The Marble Hill Society


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Newsletter No. 111 October 2016

Chair’s Report

The AGM, held in the Great Room in Marble Hill House, was very well attended.  Denise Carr presented the report of the Committee, highlighting the various events held during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, including talks, a study morning with Dr Esme Whittaker, Curator of Marble Hill, and a wonderful concert party with music by a young classical guitarist and soprano.  The guides, led by Keith Hathaway, had conducted the Sunday afternoon tours to very favourable reviews and webmaster Mervyn Bryn-Jones had kept the Society website up-to-date, informative and attractive to visit.  Sadly, Mervyn was now looking to retire: Denise thanked him warmly for his many years of service and encouraged anyone interested in taking over this important role to come forward as soon as possible.

Treasurer Paul Newton then presented the accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016, which showed a healthy accumulated fund of £14,281 and the following members were elected to the Committee for 2016-17:

Chair - Denise Carr
Secretary - Shirley Newton
Treasurer - Paul Newton
Membership - Elizabeth Velluet
and David Bird, Bruce Gordon-Smith, David & Miriam King, Sandra Pullen.

Jennifer Rimmer, House Manager, reported on the maintenance works that had been carried out in the House and park during the year, the specialist group tours and the improved range of goods in the shop, including branded items unique to Marble Hill.  The staff now looked forward with greater confidence to the development of Marble Hill as a result of the HLF “Parks for People” award of £275,000 and the big investment project plans.

Dr Esme Whittaker explained how these plans were unfolding.  A new Project Manager (Ndai Halisch) and an Audience Development Manager (Kate Pitt) had been recruited and the Project Steering Group would be re-convened; Landscape Architects and other experts had been appointed and a Conservation Management Plan was being developed.  The overall aim was to show the House and the Park as they would have been used during Henrietta’s time; provide a visitor hub, including shop and cafe in the Stables; repair the fabric of the House and improve the exhibition and interpretation of displays; and upgrade the sporting facilities.  The demanding timetable included a Stage 2 HLF bid in February 2017, closure of the House for 12 months and a grand launch in August 2018.

Denise thanked Jennifer and Esme for these updates and welcomed the exciting plans for Marble Hill, which the Society would support in any way possible. She also thanked the Committee members and others who helped run the Society.  A recent survey of members had provided some useful guidance in planning the programme of talks, events and visits for 2017 which would be tailored to the planned closure dates.

Following the meeting, guest speaker Tracy Borman gave a lively tour de force through the secret lives of the Tudors: how they washed and dressed, the protocol of the “closed stool” and more. A slice of life and another perspective on the Kings and Queens we know so well.

Eve Warburton - A Gift to the Society

A few months ago, we were contacted by Society members Mo James, niece of Eve Warburton. Eve and her sister Alice lived with their parents Frank and Nora May Parry in Marble Hill House in the 1930’s when Frank was the Park Keeper “living on the job”.  Eve has kindly donated two framed prints of the House and cottage to the Society, which were part of the family’s household furnishings.  The prints were displayed at the AGM and members were amused to hear that the family had lived on the first floor, with the Great Room divided to create a kitchen and bathroom overlooking the river; Henrietta’s bedroom being the dining room; and other rooms being used as bedrooms.

“Marble Hill, The Seat of Charles Augustus Tulk Esq” engraved by Matthews from a drawing by J.P. Neale, and published in London by John Harris in 1818, shows a lovely view of the House from the river.  There are large trees, sheep on the lawn, four cows drinking at the water’s edge and several small sailing boats on the river. The Tulk family rented Marble Hill from Little Henrietta from 1812 to 1818.

“Marble Hill Cottage” engraved by W.B. Cooke from a drawing by P. Derwint and published in London by W.B. Cooke in 1829, shows Little Marble Hill from the river.  There is a clear view of the terrace, first floor and roof, and the side elevation, set amongst luscious trees.  To the left is an Avenue of large trees with people walking on the lawn and another group down by the river’s edge getting into a small rowing boat.  A number of different leisure craft can be seen on the river.  Timothy Brent bought the cottage and some 20 acres of land from Little Henrietta in 1812.  He later re-named it Little Marble Hill and the family lived there until about 1835.  It was then rented out until 1873, when a Miss Janet Dixon of Cambridge Meadows, Twickenham bought it, possibly to develop the site as the cottage was then demolished.  This charming print provides a wealth of detail as to how the property looked and its delightful river-side setting.

Marble Hill curator Esme Whittaker is researching both Little Marble Hill and the 2-story cottage Henrietta Howard had built close to Marble Hill House, the first floor of which was used to display her growing Chinese porcelain collection.  We hope to have a talk from Esme on “The Cottages” next season.

The French Connection

On 16 October David King, Chevalier des Palmes Academiques gave an illustrated talk to members on the French Royal Family in Twickenham, several of whom lived here in the 19C enlivening the social scene and contributing to the local community.

Louis Philippe, a direct descendent of Philippe, Duc d’Orleans, younger brother of the sun King Louis XIV, first came to England in 1800 to escape Napoleon and to make peace with his cousin the Comte d’Artois (later Charles X) who was living in Baker Street.  The violent history of 19C France saw Louis Philippe living in Crown Lane, Petersham, Hampton Court and Orleans House – interspersed with periods in France, where he was King from 1830-48 and then abdicated and fled to England.  David’s vivid anecdotes made so many connections between Louis Philippe, the British Royal family and local places and residents, with marriages, dinners, awards and scandal a plenty.  He died in 1850 and is buried with his wife in a Catholic chapel in Weybridge.

Louis Philippe’s eldest surviving son Henri, Duc d’Aumale (1822-1897) also loved Twickenham and in 1852 he moved to Orleans House.  A soldier, scholar, historian and art collector, Henri entertained widely, but he was also interested in local affairs.  He gave generously to charities, supported schools and became President of the Twickenham Rowing Club.  His brothers Francois settled nearby in Mount Lebanon and Louis in Bushy House; and the family were close friends of Frances, Lady Waldegrave, the social and political hostess at Strawberry Hill.

Another twist in the story concerns Louis Philippe Albert, Comte de Paris (1838-1894), son of Louis Philippe’s eldest boy who had died in 1842.  The Comte was the Orleans pretender to the French throne – and he lived at York House from 1864-1871.  His daughters Marie Amelia and Helene were born there, and Helene’s name was later romantically linked with Edward, Prince of Wales.  The Comte spent lavishly at York House, installing a swimming pool, Turkish Baths and Fencing Room – York House is now Council offices and the swimming pool is the Clarendon Hall!

Clearly, Twickenham was as popular and famous for its residents and royal connections in the 19C as much as in Henrietta’s time a hundred years earlier.

Note 1: “The Orleans Family in Twickenham 1800 – 1932” booklet produced by the Twickenham Local History Society is now out of print.

Note 2: The Richmond in Europe Association fosters cultural, sporting and personal relationships with Richmond’s twin towns of Fontainebleau and Konstanz, which are historically linked. Membership is £12 a year. To join the Association, contact Bernd Steinlechner, 52 Percy Road, Hampton TW12 2JR 020-8241-2217

Marble Hill Investment Project

Update from Kate Pitt, the new Audience Development Manager

As you know, English Heritage was awarded a HLF “Parks for People” grant of £275,000 in July to develop the plans for a £6million investment project for Marble Hill. I took up my post a few weeks ago and am now in residence at the Ranger’s offices at Marble Hill.  I will be working with the new Project Manager, Ndai Halish, and my task is to develop Marble Hill’s established audiences, and also to reach out to find new parts of the community to come and enjoy the House, its heritage and its beautiful surroundings.

In the short term, I will be consulting with members of the local community to find out what would draw them to Marble Hill House and park, and how each group recommends that English Heritage shape its plans.  This is happening during November 2016.

To this end, I am working with staff at English Heritage to run events, including a “Drop In” on Saturday 19 November, 10am – 1pm in a marquee near the Coach House Cafe, with a small exhibition and curators and landscape historians on hand to answer questions – all welcome.

I will also be visiting community groups – for example Black and Minority Ethnic Groups, groups for visitors with disabilities, schools, women’s groups and more – to gain their perspective on what would make Marble Hill House and park welcoming and relevant to them.

The Marble Hill Society Committee members are providing me with information on the groups and individuals I should contact – but please let me know any suggestions you may have.  And I look forward to meeting Marble Hill Society members on Sunday 27 November, 2.15-4pm in the Great Room (refreshments will be served from 1.45pm) to give you feedback on the consultations and to find out your views.

I have been asked to prepare a draft Activity Plan by mid-December as part of the Round 2 HLF bid which EH plans to submit in February 2017.  The project includes major improvements to the House, a Visitor Hub in the stables and upgrades to the sporting facilities – all reflecting as much as possible how Marble Hill was used in Henrietta’s time. If all goes to plan, the House will close for 12 months from September 2017 for conservation/re-presentation and re-open in August 2018.

This is such an exciting time for Marble Hill and I am delighted to be a part of it and to be working with the Marble Hill Society members and guides.

Kate Pitt, 07717 720430.

Society Events : Planning for 2017

A recent survey of members asked for feedback on type of events, timings, costs and suggestions for the future.  The majority of respondents thought the prices were fine but wanted a wider variety of events. Concerts and talks, particularly about people connected with the House or the locality, were the most popular. Private tours and visits were welcomed.  Weekdays during the day, and weekends at 6.30 or 7pm were the preferred times.

I would like to thank all those who responded.  Your Committee will be taking account of these views as we start planning the programme for 2017.

Denise Carr

The Life and times of Maria Fitzherbert - A Royal Romance
Part one : 1756 to 1785

In her heyday Maria Fitzherbert was one of the most famous women of the 18th century.  She was a lady at times shrouded in controversy, energising the town broadsheets to portray her in words and pictures and indulge in much speculation.  What caused the speculation was a relationship with the heir to the throne - the handsome Prince George, later to become George IV.  Two more unlikely lovers would be hard to imagine, who engaged on a romantic journey full of extraordinary incident and drama.  Add to this her physical attractions - her golden hair, her immaculate complexion and an attractive figure.  She was a lady who spurned the use of lead on her face and powder on her hair.  She had a natural lovely look about her.  No wonder George was transfixed by her as were the public at large.

Maria Anne was the eldest child of William Smythe of Brambridge, Hampshire - a family of aristocratic Catholic descent - and was brought up a strict catholic.  In 1775, she was married to Edward Weld, 16 years her senior and a rich Catholic landowner.  Maria soon became a widow as Weld died just three months later after falling from his horse.  She married a second time, three years later to Thomas Fitzherbert of Swynnerton, Staffordshire.  She was ten years younger than him.  They had a son who died young.  This was a happier and more compatible marriage but he got injured protecting Catholic homes during the Gordon riots.  As a result he moved with Maria to the south of France to recuperate but died of his injuries on 7 May 1781.  She inherited a residence in Park Street, Mayfair and an annual income of £2,500.

By August 1782 she had made her way back to Brighton.  According to her first biographer W H Wilkins (who published his book Mrs Fitzherbert and George IV in 1905) Maria was attracted to the size and situation of Marble Hill and took out a lease on the property - probably in late 1782 or early 1783.  Here she lived quietly the life of a grieving widow.  Then Prince George crossed her path – literally. In the spring of 1783 she was taking the air along the Richmond riverbank towards Kew when she spotted a party of elegantly dressed people - a party she guessed from Kew Palace.  She saw a handsome young man coming towards her.  He stopped and gave her the most elaborate bow that she had ever seen.  She responded with a bow and walked on but thought she knew who he could be.

Early in 1784 her family friend Lady Sefton persuaded her to come to London for the season.  The Morning Herald announced that ‘a new constellation has made an appearance in the fashionable hemisphere…..Mrs F H T has in her train half our young nobility’.  One particular night she went to the theatre with Lady Sefton only to find that a certain young prince was in the box opposite.  Rather than looking at the stage, he gazed endlessly in her direction obviously trying to attract her attention - she did not respond.  The audience witnessed the encounter but not the Prince’s frantic efforts to follow her back to Park Street. It soon became clear to aristocratic hostesses that to ensure the attendance of the Prince, Maria also had to be invited.  So she could not escape his attentions which she did not take seriously.  Not so for the Prince who was in deadly earnest - a fact she realised only belatedly.

There is a famous saying “If you cannot stand the heat, keep away from the fire”.  When the season was almost over, she fled back to Marble Hill to escape his attentions.  Quite simply Maria was quite another calibre to the ladies whom he had previously honoured with his attentions.  During those remaining summer months the young Prince made frequent trips to Marble Hill to press his suit.  Of course she knew that any marriage would be by law invalid and to be his mistress was not an option.  Back in London, George decided that desperate measures were called for.  The problem for George was that the more he was rejected, the more determined he became, ignoring her tears and entreaties to leave her alone.  In November 1784, George commenced his plan of action.  A messenger appeared at Maria’s door in Park Street saying that the Prince had attempted suicide and was asking for her.  Maria solicited the help of the Duchess of Devonshire and together they went to Carlton House.  There they discovered a scene worthy of a theatrical melodrama.  The Prince was lying on his bed, pale and with blood on his cuffs. He said he would stab himself again if she did not marry him.

She relented and agreed to some ceremonial words which purported to say they were married.  A document was prepared to make it look legal but was it? Maria was no fool.  She realised quickly that the document was worthless and took desperate measures on her own account.  Before George could react, she was on a boat to Europe and stayed there for a year shadowed by George’s agents/ private detectives.  Only when he had promised her a proper valid wedding ceremony did she return.  On December 15th 1785 they were married at Park Street.  Someone kept watch whilst the Reverend Robert Burt performed the secret ceremony.  His reward was the parish of Twickenham where he became Vicar in 1788.

In the short term there was a happy ending to this story.  The Prince at last felt himself a husband and paraded her proudly in London society.  Hostesses were requested to issue joint invitations to events, but were they coming as husband and wife or man and his mistress? - nobody knew the answer to that and the broad sheets were speculating feverishly.  Deliberately, she did not live at Carlton House but at Park Street.  Remarkably George was a changed man - affable to everyone and always in her company.  For the first time in his life he was really in love.

Did it last? - you have to wait for part two for the answer to that.

Bruce Gordon-Smith


Newsletter No 110 July 2016

Chair’s Report

Before I report on our Summer events, I have some very good news hot off the press concerning plans for the big £6mn Investment Project for Marble Hill. English Heritage’s Round 1 bid for funding from the “Parks for People” HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) has been successful – with a grant of £275,000 awarded to progress planning and development work on the project.  I have invited Alex Sydney (EH Head of Investment & Involvement) and Ndai Halisch (Project Manager for Marble Hill) to our AGM in September to update us – if all goes well, EH hope to be submitting a Round 2 bid for further funding to the HLF in about February 2017. All very exciting!

Meanwhile, we held our first Study Morning led by Marble Hill’s new curator – Dr Esme Whittaker – on Friday 20 May. “The Villa and the View: Marble Hill in Paintings, Prints and Photographs” gave us a chance to look again at the works in the House and a number of prints and photographs in the collection but not displayed.  The transformation from when the House (and park) was first saved for the nation following the passage of the Richmond, Ham and Petersham Open Spaces Act 1902 to the present day is truly remarkable.

Interestingly, we have recently been contacted by Society members Mo James, niece of Eve Warburton who lived with her parents in Marble Hill House in the 1930’s when her father was a Park Keeper “living on the job”.  Eve has donated two framed pictures of the House and cottage to the Society, which were part of their household furnishings. We are most grateful for this generous donation and will display the pictures for members to view at our AGM in September.

Our Summer Party and Concert was held on Sunday 12 June. Despite the rather wet weather, the Great Room came alive with a wonderful performance by two young musicians Maria Camahort (classical guitar) and Laura Ruhi-Vidal (soprano) performing for the first time at Marble Hill.  Starting with songs by Purcell and Dowland in the Baroque tradition, and a Bach prelude for cello arranged by Maria for the guitar, the duo moved on to a medley of lively Spanish works by Joaquin Roderigo, Roberto Gerhard and Manuel de Falla.  These were by turns passionate with the flamenco rhythms of Andalusia and poignant with a distinct Baroque influence.  The performance was followed by a glass of Prosecco to mark the Queen’s  90th birthday celebrations and a splendid buffet.  Many thanks to David & Miriam King for organising the refreshments for us.

Looking ahead, the Society’s AGM will be on Monday 12 September at 7 for 7.30pm.  As well as an update on the Big Investment Project mentioned above, we will have a talk by our President, Tracy Borman, on her new book “The Private Lives of the Tudors”. And we end the season with a talk on Sunday 16 October by David King on the French Royal Family in Twickenham.

Membership Survey about MHS Events
We always welcome your comments and suggestions for Society talks and events in Marble Hill House. So before we start planning for 2017, we will be sending members a short survey to help inform our thinking.  This should only take about 5 minutes to complete, and it would really help us to know more about what you would like to attend and enjoy.  So please do take the time to fill it in – all views and ideas would be most welcome and we will report on the results at our AGM in September. 

David Blomfield  MBE  1934-2016

It is with great sadness that we pass on the news that David Blomfield has died after a short but very severe illness.  David had many roles in the local community including being President of the Richmond Local History Society and Patron of the Kew Society.  He wrote several books on local history and our President Tracy Borman writes “David was a wonderful man who knew so much about the history of the Richmond area”.  A celebration of David's life will be held on Tuesday 26 July at 3pm at the Barn Church, Atwood Road, Kew TW9 4HF.  Further details on or

Model Market Garden in Marble Hill Park

Have you visited this interesting project?  Located in the north east corner of the park, it is run by the Richmond Environment Trust and was set up as part of a 3 year project “Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow” restoring the forgotten 19c heritage of market gardens of Twickenham, Hampton and Hounslow.

Research suggests that the north east corner of Henrietta Howards’s park contained stables, an orchard, a fruit and vegetable garden and later a fowl yard and farm buildings – and of course we know that when Henrietta and her second husband, George Berkeley MP, were in their London home at 15 Savile Row, they had fresh produce from Marble Hill sent up there to enjoy.  The basic lay-out remained intact until the late 19c, and the area is now occupied by the Rangers’ Yard, Changing Rooms, car park, Adventure Playground, One O’ Clock Club and the Model Market Garden.

With funding for the Jam project coming to an end last month, and with delays to EH’s big Investment Project, the Environment Trust set about seeking funds to keep the Model Market Garden going. They approached the Marble Hill Society for support and we have made a grant of £500 towards maintenance and promotional literature.

The team of volunteers at the Model Market Garden, now led by Sophie Harman, are helping to preserve the history and spread knowledge about market gardens, so that ingenious and hard-working growers are remembered and traditional fruits and vegetables are once again enjoyed. There are also 10 community plots for use by local families. The garden attracts nearly 2,000 visitors a year and the Trust ensures that people with disabilities are able to take part. We are very pleased to be able to support the Model Market Garden, which enhances 
the facilities in the park and helps promote Marble Hill.  Our contribution will be acknowledged on the website of the Environment Trust and in leaflets for the garden. 

But the long-term future of the garden depends on the long-term plans of EH for the park.  The big £6mn Investment Project includes aspirations to restore as many of the original 18C features of the park as possible, including Henrietta’s Kitchen Garden – and it would be great for visitors to be able to see this.

Taking a peek into the Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman

Marble Hill House was the cherished private retreat of Henrietta Howard, long-term (and long-suffering) mistress of King George II.  Here, away from the prying eyes of the court, she was able to live a life of tranquillity and repose, surrounded by those she loved.  Having been at the heart of court life for almost twenty years, she could fully appreciate the joys of a private life when she retired to her beautiful Thames-side villa in 1734.

Henrietta was one of the lucky few who were able to swap a very public life for a private one.  The same could certainly not be said of the Tudor monarchs. ‘I do not live in a corner.  A thousand eyes see all I do’ Elizabeth I famously lamented. As queen, she and her fellow Tudors were constantly surrounded by an army of attendants, courtiers, ministers and place-seekers.  Even in their most private moments, they were accompanied by a servant specifically appointed for the task.  A groom of the stool would stand patiently by as Henry VIII performed his daily purges, and when Elizabeth retired for the evening, one of her female servants would sleep at the end of her bed. Little wonder that in protesting her innocence of any sexual misdemeanour, she called as her witness those ‘thousand eyes’ that watched her constantly.

But if the Tudors were rarely alone, they did lead a very different life behind closed doors to the one that most of their subjects witnessed. In their private apartments at Hampton Court, Whitehall or the myriad other sumptuous palaces where they spent their days, their more ‘human’ characteristics and habits could find expression.  And it was not always a pretty sight!

In my latest book, The Private Lives of the Tudors, I take readers behind these closed doors to explore how the Tudor monarchs really lived: how they washed and dressed, what they ate, how they spent their leisure time, conducted their sex lives, and yes even how they used the royal toilet or ‘close stool’.

My book draws on a rich array of eyewitness accounts by those who attended the Tudors in their most private moments, as well as household accounts, architectural and pictorial evidence, ambassadors’ reports and the words of the monarchs themselves.  Even though I have been a Tudor historian for many years now, what I discovered was little short of a revelation.  Suffice it to say that, stripped of their courtly finery and manners, the Tudors appear altogether different from the image that they liked to portray to their subjects.

I look forward to revealing some of their secrets to you at the AGM of the Marble Hill Society on 12 September.

The Private Lives of the Tudors is available at all good bookshops. Tracy is also presenting a 3-part series on it, which started on 7 June at 7pm on the Yesterday Channel.


Henrietta and her Chinoiserie collection - by Bruce Gordon-Smith


‘……Chinoiserie is western, it is a purely European vision of China; a fantasy based on a China of the imagination, the fabulous Cathay invented by the medieval world.’ [1]

The story of the development of Chinoiserie in the West is a curious one originally based on misconceptions brought about by early travellers’ tales, some true but embroidered, and some highly fictitious, but believed by a credulous European audience. The very word ‘Chinoiserie’ is misleading and was often used as an umbrella term for goods which came from countries such as India, Japan and Persia, as well as China, but whose origins frequently became lost in translation. The term literally means ‘decoration in the Chinese taste, [2] but was actually a case of ‘European things in an oriental style.’ [3]  Most of the goods described as being Chinoiserie were never actually used by the Chinese, but were made solely for the European export market by Chinese craftsmen, who created objects that they thought would appeal to the western mind, thinking that this was what was wanted. The Europeans, in turn, mixed up the oriental style with western styles current at the time, such as rococo and gothick, thereby creating a hybrid style showing a confused understanding of what Chinoiserie actually was.

The arrival of Chinoiserie from China imported by the East India Company added a welcome new burst of colour to Georgian rooms and therefore became very popular. The variety of shapes and sizes could fit any space as required and was very pleasing to the eye.  The attraction of chinoiserie was increased by the fact that imported items could be bought from the East India warehouses in the old city of London - in person or through the services of an agent. Auctions of goods were also held at the East India docks when their ships returned from the east.

The imported goods included porcelain, Chinese style wallpaper, lacquer furniture and other Chinese style objects. Later on with the 18th century discovery of Cornish Kaolin, English Potteries such as Derby and Worcester were able to create Porcelain items in the style of Chinoiserie for the home market.

The Collection

From her contacts at the Royal Court Henrietta Howard would have felt a desire to set up her own collection which she could love and admire. The Chinese items purchased by Henrietta would have been made during the Qing dynasty but there is nothing to say that Henrietta could not have found an agent to purchase older items on her behalf.  No wonder then that Henrietta Howard wished to fill her new Palladian Villa –Marble Hill - with pieces that brightened up her rooms and created a sense of style for herself and her guests.  Such was her enthusiasm for collecting that in 1739 she had to build a china room in the form of a small two storey cottage close to the House in order to create extra display and storage space.  In 1745, this china room was incorporated into a new Servants quarter but the entry to the room remained private and separate.  This china room survived till 1909 when the servants’ quarters were declared redundant and demolished.  No photograph survives of the interior.  

The 1767 inventory, although comprehensive, declined to describe the contents of the china room.  Here in the inventory of 1794, we are given some clues as to its contents.  The descriptions of these items are somewhat vague and may reflect the level of knowledge of the person making the inventory.  Where articles are ‘broke’, it implies that some of the articles were actually used by the household or damaged by careless housemaids.

What is clear from the inventories – both 1767 and 1794 - is just the significant number of oriental wares held at Marble Hill House. In retrospect Henrietta Howard’s most flamboyant gesture was her exotic Dining room Chinese wallpaper – usually reserved for bedrooms and now recreated by English Heritage.

In 1794 Henrietta Hotham, the great-niece of Henrietta Howard and the author of the Inventories, was choosing sufficient items to fill her new home at Little Marble Hill, having finally come into her inheritance under her aunt’s Will in 1793.  She was in the process of letting out the House to create an income for herself.

The Inventories

Inventory one

A complete inventory of every Article removed from Marble Hill House to Marble Hill Cottage by Miss Hotham 24 th January 1794.  To prevent all misunderstanding or disputes after the decease of Miss Hotham there is marked on each article so removed and written in each (relevant) book these words - ‘removed from Marble Hill House’.  Later to be known as little Marble Hill.

Removed from the House

An Inlaid cabinet
Two large Japan cabinets
Two smaller Japan cabinets
A pair of Ivory pagodas (now on display at Blickling Hall)
A small Japan figure of a drummer
Six leaved lacquer screen - now back in House.
Ten pictures of different sizes

Removed from the China Room

A pair of old Japan bottles on ( bocks ?)
A pair of tall beakers blue and white – one of them broke
A pair of smaller ditto – one of them broke
A pair of large blue and white Jars
A pair of smaller ditto
A pair of small blue and white Jars
A blue and white bottle – broken
A pair of blue and white bottles rather large
An exceedingly large blue and white Jar
Two large coloured Japan basons (basins) – not fellows (i.e. not identical)
(Perhaps the China room had become storage space for damaged pieces)

Inventory Two

Inventory Two relates to the ‘articles’ taken by Miss Hotham from the late Earl of Buckinghamshire’s house in Bond Street on 6 th May 1794. This was not Henrietta Howard’s house so this inventory is not strictly relevant.  These items also were destined for Little Marble Hill or possibly she was providing some alternative items for Marble Hill House prior to letting it out.

If, as a result of this article, you wish to see similar ceramics and furniture as listed, visit the House and take a closer look at the porcelain and furniture on display.  If not, google Qing or Qianlong ceramics export ware and see the variety of illustrations.

Collated and written by Bruce and Diana Gordon-Smith, members of the Marble Hill Society May 2016.

1. Dawn Jacobson, Chinoiserie, 1993, p27.

2. De Gournay, Chinoiserie Collection Designs, 2006, p1.

3. Oliver Impey, Chinoiserie: the impact of oriental styles on Western and decoration,1977, p9.


NEWSLETTER No 109 April 2016

Chair’s Report

The House opened its doors to the public on Easter Saturday 26 March and the Society’s volunteer guides are conducting the Sunday afternoon tours (at 2.15pm and 3.30pm) throughout the season. If you haven’t visited the House for a while, why not come along and enjoy a tour – perhaps followed by a walk in this beautiful park and a visit to the Model Market Garden.

Our first event of the season was a talk by Susan Thomas and Alfred Bradley about Horace Walpole and Henrietta held on Sunday 10 April. 43 people attended to enjoy home-made canapés and wine, followed by a lively and amusing talk in the Great Room. Horace liked older ladies, so the 30 years difference in their ages was nothing compared to his fascination with Henrietta’s life. As the readings from some of Horace’s many letters showed, he confided in her and was witty and entertaining in his descriptions of life and the foibles of those he met on his travels.

Our next event is a Study Morning led by Marble Hill’s new curator – Dr Esmé Whittaker – on Friday 20 May on “The Villa and the View: Marble Hill in Paintings, Prints and Photographs”. Numbers are limited but we still have a few places left, so do contact Liz Velluet ( tel no 020 8891 3825) if you would like to come – tickets are £20, including refreshments on arrival at 9am and the session will finish at 1pm.

Another date for your diary is our Summer Party and Concert on Sunday 12 June. A flyer, with further information, is attached to this Newsletter. The magnificent Great Room at Marble Hill House really comes alive when there is live music, and I’m sure our young musicians will provide something very suitable for a Summer’s evening.

Looking further ahead, the Society’s AGM will be on Monday 12 September at 7pm with a talk by our President, Tracy Borman, on her new book on “The Private Lives of the Tudors”; and we will end the season with a talk on Sunday 16 October by David King on “Les Emigres Francais de Richmond, circa 1789”. Further details on both will be included in the next Newsletter.

Regarding the Big £6mn Investment Project for Marble Hill, English Heritage expects to hear the result of the Phase 1 bid for a HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) grant in June. This investment would make such a difference to the House and the Park that we all have our fingers tightly crossed for a positive outcome!

We always welcome your comments on and suggestions for talks and events, and articles for this Newsletter.

Uncovering the lost landscape of Marble Hill

Emily Parker, Landscape Advisor at English Heritage

One of the delights of my role as Landscape Advisor is being able to dedicate time to understanding the detailed history of a specific landscape. At Marble Hill it was through the preparation of a Landscape Conservation Management Plan that I began to understand the true significance of it’s now mainly lost landscape. 

Alexander Pope and Charles Bridgeman are both known to have been involved in the early formation of the garden.  Letters record that they were both drawing up plans for the garden in 1724. It was at this date that the landscape at Marble Hill began to be laid out, focusing on the land to the south of the house towards the river due to complications in land ownership.  The primary resource that has proved most useful to gaining a better understanding of the landscape is an undated plan, which is thought to have been drawn up to record a survey undertaken in 1752.  This survey allows us to capture a glimpse of the garden created by Henrietta.  The plan is incredibly detailed and shows many interesting lost features including an Ice House Seat, Ninepin Alley, Flower Garden, Green House, Mount and Kitchen Garden.  It also shows avenues of trees and the terraces leading down to the river, as well as the Ice House and Grotto which, of course, survive today.

The design of the garden was based on the fashionable idea of the ‘ancient’ villa landscapes which had arrived in England through 16 th century Italian writers such as Palladio but were popularised further in 1728 when Robert Castell published Villas of the Ancients Illustrated.  This book included illustrations supposedly showing the garden layouts that surrounded villas in Ancient Rome.  The landscape at Marble Hill incorporated a lot of these ‘ancient’ features, including a lawn in the shape of a hippodrome.  Through further research and a landscape survey we hope to better understand these features so the importance of this lost landscape can be understood and shared.

The 1794 Inventory - Household Records

Bruce Gordon Smith

On New year’s day 1764, Henrietta organised a party for her niece Henrietta Hotham who had been staying at Marble Hill House since 1761 and was now aged 11 years.  Lady Temple and Horace Walpole - amongst others - were invited and Horace give us a vivid account of the happy occasion. Little Henrietta had already been excited by the gift of a new coat but was even more excited when she spied on Henrietta Howard’s dressing table a small round box containing a heart diamond ring and a small piece of paper on which Lady Temple had written a special poem.

Everyone there made a fuss of little Henrietta and enjoyed seeing her receiving her presents. In 1767, Henrietta Howard died leaving little Henrietta with some happy memories such as the 1764 party.  As part of the Execution of the Will an extensive inventory was made in 1767 covering most of the rooms in the House.  In a room unspecified were stored a large number of books and records.  By my calculation the total number was 682 items.  Some of this number would have been books to be read, but 248 come under the heading of Folios (quarto / octavo etc) which can technically refer to account ledgers.  Following the invention of double entry book keeping in renaissance times, account entries would be spread over two consecutive pages – debit items on one side and credit items on the other - with the same reference number/title applying to both pages.  Historically this has come to define one of the meanings of folio.

Of these 248 folios 44 of them were not yet bound implying that some of them were still being used. These records – financial and otherwise – would have been created by the Steward, Housekeeper, Butler and others including Henrietta herself.  Given Henrietta Howard’s financial problems after 1760, a competent steward would have needed a basic understanding of balancing the debits against the credits to establish the true financial position.

Moving forward to 1794, an older and no doubt wiser Henrietta Hotham was at long last entitled to her life interest in Marble Hill House under the terms of Henrietta Howard’s Will.  Asserting her new status, a new inventory was made in 1794 which stated:

A compleat inventory of every Article removed from Marble Hill House to Marble Hill Cottage by Miss Hotham 24 th January 1794. To prevent all misunderstanding or disputes after the decease of Miss Hotham there is marked on each article so removed and written in each (relevant) book these words - ‘removed from Marble Hill House. The number of volumes of books consist of five hundred and eleven books consisting of folios, quartos, octavos and duodecimos. Many sets of the books were found by Miss Hotham imperfect.

It is obvious that this figure of 511 does not agree with the 1767 figures. There may be some good reasons for this; one being that Henrietta and the Suffolk family may have removed some of the reading books to populate other family libraries in London and elsewhere. Some of the house records may have been created post 1767.  It is also clear that storage of the old records did not ensure their safety because of dampness, pests and general neglect.  So some may have been damaged - reflecting the comment ‘imperfect’ on the inventory.  Taking them to Marble Hill cottage (Little Marble Hill) and putting them in a similar unsuitable storage space may have been the reason for their final demise. The cottage was situated by the riverside and possible flooding could have destroyed them.

There is a description of the cottage in 1760 in which it is described as being ‘small, but the extreme neatness of the outside, which is perfectly white makes it a striking and pleasing object from the river.  There is a large room with a fine bow window to the water, hung with buff colour and adorned with prints, cut out and elegantly disposed’. Henrietta lived there until 1805 when she moved to Richmond.  As to the fate of the books, we hear nothing more.  Despite searches in the Norfolk record office where most of her documents are now held, a few handwritten notes are all that survive in the Norwich archives of the household records.

Did bad storage or flooding lead to their demise? Or did it reach a point that that it was felt the household records were of little value?  They did mean something to Henrietta Hotham but she died in 1816, leaving us without any clues. Their survival would have been invaluable to today’s historians and lovers of social history.

Collections Highlight: The Northey Suite

Dr Esmé Whittaker, Curator, Collections and Interiors/London & South East, English Heritage

As I familiarise myself with the collections at Marble Hill I would like to share some of my personal highlights, beginning with the carved mahogany settee and set of seven side chairs known as the Northey Suite.  Displayed predominantly in the Dressing Room on the first floor, each season different pieces are selected to emerge from beneath their protective case covers, revealing the lively and colourful needlework upholstery. 

The needlework, or canvas work, was carried out in polychrome wool and silk threads using tent stitch.  This simple, diagonal, stitch has been used to depict a wide range of pastoral scenes, from grazing goats, horses, cows and a turkey, to figures playing bowls, cards and musical instruments.  The shield-shaped scenes are surrounded by borders of flowers including daisies, tulips, passion flowers and roses.  While the individual stitches that make up the pastoral scenes have been worked over a single warp and weft thread (petit point), the floral borders consist of larger stitches worked across double threads (gros point).  It was not uncommon, in the 18 th century, to use a different technique for the borders, which would be subject to greater wear and tear, but the stylistic variation suggests they may have been carried out at different dates.  It is thought that the floral borders were worked by Anne Northey in about 1760 to surround the late 17 th -century or early 18 th -century panels.  Anne was the wife of William Northey, a Commissioner of Trade and Groom of the Chamber to George III.  Needlework upholstery, particularly pictorial covers, was increasingly fashionable in the first half of the 18 th century. The covers were frequently worked by amateur needlewomen who would purchase canvas which had the design, often based upon engravings, already drawn upon it.  It was a popular activity amongst Henrietta Howard’s female friends.  For example, Lady Betty Germain (sister of Henrietta’s second husband George Berkeley) stitched the bed-hangings for her four poster bed at Knole in Kent, while Catherine Hyde, Duchess of Queensbury, who lived near by at Petersham, ‘worked’ furniture covers.

Although the Northey Suite only became part of Marble Hill’s collections in 1972 (with a further chair acquired in 2007), Henrietta furnished her house with needlework hangings and upholstery.  As the 1767 and 1768 inventories of Marble Hill record, in the Great Room there was a needlework settee with two cushions and two bolsters, in Miss Hotham’s Bedchamber a four post bedstead with needlework curtains, and in the Gallery an armchair covered with needlework.  The Wrought Room, on the second floor, derives its name from the embroidered hangings of the bed, described in the inventory as ‘A Four post Bedstead with Curtains and Furniture to Ditto worked’.  Rather than needlework carried out using wool on canvas, ‘wrought’ traditionally referred to stitched linen.  

Henrietta certainly had a taste for high quality textiles, as Alexander Pope may have alluded to in his An Epistle to a Lady (1735): ‘She, while her lover pants upon her breast, /Can mark the figures on an Indian chest; /And when she sees her friend in deep despair, / Observes how much a Chintz exceeds Mohair’.  We don’t know whether Henrietta, like Anne Northey, stitched her own furniture covers but her great niece, Henrietta Hotham, reveals some of their textile pursuits in a letter to her parents: ‘…you must get me a small knotting nedle, round at both Ends; and a Pound of the best thread for mine and my Aunts use. I wish you would get us some flax and hen I shall amuse myself with the Spinning Wheel which I cannot yet get out of the Box’ adding ‘Aunt wants a Blue, and a green Gauze Handkerchief half of each will be big enough this hot weather; and a little lace to trim them’.


NEWSLETTER No. 108 February 2016

Chair’s Report

The Society’s AGM was held on 28 September 2015 (see separate report below) at which we were all very excited about English Heritage’s plans for an Investment Project for Marble Hill offering the prospect of £6mn by the Spring of 2018 to improve the House and the Park.  A Stage 1 funding bid had been submitted to the “Parks for People” Heritage Lottery Fund, with a decision expected in December/January:  if successful, detailed designs and fundraising would follow in 2016 in preparation for a Stage 2 HLF bid by the end of that year.  Unfortunately, we have just heard that the bid was unsuccessful – but EH has been invited to re-submit for the next round and we are all very hopeful.  A statement from Alex Sydney is included in this Newsletter and we wish EH every success this time around.

In the meantime, the Society is meeting with EH and other partners (including the Environment Trust for Richmond upon Thames which runs the Model Market Garden in Marble Hill Park, and Marble Hill Playcentres which runs the One O’clock Club & Adventure Playground in the Park) as part of the new Steering Group for the project.

On a brighter note, the House opens for the Summer Season on Easter Saturday, 26 March, and once again the team of Marble Hill Society guides will be conducting the tours for visitors on Sunday afternoons through the season.  If you are interested in becoming a guide, please contact our Guide Convenor, Keith Hathaway to learn more about the training and how to get involved (

Your Committee has been developing a programme of activities for the summer and flyers are included with this Newsletter for the first two events: a fascinating talk with readings about Horace Walpole and Henrietta on Sunday 10 April; and a special Study Morning led by Marble Hill’s new curator – Dr Esme Whittaker – on Friday 20 May on “The Villa and the View: Marble Hill in Paintings, Prints and Photographs”.

All our events are held in the magnificent “Great Hall” on the first floor of Marble Hill House and we make a contribution for staff costs which helps the House.  We hope that they will appeal to you and your friends: booking is restricted to Society members and guests until three to four weeks beforehand, after which any unsold tickets are advertised to the wider community.

Best wishes,

Denise Carr

The Marble Hill Society AGM - 28 September 2015 

About 40 members attended our AGM, with special guests Dr Tracy Borman (MHS  President), Jennifer Rimmer (Site Manager, Marble Hill) and Alex Sydney (English Heritage Head of Historic Properties, London).

Denise presented the Committee Report highlighting the successful and varied society events, the dedicated work of the MHS guides, and the restructuring of English Heritage effective 1 April 2015 (when management of the properties was transferred under licence to the new charity English Heritage Trust, with a new CEO Kate Mavor and a new Chair Tim Laurence).  She welcomed the appointment of Dr Esme Whittaker as the new curator for Marble Hill House and the exciting plans for future investment in the House and Park (see below).

The Society Treasurer, Paul Newton presented the accounts for the year ended 31 March 2014 which showed income of £3,164, expenditure of £2,622 and accumulated funds of £13,457.  

The meeting then elected the officers and Committee for 2015/16:

Chair:                     Denise Carr

Secretary                 Shirley Newton

Treasurer                 Paul Newton

Membership Secretary    Elizabeth Velluet

Bruce Gordon-Smith, David King and David Bird (representing the Marble Hill Cricket Club) were elected as Committee members; and Denise particularly thanked retiring Chair John Moses and committee members Robert Prendergast and Kate James for their dedicated service to the Society.  

Following a report from Jennifer on visitor attendance at the House, weddings, events and the work of the Park Rangers, Alex gave a presentation on the big investment proposed for Marble Hill and how the Society could be involved and support the project which could see investment of £6mn by Spring 2018.  A Stage 1 funding bid had been submitted to the HLF - if successful, detailed designs and fundraising would be undertaken during 2016 in preparation for a Stage 2 HLF bid by the end of that year.  Total funding of £5.5mn would be sought from the HLF, with £500,000 matched funding from English Heritage.

This project would address the serious damp, electrical and building repairs outstanding; improve conservation standards (heating, humidity control systems, displays etc.) visitor flow and presentation of the House; look at opening 5 days a week for free-flow (with room stewards and more use of volunteers); provide a wide variety of 21c visitor activities, talks and exhibitions; provide a full educational programme in partnership with Orleans Gallery; expand the cafe, including a shop; create a new Visitor Hub; improve the sports facilities and the toilet provision; and reinstate the historic core of the landscape, including restoration of the Grotto. 

Alex invited the Society to be part of the consultation group for the project; get involved with hosting, promoting and running events; and help with fundraising.  The HLF “Parks for People” grant programme required the involvement of a friends group covering the house and the park, and the Society was invited to consider taking on this role.

Denise reported that she had sent a letter of support for the project on behalf of the Society to accompany the HLF stage 1 bid.  These were exciting times for Marble Hill and for the Society as the project could transform the future.  Communication and involvement of local residents would be key and the Society welcomed the opportunity to play its part.

After the business of the meeting, Dr Tracy Borman gave an inspirational talk on her book “Thomas Cromwell: The untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant”. Tracy made the case most eloquently that history had been very unfair on Cromwell!

Report from Jennifer Rimmer, Site Manager of Marble Hill

The 2015 summer season went very well and the new Comments Book, now available on the second floor, has seen some lovely comments from visitors to the House.  Though the House closed to the general public at the end of October, we welcomed back the Richmond Literature Festival for a special guided tour of the House on 19 November.

In the park, after the summer focus on tennis and cricket – and new cricket nets provided – the winter focus for the Ranger Team has been on managing the football and rugby and doing general work like extending meadow areas and increasing biodiversity to attract more wildlife.  We are also extending the hedges, which are species rich and provide excellent habitat for a number of birds and invertebrates.  Tree work has been thankfully light, with relatively little storm damage.  But despite efforts to control it, the number of oak processionary moth nests have remained high with five more discovered around the park. 

Sparrows, which are of high conservation concern, have been seen regularly in hedges near the Adventure Playground and little owls have also been spotted nesting in the black walnut tree for the second year running.  The Rangers are working with the Richmond Biodiversity Group to deliver more habitat for the song thrush, a red-listed species spotted in Marble Hill park, and surveys will be carried out in winter and spring.  In addition, we plan to re-introduce mistletoe seeds in various locations in the hope of establishing this again in the park. We have also been consulted by the local bee keeping society regarding the best plants for the local bee population.  And the Rangers are continuing their efforts to grow Marble Hill Black Walnut trees, the key threat being the squirrels that collect the walnuts faster than we can!  So far we have two whips!

Report from Dr Esme Whittaker, Curator of Marble Hill

I was delighted to take on the role of Curator of Collections & Interiors at Marble Hill in April 2015.  Since joining English Heritage in 2012, I have been Curator for the nearby Chiswick House and, as I have familiarised myself with Marble Hill’s history and collections over the past months, I have been struck by both the similarities and differences between the properties.

Although both villas were built in the 1720s and are important early examples of the neo-Palladian style, Marble Hill has a more domestic and intimate atmosphere than Lord Burlington’s Temple of the Arts.  It is easy to imagine how the rooms were used and enjoyed by Henrietta Howard, her family and guests and moving forward the aim is to more fully tell Henrietta’s remarkable story and evoke 18th century life at Marble Hill.

As part of my familiarisation process, I have been mapping the decorations and furnishings of the house, room by room, through time from Henrietta’s lifetime until the present day.  This has involved analysing historic inventories, bills, lists of items inherited by Henrietta’s great-niece, visitor descriptions, auction catalogues and early photographs.  I have become particularly interested in Henrietta’s role as a collector, her extensive china collection and the decoration of her now demolished China Room.  As well as this research, I have also been tackling practical tasks – the reorganisation of the Marble Hill curatorial files, improving the documentation of the collections and managing loans.

I am very much looking forward to the next year at Marble Hill and to sharing my knowledge of the collections and interiors through the Marble Hill Society study morning and future English Heritage members’ events. 

Statement from Alex Sydney on the HLF bid for Marble Hill

Marble Hill is one of English Heritage’s priority sites for investment over the next 3 years.  Our long-term plan is to revitalise the park and house at Marble Hill by making the following changes:

- Restoration of elements of the 18th Century Gardens

- Improvements to the sports pitches and changing facilities 

- Conservation and re-presentation of the house interiors including improved access.

A range of Education and Training initiatives being delivered at Marble Hill in conjunction with Orleans House Gallery, the Environment Trust, Marble Hill Playcentres, Capel Manor College and Richmond College. 

Closer working with other heritage attractions in the vicinity to develop a stronger tourist offer in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

In order to deliver these important changes, English Heritage needs to secure significant third party funding and our most important potential funder is the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).  In January 2016, we were informed by HLF that our first submission of a Parks for People application to revitalise Marble Hill had been unsuccessful.  Whilst this was disappointing news, it was not altogether unexpected – Parks for People is a highly competitive funding stream and we were aware that a number of other high quality bids had been submitted.

HLF have now provided detailed feedback on our application and confirmed that they are very keen to support the project which they see as a high priority for HLF funding. The reason for the application being unsuccessful the first time around was simply that there were insufficient funds and not all high priority bids could be successful. As a result of this positive feedback, English Heritage will be submitting a second Parks for People application to HLF in February 2016 with partners. Should this application be successful, the first phase of the project (including the re-presented house) would launch in late summer of 2018.

Whilst it was disappointing that the funding application to HLF was unsuccessful, all the indications are that Marble Hill just missed out by a whisker, and that HLF see the project as one which they are keen to support. Together with our local partners, English Heritage is committed to making this project a reality and we are genuinely hopeful that we will have better news to announce in June this year, following the next Parks for People Board meeting.

Marble Hill Society Archives

Members might like to know that in 2014 the Society deposited a range of archival material with the Richmond Local Studies Collection (based in the Old Town Hall, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond TW9 1TP).  The papers include records of the Society going back to 1987, together with information on the 2003 centenary of the opening of Marble Hill Park to the public; articles on the lives of various occupants of the House after Henrietta Howard; copies of inventories and bills for construction and repair and much more.  The library is open Tuesday to Saturday and also has a wealth of other historic documents concerning Marble Hill in its “On-line Catalogue”.


Dundas House: Marble Hill in Edinburgh

Dundas House, Edinburgh was designed by Sir William Chambers in 1771. Its exterior design is an exact replica of Marble Hill House apart from using the Corinthian Order rather than the Ionic and it is also built on a slightly larger scale.  Like Marble Hill, the fenestration is 1-3-1 and the centre is articulated by four pilasters crowned by a pediment, with the first floor windows emphasised to show that the piano nobile is on the first floor.  Like Marble Hill, the ground floor is rusticated.  The design of the interior was originally close to that of Marble Hill, based on a tripartite plan; but after being taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland (1825) the interior was altered substantially over the years to meet the Bank’s needs.  

It was built for Sir Lawrence Dundas, one of the MPs for Edinburgh, who had supported the Act of Parliament to extend Edinburgh and allow the building of what is known as the New Town.  Dundas was also the Governor of the Royal Bank of Scotland.  Coming from a relatively modest background, he made a huge fortune as an army contractor.  As well as this house in Edinburgh, he had a house in London and the Orkneys and an estate in Yorkshire.

The reason he employed Sir William Chambers, King George III’s favourite architect, was probably to show “he had arrived”.  Chambers had already designed Duddingston House in Edinburgh for the Earl Abercorn in 1763.  Dundas House is generally regarded as the finest in the New Town and is likely that Dundas, a self made man, wished it to display his wealth. 

A more difficult question is why Chambers, a distinguished architect in his own right and already using the new Neo-Classical style (at Duddingston House), copied the design of a house in the Palladian style, when this style was actually going out of fashion.  The answer may possibly lie in the fact that Chambers leased Whitton Park in 1765, which was designed by Robert Morris for the Duke of Argyll.  Chambers, having leased this house, was probably paying homage to Roger Morris by designing Dundas House in the style of Marble Hill House.

© John Moses


NEWSLETTER No. 107 September 2015

Chair’s Report

Investment Project for Marble Hill 

English Heritage has unveiled exciting and ambitious plans for a major project at Marble Hill which could see investment of £6 million by the Spring of 2018 to improve the House and the Park.  A Project Manager has been appointed and a public meeting was held at the House on 16 July 2015, hosted by Alex Sydney (EH Head of Historic Properties in London), to brief local residents.  A Stage 1 funding bid is to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund next month, with a decision expected in November.  If successful, detailed designs and fundraising would be undertaken during 2016 in preparation for a Stage 2 HLF bid by the end of the year.

This project would address the serious damp, electrical and building repairs outstanding; improve conservation standards (heating, humidity control systems, displays etc.) visitor flow and presentation of the House; look at opening 5 days a week for free-flow (with room stewards and more use of volunteers); provide a wide variety of present day visitor activities, talks, exhibitions and educational events for all ages; review the location/effectiveness of the shop; create a Visitor Centre; review/improve the catering offer/role of the cafe; improve the sports facilities and the toilet provision; and reinstate the historic core of the landscape, including restoration of the Grotto and features, originally created on the 18th century.

Your Committee has stressed the need for full public consultation to be a key part of EH’s unfolding plans so that local people, park users, local groups and the MHS can be supportive partners going forward.  Together with the Council’s plans to promote the various sites of historic interest along the Thames by encouraging partnership working; the “Transforming Orleans House” project to preserve and make more accessible Orleans Gallery and the Borough Art Collection; and the development of Turner’s House – our local area looks set for a heritage renaissance over the coming years.

Future Events (details below)

Do come along to the MHS AGM on 28 September and the concert and party on Sunday 18 October.  At the AGM, there will be an update on EH’s plans and to consider how the Society can best support them.  Please do make a date in your diary for the last of the MHS events of the Summer season: a concert and party. All members and guests are warmly welcome and it would greatly help our planning for the event if you could book early.

Recent Events

Sunday 14 June 2015 : Royal Dining at the Georgian Court, an illustrated talk by Susanne Groom (former curator at Kew Palace) covering royal dining over 100 years from George I to George IV.  

This fascinating talk covered the public and private dining rituals of the Georgian court, including an endless succession of dishes, the liveried footmen and servants, the spices, wines and sweetmeats, the sparkling silver, Meissen and Dresden china – and the gawping visitors come to see and be impressed by royal pomp and extravagance.  The kitchens were run by men, detailed accounts were kept, and uneaten food, which could not be kept fresh, was given away at the palace gates.  After the talk, guests enjoyed wine and canapés while Susanne signed copies of her beautiful coffee-table book “At the King’s Table, Royal Dining Through the Ages” for people to buy.

Future Events

Monday 28 September 2015 : AGM, followed by a talk by our President Tracy Borman. 
7.00 pm for 7.30 pm (Please note time of AGM)  

The talk will be on her biography of Thomas Cromwell.  Incidentally Tracy’s book on Cromwell has been mentioned on a number of BBC radio programmes.  One commentator described the book as beautifully and elegantly written.  As some of you may know, Tracy played a prominent part in the BBC three part TV series on the Armada, which was shown this summer.  Drinks will be available before the AGM and Talk.

Sunday 18 October 2015 : Chiefly for the Hautboy 
7pm in The Great Room, Marble Hill House. Doors open 6.45pm (Please note time of the event.)  

The two acclaimed young music directors Chad Kelly (harpsichord) and Leo Duarte (oboe), co-founders of the Ars Eloquentiae period instrument ensemble, will perform a lively programme of Handel’s sonatas for oboe with some great harpsichord suites. Those, who know St. Anne’s Church, Kew, may have been to the outstanding series of concerts performed there over the last three years by Ars Eloquentiae. Chad, who lives locally, is director of music at St. Anne’s. He is also a répétiteur for Royal Academy Opera and is back teaching at Cambridge University where he graduated with a double first in 2011. The concert will be followed by a special finger buffet in the intimate surroundings of the Tetrastyle Hall.  

Tickets at £15 each are available from Elizabeth Velluet on 020-8891-3825 or via Cheques, payable to The Marble Hill Society, should be sent to 9 Bridge Road, Twickenham TW1 1RE with your booking; or payment may be made online to Marble Hill Society, sort code 60-22-03, account number 23830395 with a reference of your name followed by OCTOBER.

Membership Renewals

Members, who have overlooked renewing their subscription, are reminded that they were due on 1st April last. The subscription remains unchanged at £8 for a single member and £12 for a couple.  We would ask you to renew as soon as possible please and to take advantage of our Standing Order form attached to this Newsletter. Alternatively, you can renew by sending a cheque payable to The Marble Hill Society to: The Membership Secretary, 9 Bridge Road, Twickenham TW1 1RE.

Marble Hill House

The house will close on 2nd November 2015 and re-open on 25th March 2016.

Denise Carr

Ham House in the Seventeenth Century: The Cutting Edge of English Architecture

Ham is just across the river from Marble Hill.  In late 18th century, the house was regarded as very old-fashioned.  In 1770, Horace Walpole said: ”that the house was so blocked up with trees and gates that you think yourself an hundred miles off and a hundred miles back.”  In 1872, Augustus Hare, when visiting the house said, “No half-inhabited chateau of a ruined family in Normandy was ever so dilapidated as this home of the enormously rich Tollemaches”.  Yet in the 17th century Ham could be regarded as the cutting edge of English architecture, particularly after it was remodelled by the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale.  The house was probably built as a villa rather than as a country house and such villas were built as places for the nobility, gentry and rich merchants to escape from London.  Even in the 17th century there were a number of villas along the Thames, though their number grew substantially in the course of the 18th century.  The house was built for Sir Thomas Vasavour probably between 1608 and 1610.  It is not known who the architect was. 

Vasavour died in either 1624 or 1625 and the house passed briefly to the Earl of Holdernesse, but he died in 1626.  It then passed to a Sir George Ramsay, and in 1633 the house came into possession of William Murray.  He was traditionally known as Charles I's whipping boy, but he was generously compensated by Charles when he became king.  Murray was a member of the Court and wished to ensure that the interiors reflected the latest fashions when he carried out an extensive refurbishment of the interior between 1638 and 1639.  The finest room, following this restoration, was probably the North Drawing Room, which included the fireplace with its twisted columns and these are almost certainly taken from the Raphael Cartoon 'The Healing of the lame man’.  Raphael based them on the columns in the old St. Peters in Rome, which was pulled down in 1506.  These columns had come from the eastern Mediterranean and were believed to have been part of the temple at Jerusalem, thus the term Solomonic columns.  The cartoons were then at the Royal Tapestry factory at Mortlake.  The design of the fireplace was probably made by a Danish artist Franz Cleyn, who was the director at the Royal Tapestry factory.  Charles I had bought the cartoons through agents in Italy.  The long gallery was likely to have been created when the house was first built, but the Great Staircase was put in as part of Murray’s refurbishment.

The Civil War began in 1642 and Murray fought on the Royalist side and he received his peerage in 1643, when he became the first Earl of Dysart.  He went into exile after the execution of King Charles I in 1649 and died in Edinburgh in 1655.  The title passed to his daughter Elizabeth.  She married Sir Lionel Tollemache in 1648, but the family avoided having their property being sequestrated by Parliament, but it was not until the restoration in 1660, that for Elizabeth it was safe to use her title, the Countess of Dysart.  Sir Lionel Tollemache had died in 1669 and Duke of Lauderdale's first wife had died in 1671.  No major rebuilding took place until after she married the Duke of Lauderdale in 1672. 

In the 1670s Ham House was totally remodelled.  The Duke of Lauderdale, who was Secretary of State for Scotland, was both important and rich.  It would not have been surprising if he had pulled this house down and built a more modern house.  As we know, the Lauderdales kept the original house, probably at his wife’s request, although the house was widened by creating two ranges of rooms and by filling in the area between the wings on the south side.  The architect was William Samwell (1628-1676).  One of the most important innovations by the Lauderdales was the installation of twenty six sash windows on the south front.  This appears to be one of the earliest installations of sash-windows on a large scale.  Some of the windows on the east side were double sashes, which is perhaps an early example of double glazing.  The counter-balanced sash-window was an English invention, though it had originally been thought that the counter-balanced sash-window had come from France or Holland*.  The sash windows, which we see at Ham on the south front today, were installed in the 1730s by John James.  He also remodelled St. Mary's Twickenham in 1715.

One of the first additions in the interior was the creation of a set rooms forming the State Apartments including the Queen’s Bedchamber for the visit of Queen Catherine of Braganza, Charles II’s consort.  Ham was one of the first houses to incorporate French ideas in the planning of its rooms, such as the sets of apartments and the enfilade.  Probably the earliest example of the enfilade is in France, at Vaux-de-Vicomte near Paris, which was completed in 1662 not long before the refurbishment at Ham.  Two other important innovations at Ham were the library and the Duchess of Lauderdale's bathroom.  Ham House has the earliest surviving library in a private house.  The library and the library closet are relatively small compared to the libraries put into country houses of the late 18th century.  The duchess's bathroom was also something of an innovation for the late 17th century.  There was a set of stairs connecting her bed chamber with the bath.  It was probably a steam bath.  If it was, she would have sat on a chair and the water would have regularly warmed up by water from a jug.  In 1682 the Duke of Lauderdale died and Elizabeth Duchess of Lauderdale died in 1698, and thus the Lauderdale era came to an end.

*In 1981 a distinguished academic Dr. Hentie Louw convincingly argued in his D.Phil. that the counter-balanced sash-window was invented in England, probably in the King's Surveyor's office at the end of the 1660s

© John Moses


Subscriptions for the year 2015/2016 should have been paid on 1st April 2015. To renew your membership, please send a cheque payable to The Marble Hill Society, with an SAE, to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE or pay by bankers order in the enclosed form            

Annual subscription:  £8 (individual) £12 (double)





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Sunday 18 October 2015, 7pm in The Great Room, Marble Hill House. (Doors open at 6.45pm)

Chiefly for the Hautboy

If you wish to come to the concert and buffet, please send off this form with a cheque for £15 for each person and SAE to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE or pay online as set out in the Newsletter    





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Chair’s Report 

On Saturday 28 March Marble Hill House opened for the Summer season, which ends on Sunday 1 November.  During this time, your Society has organised a varied selection of concerts and talks starting with a concert featuring our regular soprano and a new harpsichord player in April, followed by a fascinating talk with readings in May about a very well known 18th century Twickenham resident and friend of Henrietta, Alexander Pope.  Reports on both these events are included in this Newsletter, and there are also full details for our next event on 14 June about Royal Dining at the Georgian court. 

Then, at our AGM in September our Society President, Tracy Borman, will talk about her recent book on Thomas Cromwell and to round off the season, we have a very special concert and party in October with Baroque musicians Ars Eloquentiae.  All our events are held in the magnificent Great Hall on the first floor of Marble Hill House and I hope that some of these will appeal to you and your friends.  Towards the end of the season your Committee will be preparing the programme for 2016 and we very much welcome your views and comments on the 2015 events and any suggestions you may have for future events. You can write to me at 7 Jordans Mews, Twickenham TW2 5UA or by e-mail to

As many of you will know, English Heritage has been going through a major review of its funding and organisational structure.  From 1st April 2015, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England became Historic England, retaining responsibility for providing expert advice on planning and heritage protection and acting as a champion for the sector; while management of the 400+ properties transferred to the new English Heritage Trust”.   Your Committee is meeting with English Heritage staff next month when we hope to learn more about the implications of this for Marble Hill and, in particular, we look forward to hearing some news about the £2 million investment project for Marble Hill, which the committee were advised about last year. 

Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to John Moses and Robert Prendergast who stood down from the Committee at the end of March.  John was the Chair for five years and contributed an enormous amount to the life and vitality of the Society, including special talks and visits using his extensive knowledge of 18th century arts and architecture.  Happily, he has agreed to continue as the Editor of this Newsletter and will continue to pen his information pieces on Marble Hill House, Henrietta and her life and times.   Robert too has brought expertise and rigour to our deliberations and will continue to attend our joint Marble Hill Sosiety/English Heritage meetings as we focus on ensuring that Marble Hill remains open and accessible and receives the investment and attention from the new English Heritage Trust which our little gem of an 18th century Palladian villa so desperately needs and deserves.

Past Events

(1) Sunday 12 April 2015, 7.30 pm Concert with Emily Armour (soprano) and Petra Hajduchova (harpsichord)

Our first event of the 2015 Summer Season proved a great success, with tickets sold out, a wonderful programme from two very talented young musicians and brilliant home cooked food by Isabel Newton of Isabel’s Catering.

From Purcell’s On the Brow of Richmond Hill through Bach, Vivaldi, Haydn and even My Love is Like a Red,Red Rose after Robbie Burns we were treated to a delightfully varied selection. These showed off the close rapport between the girls and Emily’s lively and light hearted introductions of each piece added to the informality which is a hallmark of our events in the House.   But the most dramatic piece was Handel’s Lucrezia describing how the wicked Tarquinio betrays the honour of Lucrezia, and, as the gods fail to avenge her, she decides to take her revenge by killing herself and haunting him forever!  

Emily Armour is a post-graduate scholar of Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Career highlights include soloist at St Peter’s Basilica, Rome: touring with the Monteverdi Choir; choral scholar at St. Martin’s-in-the-Field; and jazz in Bordeaux.  Her website is  Petra Hajduchova is also a graduate of the Trinity Laban Conservatoire and a classically trained harpsichordist and organist with a passion for a wide range of musical genres.  She has played the organ in Salzburg at Mozart’s St Peter’s Church and is in demand as a soloist accompanist, orchestral and chamber musician.  

(2) Saturday 9 May, 2.30 pm:  Ten Razor Blades in One Neat Couplet Case - Alexander Pope (1688-1744) and his writings by Susan Morris and Alfred Bradley

This event focused on a very well known 18th century Twickenham resident, Alexander Pope.  This entertaining and informative presentation of Pope’s life and selected works, was delivered with aplomb by Susan.  She had clearly warmed to her subject and Alfred’s poignant and amusing readings from some of Pope’s choicest works explained why. Though in poor health for most of his life, Pope’s prolific, witty and satirical writings made him famous and rich.   From epic poems like the The Rape of the Lock to translations of the Iliad and The Odyssey which made his fortune, to love poems, trenchant critiques of the poor quality of other writers’ works and The Dunciad, an all-embracing satire of dullness in contemporary culture, and a dig at the Georgian court including some of Henrietta Howard’s fellow courtiers.   Pope moved to his villa in 1719 (later known as Pope’s Villa) and became fascinated by horticulture and landscape gardening.   He constructed a shell-lined grotto, which is all that remains of Pope’s home today and is a bad state of disrepair.  See for further information about the Pope’s Grotto Restoration Project.  Its Chair, David Cornwell, said a few words about it.

Future Events

(1) Sunday 14 June 2015, 6.15pm for 6.30pm : Feasts fit for a King, royal table manners, flamboyant chefs and the intrigues of the kitchen staff.

An illustrated talk by Susanne Groom (former curator at Kew Palace) which will focus on royal dining from the arrival of George I from Hanover in 1714 to 1820 when George IV became king: one hundred years of over-indulgence of every kind and the strictest rules about social etiquette.  Susanne will explore the fascinating changes in royal dining and what influenced them.  Copies of Susanne’s book At the King’s Table, Royal Dining Through the Ages an illustrated history of royal dining from the Middle Ages to modern times, will be available to buy.  Tickets are £10 each, including wine and nibbles after the talk.  Cheques should be sent off in the attached form at the end of the Newsletter payable to The Marble Hill Society or payment can be made online to Marble Hill Society, sort code 60-22-03, account number 23830395 with a reference of your name followed by June 2015.  

(2) Monday 28 September 2015, 7.00pm for 7.30pm : Annual General Meeting and Talk by Tracy Borman

The doors will open at 7pm for drinks, and the AGM starts 7.30pm followed by a talk by our President Tracy Borman.  The talk will be on her biography of Thomas Cromwell.  Incidentally Tracy’s book on Cromwell has been mentioned on a number of BBC radio programmes.  One commentator described the book as beautifully and elegantly written.

(3) Sunday 18 October 2015 : Baroque Chamber Concert by Ars Eloquentiae, 6.45pm for 7.00pm

Evening concert with a specific Georgian theme by Chad Kelly, a brilliant harpsichordist and the founder of Ars Eloquentiae.  Chad is also the director of music at St. Anne’s, Kew.  There will be a finger buffet after the concert and the charge will be £15. The booking form will be attached to a future Newsletter.


The subscription remains unchanged at £8 for a single member and £12 for a couple and were due for renewal on 1 April.  We would ask you to renew as soon as possible please and to take advantage of our Standing Order form attached to this Newsletter.  Alternatively, you can renew by sending a cheque payable to The Marble Hill Society to: The Membership Secretary, 9 Bridge Road, Twickenham TW1 1RE.

Denise Carr : Chair

Thomas Hudson (c. 1701-1779)

In Marble Hill in the Dressing Room there are two outstanding portraits by one of the leading portrait painters of the day, Thomas Hudson.  The sitters are Abraham Acworth and his wife Margaret Acworth and are almost certainly pendants and probably commissioned at the date of their marriage in 1745.  Abraham Acworth was rich young man, having come into a large inheritance from his uncle and was also a clerk of the Exchequer.  His wife wrote a cook book, one of the first women to do so.  Both paintings remained in the family until 1981 when Angus Acworth bequeathed then to the NACF (now the Art Fund) which presented the paintings to Marble Hill House.  Hudson himself had been apprenticed to Jonathan Richardson who later became his father-in-law.  Joshua Reynolds was briefly apprenticed to him in 1741. Joseph Wright of Derby was also his pupil.  Like Reynolds he came from Devon and until 1740 he divided his time between Devon, Bath and London, when he established himself in London. 

By the 1740s, Hudson was one of the leading portrait painters in London.  He was clearly influenced by the very free flowing Rococo style, which had been very much promoted in the St. Martin’s Lane Academy, run by Hogarth.  The teachers there included Gravelot and Hayman, who are both represented at Marble Hill. Hudson, alongside a number of leading painters such as Hogarth, donated paintings to the Thomas Coram Founding Hospital with a view to promoting the Foundling Hospital.  There are three paintings by him at the Coram Museum today including one George Handel and another of Theodore Jacobsen, the architect of Coram Hospital and the latter is regarded as one of his finest portraits.  Hudson very much relied on drapery painters as did Reynolds and regularly used van Aken until the latter’s death in 1749.  Hudson painted his portrait, which is in the National Portrait Gallery as is a number of his other portraits including a portrait of George II.  There are a number of portraits of naval officers at the National Maritime Museum Greenwich.  He also painted a famous portrait of Admiral Byng, which is still at the family home, Wrotham Park, Hertfordshire.  Byng is today remembered for being executed on the quarter deck of his own flagship for cowardice, when he withdrew his fleet from Minorca.  George II insisted on the sentence being carried out in spite of many pleas for clemency. 

Hudson’s popularity declined by the end of 1750s, when Reynolds and Gainsborough were now dominating the portrait market.  Throughout his career Hudson had been an avid collector of Old Master drawings and paintings as well as works by his contemporaries.  He visited the Low Countries in 1748 and Italy in 1752. In 1753 he bought a house at Cross Deep, Twickenham, just upstream from Pope’s Villa.  He retired toward the end of the 1750s, dying at Twickenham in 1779.  His extensive private art collection was sold off in three separate sales.  Hudson is far less remembered today even though he was a very popular portrait painter in his own lifetime. It was his misfortune to be born in the age of some of our greatest portrait painters such as Hogarth, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Lawrence and Romney and from Scotland, Ramsey and Raeburn.

© John Moses



Subscriptions for the year 2015/2016 were due on 1st April 2015. To renew your membership, please send a cheque payable to The Marble Hill Society, with an SAE, to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE.  Alternatively please pay by Standing Order. Annual subscription is £8 (individual) and £12 (double)




Post Code………………………………………………………………………………………

(Please give your e-mail address, if you are on the internet.)



SATURDAY 14TH JUNE 2015   6.15 PM FOR 6.30 PM

If you wish to come to this Talk, please send off this form with a cheque for £10 for each person and SAE to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE. 

Payment can be made online to Marble Hill Society, sort code 60-22-03, account number 

23830395 with a reference of your name followed by June 2015.  





Number of tickets…………………..


NEWSLETTER No. 105 February 2015

The Marble Hill Society Past Events

(a)  Saturday 30th August and Sunday 31st August 7.30 pm - Serendipity at Marble Hill House:

This was once again a sell-out, initially premiered on 11 May last, the Marble Hill Society gave two more performances of this conversation drama featuring Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk and her great friend and neighbour Horace Walpole, set in the Great Room at Marble Hill – where they would have met together on many occasions. As mentioned in the previous Newsletter, this conversation drama was specifically written for the Marble Hill Society, which brought to life two of our leading local 18th century Twickenham personalities. Emily Swain and Andy King starred once again in these two further productions. 

(b)  Monday 29th September 2014:  8 pm: AGM and Talk by Tracy Borman 

At the AGM, the society elected Tracy Borman, as our President. Tracy had served on the committee for six years, but outside commitments prevented her from continuing on the committee. The society is delighted that she has agreed to become our President. Paul Newton was elected Treasurer. At his own request, he will not be on the committee. Paul has a financial background and should make an excellent Treasurer. David King joined the committee at the same time. My period as Chairman will end on 31st March 2015 and Denise Carr will take over as the Chair, having already played a major role in running the society for many years. Both Robert Prendergast and I will also leave the committee on 31st March 2015. Robert has played a sterling and invaluable role as a committee member. The committee has asked me to continue to write this Newsletter and I am very pleased to do so. 

After the AGM, Tracy Borman gave a brilliant and scintillating talk based on her highly acclaimed book Witches, published last year and which has been highly praised by the critics. 


Some members have still not paid their subscription for 2014/15 and, if on email, have been emailed a reminder. We very much hope you will renew your subscription to support the Society.

The subscription for 2015/16 remains unchanged at £8 for a single member and £12 for a couple and the subscriptions are due on 1st April next. We would ask you to renew your membership for 2015/2016 as soon as soon as possible to take advantage of the events for 2015. Membership form is attached to the Newsletter

Future Events : Diary for 2015

(1) Sunday 12th April 2015

The Spring Party is an innovation. This is an evening event – 7.45 pm for 8 pm. There will be a recital by the distinguished young soprano, Emily Armour, (who has sung here twice before), accompanied by the harpsichordist, Petra Hajduchová. The programme will include Handel, Croft and Arne. This will be followed by a finger buffet. There will be a charge of £15. The booking form is attached to the Newsletter.

(2) Saturday 9th May 2015

Afternoon performance by Susan Morris and Alfred Bradley (2.30 pm for 3 pm) based on Henrietta Howard’s relations with Alexander Pope. There will be tea/coffee and cake and biscuits before the talk. There will be a charge of £10. The booking form is attached to the Newsletter.

(3) Sunday 14th June 2015 

Evening talk by Susanne Groom (6 pm for 6.30 pm). The theme will be on the type of food at Georgian Monarchs’ tables. Drinks and nibbles will be available after the talk. There will be a charge of £10. Susanne was a senior curator at Kew Palace. The booking form is attached to the Newsletter.

(4) Monday 28th September 2015 

Evening AGM (8 pm) and followed by talk by our President Tracy Borman. The talk will be on her biography of Thomas Cromwell. Incidentally Tracy’s book on Cromwell has been mentioned on a number of BBC radio programmes. One commentator described the book as beautifully and elegantly written.

(5) Sunday 18th October 2015

Evening concert by Chad Kelly a brilliant harpsichordist and the founder of Ars Eloquentiae (please see the website for details of Ars Eloquentiae): 7.30 for 8 pm with a specific Georgian theme. Chad is also the director of music at St. Anne’s, Kew. There will be a finger buffet after the concert and the charge will be £15. The booking form will be attached to a future Newsletter.

Marble Hill House

The house will open again on Tuesday 28th March 2015

MHS Volunteers Room Guides (Stewards) (Visit Kenwood)

English Heritage is still very enthusiastic about us pursuing this! If you are interested, but not sure whether you would like to be a Room Guide, visit Kenwood, now beautifully restored and speak to the Room Guides, who are called “Room Interpreters” where the scheme had already been started. At Kenwood, the Room Guides wear EH uniform. Room Guides will have the opportunity to meet the people coming round and give them some background information about the house. There will be a short period of induction and advice about what one should read. The role of Room Guides will be similar to that of National Trust volunteers, namely to interpret the rooms for visitors. It will not have the same degree of commitment as a house guide. If you are interested please e-mail We shall need at least 20 volunteers to get the scheme off the ground, so that the rotas can spaced out on a fair and reasonable basis. 

The Website and Internet

Please do look at the website of the Marble Hill Society, If you are on the internet, please give your e-mail to our membership secretary Elizabeth Velluet at Sending the Newsletter by e-mail helps to keep costs of the running of the society down. This is now very important with the ever rising cost of postage.

Richmond Lodge

The affair between Henrietta Howard and George, Prince of Wales (the future George II) may have begun at Richmond Lodge, probably in 1718, (Tracy Borman: King’s Mistress, Queen’s Servant.) The proximity of Richmond Lodge may also have been a factor in Henrietta’s decision to purchase land in 1724 in Twickenham to build Marble Hill. However, Tracy Borman suggests in her biography of Henrietta that the principal reason why she built her house there, was probably because it would have been near to her close friend, Alexander Pope, who also had recently built a villa at Twickenham. The Prince of Wales had taken a lease of Richmond Lodge, because of his obsession with hunting. Henrietta Howard said: “We hunt with great violence and every day have a tolerable chance of our neck being broken”. Richmond Lodge was too small for all the Prince of Wales’s retinue and he rented a row of houses in 1724, which had been built in 1717 as a speculation, for his Maids of Honour, and the Row became known as Maids of Honour Row (Sally Jeffery: The Building of Maids of Honour Row, Richmond: Georgian Group Journal: 2010.) Henrietta never lived there. As a Woman of the Bedchamber, she had to be on hand to wait on Princess, later Queen Caroline.

Richmond Lodge was at the south-west corner of the present Royal Botanical Gardens. The lodge was probably built in the early 17th century as a hunting lodge for James I, but was extensively altered and remodelled for William III again in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. It is possible that Nicholas Hawksmoor may have been involved in the rebuilding of Richmond Lodge. William III used it himself as a hunting lodge, then let it to a friend John Latten who assigned the lease to the Duke of Ormonde, who was a distinguished soldier, but he had to go into exile for supporting the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. His estates were confiscated apart from Richmond Lodge, which was saved thanks to his brother Lord Arran. In 1718 the Prince of Wales took the lease of Richmond Lodge from Lord Arran.

However, in 1727 when George II became King, his wife Queen Caroline, decided to create one of the first English informal gardens. The gardens extended from Kew all the way to Richmond Green. She commissioned Charles Bridgeman to landscape the gardens. He built a terrace walk along the Thames to Kew and a canal and a “wilderness” within the grounds. Caroline also commissioned William Kent to build two extraordinary follies, The Hermitage and Merlin’s cave. The former had busts of philosophers and the latter had waxworks with a poet, Stephen Duck, as its resident custodian. Queen Caroline died in 1737 and no more work was done on Richmond Lodge until 1760 when George III inherited the lodge on the death of his grandfather, George II. 

After George III married Queen Charlotte in 1761, they used the lodge as a country retreat. He decided to have the whole park landscaped once again, commissioning Capability Brown. The “landscaping” included pulling down the hamlet of West Shene. This hamlet had faced the Thames at the south-west corner of the estate. George III also instructed Sir William Chambers to build an observatory in the grounds to observe the transit of Venus in 1769. (The observatory is still there.) George III was planning to replace Richmond Lodge with a new palace. However in 1772, he inherited The White House, opposite the present Kew Palace, from his mother. George III decided to make the White House his country retreat in place of Richmond Lodge. George III had recently bought Buckingham House, (now Buckingham Palace), so he had Richmond Lodge pulled down, but could not afford to replace it, as he had limited funds available . The White House itself was pulled down in 1802.

John Moses


Subscriptions for the year 2015/2016 are due on 1st April 2015. To renew your membership, please send a cheque payable to The Marble Hill Society, with an SAE, to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE            

Annual subscription:  £8 (individual) £12 (double)





Email address………………………………………………………………………………………

(Please give your e-mail address, if you are on the internet.)



If you wish to come to the Spring Party, please send off this form with a cheque for £15 for each person and SAE to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE    





Number of tickets…………………..




If you wish to come to this Entertainment, please send off this form with a cheque for £10 for each person and SAE to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE    





Number of tickets…………………..





If you wish to come to this Talk, please send off this form with a cheque for £10 for each person and SAE to The Membership Secretary, 9, Bridge Road, Twickenham, TW1 1RE    





Number of tickets…………………..