The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 12 Knightsbridge and Kensington

Holland House and Leighton House

Previous - Next

Holland House, residence of the Countess of Ilchester, is a beautiful and historic Tudor mansion, famous in the time of the third Baron Holland (1796-1840) as 'the favourite resort of wits and beauties, painters and poets, scholars, philosophers, and statesmen.' Built by John Thorpe in 1607 for Sir Walter Cope and originally called Cope Castle, Holland House passed by marriage to Henry Rich, created Earl of Holland (in Lincolnshire), who was executed in 1649. The house was then occupied for a time by the parliamentary generals Fairfax and Lambert, but was later restored to Lord Holland's widow. In the reign of Charles II. William Penn seems to have lodged in this house, and in 1689 William III. and Mary temporarily occupied it. In 1716 Joseph Addison married the widow of the third Earl of Warwick and Holland, and it was at Holland House in 1719 that he showed his stepson, the fourth Earl, 'how a Christian can die.' Lord Kensington, heir of the Rich family, sold the house to Henry Fox (father of Charles James Fox), who was made Baron Holland in 1763. `Lord Ilchester is descended from Henry Fox's brother. The brilliant literary and political (Whig) circle of which Holland House was the centre under the third baron (see above) is described in Macaulay's essay on Lord Holland. See also Princess Liechienstein's 'Holland House' (1874). An opportunity of seeing the very beautiful gardens is sometimes given when the summer flower-show of the Horticultural Society is held in the grounds, but the public are not admitted to the house, which contains some fine pictures, notably works by Reynolds and G. F. Watts. WHITE PARLOUR. Several fine portraits by Hoppner. JOURNAL ROOM. 21. Lonsdale (a little-known pupil of Romney), Lord Archibald Hamilton; 22. Hoppner, John, 4th Earl of Darnley; 34. Raeburn, Francis Horner. ALLEN'S ROOM. 36. Reynolds, Stephen, 2nd Baron Holland. CHLOE'S ROOM. 54-59. Portraits by G. F. Watts. SWANNERY. 109. Hogarth, Scene from Dryden's 'Indian Emperor'; 111. Reynolds, 'Muscipula' (a little girl with a mouse-trap). PICTURE ROOM. 130-136. Portraits by G. F. Watts. INNER LIBRARY. 139. Hoppner, Peter, 7th Lord King; 145. Reynolds, Henry, 1st Earl Digby. LIBRARY. 15. Gainsborough, Lady Mary Fitzpatrick. � ADDISON'S ROOM. 162. Reynolds, Henry, 1st Baron Holland. SIR JOSHUA ROOM. Reynolds, 168. Florentius Vassal and his daughter, 170. Mary, 2nd Lady Holland, 173. First Baron Holland, 177. C. J. Fox, 181. Baretti, 188. C. J. Fox and Lady Susan Strangways with Lady Sarah Lennox (leaning out of the window). LIBRARY PASSAGE. 235. David Beck (a pupil of Van Dyck), The artist in his studio. LADY ILCHESTER'S SITTING ROOM. 408, 413, 414. Portraits by G. F. Watts. In Holland Park Road, to the north of Kensington Road, is LEIGHTON HOUSE, the residence of Frederick, Lord Leighton (1830-96), for the last thirty years of his life; at present it is vested in three trustees and is used by the Leighton House Society for concerts, etc. The house, which contains sketches, early works, and reproductions of works by Lord Leighton and about thirty oil-paintings by Mrs. William De Morgan (died 1919), is noted also for its internal decoration, incorporating many rare and valuable Eastern tiles (open on week-days 11 till dusk, 1/; free on Saturday). The Inner Hall (in which is a bust of Leighton, by Thomas Brock) and the twilight corridor leading to the Arab Hall, are lined with blue tiles by William de Morgan framing 16th century plaques from Damascus. The beautiful Arab Hall, in the centre of which is a fountain, is decorated with Saracenic and Persian tiles, mainly of the 16th century but including two star-shaped tiles of the 14th century (in the alcove). The gallery above and the lattices of the lower windows are ancient Damascus work. The mosaic frieze is by Walter Crane. Upstairs are the Studios. At the top of the stairs are Corinna of Tanagra, by Leighton, and No. 131 (on a screen), a half-length figure, also by Leighton, the latter presented by Watts, who valued it highly. In the large studio, No. 212, Clytemnestra, by Leighton, two studies by G. F. Watts, and a portrait of William De Morgan by his wife should be noticed. In Melbury Road, close by, an artists' quarter, is the house in which Holman Hunt died in 1910 (No. 18). Little Holland House (No. 6), the town-residence and studio of G. F. Watts from 1876 until 1903, was designed and built by the artist after the demolition of Old Little Holland House, where he and Miss Ellen Terry spent their brief married life (1864-65). Kensington Road ends about + mile from Holland Park at the railway bridge just to the south of Addison Road Station and Olympia. Thence to Hammersmith, see Walk 47.