The Napoleonic Wars loom large in the history of Goodwood House and the Lennox family in particular with the 4th, 5th and 6th Dukes of Lennox leading distinguished military careers, intertwining with Arthur Wellesley, known today as the Duke of Wellington.
The story started across the Irish Sea when the 4th Duke was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and employed the young Arthur Wellesley as his private secretary in 1807. Just seven years later when living in Brussels, the 4th Duke’s wife memorably hosted the notorious Duchess of Richmond’s Ball. The ball was a guise to confuse the French troops of the British Army’s intentions and knowledge of their whereabouts before the Battle of Waterloo. The ball was immortalised by Lord Byron in his poem Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, from which these extracts are taken:
There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium’s Capital had gathered then
Her Beauty and her Chivalry—and bright
The lamps shone o’er fair women and brave men;
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell;
But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne’er might be repeated; who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!
The summer exhibition at Goodwood House (normally August – October) will tell the story of the Duchess of Richmond’s ball as well as exhibiting related treasures from the Goodwood Collection such as the Duchess’s handwritten guest list and Napoleon’s campaign chair and breakfast plate which were seized as trophies of war and given to the Duke and Duchess of Richmond.
Goodwood House is open from March 2015 from 1pm – 5pm Sunday and Monday and currently costs just GBP9.50 for adults and GBP4.00 children aged 12-18. Children under twelve are admitted free. Student rates are GBP4.00 and there is a family ticket for two adults and two children for just GBP22.00. Afternoon tea is served between 2pm – 4.30pm with prices starting at GBP10.00. The Summer Exhibition runs from 3rd August to 12th October, but do check the website to avoid disappointment.
For information on visitor opening times for Goodwood House and for more information on the Goodwood Estate, please call +44 (0) 1243 755 000 or visit www.goodwood.com.
Contributor: Alexandra Pinhon
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