Welcome to Parham House & Gardens
Parham is one of the country's finest Elizabethan houses, set at the foot of the South Downs in West Sussex. This beautiful place has changed little over the centuries and remains a family home.
"Welcome to Parham, which has been a cherished family home since its foundation stone was first laid during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1577. My great-grandparents the Hon. Clive and Alicia Pearson bought the Estate in 1922. Over the next 40 years, they restored the House with great sensitivity and care, filling it with interesting and beautiful things.
They opened Parham, with its lovely Walled Garden and Pleasure Grounds, to visitors in 1948, simply because they very much wanted to share it with others. Their daughter Veronica Tritton, my great-aunt, devoted her life to its care until she died in 1993. Parham is now owned by a Charitable Trust, and I have lived here with my husband and sons since 1994. We honour the generous ethos and traditions of my ancestors and of all those in the past who have shaped this very special place.
Parham's tranquillity and beauty have changed little over the centuries. I hope that you will come to visit it and that you will have a very happy time here."
"Nothing at Parham is superfluous, nothing unloved. It is a house of magic."
A fine collection of historic paintings, furniture, textiles and clocks.
Beautiful Pleasure Grounds, a four-acre Walled Garden, herbaceous borders, a historic greenhouse, vegetable garden, orchard, and a 1920s Wendy House.This way to the Gardens
Stories and News
Pilgrims and Dust Sheets
New Head Gardener
Christmas at Parham
Behind the Gates
Parham: A Timeline
The Doomsday Book describes two estates at Parham. One was held by the Monastery at Westminster. The other is thought to have been held by the half-brother of King William I (Robert de Mortain). Before then the lands were held by a freeman called Tovi, about whom we know nothing.
After the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII, the Parham lands were united and granted to Robert Palmer in 1540. Robert came from a Sussex family and was a Freeman of the Mercers' Company. His son Thomas was knighted, becoming Sir Thomas Palmer.
The Foundation Stone
Sir Thomas' son William married Elizabeth Verney, a goddaughter of Queen Elizabeth I. On 28th January 1577 their two and a half year old son, another Thomas, laid the foundation stone of the House. It was considered lucky for this to be done by the youngest member of the household. There is a legend that Queen Elizabeth visited Parham, but it has not been proved. Her Coat of Arms hangs in the Great Hall.
In 1601, Thomas Palmer, now grown up, sold Parham to Thomas Bisshopp from Henfield for £4,500. Thomas Bisshopp was knighted in 1603. In 1620, he bought a baronetcy. His descendants lived at Parham for eleven generations, until 1922.
The 2nd Baronet
Sir Edward Bisshopp, 2nd Baronet (1602 - 1649) was notorious for murdering the playwright William Shirley, although he was pardoned. He fought for the King during the Civil War. He and his wife were besieged in Arundel Castle in 1644. He was sent to the Tower of London and his lands were seized, but he was eventually released. His lands at Parham were restored after long legal battles.
The 7th Baronet
Sir Cecil Bisshopp, 7th Baronet (1726 - 1779) relocated the village (which clustered around St Peters' Church a couple of hundred yards from the House) to Rackham, half a mile away as the crow flies. He planned the stables, courtyards and the laundry building with its clock tower, to the north of the House.
The 8th Baronet
Sir Cecil Bisshopp, 8th Baronet (1753 - 1828) became 12th Lord Zouche of Haryngworth in 1816, reclaiming the title through his mother. He laid out the Pleasure Grounds, did extensive re-modelling of the House and died heavily in debt, passing Parham and his title to his daughter Harriett Anne, who became the 13th Baroness Zouche.
Harriett Anne (1787 - 1870) married Robert Curzon, youngest son of Assheton, 1st Viscount Curzon, in 1808. They lived together at Parham and engaged architect Anthony Salvin to carry out further works, building the Gothic screen wall on the North Front and moving the front door to where it is today.
Harriett Anne's son, another Robert (1810 - 1873) was a traveller, diplomat, author and collector. He died only three years after inheriting Parham, heartbroken by the death of his wife Emily. His great-granddaughter Mary Cecil, 17th Baroness Zouche, sold Parham to the Pearsons in 1922.
The Hon. Clive Pearson, 2nd son of 1st Lord Cowdray, and his wife Alicia bought the then 3,733 acre Parham estate for £200,000 in 1922. Their daughters Veronica, Lavinia and Dione grew up at Parham. The Pearsons restored the House with great enthusiasm and built its wonderful collection.
Wartime at Parham
The most fragile items were put into storage. The Pearsons sheltered friends, family and thirty evacuee children from Peckham in South London from 1939 to 1942. Parham was requisitioned and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions (mainly engineers) were billeted on the estate. The Pearsons continued to live in one half of the House and the officers took over the other half of it. The lower ranks were housed in Nissen Huts in the Park.
Opening to visitors
Parham was de-requisitioned and officially handed back to the Pearsons in 1946. They decided to open it to the public. The doors opened to visitors for the first time on Saturday 17th July 1948. Sixty one people came, paying 2/6d each. Parham has been open every year since, with only a few exceptions.
Clive Pearson died in 1965, Alicia in 1974. Their daughter Veronica inherited Parham and devoted her life to its care. She and her husband Paddy Tritton continued to open Parham to visitors. Veronica died in 1993, with no heirs.
Veronica's great-niece Lady Emma Barnard, daughter of 3rd Earl and Countess of Iveagh, became chatelaine of Parham in 1994 and lives in the House with her husband James and their family. Parham House, Gardens and 875 acres of park and woodland are now owned by a charitable trust, The Parham Park Trust.
"This is a noble English home whose owners, in a single generation, have recreated by loving and knowledgeable care what usually takes some centuries of continuous family occupation to acquire. Parham, a house with a thousand year old history, has rediscovered its roots."