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Press release

  • 18 March 2005
  • Lottery cash funds University’s historic house research

    Historic treasure Parham House, West Sussex

    Historic treasure Parham House, West Sussex

    Art historians at the University of Sussex are to share in a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of more than £3 million to tell the story of Sussex architectural treasure Parham House.


    Architectural historian and head of the University's art history department, Professor Maurice Howard, will supervise a two-year study of Elizabethan Parham House, West Sussex, beginning this summer, when a postdoctoral fellow will be appointed to carry out research. The project has been awarded £80,000 through the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the England's Past for Everyone project. The five-year scheme will be run by local history research centre the Victoria County History (VCH) at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London and will focus on local history projects for ten specific locations in England, including picturesque Parham House.


    The University team will conduct the academic research into family papers, original deeds and records associated with the 16th-century manor house and its estate. This will underpin material for online resources for schools and an illustrated paperback history of the house. A comprehensive photographic record of the building and grounds will also be produced.


    Parham House dates back to Medieval times, but the original manor was incorporated into the Elizabethan design in 1577. It was also the subject of careful renovation by its 20th-century owners, the Pearson family. Professor Howard, who has researched other local historic houses, such as Laughton Place, says: "This house is one of the great late 16th-century houses to be found at the foot of the Downs. It can tell us a lot about the agricultural, political and social history of the area.


    "The family renovated the house with an interesting 20th-century view of the past but the Elizabethan sequence of great hall, great chamber and long gallery was sensitively restored. They also built up an extraordinary collection of tapestries, paintings and early English furniture. As a house that's still in private hands and open to the public, Parham House is, historically speaking, one of the greatest properties in Sussex. This is the first time that it will be looked at in such detail."


    The house is now held in trust and opens to the public from Easter Sunday (see, but it is still a home to Lady Emma Barnard, a descendant of the Pearsons, and her family. Lady Emma says: "We are all as excited about the forthcoming VCH project as I know my great-grandparents, Mr and Mrs Pearson, and great-aunt, Mrs Tritton, would be. They were so modest about their extraordinary achievement in saving Parham. It makes me very proud to be associated with such a project. It is wonderful to think that the full, fascinating story of Parham will be told."


    Professor Howard says: "Compiling the history of Parham House and its park is a fitting tribute to an estate of historic worth, and one that has maintained an integral role in the local community"


    Notes for editors 

      • The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. From museums and historic buildings to parks and beauty spots or recording traditions and customs, HLF grants open up the nation's heritage for everyone to enjoy. HLF has supported more than 15,000 projects, allocating more than £3 billion across the UK. See
      • The Victoria County History is as research centre of the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) ( It offers a wide range of services to historians including, since 1899, a series of scholarly volumes on the history of the counties of England. See

    University of Sussex Press Office contact: Maggie Clune, tel: 01273 678 888 or email


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