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E is for Elveden Hall

The Elveden Hall estate was purchased by Admiral Augustus Keppel, 2nd son of William 2nd Earl of Albermarle, in 1766.  He was created Viscount Keppel of Elveden in 1782 in recognition of his distinguished naval career.  William Charles Keppel 4th Earl of Albermarle, Royal Master of Horse, responsible for Queen Victoria’s coronation, sold the estate to William Newton Esq in 1813.  Newton’s executors sold it in 1863 to Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire.  He came to power in 1843 with his mother Maharani Jind Kaur as Regent.  In 1845 the British declared war on the Sikhs and, after winning the First Anglo-Sikh War, retained the Maharaja as nominal ruler. He was deposed aged 10 in 1849 after the Sikh rebellion and Second Anglo-Sikh war gave the British an excuse to annex the Punjab.  In 1854 he was exiled to Britain aged 15, forfeited his property, and was obliged to accept an East India Company pension.

Duleep Singh purchased the Elveden Estate with funds from the India Office and commissioned William Norton to enlarged the eighteenth century Georgian Hall, but he ended up rebuilding it.  The interior was fitted out in the most exotic Rajput style designed to resemble the Mughal palaces of India with marble inlaid floors and chimney pieces, elaborate coloured and gilded plaster work, and decorative mirrors. He transformed the property into a shooting estate, where he hosted parties for members of the royal family, aristocracy and politicians including Prince George Duke of Cambridge and Queen Victoria, gaining the reputation of being the fourth best shot in England.

He left Elveden in 1886 and went to live in Paris following a quarrel with the British authorities, where he died in 1893.  He asked to be buried in India but this was not honoured, due to fear of unrest, given growing resentment of British rule. His body was buried in Elveden Church beside the graves of his wife Maharani Bamba, and son Prince Edward Albert Duleep Singh.

In 1894 his executors sold the estate to Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Viscount Iveagh, the youngest son of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, Brewer of Dublin.  He used his brewing fortune to create a larger more extravagant building including a magnificent white marble domed hall and galleries.