Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Orangery, Holland Park

Arches, Gardens and Tranquillity.

The Orangery
, Holland Park, is a unique place to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, for the entire family. It is a place that I have visited on a number of occasions, but I had never truly appreciated its beauty, and history, until my last visit.

Brief History

Holland House, originally called Cope Castle, was built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope, Member of Parliament for Westminster. Set in 500 acres of land, the house was one of the largest in the London area. In 1612, King James I stayed at the house for one night, while recuperating from ill health. Following Cope's death, in 1614, the building passed to his son-in-law, Henry Rich. King James I named Henry Rich Baron Kensington and Earl of Holland, Henry then changed the name of the castle to Holland House.

Between 1625 and 1635 major expansions took place, at the behest of Henry Rich, who commissioned, among others, the architect, Indigo Jones.

During the Civil War, Henry Rich was beheaded, for his Royalist sympathies, and Holland House became army headquarters, which were frequently visited by Oliver Cromwell.

The Edwardes family took possession of the house, in 1721, and began selling off some of the land. By the time that the house was sold to the Fox family, it comprised just 200 acres. When the fourth Baron died in 1859, his widow continued to live in the house until her death, in 1874.

At the beginning of the twentieth century Holland House had the largest gardens of any private house, in London, including Buckingham Palace.

In September 1940, during The Blitz, 22 incendiary bombs hit the house and surrounding grounds. Everything, beside the east wing, library and Orangery, was flattened.

The house became Grade I listed, in 1949, passing in to the hands of London County Council, then the Greater London Council, before coming under the ownership of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The Orangery is now used as a gallery space and private function venue. A cafe and a restaurant also utilise the space. Outside the Orangery are formal gardens, a fountain, a giant chess set and rose gardens.

The building is often used as a filming location, in the likes of The Big Sleep (1978) and Who Dares Wins (1982).

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