Monday, 12 November 2007

A house fit for a King's mistress (saved by Karl Moritz - well, sort of) - # 290

Marble Hill House sits on the Twickenham bank of the river, immediately opposite Ham House and beside Hammerton's Ferry (featured in an earlier posting "the 500 year long queue" ).

Built in 1720 in the Palladian style by George II for his Mistress Henrietta Howard, the house was a centre for high-tone social and literary gatherings (as you would expect!). Its park forms part of the unique heritage that is known as "The view from Richmond Hill".

Around 1900 the wealthy owners wanted to demolish the house and build suburban villas with riverside amenities across the whole park (one's blood runs cold). A public outcry ensued, public subscriptions were raised to buy the site and the land was placed into public ownership. If Karl Moritz - and of course many, many other more relevant people - had not written about, admired and painted the view from Richmond Hill, then the battle to save it would have been much harder.

Imagine! Had the houses been built, Karl Moritz's much admired view from Richmond Hill would have been totally destroyed by a sea of Edwardian villas. Karl would indeed have wept.


  1. We would have all wept! What a story. And what is that in the center of the green? A dog? A badger? I'm can't help it--I'm curious.

  2. Once more, sincere thanks to our hero, Karl!

  3. How interesting.
    The photo makes the house look like a jewel there in all that green.
    So glad common sense preveiled.

  4. Hi Chuckeroon...
    beautiful long shot...
    you feel the grandeur...

  5. I LOVE this photo.
    But unlike jacqui, I don't see grandeur - it looks like a photo taken at one of those miniature villages (you know the ones, right?).
    I feel like I could pluck that little house right out of the picture - like a little monopoly house!

  6. Like FreeFalling it looks like a dolls house - of course because of the choice of composition. Also good to have it the only piece of white - like a postage stamp affixed to the landscape. Turner, Constable and others used this sort of motif in their paintings.
    I liked the history lesson as well

  7. Jacqui knows the area and is adding something else that she has felt.

    Richard and Freefalling are right about the bijou simplicity.

    On the basis of the comments I consider his photo a success. I hit my target.

  8. A beautiful scene, though (as others have remarked before me) the house does look a bit 'plopped down' in place. On staring at the photo for a long while, I decided that the reason I have that reaction is that facade looks very 'flat'. Maybe because of the white as Richard suggests, or is it a little that it is a wee bit on the overexposed side? The lawn is perfect though, I especially like the gradations. Z in Villigen

  9. Wonderful photo! The architecture is like Palladio, but such grass can be only english. It reminds me the old joke: oh, to have such grass is very easy - you shall every day only cut it and water it, and so 300 years.......