Ranger’s House is a historic Georgian mansion located adjacent to Greenwich Park. Once owned by the Earl of Chesterfield, this stylish red-brick villa became the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park during the early nineteenth century. Today, Ranger’s House is most notable for housing the Wernher Collection, an eclectic assortment of paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and decorative-arts items once belonging to Julius Wernher, a wealthy diamond dealer.
History of the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House
The Georgian-era structure known today as Ranger’s House was built during the 1720s for a prominent British naval officer, Francis Hosier, who wanted the property for its ready access to the Thames. The site changed hands several times after Hosier’s death, eventually ending up in the possession of a Philip Dormer Stanhope, the fourth Earl of Chesterfield, which is why the home was known for many decades as Chesterfield House. Starting in the second decade of the nineteenth century, the house became the official residence of the Ranger of Greenwich Park, a role it served until 1890. Ranger’s House was carefully restored during the 1960s and 1970s.
Julius Wernher was born in Germany in 1850. He made his fortune owning diamond mines in South Africa, and by the late nineteenth century he had acquired a significant private art collection. In the wake of the English Heritage organization taking over control of Ranger’s House in 1986, an agreement was reached that saw the majority of Wernher’s art collection brought to the historic site for public display. The Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House is arranged today similar to the fashion in which Wernher himself is believed to have showcased his possessions throughout his own mansion when he was alive.
Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House Highlights
The Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House consists of approximately 700 artworks spread out across 12 exquisitely decorated eighteenth-century rooms. Amidst these elegantly appointed rooms visitors will encounter a host of remarkable Renaissance-era paintings, medieval sculptures, historic tapestries, and artworks by several of the so-called “Dutch Old Masters.” Until it went on display at Ranger’s House, the Wernher Collection was considered one of Europe’s finest private art collections.
Highlights of the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House include a widely hailed collection of Spanish renaissance jewelry; paintings by notable artists such as Filippino Lippi, Hans Memling, and Joshua Reynolds; Giulio Bergonzoli’s marble sculpture The Love of Angels; and Madonna of the Pomegranate, a replica of the famed Sandro Botticelli painting that hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. What’s particularly notable about this copy is that it’s believed to have been painted by an apprentice artist working in Botticelli’s workshop near the same time the original was created.
Once you’ve finished exploring the many artistic wonders housed within Ranger’s House, you’ll want to make some time to enjoy its grounds. A small garden can be found adjacent to the home; from there you can easily access Greenwich Park’s beautiful Rose Garden. This gorgeous parcel of land is at its flowery peak during the summer months of June and July, but it’s well worth a look no matter when you visit.
More to See and Do at the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House
Continue reading below for more information on what to expect during your upcoming visit to the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House.
*While its hours of operation are subject to change—you’ll want to visit the attraction’s official website for the most up-to-date information—it’s crucial to note that the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House is typically only open April through October. It’s also usually closed a couple days each week, more often than not on Mondays and Tuesdays.
*The Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House contains a small gift shop where you can purchase a gift, souvenir, or guidebook that’ll serve as a handy resource during your self-guided tour of the attraction.
*You won’t find anywhere to purchase food or drink at Ranger’s House. However, if you want to plan ahead, you can bring a packed lunch with you; there are numerous lovely spots to enjoy a picnic on the grounds of Ranger’s House or within the leafy confines of neighboring Greenwich Park.
*Be advised that no photography whatsoever is permitted within Ranger’s House. Sadly, this prohibition includes the many famous artworks that comprise the Wernher Collection.
Why the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House Should Be on Your Must-See List
The Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House is quite literally two worthwhile attractions combined to create a single fantastic destination. On one hand, there’s the fine selection of historic artworks that have charmed visitors for decades now; on the other, Ranger’s House itself makes for a fascinating place to explore, too. Add to the mix the fact that the standout attractions of the Royal Museums Greenwich (which include the National Maritime Museum, Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory, and Queen’s House) are located nearby, as well as the Fan Museum and the Old Royal Naval College, and the Wernher Collection at Ranger’s House makes for a strong addition to any London itinerary.