Architecturally, Goodwood is one of the most unusual of England's great houses. It started as a gentleman's residence, built in the reign of James I. The 1st Duke of Richmond was visiting here as early as 1689, when he was only 17, and used to come regularly for the foxhunting in the nearby village of Charlton. In 1697 he purchased the Jacobean house.
This 'old house', as it is usually called, is now the section at the back. It was developed through the 18th century. Its main hall was classicised in 1730 by the architect Roger Morris, and between 1747 and 1750 a handsome Palladian style south wing was added in Portland stone, probably by Matthew Brettingham. A balancing north wing by James Wyatt was added in 1771, although this was partly taken down in the late 1960s owing to dry rot.
The great Regency state apartments at Goodwood House were added to Brettingham’s south wing from 1800 by the architect James Wyatt, together with the round towers. These wings and towers are in flint, an unusual material for a house of this size, which looks wonderful in the early morning or evening light, in the hoar frost or snow. The new large rooms were intended for entertaining and are used as such to this day. They house the earlier art collection, collected through the late 17th and 18th centuries, much of which had previously adorned Richmond House, the family's London home. This town house was destroyed by fire in 1791.
Goodwood House looks like three sides of an octagon, and it used to be thought that it was intended to build the complete figure, but this has never been proved. It is not known what the intentions were when this somewhat picturesque shape was devised, but the layout certainly works perfectly for a private family home combined with grand public apartments and far reaching views over the park.
The house has recently been refurbished by the Earl and Countess of March & Kinrara, giving it an up to date sense of the Regency, with strong colours and stylish drapes and fabrics.
For further information please contact:
the Curator’s Secretary: 01243 755048 (office hours)
goodwood house reception: 01243 755000 (mon-fri, 8.30am - 6pm)
Recorded Information: 01243 755040 (24 hours)
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