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Goodwood House



Goodwood House - the original house is on the left with the two Regency wings at the centre and on the right


The first building at 'Godinwood' was a modest rectangular brick house built in 1616-17 by Henry [Percy], 3rd Earl of Northumberland. His main home in the south of England was nearby at Petworth. Gabled wings were subsequently added to the north and south elevations, giving the Jacobean house a characteristic 'U' shape. Charles [Lennox], 1st Duke of Richmond first rented and then, in 1697, bought the house and park so he could hunt in the next door village of Charlton, where one of the earliest and most fashionable hunts in the country was based.


Charles [Lennox], 2nd Duke of Richmond, remodelled the main hall of the Jacobean house in 1730 by adding screens of columns and two Palladian style fireplaces. This gave the room, now called the Long Hall, the classical appearance that it has today. The 2nd Duke later extended the south side of the main house, with a plain pedimented facade looking across country towards Chichester. In 1771 Charles [Lennox], 3rd Duke of Richmond, had the architect James Wyatt remodel and extend the North Wing, creating in the process the beautiful Tapestry Drawing Room, which was decorated between 1776 and 1777.


During much of the 18th century the Dukes of Richmond spent a large part of the year in London at their home beside the Thames at Whitehall. Richmond House was one of the finest town houses of its day, built by the 2nd Duke between 1732 and 1736 from designs by Lord Burlington. Amongst the artworks at Goodwood are two paintings by Antonio Canale called Canaletto, showing the view of Whitehall and the Privy Garden and the view of the Thames and the City of London, both from Richmond House. The former was described by the late Sir Edward Heath as one of the most important English paintings. In 1791 much of the great art collection amassed by the 2nd and 3rd Dukes was saved when Richmond House was destroyed by fire. In order to house the collection, the 3rd Duke asked James Wyatt to add two great wings to Goodwood House. The basic structure of these were built between 1800 and 1806 in the 'Picturesque' style of architecture and command views down beyond Boxgrove Priory to the sea. These two great Regency wings were angled from the existing house and were intended for entertaining and for displaying the art treasures. There is evidence that John Nash, who was later to design the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, worked at Goodwood in the years up to 1807, possibly taking over from the constantly overstretched James Wyatt.


Although structurally complete, the decorative work on the new wings was incomplete when the 3rd Duke died in 1806 with huge debts. It was not until 1836 that the family was able to use the large fortune inherited by the Dowager Duchess Charlotte from her brother, George [Gordon], 5th Duke of Gordon, to add a floor and ceiling to the newest and most easterly wing to create a Ballroom out of the magnificent space the 3rd Duke had intended as his picture gallery.


The 3rd Duke had also added huge amounts of land, bringing Goodwood up to a 17,000 acre sporting and agricultural estate. Charles Henry [Gordon-Lennox], 6th Duke of Richmond, built over 200 cottages and houses for his employees. The Edwardian period saw the house being used as the centre for many large house parties for horse racing at the highly fashionable racecourse. King Edward VII was a regular visitor to the races at Goodwood, as has been his great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. This has resulted in the house being the scene of more Privy Council meetings than probably any other private house. Plaques in the Tapestry Drawing Room give details of these meetings.


Charles Henry [Gordon-Lennox], 7th Duke of Richmond, refurbished some of the interiors of the house in the fashionable neo-Georgian style and avoided the Victorian overlay that ruined many 18th century and Regency interiors. One of the glories of Wyatt's work was the Egyptian Dining Room, completed somewhere between 1802 and 1806 using scagliola (a form of made-up marble created by mixing powdered plaster separately with powdered coloured pigments) and architectural detail derived from Denon's Planches du Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Egypte pendant les Campagnes de Bonaparte. Denon had travelled to Egypt with Napoleon on his 1798-9 campaign and a first edition of the work is in the Goodwood library. In 1906 details such as mirrors, door furniture, chimneypiece and crocodiles on the chairs were removed, reputedly because King Edward VII did not like the scheme. The rare scagliola was painted over and the room entirely lost its Egyptian feel.


The North Wing was taken down at the end of the 1960s, when the house was riddled with dry rot and Charles Henry [Gordon-Lennox], 10th Duke of Richmond, and his wife faced the enormous task of moving back in to a home that had not been fully inhabited since 1935. In 1994 they handed the house over to their son, Lord Charles Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara, and he and his wife undertook a huge restoration project. All the rooms, including the Egyptian Dining Room and the beautiful Yellow Drawing Room, have been restored to their original Georgian glory.



Goodwood House - The Yellow Drawing Room after the 1997 restoration


Goodwood is a traditional country estate of nearly 12,000 acres that is managed in a completely modern way. A sympathetic land management system is driven by farming, forestry and land tenure practices designed to sustain the Estate for future generations. The Estate also enjoys an immense variety of further activities ranging from the racecourse, historic motor circuit, aerodrome. hotel and country club and the Goodwood Club, both of which have golf courses. Each of the sporting activities of the Goodwood estate reflects the particular passion of one of the Dukes of Richmond.


First written 31 Dec 2005



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