The South front of the house
|OS grid reference|
|Architect||William Talman Humphry Repton|
|Official name: Uppark (National Trust)|
|Designated||18 Jun 1959|
The house, set high on the South Downs, was built for Ford Grey (1655—1701), the first Earl of Tankerville, circa 1690, the architect is believed to have been William Talman. The estate was sold in 1747 to Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh and his wife Sarah. Matthew and Sarah redecorated the house extensively from 1750 to 1760 and introduced most of the existing collection of household items displayed today, much of it collected on their Grand Tour of 1749 to 1751.
Their only son, Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh, added to the collection and commissioned Humphry Repton to add a new pillared portico, dairy and landscaped garden. In the 19th century stables and kitchens were added as separate buildings, connected to the main building by tunnels. Sir Harry famously married at the age of 71 the estate's dairymaid, 21-year-old Mary Ann Bullock, to whom he left Uppark on his death in 1846. She in turn, after considerably upgrading the property, left it to her sister Frances on her own death in 1874. Frances bequeathed it in 1895 to Lt. Col. The Hon. Keith Turnour, who assumed the name Fetherstonhaugh and lived there for 35 years, eventually leaving the estate to a friend's son, the future Admiral Sir Herbert Meade, who also adopted the Fetherstonhaugh name.
Influence on H. G. Wells
The 20 year-old H. G. Wells spent the winter of 1887/88 convalescing at Uppark, where his mother, Sarah, was housekeeper between 1880 and 1893. She had previously been employed there between 1850 and 1855, as housemaid to Lady Fetherstonhaugh's sister, and Wells had paid many visits to her during his boyhood. Wells' father Joseph, a gardener, was employed at Uppark in 1851 and he and Sarah married in 1853.
The house and the social hierarchy it embodied had an important effect on Wells' outlook. The deep class divisions he observed there helped to inspire many of his meritocratic, liberal and socialist views. This development was further encouraged by his discovery, in Uppark's large library, of works by philosophers and radicals such as Plato, Voltaire and Thomas Paine. These impressions were reflected in his later work: for example, the contrast between the sunny and carefree world of the Eoli and the dark caves of the Morlocks in The Time Machine is commonly regarded to have been inspired by the inequalities Wells observed at Uppark. Also significant was Wells' discovery of a telescope in the house's attic, which gave the future author of The War of the Worlds his first opportunity to examine the night sky in detail.
On 30 August 1989 the building was devastated by a fire caused by a workman's blowtorch whilst repairing lead flashing on the roof, just two days before the work was due to be completed. The fire broke out during opening hours. Many works of art and pieces of furniture were carried out of the burning building by members of the Meade-Fetherstonehaugh family, National Trust staff and members of the public. Although the garret and first floors collapsed onto the lower floors and the garret and first floor contents were lost completely, the floors largely fell clear of the ground floor walls and much of the panelling and decoration survived.
Much of the contents of the ground floor was crushed but not burned; metalwork was able to be straightened and cleaned, crystal chandeliers were able to be reassembled, and even the elaborate tassels on the chandelier ropes were able to be conserved. The decision to restore the house came after it was determined that restoration would be a cheaper insurance settlement than complete payout for a total loss.
Most of the pictures and furniture in the house were saved. The building has since been completely restored with many lost crafts relearned in the restoration process, and it reopened its doors in 1995.
The house is open to the public most days of the year other than Christmas.
- Historic England. "Uppark (National Trust) (1025979)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
- Rowell, Christopher (1995). Uppark. National Trust. ISBN 0-7078-0198-2.
- Nairn, Ian; Pevsner, Nikolaus (1965). The Buildings of England: Sussex. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. pp. 358–60. ISBN 0-14-071028-0.
- Wells, Herbert G. (1934). H.G. Wells: Experiment in Autobiography. New York: J. B. Lippincott Co.
- Michael Sherborne, H.G. Wells: Another Kind of Life (London: 2010), pp. 40-42.
- Sherborne, H.G. Wells, pp. 50-51.
- Sherborne, H.G. Wells, p. 104.
- Wells, Experiment in Autobiography, p. 106
- Glancey, Jonathan (8 April 1993). "High price of keeping up with 'heritage mania': The National Trust is". The Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
- Gillie, Oliver (19 July 1994). "Restoration of mansion consigns 1991 fire to faded memory". The Independent. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
- "Opening Times (Uppark)". National Trust. Retrieved 28 May 2017.
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