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Poplar Hill on His Lordship's Kindness, or simply, Poplar Hill, was built by Robert Darnall (d. 1803) in 1786. One of the best examples of late Georgian architecture in Maryland, it features a recessed main entrance with a fanlight, pilasters and a pediment; a Palladian window on the second story; and two connected pavilions (the kitchen was located in one pavilion and a chapel was in the other). The grounds also include a dairy, smokehouse, pigeon cote, and an infirmary for the enslaved laborers. Nothing remains of the slave quarters. Group tours of Poplar Hill are available by appointment only. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

A National Historic Landmark, Poplar Hill was built in 1786 by Robert Darnall on land known as "His Lordship's Kindness." Darnall's grandfather, Henry Darnall, served as Chancellor of Maryland and in other prominent positions.

Plant, Sky, Window, Building

In 1703, Charles Calvert, the Third Lord Baltimore, awarded Henry Darnall (1645-1711) a 7,000-acre land grant that included the Poplar Hill property. To show his appreciation, Henry named the land grant "His Lordship's Kindness." Henry was a high-ranking public official in the Maryland colony whose positions included serving as Deputy Governor, Proprietary Agent, and Chancellor of Maryland. By the time he died in 1711, he had acquired around 35,000 acres. His son, Henry Darnall II received most of the estate. Financial trouble forced him to sell most the land including 6,700 acres of His Lordship's Kindness.

In 1729, his son, Henry Darnall III, acquired 1,500 acres including the 300 acres of His Lordship's Kindness. According to historical records, in 1735 the first house on the property was erected as a wedding gift by the Earl of Shrewsbury, who apparently sent an architect from England to Maryland to design it. Henry's wife, Ann Talbot, was the niece of the Earl (it is unknown when Henry and Ann got married). The property started to be called Poplar Hill by 1740. Henry served as the Maryland attorney general and became Naval Officer of the colony (a customs post) in 1756.

Henry fled to Europe to escape trial in 1761 after it was discovered that he embezzled money. Poplar Hill then came into possession of his brother, John, and wealthy planter Charles Carroll of Annapolis. Henry III's son, Robert Darnall, eventually bought Poplar Hill in 1773. By then Robert had married his wife, Sarah, who was wealthy in her own right having been widowed twice and having inherited money from her brother and father. The original house on the property by then had fallen into disrepair. For a long time it was believed that the first house built by Henry III had survived. However, testing conducted in 1991 definitively confirmed that Robert built the present house in 1786. Robert did not have children so when he died the property passed to his nephew, Robert Seawall.

The house was owned by a number of prominent individuals in later years. These include U.S. Senator John Strode Barbour (1820-1892), ambassador David K.E. Bruce (1898-1977), and diplomat Chandler Hale (1873-1951). The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington also owned it.

In 1988, owners John and Sara Walton established the John M. and Sara R. Walton Foundation to preserve the house and open it to the public. They transferred ownership of the house and property (by then 7.6 acres) to the foundation in December 1995.

"A Chronology." Poplar Hill on His Lordship's Kindness. Accessed May 8, 2023.

Heintzelman, Patricia. "His Lordship's Kindness." National Park Service - National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. April 15, 1970.

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