De Vere Beaumont Estate Windsor

Our luxury photo booth and karaoke function was in action last night at a corporate event held at the De Vere Beaumont Estate Windsor in their lovely old chapel. As well as photos our booth was mainly booked for its karaoke function with groups of people ‘singing’ a number of songs including Summer Nights (Grease), With a Little Help from my Friends (Beatles), Wonderwall (Oasis), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2) and Happy (Pharrell Williams). Some of the singing was ‘interesting’ but everyone had great fun !

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The Chapel at De Vere Beaumont Estate Windsor (www.beaumont-estate-windsor.co.uk) is a lovely venue and lies within 40 acres of sprawling grounds in the Beaumont Estate in Old Windsor.  Dating back to the 14th century, the De Vere Beaumont Estate Windsor was a family home for many years until 1854 when it was sold to the Society of Jesus as a training college for novices and then it became a Roman Catholic boarding school. Nine years later a chapel was built by renowned architect Joseph Hansom with a barrel-vaulted ceiling, carefully painted in the early 20th century by Romaine Walker.

Once the school closed in the late 1960′s, Beaumont Estate was purchased by British computer company ICL who used it as their training centre (I attended a couple of courses there myself on old ICL 2966 mainframes !). In 2003, Hayley Conference Centres bought the venue and developed it into an upscale conference venue. The original White House in the grounds and the Chapel were left untouched and under-utilised until Principal Hayley Hotels and Conference Venues acquired Beaumont House in 2007.

In June 2008, Beaumont Estate embarked on an ambitious refurbishment programme to completely renovate The White House and restore the Chapel. Just 5 months and £8.1million later and the beautiful, exclusive executive suite that is The White House re-opened and the magnificent Chapel was unveiled.

From the beginnings of democracy to royalty to education, the majestic De Vere Beaumont Estate Windsor enjoys a rich and fascinating history. The swimming pool at the Beaumont Estate was the first heated indoor swimming pool to be built in England; TheBeaumont Estate was once a school where Coco Chanel’s nephew was a pupil. It’s said that the school blazer was the inspiration for the 1924 Chanel Suit; The first motorist in England was the Hon Evelyn Ellis, who in 1885 drove a car from his home to Beaumont; The Chapel is said to be inspiration for the chapel in English writer Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. The current window is a replacement as the original was destroyed by a doodlebug which landed on the school during the 2nd World War And there’s more…from the signing of one of the most famous documents in the world to royal connections to the Catholic Eton to the stunning hotel it is today.

The first reference to Beaumont is around the year 1300, when the estate and much of the locality was owned by a man named Hugo de Remenham. Known then as Remenham, the estate land was close to the location of an important historical event – the signing of Magna Carta over 800 years ago.

Following Hugo de Remenham, the estate (which was over 91 acres at the time) was then owned for a period by the Tyle family, and subsequently by John Morley, Francis Kibblewhite, and William Christmas. It then was acquired by Henry Frederick Tynne who had architect James Gibbs – one of Britain’s most influential architects – re-design the house in 1705 and named it Bowman’s Lodge. By 1714 Thomas Tynne, 2nd Viscount Weymouth inherited the property and by the mid-eighteenth century it was acquired by Sophia, Duchess of Kent. In 1751 The Duke of Roxburghe purchased the estate for his son – Marquis of Beaumont (then a boy a Eton College) who renamed it Beaumont Lodge. In 1786 Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India (Beaumont’s most celebrated tenant), acquired Beaumont Lodge at the cost of £12,000. In 1789 the estate was sold to Henry Griffith (which then still included the Bells of Ousley), who had Henry Emlyn rebuild the house in 1790 as a nine-bay mansion and carry out extensive improvements. The 19th Century & Beyond: Beaumont as St. Stanislaus College In 1805 the Beaumont property was bought for about £14,000 by Viscount Ashbrook, a friend of George IV. After his death in 1847 his widow disposed of The Bells of Ousley but continued to reside there until 1854, when she sold it to the Society of Jesus as a training college. For 7 years it housed Jesuit novices of the (then) English province and on 10th October 1861 it became a Catholic boarding school for boys with the title of St. Stanislaus College, Beaumont, widely known as the ‘Catholic Eton.’

Famous visitors included Queen Victoria, who is known to have visited Beaumont 3 times during the time in which it was a school. In 1870 a chapel was built by renowned architect Joseph Hansom with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. It was carefully painted in 1902 by William Romaine-Walker who described his style as ‘The Grandchild of the Pompeian.’ The school enjoyed a fine reputation – until 1967 – when the order rejoined the faculty and moved to Stoneyhurst in Lancashire. In the gardens are poignant reminders of the school such as a memorial erected in remembrance of the old boys who lost their lives in the two world wars. Her Majesty the Queen planted a tree close to the memorial on 15th May 1961 to commemorate Beaumont College’s centenary.

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