Caroline Dakers's book is full of interesting details about the rich and well-connected that gravitated towards Holland Park, including this all-too familiar tale:
In 1872, [financial speculator Baron] Grant acquired seven and a half acres of land on the south side of Kensington High Street. . . Kensington House [the house he built on the site] was the largest private residence in London, built at a cost of £50,000, with 100 rooms and a picture gallery 106 feet long. The grounds contained an ice-skating rink and a man-made lake.
Kensington House was completed in 1876, but rumours were already circulating concerning the true state of Grant's finances. . . Grant was exposed before he could move in; his collection of paintings . . . was sold at Christie's in 1877. Rather than kill himself, Grant retired to Bognor Regis. No buyer could be found for the house. Everything inside that could be removed, even the staircase, was sold at auction, and the house itself was disposed of for just over £10,000. Within a decade, the largest private house in London had been built, decorated, furnished and finally, in 1882, demolished.
Le plus ca change . . .