Scenic 17th century Uppark House & Writer H G Wells – Part 1

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Driving amidst long stretches of greenery we headed for the panoramic views

from the lone house on a flat hilltop, across the South Downs, to the 17th century Uppark House and garden in England.Our visit was part of the Literary Trail to the late 19th century celebrity science- fiction writer H G Wells who spent part of his childhood and youth in Uppark House!  Further, it was a visit to unveil the captivating colourful lives of its several owners- Earls of Tankerville since 1690 to the wealthy Fetherstonhaugh family from 1747, their fabulous art collections and the exceptional lifelike realistic Doll- Houses of Uppark House!!

A Peep into the Past

Beautiful Golden-Gate with dark-green grillwork to walk on a meandering gravel path towards Uppark house

Past the Woodland Walk from the car-park we entered the beautiful Golden-gate with gold & dark-green grillwork, to walk on a meandering gravel path enveloped in greenery towards- the Uppark House whose name may have been derived from ‘Up the Park house’! I recalled reading that this was a very well-liked area by humans since centuries as the archaeological diggings have uncovered objects from New Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman settlement!!

Up ahead was the Dutch style architecture Uppark House- an attractive blend of red bricks, off-white stone work, many rectangular glass windows and a sloping grey roof. Besides expensive clothes, gambling and Opera- visits the owners followed the tradition of the other nobility- of holding fashionable entertaining through weekend country house-parties at Uppark house! Each of them added to the chic interiors of the Uppark House that we were to see soon- the 18th century classy paintings, the magnificent furniture & expensive artefacts.

House of Entrances & Approaches

Writer outside the 16th century brick-stonework beautiful Uppark house

The Uppark house has 3 Entrances and several approaches- our guide book pointed out- the first constructed late 17thcentury East Entrance, the year 1690 South entrance and the early 19th century North entrance, used presently. We decided to walk around the Uppark house on the sun-roasted golden grass and discovered that its 3 sides had a similar look! Many photographs later at the South entrance which held the panoramic, incredibly captivating views of the Downs we went back to the North entrance with the Portland stone portico, tall columns and walls with Lichen growth. We were amused to be informed that this is the look and the greenish-yellow Lichen growth is an ‘embellishment’!!

Uppark House North entrance with Portland stone portico, and Lichen’embellished’ pillars

From 16th Century to Now -the Ground Floor

We passed through the North Corridor admiring the Stained- glass skylight, the Fetherstonhaugh Coat of Arms, decorated mahogany Hall-chairs and Benches, to the impressive Staircase hall with wooden Staircase and carved railing, an exact replica of the 17th century staircase burnt by the massive fire in 1989! From this well decorated hall with landscape- paintings, portraits of owners and French sculptures we walked into the Stone Hall which was once an Entrance, centuries back! The Volunteer pointed out the White fireplace and the splendid gilt- bronze Lantern as its highlight.

Remembrance of Prince Regent –King George IV

We turned into the gold & white, stylish Dining hall with a small ornate Servery in the left and I stepped into the Time machine to the year 1784 when Prince Regent was here for Sir Harry’s 3 day feast prepared by his French chef while expensive porcelain made by renowned Sevres French factory and glittering Silver were used!

As we strolled around the house admiring the artwork in the rooms I recalled reading that Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh who inherited Uppark House in 1774 invited Prince Regent- Prince of Wales, later King George IV to visit Uppark House several times. Amongst entertainment was Horse Racing Trophies and he even helped Prince Regent acquire luxurious artwork from Paris!

 The Little Parlour up ahead is another elegant room with white furniture, intricately carved gold framed paintings, sparkling glass chandelier, fragments of Chinese hand-painted wallpaper from 1750’s; set in contrast upon the red & white Persian carpet below.

The road to Uppark house on the hill , enveloped in greenery

The Magnificent Saloon

 Next we entered the grandest room of Uppark House- the magnificent Saloon, again gold & white- the furniture, gild-plasterwork ceiling, 2 inlaid marble-work fireplaces, ivory silk brocade curtains; all created after the massive fire. We were so impressed!!The Volunteer added that this was the original entrance to Uppark home in 1705!! We spotted the ornamental carved French 4 pedestal table made by King Louis XIV’s cabinet maker for Sir Henry.


Red Drawing & Little Drawing room

Admiring the gold edged crimson wallpaper of the Red Drawing room & the Little Drawing room, a little later, we came across year 1761 chic Sevres Vase & Cover, rich collection of paintings, giltwood mirrors, acme being the mahogany Writing- table; a gift from Prince of Wales to Sir Harry. We further discovered the origin of the word ‘Drawing room’ when the volunteer informed that since the16th century, the ‘withdrawing room’ of the privileged guests and the hosts was named so and eventually it is called the Drawing room now!!

Bedroom of Tapestries

 Next we were surprised to find a bedroom on the Ground floor as traditionally there are no bedrooms on the ground floor of English homes! The attractive bright silk- jacquard bed was possibly used by Prince Regent on his visit here and the other highlight is the 18th century 3 exquisite expensive Flemish- Tapestries. Then we visited the Print room used by several previous owners which was a trend in Britain and Europe in the mid-18th century, where a miniature picture gallery was created from Prints of famous paintings and engravings!!

Writer HG Wells at Uppark House

Writer HG Wells

We were eager to visit the Basement area to discover the early childhood and youth-days connection of famous writer HG Wells with Uppark- House who wrote 50 plus novels, dozens of short stories besides non-fiction, in his lifetime. Between1880-1893 he stayed several times at Uppark House where his mother Sarah Wells was the Housekeeper married to Joseph, the gardener at Uppark as they struggled with financial crisis most of their lives. Their son Herbert G Wells went on to become the renowned English writer of top-sellers especially science fiction; the creator of the popular mysterious Invisible Man, Time- Machine and many more!!

The bookshelf in the Long Library of the Nicholsons at Sissinghurst castle thar showed a liking for writer H G Wells

Wells felt the sharp social and economic variance in the lifestyle of ‘Upstairs House’ and the ‘Downstairs basement’ of Uppark house, a fact he highlighted through his writings!! H G Wells biography includes essential recollections of Uppark- reading books from its library and star-watching with his telescope in the attic bedroom of Uppark House; that was an inspiration to his later literary works!

Popular novels by H G Wells that we had seen earlier at another Statehome-Greys Court

Walking down the stairs we too felt the grandeur and elegance of the Uppark House upstairs fading away in the Servants basement & Kitchen area till we came upon the unique Doll House at the other end of the Basement!

Unique multiple Entrances in different centuries, each looks like the other at Uppark house