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Parham House & Gardens

near Pulborough
West Sussex
Post Code : RH20 4HS
Telephone : 01903 742021
Admission Cost Admission Charge

Parham is a beautiful Elizabethan house set in an ancient deer park close to the South Downs. During the Middle Ages the manor of Parham was owned by Westminster Abbey. In 1540 Parham was given to Robert Palmer, a London mercer, by Henry VIII. In 1577 his son, Sir Thomas Palmer, began to build a new house at Parham, incorporating parts of the old manor house.

The present house remains essentially as it was built then.

In 1601 Parham was sold to Thomas Bysshop and remained in the same family until the 20th century.

In 1815 Sir Cecil Bysshop became the 12th Lord Zouche and in 1922 the 17th Baroness Zouche sold Parham to the Hon. Clive Pearson, second son of the 1st Viscount Cowdray.

Mr Pearson purchased many of the Bysshop family's paintings and added his own collections of portraits, objets d'art and English furniture. After his death in 1965 the property was vested in the Parham Park Trust.

A long drive approaches Parham from the east through the well-wooded deer park. The house stands on lawns, with parkland on all sides, facing the South Downs.

The picturesque house is built of grey stone with varied gables and chimneys. The principal front, facing south, was built to an Elizabethan E-shape with the large Hall windows to the left of centre. The entrance front was moved to the north in the early 18th century and the stable block, estate and laundry buildings were added to the north in the latter part of the century.

The present porch and entrance hall were built in Tudor revival style in the early 19th century.

The Entrance Hall is hung with 18th century portraits and equestrian paintings. Steps lead to the Upper Hall which is a low room dominated by a view Venice by Bernardo Bellotto, a nephew of Canaletto.

The Great Hall rises through two storeys - one of the most magnificent Elizabethan rooms in Britain with very high windows and a plaster ceiling that has geometrical decoration.

The walls are hung with a splendid collection of 16th century portraits including a remarkable allegorical equestrian portrait of Henry, Prince of Wales. The old oak furniture is mostly English.

The Great Parlour is at the west end of the house.

The Bysshop family created another high room by removing a ceiling but the ceiling was restored in 1924 creating three rooms upstairs, adding Elizabethan style plaster ceilings. The panelling is hung with early 17th century portraits, and the 17th century furniture is still covered in the original needlework.

The next room, the Saloon, was decorated in cream and gold and furnished by the 12th Lord Zouche in 1790. The Georgian furniture includes chairs by Sheraton. The walls are hung with views of London by William James and a series of portraits by G.H. Harlow.

Climbing the stairs, passing fine English portraits, reaches the first floor lobby which has a large walnut cabinet containing an 18th century Derby dinner service.

The Great Chamber was re-formed above the Great Parlour by Mr Pearson in 1924. The rooms contain splendid 16th and 17th century furniture and paintings. A great bed, with its original 16th century hangings and bedspread, dominates the room.

The Tapestry Ante-Room is hung with 16th century Flemish tapestry whilst the West Room has a set of rare late 16th century Italian wool hangings and early-18th century furniture. Above the wall hangings are late 17th century portraits.

The Ante-Room has an early gros-point needlework carpet and one wall displays a Hungarian point needlework silk and wool curtains whilst others have portraits.

The Green Room was redecorated in 1770 and contains 18th century English furniture and a collection of objects relating to the naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, including a painting of a kangaroo and a dingo by Stubbs and a full-length portrait of the Tahitian chief Omiah by Reynolds.

The Top Floor Lobby contains 16th and 17th century needlework pictures and leads to the Long Gallery.

This room is 160 feet long and runs the length of the house, just under the roof. From here there are wonderful views in all directions. The panelled ceiling was designed by Oliver Messel in 1960 and replaced the original that was lost. The flooring and panelling are original.

The Gallery contains a variety of furniture, pictures, needlework, antiquities and objets d'art.

Off the Gallery is the White Room which contains display of 17th century stumpwork embroidered pictures.

To the north of the house is the grand walled garden of nearly four acres.

The historic character of the garden remains but it was replanted in 1982 to provide interest throughout the year.

There are shrubs, an orchard with unusual fruit trees and a potager. The long mixed borders are in the tradition of Gretrude Jekyll.

The surrounding ancient deer park has venerable oak trees.

The great lawns to the south of the house give wide views across the parkland and to the 16th century church of St Peter, which is the only remnant of the old village. There is a peaceful lake in the park and a maze to amuse children of all ages.

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Parham House & Gardens
House Features
Elizabethan house, art collection,wallhangings, parkland, deer park.
Opening Times
Check the website for exact days as they do change. Apr & Oct: Sun & Bank Holiday Mon; May-Sept: Wed-Fri, Sun and Bank Holidays. 14:00-17:00; Gardens: 12:00-17:00, last entry 16:30
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