Holland House was built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope, earning it its original nickname of "Cope's Castle". The great Jacobean house passed into the hands of the aptly named Sir Henry Rich, the first Earl of Holland, when he married Cope's eldest daughter Isabel, and it is from him that the area gained it's modern name. The house was bought by Henry Fox in 1768 and became something of a literary parlour being frequented by the likes of Gladstone, Humboldt, Byron, Dickens and Disraeli until it was virtually destroyed by German incendary bombing in 1940.
The abandoned site was purchased by London County Council in 1952 who opened the grounds to the public and put the surviving structures to good use. The stables contain an Ecology center housing natural history exhibitions and resources for local schools. The Ice House now plays host to temporary art exhibitions, phone 020 7602 9483 for details of what is currently showing. The Orangery has been taken over by an expensive resteraunt if you're feeling hungry and the rebuilt East Wing now houses a YHA youth hostel offering dorm beds for around twenty quid a night in case you really can't bear to leave.
The grounds are expansive, well cared for and relatively quiet, compared to some of the bigger parks, and you will often find yourself sharing the grounds with just the Peacocks who wander the park freely. The park is home to a large wildlife reserve and there are a number of nature trails meandering through the grounds, see the Ecology center in the former stables for details. Also check out the fabulous Kyoto Gardens, a serene little Japanese Garden complete with Koi Ponds and Pagodas, and the Orangery where you can grab a coffee or an ice-cream.
The high walls that surround the park seem to complete cut off the city outside allowing you to forget the hustle and bustle of West London and relax with a good book, what better way to spend a sunny summer afternoon is there?
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November 6, 2005
From journal May day, may day...must get self back to London!
May 3, 2002
From journal Notting Hill: My London Home