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The history of Quebec House

Death of Wolfe by George Roth Jr, 1784. At Quebec House, Westerham, Kent
Death of Wolfe by George Roth Jr, 1784, at Quebec House | © National Trust Images/John Hammond painting bought for Quebec House, 1948, by the Trustees of the Mrs Learmont Fund (Montreal)

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.

General James Wolfe as a young man oil on canvas portrait by Benjamin West, at Quebec House, Kent
General James Wolfe as a young man oil on canvas portrait by Benjamin West, at Quebec House | © National Trust Images/Matthew Hollow

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.

Family Bible in the Bicentenary Room at Quebec House, Westerham, Kent.

Quebec House's collections

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Quebec House on the National Trust Collections website.

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A view inside the Drawing Room at Quebec House, Kent, which has dark wood panelling on the walls and patterned rugs on the floor. A comfortable chair and sofa are arranged in front of a fireplace and three oil portraits hang in gold frames on the wall above.

Things to see and do at Quebec House 

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.

View from the east lawn across the rear lawn to the Church (not National Trust) at Quebec House, Westerham, Kent

The garden at Quebec House 

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.

General James Wolfe as a young man oil on canvas portrait by Benjamin West, at Quebec House, Kent

Conserving Quebec House’s paintings 

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

Overhead view of an octagonal table with the figure of Silenus, a drunken follower of Bacchu, in The Library at Claydon House in Buckinghamshire


Learn about people from the past, discover remarkable works of art and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens.