Frederick Alexander English

20 Aug 1845 – 2 Jun 1909

On the 1st May 2018 Addington Palace played host to the ‘great and the good’ for an evening to remember! At yet another prestigious occasion, this Croydon Landmark provided the breath-taking location to signify the official opening of the Frederick English Suite.

Frederick Alexander English was born in Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa on 20 Aug 1845 to Alexander English and Anne Hawthorne.

Frederick English was a wealthy diamond merchant making the most out of South Africa’s diamond boom in the late 1800’s. Within a few years South Africa had produced more diamonds than India had in the past 2000 years as such it attracted business men from around the world. One of them was mining magnate, and English Businessman Cecil Rhodes who became a friend of Frederick English in Cape Town. Cecil Rhodes later became Prime Minister of the cape colony from 1890 to 1896.

During this time Frederick English married Elizabeth Katharina Johanna Devenish known as Kitta to Afrikaans people and as Kitty to her English friends. The two of them traveled to England in 1898. At that time, Addington Palace had been the summer residence of six of the archbishops of Canterbury, the last of which was Archbishop Edward Benson. At this point, under the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, Archbishop Temple sold Addington Palace to Sir Frederick English, despite strong opposition including that of Queen Victoria herself.

When Frederick purchased the house, he spent £70,000 on alterations which in today money is nearly 6.5 million pounds. The architect commissioned to oversee these alterations was Richard Norman Shaw, a renowned Scottish architect, who is famed for deigning the former New Scotland Yard Buildings, now named, ‘Norman Shaw Buildings’. The greatest of these alterations was the enlargement of the great hall which involved removing the first floor and extending the building from the front. Very little of the original house can be seen from the front except the North and South wings.

In 1909, 6 years after the work was completed, Sir Frederick English died and was buried at St Mary’s Church in Addington. His wife Elizabeth vowed never to sleep in the house again thus went home to South Africa by Sale Boat.

Mrs English Addington Palace

In 1914, Elizabeth Katherina English bought the farm Schoongezicht for £18 000.00 and changed the name to Lanzerac to avoid confusion with another farm of the same name in the area. Rumor has it that Mrs. English named the farm after her true love, General Charles Lanzerac, a French general, who commanded the French Fifth Army at the outbreak of World War I.

In the seven years that she lived on the farm, she made considerable alterations and improvements to both the house and outbuildings. Mrs English bottled the first Lanzerac wine from grapes grown on her land, where at one stage there were reputed to have been 21 varieties growing, all of them imported. She was known as ‘a woman of great personality and enterprise’. She filled Lanzerac with beautiful antique furniture and had no children when she passed away in 1929. Her body was brought back to St. Mary’s church in Addington to be buried alongside her husband, the late Frederick English.

Today Lanzerac pays tribute to this heritage with a range of three heritage wines including Mrs English Chardonnay and Le Général Red blend.

We have always been interested in preserving the History of Addington Palace and of course, adding to it.

On the 1st of May 2018 we are holding a milestone event, unveiling the new empire suite which will be named after Sir Frederick English. This was one of the many rooms designed by renowned Scottish Architect Richard Norman Shaw for Sir Frederick English.

Our guest of Honor for this event is Sir Terence English, the Great Grand Nephew of Sir Frederick English himself. Sir Terence is a highly distinguished Cardiac Surgeon who appreciates the work Addington Palace’s current owners have done in restoring the Palace to it’s former glory and preserving the landscape and history of this Grade II* listed Palladian Style Mansion.