THE HOLLAND HOUSE SET

THE FORMER LADY WEBSTER BECOMES A SOCIETY HOSTESS

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After their marriage Lord and Lady Holland settled at Holland House a huge Jacobean mansion to the west of Marble Arch . Here the Foxes established one of the most important salons in Europe at that time and it was Elizabeth who was the driving force behind its creation. One observer noted that ‘Lady Holland has certainly organised a good system of society – 10 people every day at dinner……and all have the same politics’ This politics belonged to the Whig Party, the left wing faction of the time and Elizabeth’s dinners, soires and routes attracted all the main players – most of them aristocrats. Otherwise it was open house with a wide range of subjects including religion, philosophy, literature and history . Diverse personalities such as Lord Grey, Samuel Rogers, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Walter Scott, Sydney Smith, Fanny Kemble and Charles Dickens were invited. One subject which especially interested the Foxes was Continental politics. They had continued their travels, notwithstanding the Wars, and Elizabeth had kept a journal of her frequent visits to Spain. She was fanatical supporter of Napoleon and would discuss his exploits with visitors such as Madame De Stael or Talleyrand. She even sent Napoleon gifts when he was eventually exiled to St Helena and when Napoleon died he in turn left her a gold snuff box in his will.

And Elizabeth’s character during these golden years? No longer subject to a domineering husband she became an assertive and even ,according to some, an aggressive woman. She was described by one as a’ violent… and imperious woman with forthright opinions’ and Lady Caroline Lamb in her book ‘Glenarvon’ (1816) satirised her regal manner. No doubt some of this condemnation arose because Elizabeth now refused to play the meek, dutiful wife and indeed it was true she herself tended to dominate her husband. However their marriage was a true partnership and when Henry died in 1840 she stated ‘this wretched day, closes all happiness, refinement and hospitality’. Elizabeth afterwards moved to other accommodation and she died in 1845

Author: coverstory2017

I am retired having had careers as a lecturer and then supporting people with learning disabilities. I love history, poetry and dogs. Politically I am what I would call a left wing Conservative and although I am not religious I find its mysticism fascinating, especially with regard to the Catholic faith.

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