Situated in a 500 acre estate, some of which is now survives as Holland Park, the house was originally known as Cope Castle and was built in 1605 for Sir Walter Cope. His daughter married Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland (1590 – 9 March 1649) who inherited the property and is said to haunt it.
The Earl of Holland was a Royalist officer during the Civil War and surrendered after being defeated at the Battle of St Neots on 10th July 1648. He was found guilty of being a traitor and beheaded in the Tower of London on 9th March 1649. For more details concerning Henry Rich and his capture, see The New Inn, St Neots, where he is also supposed to haunt.
Cope Castle was adopted by the Roundheads as an army headquarters which was often used by Oliver Cromwell.
The building was named Holland House after the war when it was returned to the family. In 1721 it passed into the hands of the Edwardes.
In 1940 it suffered during an extensive German bombing raid over London, which destroyed much of the building. Following World War II the house and grounds were passed to the local authority with Holland Park opening in 1952. Holland House is currently a restaurant and Youth Hostel.
There are two ghost stories attached to Holland House. Henry Rich, 1st Earl of Holland reputedly haunts the Gilt Room. He is said to emerge from a secret doorway and walk across the room, some say carrying his head.
Another strange apparition appeared to Lady Diana Rich whilst walking in the grounds of Holland House. She came across an apparition of herself, an identical mirror image. A month later she died of small pox. In the love letters of Dorothy Osborne to Sir William Temple 1652-1654, Lady Diana Rich, daughter of 1st Earl Holland was described as seeming to have been of a lively, vivacious temperament, and very popular with the other sex. Within the letters they refer to her having an eye condition of some sort and having died unmarried by 1653.
Her sister Lady Isabella Thynne, wife of Sir James Thynne of Longleat is also supposed to have seen an apparition of herself just before she died.