Historic treasures return to Uppark in time for new visitor season

South front of the house from the meadow with white flowers at Uppark House and Garden, West Sussex.

Visitors to the National Trust’s Uppark can enjoy historic treasures that have recently returned to the Georgian mansion, in time for the spring season.

An exotic late 17th-century commode is back on view in the Red Drawing Room. The commode had suffered badly from cracks along the front panels, flaking lacquer, and damage to the corners, and required specialist conservation work, which took five months to complete.

One of two matching commodes – the second of which awaits similar treatment – it is an important feature at Uppark. It was commissioned in 1765 by Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh, who was a shareholder in the East India Company, and brought to the house in 1747.

The commodes were originally decorated with sap from native Chinese lacquer trees, and due to their popularity in Britain’s grand country homes, European furniture makers began designing their own recreations. The commodes were bought to be used as sideboards and they would hold a prominent position in the rooms due to their decorative appearance.

The current conservation project may not have been the first time they have been repaired. It is thought that Lady Meade-Fetherstonhaugh, or her team, carried out some conservation work on the commodes’ surfaces in the 1930s; after remnants of 1930s wax polish were recently found on the commodes surface.

From the information and pictures provided, visitors will be able to see the improvements made to the restored commode, which will hopefully extend its lifespan by a significant amount, and mean that it can remain on display at Uppark for many more centuries to come.

Another triumph for Uppark is the return of Sir Harry’s portrait – ‘playboy’ son of Sir Matthew. Renowned for his exquisite and lavish entertaining, Sir Harry caused scandal amongst his peers at the age of 70, by marrying his 20 year old dairy maid. His portrait has been on show at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, from which it returned recently and is due to be rehung on the 28th April.

Now that Uppark is fully open for its 2017 season, this is the perfect time to explore the treasures inside, and discover their fascinating stories.

Much of the ongoing care of Uppark’s precious collections is carried out by volunteers, without whom it would be impossible to keep Uppark open to the public. If you are interested in finding out more about the many volunteering opportunities on offer, please contact us. Before you know it, you could be leading tours through Uppark’s magnificent show rooms and telling stories about the real-life servants who lived here. You could be out in the sun planting bulbs with the friendly gardens team, or chatting with visitors as you work in our gift shop.

For more information on days out at Uppark, and on volunteering, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/uppark or call 01730 825415.

 

SIR HARRY FETHERSTONHAUGH by Pompeo Batoni (1708-87) at Uppark. 54x39 1/2 in. Signed and dated 1776 (Rome). Photographed in September 1994. Credit: Uppark, The Fetherstonhaugh Collection (accepted in lieu of tax by H. M. Treasury and allocated to The National Trust in 1990).

SIR HARRY FETHERSTONHAUGH by Pompeo Batoni (1708-87) at Uppark. 54×39 1/2 in. Signed and dated 1776 (Rome). Photographed in September 1994. Credit: Uppark, The Fetherstonhaugh Collection (accepted in lieu of tax by H. M. Treasury and allocated to The National Trust in 1990).