History and Stories
Marble Hill in 2022 after conservation

History and Stories: Marble Hill

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 has brought the house and Henrietta Howard’s lost garden back to life.

Marble Hill seen from across the river Thames

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.

  • Henrietta Howard

    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.

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 as a PDF.

  • Buy the Marble Hill Leaflet

    With the reopening of the house in May 2022, and before publication of a new English Heritage Red Guide in the autumn, this brief guide introduces some of the key features and stories of Marble Hill, and the work of the restoration programme.

  • 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.

 Timeline of Marble Hill

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.

Marble Hill House
More about Marble Hill's History

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.

Henrietta Howard by Charles Jervas, c.1724
Find out more about Henrietta Howard
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