Goodwood house is primarily a 19th century regency style palace that has gone through a series of major remodels and extensions since the year 1600. With an art collection that has its origins in the Royal house of Stuart and famously unusual and decadent interiors, Goodwood House is nevertheless a modern English country house complete with golf course, cricket ground and annual festival of speed.
Key Facts about Goodwood House
- Goodwood Country House is located in West Sussex, England.
- The house was originally built in the year 1600 as a hunting lodge.
- Goodwood House was dramatically extended in 1800 by James Wyatt.
- Today, Goodwood House is owned by the Dukes of Richmond and Gordon
- Now home to the iconic Festival of Speed
A Brief History of Goodwood House
The Jacobean Earl of Northumberland built the first Goodwood House in the year 1600. A fairly unremarkable Jacobean gentleman’s house, the house was acquired by Charles Lennox the 1st Duke of Richmond, natural son of King Charles II, and his French mistress Louise de Keroualle in 1697.
This original ‘old house’ as it is now known was extended and improved throughout the 18th century. In 1730, the main hall was redesigned by architect Roger Morris, known for his work on the Chichester Assembly Rooms and between 1747 and 1750 the house was given a Palladian style south wing by architect Matthew Brettingham, known for his work on Holkham Hall. In the early 19th century a complementary north wing was added by architects James Wyatt and John Nash who also added Regency State Apartments and towers to the south wing.
Goodwood house is now a villa-style regency palace built over two floors with picturesque domed towers and an exterior of grey stone and flint. The addition of these two wings and other major extensions carried out by Wyatt and Nash during the years 1800-1806 created Goodwood House’s unique shape that resembles three sides of an octagon. The additional wing and ranges ordered by the 3rd Duke of Richmond were needed, in part, to house his extensive picture collection, most of which was salvaged from a fire at the family’s London Home Richmond House in 1791.
Goodwood country estate reaches across almost 12,000 acres of beautiful Sussex Downs and over the years the various Dukes of Richmond in charge of the estate have modified and added to the gardens and estate. Cork oak trees and cedars of Lebanon planted by the 2nd Duke in 1740 still survive in areas around the house. The 3rd Duke added a thousand more trees to the gardens at Goodwood, a tennis court and a walled garden before embarking on his most magnificent addition of a glamorous classical stable block designed by Sir William Chambers and, later, dog kennels designed by James Wyatt.
The rear entrance to Goodwood House takes the visitor through the Long Hall of the old Jacobean House where there hangs Lion and Lioness by Stubbs and two of Canaletto’s Thames landscapes, all formerly housed at Richmond House. While ambassador for France the 3rd Duke of Richmond acquired a set of magnificent Gobelin tapestries and had a room behind the hall built especially to house them. The Tapestry Room has been the setting of more Royal Privy Council meetings than any other private house.
Moving into the Wyatt wings, the music room features a fireplace by William Kent also taken from Richmond House. The English artist George Stubbs stayed at Goodwood for nine months in 1759 and painted prolifically during his stay. The fruits of his labour can be seen in the many hunting scenes on the walls of the front hall of Goodwood House.
The most famous room at Goodwood is undoubtedly its curious and extraordinary Egyptian Dining Room. In the late 18th century, Napoleon’s Nile campaign led to an influx of Egyptian antiquaries and collectibles in Great Britain. Designed in 1802 by Wyatt the Egyptian Dining Room is flamboyantly furnished, with statues, friezes, paintings and even the fireplace, invoking ancient Egypt and the era of Cleopatra.
This room, amongst others, fell into decline and was drastically altered during the Victorian years but the current owners the Earl and Countess of March and Kinrara completed a careful restoration of Goodwood’s interiors, taking the home back to its original Regency appearance. One of the most spectacular examples of Regency style is the Yellow Drawing Room which features bright yellow silk drapes and royal portraits by the likes of Romney, Ramsay and Mengs.
Horse Racing has been taking place at Goodwood for over two centuries. Goodwood Racecourse was established in 1802 and currently hosts the annual Glorious Goodwood meeting. Almost one hundred years after the racecourse was completed a golf course designed by James Braid was commissioned and built on the grounds of Goodwood. Chichester/Goodwood Airport was built in the estate during World War II and the internationally-recognised Goodwood Motor Circuit was founded by the 9th Duke of Richmond in 1948. Goodwood House, its grounds and Motor Circuit has hosted the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed since 1993.
What Makes Goodwood Famous?
Goodwood House is an historic English country house given a modern-day twist. Home to an annual ‘Festival of Speed’ and complete with racecourse, golf course, cricket ground and grandstand, Goodwood House is where the upper classes come to play. An unusual house in design, Goodwood dates back to the year 1600 and has been the seat of the Duke of Richmond since 1697. With a family art collection that has its origins in the Royal house of Stuart and that infamous Egyptian Dining Room, Goodwood House is a fascinating historic building.
Goodwood House on Film and TV
Goodwood Racecourse and wider estate have featured in the following films and TV shows.
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) Film
- Twice Around the Clock (2014) Documentary
- And When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007) Documentary
- Sports in Merrie England (1913) Documentary
- Race for the Goodwood Cup (1908) Documentary
- Glorious Goodwood (1906) Documentary
- King Edward at Goodwood (1906) Documentary
- James Peill (2013) The English Country House
- Jeremy Musson (2011) English Country House Interiors
- Rosemary Baird (2007) Goodwood: Art, Architecture, Sport and Family
Visiting Goodwood House
From 16th March to 13th October, Goodwood House is open to the public most Sundays and Mondays. From the 4th to the 28th August, the house is open five days a week from Sunday to Thursday. Admission charges are £9.50 for adults, £4 for young people and children under 12 go free.
Getting there by Train: There is a regular service from London Victoria to Chichester (1hour, 40 minutes), plus the coastal service from Brighton and Portsmouth. Buses or taxis are available at Chichester Station.
Getting there by Road: Follow the A3 (Junction 10 on the M25) south towards Guildford. About 3 miles past Guildford, at the Milford turning, take the A283 to Petworth, then the A285 to Chichester for about 6 miles. Just beyond Upwaltham, turn right at the brown Goodwood sign. At the next Junction turn left, following the brown sign to the hotel. The hotel entrance is a further 2 miles along on the right.
For more information see the website www.goodwood.co.uk