Marble Hill, English heritage. villa, Twickenham, Thames, historic

Marble Hill

Marble Hill is a historic house and gardens lying on the north bank of the River Thames in Twickenham.  It has recently  been reopened by English Heritage after an eight million pound refurbishment programme funded mainly by the National Lottery. Although not a large villa, it is well worth a visit because it is the last surviving example of the grand homes that were once located along the River Thames.

Its survival depended on the Richmond, Ham and Petersham Open Spaces Act of Parliament in 1902 which protected the view from Richmond Hill from any development. It remains the only view protected by an Act of Parliament today.

Henrietta Howard

Henrietta Hobart who was orphaned when she was twelve.  At seventeen she married seventeen she married Charles Howard, the youngest son of the 5th Earl of Suffolk. the couple had a son but the marriage was unhappy.  Shrewdly the Howards travelled to Hanover to the court of the heir to the English throne the Elector of Hanover.  She learn German and became a court favourite.

When  the Elector became George I of Great Britain in August 1714, Henrietta returned to England and was made Woman of the Bedchamber to Caroline, Princess of Wales. By the time she was twenty-five she had also become mistress to the Prince of Wales, who had a country house nearby in Richmond.

A court favourite because of her beauty, wit and intelligence she became friendly with the courtiers of the day who included Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and John Gay. Although her estranged husband  had become the Earl of Suffolk and had taken their son away from her, Henrietta prospered becoming financially independent following the gift of stock, jewels, plate, mahogany and furniture  from the Prince of Wales in 1723.  In 1727  he acceded to the throne as George II but Henrietta kept her position as mistress for a further seven years.

Henrietta used the money from George  to build a home for herself on the banks of the River Thames in Twickenham.  She was able to employ the best architects and designers of the day.  The result was Marble Hill, a delightful house in the Palladian style. There she entertained poets, writers, painters and politicians becoming one of the successful hostesses of the day.

Visiting Marble Hill

The house at Marble Hill is free to enter from Wednesday to Sunday, April to October.  More areas of the park have been opened up to create new habitats and improve the park’s biodiversity. The café has been refurbished. The new play area for children is open. The sports pitches and changing facilities have been improved.