I had wanted to visit Goodwood House ever since in 2011 I visited Avington Park, where King Charles II would visit with his mistress. You see, Goodwood House was and is the house of King Charles II’s illegitimate lineage: he gave his favourite illegitimate son (with Louise de Keroualle) the title of Duke of Richmond and Lennox. See here. While visiting Avington Park, our guide told us all about how Goodwood House was famous at the start of the 20th century as being “the” place for wild weekend house parties, where people would usually be accompanied by their mistress. So I wanted to see this place and finally, four years later, was going past the door on a day when it was open and there was neither a car festival nor horse racing on.
Sadly, the visit for me was somewhat of a let down (even if I got to see two more Canaletto paintings).
First, the garden is private, so there’s nothing outside to see. Inside it seemed like much of a fuss was being made about people paying to come and take afternoon tea. From the moment I laid eyes on the late 20th century extension at the back of the house (containing a service wing) I got the distinct impression that Goodwood is a business enterprise and not a comfortable family home. And I live to visit family homes cocooned within beautiful architecture…so I didn’t get what I wanted really (and they were also a bit hush hush about the Charles II connection, which I would have thought one of their biggest selling points).
The house does, however, make for a very fine art gallery, and I enjoyed musing over what was hanging on the walls and trying to figure out where exactly Canaletto was standing when he composed this picture of the terrace from Richmond House (London, since destroyed by fire). Did he tweak things to make them more pleasing?
One unexpected thing did happen while we were there, which is that the local Regency Society were visiting, fully dressed up circa 1820. It was rather surreal. Are there groups in London who do that? It seems rather a fun way to spend the afternoon.
No pictures were allowed, so the ones below are borrowed.
Courtesy of this website.
The Egyptian dining room is rather special (source)
As we didn’t have a wedding to plan, a dinner to hold or a hole in our stomach for afternoon tea, we spent about 40 minutes there and left, not before admiring the James Wyatt-designed kennels that lie opposite the main house. The kennels had underfloor central heating before the house, which says something about the man who lived in this house, don’t you think?
When visited: August 2015
Further reading: here