King James I’s London – 5. Holland House

May 11, 2011

A Jacobean mansion located in Kensington’s Holland Park, Holland House was first built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope, Chancellor of the Exchequer for King James I. 

Sir Walter apparently entertained the king and his wife, Queen Anne of Denmark, at the property – then named Cope Castle – on numerous occasions at the property and reportedly hosted the king the night after his son, Henry Frederick, the Prince of Wales, died in 1612.

Its name came with a later owner – the ill-fated Henry Rich, Cope’s son-in-law, who was made the 1st Earl of Holland in 1624 and was later executed for his role in supporting the Royalist cause during the Civil War during which the house was occupied by parliamentary troops.

The home was later used by various family members – among luminaries associated with the property are the essayist Joseph Addison who died there in 1719 as well as, in later years, the likes of Lord Byron, Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens and Sir Walter Scott, all of whom visited the property during the property’s golden age in the 19th century when it was an important social gathering place.

The house was largely destroyed in a bombing raid in September 1940 and passed into ownership of the local authority. A youth hostel is now housed inside the restored east wing of the building while other buildings are used for a restaurant and function centre – all set within the 22 hectare (55 acre) Holland Park. Some of the ruins provide a backdrop for open-air theatre performances and concerts in summer.

WHERE: Holland Park (nearest tube stations are Holland Park, Kensington High Street and Notting Hill); WHEN: 7.30am to 30 minutes before dusk (check signs by entrance); COST: Park entrance is free (house is not open to the public); WEBSITE: www.rbkc.gov.uk/leisureandlibraries/parksandgardens/yourlocalpark/hollandpark.aspx

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