The Long Gallery - let in the sunlight

A view of the Long Gallery at Montacute House

Paintings are on the move and repairs are being made in the Long Gallery. It will mean that it will be shut for periods in March, but when it reopens, everyone will be able to enjoy it as originally intended when it was first built in 1602.

Long galleries were originally used as spaces to exercise and spend time with friends where the inclement British weather wouldn’t interfere.  When it was first built, the Long Gallery at Montacute House was also meant to be a lantern of light in the landscape – with light shining out through the windows at night.  During the day, Edward Phelips, the builder, could enjoy views across the garden, over the village and out into his estate.

View from the Long Gallery over the garden and parkland
View from the Long Gallery over the garden and parkland
View from the Long Gallery over the garden and parkland

Over the years…
How long galleries were used has changed over the years and they sometimes became a space to show off pictures of the family and other notable people. The Long Gallery at Montacute is still being used for a similar purpose today with grand Tudor and Stuart portraits from National Portrait Gallery hanging there.

And now…
In 2020 the Long Gallery is being returned to its original purpose – it will be a space where everyone can enjoy light, without curtains interfering with the views. It does mean the portraits that have hung there are on the move, as exposure to light can cause them to fade. 

" It'll be about glittering glass and sunshine, and views in and out."
- Sonja Rogers, House & Collections Manager

They are not leaving Montacute House though – they are moving to a new home in the Upper Clifton Maybank Corridor where visitors will be able to encounter them in a new and different way as well.

To carry out all this work will take a bit of time, which is why the Long Gallery and adjoining rooms are closed 2–29 March whilst repairs are made and there will be some redecorating to do as well.   Once finished though, people will be able to stand in the Long Gallery in the steps of Edwards Phelips and see the views as he once did.