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Hertford House (Manchester House)

  • Built / Designed For: George Montagu, 4th Duke of Manchester

    House & Family History: Manchester House was designed by Joshua Brown (who is believed to have been influenced in his designs by Robert Adam) between 1776 and 1780 for George Montagu, 4th Duke of Manchester. Soon after the duke's death in 1788 the house was leased to the Spanish government to serve as its embassy; during this time Joseph Bonomi the Elder designed a chapel for the embassy. The 2nd Marquess of Hertford took over the lease in 1797; it was during this time that the Prince Regent (later King George IV) was a frequent visitor, flirting with the marchioness, with whom the prince was rumored to be having an affair. Between 1834 and 1851 Manchester House was let by the 3rd Marquess to the French government to serve as their embassy. It was Sir Richard Wallace (the illegitimate son of the 4th Marquess) who renamed the property Hertford House and commissioned the architect Thomas Ambler to extend and alter the mansion to house the collections he inherited from his father and grandfather, laying the groundwork for today's Wallace Collection. Two important houses in the United States were influenced by the design of Manchester House. William Bingham, a Philadelphia banker, trader, and merchant (and one of the richest men in America), lived in London during the 1780s, where he was a frequent visitor to Manchester House. Before his return to Philadelphia in 1786 Bingham had an architect (probably the English architect architect John Plaw) draw up plans for an exceptionally fine house to be built in the City of Brotherly Love based on Manchester House. Bingham House (see "Images" section), which was completed in 1788, was one of the five largest homes in America when it was built. It sat on a three-acre lot next to Powel House (today a house museum) and was one of Philadelphia's grandest residences, entertaining the cream of early American society, including George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Though it was demolished in 1850, Bingham House had a strong impact throughout the new United States. One of the most enduring examples of its influence is in Boston, where Charles Bulfinch, America's first professional architect, based his 1796 Harrison Gray Otis House (the first Otis House, see "Images" section, today a house museum) on Bingham House.

    Collections: The Wallace Collection has been called one of the greatest personal collections of modern times. The core of the collection was begun by the 3rd Marquess of Hertford and continued and expanded by his son, the 4th Marquess, and his grandsons: the 5th Marquess and Sir Richard Wallace (the 4th Marquess's illegitimate son). Much of the collection was established with the help of political disruptions and revolution on the continent, making a large supply of reasonably priced art available, often with a royal or aristocratic provenance. The marquetry desk made for Stanislas Lescynski, king of Poland, by Riesener and Oeben, circa 1760, is considered the finest example of Louis XV furniture in existence. The main staircase balustrade, originally made for the Palais Mazarin, is probably the greatest surviving example of early 18th century metalwork. One of the Wallace Collection's greatest masterpieces, Poussin's "A Dance to the Music of Time" (see "Images" section), was purchased by the 4th Marquess of Hertford in Rome at the 1845 sale of Cardinal Joseph Fesch's collection.

  • Architect: Joshua Brown

    Date: 1776-88
    Designed: House for George Montagu, 4th Duke of Manchester.

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    Architect: Joseph Bonomi the Elder

    Date: Post 1788
    Designed: Chapel for Spanish Embassy

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    Architect: Thomas Ambler

    Date: 1872-75
    Designed: Expanded and altered house for Sir Richard Wallace to house his collections

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  • Title: Great Houses of London, The
    Author: Pearce, David
    Year Published: 1986
    Reference: pgs. 202-203
    Publisher: New York: The Vendome Press
    ISBN: 0865650632
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade II

    Park Listed: No Park

  • "Purely for Pleasure: The Wallace Collection" (1975 - TV movie). "Parting Shots" (1998 - as the Majestic Hotel exterior). "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking" (2004 - BBC TV movie, as the exterior of the Duke of Narborough's London home). "Prime Suspect 7: The Final Act" (2006 - TV mini series, as the art museum in part 1). "Wars of the Roses: A Time Team Special" (2011 - TV documentary). "Quizeum" (2015 - TV special game show). "My Policeman" (2022).
  • Past Seat / Home of: George Montagu, 4th Duke of Manchester, 1780-88. Francis Ingram-Seymour-Conway, 2nd Marquess of Hertford, 1797-1822; Francis Charles Seymour-Conway, 3rd Marquess of Hertford, 1822-42; Captain Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1842-70; Francis Hugh George Seymour, 5th Marquess of Hertford, 1870-71. Sir Richard Wallace, 1st Bt., 1871-90.

    Current Ownership Type: Charity / Nonprofit

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Museum

    Ownership Details: Since 1897 The Wallace Collection.

  • House Open to Public: Yes

    Phone: 02075-639-500

    Fax: 02072-242-155

    Email: [email protected]

    Website: https://www.wallacecollection.org/

    Historic Houses Member: No