The Holland House was built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope, a courtier of King James I, and was known as Cope Castle.
It presided over a 500 acres estate that stretched from Holland Park Avenue to the current site of Earl’s Court tube station, and contained exotic trees imported by John Tradescant the Younger.
Following its completion, Cope entertained the king and queen at it numerous times; in 1608, John Chamberlain, the noted author of letters, complained that he was “not allowed to touch even a cherry because the queen was expected”.
Following the death of King James I’s son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales in November 1612, he spent the night at Cope Castle, being joined the following day by his son Prince Charles and granddaughter Princess Elizabeth, and Frederick V, Elector Palatine.
Cope’s son-in-law, Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland eventually inherited the house. He was later beheaded for his Royalist activities during the Civil War and the house was then used as an army headquarters, being regularly visited by Oliver Cromwell. After the war, it was owned by various members of the family and renamed Holland House. In 1719, Joseph Addison, the English essayist, poet and politician, died in the building.
Holland House passed to the Edwardes family in 1721. Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland died at Holland House in 1774 and thereafter it was inherited by his descendants until the title became extinct with the death of Henry Edward Fox, 4th Baron Holland in 1859; however, his widow continued to live there for many years, gradually selling off outlying parts of the park for development.
In 1874, the estate passed to a distant Fox cousin, Henry Fox-Strangways, 5th Earl of Ilchester. Through his son Charles James Fox it became the social centre of the Whig Party in the 19th Century.
Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother and King George VI attended the last great ball held at the house a few weeks before the outbreak of World War II. In September 1940, the building was badly hit during a ten hour bombing raid and largely destroyed. It passed into the ownership, with its grounds, of the local authority. Today the remains form a backdrop for the open air Holland Park Theatre, home of Opera Holland Park.