Visit Chichester - Estate History
Goodwood is a traditional country estate of nearly 12,000 acres. Its natural beauty, set amongst rolling Downland and legendary hospitality are perfect reasons to visit Chichester. It has drawn people to it throughout three centuries of ownership by the Dukes of Richmond. The 1st Duke of Richmond, a natural son of Charles II, first rented and then, in 1697, bought the house and park so that he could hunt in the neighbouring village of Charlton, where one of the earliest and most fashionable hunts in the country was based.
The 2nd Duke enlarged and modified the existing house using the architect Roger Morris, who was also responsible for the charming banqueting house, Carné’s Seat, situated in a commanding position on the hill overlooking Goodwood and its park. The 2nd Duke was very interested in trees, planting up not only High Wood, but also other areas around the house. Some of these trees still survive, including the cork oak trees and cedars of Lebanon planted in the 1740s.
The 3rd Duke of Richmond inherited just 1,100 acres of land, including a park around the house of 200 acres. He carried out a huge planting programme, adding to the plantations his father had originated behind the house. Like his father, he used exotica such as tulip trees and magnolias, and he added more cork oaks. From 1761 he planted a thousand cedars of Lebanon. Some of the evergreen plantations over to the right of the racecourse had grown well by the 1830s, but the area at the top of the hill was later replanted with beech, becoming known as Birdless Grove. In the 1760s the Duke had a tennis court built at Goodwood, about a quarter of a mile to the south of the house. A walled garden was established around it which is now incorporated into the grounds of the Goodwood Hotel.
In 1765 the 3rd Duke paid £48,000 for Halnaker House and its park to the south of Goodwood. The main Chichester-Petworth road was diverted through Halnaker and its park so that it did not pass right in front of Goodwood House. The acquisition extended his holdings into many parishes or manors, including Boxgrove, Walberton, Barnham and East Lavant. By that year he had also acquired land at Westhampnett, West Lavant, Tangmere, Singleton and East Dean. Thanks to the careful stewardship of his funds by his guardians while he was young, he would eventually manage to extend the estate to the 17,000 acres.
In 1757, the 3rd Duke added the magnificent classical stable block designed by Sir William Chambers. Centred around a grand triumphal arch and with rusticated knapped flint facades, it looked even more glamorous and sophisticated than the façade of Goodwood House itself. The Duke’s hounds were equally well housed in the Kennels, a fine classical building designed by James Wyatt in 1787. Patronised by the Duke, Wyatt had already designed for him the Orangery and added a north wing to the house in 1776, which included the Tapestry Drawing Room. A year later building was begun on Molecomb, a house built by the 3rd Duke for his sister, Lady Sarah Bunbury.
The Pilley Green lodges, with their Coade stone armorials dated 1794, were also designed by Wyatt and in the first decade of the 19th century, the two new wings facing the park, with their domed corner towers, were built to his designs. It was during the 3rd Duke’s tenure that the flint walls were built encircling the park and the Hat Hill estate, reputedly by French prisoners of war. Please come see them if you visit Chichester; they are not to be missed.
The 6th Duke of Richmond, who was created Duke of Gordon by Queen Victoria to acknowledge his substantial Gordon inheritance, ordered over four hundred houses and cottages to be built for his estate workers. Many of these were named Duchess Cottages in honour of his wife, whose idea they were. Constructed to a semi-detached H-shaped design with gables, they were intended to improve the quality of life of the workers by ensuring that each family had a substantial house with a garden. A similar group of houses built at the same time are U-shaped, with the projecting wings at the rear. Some simpler rectangular shapes were also built, all with double gables.
The first public horse race at Goodwood took place in 1802, now thousands of people visit Chichester to see the horse racing at Goodwood every year. Golf at the Goodwood dates back more than a century, when in 1901, the Duke of Richmond gave permission to play on a superb course laid out by champion golfer and eminent designer, James Braid. The present day Aerodrome is based at a former WWII fighter station and on this same site is the world-famous Goodwood Motor Circuit, founded by the 9th Duke of Richmond in 1948. A sympathetic and sensitive land management system is driven by farming, forestry and land tenure practices which will sustain the estate for future generations. Home Farm comprises some 2,800 acres of mixed farming, including arable; 200 dairy short-horn herd and a herd of Tamworth and Saddleback pigs; and a flock of 1500 sheep grazing on the Downland pasture. The farm has full organic status. Interspersed among the farms are 1900 acres of deciduous and coniferous forestry all of which play a large part in making the beautiful Downland landscape which surrounds the estate.
In 1883, the estate consisted of 17,117 acres worth £19,383 a year. Today, the estate enjoys an exceptional variety and unique mixture of activities, ranging from horseracing, motor racing, flying, golf and shooting. It even has its very own 93 bedroomed hotel complete with a full health club and treatment rooms.
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