A local landlord named Robert Stephenson submitted plans to the Crown in September 1689, to take the lease of a piece of ground on which he had already built premises, which were described in the 1690 survey as:
One cottage and outhouses and stable erected on the west of Hampton Court Green in the occupation of Robert Stephenson in length 162 foot (49.4 metres) and in breadth 30 foot (9.1 metres).
By providing food and drink for his gardeners he enabled the King to get more work out of them as previously they had to travel to Teddington for their meals. The King came to see the property and it was approved, so Robert Stephenson’s refreshment house stood where Craven House stands today – facing down Frog Walk towards the river. The building stayed in the Stephenson family for almost 100 years.
By 1733, the cottage had become much more of a refreshment house for the workers – it consisted of 13 rooms and a garret which were well furnished with a number of looking glasses, prints and books. Among the kitchen equipment there were records of a coffee pot and six lemon squeezers – coffee was not a drink of the working man at that time and lemons were a luxury item. The ‘cottage’ had become a house of some substance.
It appears to have ceased to be an Inn by the 1760’s and by 1784 the old house had been demolished and a new one built in its place.
In 1799, a coaching map of the area shown Craven House as a ‘gentleman’s seat’ with Thomas Lane as the occupier. After his death the house passed to the Bowater family – Major General Sir Edward Bowater was equerry to Prince Albert on his arrival in England ready for his marriage to Queen Victoria.
In 1843, the house was sold to a local butcher, and – the next known tenant was the Army which rented the house, now known as Bowater House, for use as the officers’ mess of the Hampton Court Cavalry detachment.
In 1868, a Mr JJ Ellis bought the house. He pulled down the coach house and stables and built new ones as well as servants’ rooms, a harness room and a billiard room. It was Mr Ellis that changed the name to Craven House. The coach house and stables have now become a separate entity and are now known as The Blue House and Westfield House.
Since 2006, Craven House been owned and managed by Lucy Schiel and family, who have tastefully restored the historic building, refurbished and transformed it into serviced apartment accommodation fit for kings once more! Located between beautiful Bushy Park and the gates of Hampton Court Palace, whether the purpose of the stay at Craven House is for business or leisure, corporate relocation or family break, you will find the property a real haven of historic tranquility.