A Walk Round the Stanmer Estate in May 1952 starting at the Lodges
Built in latter half of 18th century, but the wall which encloses the park was not built until early in the 19th century. They are shown in Baxter's Guide of 1824.
Formerly another lodge on line of parish boundary, now commemorated by Old Lodge Clump. This building shown to right of drive on Yeakell & Gardners map of 1783, but not on estate map of 1799.
Trees planted for the most part by 1st Earl between 1740 and 1805.
The manor of Stanmer in Norman times was a peculiar of Canterbury and was held by the Canons of WEST MALLING in Kent. It subsequently passed to the MICHELBORNE family. In 1701 on the death of Edward Michelborne it was sold by his heirs to PETER GOTT, Receiver General of Sussex. On his death (he shot himself) the manor was again sold in 1713 for £7,500 to HENRY PELHAM, of Lewes, Clerk of the Pells to the Exchequer, and uncle of the famous statesman the Rt. Honourable HENRY PELHAM Prime Minister to George II. It was he who commenced to build the present house.
His son THOMAS succeeded to the estates in 1725. He was a prosperous merchant.
Thomas Pelham, the Merchant, died in 1737 and Stanmer came to his son, also named THOMAS who later succeeded to the title of 2nd, Baron Pelham of Stanmer, and was subsequently created 1st. EARL OF CHICHESTER. He married in 1754, ANNE, daughter and heiress of FREDERICK FRANKLAND, M.P. for Thirsk and uncle of the well-known William Frankland, the inventor, of Muntham Court, Findon.
There is a very charming classical MONUMENT to Frederick Frankland, erected in 1775 by his daughter Anne, and her husband, then Lord Pelham, in the woods to the south-east of this house. The monument rests on four tortoises. Unfortunately during the military occupation of the park during the late war soldiers whiled away their time shooting off all the heads of the tortoises, and obliterating the inscription. It is still worth a visit however. The first Earl died in 1805.
Then came: –
Thomas 2nd Earl who died 1826
Henry Thomas, 3rd Earl
Walter John, 4th Earl who died 1902
Francis Godolphin, 5th Earl who died 1905
Jocelyn Brudenell 6th Earl and his eldest son Francis Godolphin Henry 7th Earl who died tragically within a fortnight of one another in 1926 and whose graves may be seen just within the park gate of the little churchyard over the way. The death of the 8th Earl on active service in 1944 while bearing so nobly the burdens of this great estate will be remembered by everyone. He did not live to see his baby son the present 9th Earl who succeeded to the title in the year of his birth.
In 1947 the crippling taxation which was levelling hundreds of our stately homes made it necessary for the Pelham family to sell practically all the Stanmer estate, which was purchased by the Brighton Corporation.
A SHORT HISTORY OF THE HOUSE
A mansion had existed here in the days of the Michelbornes. Part of this old house still remains as the kitchen wing of the present one which was commenced by Henry Pelham of Lewes in 1722.
He died, however before he could finish it and the work was completed by his merchant son Thomas in or about 1727.
One of the most interesting things in connection with the building of this house is the fact that most of the original building accounts are still preserved in the family library, they consist of 77 foolscap pages of details concerning the work, and the various craftsmen employed during the years 1722-1727. The total cost amounted to £14,200 but this included the building of the farmer, gardens and outbuildings.
The architect employed was NICHOLAS DU BOIS, and Stanmer House is the only complete English House of this architect known. He was paid at the surprising rate of 6 per cent of the total cost of the work which he personally superintended. (Wren was paid 5 cent for the City Churches, and this I believe is still the normal fee payable today). His whole fee, including travelling expenses was £738.
The house is of brick with stone facing on the two main fronts. This stone was brought from LINDFIELD where Henry Pelham had bought and pulled down an old house of the Chaloners called Kenwards, and had the stone transported to Stanmer. As part of the lay out there was a forecourt and terrace the Church side, but this was removed during the landscaping of the park in the late 18th century. On the east side, however the old enclosed garden and fountain remain.
18th century drawings do not show the balustrade above the cornice. This and the entrance porch are additions of the early 19th century.
The south east and north east wings contain the state rooms, while the western wing consists of kitchen quarters adapted from the earlier building.
These wings enclose an open courtyard in the centre, the south west side of which is enclosed by a low passage surmounted by a range of fine Ionic columns.
The small addition at the right of the main entrance facade was made in the 1860’s to form a library annexe.
To the south west of the house is a large stable yard surrounded by offices, and beyond this are the gardens, workshops and the usual outbuildings of a mansion of the period. In the stable yard is a fine old draw well which I shall describe when we come to visit it later.
Occupation by the military during the war coupled with dry rot played havoc with the interior, much of which has been put right by the Corporation since their ownership began after the war. Some of you may have been fortunate enough to see the house when it was furnished with its beautiful old furniture and valuable paintings, but to those who were less fortunate I would say - pause once in a while as we walk through those empty hollow rooms and close your eyes for a minute and conjure up the magnificence which gilt-framed paintings, noble Chippendale mirrors, and brightly polished period furniture must always impart to such rooms as these.
There is a bust of the founder over the mantelpiece.
The plaster panelled walls and festoon round niche over fire place were executed by William Wilton, a London plaster.
Most of the woodwork was by Robert Boston a Lewes man whose bill for the fine staircase in the inner hall amounted to the sum of £35.
SMALL DRAWING ROOM (to left of Entrance hall.)
Panelling discovered during the present century under canvas hanging. The ceiling has a deep cove and frieze of acanthus leaves. There is a fine rococo mirror over fireplace. Described as a Smoking Room in the original accounts.
LARGE DRAWING ROOM
The original decoration was removed towards the end of 18th century except for two gilt gesso side tables between the windows. Wainscoting was removed, and a plaster ceiling and Adamesque ornament were introduced.
In the Palladian style - the richest room in the house. There is no record of this work in the building accounts, and it appears to be mid-18th century work in the French style, and is possibly the work of the 1st. Earl. The south end is divided by a screen of coupled Corinthian columns. The frieze is ornamented by garlands of flowers depending from scroll motifs in which is enclosed the Pelham buckle. The Chimney Piece has been replaced by a 19th century one.
Decoration in the style of the Adams brothers and contains much "Egg and Tongue" design, heightened by gold. The rich effect added by rows of mellow gilt leather bindings may be left to the imagination. Marble over mantel has a carved figure of a shepherdess whose graceful reclining form shows up well against the brown background of the medallion.
WISE MEN LAY UP KNOWLEDGE.
The inner library was added about 1860.
There is a concealed door in the south wall with imitation books on it.
A round and highly polished Spanish mahogany table stood in this room, the grain resembling a design of feathers.
Over mantle is particularly delicate in design and has the Buckle and Pelican from the coat of arms introduced. Carnations are introduced also.
SKETCH PLAN OF STANMER HOUSE
DRAW WELL IN STABLE YARD
There is an old timber well house repaired and embellished when the present house was built.
The whole apparatus is probably from the 17th century.
A well rope passed over roller and was wound round the vertical capstan fixed at either end to the floor and roof timbers. On this vertical axle a small wooden wheel was attached and projecting across this was a long arm having at either end a yoke for a draft animal.
DONKEY WELL IN CHURCHYARD
This was the village well which was covered by a modern Gothic well house.
Rebuilt in the early English style in 1838. Invocation unknown.
There is an inscription on brass to Deborah, wife of Stephen Goffe, who died in 1626.
Marble monument to Sir John Pelham and his son (1580) brought from Holy Trinity in the Minories, London.
RECTANGULAR PIGEON HOUSE
465 nesting holes built of hewn chalk. Pigeons originally entered by dormer window on west, but at a later period six holes were made in the south wall for their admission.
Interesting as being an example of a feudal tillage enclosed within the boundaries of the park. Suffered heavily during the occupation by the military as battle training school in the late war, but has been well restored by Brighton Corporations who added the porches and picturesque shop.
Excavations commenced by Mr. W. Gorton in the autumn of 1951; who was attracted by the mound with large sarsen on top.
He started a narrow cutting from east to west and encountered a child’s skeleton.
DRAWING OF THE LAYOUT OF STANMER HOUSE