History and Stories: Marble Hill House
Marble Hill was built in the 1720s for Henrietta Howard, mistress of King George II when he was Prince of Wales, as a retreat from court life. Both house and garden were designed with advice from the most fashionable gentlemen of early Georgian England. Saved from destruction and development by an Act of Parliament in 1902, Marble Hill is the last complete survivor of the elegant villas and gardens that once bordered this part of the Thames.
Find out much more about Marble Hill, and how English Heritage plans to bring the house and Henrietta Howard’s lost garden back to life.
Key facts about Marble Hill
- Marble Hill was built in the 1720s for Henrietta Howard, who overcame a difficult childhood and disastrous first marriage to become a remarkable figure in Georgian court society.
- The villa is an important and relatively rare example of a house built for and by a woman in Georgian England.
- It’s a textbook example of Palladian architecture, the fashionable style based on classical principles and inspired by the 16th-century Italian architect Palladio.
- Henrietta and her home became a magnet for London’s cultural and political élite – including her neighbours Alexander Pope, John Gay and Horace Walpole – on a scale said to rival the royal court.
- The gardens were designed with advice from Alexander Pope and Charles Bridgeman, later royal gardener to George II.
- The house and estate were saved from development by an Act of Parliament in 1902 because they lay at the heart of the famous view from Richmond Hill. Marble Hill has been a public park ever since.
- The house now has a fine collection of early Georgian paintings, including portraits of members of Henrietta Howard’s circle.
Marble Hill’s history
History of Marble Hill
Read a full history of this English Palladian villa and its gardens beside the Thames, from its origins in the 1720s as a retreat from court life for Henrietta Howard to the present day.
Though mainly known as the mistress of George II, Henrietta Howard was a remarkable woman in her own right. Read more about her extraordinary life and how she came to build Marble Hill.
Henrietta Howard’s garden at Marble Hill
Find out what makes the garden between the house and the river at Marble Hill so significant, what we know about it, and how English Heritage plans to restore it.
The View from Richmond Hill
See how artists have depicted the panoramic view from Richmond Hill over the centuries and find out how Marble Hill was saved thanks to a campaign to preserve this view.
Marble Hill Revived
Until about 150 years ago, Marble Hill’s unique gardens were just as impressive as the house itself. Now English Heritage is working with the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore elements of the lost gardens from Henrietta’s lifetime, and to improve facilities throughout the park and house.
Discover more about our plans for Marble Hill, and find out how you can share your views.Find out more about the Marble Hill Revived project
Find out more
Marble Hill Collection Highlights
Explore some of the key items from the collection at Marble Hill, which reveal Henrietta Howard’s taste and status.
Download a plan
Download floor plans of Marble Hill House as a PDF.
Buy the Marble Hill guidebook
This fully illustrated guidebook includes a tour and full history of the house and grounds, and gives many fascinating glimpses into life at Marble Hill.
Uncovering the hidden gardens
In 2017 Historic England archaeologists explored the original layout of Henrietta Howard’s garden. Find out what they discovered.
The Gardeners that time (almost) forgot
Discover the stories of some gardeners of the past, including one of Henrietta Howard’s gardeners at Marble Hill.
Surveying Marble Hill
Geophysical surveys in 2015 and 2016 found evidence for past landscape use from the 18th to 20th centuries. Download the full survey report.
1724Building Marble Hill
Henrietta Howard, mistress of the Prince of Wales (later George II), starts to build Marble Hill House and lay out the grounds.
1734A new life
After 20 years’ service in the royal household and after falling out of favour with the king, Henrietta Howard – now Countess of Suffolk – retires from her role at court. Marble Hill becomes her main residence.
1750sSurveying the estate
A detailed survey of the Marble Hill estate is made in about 1752 during a legal dispute over land. This is now being used to guide the proposed garden restoration.
1740s–1750sA new wing
Henrietta Howard updates and expands Marble Hill. The work includes building a large service wing and creating a fashionable dining parlour.
1767–93End of an era
Henrietta dies at Marble Hill, which passes to her nephew, John Hobart, 2nd Earl of Buckinghamshire. He lets the house and contents before living at Marble Hill until his death.
Henrietta Hotham, Henrietta Howard’s great-niece, inherits Marble Hill and lets the house to a series of tenants.
1816–24The estate is sold
On Henrietta Hotham’s death the 5th Earl of Buckinghamshire succeeds to Marble Hill, which he sells in 1824, breaking the conditions of Henrietta Howard’s will.
1825–87The Peels at Marble Hill
The soldier, MP and horseracing devotee Captain Jonathan Peel buys Marble Hill and soon after builds a new stable block. His wife, Alice, dies in 1887, the last resident of Marble Hill.
1887–98Marble Hill neglected
The house stands empty until the Cunard family buys Marble Hill in 1898, with the intention of building a housing estate.
1902Saved for the people
After a public campaign Marble Hill is saved from development by an Act of Parliament protecting the celebrated view from Richmond Hill.
1940sDig for Victory
Allotments spring up in the East and West meadows as part of the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign encouraging people to grow their own food.
After a restoration campaign to return the house to its appearance in Henrietta Howard’s day, Marble Hill opens as a historic house museum.
1986–2017Marble Hill Revived
English Heritage takes over responsibility for Marble Hill in 1986. A new project aims to revive the house, garden and park.