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talking with other out of a window : thony,
al of Warwick them
in the seventeenth century the Earl of Argyll and at Kensington Gore to its termination beyond three other persons joined in a conveyance of the Holland House, in which you are not greeted with property to Sir Walter Cope, whose daughter con- the face of some pleasant memory. Here, to veyed it by marriage to Henry Rich, Earl of minds' eyes' conversant with local biography, Holland. The manor subsequently passed into stands a beauty looking out of a window; there, the hands of Lord Kensington, who was maternally a wit talking with other wits at a garden-gate; descended from Robert Rich, last Earl of Warwick there, a poet on the green sward, glad to get out of and Holland, and whose barony, singularly enough, the London smoke and find himself among trees. is an Irish one, although the title is derived from Here come De Veres of the times of old; Hollands this place.
and Davenants, of the Stuart and Cromwell times; Parochially considered, Kensington is somewhat Evelyn, peering about him soberly, and Samuel of an enigma, for it is not only more than Ken- Pepys in a bustle. Here advance Prior, Swift, sington in some places, but it is not Kensington Arbuthnot, Gay, Sir Isaac Newton; Steele, from itself in others. In Kensington parish, for in- visiting Addison ; Walpole, from visiting the Foxes; stance, are included Earl's Court, Little Chelsea, Johnson, from a dinner with Elphinstone ; ‘Junius,' Old and New Brompton, Kensal Green, and even from a communication with Wilkes. Here, in his some of the houses in Sloane Street; while, on the carriage, is King William III. going from the palace other hand, Kensington Palace and Kensington to open Parliament; Queen Anne, for the same purGardens are not in Kensington, but in the parish pose; George I. and George II. (we shall have the of St. Margaret's, Westminster.
pleasure of looking at all these personages a little The place, which now forms, as it were, part more closely); and there, from out of Kensington and parcel of London, was down to comparatively Gardens, comes bursting, as if the whole recorded recent times a village, one mile and a half from polite world were in flower at one and the same Hyde Park Corner. The name is stated by some period, all the fashion of the gayest times of those topographers to be derived from Kennigston, or sovereigns, blooming with chintzes, full-blown with from the Saxon Kyning's-tun, a term synonymous hoop-petticoats, towering with topknots and toupees. with King's End Town, and to be the same word Here comes ‘Lady Mary,' quizzing everybody; as Kennington and Kingston ; our monarchs from and Lady Suffolk, looking discreet; there, the the earliest date having had residences at all three lovely Bellendens and Lepels; there, Miss Howe, places. Possibly, however, the “Ken” may be an laughing with Nancy Lowther (who made her very equivalent to “Kaen,” or “Caen," which lies at grave afterwards); there Chesterfield, Hanbury the root of “Kentish” Town, “Caen-wood,” &c.; Williams, Lord Hervey; Miss Chudleigh, not over but we will leave the origin of the name to be clothed; the Miss Gunnings, drawing crowds of discussed by antiquaries, and pass on to a survey admirers; and here is George Selwyn, interchanging of the district in detail.
wit with my Lady Townshend, the ‘Lady Bellaston' "Whatever was the origin of its name," writes (so, at least, it has been said) of ‘Tom Jones.'" Leigh Hunt, in the “Old Court Suburb,” “there Probably there is not an old house in Kensington is no doubt that the first inhabited spot of Ken- in which some distinguished person has not lived, sington was an inclosure from the great Middlesex during the reigns in which the Court resided there; forest which once occupied this side of London, but the houses themselves are, as Leigh Hunt puts and which extended northwards as far as Barnet." | it, “but dry bones, unless invested with interests of Kensington has been always a favourite, not only flesh and blood.” with royalty, but with those who more or less bask The Royal Albert Hall and the gardens of the in the sunshine of princes-poets, painters, &c. Horticultural Society occupy the site of Gore House The healthfulness and fashion of the place attracted and grounds. This is probably the estate called numerous families of distinction; and its import- the Gara, or the Gare, which Herbert, Abbot of ance was completed when William III. bought the Westminster, gave to the nuns of Kilburn. The house and grounds of the Finch family (Earls of spot was, according to John Timbs, anciently called Nottingham), and converted the former into a Kyng's Gore. Old Gore House was a low, plain, palace, and the latter into royal gardens. It is and unpretending building, painted white, and emphatically “the old Court suburb," and is abutted on the roadway, about 150 yards to the familiar to all readers of Thackeray, who has por- east of the chief public entrance to the Albert Hall. trayed its features in many of his writings, especially Its external beauty, if it had any, belonged to its in “Esmond.” Leigh Hunt observes that “there southern, or garden side. Standing close to the is not a step of the way, from its commencement roadside, it looked as if meant originally for the
asant gard by the housGore Houses Napoleone, and b
lodge of some great mansion which had never was always most anxious to avoid. Mrs. Wilberactually been built; and the row, of which it formed force supported in this mansion a school for poor a part, as Leigh Hunt observes, in his “Old Court girls, which was under her own personal superinSuburb," might easily lead one to imagine that it tendence. At Gore House the gallant admiral, had been divided into apartments for the retainers Lord Rodney, was for some time “laid up in port.” of the Court, and that either a supernumerary set of Mr. Wilberforce having occupied the house for maids of honour had lived there, or else that some thirteen years, from 1808 down to 1821, it next four or five younger brothers of lords of the bed passed into the hands of a new meditator, but chamber had been the occupants, and expecting not so much on the beauties of nature as on those places in reversion. “The two houses," adds the of art and literature-one who was more spirituelle writer, "seem to be nothing but one large drawing- in salons, that “spiritual” in Wilberforce's sense of room. They possess, however, parlours and second the term—the “gorgeous” Countess of Blessington storeys at the back, and they have good gardens, so became in turn its proprietor. She lived here that, what with their flowers behind them, the park during her widowhood, surrounded by a bright and in front, and their own neatness and elegance, the fashionable crowd of aristocratic and literary adminiature aristocracy of their appearance is not ill mirers. Gore House became indeed a centre of borne out."
attraction to the world of letters; for besides giving Here, for the best part of half a century, distin- such dinners as Dr. Johnson would have thought guished statesmen and philanthropists, and after- worth being asked to,” Lady Blessington prided wards the light and frivolous butterflies of West-end herself on her success in "bringing people together," society, used to mix with men of letters and the in order to please and be pleased in turn. Here votaries of science. Here the “lions” of the day were such men of the last generation as Lord were entertained from time to time; and there Melbourne, the poet Campbell, Samuel Rogers, were few houses to which the entrée was more and many of the beaux of “the Regency” and of coveted. At the end of the last century it was the reign of George IV., including Count D'Orsay, little more than a cottage, with a pleasant garden who married Lady Blessington's daughter, and made in the rear attached to it, and it was tenanted by the house his home. a Government contractor, who does not seem to “At Gore House," writes Mr. Blanchard Jerhave cared to go to any expense in keeping it in rold, “Prince Louis Napoleon met most of the order. Early in the present century it was en intellectual society of the time, and became the larged on coming into the possession of Mr. Wilfriend of Count D'Orsay, Sir E. Lytton Bulwer, berforce, who soon grew very fond of the spot, and Sir Henry Holland, Albany Fonblanque, and many here used to entertain Mr. Pitt, Lord Auckland others who formed Lady Blessington's circle.” (who lived hard by), and such eminent philan- The Prince dined at Gore House with a small thropists as Clarkson, Stephen, Zachary Macaulay, party of West-end friends and acquaintances, inand Romilly ; indeed, it has often been said that cluding Lord Nugent and “Poodle" Byng, on the agitation which ended in the abolition of West the evening before he started off on his wild and Indian slavery was commenced in the library of abortive effort to make a descent on Boulogne in Gore House. Of this place Mr. Wilberforce often August, 1840. “It was the fashion in that day," speaks in his private correspondence; and in one says Mr. Planché, in his “Recollections,” “to place he mentions his rus in urbe in the following wear black satin handkerchiefs for evening dress; terms :-“We are just one mile from the turnpike and that of the Prince was fastened by a large at Hyde Park Corner, having about three acres of spread eagle in diamonds, clutching a thunderbolt pleasure-ground around our house, or rather behind of rubies. There was in England at that time it, and several old trees, walnut and mulberry, of but one man who, without the impeachment of thick foliage. I can sit and read under their coxcombry, could have sported so magnificent a shade with as much admiration of the beauties of jewel ; and though to my knowledge I had never Nature as if I were down in Yorkshire, or anywhere seen him before, I felt convinced that he could be else 200 miles from the great city.” Here, too, no other than Prince Louis Napoleon. Such was his four sons, including the future Bishop of Oxford the fact. . . . There was a general conversation on and of Winchester, were mainly brought up in their indifferent matters for some twenty minutes, during childhood and boyhood; and in the later years of which the Prince spoke but little, and then took its hospitable owner's life it is on record that “its his departure with Count Montholon. Shortly costliness made him at times uneasy, lest it should afterwards, Lord Nugent, Mr. Byng, and I, said force him to curtail his charities," a thing which he good night, and walked townward together. As
o fort to ma was the la Recollecting dress
we went along, one of my companions said to the establishments seldom equalled, and still more other, “What could Louis Napoleon mean by rarely surpassed, in all the appliances of a state of asking us to dine with him at the Tuileries on society brilliant in the highest degree ; but, alas ! it this day twelve months ?' Four days afterwards must be acknowledged, at the same time, a state the question was answered. The news arrived of of splendid misery for a great portion of that time the abortive landing at Boulogne and the captivity to the mistress of those elegant and luxurious of the Prince.” On the first day after his escape establishments. And now, at the end of that from Ham (1846), and his arrival in London, Prince time, we find her forced to abandon that position, Louis Napoleon again dined here at a party, with to leave all the elegancies and refinements of her
Lady Blessington, Count D'Orsay, Walter Savage home to become the property of strangers, and in Landor, Mr. John Forster, &c., whom he amused fact to make a departure from the scene of all her by recounting his recent adventure in detail. former triumphs, with a privacy which must have
Mr. Madden, in his “ Life and Correspondence | been most painful and humiliating.” of the Countess of Blessington,” says :„“For Count D'Orsay painted a large garden view of nineteen years Lady Blessington had maintained, Gore House, with portraits of the Duke of Welat first in Seamore Place, and afterwards at Ken- lington, Lords Chesterfield, Douro, and Brougham, sington, a position almost queen-like in the world Sir E. Landseer, the Miss Powers, and other of intellectual distinction, in fashionable literary | members of the fashionable circle that gathered society, reigning over the best circles of London there. “In the foreground, to the right,” says a celebrities, and reckoning among her admiring description of the picture, “are the great Duke friends, and the frequenters of her salons, the most and Lady Blessington; in the centre, Sir E. Landeminent men of England in every walk of litera- seer, seated, in the act of sketching a fine cow, with ture, art, and science, in statesmanship, in the a calf by her side ; Count D'Orsay himself, with military profession, and in every learned pursuit. two favourite dogs, is seen on the right of the For nineteen years she had maintained in London group, and Lord Chesterfield on the left : nearer
the house are the two Miss Powers (nieces of and Albert Smith and Thackeray, Charles Dickens Lady Blessington), reading a letter, a gentleman and William Jerdan, Mr. Monckton Milnes, Mr. walking behind. Further to the left are Lord A. Baillie Cochrane, Mr. N. P. Willis, the Countess Brougham, Lord Douro, &c., seated under a tree, Guiccioli (Byron's chere amie), Lords Brougham, engaged in conversation."
Lyndhurst, and Chesterfield, and all the other
Mr. Madden, in his book above quoted, gives | celebrities, who, being added up together into one us anecdotes of, or letters from, most of the visitors sum, made up, what Joseph Hume would have at Gore House when it was in its prime. Thomas styled, the “tottle of the whole" of the Gore Moore, who sang so touchingly as to unlock the House circle. Mr. N. P. Willis thus records an fount of tears in the drawing-room, was often incident during an evening here :-“We all sat there ; so were Horace and James Smith, the round the piano, and, after two or three songs authors of the “Rejected Addresses ;”, so was Sir of Lady Blessington's choosing, Moore rambled Henry Lytton Bulwer and his brother, the late over the keys awhile, and then sang “When first I Lord Lytton. Walter Savage Landor would repair met thee,' with a pathos that beggars description. thither, with his stern eyebrows and kindly heart ; | When the last word had faltered out, he rose and
took Lady Blessington's hand, said good-night, and our army, and was anxious to learn how he had was gone before a word was uttered. . . . I have managed this under the privations to which our heard of women fainting at a song of Moore's; and brave fellows were exposed from short rations, if the burden of it answered by chance to a secret and often from no rations at all! Dere is my in the bosom of the listener, I should think, from merit, Monsieur Boyd,' he replied, "for I did its comparative effect upon so old a stager as make good dishes out of nothing.'” It is to be myself, that the heart would break with it.” feared that his words were literally true.
Lady Blessington's “curiosities” and treasures-1 The Gore House estate, comprising some twentythe contents of the once favourite mansion—were one acres, was purchased in 1852 by the Comdisposed of by auction in the summer of 1849; missioners of the Great Exhibition, out of the and she herself went off to Paris, to die in debt, surplus fund of that Exhibition, for the sum of and deserted by her butterfly admirers, but a few £60,000, as a site for a new National Gallery ; weeks afterwards. The contents of the mansion and the Baron de Villars' estate, adjoining, nearly are thus described in the catalogue of the sale : fifty acres, fronting the Brompton Road, was “Costly and elegant effects : comprising all the bought for £153,500, as a site for a Museum magnificent furniture, rare porcelain, sculpture in of Manufactures; “ these localities being recommarble, bronzes, and an assemblage of objects of mended for the dryness of the soil, and as the art and decoration ; a casket of valuable jewellery only ground safe for future years amidst the growth and bijouterie, services of rich chased silver and of the metropolis.” On the latter site, as we have silver-gilt plate, a superbly-fitted silver dressing- shown in the previous chapter, the South Kencase; collection of ancient and modern pictures, sington Museum and the Schools of Art and including many portraits of distinguished persons, Science have been erected; but instead of the valuable original drawings, and fine engravings, National Gallery, the ground at Kensington Gore framed and in portfolios; the extensive and in- was made to serve as the site for the Albert teresting library of books, comprising upwards of Hall, &c. 5,000 volumes, expensive table services of china Park House, at the eastern end of the Gore, and rich cut glass, and an infinity of useful and close by Prince's Gate, indicates the northern valuable articles. All the property of the Right boundary of the once famous Kensington or Hon. the Countess of Blessington, retiring to the Brompton Park Nursery, which figures in the pages Continent.”
of the Spectator as the establishment of Messrs. In 1851, during the time of the Great Ex- Loudon and Wise, the most celebrated gardeners hibition, Gore House was made a “Symposium," of their time. Near to this was Noel House, so or restaurant, by M. Alexis Soyer, whose cuisine, called from having been built by one of the whilst chef of the Reform Club, enjoyed European Campdens. Hamilton Lodge, Kensington Gore, fame.* Its walls were once more adorned with a was the occasional residence of John Wilkes, who splendour and costliness which it had not known here entertained Counts Woronzow and Nesselrode, for some years, though, possibly, not with equal and Sir Philip Francis. At Palace Gate lives Mr. J. taste as that which was so conspicuous under the E. Millais, R.A. De Vere Gardens, close by, perrégime of the clever and brilliant lady who had petuate the memory of the Veres, Earls of Oxford. made it a home. Soyer first came to England on A little to the west of Kensington Gore, immea visit to his brother, who was then cook to the diately opposite to the broad walk of Kensington Duke of Cambridge; and at Cambridge House he Gardens, was, in 1850-1, Batty's Grand National cooked his first dinner in England for the then Hippodrome. Its site, which lies at the back of Prince George. Soyer afterwards entered the the Prince of Wales' Terrace, covering a considerservice of various noblemen: amongst others, of able space of ground between the two thoroughLord Ailsa, Lord Panmure, &c. He then was fares known as Palace Gate and Victoria Road, employed by the Reform Club, and the breakfast was for many years used as a riding school, but given by that club, on the occasion of the Queen's was ultimately given up for building purposes. coronation, obtained him high commendation. Near the old turnpike, which stood a little west. Mr. Mark Boyd, in his “Social Gleanings," tells a ward of Gore House, was a small inn known as good story about M. Soyer. “Meeting him in an the halfway house between London and Hammer. omnibus, after his return from the Crimea, I con-smith. It was a curious and picturesque structure, gratulated him on the laurels he had gained with but was swept away about the year 1860.
Opposite Queen's Gate Gardens, and adjoining See Vol. IV., p. 149.
the Gloucester Road, on the west side of the