Victorian London - Directories - Dickens's Dictionary of London, by Charles Dickens, Jr., 1879 - "Mansions (Private)"

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Mansions (Private).— The art treasures belonging to the great families will generally be found in their country palaces, but sufficient objects of interest are kept in London to make a visit to some of the great private mansions interesting.

APSLEY HOUSE, Hyde Park Corner, is principally famous as the residence of the great Duke of Wellington, who largely improved it and added a picture gallery which contains a fair collection. The most interesting objects in Apsley House, however, are those which are more intimately  connected with the “Iron Duke” himself—such, for instance, as the services of plate and china presented to him by various crowned heads and public bodies, and most interesting of all, his bedroom, with the celebrated camp bedstead, which is religiously preserved as it was left at his death.

BRIDGEWATER HOUSE, Cleveland-row, with a fine frontage towards the Green-park, is remarkable for the Bridgewater collection of pictures, a portion of the gallery of the first Duke of Sutherland. The Bridgewater estates and pictures became the property of the Egerton family on the death of the duke in 1833. Of the Bridgewater House collection Mrs. Jameson says that it has had the most favourable and the most refining influence on the public taste of all the private collections.

DEVONSHIRE HOUSE, PiccadilIy the residence of the chief of the Cavendish family, is screened from pedestrians by a high brick wall, and stands in extensive grounds. The principal attractions are the gems and the Kemble plays, originally the property of John Philip Kemble. The late duke was a liberal and enlightened patron of literature and the fine arts, and it was here that the brilliant company of the Guild of Literature and Art produced, for the first time, Lord Lytton's comedy, "Not so Bad as we Seem."

GROSVENOR House, Upper Grosvenor-street, the residence of the Duke of Westminster, is one of the few houses in London distinguished for ambitious architectural effects; the colonnades in Grosvenor-street and in the park frontage being in their way unique. A very fine collection of pictures is hung in the galleries. The old masters are strongly represented; but the magnificent specimens of Reynolds, Hogarth, and Gainsborough, will have more interest for the ordinary visitor. This gallery is particularly noticeable as having been one of the first that was opened to the public— with special reference to the working classes—on Sundays. It is to be regretted that the liberality of the duke was somewhat ill-requited.

HOLLAND HOUSE, Kensington, is principally celebrated for its library and for its literary associations. Addison, who married the widow of Lord Warwick, to whom the house belonged, died here; and here lived for many years the great Charles James Fox. It was in the time of the third Lord Holland—or rather in that of Lady Holland—that Holland House was in its zenith, and was the head-quarters of some of the most brilliant men of a brilliant epoch.

LANSDOWNE HOUSE, Berkeley-square, is chiefly noticeable for its gallery of sculpture, ancient and modern; and for the fact that Priestley here made his discovery of oxygen when librarian to Lord Shelburne. Among the pictures, those of Reynolds are the most important.

STAFFORD HOUSE belonging to the Duke of Sutherland, situated near the St. James's Palace – and a palace itself – has a  magnificent collection of pictures, including the portion of the Stafford Gallery which did not pass with the Bridgewater Gallery. There is no private collection of pictures in London better worthy of careful inspection than this. Stafford House has been the scene of some of the most superb receptions ever given in this country.

In addition to the above are many private mansions of great interest, amongst which may be mentioned those of Lord Ashburton, Bath House, Piccadilly; of Mr. Holford, Dorchester House, Park-lane; of Mr Beresford Hope, Arklow House, Connaught-place; of the Earl of Dudley, Park-lane; of Lord Northbrook, Hamilton-place, Piccadilly; of the Marquis of Bute, Eccleston-SqUare ; and of Sir Richard Wallace in Manchester-square, which is, indeed, one of the most interesting of all. Information as to admission to most of these collections may be obtained by application to Mitchells library, in Old Bond-street, or to Messrs. Colnaghi, Pall Mall-east.

source: Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879