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BY THE REV. J. C. M. BELLEW.
E who is studious of the olden times may wander almost in vain about the suburbs of London, or through its noisy streets, in search of those ancient mansions, those Baronial residences (as they are called), which were once congregated along the river's bank in the Strand, and at Chelsea, or nestled among the trees of Hampstead and Highgate.
In the City, a precious remnant of the Crosby Hall of Richard III. still exists, which in any other country but England would be jealously guarded by the State. In the Strand, Northumberland House, built for Henry Howard, son of the poet Surrey (1605), is the last representative of those noble mansions, a faint remembrance of which is recalled in the names of streets marking the spots whereon they formerly stood. On the opposite shore of the Thames, the ancient towers of Lambeth Palace carry us back in imagination to the times of the Lollards. In Holborn, a fragment of the domestic chapei still marks the site of the famous Ely House. In the Strand, the Savoy Chapel reminds us that Simon de Montford once lived there; that John o'Gaunt had his palace on that spot, and that under his hospitable roof Chaucer dwelt and sang. But, with the exception of Northumberland House (and even this has been so Italianized and metamorphosed internally as to have completely lost its original character), we may wander in or about the suburbs of London in the vain search for one of the famous "Houses," one of the ancestral homes around which still linger reminiscences of former days, traditions of bygone
centuries, and associations which recall men and women whose valour, or genius, or beauty, or wit, has given them a place in the memory of their country, until we are confronted by Holland House, crowning with its old brickwork gables, and turrets, and quaint parapets that gentle slope, which, gradually declining from Kensington and Notting Hill, sinks into the valley of the Thames.
"Thou hill, whose brow the antique structures grace,
Reared by bold chiefs of Warwick's noble race;
How sweet were once thy prospects fresh and fair,
How sweet the glooms beneath thine aged trees,
Thy noontide shadow, and thine evening breeze."
Holland House, bedded in those elm-trees, which stretch from the Kensington Road up to and around the mansion, is a familiar and ever a delightful object to the gaze of Londoners who pass in thousands, day by day, along that chiefest and best approach to the Metropolis, the great high-road to the west of England. The old place has of late years become more and more a spot of jealous regard, because the big city, expanding itself in every direction, has at length hemmed in the Park and House. Too truly did a friend of Henry Vassal, the third Lord Holland, write :-"The wonderful city, which, ancient and gigantic as it is, still continues to grow as a young town of logwood by a water privilege in Michigan, may soon displace those turrets and gardens, which are associated with so much that is interesting and noble; with the courtly magnificence of Rich, with the loves of Ormond, with the counsels of Cromwell, with the death of Addison. The time is coming when, perhaps, a few old men, the last survivors of our generation, will in vain seek, amid new streets, and squares, and railway stations, for the site of that dwelling, which was the favourite resort of wits and beauties, of painters and poets, of scholars, philosophers, and statesmen. They will recollect those portraits in which were preserved the features of the best and wisest Englishmen of two generations. They will remember the singular character which belonged to that circle, in which every talent and accomplishment, every art and science had its place. They will remember how the last debate was discussed in one corner, and the last comedy of Scribe in another; while Wilkie gazed with modest admiration on Reynolds's 'Baretti'; while Mackintosh turned over 'Thomas Aquinas' to verify a quotation; while Talleyrand related his con
versations with Barras at the Luxembourg, or his ride with Lannes over the field of Austerlitz."
All we can hope is that these words, if prophetical, may have the character of most prophecies, which require a very considerable lapse of time before they ripen to fulfilment.
As the interest which Holland House excites is, in the main, awakened more by its historical associations than by its architectural features, or even by the treasures it contains, the proper course will be to regard it historically first, and subsequently to describe such objects connected with the House as would attract the observation of a visitor.
The estate, or park, which until lately was about three hundred acres in extent, originally belonged to the family of De Vere, Earls of Oxford, and was a part of the manor of West-Town, or that portion of the parish of Kensington situate westward of the church. Alberic, or, as he is commonly called, Aubrey de Vere, came with the Conqueror to England. He was possessed of the Manor of Chenesitan (i.e., Kensington). From him it descended to John, fourteenth Earl of Oxford, Lord Great-Chamberlain of England, who was commonly called Little John, of Campes, from his residence at Castle Campes, in Cambridgeshire. He married a daughter of the Duke of Norfolk, but, dying without issue, in 1526 (eighteenth Henry VIII.), the manor descended to his three sisters and co-heiresses, Elizabeth, Dorothy, and Ursula. Ursula died without issue; Elizabeth married Sir Anthony Wingfield, and her son, Sir Robert Wingfield, alienated his moiety to Sir William Cornwallis, the descendant of Dorothy. Dorothy had married John Nevill, Lord Latimer; her son by that marriage was John, Lord Latimer; he died 1577, leaving four daughters, co-heiresses. The third daughter, Lucy, married Sir William Cornwallis, of Brome. On the division of her father's estates, her moiety of the Manor of Kensington came to her, and on acquiring (as above stated) the moiety of Sir Robert Wingfield, the whole Manor of Kensington came into possession of the said Sir William. Cornwallis, the eldest son of Sir Thomas Cornwallis, K.G., Comptroller of the Household to Queen Mary. Sir William had served in Ireland under the Earl of Essex, and was knighted at Dublin, 1599. The youngest daughter of Sir William, by Lucy his wife, was Anne, who was married, at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, in 1610, to Archibald, seventh Earl of Argyle. The Manor of Kensington was conveyed to trustees for the said Anne Cornwallis, and her husband, the Earl of