Visiting the Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum is always visiting a very special place. Almost a world of its own, the museum sits at a distant end of The City on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the San Francisco Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge.The site is so breathtaking that one’s attention could be turned away from the beautiful building. It was built to echo the Legion of Honor in Paris and to honor the Californian “boys” who had died in World War I. As it is just two days away from Veterans’ Day, it is worth remembering to remember. Now, until January 18, 2015, the Legion hosts an exhibition which re-creates another special place within the museum. In 1728, Houghton Hall was called “the completest, beautifulest” of all country houses. It is gigantic, full of treasures and history. It was the home of Robert Walpole, England’s first Prime MInister and a voracious collector. When he died, in 1755, he left an enormous debt. His family sold Robert Walpole’s collection of Old Master paintings to Catherine of Russia, helping to make her Great and their debts less. In an odd quirk of history, the family has been able to hold on to the property because no one would buy the immense house and its 17,000 acres. Lucky for us. The property passed to Horace Walpole and then to a grandson of Sir Robert’s daughter. A fortuitous marriage to the Chomondeley family of Cheshire further secured both families’ properties. David Cholmondeley, the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley (pronounced “Chumly”) and Lord Great Chamberlain of England is now in charge of both. His grandfather married the exquisite Sybil Sassoon, a descendant of the Rothschild family who brought her personal elegance, devotion to Houghton Hall, and more financial stability. Speaking to a group of journalists, David Chomondeley reminisced of happy times with his grandmother. She introduced him to treasures and special places in Houghton Hall, including the grand staircase which she restored. Among many fine things in the exhibition are paintings by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Andrea del Sarto, Artemesia Gentileschi, and Hogarth. Visitors will be inside the library from which Robert Walpole ran England. This was the first house in England to use mahogany instead of oak. While building it, Robert Walpole took import duties off of mahogany; he put them back when the Hall was finished. There are also Sevres china rarities collected by George Chomondeley, the current Marquess’s grandfather, grand silver, statues. One gallery has portraits of Sybil by John Singer Sargent. The beautiful lady is now overseeing the visits of so many new guests to her San Francisco home. When you visit, you will also have the opportunity to enjoy an English tea being served in the Museum’s lovely cafe. Pictures, courtesy FAMSF: Houghton Hall exterior; Sybil Sassoon, Marchioness of Chomondeley, by Sargent; interior of Houghton Hall; Hogarth painting of Chomondeley collection.