Twickenham was the home of a number of the rich and famous throughout the centuries, for example
at Richmond House.
It is hardly surprising that neighbours would take an interest in one another as seems to be the case
with Alexander Pope, who lived in Strawberry Hill, and Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, who
built nearby Marble Hill House.
There is interest in the gardens at Marble Hill and the following records give a
glimpse of Alexander Pope’s interest in Marble Hill Gardens (see the image above: Marble Hill from the river, 1749, by Heckell and Mason)
In 1723 Charles Mordaunt, third Earl of Peterborough, wrote the following to Alexander Pope
to arrange a joint visit to Henrietta Howard:
“I intended to wait on Mrs Howard to day ... I was impatient to know the issue of affaire, and
what she intended for this autumn for no time is to be Lost either if she intends to build out
houses or prepare for planting. I will ... call upon you as soon as I am able that we may goe
together to Mrs Howards”. (Sherburn vol ii pp.196-7, 1723 Lord Peterborough to Pope).
A letter from Pope in 1724 indicated that he was neglecting his own writing to spend more
time on Marble Hill. Whilst staying at Sherborne Pope, wrote “I have spent many hours here
in studying for hers [Mrs Howard’s garden] and drawing new plans for her”. Thus, it has been
suggested that the gardens at Sherborne may have influenced the gardens at Marble Hill.
(Sherburn vol ii pp.236-40, 22 June 1724 Pope to Lady Blout of Twickenham Grange - see Prado's Grapes).
Records seem to show that there was some involvement by Pope in the gardens; an account
for work in the grounds in January 1725 records payments for a Garden Roll ... by the order of
Mr Pope” and for “120 ft. of Deale Railling Corss ye Bolling Green”. (Peter Willis, The Work of
Charles Bridgeman in the Amateur Historian vol vi no. 3, Spring 1964 pp.91-6).
Professional advice for the gardens was sought from Charles Bridgeman by Mrs Howard. On 28 September
1724 Bridgeman wrote to Pope explaining that he had been very busy since a visit to Marble Hill with Pope
but that he had “begun on the plann, and have not [lef]t from that time to this so long as I could see, nor shall [I] leave it till ‘tis finish’d which I hope will be about tomorrow Noon”. (Sherburn vol ii p.261 28 Sept 1724 Charles Bridgeman to Pope).
MY STRAWBERRY HILL HOUSE:
Walpole's Strawberry Hill House,
Grand Neighbours - Richmond House.