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Cumberland Lodge is a 17th century country house in Windsor Great Park located 3.5 miles south of Windsor Castle. It is now occupied by a charitable foundation which holds residential conferences, lectures and discussions concerning the burning issues facing society. The primary beneficiaries of the charity are university students, 4,000 of whom visit the Lodge each year. Its Patron is The Queen who has granted the foundation sole occupancy of the house. The chairman of trustees is Sir Stephen Wall, former British diplomat.
The house was built by John Byfield, an army captain, in 1650 when Oliver Cromwell divided up and sold off lots in Windsor Great Park. The house was called Byfield House until 1670. It was then renamed New Lodge, and at times was also known as Windsor Lodge or Ranger Lodge.
Among those who have lived at the Lodge were:
In 1947, King George VI granted the use of the lodge to the St Katharine’s Foundation — now known as the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St Catharine’s. The foundation is a Christian educational trust which was the product of the imagination and insight of Miss Amy Buller. A commissioned portrait of Amy Buller by the Scottish painter Helen Wilson (RA)can be seen at the lodge. In 1968 it acquired a new appellation, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St. Catharine’s, Cumberland Lodge. In June 2005 a new incorporated charity, called simply Cumberland Lodge, assumed the operating role and the assets of the Foundation. However, the original charity continues to exist as the holder of the warrant for the property.
In 1943 Amy Buller’s book Darkness Over Germany was published.Drawing on her experiences in Germany between the two world wars, she believed that the rise of Nazism had been significantly aided by the great German universities not teaching students to use their critical judgment on the world around them and not providing an environment where the great issues of the day could be openly discussed. The book impressed leading people in a nation still at war. It led to a determination to set up a place where students, and those responsible for the guidance of young people, could meet to discuss what contribution they could make, through their studies, to the betterment of society and towards a lasting peace. Amy Buller conceived the idea of a residential centre where students could come with their teachers and, in a relaxed atmosphere, consider important ethical and social issues outside the normal confines of their degree courses. She gained the active support of the King and Queen. To recognise the prime role played by their Majesties in establishing the Trust, its name was changed in 1968 to the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St Catharine’s. Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was Patron of the Foundation from 1947 until her death in 2002. In February 2003 she was succeeded in this role by her daughter, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The Foundation has developed its role with students, so that it now regularly organises cross-disciplinary postgraduate conferences. Since the 1980s it has also run over one hundred conferences, for a wider constituency than the universities, on moral, ethical, spiritual or social issues, publishing reports, blogs and podcasts on most of them.
Today Cumberland Lodge is an educational charity initiating fresh debate on the burning questions facing society. It is used for academic workshops and short residential courses by groups of students, primarily from universities, who go there to examine the fundamental assumptions underlying political, economic and scientific activities. In addition, through a programme of conferences, discussions and external events, Cumberland Lodge encourages discussion on issues of national and international significance. It is an independent foundation and is therefore able to promote frank exchanges of views and cross-sector co-operation on matters affecting the development of society. Cumberland Lodge initiates about ten conferences a year, as well as a series of free evening talks. Their aim is particularly to explore connections in the following areas: International affairs, especially concerning the Commonwealth or Europe; Religion and Ethics; Education; Culture and Society; Law and Order; Media and Society.
By reflecting on particular issues in terms of their wider ramifications, their conferences give participants the opportunity to gain fresh insights and to make new contacts. At least one conference a year is dedicated to postgraduate students, bringing them together from many institutions and disciplines. Other conferences are for people in any walk of life with a commitment to the topic.
It is not open to the general public for viewing, however there are open days, conferences and free lectures throughout the year. You can also see various interior and exterior shots of Lodge in the film The Kings Speech.
Previous conferences of note include:
Cumberland Lodge has held over 100 conferences since 1986, after each conference a report is compiled and can be viewed on the Cumberland Lodge Website.
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