Holland House is a name rather more evocative and promising than, say, Transport House, and its attractions for ordinary readers as well as scholars have been considerable. For one thing, who today could resist Lady Holland, the ‘heroine’ as it were of Holland House? Born in the same year as Walter Scott (1771), Elizabeth Vassal married Sir Godfrey Webster in 1786; she was 15, he 49. She lived abroad for a time in the late 18th century and gradually became estranged from her husband. Her liaison with Henry Richard Fox, who became 3rd Baron Holland in 1774 at the age of one, commenced in 1794. Sir Godfrey and she were divorced by an Act of Parliament in 1797, when she married Lord Holland.
Their first child, Charles, was born before this marriage, which produced two other children. Lady Holland also had three children by her first marriage, but none of these children seems to have excited any maternal instinct in her. Instead, she devoted