Discover the house at Uppark
The ground floor rooms at Uppark offer a beguiling view of 18th century life in a fine country house, decorated with exquisite French furniture, delicate Dutch porcelains and captivating Italian paintings. Perhaps more remarkable is the story of these rooms after the fire of 1989.
The Servants Quarters open at 11am before the rest of the house, making an exploration of lives spent below stairs worthwhile, before heading up to the ground floor at 12:30 to contrast that with the finery enjoyed by the Fetherstonhaugh family.
The North Corridor
When Humphry Repton moved the entrance to the north side and added the portico, the North Corridor was built to link the two structures. While the intricately patterned red baize door draws the eye towards the Staircase Hall, be sure to look up at the stained-glass windows.
The Staircase Hall
The fire of 1989 burnt fiercest here, with only a single newel post and two balusters surviving. The 19th century Gothic lantern that hangs here was completely flattened as the floors above collapsed, but incredibly it was painstakingly restored to its original form.
Servants carried food from the kitchen using the underground tunnels, and from here it could be served to guests in the next-door Dining Room. The stained-glass window was designed by Repton's son, John Adey, and was lit from behind by oil lamps after dark. The scenes below it are inspired by the Elgin Marbles, classical Greek sculptures from the Parthenon that came to Britain in 1807.
The Dining Room
Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh was famous for his parties with guests including the Prince of Wales and one notorious Emma Hamilton who is said to have danced naked on the dining table! The room itself features panelling, pilasters and mirrored niches designed by Humphry Repton, and forms the perfect backdrop for many fine pieces such as the specially commissioned Chinese dinner service.
The Stone Hall
Originally the day-to-day entrance (hence the stone floor), the Stone Hall is home to an exquisite carved marble fireplace by Thomas Carter, a gilt bronze French lantern that, remarkably, had been crushed in the fire of 1989, and a pair of scagliola tables commissioned by Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh in the 1750s.
The Little Parlour
One of the sunniest rooms in the house, the Little Parlour was popular with the ladies of Uppark. Although few signs remain, this room was destroyed during the 1989 fire when a falling chimneystack carried it into the basement. The black japanned 'pagoda' cabinet is particularly worthy of close inspection, although the Prince of Wales is said to have tied his dog to one of its legs during a visit.
Perhaps the most impressive room in the house, the Saloon was originally the entrance hall. After the fire, the intricate plasterwork ceiling was reassembled from rescued fragments, with the craftsmen and women relearning the skill of freehand lime modelling in order to restore the damaged sections. The Carter chimneypieces depict the stories of Romulus and Remus, flanked by classical Greek busts, while the finest of Sir Harry's furniture includes that by French 17th century cabinetmaker Andre-Charles Boulle.
The Red Drawing Room
Some of the wallpaper in this room dates back to the 1850s, having survived the fire after being torn from the walls in huge strips in a last-ditch rescue bid. The Axminster carpet dates back to circa 1800 and was badly damaged in the fire, while the gilt-wood pier-glasses were carried out through the windows - one was in flames at the time! Beneath them, sit the stunning Chinese lacquered commodes by Pierre Langlois, circa 1765.
The Little Drawing Room
In 1874, this became the dressing room for the adjoining Tapestry bedroom. Of note are the carved marble fireplace depicting the Aesop's fable of the fox and the crane, and the 1752 chinoiserie-style gilt-wood mirror that survived six hours in the fire before being carried out by firemen.
The Tapestry Bedroom
The Prince of Wales probably slept here during the 1780s; his dog is said to have pee'ed on the curtains. The tapestries that give the room its name are early 18th century Flemish in origin, and depict scenes of harvest and winemaking. They were brought back to Uppark by an anonymous benefactor, having been acquired by an American bank in 1972.