Walks in London, vol. 2
Hare, Augustus J. C.
Chapter XI: Kensington and Holland House.
Chapter XI: Kensington and Holland House.
, till lately a suburb, now part of London, skirts the southern side of . It is supposed to derive its name from knights who quarrelled on their way to receive the Bishop of London's blessing, and, fighting, killed each other by the bridge over the West Bourne. The brook called the West Bourne has shared the fate of all London brooks, and is now a sewer, but it still works its way under ground from Hampstead, after giving its name to a district in Bayswater, and passes under Belgravia to the Thames. has its name from a bridge over the West Bourne.
At the crossways, where the turns off to the left, is , the most celebrated auction mart for horses in existence, and the headquarters of horse-racing, established in by Richard Tattersall, stud-groom to the last Duke of Kingston. Sales take place every Monday throughout the year, and every Thursday during the season. The business of the firm is confined to the selling of horses; they have nothing to do with the betting.
Following the Road on the left are several of the handsomest houses in London- (Louisa, Lady Ashburton), on the site of a house once inhabited by the Duke of Kent; , where Lord Campbell wrote his and (Lady Marian Alford), an admirable building of brick, with high roofs, and terra-cotta ornaments.
Beyond this are and Prince's Gate.
|No. Prince's Gate, the house of Mr. Leyland, contains the , decorated by Mr. Whistler in -. The walls and ceiling are entirely covered with peacock iridescence, while the separate peacocks on the shutters are full of nature and beauty, and still more those in defiance over the sideboard, which express a peacock-drama.|
The tall brick chimneys and gables on the left belong to
|the highly picturesque (Hon. W. Lowther), an admirable work of Norman Shaw.|
All along this road London has been moving out of town for the last years, but has never succeeded in getting into the country.
At , where Wilberforce resided from to , and held his anti-slavery meetings, and where Lady Blessington lived afterwards, the centre of a brilliant circle, the line of houses and villas is broken by the , a vast elliptical building of brick, with terra-cotta decorations. It was commenced in , and is used as a music-hall. This huge pile has no beauty, except in the porches, which are exceedingly grandiose in form, and effective in shadow and colour.
[Behind the Albert Hall is a vast quadrangular space, occupied () by the , and
|surrounded by Exhibition Galleries. At its south-eastern angle, facing , is the South Kensington Museum. See Ch. XII.] Opposite the Hall, marking the site of the Crystal Palace of , and of the Exhibition whose success was so greatly due to his exertions, is the , erected from designs of Sir Gilbert Scott to the ever-honoured memory of the Prince Consort, Albert of Saxe Gotha (). Here, beneath a somewhat flimsy imitation of a Gothic shrine of the century, the seated statue of the Prince is barely distinguishable through the dazzlement of a gilded glitter. The pedestal, whose classic forms so strangely contrast with the Gothic structure above, is decorated with a vast number of statuettes in high relief, representing different painters, sculptors, and musicians, from Hiram and Bezaleel, Cheops and Sennacherib, to Pugin, Barry, and Cockerell!|
The of the Park near this were made at Colebrook Dale for the south transept of the Crystal Palace of .
Beyond the Albert Memorial, on the right, are , the pleasantest and most picturesque of the London recreation-grounds, occupying acres. They were begun by William III. near Kensington Palace, and enlarged by Queen Anne and Queen Caroline of Anspach. The earlier gardens still retain traces of the Dutch style in which they were originally laid out. Near the high road to the south is
The portion nearer has noble groves and avenues of old trees, crowded with people sitting and walking on Sunday afternoons. The pleasantest and broadest of these walks ends in an iron
| budge over the upper part of the Serpentine, designed by Rennie in . From hence there are delightful views up and down the water, especially charming in the rhododendron season. The scene on Sundays in is permitted by the fashions to recall the lines of Tickell-
Addison greatly extols the early landscape gardeners employed at Kensington.
, as Nottingham House, was the residence of the Lord Chancellor Heneage Finch, Earl of Nottingham. His son sold it to William III. in , when Evelyn describes it as
The king employed Wren to add a story to the old house, which forms the north front of the existing palace, and to build the present south front. The improvement of Kensington became his passion, and while he was absent in Ireland Queen Mary's letters to her irascible spouse are full of the progress of his works there, and of abject apologies because she could not prevent chimneys smoking and rooms smelling of paint. Immediately after the king's return () a great fire broke out in the palace, in which William and Mary, having narrowly escaped being burnt in their beds, fled into the garden, whence they watched their footguards as they passed buckets to extinguish the flames. When her new rooms were finished, Mary held the drawing-rooms there, at which her hostility to her sister Anne became manifest to the world, the princess making
It was in a still existing room that Mary, when () she felt herself sickening for the small-pox, sat up nearly all through a winter's night, burning every paper which could throw light upon her personal history, and here, as her illness increased, William's sluggish affections were awakened, and he never left her, so affectionately stifling his asthmatic cough not to disturb her that, on waking from a long lethargy, she asked
As the end approached she received the Sacrament, the bishops who were attending taking it with her.
It was then that the queen begged to speak secretly to Archbishop Tenison, and, when he expected something important, bade him take away the Popish nurse whom, in the hallucination of illness, she imagined Dr. Radcliffe had set to watch her from behind the screen. Mary died on the morning of the , and William was then in such passionate grief that he swooned times on that terrible day, and his attendants thought that he would have been the to expire.
After Mary's death William remained in seclusion and grief at Kensington, whither Anne came to condole with him, carried in her sedan chair (for she was close upon her confinement) into his very room,--the King's Writing-Room, which is still preserved. There in William buckled the Order of the Garter with his own hands on the person of Anne's eldest child, the little Duke of Gloucester, and hither, after he had received his death-hurt by a fall from his sorrel pony at , he insisted upon returning to die, .
After William's death, Anne and Prince George of Denmark took possession of the royal apartments at Kensington. But the mother of children was already childless and she made her chief residence at St. James's, coming for the Easter recess to Kensington, where she planted
and built in the gardens
in which she gave fetes which were attended by all the great world of London
The love of flowers which the queen manifested here led to her being
| apostrophised as |
in the verses of Tom D'Urfey. In the same gloomy palace in which she had seen the last hours of her sister and brother-in-law, Queen Anne () lost her husband, George of Denmark, with whom she had lived in perfect happiness for years. The Duchess of Marlborough describes her agony afterwards in the chamber of death-
She was led away that evening by the Duchess to her carriage to be taken to St. James's, but stopped upon the doorstep to desire Lord Godolphin to see that, when the Prince was buried at , room should be left for her in his grave. Anne did not live so much at Kensington after her husband's death, but it was here, on , that Mrs. Danvers, the chief lady in waiting, found her staring vacantly at the clock in her Presence Chamber
It was an apoplectic seizure. On her death-bed she gave a last evidence of the love towards her people which had been manifested through her whole reign, by saying, as she placed the Lord Treasurer's wand in the hands of the Duke of Shrewsbury,
But, from that moment, having accomplished her last act as queen, Anne seems to have retraced in spirit the acts of her past life, and to have been filled with all the agonies of remorse for her conduct to her father and his son-
was her constant cry. To the Bishop of London, who was watching beside her, she intrusted a message, which he promised to deliver, but which he said would cost him his head. On
| hearing of her repentance the Jacobite lords hurried to Kensington. Atterbury proposed to proclaim the Chevalier at , the Duke of Ormonde would join him if the queen could but recover consciousness to mention him as her successor. Lady Masham undertook to watch her, but it was too late. |
were her hurried words in the antechamber, and by o'clock on Sunday morning, ,
The rooms on the north-west of the Palace were added by George II., and intended as a nursery for his children. He also died here (), suddenly, in his year, falling upon the floor, just after he had taken his morning chocolate, and when he was preparing to walk in the garden.
George III. did not occupy Kensington Palace himself, but as his family grew up its different apartments were assigned to them. Caroline, Princess of Wales, lived there, with her mother the Duchess of Brunswick, after her separation from her husband within a year after their marriage. In the south wing lived Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, with his wife, Lady Augusta Murray. He held his conversazione there as President of the Royal Society; he collected there his magnificent library; and there he died, . His wife, created Duchess of Inverness, continued to reside at Kensington till her death. Finally, in the south-eastern apartments of the palace, lived Edward, Duke of Kent, and his wife Victoria of Saxe Cobourg, and in them their only daughter VICTORIA was born, , was christened, , and continued to have her principal residence till
|her accession to the throne. Hither the Queen's council was summoned.|
of the descendants of George III. now occupy rooms in Kensington Palace-Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, daughter of the Queen, and Princess Mary, Duchess of Teck, younger daughter of the late Duke of Cambridge. The grand of the palace, with graceful ironwork, was painted by in chiaro-oscuro. Of the state-rooms, the Presence Chamber is decorated with carving by Gibbons. The monogram of William and Mary remains over the door of the Queen's Gallery.
On the west of the palace is the , formerly called
where the royal standard was daily hoisted when the Court resided here.
Camden House (built in by Sir Baptist Hicks, burnt in , and rebuilt) had its melancholy royal reminiscences from its connection with who was long the heir of the British throne. In it was taken for the little Duke of Gloucester, that he might be near his aunt Queen Mary, who was very fond of him, and who had him daily carried to see her while she was occupied with her buildings at Kensington. The precocious child, with a charming countenance, and the large head which betokens water on the brain, was the life of the court. His biographer, Lewis Jenkins, has preserved for us many absurd anecdotes of his childhood--of his regiments of little boys,
| his |
how he made them seize his Welsh tailor who made his
too tight, and force him to sit upon a wooden horse in the Presence Chamber for a pillory; of his gravely coming to promise King William his assistance and that of his little troop in the approaching Flemish war; of his curiously true presentiment of the day of his nurse's death; of his indocility with his mother's ladies, but his affection for Mrs. Davis, an aged gentlewoman of the court of Charles I., who won his heart by giving him cherries, and then taught him prayers which he never failed to repeat night and morning, much to the surprise of the existing courtiers; of his constant whippings with a birch rod from his Danish father; of his proudly telling King William that he possessed live horse and dead ones (his Shetland pony and little wooden horses), and of the king's saying, then he had better bury his dead horses out of sight, and his consequently insisting on burying his playthings with funeral honours and composing their epitaph. At years old the little prince, with much state, was taken to Kensington to receive the Order of the Garter from his uncle. Mr. Pratt, his tutor, from whom he and his
took their lessons together, soon afterwards asked him,
[n.461.1] At years old he was introduced at court in the costume of blue velvet and diamonds in which he is painted by Kneller at . When he was years old he was so preternaturally forward that he was able (such was the king's
| will) to pass an examination times a year on subjects which included jurisprudence, the Gothic law, and the feudal system. But on his birthday the little duke was taken ill, and died days after () at Windsor, in the arms of his anguish-stricken mother,[n.462.1] who |
In Kensington House, near the palace gates, Louise de la Querouaille, Duchess of Portsmouth, lived for some time; and there Mrs. Inchbald, authoress of died. The modern , on the left of the road opposite the palace gardens, is a pretentious and frightful mansion built in by James Knowles for Mr. Albert Grant.
In the of Kensington (the Chenesi-dun of Domesday-book) is the handsome , rebuilt -, under Sir Gilbert Scott. It contains, in the south transept, the tomb and statue of Edward, Earl of Warwick, whom his stepfather Addison upon his death-bed desired to witness how a Christian could die, and who died himself in his year. There is a monument to George Coleman, author of the and the In the churchyard are the tombstones of John Jortin (), Vicar of Kensington, author of the and many theological works; James Elphinstone (), the translator of Martial; and the pathetic novelist, Mrs. Elizabeth Inchbald, .
Sir Isaac Newton died in Pitt's Buildings, Kensington, , in his year. Addison records, as a proof
|of his heroism, that though great drops of sweat were forced through his double nightcap by his agony in his last illness, he never cried out.|
, on the right, leads to Argyll Lodge (Duke of Argyll) and Airlie Lodge (Earl of Airlie), which, under the name of , was the residence of Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay, from to his death -while seated in his library chair, with his book open beside him.
Beyond Upper (right) are the gates of ,[n.463.1] and how many there are who remember, with gratitude, the relief of turning in from the glare and
|dust of the suburb to the shade of its great elm avenue, girt with dewy hayfields, which might be a miles from London, and the pleasure of seeing the noble old house, surpassing all other houses in beauty, rising at the end of the green slope, with its richly sculptured terrace, and its cedars, and its vases of brilliant flowers.|
Holland House was originally built in by Sir Walter Cope, on land which had belonged to the De Veres, Earls of Oxford. Sir Walter, who was Gentleman of the Bedchamber to James I., called it Cope Castle, but it soon changed its name, for his only daughter Isabel married Sir Henry Rich, the favourite of the Duke of Buckingham, described by Clarendon as
[n.464.1] who was created Lord Kensington in , and
|Earl of Holland in . In the Civil Wars he abandoned the Parliamentarian for the Royalist cause, and, being taken prisoner at St. Neots, was beheaded at , beautiful to the last, in his white satin dress, on the -.|
It was the Earl of Holland who added the wings and arcades, in fact who gave Holland House all its characteristics. After his execution the house was inhabited by General Fairfax, and () by General Lambert, but the Countess of Holland was eventually allowed to return to her old home, where she comforted her widowhood by indulging privately in the theatricals so strictly forbidden by the Puritan Government. Her son, the Earl of Holland, became Earl of Warwick, through the death of his cousin, in . His son was Edward, Earl of Warwick, who died in , and whose widow (Charlotte, daughter of Sir Thomas Middleton of Chirk) married Joseph Addison,
as he is described in the announcement of his marriage in for . Dr. Johnson says that the marriage was
The Earl of Warwick, who was Addison's step-son, only
|survived him years, and was succeeded by his cousin William Edwardes (created Baron Kensington in ), who sold Holland House in to Henry Fox, Lord Holland.|
The fortunes of the Fox family were founded by Sir Stephen Fox, who gained the favour of Charles II. by being the to announce the death of Cromwell to him at Brussels. He was made Clerk of the Green Cloth and Paymaster of the Forces, and acquired a great fortune,
says Evelyn. Sir Stephen Fox,
was the practical founder of , as well as of many other charitable institutions. By deserting the cause of James II. he continued to enjoy Court favour till his death in , when Anne was on the throne. His son, the son of his wife, was Henry Fox, the Secretary of State and Paymaster of the Forces. It was with him that Lady Caroline Lennox, the Duke of Richmond's daughter-after she had cut off her eyebrows to protect herself from an unwelcome marriage arranged by her father-eloped in . Having endured the fury of her parents for years, she was forgiven on the birth of her eldest son. Henry Fox was created Lord Holland after his purchase of Holland House, where he died in . His son Stephen, who succeeded him, only survived him months, and left an only son, Henry, Lord Holland, who was educated under the guardianship of his uncle, Charles James Fox, the famous orator and statesman.
Under the Lord Holland, Holland House attained
| a splendour and beauty which it had never acquired before, and it became an intellectual centre, not only for England, but for the world. Its master is remembered as the most genial of mankind; Lady Holland, though wayward and fanciful, was also beautiful and clever; Miss Fox, Lord Holland's sister, was loving, gracious, and charitable. Sydney Smith, Luttrell, and Allen were habitués of the house, and had their fixed apartments assigned to them. The list of guests included Sheridan, Blanco White, Parr, Byron, George Ellis, Lord Jeffrey, Payne Knight, Thurlow, Eldon, Brougham, Lyndhurst, Sir Humphry Davy, Count Romford, Lord Aberdeen, Lord Moira, Windham, Curran, Sir Samuel Romilly, Washington Irving, Pozzo di Borgo, Counts Montholon and Bertrand, Princess Lieven, the Humboldts, Talleyrand, Tom Moore, Madame de Stael, Macaulay. Daily all that was most brilliant in European society was welcomed uninvited to the hospitable dinner-table. It was no wonder that Sydney Smith heard |
The Lord Holland died in , and was succeeded by his son, British Minister at Florence. He died in . Under his widow, Mary Augusta, Lady Holland, daughter of the Earl of Coventry, Holland House still has the reputation of being the most charming house in England.
As we pass the terrace which bounds the garden and enter the deep belt of shade which encircles the mansion, the most conspicuous feature is a gateway with stone piers by Inigo Jones bearing the arms of Rich, approached by a
|double flight of steps enclosing a fountain. The house is now entered from the east side; originally the entrance was on the south, and it was there that William Penn, to whom Holland House was let for a time, narrates that he could scarcely get down the steps through the crowd of suitors who besought him to use his good offices with the king in their behalf.|
The of Holland House is full of historical relics,
|pictures, and china. Many of the portraits are by Watts, who rose into fame under the patronage of Elizabeth, Lady Holland, and who painted, for the walls of the house, many of the most valued friends of its master. of his best portraits is that of Princess Lieven.|
In the last of
--around which, to those who know it well, many of the happiest associations of the house are entwined--are interesting works of , a view of Ranelagh; a portrait of the Lord Holland; and a scene of Private Theatricals (from Dryden's Indian Emperor) at the house of Mr. Conduitt, Master of the Mint, in which the Lady Holland, then Lady Caroline Lennox, with her father and mother, took a part. Her portrait by also hangs here, with that of her sister Lady Cecilia Lennox, who died of consumption at Holland House.
From the of the West Rooms a staircase leads to the (originally a Portrait Gallery), a long room, warm with a glow of crimson velvet, with great carved chimney-pieces, and deeply recessed windows, from of which there is a view, through the dark boughs of a cedar, into the radiant flower-garden. In corner is Addison's folding-table (purchased at Rogers' sale) covered with faded green velvet, blotted by his pen. A little lobby leads from the library to the inner rooms. Here, on a pane of glass, are the lines written by Hookham Frere in --
Here also, amongst other relics, are-
We enter from hence the , which contains a charming pastel portrait of Charles James Fox as a child, and leads into the , full of rich colour, with a great window over the central doorway. The emblematical figures over the chimney-pieces are by , and supply the place of lost pictures by Francis Cleyn, a Danish artist, which were described by Walpole as not unworthy of Parmigiano. From this room, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of the Earl of Holland carrying his head in his hand, we may enter the , or , filled with noble works by Reynolds-
The is interesting as the chamber in which Addison died. We must notice its pictures-
The gardens of Holland House are unlike anything else
|in England. Every turn is a picture: Art has combined with Nature to make it so, and has never intruded upon Nature. A raised terrace, like some of those which belong to old Genoese palaces, leads from the house, high amongst the branches of the trees, to the end of the flower-garden opposite the West Rooms, where a line of arches festooned with creepers--a picturesque relic of the old stables-forms the background.|
| Facing a miniature Dutch garden here is |
Within the little arbour hang some verses by Luttrell. Opposite is a noble head of Napoleon I. by Canova or of his pupils, erected whilst he was at St. Helena, on a
| pedestal inscribed with lines from Homer's Odyssey (Book I. i. ) translated by the Lord Holland.
Beyond this are gardens occupying the ground where Lord Camelford was killed in a duel with Colonel Best in . Below is
a long avenue, where hares and pheasants have been shot within the memory of the present generation, and where, as Aubrey narrates-
The garden of Holland House is remarkable as the place where the Dahlia (named from Dr. Andrew Dahl, a Swedish botanist) was cultivated in England, being raised from seeds in , brought from Spain by Elizabeth, Lady Holland. The custom of gunfire at ii p.m., so well known to inhabitants of Kensington, is said to have been instituted by a Lord Holland whose watchman was murdered by poachers because he had forgotten to load his gun, and who desired that all robbers might be warned that they were not to consider this a precedent that they might attack his servants with impunity.[n.473.1] We cannot leave
|Holland Iouse without quoting the noble passage relating to the Lord Holland in Macaulay's -|
[n.461.1] For these anecdotes see Lewis Jenkins.
[n.462.1] See Strickland's Lives of Mary II. and Anne.
[n.463.1] Holland House is not shown to the public.
[n.464.1] His noble portrait, by Vandyke, is at Montague House.
[n.473.1] For further particulars as to the house and its contents, Holland House, by Princess Marie Liechtenstein, may be consulted.