18th Century Georgian Mansion
Built in 1757 by the 2nd Earl of Halifax, Hampton Court House was intended as an extravagant gift for his beautiful mistress, Anna Maria Donaldson. The Earl, a lovable cad if ever there was one, met Anna Maria while she was singing at London’s Marylebone Gardens. Rumour has it that the Earl was so impressed by her, he reportedly “fainted with ecstasy”.
The house was designed by the renowned architect of the time Thomas Wright, who was also responsible for a number of other very special period features, such as the heart shaped lake and the exquisitely decorated shell grotto. The grotto served as a banqueting house and no doubt was the venue of many moonlit parties. Today the grotto is a rare blend of two upper class obsessions of the time: Rococo garden design and shell collecting.