Kingston House

Paradise Row, Knightsbridge, London

Built 1757-58, by Evelyn Pierrepont (1711-1773) K.G., 2nd and last Duke of Kingston-upon-Hull, for his mistress, Elizabeth Chudleigh (1721-1788), Maid of Honour to the Princess of Wales. It was originally called Kingston House but very soon became better known as Chudleigh House before reverting back to its original name. In 1762, a guest called her house, "a gem... it contains a quantity of handsome and costly furniture and other curiosities and objects of value, chosen and arranged with the greatest taste, so that you cannot fail to admire it greatly. Everything is in perfect harmony. The view, over Hyde Park, and at the back over Chelsea, is considered with truth one of the finest that could be pictured". In 1764, the renowned Italian lover, Casanova, was tended to here in the Drawing Room having sprained his leg when he came off his horse in front of the house. Elizabeth was later found guilty of bigamy for marrying the Duke of Kingston in 1769 and she died at the Chateau Sainte-Assise that she leased near Paris....
After Elizabeth's death in 1788, it passed to the Duke's nephew, Captain Charles Medows (1737-1816) R.N., who under the terms of his uncle's will took the name Pierrepont and was later created the 1st Earl of Manvers. He leased the property to a series of tenants including Sir George Warren (1735-1801), M.P.; John Dalrymple (1749-1821), 6th Earl of Stair; and, Edward Loveden Loveden (1749-1821), F.R.S., of Buscot Park, Oxfordshire.

In 1813, the house and 21-acre estate was sold for £20,000 to the Irish peer William Hare (1751-1837), 1st Earl of Listowel. He died there in 1837 and was succeeded by his grandson William Hare (1801-1856), 2nd Earl of Listowel. The 2nd Earl rarely stayed there and was persuaded by the savvy son of a carpenter who'd made a name for himself developing Mayfair, John Elger (1802-1888), to develop large tracts of the estate, creating Prince's Gate and Ennismore Gardens. During this time the house was leased to several tenants including the Duke of Wellington's brother, Richard Wellesley (1760-1842), 1st Marquess Wellesley, who died there in 1842; and the banker Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879).

Kingston House remained in the ownership of the Hare family until the death of the 4th Earl in 1931, when the estate passed to his younger son, John Hare (1911-1982), M.P., 1st Viscount Blakenham. In 1935, he sold the house and what remained of the land for redevelopment and following the death of his grandmother, the Countess of Listowel, in 1936, the house was demolished the following year and replaced by two large art-deco blocks of private apartments: Kingston House North and Kingston House South.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 01/01/2020 and last updated on 02/01/2020.
Image from Country Life Magazine; London Topographical Record, Volume 3 (1906) by the London Topographical Society; Elizabeth: The Scandalous Life of an 18th Century Duchess (2011) by Clare Gervat; Kingston House Estate, British History Online


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