I was lucky to be able to visit Uppark in West Sussex recently. Not far from our design studio in Hampshire, this National Trust property is a fabulous country house with a magnificent interior that has been decorated, restored and maintained beautifully.
The house was built in around 1690 for the first Earl of Tankerville, and is in a stunning location overlooking the South Downs. The house was decorated extensively by subsequent owners Sir Matthew and Sarah Fetherstonhaugh, much of it with items collected on their Grand Tour of 1749 to 1751.
Disaster and Restoration of the Interior
Uppark’s more recent story and history is quite remarkable. Gutted by a fire in 1989 that started in the roof, most of the interior has been rebuilt and redecorated just as it was before. It houses most of the original fittings and furnishings which were saved while the fire was contained upstairs. Those ground floor rooms are open to the public, although interior photography isn’t allowed so I can’t show you any of the historical design work here.
Downstairs in the House
One of the great attractions at Uppark is also the ‘downstairs’. One of the most fascinating areas of the house, this is a chance to see the working hub of a large 18th century house like this. From the butler’s and housekeeper’s rooms, to the kitchen, scullery, wine store, beer cellar even and silverware safe. It’s also a joy for Downton Abbey lovers (who can’t see the real thing at Highclere Castle as all of the downstairs elements were shot in a studio) to see these rooms for real.
The picture above is from the National Trust.
There are also outbuildings that can be visited, such as the stables and the original dairy, some of which are accessed by underground tunnels, keeping the workings of the house out of eyesight! This is another picture from the National Trust:
The dairy is a wonderful space. It’s a simple light-filled building, and also a perfect example of functional design. The marble flooring and slab stone worktops throughout the rooms would have kept them cool while the dairy maids worked. Gorgeous windows too, and they were also positioned to enjoy the magnificent view.
The grounds surrounding the house are also stunning. The views make it obvious why the house was built here of course.
The meadows in front of the house and the softly-designed gardens behind are a gorgeous place to wander around.
If you’re in the West Sussex or East Hampshire area I would highly recommend a visit to this wonderful home. For opening details see the National Trust website here.