Who's who

James I the gaze of a King at Montacute House © National Trust

James I the gaze of a King at Montacute House

Come face to face with the celebrities of the day in the Long Gallery, from kings and queens, dukes and duchesses to adventurers and explorers. Discover more about the people, their lives and the fascinating stories they have to tell.

Why do a lot of the people in the portraits wear black? What does their jewellery and clothing tell us? Find out the answers to these questions and many more about the hidden meanings and messages of the Tudor portrait.

Tapestry tales

The hunter on the Hunter tapestry at Montacute House © NTPL/NTPL

The hunter on the Hunter tapestry at Montacute House

We have some fascinating tapestries within the house, each telling their own unique story.

The Hunter tapestry story begins with a journey to exotic lands and brings to life a period of exploration and discovery.

17th-century soap opera

The hunter on the Hunter tapestry at Montacute House © NTPL/NTPL

The hunter on the Hunter tapestry at Montacute House

A husband is caught having a sly drink whilst left minding the baby. His wife comes home and catches him in the act, hitting him with a shoe. A nosy neighbour, seeing her reprimand her husband, reports the act to the village elders. In a twist to the tale, the village elders punish the tale teller, not the husband or the wife.


The longest of long galleries

The Long Gallery at Montacute House © NTPL/NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The Long Gallery at Montacute House

One of the most impressive rooms in the house, the Long Gallery is 52 metres long. It's bathed in light shed from the hundreds of individual panes of glass which surround you on both sides.

The gallery is now home to a collection of Tudor portraits from the National Portrait Gallery.

Warriors keeping watch

A Worthy at Montacute House © NTPL/Montacute Staff

A Worthy at Montacute House

Looking up at the east front of the house you will see nine carved statues, know as the Worthies. These warrior men from history, including King Arthur keep watch over the house.  

In Tudor times the figures would have held colourful banners, which would have created an impressive sight for those approaching the house.

Generosity and gifts, new stories

The Crimson Bedroom at Montacute House

The Crimson Bedroom at Montacute House

When eventually sold in 1931, the estate was rescued from being sold as scrap by Ernest Cook, who presented it to the nation. This huge generosity of spirit was matched by gifts and loans to replace the missing contents of the house after a national appeal, and the establishment of a long-term partnership with the National Portrait Gallery.

View our collections

Gilt Wood Side Table with Eagle Support at Montacute House

Our collection continues to be an example of quality and craftsmanship equal to the original furnishings, bringing new stories and histories to be shared.

View our collection online.

The Library

Entertaining space

A view of the library at Montacute House 

The library was originally the Great Chamber where important visitors were received and entertained by Sir Edward Phelips. The walls would have been covered with tapestries and a great table would have been laid with food brought by a procession of servants. After the meal the room would be prepared for music, dancing or a play.

Heraldic glass

Elizabethan stained glass windows at Montacute House, Somerset © NTPL/Nadia Mackenzie

The library is a room full of light, because it has windows on three sides that let the outside in. Montacute was all about grandeur and creating the right impression on the people visiting you, a sign of status and power. The stained heraldic glass shields would definitely have made people sit up and take notice. There is a total of 42 shields in the glass ovals.

Window graffiti

Inscription scratched into a window pane at Montacute House. © National Trust NTPL

Who wrote the inscriptions on the window panes?

It was originally believed that all the inscriptions, some of which are in Latin, were the work of Edward Phelips V except for In Nat Matris which was attributed to his son, Edward VI  who etched the inscription on the glass when he was 22. The poem is addressed to his mother, referred to as 'chara Maria'.