Family fortunes for the Chichesters

The imposing staircase hall © Nadia Mackenzie

The imposing staircase hall

Explore the changing fortunes of the Chichester family at Arlington Court over two centuries.

A tour around the house, talking to our volunteer guides will introduce you to reforming MPs, wealthy playboys, a globetrotting Victorian inventor-collector with a passion for wildlife, and her companion - the piano-playing vicar’s daughter. Even the house's architecture tells the story of the family, who once had so much money they just had to put in the latest central heating system and a huge new staircase, then were left having to make a marriage of convenience to survive.

  • Encounter over 5,000 separate items and find out about some of the people who owned them.
  • Learn the story behind the lost painting by William Blake.
  • Rummage through the luggage returned in advance from a trip around the Mediterranean Sea with Sir Bruce Chichester and his family.
  • Hunt for the tiny ship and the giant seashell.
  • Discover what links a Victorian lady, a record-breaking yachtsman and a venomous snake.

Get the collecting bug

Arlington Court is home to the enormous and diverse collection amassed by Miss Rosalie Chichester in the late Victorian era, including one of the world’s best collections of Napoleonic prisoner-of-war model ships.

Interact with history

Experienced musicians can play the rare 1880 Collard and Collard grand piano or, if you’re feeling less creative, sit and read a book in the Explorer Room while the children learn semaphore.

Dream of the past

Enjoy spectacular views that only the privileged few once enjoyed, walk in their footsteps as you stroll down the imperial staircase and imagine yourself welcoming guests as they ring the doorbell to come in.