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Duke of Kent House

Ref: HLBP1/007

On the southern end of Cathedral Square stands a number of buildings collectively known as the Duke of Kent House and originally known as Line Wall House. The original building probably dated from the mid-18th century but was destroyed during the Great Siege. Rebuilt after the siege, and again in 1833 following a fire it was in use as the head-quarters of the Commanding Officer of the 5th Fusiliers before becoming the Fortress HQ.

Edward, Duke of Kent by William Beechey

When Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria was appointed Governor of Gibraltar by the War Office, he took up residence in this property as the Convent was still undergoing extensive repairs after the damage suffered during the Great Siege and was only being used for entertainment purposes. The Duke had taken up his post on the 24th May 1802 with express orders from the government to restore discipline among the drunken troops. The Duke's harsh discipline precipitated a mutiny by soldiers on Christmas Eve 1802. The Duke of York, then Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, recalled him in May 1803 after receiving reports of the mutiny, but despite this direct order he refused to return to England until his successor had arrived. He was refused permission to return to Gibraltar for an inquiry and, although allowed to continue to hold the governorship of Gibraltar until his death, he was forbidden to return.

After the Duke’s departure the building was converted into an Officers’ Mess until 1833 when it was destroyed by a fire.

Line Wall House as rebuilt following the 1838 fire (1865 OS map)

By 1838 it was rebuilt for the second time. Prince George of Cambridge who had recently arrived on the Rock lived in this building for a while and it later became the official residence of the General Officer commanding the Garrison Artillery when the building became known as Artillery House. Around 1930 it became the residence of the General Officer commanding the Infantry and the named changed again to Fortress Headquarters.

Fortress Headquarters in 1945

During the 1990’s the complex of buildings where transferred to the Government of Gibraltar and became part of the Government Secretariat. The original building was renamed the Duke of Kent’s House after its most famous tenant.

Duke of Kent House Image

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