The Royal Star and Garter Home opened in 1916 in what had been the celebrated Star and Garter Hotel until it closed in 1906.

It was let in 1914 to the War Office as a temporary quarters for men from Lord Kitchener’s New Army, who were being trained for combat in World War One before being sent to the trenches.

As casualties mounted horrifically, hospitals filled with returning war wounded and the British Red Cross campaigned for a home specifically for the treatment of those most severely disabled in service.

The Auctioneers and Estate Agents Institute of the United Kingdom donated generously and the public appeal was well received.

So much so, the old hotel was purchased in 1915, and the deeds were presented to Queen Mary.

She entrusted the building to the Red Cross to establish a “permanent haven for paralysed and severely disabled men of the King’s forces”.

She also became the home’s first patron and she decreed should bear the name of the old hotel.

The first 65 residents had an average age of 22. Some returned home eventually, others lived the rest of their lives in the homes of the Royal Star and Garter.

It soon became apparent, as it has once more, that the home in its state was not suited to purpose, so the hotel was demolished and the present home, known as the soldier’s Hampton Court Palace, was opened in 1924.

George Gilbert Scott, one of the finest architects of his day, gave his services free to design the beautiful building, funded by the British Women’s Hospital Committee.

With marble halls, stained glass, graceful colonnades and breathtaking views, the building was truly fit for the heroes it was built to house.

Unfortunately, its communal bathrooms, standard in care homes and hospitals, are now dated and not up to the specifications expected.

The Second World War brought more young men to the Star and Garter and the work of Dr Ludwig Guttman helped set up a paraplegic ward, which gave rise to the first Paraplegic Games in London in 1948.

The home has done so much to help ex-servicemen and women, and has been an exceptional friend to Richmond, as Richmond has been to it.

The Royal Star and Garter will be missed.

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