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Grove House, Kensington Gore, London: designs for alterations to the house, for Anne Pitt, 1766-70 (5)

1766-70
Anne Pitt (1712-80) was the daughter of Robert Pitt of Boconnoc, Cornwall, and therefore, the sister of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, with whom she quarrelled in 1746 and 1759. In 1732-37 Anne served as maid of honour to Queen Caroline; she lived in France with Lady Bolingbroke in 1742-44; she was keeper of the Privy Purse to the Princess of Wales in 1751-71; and in 1765 she purchased Grove House at Kensington Gore from Sir Caesar Hawkins. Anne remained at Kensington Gore, apparently throwing weekly balls, until she travelled to Italy in 1774. On her return to England in 1778 she was declared insane, and confined until her death in 1780.

When Anne purchased Grove House it was sorely criticised by Horace Walpole. Wanting to make improvements, Anne commissioned Robert Adam to produce designs for the interior in 1766. It is apparent that alterations were made to the house as Mrs Delany wrote that 'out of a very ugly house [...] she has made an uncommon pretty place'. However, it is not known if the alterations were made by Adam, as an alternative ceiling design in the French style was sent to Anne by Horace Walpole in March 1766. The execution of Adam's 1766 designs has been suggested to be likely, however, as he was commissioned again, in 1770, to provide a design for an overmantel mirror frame.

Grove House was demolished in 1857, and the site is now occupied by the Albert Hall.

Literature:
A. T. Bolton, The architecture of Robert and James Adam, 1922, Volume II, Index pp. 41, 84; Survey of London, Volume 38, 1975, p. 12; D. King, The complete works of Robert & James Adam and unbuilt Adam, 2001, Volume I, pp. 380, 383, and Volume II, p. 180; Yale Edition, Horace Walpole's correspondence, 2011, Volume 32, pp. 1, 106

Frances Sands, 2012
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