Marble Hill Revived
Marble Hill House is the last of the great Thames-side Palladian mansions. It tells the tale of its remarkable creator, Henrietta Howard, who built Marble Hill House in the 1720s as a retreat from court life and as a place to entertain her dazzling circle of friends.
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 of Henrietta’s lifetime, and to improve facilities throughout the park and house. Discover more about our plans below.
Our plans for Marble Hill
English Heritage aspires to make Marble Hill one of the best parks in London. We hope our planned changes will encourage people to use the park and its facilities even more than they do now.
We have now been awarded a grant of over £4 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund from the Parks for People Programme for the Marble Hill Revived project. English Heritage will be making a series of improvements totalling £6 million to the house and parkland, turning back decades of underinvestment.
Key elements of our plans include:
- conserving the exterior of Marble Hill House to preserve it for future generations
- installing new interpretation in the house itself to retell the property’s fascinating stories
- making admission to the house free, and opening it to the public five days a week for seven months of the year
- restoring the lost 18th-century garden in places while in others, opening up and replanting overgrown areas to create new spaces
- creating an extra 17.5 full-time equivalent jobs
- giving the sports facilities a much-needed upgrade by improving the quality of the pitches, refurbishing the changing rooms, and adding a separate changing area for women for the first time.
A new play area for children, café and local events programme are also part of the plans.
Images: Artist’s visualisations of the proposed new café and children’s play area
Background to the project
Henrietta Howard and Marble Hill
Henrietta Howard (1689–1767) is best known for being the mistress of the Prince of Wales, later King George II – but that is only a part of her life story. Orphaned at the age of 12, she was married aged 16 to a drunk and a gambler, and from quite a young age was partially deaf, but she overcame these circumstances to become one of the most liked ladies of the royal court.
It was during her 20 years at court that she began to build Marble Hill House at Twickenham as a retreat from court life. Here at Marble Hill, Henrietta built friendships and networks to become central to the ‘Twickenham set’, including Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay and Horace Walpole, and triumphed over adversity to marry again, happily, later in life.
Our new interpretation will re-animate the house with tales of the vibrant cast of characters around Henrietta, from family members to visitors to pet dogs.Read more about Henrietta Howard
the Historic Landscape
Henrietta Howard’s garden is a rare surviving example of an early 18th-century villa landscape. It was designed to provide an appropriately ‘ancient’ setting for the villa itself, which was in the classically inspired Palladian style. Key figures in the history of designed landscapes, including Charles Bridgeman and the poet Alexander Pope, played a part in the garden’s creation.
Marble Hill became a public park in 1902, after a campaign to protect the land from development and save the famous view from Richmond Hill – the only English landscape view protected by Act of Parliament. Today it’s a much-loved and lively local amenity, used for sports as well as a tranquil retreat from city life.
Currently, though, the park reflects neither the landscape’s 18th-century origins, nor Henrietta’s story. English Heritage plans to restore elements of her lost garden, which lay directly between the house and the river. Key features, based on a detailed plan made in about 1752, will be recreated for the first time, including a ninepin bowling alley, flower gardens, terraces and serpentine paths.Read more about the historic landscape
More about Marble Hill
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.
Read more about the life of Henrietta Howard, and how she overcame personal adversity to become an extraordinary figure in Georgian court society.
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.