Engraving of Marble Hill House in 1749, seen from across the River Thames

Marble Hill Revived

Marble Hill is a much-loved space for both locals and Londoners, young and old, to relax and play. However, since the 1980s it’s seen little investment. Opening times for the historic house are limited, while the park’s original character has been lost. Across Marble Hill, the facilities need upgrading.

Now, with the award of a grant of over £4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Big Lottery Fund from the Parks for People Programme, English Heritage plans to do justice to both house and park through a series of £6m improvements. Find out more below.

Marble Hill House

Our plans for Marble Hill

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 to tell 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.

After consulting local residents, we’ve submitted a planning application to the London Borough of Richmond for the physical changes we want to make.  

 

HLF Parks for People logo

Background to the project

Henrietta Howard in about 1724, by Charles Jervas

This portrait of Henrietta Howard by Charles Jervas was painted in about 1724, when work on Marble Hill House was just beginning

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 survey of Marble Hill made in about 1752

We will base our restoration of the garden on this survey of Marble Hill made in about 1752. © Norfolk Record Office, MC184/10/1 (rights reserved)

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

  • Design for ‘a House in Twittenham’ by Colen Campbell, published in 1725

    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.

  • Henrietta Howard, 9th Countess of Suffolk

    Henrietta Howard

    Read more about the life of Henrietta Howard, and how she overcame personal adversity to become an extraordinary figure in Georgian court society.

  • The survey of Marble Hill made in about 1752.  © Norfolk Record Office, MC184/10/1 (rights reserved)

    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.

  • A View from Richmond Hill by Antonio Joli, c.1750  © By kind permission of the Richmond Borough Art Collection, Orleans House Gallery

    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.

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