Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s ancestral home in the pit village of Hetton-le-Hole in Tyne and Wear is a far cry from grand Anmer Hall in Norfolk, a stately pile Kate now calls home and where she and William hope to give Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis an idyllic childhood.
Adapted from the royal book ‘William and Kate’s Britain’ by Claudia Joseph, this is a guide to Kate Middleton’s remarkable climb up the property ladder….
6 Station Road, Hetton-Le-Hole, Houghton-Le-Spring, Tyne and Wear DH5 0AX
The pit village of Hetton-Le-Hole was the birthplace of the Duchess of Cambridge’s grandmother Dorothy – and was the home of her ancestors. Kate’s great-great-great-grandfather, John Harrison, migrated to the town in the 19th century and worked at Hetton Colliery. Barrington Terrace, which has long since been demolished, became the family home – it witnessed the birth of Kate’s great-great-grandfather John in 1874 and the death of his mother Jane from tuberculosis, seven years later, at the age of 42, leaving her husband, a widower, with ten children between the ages of two and 21. By 1890, tuberculosis (which in those days had no treatment) had cut a swathe through the family, killing his 18-year-old daughter Isabella. Grief-stricken at losing both his wife and daughter, he succumbed to the disease in 1889, having probably caught it at his daughter’s bedside (his 17-year-old son James was the fourth victim the following year).
Used to hardship (he was 14 when he became an orphan), Kate’s great-great grandfather John, worked his way up to become a deputy at Lyons Colliery and married his wife, also called Jane. They too lived in Barrington Terrace, where they brought up their seven children, including Kate’s great-grandfather Thomas. However John’s career in the mines was cut tragically short when he was trampled by a runaway pony pulling a coal truck. After lying flat on his back for months, he was forced to give up work, spending the remainder of his life in considerable pain, supported by walking sticks.
The couple moved to Broomhill Terrace after John retired but it, too, has been demolished. While three of Tommy’s brothers moved down to London, he remained in the North East, working as a house joiner and living in Station Road. He married his wife Lily, mother of a daughter Ruth, in 1934, and Kate’s grandmother Dorothy was born the following year. During the war Tommy served in Malaya but when he returned to Britain, he was off to London, setting in train the journey which would lead his great-granddaughter to the throne.
57 Clarence Street, Southall UB2 5BJ
This street in Southall, once home to the jazz singer Cleo Laine’s parents, boasts one of the Duchess of Cambridge’s ancestral homes: her great-grandparents Charlie and Edith Goldsmith lived there during World War I and her grandfather Ronald (later to marry Tommy’s daughter Dorothy) was born there and lived there until the age of six. Sadly Charlie (nicknamed ‘Putty’ by his mates) returned from the Great War suffering from emphysema and died in 1938, leaving his widow in penury. She moved to a condemned flat in Dudley Road, a scruffier street, parallel to Clarence Street, which has since been demolished. Southall is now a predominantly Asian area but in those days it was a white working-class suburb, providing labour for the sprawling brick factories, flour mills and chemical plants, the railway depots and engineering works that had sprung up around the Grand Junction Canal (once the main freight route between London and Birmingham), Brunel’s Great Western Railway and the Uxbridge Road.
20 Kingsbridge Road, Norwood Green, Southall UB2 5RT
The childhood home of Prince William’s mother-in-law, Carole Middleton who lived there from the age of 11 until she met husband Michael. Carole’s parents Ronald and Dorothy bought the three-bedroom house in 1966, (a year after the birth of their son Gary), for £4,950 – the equivalent of £135,000 today – and stayed there for the next 25 years until their children had grown up and left home.
75 Huntercombe Lane North, Burnham, Berkshire SL1 6DX
The Berkshire village of Burnham has attracted a number of celebrities including TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, comedienne Tracey Ullman and comic Jimmy Carr – who went to Burnham Grammar School. It was to here that Ronald and Dorothy retired, once Carole and Gary had flown the nest.
33 Arborfield Close, Slough, Berkshire SL1 2JP
This leasehold flat, in a modern 1970s block in a cul-de-sac in Slough, is where the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Michael and Carole Middleton moved in together. In those days Slough was a sprawling industrial suburb populated with factories – it was the headquarters of Mars and Citroen and home to Dulux paint. The apartment was in a convenient location for the couple, who both worked eight miles away at Heathrow Airport (Michael was a flight dispatcher for British Airways while Carole was an air hostess) but by the time they got married, in 1981, they had moved to the more salubrious village of Bradfield Southend.
West View, Cock Lane, Bradfield Southend, Berkshire RG7 6HR
The village of Bradfield Southend is synonymous with Kate’s childhood: she lived there for the first 13 years of her life, going to the local toddler group, pre-school and Brownies in St Peter’s Church hall (she was in the 1st St Andrew’s pack) and attending Bradfield Church of England primary school, next door to her home. Her parents bought West View – opposite the village green and down the road from the Queen’s Head pub – for £34,700 in 1979, the year before they got married, and sold it 16 years later for £158,000. Set back from the road, with a large garden, the Victorian house was converted into two semi-detached homes, with bathrooms at the back, during Edwardian times. When the Middletons moved in, it had three bedrooms on the first floor. Keen to improve their investment, Michael, who was good at restoring houses, converted one of the bedrooms into a bathroom, doing the plumbing himself and built another two bedrooms in the loft. Like many other homeowners, the couple also extended the kitchen and built a playroom for the children.
Oak Acre, The Avenue, Bucklebury, Berkshire RG7 6NS
Ten miles from Windsor Castle, Bucklebury is the parish where Kate grew up from the age of 13 until she left home. The quintessential English village, which would not look out of place in the TV series Midsomer Murders, is home to John Madejski, the multi-millionaire owner of Reading Football Club, DJ Chris Tarrant, singer Kate Bush and TV personality Melinda Messenger. Michael and Carole Middleton moved there in 1995 (they bought the five-bedroom, red-brick house Oak Acre, for £250,000) and have lived in the village ever since. They sold their original home in 2012 for £2.3 million and now live in a £4.85 million manor, two miles down the road, which is secluded from prying eyes and was where Prince George spent the first few months of his life (Carole took him to Bucklebury Farm Park).
About the author: Claudia Joseph trained as a fashion journalist at the London College of Fashion before becoming a news reporter. She has worked at Tatler, The Times, and the Mail on Sunday, and contributes regularly to a number of British newspapers and magazines. She also commentates on royal matters on radio and TV and is author of Kate: The Making of a Princess. She lives in London.
William and Kate’s Britain by Claudia Joseph is published by Splendid Publications and available to order from Splendid Books and Amazon.