Victoria City Tour
1513 Prospect Place has an interesting history. It was designed and built in 1925 by architect Samuel Maclure for architect Francis Rattenbury, who commissioned it as a residence for his wife Florence as part of their divorce settlement.
Here is a 2014 Google Street View image of 1513 Prospect Place:
Here is a map showing the location of 1513 Prospect Place:
Additional Information About 1513 Prospect Place:
- Assessed Value (July 2017): $1,498,000; Land $1,292,000; Buildings $206,000
- Assessed Value (July 2016): $1,353,000; Land $1,198,000; Buildings $155,000
A Brief History of 1513 Prospect Place
Architect Francis Rattenbury was no stranger to scandal during his career.
In 1924, the 56 year old Francis Rattenbury attracted more scandal when he abandoned his wife, Florence (Florrie), and scandalized Victoria society by publicly flaunting his 29 year old mistress, Alma Pakenham. There were rumours that Alma introduced Rattenbury to what today might be called the “recreational use” of cocaine.
Rattenbury added fuel to the scandal by pressuring his wife for a divorce. His tactics were unorthodox. When Florence Rattenbury refused to move out of their house at 1701 Beach Drive, Francis Rattenbury had the heat and electricity shut off. When that didn’t work, Rattenbury began bringing his mistress Alma to this house, entertaining his mistress in front of his wife. On one such evening, Alma taunted Florrie Rattenbury by pounding out a loud rendition of Chopin’s Funeral March on the piano as Florrie lay ill in an upstairs bedroom.
When Florence Rattenbury finally agreed to a divorce in 1925, she demanded, as part of the settlement, that Francis Rattenbury build her a new house near 1701 Beach Drive. Since the Rattenburys were not on speaking terms, Francis Rattenbury hired architect Samuel Maclure to design and build a house for his soon to be ex-wife. The house that Samuel Maclure designed and built is this one at 1513 Prospect Place, a block west of the Rattenbury home at 1701 Beach Drive.
After the divorce, Francis Rattenbury married Alma Pakenham but the couple were virtually ostracized from Victoria society over Francis Rattenbury’s treatment of his ex-wife Florence. Prospective clients shunned Francis Rattenbury as well, causing Rattenbury’s architectural practice to become dormant.
With his social standing and his professional career in tatters, Francis and Alma Rattenbury moved to England, settling in the town of Bournemouth.
Things did not improve for Francis Rattenbury in Bournemouth. Alma Pakenham began an affair with the couple’s 18 year chauffeur/handyman, George Stoner.
In the early morning of 23 March 1935, Francis Rattenbury was discovered unconscious, seated in an arm chair in his living room. He had suffered severe head injuries, inflicted with a carpenter’s mallet. He died of his injuries four days later.
Both Alma Rattenbury and George Stoner were charged with Francis Rattenbury’s murder. Alma Rattenbury was acquitted but committed suicide a few days after the trial. George Stoner was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, although the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. George Stoner was released from prison in 1942 on condition that he enlist in the British Army.
In the 1950’s, Sir Terrance Rattigan wrote a play about the Rattenbury murder case, entitled Cause Celebre. In 1987, Britain’s ITV produced a television adaptation of Cause Celebre, starring Helen Mirren, which first aired on 23 August 1987.
Here’s a trailer for the 1987 ITV production of Terrance Rattigan’s Cause Celebre, starring Helen Mirren.
For more information about Francis Rattenbury, we recommend Rattenbury, by Terry Reksten. This book was originally published in the 1970’s but it remains the best biography of Francis Rattenbury that we are aware of.
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