One of Sussex’s great houses is emerging from a mountain of scaffolding after its biggest makeover in 300 years.
Glynde Place has been closed to the public for the past two years while the major restoration project to bring the historic property into the 21st Century was carried out.
The current owner of the Elizabethan manor house, the 7th Viscount Hampden, has transformed the home for his young family of three children with work that will “last for 100 years” after he inherited the property in 2008.
The work has been funded through the sale of a masterpiece owned by the estate to Tate Britain for more than £5 million in 2008.
During the work, every one of the houses’ 174 windows had to be replaced, while a host of rooms, doors and fireplaces ‘lost’ over centuries of remodelling were uncovered.
Lord Francis Hampden, 42, said the restoration was part of a move to make the historic home relevant in the modern age.
The estate hosted the Meadowlands Festival last month, while Europe’s first jazz camping festival, The Love Supreme Jazz Festival, and the Glynde Food and English Wine Festival, will arrive next month.
Lord Hampden is also preparing the groundwork to allow Glynde Place to host weddings with a ceremony at the house and a reception on Glynde cricket ground.
Other major changes to the estate have seen the recreation of the Great Farm from the site’s past with a 1,000- acre farm created in March which will be home to 3,000 sheep.
The restoration work revealed the impact damp had on the property, with giant oak beams being reduced to powder, while the building’s chalk brick blocks also tend to crumble when in contact with water.
Lord Hampden and his family, GP wife Caroline, son Lucian, 7, and daughters Mary, 6, and Hannah, 4, lived in a small flat in the house for more than a year while the work was carried out.
He said: “All the windows to the flat were boarded up so the only light coming in was to the children’s bedroom and kitchen.
“The whole house was covered in scaffolding from summer last year through to the end of winter this year.
“My wife flew out from Gatwick and she could see the scaffolding from the airplane, it was massive.”
Lord Hampden lived in Glynde Place as a child, but then went away to live in London with a career in IT working for Royal Bank of Scotland.
He said: “I never wanted to live in the house.
“As a child my family moved four times within the house and we couldn’t get it right as a family home.
“But then I met my wife and it came to thinking about the next stage of my life.
“In the end it was a case of take it on myself or tell my father to find someone else to take it on.
“I feel a huge weight of responsibility with the house, responsible to the estate, to the family and to the community that we are in.”
The work has been financed by the sale of a sketch by Rubens of The Apotheosis of James I, which was sold for more than £5 million in 2008 to Tate Britain.
Lord Hampden said: “We could not have done the work without selling the painting.
“It had been in the National Gallery since the mid-80s, it could never come back here.
“It was nice to go to see it and know it was ours but what does that mean when there’s no utility to it?
“Something like that shouldn’t be hidden away in a private house, even if we are open to the public.
“My father made the decision to sell it, my wife and I would never have the guts to sell it.
“It was much easier for him to say that at the end of his life rather than me coming in, the new blood selling the family silver.”
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