|Fig. 1: Lord Alvanley (Richard Pepper Arden), unknown artist, after 1788|
Reminiscences of a person, even if they are long dead, often help to furnish us with a glimpse into that person's character. This can be particularly the case when a memory is recalled from one's childhood. In 1860, the 5th Earl Stanhope was receiving letters of congratulation regarding the multi-volume biography he was then writing of William Pitt the younger. One of these letters came from Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Baronet (1795-1871), recalling Pitt's love of children. Sent from Glasgow in Scotland, Edmonstone remembered being in William Pitt's company when Edmonstone was just a child of about six or seven. Although the memory was quite fleeting, the warmth of his memory lasted with him for a lifetime.
Edmonstone recalled to Lord Stanhope the Mr Pitt he once knew:
“Sir Richard Pepper Arden was on the footing of great intimacy with Mr Pitt, and having married my aunt, as a child I used to spend my summers with them at [Frognal Hall, Arden's estate] Hampstead. There Mr Pitt used to come on Saturdays and Sundays, I should think I am speaking about the year 1802, and there I perfectly remember him: - the more so, as he was very fond of children, and for some cause he took a fancy to me, and I distinctly call to mind climbing on his [Pitt's] back and sitting on his shoulders. His playfulness and elasticity of spirit, even at that time when his health must have then been beginning to fail, is not I think generally known.” 
|Fig. 2: 'Near Hampstead' watercolour by John Laporte, early 19th c. Frognal Hall is in the foreground|
Richard Pepper Arden, Lord Alvanley, lived at Frognal Hall in Hampstead, which was the estate immediately west of Hampstead Parish Church . The church is known as St. John at Hampstead . Like many Georgian homes, Frognal Hall was demolished in the 1920s to make way for new housing developments . It was replaced by what is now numbers 96-98 Frognal, numbers 3-9 Frognal Gardens, and by Frognal Way . The area is still beautiful, socially exclusive, and verdant. Walking through modern-day Frognal, the mind's eye can easily conjure up Pitt romping around outside with Lord Alvanley's family and giving piggy-back rides to the children. Pitt's kindness and playfulness must have made an impression on Edmonstone for him to vividly picture the scenario nearly 60 years later!
1. Kent History & Library Centre, Stanhope of Chevening Manuscripts. Pitt MSS. U1590/C405/2.
2. Howitt, W. (1869) The Northern Heights of London; Or, Historical Associations of Hampstead. London: Longmans, Green, & Co., pp. 153; 248.
Fig 1: Portrait of Lord Alvanley (Richard Pepper Arden), after 1788. Lithograph after an unknown artist.
Fig 2: 'Near Hampstead' by John Laporte (1761-1839). An early 19th century view of Hampstead, with Frognal Hall in the foreground. Source