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  • Marble Hill is a beautiful property that sits in the heart

  • of the local community.

  • It has been completely transformed in the last number

  • of years with kind funding

  • from the National Lottery Heritage Fund,

  • the National Lottery Community Fund,

  • and English Heritage.

  • We've invested 8 million pound into both the park

  • and the house.

  • We've completely restored the house itself,

  • creating a new visitor experience

  • with beautiful interpretation for families to enjoy

  • within the landscape itself and across the park.

  • All the facilities have been upgraded.

  • We've got fantastic gardens for visitors to enjoy,

  • from the wildflower meadows to the ice house quarter

  • and the nine pin alley.

  • There's so much for visitors to enjoy today.

  • When Henrietta embarked on building this house

  • and the garden in which it sits in 1724, she had been

  • on what we might call today, a bit of a journey.

  • She was orphaned as a child

  • and she then made a disastrous marriage to Charles Howard.

  • A man who was a gambler, a drinker,

  • who spent all her money

  • and then when things got really difficult was violent

  • and abusive to her.

  • Henrietta was determined to find a way

  • out of this poverty and a way out of this situation.

  • She was a popular courtier with a gift for friendship

  • and she became the mistress of the Prince of Wales

  • who was to become George II.

  • And it was really through this

  • that she was able to afford to build this house.

  • George II gave her a gift

  • of furniture, cash, stocks and shares,

  • which enabled her to fund the building of Marble Hill.

  • And importantly, he helped protect this gift

  • from her estranged husband, Charles Howard.

  • The house is designed in a Neo Palladian style.

  • This is a classical style,

  • harking back to the ancient world of Rome.

  • English Heritage has managed the house

  • and the estate since 1986.

  • It's been in the public domain

  • since the early 20th century

  • and the gardens around the house are a public park

  • well loved by the local community.

  • But in recent years, not much had been invested here

  • and the park was becoming tired.

  • The sports facilities, the woodland areas needed attention

  • and the house itself was damp

  • and often closed to the public.

  • So we felt it was time to do something about that,

  • to restore the house to the glory of its days

  • as Henrietta's home, and also to open up the gardens,

  • recreate the core of the 18th century gardens

  • she would've known it and improve

  • and enhance all the sports facilities

  • and public amenities for the general public.

  • Over the last few years,

  • we've been transforming the garden here at Marble Hill.

  • And part of that has been making sure we open

  • up these Woodland areas.

  • These were completely inaccessible five years ago

  • and these are areas which we've taken back

  • to that historic design from the mid 18th century.

  • We've done some brilliant work in making sure

  • that we put nature conservation

  • and biodiversity at the heart of this project.

  • So that involves things like wildflower meadows,

  • planting over 350 trees

  • and making sure that we leave some

  • of our grassland to make sure it has much more benefits

  • for pollinators and other wildlife.

  • None of this would've been possible

  • without our really hardworking group of garden volunteers.

  • And they've spent hours and hours planting all

  • of the plants that you can see at Marble Hill today.

  • And that's brought it together to make this garden

  • look really beautiful.

  • This project has been about people and about the community

  • and it's great to be able to celebrate them

  • through Marble Hill Revived, whether that be

  • through our apprentice programme,

  • where we've invested in people

  • to be able to give them opportunities to learn

  • and to explore their full potential,

  • or whether that's to working with our fantastic volunteers.

  • In 2019 we didn't have any volunteers here,

  • but now we have 240 who bring their brilliant talents

  • to help us with our research, to help us with our gardens,

  • and also to help us with our events and now the house.

  • And it's such a joy to work and be with them.

  • We've done a huge amount of work

  • at Marble Hill to make it what it is today.

  • We are in the dining parlour

  • and the wallpaper was put up in the early 2000s

  • and remarkably it has kept its colors.

  • And this is something that is very important to us,

  • that we keep the colours because once they fade,

  • you can't get the colours back.

  • And the way we do that is by putting blinds on the windows

  • just to keep the light levels down.

  • We put UV film onto the window panes,

  • and that again is a way of stopping the damaging effects

  • of light onto the wallpaper.

  • Using the environmental monitoring system

  • together with the building management system,

  • we can make sure that all the rooms are at a stable level

  • which best protects the collection.

  • And my role is to care for the collection.

  • And the idea is to have this collection

  • for everybody to enjoy,

  • but also for your children

  • and your children's children to enjoy too.

  • So we are very much looking long term, and that is the role

  • of a conservator is to conserve our beautiful heritage.

  • I'm in the great room at Marble Hill.

  • This was the room where Henrietta Howard

  • entertained her guests.

  • To get to the great room,

  • you climb a spectacular mahogany staircase

  • and arrive in a high ceilinged room

  • with wonderful views of the garden

  • and the river to the south.

  • And this is a room where we have been able to bring together

  • a few of the objects that actually belonged to Henrietta.

  • When she died, she had stipulated that her collections

  • should be kept together.

  • She didn't want them dispersed or sold,

  • but that's sadly not what happened.

  • Almost every item that had been in the house

  • when she lived here, disappeared from the house.

  • There are a few items now, though, in this room

  • which we can show you.

  • The interior of the great room at Marble Hill

  • is distinguished by its symmetry.

  • And that's an important element

  • in the neoclassical architectural design

  • that Henrietta wanted to achieve here.

  • In this room, there were originally four peer tables

  • of which only one now survives.

  • The table until recently was gilded

  • and when we began a conservation project on it,

  • we undertook some paint analysis

  • and discovered that originally the table had been not gold

  • but a colour closer to white.

  • We have reproduced its original colour,

  • and we also commissioned a replica table to sit alongside it

  • to restore some of that symmetry to the room.

  • This is a lacquered screen,

  • a folding screen which you could move around the room.

  • And I think it was probably used to exclude drafts

  • or to kind of create a slightly smaller space to sit in

  • and it's lacquered with Chinese design on it.

  • And we know it was Henrietta's,

  • because it has on the corner her coat of arms.

  • Among the paintings in the great room are five

  • which we know where here in Henrietta's day.

  • They are slightly fanciful collections

  • of famous Roman ruins and temples.

  • So this was a way that she could experience the sights

  • of Rome without actually visiting

  • and is very much in keeping with her desire

  • to recreate a little bit of ancient Rome

  • here in Twickenham.

  • It's been great to be able to celebrate many parts

  • of the project, but also to celebrate the history

  • and using the story of Henrietta to inspire

  • and in some cases, change people's lives.

  • Working with people who have been victims

  • of domestic abuse has been a real joy,

  • for them to find togetherness

  • and to express their feelings through art, through nature.