index of contents


If one had rowed up to Twickenham, when Marble Hill was completed in 1729, one would have seen a large classical style house facing the river, very close to Marble Hill.  This house was originally known as Mr. Secretary Johnston’s House, but later known as Orleans House.  James Johnston (1655-1737) had been Secretary for Scotland under William III.

Johnston’s house seen from the Thames picture dated 1726(?). Joseph Nickolls

Johnston had commissioned John James (c.1672-1746) to build the house, which was completed in 1710.  The house was a substantial two-storey brick building with mansard roof, rectangular windows and a central stone entrance surmounted by an arched window surrounded by carved Portland stone with floral decoration.  James had worked under Sir Christopher Wren at Hampton Court and the Royal Naval Hospital and had been responsible for rebuilding St, Mary’s, Twickenham in 1714.  One of his major commissions was St. George’s Hanover Square, the church, where Handel worshipped.  The house was illustrated in Colen Campbell’s Vitruvius Britannicus published in 1715. None of the original house has survived.

Johnston had become friendly with George I during time he spent in Hanover and he needed a grand enough room to entertain royalty.  In 1716, he commissioned James Gibbs (1682-1754) to design the Octagon Room. Gibbs was a Catholic, who had originally gone to Rome to study for the priesthood in 1703, but decided that this vocation was not for him and decided to study architecture instead under a leading Baroque architect, Carlo Fontana and was thus one of the few architects of his generation who knew the continental Baroque at first hand.

The Octagon, which was completed in 1720 and was initially separate from the main house and was built for lavish entertaining, complete with wine cellar, which still exists.  The outstanding feature in the interior is the ornate plasterwork interior, created by two Swiss-born  plasterers, Guiseppe Artari and Giovanni Bagutti, who had also worked with Gibbs on other commissions including St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields. Gibbs’s first major commission, when he returned to this country in 1708 was St. Mary-le-Strand.  He also designed Sudbrook Park at Petersham for the Duke of Argyll.  It is recorded that in 1729 Queen Caroline and her children dined with Mrs. Johnston in the Octagon on dishes including venison, vermicelli soup, a chine of lamb, chicken with peaches, and capons with oysters. King George II and his consort’s country retreat was at Richmond Lodge which was demolished in 1770.

Thomas Gibson, Mr. James Johnston
Thomas Gibson, Mr. James Johnston

When Johnston died in 1737, his house was bought by George Morton Pitt and the house then became known as the Pitt House and while living there, he created a link room between the main house at the Octagon. George Pitt had been governor of a small fort on the outskirts of Madras, so he was known as Governor Pitt. He died in 1756 and Sir George Pocock, a distinguished naval officer, bought the house in 1764 and it remained in his family until 1837.  His son, also George, inherited the house in 1792, but rarely lived there and preferred to let it

Louis Philippe I by Winterhalter
Winterhalter, Louis Philippe 1840.

The most distinguished tenant was Louis Philippe, duc d’ Orleans who occupied the house from 1815 to 1817 and thereafter the house was known as Orleans House.  He later became King Louis-Philippe of France from 1830 to 1848, when he was deposed and died in exile at Claremont, Surrey.  In the meantime George Pocock, who had financial problems, sold the house to Alexander Murray MP who owned the house until his death in 1845 when it was bought by Lord Kilmorey who then sold it to Coutts Bank, the trustees of the Duc D’Aumale, son of the King Louis-Philippe.  The duc of D’Aumale lived there until 1871 when he returned to France to live at the chateau at Chantilly. While at Orleans House he made a number of changes including adding a library, a picture gallery and the extensive stabling.

The house passed through various hands being briefly a sports and social club. It was then bought by developers who proposed to demolish the house after the First World War.  To save some of the buildings, The Hon. Nellie Ionides bought the Octagon, the gallery and the stables, which she then gave to the Borough of Twickenham.  Today the Octagon, picture gallery and stables are owned by the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames and are regularly used for exhibitions.  In the last few years the stables have been converted to create a superb educational centre.  The rest of this large house was demolished in 1927.  However there are still two pieces of sculpture which belonged to Mr. Secretary Johnson, which have survived.  He had commissioned a sculptor John van Nost to make lead models of his two dogs and these were taken to the chateau at Chantilly by the duc d’Aumale.  The chateau is now a museum and these statues are still there today. Alexander Pope had celebrated them in two lines of poetry:

And Twick’nam such, which fairer scenes enrich
Grots, Statues, urns and Jo—n’s Dog and Bitch

John Moses

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HENRY HERBERT 9th Earl of Pembroke (c.1689-1750)

Marble Hill was built by Roger Morris and Henry, Lord Herbert who became 9th Earl of Pembroke in 1733 on the death of his father, the 8th Earl. While inheriting his father’s interest in the arts, he made architecture his own special interest and was known as the “Architect Earl.” His country seat was Wilton House, which is still the family seat today. The state rooms there included the famous Double Cube Room and Single Cube Room and were almost certainly designed by Inigo Jones with the assistance of his relative John Webb. Lord Herbert held the usual posts associated with a leading nobleman of that time such as Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire and he became a Lieutenant General in 1742. However he was elected a member of the Royal Society in 1743, which very much reflected his intellectual interests. Being an aristocrat did not mean automatic entry into the Royal Society. He had a keen interest in archaeology visiting Stonehenge on a number of occasions. He was known to be an outstandingly good swimmer and unusually for the 18th century, he was a vegetarian, but he was also known for his choleric disposition.

He appears to have gone on the Grand Tour but the only evidence for this is a reference in a letter from the British minister in Venice to the Secretary of State saying “My Lord Herbert came last Saturday.” If this is right, he might well have seen a number of Palladio’s villas in the Veneto, but this is of course speculation. However, he was an undergraduate at Christchurch, Oxford when Dr. Aldrich was the Dean. Aldrich was responsible for designing the Peckwater Quad at Christchurch, based both on Palladio’s architecture and on Inigo Jones’s palace designs. It was built in 1706, nine years before Colen Campbell published his Vitruvius Britannicus and was thus one of the earliest examples of the revival of the English Palladian style. Lord Herbert contributed £20 towards building the Peckwater Quad. He had a town house, later known as Pembroke House, designed by Colen Campbell in the Palladian style and completed in 1724. Pembroke House was demolished in 1913.

Lord Herbert was very likely to be personally involved in designing his town house at Whitehall, given his subsequent work as an architect. Marble Hill is similar in design to Pembroke House and both houses seemed to have borrowed from various of Palladio’s villas, particularly the Villa Emo. Marble Hill is certainly one of best, if not the best example of an English villa based on Palladio’s villa designs. The Great Room here was almost certainly based on the single Cube Room at Wilton and the fire place is probably based on Le Barbet’s fire place designs, published in 1633. His designs were regularly used by Inigo Jones. Lord Herbert was no draughtsman, but neither was Lord Burlington nor even Vanbrugh and he would certainly had to rely upon Roger Morris to be the draughtsman and he may have sought advice from Robert Morris, (Roger Morris’s cousin), who was the leading Palladian theoretician.

The building of Marble Hill was probably the first time that Lord Herbert had worked with Roger Morris, but not his last. They designed the White Lodge in Richmond Park for George II, again in the Palladian style, which was completed in 1728 a year before the completion of Marble Hill. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough commissioned them to design the column of Victory at Blenheim Palace and they also worked again for her in building Wimbledon House, for which they got little thanks. The house was burnt down in 1785. They also worked together in redesigning some of the state rooms at Wilton. However, probably their most famous joint enterprise at Wilton was the building of the Palladian Bridge, completed in about 1737. It was based on Palladio’s bridge design in his Four Books of Architecture, but generally considered to be far superior to Palladio’s own design. Lord Herbert was active in supporting the building of Westminster Bridge, which was the first bridge to be built over the Thames in central London since the building of the mediaeval London Bridge. The bridge was completed in the year of his death in 1750. In 1733, Lord Herbert had married Mary Fitzwilliam, daughter of the 5th Viscount Fitzwilliam and had one son, Henry Herbert, who succeeded to the title as 10th Earl of Pembroke.

John Moses

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ROGER MORRIS (1695-1749)

Roger Morris was one of the two architects of Marble Hill House. The other was Lord Herbert, the future 9th Earl of Pembroke. Morris appears to have been Colen Campbell’s assistant at some point, possibly in the building of Pembroke House Whitehall for the future Earl of Pembroke and this is where he may have met Lord Herbert. Morris worked as a collaborator with Lord Herbert not only at Marble Hill, but also at (inter alia) The White Lodge, New Park (Richmond Park), Wimbledon House and the Palladian Bridge at Wilton. Morris also built a number of other important houses such as Adderbury House, Oxfordshire, Whitton Park, Clearwell Castle, Gloucestershire and Inveraray Castle, Argyllshire.

Roger Morris described himself as a bricklayer when he took a lease on the Harley estate in Marylebone in 1724. He already had an account at Hoare’s Bank and had been employed as a surveyor in measuring up buildings to price other builder’s work. He was also employed as a surveyor in the building of Covent Garden theatre in 1731, where he described himself as an architect.  Strictly speaking there was no such profession as an architect at this date. Anyone who was involved in building could describe himself as an architect, but the profession of Surveying went back to the 16th century.  He appears to have been successful in developing and speculating in land. By 1730s he was living in a house, which he built, in Oxford Street and describing himself as a “gentleman.” So it is difficult to place Roger Morris in the social hierarchy. He married first a girl called Mary and she died in 1729, and he married secondly in 1731 Elizabeth the daughter of Sir Philip Jackson. She died in 1744

Marble Hill is an important example of the English Palladian style. Did Lord Herbert or Roger Morris have the greater “say” in the overall design? This is difficult to say. The Great Room is clearly based on Lord Herbert’s house at Wilton. However, Roger Morris’s cousin, Robert Morris, was probably the leading Palladian theoretician.  In his thesis An Essay in Defence of Ancient Architecture, published in 1728 he illustrated his ideal house which bears a close resemblance to Marble Hill. He also discussed the ideal Palladian house in his Lectures on Architecture (1734) and acknowledged Roger Morris’ help in the introduction so it is highly probable that he was involved at Marble Hill. Robert Morris based his ideal, design on a cube subdivided into smaller “cubic” modules and according to Lees-Milne (The Earls of Creation), these cubic proportions can be found in the elevations and apartments of Marble Hill, right down to the proportion of windows and chimneypieces.  Although the architecture of the house was based on Palladio’s designs, it is not really possible to say which of Palladio’s villas were copied and it is more likely that the architects based Marble Hill on an amalgam of various of Palladio’s designs. It has the classic fenestration of Palladio’s villas, namely 1-3-1, with a central saloon (or sala) lit by three windows and side rooms lit by one window. One reason for the popularity of Palladio’s villas in the sixteenth century was that they were relatively cheap to build and these considerations might also have applied in England in the eighteenth century as building a country house was a major financial commitment. Economy would have appealed to Henrietta Howard.

The patronage of the Duke of Argyll had been extremely useful to Roger Morris throughout his career and the Duke may have recommended Morris to Henrietta Howard. His brother Lord Islay was in effect Henrietta’s agent when she was building Marble Hill.  The Duke of Argyle also commissioned him to design his houses at Whitton Place, Adderbury and Inveraray and he obtained the office of Master Carpenter to the Office of Ordnance for Morris, which proved to be a very useful perquisite. Morris was also Surveyor of the Mint and these various posts brought him in a sizeable income. Morris showed originality in his architecture and did not just stick to the then fashionable Palladian style. Clearwell Castle and Inveraray Castle are early examples of the Gothic revival style and shows that Morris had a proper understanding of mediaeval gothic architecture.  He died in 1749 and had two sons by his second marriage.

John Moses
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If one goes into the Great Room at Marble Hill, one can see some of the most fascinating paintings at Marble Hill.  This unique set of five fantasy Roman landscapes by Giovanni Paolo Panini, dated 1738, were purchased (or possibly commissioned) by Lady Suffolk for the Great Room.  We know from 1767 inventory, drawn up when Henrietta Howard died, that she owned these five paintings and they were indeed hung in the Great Room there in her lifetime.  The paintings were dispersed when the Cunard family were intending to demolish in 1901 (the house was only saved at the eleventh hour).  Amazingly English Heritage managed to recover these paintings.  With the help of old photographs showing them in situ, two of the canvases, which were purchased by the British Rail Pension Fund in 1974, were identified and placed on long-term loan to Marble Hill.  Ten years later, the overmantel was purchased at auction in New York, and in 1988 the final pair were located in a private collection in the South of France, and were purchased along with the two previously on loan.

The names of these paintings are 1. Landscape with the Colosseum, 2. Landscape with the Arch of Constantine, 3. Landscape with Pantheon,  4. Landscape with the Column of Trajan and 5. Statues in a Ruined Arcade. There are few great houses or even public galleries in England that can say they have five paintings by Panini in their collection.  Capricci are paintings showing a landscape or an imaginary scene with both imaginary and real features as opposed to Vedute which is defined as a topographical landscape painting.  The most obvious examples of Vedute are those by Canaletto, particularly of Venice.

Panini actually had a highly distinguished artistic career and not only as a painter of Vedute and Capricci.  He was born in Piacenza in 1691 in north Italy and trained there.  He studied under Gaspar van Wittel, Giovanni Ghisolfi and Salvator Rosa.  From van Wittel he learnt the minute and almost topographical rendering of townscapes as well as precision in draughtsmanship.  Rosa’s paintings demonstrated how views could be animated with human figures, while Ghisolfi provided models of the Capricci a genre to which Panini contributed many examples of his own. Panini was the first painter to specialise in capriccio views of Rome and it was the evocation of the spirit of the city (as opposed to real views) which created a vogue among British 18th century Grand Tourists wishing to take home a souvenir of Rome.

He had gone to Rome in 1711, but his first commissions were relatively modest.  The first documented commission was for the Villa Patrizi near the Porta Pia (the palace was pulled down in 1911) where he worked between 1719 and 1725 frescoing the vaults, overdoors and windows. However his reputation grew and in 1719 he was nominated to the leading academy of art in Rome, Accademia di S Luca, where he taught perspective drawing.  Every entrant to the Academy had to paint an entrant painting and his was his first oil painting, Alexander visiting the tomb of Achilles.  In 1722 he received an important commission from Pope Innocent XIII: the decoration of the mezzanine apartment in the Palazzo Quirinale.  This commission was particularly prestigious because, at that time the Pope was not only the spiritual head of the Roman Catholic Church (as he is today) but the secular ruler of the Papal States.  A few sections of this painting survive, depicting views of villas and gardens against a background of sky and seen through imitation balustrades.  He now started concentrating on landscape painting.  From 1725 to 1726 he was painting frescoes in the Galleria Nobile and the Galleriola of the Palazzo Alberoni.  He also painted the frescoes in the Villa Montalto Grazioli in Frascati between 1720 and 1730, which is his most complete surviving fresco cycle.

From then on he specialised more and more in painting Vedute and Capricci particularly of Rome, which then made him famous and very popular among tourists specially those doing the Grand Tour.  Many of his paintings were Vedute of the ancient Roman ruins.  He ran his own highly successful workshop and worked for the rest of his life in Rome.  However he did not just paint Vedute and Capricci.  He received a number of major commissions.  In the 1740s he recorded the visit to Rome of the Spanish King Charles III, with two paintings: the Visit of Charles III to St Peter’s (1745) and Charles III received at the Quirinale by Benedict XIV (1746).  In 1745 Panini was also commissioned to paint important portraits such as the portrait of Pope Benedict XIV with Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga.  He was also honoured by becoming a member of the Académie de France in Rome.  His last known work was a painting of the Colosseum, which he painted in 1764, the year before he died.

John Moses
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The Picture Collection in Marble Hill House

    • The architecture of Marble Hill is one of the most important examples of the English Palladian style. However, what is sometimes overlooked is the importance of the Picture Collection. It is an excellent and comprehensive collection of English 18th century painting – the period which is sometimes known as “The Golden Age of English Painting”.  This note covers only a selection of the works.

    • Some of the most interesting works are in the room known as Henrietta Howard’s Bedchamber. There is Richard Wilson’s The Thames Near Marble Hill, Twickenham. The painting is very Italianate. Wilson spent many years in Italy. He is regarded as the father of English landscape painting and greatly influenced both Turner and Constable. In the same room there is a painting by Philip Mercier The Letter Writer. Mercier was one of the artists who introduced the genre known as the conversation piece, to England in the early 18th century. (This type was often used by Watteau.) Another artist, who used this genre, was Hubert Gravelot, whose painting known either as The Reader or the Judicious Lover, is in the lobby on the first floor at Marble Hill. Both Gravelot and Mercier taught art at St. Martin’s Academy, set up by Sir James Thornhill, (the Serjeant Painter to the King) and his son-in-law William Hogarth. This was the first art school in England and Thomas Gainsborough was a pupil there. Another teacher at this school was Francis Hayman whose painting Lady at a Spinning Wheel is also in Henrietta Howard’s Bedchamber. This painting is an important example of the Rococo style being used by an English artist.

    • In the Dressing Room there are two delightful pendants of Abraham Acworth and his wife Margaretta Acworth by Thomas Hudson, probably commissioned to commemorate their marriage. Sir Joshua Reynolds was one of Hudson’s pupils. In the same room there is an early portrait of Henrietta Howard by Charles Jervas. It had been commissioned by Alexander Pope. When Pope died, Henrietta Howard bought the painting and gave it to Horace Walpole. There are a number of interesting portraits by leading English 18th century artists such as Gainsborough, Ramsay, Cotes and Reynolds in the Gallery. Among the European paintings, there are five capricci, all of scenes in Rome, by Giovanni Panini which were originally in this house.
    • The inventory drawn up in 1767, when Henrietta Howard died, refers to five Roman Landscapes in the Great Room. English Heritage have managed to recover them and they are now back in the Great Room. Capricci are real subjects, such as the Pantheon, in an imaginary landscape. Veduti are actual landscapes or townscapes such as Canaletto’s paintings.

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The Chinese Wall Paper in the Dining Parlour

The principal display in this room is the Chinese wall paper, which English Heritage installed in 2006. The original wall paper has now been lost. The room had been remodelled by Matthew Brettingham before installation of the wallpaper. We know from the surviving 18th century letters and accounts, that Henrietta Howard installed Chinese wall paper here in 1750s. In particular there is correspondence between Bromwich, a well-known upholsterer, and her steward, in which Bromwich said that if payment of 42 guineas is not made for this wallpaper, a Mr. Hallett, who had installed the paper, will “sue her Ladyship.”  In the 18th century an upholsterer was responsible for the overall decoration and the closest modern equivalent is the interior designer.

The first Chinese papers appeared in London in the late C17th. The earliest papers to arrive in Europe were the figure subjects, with scenes of daily life and industry in a variety of landscape settings, such as at Bickling Hall, where Henrietta was born. The taste for oriental exotica dates back to the beginning of the C17th when the East India and Dutch East India companies were founded. There was a growing taste for such goods in the latter part of the C17th. However, Europeans made little distinction between what was Chinese, Japanese or Indian. These were used indiscriminately. So the same wallpaper might be described as Indian or Chinese without regard of where it came from. There was additional confusion caused by the fact that the term ‘Japan’ also meant the European method of imitating Chinese lacquer. The name “India” was probably used because the East India Company had the monopoly of the China trade. The degree of confusion is summarised by the comment of the diarist Lady Mary Coke, who said that the Indian Room at Richmond Lodge looks like Japan.

These hand-painted papers, and the home-grown Chinoiserie styles they inspired, sparked a fashion which lasted more than a century. In due course most of the greatest country houses had at least one room decorated with a Chinese paper. The Chinese papers were a novelty in many respects. With their exotic subject matter such as scenes of Chinese life and landscape, or flowering trees populated with birds and butterflies and their rich colours and fine detail, they were quite unlike the wallpapers then available in England. No doubt their rarity made them even more desirable. Chinese wallpaper was costly in comparison to locally manufactured wallpaper, so it tended to be mostly hung in the homes of the upper classes.  However the playfulness and informality about Chinese styles made them popular decorations for the apartments used by women, thus Chinoiserie was seen as essentially feminine.

When English Heritage installed this wall paper, they ensured that the same techniques were used as their predecessors would have done in the 18th century.  English Heritage commissioned the leading expert De Gournay who used local Chinese artists in their studio in China. Paper here is composed of white mulberry paper backed with another layer of mulberry paper. All the painting is done with two brushes, one to hold the paint and the other to hold water. Before hanging the wallpaper, the wall was lined with battens of timber. Superfine unprimed linen was stretched over the battens and linen paper was then pasted to the linen  It was decided to use the bird and flower decoration, which was based on an amalgam of different styles from Chinese wall paper in various English country houses of the early and mid 18th century.

This article is based in part on book by Gill Saunders “Wallpaper in Interior Decoration” and also on notes supplied by Cathy Power of English Heritage.
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Henrietta Howard’s Circle

JOHN GAY (1685-1732)

John Gay, poet and dramatist, was possibly the first of Mrs. Howard’s friends to see the plans for Marble Hill, as she wrote to him in 1723, ‘I beg you will never mention the plan which you found in my room. There is a necessity to keep the whole affair secret, though (I think I may tell you) it is almost entirely finished to my satisfaction’. She kept a portrait of him in her apartment at court. Gay’s early writings were performed in the pubs and coffee houses of London, and he had relatively little luck in achieving recognition until his musical comedy The Beggar’s Opera of 1728. While being popularly entertaining, it made satirical digs at the Whig prime minister Sir Robert Walpole (father of Horace), whose displeasure is thought to have provoked the banning of its sequel Polly.


The Duchess of Queensberry was an eccentric, known not only for her wit and beauty, but also for her friendship with the Augustan circle of poets and writers including Gay, Swift, Congreve, and Pope. She defended John Gay’s The Beggars Opera (1728) and particularly its sequel Polly (1729) against royal censorship for which she and the Duke lost favour at court. They lived at Petersham, on the opposite bank of the Thames to her friend and correspondent Lady Suffolk of Marble Hill. In old age, Catherine insisted on dressing in the style in vogue during her youth, refusing ‘to cut and curl my hair like a sheep’s head, or wear one of their trolloping sacks’.


Mary Lepel was a Woman of the Bedchamber to Princess Caroline at the same time as Henrietta Howard, and the two were close friends. She had many admirers, including Lord Chesterfield and Alexander Pope. Voltaire addressed a copy of verses to her beginning with the lines ‘Hervey, would you know the passion/You have kindled in my breast?’. She married John Hervey in 1720, later Baron Hervey of Ickworth, who enjoyed a prominent political career. Lady Hervey was a correspondent of Horace Walpole in her later years, and in 1762 he dedicated his book Anecdotes of Painting in England to her. A volume of Select Novels, published in London in 1720, which is dedicated to Mary Lepel can be seen in the Gallery at Marble Hill.


Charles Mordaunt, a close friend and ardent admirer of Mrs. Howard, led a colourful and unconventional life. He was an early confidant of William of Orange and accompanied him to England at the Revolution. In reward, he was created Earl of Monmouth, and held various prestigious official posts, but in due course fell out with the king. He was dismissed from office in 1697 and briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London.

He secretly married an opera singer, Anastasia Robinson, but did not acknowledge her publicly until shortly before his death. It is said that upon his death she was so shocked at what his correspondence revealed about his life that she burned all his papers.

ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744)

Pope was the leading poet in the 18th century, becoming renowned for his hugely sucessful translation of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey the large income from which made him financially independent. A Roman Catholic, he was obliged by the then penal laws to live 10 miles outside London, and eventually settled in Twickenham. He lived upstream from Marble Hill in his celebrated villa (demolished 1807).

His satiric wit and Tory sympathies made him enemies, yet he enjoyed good relations with many great men. His expertise in gardening, and development of a more natural style, led many to seek his advice on garden design and to visit and imitate the grotto he erected at his villa.

Pope’s friendship with Henrietta Howard probably dates to about 1717. He became a close friend and admirer of Henrietta Howard when she moved to the neighbourhood, and he advised her on garden design. He was virtually caretaker of the estate during her absences at court, and took advantage of the house to entertain their literary friends, particularly Swift and Gay. Seemingly the two remained friends until about 1738, but the friendship cooled, and there is no record of correspondence between them from 1739.

JONATHAN SWIFT (1667-1745)

Swift, clergyman, poet and satirist was the author of Gulliver’s Travels. An Irish patriot, he also wrote political tracts reflecting his Tory sympathies.

He was briefly a member of Henrietta Howard ‘s circle around the time of Marble Hill’s construction. He divided his time between London and Dublin, where he was Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral from 1713. He and Mrs.Howard maintained a lively and witty correspondence, having been introduced by their mutual friend Alexander Pope. In 1727, George II ascended the throne, and Swift’s bitter disappointment at Mrs. Howard’s failure to gain high positions for himself and John Gay soured their relationship.


The 1st Viscount, was a distinguished soldier appointed Field Marshall in 1742. He became a focus for political opposition to Robert Walpole, prime minister to both George I and George II. Younger Whig politicians, known as ‘Cobham’s Cubs’, gravitated towards him. Among them was the future great prime minister, William Pitt.

He was a close friend of Lady Suffolk, and planned to place a bust portrait of her in his ‘Temple of Friendship’ at his house at Stowe, although this was never executed. This was one of several follies in his garden, designed to symbolise a political message. Like Marble Hill, the magnificent garden at Stowe was largely the work of Charles Bridgeman.

HORACE WALPOLE (1717-1797)

Walpole was a neighbour, and close companion of Lady Suffolk from about 1747, shortly after the death of her beloved second husband. He delighted in her reminiscences of life in the court of George II, where she knew his father, Sir Robert Walpole, the first prime minister. Many of her anecdotes found their way into his Memoirs of the reigns of George II and III, published posthumously. Although a generation apart in age, they were close friends and Walpole was one of the last people to see Lady Suffolk alive, having visited her the evening before she died. He wrote ‘I have lost few people in my life whom I shall miss so much’.

Walpole was a man of letters, who pioneered Gothic architecture and was the author of the first Gothic novel. The Gothic architectural style adopted by him at his home at Strawberry Hill near Twickenham was in direct contrast to the styles derived from classical Rome and Greece which were in fashion. He found an audience for his views and was influential in the field of architecture and interior design. He even persuaded Lady Suffolk to erect a Gothic style chapel (since demolished) as a folly in the park at Marble Hill. It was called the ‘Priory of St Hubert’ (a play on her Hobart family name).
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Births Marriages and Deaths


One of the Society’s members has discovered and verified the true date of Henrietta’s birth, previously thought to be some time in 1688. The Countess was born on 11 May 1689 and baptised at St Martins in the Fields on 20 May 1689. It has also been established that she is buried in the Berkeley family vault in Berkeley Parish Church near her second husband, George Berkeley, 4th son of the 2nd Earl of Berkeley. This was in accordance with her wishes expressed in her will.


The Honourable George Berkeley (after 1680 – 29 October 1746) was a member of Parliament for Dover in 1720 and in the following two parliaments, and for Hedon, Yorkshire in 1734. He was the fourth and youngest son of Charles Berkeley, 2nd Earl of Berkeley and Elizabeth Noel. He attended Westminster School from its foundation in 1708 and Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1711, graduating MA there in 1713.

On 28 May 1723 he received an appointment as master keeper and governor of St Katharine’s Hospital in London, and filled that post until his death. Pro-Walpole at first, Berkeley was alienated from him by his brother Lord Berkeley’s dismissal from the post of First Lord of the Admiralty on the accession of George II, and switched loyalties to Pulteney.

He married Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk on 26 June 1735, as her second husband and nine months after she ceased to be George II’s mistress and – though they had no surviving children – the marriage was far happier than her first. He had probably met her through his sister Lady Elizabeth Germain, a friend of Henrietta, but the reasons for Henrrietta’s choice of second husband were far from clear to court commentators. One of them, Lord Hervey, described him as:

Neither young, handsome, healthy, nor rich, which made people wonder what induced Lady Suffolk’s prudence to deviate into this unaccountable piece of folly: some imagined it was to persuade the world that nothing criminal had ever passed between her and the king, others that it was to pique the king. If this was her reason, she succeeded very ill in her design.

However, in a letter from Elizabeth Germain to Jonathan Swift on 12 July 1735, Elizabeth described Lady Suffolk as:

Indeed four or five years older than [George]; but for all that he has appeared to all the world, as well as to me, to have long had (that is, ever since she has been a widow, so pray do not mistake me) a most violent passion for her, as well as esteem and value for her numberless good qualities.

George Berkeley suffered from gout which got worse during 1746. Henrietta took him to Bath in the hope that the waters would offer him some relief but he died there on 29 October.

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St. Martin’s Academy and the Paintings in Marble Hill

    • There are close connections between a number of the artists, whose paintings are at Marble Hill, and St. Martin’s Academy, England’s first art school.  (The paintings are shown in the Appendix and all the artists, which I mention have paintings in the house apart Thornhill and Chéron).  Sir Godfrey Kneller, who had been principal painter to William and Mary, was the founder of St. Martin’s Academy in 1711 and Marcellus Laroon was one of his assistants there.  Sir James Thornhill, the Serjeant Painter to George I, took over the school from 1716 and ran it until 1720 when it was taken over by two other artists, Chéron and Vanderbank, who moved the School to St. Martin’s Lane and thus giving the school its present name.  They ran it until 1724, but Vanderbank’s success was undermined by his profligacy, as he kept a coach and horses and a country house for his mistress.   He fled to France to avoid arrest for debt in 1724, but returned in 1729 and was arrested and placed in the Fleet, the debtor’s prison.
    • Hogarth revived the school after Thornhill’s death in 1734 and ran it until his own death in 1764.  He had married Thornhill’s daughter Jane in 1729. From 1734, Gravelot, Hogarth, Hayman and the sculptor Roubiliac were the principal teachers there.  St. Martins Academy gave the opportunity to artists to draw from the life and each paid an annual subscription of a guinea.  The French influences on Hogarth and Hayman and also the employment of expatriate French artists resulted in the Academy being the centre of the very light and informal Rococo style in English art.  This style had probably been introduced by Philip Mercier (c. 1689-1760), who came to England in 1716 and who initially lived in Leicester Fields near St. Martin’s Lane.  There is no direct evidence that he taught at St. Martin’s Academy, but he is likely to have known the teachers there.  Mercier had also probably introduced the genre known as The Conversation Piece, a style, which had been developed by Watteau, who was a friend of his.  Mercier’s painting

The Letter Writer

    • , at Marble Hill, is an important example of this genre.  The Conversation Piece became a very popular form of the group portrait in the first half of the 18th Century.  An even more important example of this genre is Gravelot’s painting

le lecteur

    • also at Marble Hill.  This is one of only two paintings by Gravelot in England, but he was an engraver by trade.  Thomas Gainsborough studied at St. Martin’s Academy and more importantly was apprenticed to Gravelot to learn the trade of engraving, which was considered a safer trade than painting.  It was probably from Gravelot that Gainsborough learnt to be such a brilliant draughtsman. However, Gravelot had also been a pupil of the great Rococo painter, François Boucher.   In spite of its foreign origins, Rococo, with its light fresh and witty style, was a stimulus to the development of the modern style of English painting promoted by Hogarth and others both at St. Martins Academy and in their own paintings.  The tuition was in the evening and it probably did not offer very rigorous training, but it gave the opportunity to artists like Gainsborough an opportunity to meet important contemporary artists working in London.
    • The teachers at St. Martin’s Academy were also involved in the decoration of the famous pleasure grounds at Vauxhall and the commission may have been obtained because Hogarth knew the proprietor, Jonathan Tyres.  Gravelot designed the supper tickets.  One of the teachers, Francis Hayman, was involved in painting pastoral scenes to decorate the supper boxes, with designs like his

May Day

    • or

The Milkman’s Garland

    • .  Zoffany who became a pupil at the school towards the end of the school’s life, painted a life drawing class there and the painting is now in the Royal Academy. Although St. Martin’s Academy closed in 1764, four years later the Royal Academy schools were opened and the school is still there today.

John Moses


1. Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723): The Earl of Peterborough

Charles Mordaunt (1658–1735), 3rd Earl of Peterborough and 1st Earl of Monmouth
by Godfrey Kneller
Date painted: 1675–1700
Oil on canvas, 76 x 63.5 cm
Marble Hill House: The Dressing Room

2. Marcellus Laroon (1679-1772): Lady and Gentleman with a Page

Lady and Gentleman with a Page
by Marcellus Laroon II
Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 73 x 62 cm
Marble Hill House: The Lobby

3. Hubert-François Gravelot (1699-1773): Le lecteur or (The Judicious Lover)

Le lecteur
by Hubert François Bourguignon Gravelot
Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 30.5 x 23.5 cm
Marble Hill House: The Lobby

4. John Vanderbank (1694-1739): The Countess of Northampton 

Elizabeth Compton (1694–1741), Countess of Northampton
by John Vanderbank
Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 239 x 141 cm
Marble Hill House: The Great Room

5. John Vanderbank: Don Quixote Washing his Beard

Don Quixote Washing His Beard
by John Vanderbank
Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 39.4 x 35 cm
Marble Hill House: The Breakfast Parlour

6. John Vanderbank: Don Quixote and the Damsel on a Bier

Don Quixote and the Damsel on a Bier
by John Vanderbank
Date painted: 1739
Oil on canvas, 39.4 x 35 cm
Marble Hill House: the Breakfast Parlour

7. William Hogarth (1697-1764): Sir Robert Pye 

Sir Robert Pye (c.1696–1734), Bt
by William Hogarth
Oil on canvas, 42.9 x 33.7 cm
Marble Hill House: the Dressing Room

8. Francis Hayman (c. 1707-1776): John Conyers

John Conyers (1717–1775)
by Francis Hayman
Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 52 x 44.5 cm
Marble Hill House: The Countess of Suffolk’s Bedchamber

9. Francis Hayman: Girl at a Spinning Wheel 

Girl at a Spinning Wheel
by Francis Hayman
Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 88 x 74 cm
Marble Hill House: The Countess of Suffolk’s Bedchamber

10. Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788): Rev. Joseph Amphlett
[Image not currently available]

11. Philip Mercier (1691-1760): The Letter Writer 

The Letter Writer
by Philippe Mercier
Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 121 x 96 cm
Marble Hill House: Miss Hotham’s Bedchamber

12. Philip Mercier: Mrs. Lowther 
[Image not currently available]

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While we rightly connect this house to Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, Marble Hill was owned and occupied by General Peel from 1826 until his death in 1879 and by his widow until her death in 1887.  This was a longer period than when Henrietta lived here. Jonathan Peel was a politician and soldier and the fourth son of a very successful cotton manufacturer, Sir Robert Peel, the first baronet.  His elder brother, who succeeded to the baronetcy as the second Baronet and who was also known as Sir Robert Peel, was famous as the Home Secretary who founded the Metropolitan Police and as Prime Minister for repealing the Corn Laws in 1846.

General Peel was born at Chamber Hall, near Bury, Lancashire, on 12 October 1799.  He had received only his commission on 15 June 1815, three days before the battle of Waterloo, so he never saw any military action.  He was a major in the Grenadier Guards when he bought Marble Hill in 1825, having reached this rank in 1822* and he then progressed through the ranks becoming a major-general in 1854 and a lieutenant-general in 1859, when aged 60, retiring in 1863**, a much older age than even a general officer would be able to serve today.  The War Office refused to let him serve in the Crimea as they said he was too old.  This is actually surprising as the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Raglan was aged 66 and Peel was aged 55.  However, Peel was probably fortunate not to serve in the Crimea, as initially the campaign was a disaster for the British army.

In 1824 Peel had married Lady Alicia Jane, the youngest daughter of the first Marquess of Ailsa. They had five sons and three daughters.  He was able to pursue a political career alongside his military career and in 1826 he became one of the members for Norwich, representing as a Tory MP. The party only called itself the Conservative Party after 1835, a title chosen by his brother in the Tamworth manifesto.  In 1831 Jonathan Peel became MP for Huntingdon, which he represented until his retirement from parliamentary life in 1868.  Peel became Surveyor-General during his brother’s second administration, in 1841–46 and Secretary of State for War in Lord Derby’s short-lived second administration in 1858 and again held this post of Secretary of State for War in Derby’s third administration from 1866 to 1867, but he resigned from office in 1867, because he was not prepared to support Disraeli’s Reform Bill, which was passed that year, which more than doubled the franchise.

However, Jonathan Peel’s real interest was racing. He built new stables in Marble Hill Park, where the cafe is today.  His first major success was in 1832, when his horse Archibald won the Two Thousand Guineas.  In 1844 his horse Orlando won the Derby.  It was a sensational race, because a horse called Running Rein actually came in first and Orlando second, but after Peel’s appeal, this horse was disqualified as being a four-year-old, and the race was awarded to Orlando.  In 1851 Peel sold his stud for 12,000 guineas, but resumed his racing connection in 1869 after buying a string of horses from the estate of the Earl of Glasgow.

According to the 1841 census, Peel, his wife and children, lived in Marble Hill with sixteen servants. It must have been a bit of a squash, if they all lived in, even with the east wing, which was demolished in 1909.  In the 1861 census, the gardener and his family are shown to be living in the lodge and the coachman and his family in the stables.  In the course of Peel’s ownership, he consolidated the Marble Hill estate, including purchasing the land on which Little Marble Hill stood on the east side of the park, in 1876.  Little Marble Hill had been demolished shortly beforehand.  Peel died at Marble Hill on 13 February 1879.

*   According to the DNB he was already a major when he bought Marble Hill, but according to Wikipedia he was still a captain.

** According to the DNB he retired from the army in 1863, but according Marie Draper in Marble Hill, he left the army in 1868.

John Moses, Chairman

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ROBERT MORRIS (1703-1754)

Roger Morris and Lord Herbert (later 9th Earl of Pembroke) were the architects of Marble Hill House.  It has been generally accepted that Roger Morris received help and advice from one of the leading Palladian architects Colen Campbell. In Campbell’s third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus, there is an illustration of a house in Twittenham, which is almost certainly Marble Hill.  Did Campbell do the initial designs for Marble Hill and then pass on this commission to Lord Herbert and Roger Morris as he was too busy with other commissions?  The three volumes of Vitruvius Britannicus were published by Campbell to promote himself as an architect, but in the text Campbell did not make any claim that he was in any way involved in the design of this house at Twittenham.  I propose to suggest that Roger Morris would have more likely turned to his cousin, Robert Morris for help.

Robert Morris was born in Twickenham and he appeared to have designed at least one house, Culverthorpe Hall, Lincolnshire, but he worked mostly as a surveyor.  By 1740 he was living near Grosvenor Square, which suggests that he was by then reasonably prosperous.  Sir Howard Colvin (A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840) described Robert Morris as probably the most important architectural theoretician of the Palladian period. Robert Morris wrote a number of books on architecture and design.  His most important works were An Essay in Defence of Ancient Architecture, published in 1728 and Lectures on Architecture, published in 1734.  The first book was an attack on the Baroque and promoted the ideal of Classical simplicity, which was very much in tune with what the Palladian architects such as Lord Burlington were promoting.  In Lectures on Architecture he argued that the design of any building was based on seven ideal geometric proportions.  James Lees-Milne (the Earls of Creation) said that the proportions which Robert Morris recommended, were carried out to the letter at Marble House. The second part of the Lectures on Architecture are dedicated to Roger Morris.  We know from a satirical poem by Jonathan Swift, written the year the book was published, that the Marble Hill was far from built in 1727, when he wrote of Marble Hill:

My house was built but for show
My lady’s empty pocket know;
And now she will not have a shilling
To raise the stairs, or build the ceiling

Robert Morris showed a picture (below) in his book, in Defence of Ancient Architecture, of an Ideal House and the book was written just a year later and probably a year before Marble Hill itself was completed and this design, as one can see, is actually very similar to Marble Hill, when it was actually completed.  This, together with the other evidence would suggest, in my view, that Robert may well have been closely involved with the building of this house.

John Moses

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Pictures in Marble Hill House: The Conversation Piece

Two of the most important paintings at Marble Hill are those by Philip Mercier (1691-1760): The Letter Writer and by Hubert-François Gravelot (1699-1773): le lecteur or The Judicious lover and they are both important examples of a style known as the Conversation Piece. There are in fact only two paintings by Gravelot in this country, including Marble Hill House.

Mercier and his family were Hugenots and had settled in Hanover, to avoid religious persecution in France. However, Mercier later visited Paris and his style was much influenced by Watteau. On returning to Hanover, Frederick Prince of Wales, the son of George II, became his patron and took Mercier to London, where he joined Frederick’s household. He subsequently fell out of favour with the Prince, but did not suffer financially, because when he died in 1773, he left a very substantial fortune. He spent most of the rest of his life in England.

Gravelot was a French painter, engraver, and illustrator and had an important influence on English painting. He studied in Paris, under Boucher, and already had established himself as a well-known illustrator before going to London in 1732. The Oxford Dictionary of Art says: “His delicate, elegant drawings, in a Rococo tradition derived from Watteau, were highly influential on his English contemporaries including Hogarth, Highmore, and Hayman.” He worked with Hogarth as a teacher at the St Martin’s Lane Academy, which Hogarth had re-established in 1734 and where Gravelot taught drawing.  Gainsborough was one of his pupils and Francis Hayman was also teacher there. Gravelot and Hayman worked on the designs at Vauxhall Gardens. Gravelot designed the tickets and Hayman decorated the supper boxes. Gravelot became a popular designer and engraver and his works included illustrating Gay’s Fables (1738), Shakespeare (1740), and working again with Hayman, Richardson’s novel Pamela (1742). Gravelot returned to Paris in 1746, but continued to work for English clients.

Both Mercier and Gravelot were, in part, responsible for introducing the style known as the Conversation Piece, which developed into the portrait form known as the Conversation Portrait.  The Conversation Piece had been popular in the Netherlands in the 17th century and was developed by Watteau in his fête galante paintings, a number of which are in the Wallace Collection.  However, William Vaughan (British Painting: the Golden Age) says “the  style known as Conversation Portrait was fashioned by Flemish and French emigré painters in London, in particularly, Philip Mercier and says that the typical picture shows an elegant social gathering”. Mercier’s The Music Party; Frederick and his Sisters at Kew 1733 is a good example. The original is in the National Portrait Gallery and there is a copy in the Museum of Richmond. Neither of these two paintings here are “Conversation Portraits.”

John Moses

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Pictures in Marble Hill House: English Portraiture in the 18th century

There were a number of English portrait painters in the 17th century such as William Dobson, but portraiture in England was dominated by artists from the continent such as Van Dyck, Lely and Kneller. In the 18th century, an important school of English portrait painters developed, which by 1750s dominated this market. It is difficult to ascertain why this development happened.  Although it may have been partly  due to the first two Georges’ lack of interest in commissioning portraits, in the 18th century the court ceased to be the major centre of patronage.  The aristocracy and gentry were growing richer and there was also a large and increasing mercantile class and many of them wished to have their portrait painted and both the landed classes and the mercantile class were quite happy to be painted by British Portrait painters.  There were also a number of gifted English portrait painters such as Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough.  Most of the leading English portrait painters of this period are represented at Marble Hill.

One of the earliest of English 18th century portrait painters was Charles Jervas (c, 1675-1739), whose painting of Henrietta Howard [1] is in the Dressing Room.  He studied under Kneller and succeeded him as the principal painter to the future George II in 1723 and it was possibly because of Henrietta’s connection with George II that Jervas painted her portrait.  Alexander Pope commissioned this portrait and one of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu [2]  (which is not in the house) , as pendants.  There is a portrait of George II [3] by a less well-known artist, Charles Phillips (1708-1747), in the gallery c. 1738.  This was probably a memorial painting to Queen Caroline, who died in 1737, as it depicted George II standing by her library in St. James’s Palace.

From the mid 18th century portraiture was dominated by what is known as the Grand Portrait and based on the portraiture of Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), famous for his portraits of Charles I and his courtiers which suggest both natural grace and authority.  There are two copies of portraits by Van Dyck in the Great Room at Marble Hill, one of Charles I [4], which actually only shows part of the original  painting, which also portrays his Queen, Henrietta Maria.  The second is of Henrietta Maria with her dwarf Sir Jeffrey Hudson [5].  (The first is in the Royal Collection and the second is in the National Gallery of Washington.)  Both Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) and Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) were particularly influenced by Van Dyck and based their style on the Grand Portrait. Reynolds founded the Royal Academy in 1768 and was its first President. In Marble Hill there are three paintings by Reynolds.  One is in Miss Hotham’s Bedchamber, which is of Lady Diana Beauclerk (c. 1763) [6] who in her later years lived at Little Marble Hill, which was demolished in the 19th century.  The other two are in the Gallery, one is of Lady Juliana Penn (1729-1801) c. 1767 [7].  She was married to Thomas Penn (1702-1775) who was the son of William Penn the founder of Pennsylvania.  Secondly there is a relatively early painting of an Unknown Man (c. 1748) [8], which lacks the grand style which Reynolds is generally known for.  In the Gallery, there is also a portrait of the Rev. Joseph Amphlett c. 1758, by Gainsborough [9].  The portrait was almost certainly painted when Gainsborough was relatively unknown, just before leaving Suffolk for Bath in 1759, where his career took off and his success enabled him to set up his studio in Pall Mall in 1774 as one of the country’s leading portrait painters

In the Dressing Room, there are beautiful pendant portraits of Abraham Ackworth [10] and Margaretta Ackworth [11] by Thomas Hudson (1701-1779) dated 1745, which are almost certainly painted at the time of their marriage.  Hudson is not so well-known today, but was famous in his own day and Reynolds was briefly apprenticed to him.  William Hogarth (1697-1765) is represented by a modest painting of the Rev. Sir Robert Pye (c. 1731) [12], which is also in the Dressing Room.  Hogarth is of course very well-known for his portraits and series of “moral” paintings  and also for running St. Martin’s Academy, our first art school, from 1734 until his death in 1765, which played a major part in developing the Rococo style in England. In the Gallery there is also a painting by Allan Ramsay (1713-1784) of Admiral Bridge c. 1747 [13].  Ramsay came from Scotland but worked primarily in London and was appointed painter-in-ordinary to George III and painted his famous coronation portrait.

John Moses


1. Charles Jervas (c.1675-1739) : Henrietta Howard

Date painted: 1724
Oil on canvas, 97.2 x 117 cm
Dressing Room, Marble Hill House

2. Charles Jervas (c. 1675-1739) : Lady Mary Wortley Montagu 

Not in Marble Hill House
Oil on Canvas, 75.5 x 63 cm
Collection: Chawton House Library

3. Charles Phillips (1708-1747) : George II (1683–1760) in the Library of St James’s Palace

Date painted: c. 1738
Oil on canvas, 112 x 86 cm
Gallery, Marble Hill House

4. Anthony van Dyck : Charles I (1600–1649) and Prince Charles (1630–1685) 

Date painted: 1632 – copy of original which is in the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle
Oil on canvas, 233.5 x 147 cm
Great Room, Marble Hill House

5. Anthony van Dyck : Henrietta Maria (1609–1669) with her Dwarf, Sir Geoffrey Hudson

Date painted: 1633 – copy of original which is the National Gallery of Art, Washington
Oil on canvas, 236 x 143.5 cm
Great Room, Marble Hill House

6. Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792):���  Lady Diana Beauclerk (1734-1808)

Date painted: 1763–1765
Oil on canvas, 127 x 101.6 cm
Miss Hotham’s Bedchamber, Marble Hill House

7. Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792): Lady Juliana Penn c. 1767 
[Image not currently available]

8. Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792): Portrait of a Gentleman (c. 1748)

Date painted: 1748
Oil on canvas, 76 x 63.5 cm
Gallery, Marble Hill House

9.  Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788):  Rev. Joseph Amphlett (c. 1758)
[Image not currently available]

10.  Thomas Hudson (1701-1779):  Abraham Ackworth (1719–1781)

Date painted: c.1745
Oil on canvas, 127 x 101.6 cm
Dressing Room, Marble Hill House

11. Thomas Hudson (1701-1779):  Margaretta Mabella Ackworth  (1727–1794)

Date painted: 1725–1750
Oil on canvas, 127 x 101.6 cm
Dressing Room, Marble Hill House

12.  William Hogarth (1697-1765):  Sir Robert Pye Bt (c. 1696-1734)

Date painted: c1731
Oil on canvas, 42.9 x 33.7 cm
Dressing Room, Marble Hill House

13.  Allan Ramsay (1713-1784):   Admiral Bridge (c. 1747)

Date painted c1747
Oil on Canvas, 72.5 x 60.5 cm
Gallery, Marble Hill House

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Notes on the Servants at Marble Hill House

Whilst sparse, the records and correspondence give us some information on the servants in the house.  They are mentioned in letters, and in wills. The following notes are by Bruce Gordon-Smith, an MHS guide.

Susan (housekeeper) / Susanna Graydon (housekeeper)
The earliest reference to a servant is in a teasing letter written to Henrietta by Alexander Pope, the poet.  Pope describes to Henrietta a visit, made in her absence, by him and his friends to the partially completed Marble Hill House.  The date is June 20th 1726.

We cannot omit taking this occasion to congratulate you on the increase of your family, for your cow is very happily delivered of the better sort, I mean a female calf.  We have given her the name of Caesar’s wife Calpurnia. This Roman lady was suckled by a cow from whence she took that name.  In order to celebrate this birthday, we had a cold dinner at Marble Hill.  Mrs Susan offered us wine upon the occasion – we could not refuse it.  Our entertainment consisted of flesh and fish and the lettuce of a Greek island called Cos.  We have some thoughts of dining there tomorrow, to celebrate the day after the birthday and on Friday to celebrate the day after that, where we intend to entertain Dean Swift”.

Mrs Susan is clearly the housekeeper or maybe the cook – or both. The question arises whether this Susan is the same person as the housekeeper Susanna Graydon, given a bequest in the 1758 Will.

Miss Beddingfield (companion)
The next example shows Henrietta showing a very keen interest in the welfare of her niece Dorothy Hobart.  Following the death of Henrietta’s sister in law, Dorothy was sent to live at Marble Hill.  The year is 1741, the month April and George Berkeley exchanged letters with his wife about a distant relative Miss Beddingfield who was acting as companion or governess to Dorothy.

On April 4th Henrietta writes:

“Miss Beddingfield was much ruffled this morning (by Dorothy). You remember that the night before you went I was under great apprehensions that her little companion would engage her in an affair very improper for her. But I do think it is now perfectly well settled without her knowing anything of it.” 

What this was all about we do not know but on April 21, George adds his comments:

“I was always apprehensive that Dorothy might learn ill tricks from Mrs Beddingfield and keeping such constant company with that paralytic woman might in time shake herself, if you did not prevent that bad habit.” 

The problem was clearly sorted out – for the moment.

John Finch (valet)
George Berkeley had his own personal valet John Finch. Henrietta must have regarded him with affection because he was given £10 quarterly for life – or £40 a year – in her 1758 Will.  This will received probate in 1767/8 so he did receive this money if he was still alive.

Mr Russell (Butler)
No Information

Mr Burrows (Steward) 
Mr Burrows was living in a property on the estate until 1768/69.  He may have been the Steward to Henrietta since it would be unusual for a servant of lesser rank to be allowed to live in a farmhouse on the estate with six acres of land attached. The land was formally leased out in 1769.  Marie Draper states that he worked for Henrietta Howard in her book “Marble Hill House and its owners” (GLC 1970, chapter 8 – page

Elizabeth Richards (Lady’s maid)
Elizabeth Richards, the lady’s maid, faithfully cared for Henrietta during her last years of illness.  Henrietta held Elizabeth in such high regard that she gave her a legacy of £100 in the 1765 Will. This was a huge amount to give a servant for the time. However it appears she may not have received it as probate was granted on the earlier 1758 will. The list of furniture in the 1767 inventory for the large servant garret on the second floor far exceeded the sparse furniture provided for the other garret bedrooms. Mrs Elizabeth Richards is the most likely occupant of this room, and the furnishings reflect Henrietta’s high regard for Elizabeth.

Thomas Hurd (Footman to Henrietta)
Thomas Hurd, was given £6 annually for life in the 1758 will.

Other Staff
Junior roles were housemaid, kitchen maid, scullery maid and footman. Outside servants were coachman and gardener.  We know the names of the three maids Miss Betty, Miss Mary and Miss Dolly but we are not told which positions they occupied.

Moody the Gardener
Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope thought that Henrietta’s gardener, Moody, passed too much time spending his wages tippling in the Dog and Partridge.  Swift commemorated him in poetry, adopting the persona of Marble Hill House complaining about not having its lawns brushed enough:

Him [Alexander Pope] twice a-week I here expect,
To rattle Moody for neglect;
An idle rogue, who spends his quartridge
In tippling at the Dog and Partridge;
And I can hardly get him down
Three times a-week to brush my gown.

Personal Page Boy
William Pyne’s The History of the Royal Residences (1816–1819) suggests that Henrietta Howard’s page is depicted by William Kent clinging to the outside of the balustrade in Kent’s Kensington Palace staircase fresco of royal servants.

Henrietta’s Dog Fop
Lucy Worsley, Historic Royal Places curator, has suggested the small dog which can just be seen peering through the next balustrade might even be Henrietta’s dog, Fop.

Henrietta Hotham’s maid
Henrietta Hotham great niece lived with Henrietta until the age of about fourteen and appears to have had a maid to look after her with whom she had a good relationship.  This is evidenced by Walpole’s account of a New Year’s Day party in 1764. Having received a ring as a present she rushed off to show her maid.

Henrietta’s Staff after 1760
On the accession of George the Third in 1760, Henrietta lost her valuable royal pension of £2000 per annum.  Consequently she would have had been forced to rely on fewer servants as her financial position deteriorated.  Caroline Pegum of English Heritage puts the number of servants during the 1760’s at no more than a dozen including part time staff.  Senior servants were steward / butler/ housekeeper/ cook/ lady’s maid.  It is possible that housekeeper and cook roles were combined at this time.

Correspondence between Henrietta and Lord  Chesterfield
Lord Chesterfield and Henrietta, assisted by Horace Walpole, engaged in a satirical correspondence whereby Henrietta and Lord Chesterfield adopted the persona of their servants.  Betty, Henrietta’s maid, is made to sound Irish, supposedly writing to Lord Chesterfield’s footman:

“Blessid fathers, I never writ to a man in my days but our farmer and he can’t read.  But I knows he gets the Doctur to read it to him so that’s no sin you know. Well, well.  God’s will and my Lady’s be done. We poor folks must do as we are bid and if grate folks makes us do ill, they are ansurable for it.  I have bought me a negligee and a few odd things that I wants.  And my lady is pure well, only she coffs a little now and then all day long.  She is as good a lady as ever trod in shoolether !!!”

Helpfully, Lord Chesterfield, in the persona of his footman, Thomas Allen, explains that servants called Mr, Mrs, or Miss with a surname denotes seniority and those similarly with just a Christian name are of lower status.  From this and other sources we can establish that Mr Burrows was the Steward, Mr Russell was the Butler and Elizabeth Richards was the Lady’s maid.  Maids of lower status were called Miss Betty, Miss Mary and Miss Dolly.

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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

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Thomas Hudson

    • In Marble Hill in the Dressing Room there are two outstanding portraits by one of the leading portrait painters of the day, Thomas Hudson (c. 1701-1779).  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

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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

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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

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The Northey Suite

    • The Northey Suite is a carved mahogany settee and set of seven side chairs.  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 18th 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 17th century or early 18th 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 then 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’.


Dr Esmé Whittaker

    • (Curator, Collections and Interiors/London & South East, English Heritage)

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Uncovering the lost landscape of Marble Hill

    • With the preparation of a Landscape Conservation Management Plan, the true significance of Marble Hill’s now mainly lost landscape began to be to understood.
    • 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 16th 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.

© Emily Parker

    • (Landscape Advisor at English Heritage)

English Arcadia

Summerson described Bramante’s Tempietto in Rome, built in about 1502, as a perfect piece of architectural prose – a statement clear as a bell. This description might apply equally to Marble Hill House by the Thames at Twickenham. It is rightly regarded as the paradigm of the English Palladian villa.

Although the architecture of the house was based on Palladio’s designs, it is not really possible to say which of Palladio’s villas were copied; it is more likely that the architects based Marble Hill on an amalgam of various of his designs. It has the classic fenestration of Palladio’s villas, namely 1-3-1, with a central saloon (or sala) lit by three windows and side rooms lit by one window. According to Lees-Milne, Palladio’s cubic proportions can be found in the elevations and apartments of Marble Hill, right down to the proportion of windows and chimneypieces. The Great Room is indeed a cube (24’ x 24’ x 24’), the rooms on either side are double cubes and the two rooms behind them are single cubes. At the same time, all the windows are 40” wide and all the spaces between the windows laterally and vertically are 40”, 60”, 80” or 120”, giving a design of perfectly controlled symmetry that is expressly based on a Roman Temple front.

There are deviations: although the hall on the ground floor is clearly based on the Roman atrium, in Italy the atrium was open to the sky. And whereas in Italy there would have been an open loggia, the inhospitable English climate ruled this out at Marble Hill.

These amendments might be taken to be in the spirit of Palladio. While in general terms he sought to base his designs on the antique, he was also designing a modern villa to meet the practical needs of his patrons – in particular, the villas were designed to be working farmhouses. So too at Marble Hill: while the design was based on Palladio, the function of the rooms fitted English and French usage. For example, the gallery on the second floor was a frequent feature of English sixteenth and seventeenth century houses. (The second floor in Palladio’s villas was used as a granary). The fireplace in the Great Room may have been taken from a design by Frenchman, Le Barbet, whose designs were regularly used by Inigo Jones. Above all else, the English Palladian style was not just a duplication of Palladio’s designs but an adaptation of these designs to the needs of the English patron and the English climate.

One reason for the popularity of Palladio’s villas in the sixteenth century was that they were cheap to build, both because of their compact design and the relatively cheap materials, namely stuccoed brick rather than stone. Banal considerations like this also applied in England in the eighteenth century: building a country house was a major financial commitment and, in crude terms, Palladian was cheaper than Baroque. Economy might have appealed to Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, for whom Marble Hill was built between 1724 and 1729. It is small for a country house, more like a villa, and although a villa is usually a secondary home Marble Hill was Henrietta’s principal residence for most of the time that she occupied it.

So who designed Marble Hill? The answer is almost certainly Henry Lord Herbert, later 9th Earl of Pembroke, and Roger Morris. There is no written evidence of Lord Herbert’s involvement, but Horace Walpole, who knew Henrietta well, tells us that she credited him with the design. Roger Morris is regarded as co-architect, rather than just the master builder, for circumstantial reasons: there is a drawing of Marble Hill at Wilton, very similar in style to another unrelated drawing signed by Roger Morris; and his cousin Robert Morris, a leading Palladian theoretician, discussed the ideal Palladian house in his Lectures on Architecture (1734) and acknowledged Roger Morris’ help in the introduction.

Another question is the extent of the influence of Colen Campbell in designing Marble Hill. He was architect to George Prince of Wales and Henrietta was the Prince’s mistress, with the Prince in effect financing the building. Marie Draper suggested in Marble Hill and its Owners (GLC 1970) that the drawing at Wilton of Marble Hill, probably by Roger Morris, was done with Campbell’s help, but this is unsupported conjecture. The illustration of a house at ‘Twittenham’ in Campbell’s third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus is almost certainly Marble Hill, although there are differences between this design and the house as built (in particular, Campbell’s design had a perron but Marble Hill does not) and more significantly Campbell does not name himself (or anyone else) as the architect. Campbell was never slow to promote himself and inscribed Campbell Architectus on all the buildings we know he designed.

One of these was Pembroke House at Whitehall, built shortly before Marble Hill and very similar in style. It was built for Lord Herbert, and Steven Brindle has convincingly argued that both Lord Herbert and Roger Morris were involved. If that is so, both would have had experience in building a Palladian villa similar to Marble Hill and would also have had the opportunity to work together.

Taking all this into account, it is unlikely, in my view, that Colen Campbell had any direct influence on the design of Marble Hill. More probably, Lord Herbert gave him the design of Marble Hill so that he could publish it in Vitruvius Britannicus.

The Georgian, November 2008

© John Moses


The Builders of Marble Hill

If the Cunard family had had their way, you would not be sitting here as this house would have been demolished in 1901 and the park would have been filled with rows of semi-detached houses.  In 1888 the Cunard family had bought this estate with the express intention of developing it. The ‘crunch’ came in July 1901.  On 4th July a journalist on The Saturday Review, wrote:

“I was knocked out of sleep this morning by the crash of a tree felled on the grounds of Marble Hill.  Down went, while we are discussing their preservation, another of those green cathedrals that it has taken near two hundred years to build.  The roads and drainage are being rapidly completed,the ground is plotted for villas, and the builders have not the slightest intention of waiting on the leisure of Town and County Councils.”

Fortunately, Marble Hill was saved as part of the well-orchestrated campaign to save the view from Richmond Hill, which included Marble Hill Park. At the end of July 1901, a number of local authorities together with some local charities and individuals agreed jointly to purchase the Marble Hill estate for £72,000.  On 1st August 1902, the estate was formally conveyed to the London County Council, the principal contributor and the park was opened to the public on 30th May 1903.  Although Marble Hill was not saved for its architectural importance, it is actually one of
the most important examples of the English Palladian style, which dominated English architecture from about 1720 to 1760.  The style took its name from an architect called Andrea Palladio who was born in Padua in 1508 and worked primarily in Vicenza and Venice and died in 1580.

As most of you know Marble Hill was built for Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk and the architects were Lord Herbert, later the 9th Earl of Pembroke and Roger Morris.  I propose to consider six points:

  1. What do we mean by the English Palladian Style?
  2. Who commissioned Marble Hill?
  3. Who were the architects of Marble Hill?
  4. The building of Marble Hill including the type of craftsmen working there and the materials used.
  5. Was Colen Campbell was involved in the building of Marble Hill?
  6. Why we have developed an entirely different style in England from the dominant style in continental Europe?

1. What do we mean by the English Palladian Style?

The term Palladian is very obviously derived from the name of the architect Andrea Palladio who lived from 1508 to 1580.  Sir John Summerson said that the English Palladian style had three characteristics, which I propose to adopt here.

a. Loyalty to Vitruvius
b. Loyalty to Palladio
c. Loyalty to Inigo Jones

Vitruvius was a Roman who had lived in the first century BC and had written a treatise called the Ten Books of Architecture in about 25 BC, which is the only complete ancient classical treatise on architecture to survive.  The influence of the chance survival of this treatise can not be underestimated.  Vitruvius strongly emphasised the importance of symmetry in his treatise and was relied upon by most Italian Renaissance architects, particularly Palladio.

Palladio himself had far greater influence on the development on English architecture than any other Italian Renaissance architect.  He had been actually christened Andrea di Pietra Gondola and had been apprenticed to a stone carver.  He broke his contract of apprenticeship and went to Vicenza where he came into contact with a Vicentine nobleman called Trissino, who took him under his wing and gave him the name ‘Palladio’.  He accompanied Trissino to Rome in 1541.  Palladio himself made four journeys to Rome and even wrote a guidebook on the antiquities of Rome in 1556.  It was probably because of his knowledge of antique architecture that Palladio was invited by the distinguished Venetian humanist Daniele Barbaro to do the woodcut illustrations for his Italian translation of Vitruvius.  There is a portrait of Daniele Barbaro by Veronese, on loan to the National Gallery London, showing Barbaro holding a copy of his translation of Vitruvius with woodcuts by Palladio.

Palladio’s architectural practice covered public buildings, town palaces, villas, bridges and churches.  One of his last commissions was to design a theatre at Vicenza – the Teatro Olimpico.  His influence abroad did not come primarily through his buildings, but through a treatise called The Four Books of Architecture, written in 1570, in which Palladio made very extensive reference to Vitruvius.  The Four Books of Architecture are often known by their Italian name I Quattri Libri.  The First Book covered the five classical orders and the building requirements for both private and public buildings.  However, Book Two was probably the most influential as far as the English Palladian architects were concerned, as Palladio set out details of each of those buildings which he was actually commissioned to build, giving the names of the patrons who had instructed him. Not all were actually executed.  The Third Book concentrated on public buildings including bridges and roads and Book Four, which was by far the largest, illustrated a number of antique Roman buildings.

It was Inigo Jones (1573-1652) who brought the Italian Renaissance architecture to England in its pure unadulterated form.  He had spent a year in Rome in 1614, returning in 1615.  In the same year he became the Surveyor of the King’s Works.  Probably his two most famous works were the Banqueting House at Whitehall and the Queen’s House in Greenwich.  Although Jones used Renaissance Roman Palace designs in building the Banqueting House, there are a number of important borrowings from Palladio such as the use of the cube.  Furthermore, the interiors of both the Banqueting House and the Queen’s House use the cube and sub-divisions of the cube based on Palladio.  Jones had obtained a copy of I Quattri Libri when in Rome, which he had carefully annotated and this copy is now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.  Jones also designed the South
Front of Wilton House, which was Lord Herbert’s country seat.

The Palladian style was revived as a national style in about 1715 and I shall be discussing how this came about at the end of the lecture.   In 1715, a Scottish architect Colen Campbell (1676-1729) published the first of three volumes of Vitruvius Britannicus.  The other two volumes were published in 1717 and 1725 respectively.  In 1715, Dubois and Leoni translated into English for the first time a complete  I Quattri Libri, thus making Palladio’s designs more easily available to the English patron.  Most leading Whigs such as Lord Burlington were subscribers to both Vitruvius Britannicus and the English translation of the I Quattri Libri and this was a very important factor in promoting this style.  Campbell in his first book of Vitruvius Britannicus was really as much promoting the architecture of Inigo Jones as much as Palladio.  Wanstead House, one of the earliest examples of his designs, showed the influence of Inigo Jones’s unexecuted ‘palace designs’, which are very much reflected in Aldrich’s Peckwater Quadrangle at Christchurch, Oxford built in 1706.  Wanstead, built in 1713, was close to London and was very influential.  Campbell also designed Houghton Hall for Sir Robert Walpole, who was Prime Minister in all but name.  The original design is much closer to Inigo Jones’s Wilton.  Houghton was completed by James Gibbs after Campbell died in 1729.

However, in the third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus Campbell made much more direct reference to Palladio particularly in four villas he designed – Stourhead, Mereworth, Lord Herbert’s Villa at Whitehall and Newby in Yorkshire (which has been much altered).   These four villas were more directly based on Palladio’s villa designs than the great country houses like Houghton.  Stourhead was designed for the banker Henry Hoare and built between 1719 and 1722.  The fenestration is 1-3-1 like the front of Palladio’s villas.  The front elevation and planning of this is close to the Villa Emo, although Stourhead has an attic above the portico.  Mereworth, built for Colonel Fane in about 1725, was based on Palladio’s Villa Rotonda, although Mereworth is slightly bigger than the Villa Rotondo.

At Marble Hill, it is not really possible to say which of Palladio’s villas were copied.  It is probably based on an amalgam of the various villa designs by Palladio but the principal sources may have been the Villa Emo and possibly the Villa Pisani.

2. Who commissioned Marble Hill?

As most of you know, the house was built for Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk.  In 1714, Henrietta had become a woman of the Bedchamber to Princess Caroline, the Princess of Wales, when George I became King.  I propose to touch on her life briefly because although most of you know it, there may be a few who do not.  Henrietta had been born in 1689, the daughter of Sir Henry Hobart of Bickling Hall, Norfolk, a house which now belongs to the National Trust.  He was killed in a duel in 1696 and her mother died three years later.  It appears that Henrietta went to live with her kinsman the Earl of Suffolk possibly in 1702, but the facts are uncertain.  In 1705, she married Charles Howard, the third son of the Earl of Suffolk and their only child Henry was born in 1706.  However, it was a disastrous marriage.  As Henrietta learnt too late, her husband was addicted to drinking gambling and whoring.  In 1713, after several years in penury, Henrietta persuaded Charles to accompany her to Hanover to ingratiate themselves into the home of Sophia, Electress of Hanover, because under the Act of Settlement 1702, Sophia would succeed to the English throne when Queen Anne died.  But in the event, Sophia died in June 1714, less than two months before Queen Anne.  As all Queen Anne’s children had predeceased her this meant Sophia’s son George became King.

In 1717, the King had an almighty row with his son, Prince George, the then Prince of Wales.  First the King put him under house arrest and then expelled him from St. James’s Palace.  Charles stayed with the King having a minor post in the King’s Household, but when Henrietta followed her mistress the Princess of Wales, Charles ordered her to remove her possessions from their rooms at St. James’s.  The Prince of Wales’s town house was in what is now Leicester Square and his country retreat was Richmond Lodge in Richmond Old Deer Park, which he leased in 1718. About then Henrietta began a relationship with the Prince of Wales.  In 1722 he agreed to pay her about £11,500 in stock and an annual pension of £2,000, a very substantial sum then.  Tracy Borman in her book King’s Mistress, Queen’s Servant has put forward a very interesting theory why the Prince of Wales paid this sum.  Henrietta wisely put this money into property and in 1724 started building Marble Hill.  She was formally separated from her husband in 1727, but this did not prevent her from becoming the Countess of Suffolk, when he became the Earl of Suffolk in 1731.  Her husband died in 1733 .  She obtained permission to leave the Court and married Captain Berkeley in 1735, who died in 1746 and Henrietta died in 1767.

3. Who were the architects of Marble Hill?

As I have mentioned already, the two architects were Lord Herbert and Roger Morris who was originally a carpenter by trade.  Strictly speaking there was no such profession as an architect at this date.  Anyone who was involved in building could describe himself as an architect and often did.  The architectural profession as we know it really started to develop at the end of the 18th century when Chambers and Soane and some of their contemporaries started charging scale fees and taking pupils.

Lord Herbert was known as the ‘Architect Earl’.  His country seat, Wilton House, is still the family seat today.  The state rooms there included the famous Double Cube Room and Single Cube Room and were almost certainly designed by Inigo Jones with the assistance of his relative John Webb.  The south front had to be rebuilt after a fire in 1647.  He was born in 1689 and had held the usual posts such as a leading nobleman would expect to do that time, but he was also elected a member of the Royal Society in 1743, which very much reflected his intellectual interests.  Being an aristocrat did not mean automatic entry into the Royal Society.  He had a keen interest in archaeology visiting Stonehenge on a number of occasions.  He was known to be an outstandingly good swimmer, boxer and runner and he was also known for his appalling bad temper.  Unusually for the 18th century, he was a vegetarian, and was apparently seen walking on one occasion in Paris munching watercress and beetroot from a haversack.  Lord Herbert had taken an early interest in architecture.  When he had been an undergraduate at Christchurch, Oxford, Dr Aldrich was the Dean and had been responsible for designing the Peckwater Quadrangle at Christchurch, based both on Palladio’s architecture and Inigo Jones’ palace designs.  Lord Herbert contributed £20 towards building the Peckwater Quadrangle.  It was built in 1706, nine years before Colen Campbell published his Vitruvius Britannicus and was thus one of the earliest examples of the revival of the English Palladian style.

Lord Herbert had a town house, later known as Pembroke House, designed by Colen Campbell in the Palladian style and completed in 1724. Pembroke House was demolished in 1913.  He was very likely to have been personally involved in designing his town house at Whitehall given his subsequent work as an architect.  Apart from Marble Hill, Lord Herbert designed a number of works with Roger Morris including the White Lodge in Richmond Park for George II, again in the Palladian style, which was completed in 1728, a year before the completion of Marble Hill.  The wings were added later.

Later on Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough commissioned Lord Herbert and Roger Morris to design the column of Victory at Blenheim Palace and also Wimbledon House, for which they got little thanks.  This house was burnt down in 1785.  Lord Herbert and Roger Morris also worked together in redesigning some of the state rooms at his home at Wilton.  However, probably their most famous joint enterprise there was the building of the Palladian Bridge, completed in about 1737, based on Palladio’s bridge design in his I Quattri Libri, but generally considered to be superior to Palladio’s own design.  Lord Herbert, who had become the ninth Earl of Pembroke in 1733, died in 1750.

Roger Morris, was born in about 1690 and may have been Colen Campbell’s assistant at some point, possibly in the building of Pembroke House, Whitehall and this is where he may have met Lord Herbert.  Apart from Marble Hill and other commissions with Lord Herbert, Morris also built a number of other important houses including Adderbury House, Oxfordshire, Whitton Park, Middlesex and Inveraray Castle, Argyllshire all for the Duke of Argyll.  He also built Clearwell Castle, Gloucestershire and Combe Bank, Kent.  Morris had described himself as a carpenter when he took a lease of a house on Lord Harley’s Marylebone estate in 1724, but he was clearly intent on being ‘upwardly mobile’.  He already had an account at Hoare’s Bank and shortly after this he was describing himself as being employed as a surveyor.  Surveying had been recognised as a profession since the 16th century.  When building Covent Garden theatre in 1731, Morris described himself as an architect.  By 1730s he was living in a house, which he built, in Oxford Street and was now describing himself as a ‘gentleman’.  In 1731 he had married Elizabeth the daughter of Sir Philip Jackson, as his second wife.  He had previously married a girl called Mary, about whom we know really nothing about.  He appears to have been successful in developing and speculating in land and obtained the office of Master Carpenter to the Office of Ordnance and also Surveyor of the Mint.  These various posts brought him in a sizeable income and he died a rich man in 1749.

4. The building of Marble Hill including the type of craftsmen and the materials used

Now let us look at Marble Hill, which was probably begun in 1724 and completed in 1729 and a very important example of English Palladian architecture.  In style it is more like a villa than a country house.  Although a villa is usually a secondary home, Marble Hill was Henrietta’s principal residence for most of the time that she occupied it.  Marble Hill has the ‘classic’ fenestration of Palladio’s villas, namely 1-3-1, with a central saloon (or sala) lit by three windows and side rooms lit by one window.  In building Marble Hill, it seems probably that Roger Morris had obtained assistance from his cousin Robert Morris (1703-1754) who was the leading Palladian theoretician and had written a book about an ideal Palladian house in his Lectures on Architecture (1734) in which he acknowledged Roger Morris’ help in the introduction.  He had written an earlier book called, An Essay In Defence of Ancient Architecture in 1728.  This is the illustration of an ideal house set out in this book, which is very close to Marble Hill in design.

Robert Morris pointed out in his Lectures on Architecture (1734) that Palladio had based his design of his buildings on the cube and the proportions of the cube and also that there should be seven basic ratios in designing a house.  Robert Morris said that he agreed with Palladio that there should be seven ratios but said he would have used different ratios to Palladio.  Lees-Milne in The Earls of Creation said that all these proportions could be found in the elevations and apartments of Marble Hill down to the proportion of the windows and chimneypieces.  The windows on the principal floor are emphasised as they are in Palladio’s villas.  However, the gallery is on the second floor is not derived from Palladio and was a frequent feature of English sixteenth and seventeenth century houses.  The second floor in Palladio’s villas was used as a granary as the villas had been designed to be working farm houses as well as country villas.  The Great Room here was almost certainly based on the Single Cube Room at Wilton and the fire place is probably based on Le Barbet’s fire place designs in Livre d’architecture d’autels et de cheminees (1633) a book which we know Inigo Jones used.

In building Marble Hill, Lord Islay acted as Henrietta’s agent.  Henrietta, being a married woman could not act on her own.  He may have retained Roger Morris on the recommendation of his brother, the Duke of Argyll.  Lord Islay had to buy up the land to build the house, which he did on a piecemeal basis as the present park was owned by several different people.  Some of plots were quite small.

First he bought 11 acres from three different owners on a plot called Marble Hill shot.  This plot apparently appeared on a plan dated 1350 as ‘Madelhylle’, so the present name Marble Hill may have been derived from ‘Mardelhylle’.  By 1750 all the land of sixty-six and half acres, which comprises the present park, had been bought.  The exterior of Marble Hill is brick with stone facings in the centre and around the windows.  We know what the house looked like in 1749 from a print by Heckell of that date.  The whole exterior was coated with stucco, although we do not know if it had stucco when the first built, as the first patent for stucco was patented in 1737 by a paint manufacturer, Alexander Emerton.

We do not know the number of craftsmen actually involved at Marble Hill, but we do know the workmen involved in the building of the Maids of Honour Row, Richmond, a building project almost as big.  Similar types of craftsmen would have been used here.  Dr Sally Jeffery (The Georgian Journal 2010) has shown that the Row was built as a speculation in 1717 and set out a list of craftsmen in the appendix.  Looking at this list, the word ‘Deal’ meant wood from Scandinavia.  Laths were the prepared pieces of wood put in before plastering – usually oak.  Tilers were set out separately.  Three of the workers were women.  One, Anne Harris, was the plumber.

When work actually started on a house, the carpenters would have erected the skeleton of the house as well as scaffolding for the brick work. However the carpenters and brick layers would have been working closely together.  The carpenters would have been responsible for laying the joists, rafters and the floorboards.  Most of work would have been done at their home in their own workshop.  The sections were marked with Roman numerals.

The bricks would often be made on site.  We know that at Ham House when the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale were remodelling the house, one and half million bricks were baked on site, but we do not know definitely if the brick making was done on site at Marble Hill, but it probably was.  The further away the brick kiln was from the site the higher the cost to the client.  In the London area, clay unlike stone was readily available and there would have likely to have been available clay nearby.  The clay would have been dug in the autumn so that the winter frosts made the material more malleable.  The bricks would have been made in hand made in wooden moulds and heated in a specially set-up kiln.  The law laid down that bricks made within 15 miles of the City of London, as here at Marble Hill, had to be 9” x 4½” x 2¼”.  These were known as statute bricks.  The bricklayers would have also made bricks of a higher quality to be placed around the surrounds of doors and windows, known as gauged or rubbed bricks.  A good brick layer could lay as much as 1,000 bricks in one day.  Stone masons would have been needed at some point for the stone facings.

For the more decorative work such as the Ionic volutes, the builders would have used a special hand made cement and I am sure that you would like to have a go at making this when you get home, so here is the recipe taken from Richard Neve’s The City and Country Purchaser published in 1703.  He says to make cold cement:

“One should take a half pound of Cheshire cheese, peel grate very small, put into a pot.  Then take a pint of cow’s milk let them stand all night.  Then get white of 12 to 14 eggs, then a ½ lb of best unslaked quick lime, and then sift it through a fine-hair sieve into a mixture all well together.  This cement will be white – add dust if brick colour required.”

Once the work had reached a fairly advanced stage, the joiners would have been brought in.  As a general rule, the joiners worked on site and were concerned with finishing the woodwork of the interiors and the timber detailing on the outside.  Joiners were involved in the more delicate woodwork.  They played a key role in the construction of the windows, which I shall be dealing with in some detail shortly.  Both carpenters and joiners worked in wood and inevitably there were disputes as to what was carpentry work and what was joinery, which led to the issue coming before the court of Aldermen in the City of London in 1632 to arbitrate as what was joinery and what was carpentry.  In their decision, they set out a clear distinction as to what the two trades could do.

To make matters more complicated, outside London the same person was often both a joiner and a carpenter.  At Marble Hill, the joiners would have been responsible for the famous mahogany staircase.  The wood comes from Honduras, which was then a Spanish colony and the wood was a gift from George II.  It is said that the naval captain, who was instructed to get the timber, cut the trees down in Honduras with so little ceremony that there was almost a war with Spain.  The floor, though also mahogany in this room, would have probably done by the carpenters. The rich wood carving in the house was done by James Richards who was a pupil of Grinling Gibbons.  Richards had been appointed Master Sculptor in Wood to the King on the death of Grinling Gibbons in 1721.

Dan Cruickshank and Peter Wyld have convincingly argued that in the 18th century the overall design was controlled by the placing of the windows and based in the width of the window (London: The Art of Georgian Building).  This was particularly important in a Palladian building with its emphasis on symmetry.  In antique classical architecture, the module was based on the diameter of the column.  At Marble Hill the width of every window here is about 40″ and the whole of the design of the exterior is based on proportions of this module of 40″ both vertically and horizontally.

The windows here are counter-balanced sash windows, which had almost become universal in new buildings in England by the 1720s.  It was an English invention probably invented probably by Thomas Kinward, who was master joiner to the Crown in 1660s, working in the King’s Surveyors office.  The earliest surviving sash window was discovered in the remains of the Prince’s lodgings at Newmarket dated about 1667 and a half sized copy is at Ham House in the basement.  In fact, the earliest major installation of sash windows may have been at Ham House, when twenty-six sash windows were installed in the ground floor for the Duke of Lauderdale, a leading member of the Court, when Ham was extensively remodelled in the 1670’s.  The present sash windows were put in by John James in the 1730s.  Apart from Ham House, the earliest references to counter balanced sash windows are generally from the records of the Royal Palaces. The earliest complete set of sash windows, which still survive are in the King’s apartments at Hampton Court, put in by Wren in 1690s.

The installation of the sash windows would have been done by joiners, glaziers and plumbers.  The plumbers would have been used because they were responsible putting in the lead and at this date the counter-balance weights are made of lead.  The joiners would have been responsible for the glazing bars.  Special tools were made to make the glazing bars for the sash windows as sash windows became more and more popular such a specialists moulding planes.  Initially the glazing bars were too thick, but improved quality of joinery enabled the glazing bars to be made much narrower.

There were three types of glass – cylinder glass, crown glass and plate glass.  The type most frequently used was crown glass and it would probably have been used here.  Plate glass was prohibitively expensive at that date.  Wren used both crown glass and plate glass at Hampton Court.  He estimated that he spent £2,200 on eighty-four windows using plate glass for the Royal Apartments, compared with £800 for 250 windows elsewhere in the palace.  The same technique for plate glass was used for mirror glass.

To make Crown glass, the glass maker blew the heated liquid glass into a balloon shape with a blow pipe and then transferred this globule of molten glass to the end of a rod, called a pontil rod.  He would then spin the rod until centrifugal force caused the glass globule to flash into a circular disc.  After it had been slowly cooled under a process called annealing, the glass was cut up into sections leaving the bull’s eye in the centre which often used in shops as it was cheaper.

The final stage would have been the plastering and painting and installing wallpaper, where wallpaper was put up.  Rough plaster would have been applied, probably mixed in with lime and animal hair, and then light smooth plaster would have been applied for delicate plaster work.  At the top end, plasterers were artists in their own right, such as the two Swiss-born plasterers, Guiseppe Artari and Giovanni Bagutti who helped James Gibbs at the Octagon Room Orleans House.  Sometimes up to a year was given to allow the plaster to dry before painting or putting up wallpaper.  The method of gilding would have probably been water gilding similar to the method of applying gold background in a mediaeval altar-piece.  Basically the method was to put on a red pigment from a red clay called bole and when this was completely dry, water was applied to the area to be gilded.  In the Middle Ages gold leaf came from gold coins which were beaten to produce the wafer thin gold leaf.  The gold leaf had to be applied very delicately and when it was dry, it would be rubbed with a tool called an agate burnishing tool.

We know that Chinese wallpaper was installed in the Dining Parlour and this was probably the most valuable wallpaper in the house.  The original has been lost.  The present wall paper was installed by English Heritage in 2006, but we also know from the surviving 18th century accounts that Henrietta Howard installed Chinese wall paper here in about 1751.  There is correspondence between Bromwich, a well-known upholsterer, and Henrietta’s steward in which Bromwich had said that if payment of 42 guineas is not made for this wallpaper, to a Mr Hallett, who had installed the paper, he would have to “sue her Ladyship” for this sum.  In the 18th century an upholsterer was responsible for the overall work, the closest modern equivalent being an interior designer. When English Heritage installed this wall paper, they ensured that the same techniques were used as their predecessors would have done in the 18th century.  English Heritage commissioned the leading expert De Gournay who used their studio in China using Chinese artists.  Paper used here is composed of white mulberry paper backed with another layer of mulberry paper.  All the painting is done with two brushes, one to hold the paint and the other to hold water.  Before hanging the wallpaper, the wall was lined with battens of timber. Superfine unprimed linen was stretched over the battens and the wallpaper was then pasted to the linen.  It was decided to use the bird and flower decoration, here, which was based on an amalgam of different styles from Chinese wall paper in various English country houses of the early and mid 18th century.

5. Was Colen Campbell was involved in the building of Marble Hill?

A more difficult point is the extent of the influence of Colen Campbell in designing Marble Hill.  He was the architect to George Prince of Wales and Henrietta was the Prince’s mistress.  The Prince in effect financed the cost of the building.  Campbell almost certainly illustrated this house in the third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus, in his illustration of a house at ‘Twittenham’, although there are differences between this design and this house as built.  In particular, Campbell’s design had a perron, but Marble Hill does not.  However, in this design Campbell more significantly did not name himself or anyone as the architect.  In all the buildings which we know he designed, he had put ‘Campbell Architectus’.  Campbell was never slow to promote himself.  Indeed he probably published Vitruvius Britannicus as a promotion to obtain commissions.  Both Lord Herbert and Roger Morris had already had experience in designing Palladian style villas in their involvement with Lord Herbert’s own villa Pembroke House, Whitehall.  Roger Morris could and probably did call on his cousin Robert Morris for help.  I would therefore argue that it is unlikely Campbell had any direct influence on the designs of Marble Hill.  I would also suggest that Lord Herbert might have given the design of Marble Hill to Colen Campbell, in order that Campbell could publish this plan in the third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus.  Lord Herbert had been an important client of Campbell’s.  At this date Campbell was overwhelmed with commissions.

6. Why we have developed an entirely different style in England from the dominant style in continental Europe?

The final question, which I would like to pose, is why did English Architecture follow an entirely different course from most of Western Europe in the first half of the eighteenth century.  At time of Inigo Jones, Palladianism had really been a court style, rather than a national one and this style went out of fashion when Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) became the King’s Surveyor in 1669 and continued in this post until 1718.  He had built his principal buildings, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, the east side of Hampton Court and the Royal Naval Hospital Greenwich in the Baroque style.  He had spent almost a year in Paris in 1665 and had been very impressed by French Baroque architecture, particularly the use of the dome.  The Baroque was based on the classical antique, but Baroque architects interpreted classical design much more freely than the Palladians and there was greater emphasis on grandiose and rhetorical designs such as Wrens St Paul’s and Hampton Court and Vanbrugh’s Blenheim.

The first sign of a reaction to the style used by Wren was in a famous open letter written by the third Earl of Shaftesbury in 1712 to Lord Somers.  He said:

“Thro’ several reigns we have patiently seen the noblest publick Buildings perish (if I may say so) under the Hand of one single Court-Architect; who, if he had been able to profit from Experience; wou’d long since, at our expence, have prov’d the greatest Master in the World.  But’, I question whether our Patience is likely to hold much longer . . . Hardly as the Publick now stands shou’d we bear to see Whitehall treated like Hampton Court or even a new Cathedral like St. Paul’s.”

Shaftesbury suggested the country should have a new national style, but did not suggest any particular new style.  This was left to others and the English Palladian style could be said to date from 1715.  In the introduction the first volume of Vitruvius Britannicus, Campbell, praised the leading Italian Renaissance architects, such as Palladio, but was damning the about the Italian Baroque and said:

“How affected and licentious are the works of Bernini and Fontana? How wildly extravagant are the designs of Borromini, who has endeavoured to debauch mankind with his odd and chimerical beauties, where the parts are without proportion, solids without true bearing, heap of materials without strength, excessive ornaments without grace and the whole without symmetry?”

Four examples of the continental Baroque, which incurred Campbell’s wrath, were Versailles, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Palazzo Carigno and S. Ivo alla Sapienza.

Campbell then continued in this Introduction as follows:

“It is then with Renowned Palladio, we enter the lists to whom we oppose the famous Jones.”

Indeed the title Vitruvius Britannicus is really implicitly dedicated to Inigo Jones.  John Webb, Jones’s cousin and his principal assistant, called him the ‘English Vitruvius’.

What Campbell was seeking to introduce in the first volume was the style used by Inigo Jones.  The Whig Aristocracy now adopted the Palladian style as the national style, because they could possibly see that Inigo Jones had used or adapted Palladio’s architecture in his own designs.  The English upper classes sought to emulate classical values in almost every way and liked to call themselves the Augustans thus harking back to the early Roman Empire.  Both Campbell and Burlington considered that Palladio’s designs should be followed as they believed that Palladio’s style was based on this purer classical style.  What the English Palladians were seeking was a purer classical style and a rejection not only the relatively restrained examples of the English Baroque but the even more highly rhetorical styles which then dominated continental European architecture with their very free interpretation of the antique.  A further attraction was Palladio’s woodcut designs, in his I Quattri Libri, were easy to follow.

However, what was particularly important here was that Jones was English.  It was an age of patriotism.  In 1713, we had just finished fighting the French in the War of the Spanish Succession and the French used the Baroque style so criticised by both the Earl of Shaftsbury and Colen Campbell and they chose to overlook the fact that Inigo Jones had actually introduced an entirely foreign (Italian Renaissance) style to this country.

Finally, it might be said that the porticoes of Palladio’s villas were not really suitable for the English climate.  Though there is no portico at Marble Hill, there are in many Palladian buildings.   Let Alexander Pope in his Epistle to Lord Burlington in 1731 have the last word:

“Proud to catch cold at a Venetian Door
Conscious they act the true Palladian part.
And if they starve, they starve by rules of art.”

Talk to the Marble Hill Society
Sunday 3rd March 2013

© John Moses 2013


The 1794 Inventory – Household Records

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 24th 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.

Bruce Gordon Smith



The 1794 Inventory – Chinoiserie

‘……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.

Bruce and Diana Gordon-Smith 

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.



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 early July 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.

Bruce Gordon-Smith

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