Coming across a sunny weekend here in London, it seemed appropriate to venture out and see something fun. So we set out across town by tube for Richmond, west of London. It’s a very pretty (and slightly posh) part of west London that neatly features the River Thames.
Using our Art Pass, we made central to this day trip a visit to two houses. Ham House and Marble Hill House. I will post about Ham House separately.
Marble Hill house was the less grand of the two—though still, it is a Georgian villa. But it really had the better story.
We took a guided tour here . That’s all they would allow. And unfortunately, because there is a lot of art that belongs to the nation stored in this house, no photography was allowed inside. So I just have a shot or two of the rather plain outside.
I understood about 30% of the tour because the guide had a very muttery English accent. But from what I could tell, the story behind this house is that it was built for Henrietta Howard who was the mistress of King George II when he was still the Prince of Wales.
She was married to another man, of course, but he was abusive and a gambler. She was much smarter than her husband (and the future King, for that matter), and cleverly placed herself in a position to be in the favor of the father of the prince, King George I. She knew this would protect her from her husband. So she found her place in the royal court.
Once the old king died and the prince became King she moved up in court. The King’s wife, the Queen (duh), was ok with the entire arrangement. She preferred it to any other arrangement, because she knew Henrietta didn’t have an agenda like others would. So she allowed it, but still kept Henrietta close to her to keep an eye.
Once Henrietta was on the payroll of the King and he moved on to other women, she was able to build Marble Hill House. Not bad for a mistress.
Here’s a picture (not my own) from the grandest interior room:
Here is the house from the town-facing entrance.
Oh, and this is a photo taken from across the river.
And here is the river, incase you couldn’t figure that out.