A visit to Uppark House, Sussex

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to Uppark House, near Petersfield, Sussex and thought I would share a little information from my trip.

Tillemans, Peter; A View of Uppark; National Trust, Uppark;  A view of the house as it would have looked around 1720.
Tillemans, Peter; A View of Uppark; National Trust, Uppark;  A view of the house as it would have looked around 1720.

In 1747 Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh and his wife Sarah Lethieullier purchased Uppark House and estate in Sussex.

Sarah Lethieullier (1722-1788), Lady Fetherstonhaugh, with the Branch of a Pear Tree; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sarah Lethieullier (1722-1788), Lady Fetherstonhaugh, with the Branch of a Pear Tree; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh (1714-1774), 1st Bt, MP, with Wreaths of Fruit and Corn; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sir Matthew Fetherstonhaugh (1714-1774), 1st Bt, MP, with Wreaths of Fruit and Corn; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark

For around ten years the couple redecorated the house and spent much of their time travelling in France, Italy and Austria on lavish shopping trips, purchasing a wide variety of antiquities for their new house.

Dolls house, Uppark House
Dolls house, Uppark House

The couple only had one child, Henry, known as Harry, who was ‘safely delivered’ at Uppark on 22nd December 1754 according to the newspaper report in the Newcastle Courant just less than one week later. He was baptized at the local church in Harting, Sussex a few weeks later, on January 14th, 1755.

Matthew was to die before Harry reached his majority but fortuitously wrote his will just before he died in March 1774, appointing his widow Sarah and her brother Benjamin Lethieullier as guardians to their only son Harry.

Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh (1754-1846), 2nd Bt; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark
Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh (1754-1846), 2nd Bt; Pompeo Batoni; National Trust, Uppark

Like his father, the educated and extremely wealthy Harry also undertook the Grand Tour and added to the antiquities that his parents had purchased.

He also commissioned the renowned Humphry Repton to add a new pillared portico, a dairy and to landscape the garden, creating some spectacular views from the house.

Portico at Uppark House, the entrance used by visitors
Portico at Uppark House, the entrance now used by visitors

Harry was a good friend of the Prince of Wales who stayed at Uppark during the mid-1780s. In 1780, Harry had a short-lived affair with Emma Hart, later to become Lady Emma Hamilton, he even provided her with a cottage on the estate.

The stable block and gothic seat at Uppark House
The stable block and gothic seat at Uppark House

After this he became something of a confirmed bachelor and recluse until that is, at the ripe old age of 71 he happened to hear the head of the milking parlour, Mary Ann Bullock singing and fell in love with her immediately.

Gothic Seat, Uppark House
Gothic Seat, Uppark House

Mary Ann was a mere 21 years of age. A marriage licence was issued 9th September 1825 and the couple married a few days later, despite such a massive age gap. Harry also arranged for Mary Ann to be educated in Paris. Upon his death in 1846, he left the entire estate to her.

Mary Ann’s family moved to the village from Streatham, Surrey, where Mary Ann was born on 16th December 1804 (her parents were William and Ann Bullock). The couple had several children baptized in Surrey, prior to moving to Harting, Sussex at which point they produced several more children including Frances (1817) who lived at Uppark with her sister and was sole executrix of her sisters will in 1874. Despite being a scandalous marriage in its day, the union lasted some 21 years, so perhaps the age gap didn’t matter after all.

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