In 1941, Adelaide Cottage became a “grace and favor” home—or, the term used to describe houses owned by the Queen that she lends out to royal family members or staff. One of the first occupants of Adelaide? Peter Townsend—the onetime great love of Princess Margaret, who caused a scandal when his relationship with the Princess was revealed.
Townsend had mixed feelings about living in the Grade II listed historic home which, at the time, was in need of renovation. “In the spring of 1945, with our second child on the way, the King proposed that we should move our abode to a small ‘grace and favor’ house, Adelaide Cottage, in the home park of Windsor Castle,” Townsend wrote in his memoir, Time and Chance. “It was a generous gesture for which I felt deeply grateful, despite the limited amenities of the House.”
He described the home as an “ice-box” in the winter, as it only had two radiators: “In the drawing-room, surrounded by French windows, it was sometimes necessary to wrap up in an overcoat and scarf,” Townsend wrote. Yet in the summer, he recalls, it was “delightful.” He lived there until 1952.
Adelaide Cottage has certainly been modernized since the days of Queen Victoria and Peter Townsend. (Townsend, it seems, also contended with bad timing when it came to his upgrade requests: Roberts found that when the occupant of Adelaide Cottage requested central heating in the mid 1940s for his young family—likely Townsend—“the Office of Works replied that it was impossible to contemplate such works at present ‘while all our efforts are directed to the repair of bomb damage in London.’”) Adelaide received several upgrades in 1955 after Townsend moved out, and work continued throughout the decades. In the 1960s, for example, Roberts found that, “For many years (until 1963) a waterfall descended the hill through a rockery behind the house; it was removed in an attempt to reduce the damp conditions within.” More work was reported in the 1990s, and in 2015, it’s said the property underwent an extensive renovation.
But it’s likely some old-world touches still remain: Much of the cottage was originally furnished with “chastely elegant” furniture from the nearby Royal Lodge and the grounds included an expansive garden.