Inventory Site Record

Holland House Garden * (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

* on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens

The original house was a Jacobean mansion built in c1605 for Sir Walter Cope. It later passed to the Edwardes family, from whom Henry Fox first leased then purchased the estate in 1768, by which time he was Lord Holland of Fowley. Holland House became renowned as a place for political, intellectual and literary discussion, and in early C19th the third Lady Holland improved the garden, laying out a Dutch Garden. By 1822 the estate was running at a loss and parts began to be let for building development, although the house remained the home of the Holland family until 1940, when the house was largely destroyed by bombing. Part of the south front and remains of the East Wing survived, which with new buildings now form the King George VI Memorial Youth Hostel, which opened in 1959. The garden is laid mainly to lawn surrounded by flower and shrub beds with a large pond in front of the old Holland House.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Cope Castle; King George VI Memorial Youth Hostel
Site location:
Duchess of Bedford Walk, Holland Park
W8 7QU
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Private Garden
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Opening times:
Has opened for OGSW
Took part in Open Garden Squares Weekend in 2016.
Special conditions:
YHA café
Has opened for OGSW
Public transport:
Tube: High Street Kensington (Circle, District), Holland Park (Central). Bus: 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 328, 52, 70, 94, 148.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.yha.org.uk/find-accommodation/london/hostels/london-holland-park/index.aspx

Full Site Description

Site on The National Heritage List for England, Parks & Gardens, for Register Entry see https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list. The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England was established in 1984 and was commonly called English Heritage. In April 2015 it split into 2 separate entities, Historic England (HE), which continues to champion and protect the historic environment, and the English Heritage Trust, whose role is to look after the 400+ historic sites and monuments owned by the state. HE manages the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) that includes over 400,000 items ranging from prehistoric monuments to office blocks, battlefields and parks, which benefit from legal protection.

The garden is within Holland Park (q.v.). The original Holland House was a Jacobean mansion, built in 1605-7 for Sir Walter Cope, James I's Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was first known as Cope Castle. It was enlarged in 1638-40 for Cope's son-in-law Henry Rich, who had become Earl of Holland in 1624. A Royalist, he was beheaded in the Civil War and Holland House was used by General Sir Thomas Fairfax, but eventually passed to the Edwardes family who became the Barons of Kensington. In 1746 it was leased to Henry Fox by the Edwardes family, and then purchased by him in 1768, by which time he had become the first Lord Holland of Fowley. He was father of the radical politician Charles James Fox, whose nephew Henry Richard later became the third Baron and through the C18th and C19th the house became renowned as a place for political, intellectual and literary discussion. In the early C19th Lady Holland held a salon here, attended by such famous names as Sheridan, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Wordsworth and Dickens.

Lady Holland improved the garden, laying out a Dutch Garden and the first dahlias were grown from seed sent from Spain. Facing the dahlias was Rogers Seat named after Samuel Rogers, poet and banker. By 1822 the estate was running at a loss and from 1823, due to the financial difficulties of the third Baron (d.1840) and Baroness (d.1845), parts of the land began to be let for building development, as London expanded westward. Letting of estate land for building continued under the fourth Lord Holland (d.1859), who was keen to retain his house, which was restored for him in 1853 by Decimus Burton. Building immediately adjacent to Holland House itself was only prevented when a relative of the fourth Lady Holland, the Earl of Ilchester, took over and subsidised the estate in 1874 and granted her a life annuity. After her death in 1889, the Earl and his successors lived at Holland House until 1940, when the house was largely destroyed as a result of bombing, although the south front survives to single storey height and the remains of the East Wing was repaired.

With new buildings designed by Sir Hugh Casson and Neville Condor, Holland House is now the King George VI Memorial Youth Hostel. It was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 25 May 1959. The garden is laid mainly to lawn, surrounded by beds containing shrubs and perennial plants with some annuals for additional colour. There is a large, well-stocked pond in front of the old Holland House, visited by mallards, moorhens, herons and Holland Park's peacocks. 2005 was the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Youth Hostelling Association by Richard Schirrmann.

Sources consulted:

OGSW booklet 2005. See EH Listing for Holland Park: Country Life 13 November 1986, p1525/6; M R Gloag 'A Book of English Gardens', 1906 pp219-40; 'Holland Park Management Strategy, RBKC Survey 1986; C Holme 'Gardens of England in Southern and Western Counties', 1907 p77-81; J Macgregor 'Gardens of Celebrities . . In . . London', 1918, p198-226; N Pevsner, 'London except . . . Westminster', 1952, 262/3; Tim Knox 'The Gardens of Holland House' in The London Gardener vol.16 (2010/11)

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ249797 (525010,179706)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
Youth Hostelling Association
Site management:
Youth Hostelling Association
C18th/C19th; 1950s
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

NHLE grade:
Grade II
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
Holland Park
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Metropollitan Importance
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Area of Metropolitan Importance

Holland House Garden *

Holland House Garden - Photo: London Gardens Trust
Date taken: 12/06/05 13:52

South view of Holland House, an engraving in Lysons' Environs of London, vol 2 part 2 (1791), reproduced in Lloyd Sanders, 'Old Kew, Chiswick and Kensington', 1910

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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