal Navy. In 1884 he married Her Grand Ducal Highness (H.G.D.H.) Victoria, daughter of the Grand Duke of Hesse and Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria. They went onto have 4 children between 1885 and 1900 called Alice, Louise, George and Louis. They moved around a lot, renting or leasing different properties, as Prince Louis took up residence at different places connected to his naval assignments. In 1908 Prince Louis was appointed Vice-Admiral.

Little Pednor

In 1910 Prince Louis and Princess Victoria thought it might be a good idea to have a house in the country not far from London. They saw a nice place for sale called Little Pednor (now called Pednor House) near Chesham in Bucks. In early 1910 they bought it and made plans to modernise it and make it habitable for their needs. In June 1910 they were given permission to lay on a water main to Little Pednor House. On an old map it is in the name of H.G.D.H. Princess Louis of Battenberg. Meanwhile they rented another large house nearby in Chesham, Germains.

Germains, Chesham

Since 1904 a large house called Germains in Fullers Hill, Chesham had belonged to Mr and Mrs Hamilton. They lived there with their 2 young boys. The house had many bedrooms, bathrooms and reception rooms, as well as a billiard room and stables. Mr Hamilton was managing director of the Consolidated Mines Selection Co. Ltd, and from 1910 was president of the Chamber of Mines in South Africa, and a member of the Transvaal Legislative Assembly. From 1910 he was absent for most of the time in South Africa, so the house was rented out to Prince Louis of Battenberg.

The Battenbergs came to Germains in Chesham in April 1910. Prince Louis and their son Prince George were serving with the Royal Navy, only paying occasional visits to Chesham. So most of the time it was just Princess Victoria, and two of her children: her daughter Princess Louise, and her son Prince Louis and various servants who were living there. They employed a lady in waiting, about 6 maids, a cook, valet and pantry boy. On April 5, 1910 Victoria celebrated her 47th birthday at Germains. Then in May 1910, Victoria sent their son Prince Louis, 8 miles away to Locker Park boarding school at Hemel Hempstead, where she could visit.

Princess Alice

Their eldest child Alice was already married. In 1903 she had married Prince Andrew of Greece. By 1910 they had 2 daughters. They had spent the winter of 1909/10 in Athens and on the royal yacht. When they heard that King Edward VII was ill, they all headed back to England. They travelled to London, where Queen Alexandria joined her husband the king. At the start of May 1910 Prince Andrew and Princess Alice came to Chesham and stayed at Germains. A few days after their arrival on May 6, 1910, King Edward VII died. On May 20, 1910 the Battenbergs all left Chesham to go to the king’s funeral.

Great Hundridge

The Battenbergs left Germains in July 1910. However they liked it so much they decided to stay there again over the winter, so they returned later in 1910. Princess Victoria also took an interest in local matters and became a patron of the Buckinghamshire Lace Association. They then decided not live at Little Pednor and sold it, and instead looked to buy Great Hundridge Manor, near Chesham. The Rickmansworth Water Company was asked to extend the water main to Great Hundridge Farm. But in the end it seemed too expensive and they gave up on the plan, although the Peerage Almanacs quoted Hundridge as their address for some years before it was corrected. Meanwhile Prince Louis and Princess Victoria were given Kent House, in the grounds of Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. That then became their home, and their interest in Chesham ended.

Germains

Meanwhile when Mr John Gardiner Hamilton, owner of Germains died in Johannesburg on July 7, 1912, the news was cabled to his wife at Germains. Germains was sold at auction in July 1912. It was bought by Col. Lord and Lady Binning and family. Germains is now a Grade II listed building. Few people know that it was briefly home to the Battenberg family.

Battenberg to Mountbatten

In 1912 Prince Louis was appointed First Sea Lord. In July 1914, with the First World War looming, Prince Louis took the initiative to ensure the British fleet was ready for combat.

However in 1917 at a time of anti-German feeling, when the royal family changed their name to Windsor, the Battenberg family anglicised their name to Mountbatten. The king made Prince Louis of Battenberg the Marquis of Milford Haven. Louis died in 1921 and was buried on the Isle of Wight.

Prince Philip

In 1923 their daughter Lady Louise Mountbatten, married Crown Prince (later King) Gustav of Sweden. Victoria, now a widow, moved to Kensington Palace. By the 1930s, Victoria helped out her daughter Alice who had had suffered several breakdowns and was institutionalised in Switzerland. Along with her sons George, now 2nd Marquis of Milford Haven and Louis (now Admiral and later Earl) Mountbatten, she took over the care of the young Prince Philip of Greece, overseeing his education before he joined the Royal Navy. After Kensington Palace was bombed in the war, Victoria spent a lot of time at Windsor Castle with King George VI and his family. During this time, her grandson Philip made frequent visits, where he met future wife the Princess Elizabeth, later to become the Queen.

Appeal

If you know anything about the Battenbergs in Chesham please contact Neil on 01494 258328 or nwrees@gmail.com