The history of Quebec House
Quebec House has had an interesting and complex history. Since being built in the 1500s, it has undergone many flights of fashion fancy, has been used as a school and was rented by the parents of General Wolfe.
General Wolfe and Quebec House
In 1726 Edward Wolfe and his young bride Henrietta rented the house, then called Spiers. A year later their first son, James was born. When, at 32, James died a hero in the battle of Quebec, the house was renamed in his honour.
The developing house
Originally built between 1530 and 1550 the first building was an L-shaped timber-framed house. In the 1630s the layout was altered to create the latest fashion, what historians call a ‘double pile’ house. Most of the two-acre garden was sold in the early 1800s but important documentary evidence of the original plot survived in the form of Mrs Wolfe’s recipe book. By the 1880s the house was divided in two and Quebec House West was used as a school.
The boy born to be a soldier
James Wolfe was a soldier’s son and followed in his father’s footsteps, receiving his first commission aged just 14. By the time he was 22 he had been in battle four times, wounded three times and had command of his own regiment.
The Battle of Quebec
Promoted to General, Wolfe led British forces in the conquest of Quebec from the French and their First National allies. A vicious siege led to a desperate plan to capture the city. Wolfe’s army was victorious, it was one of the deciding battles in the Seven Years War.
But Wolfe paid the ultimate price and died on the battlefield. His tragic death was immortalised by the painter Benjamin West. This epic history painting became the most popular images of the time. It secured Wolfe’s place in British military history.
A gift from the Learmonts
In 1918 a Canadian philanthropist, Joseph Learmont, left Quebec House to the National Trust in his will. He stipulated that the property was to be ‘utilised and maintained in perpetuity in memory of the late Major General James Wolfe’. His widow, Charlotte, was determined to see his wishes fulfilled.
The couple’s desire was that the house be furnished as it might have been when Wolfe lived here. It should tell the story of Wolfe’s life and death as well as be a place that celebrates early Canadian history.
While Joseph bequeathed the house, it was Charlotte who ensured the National Trust had the funds to build the collection you can see today. With the support of our visitors, we’re able to keep the Learmonts’ wishes alive to this day, more than 100 years on.
Explore this Georgian town house where General James Wolfe grew up. Discover information about his military life, including the Battle of Quebec after which the house is named.
Set against the warm brick walls of the Georgian house, discover 18th-century influenced planting in this compact garden for all seasons, including roses, wisteria and herbs.
Discover the work we’ve been doing at Quebec House in Kent to conserve some of the historic portraits in the collection there and protect them for future generations.co