Parham House, in West Sussex, is a typical Elizabethan House. There have been settlements on this property since before recorded history, but the Elizabethan manor house was built in 1577. It is built in the typical Elizabethan H-plan, centered around the traditional Great Hall with tall mullioned windows. The house stayed in the same family, and underwent various modernizations and improvements, until it was sold in 1922 to Clive Pearson. He and his wife, Alicia were looking for a house that needed loving care, and by that time Parham was sad and neglected. It had no drains, no electricity and a badly leaking roof. The Pearsons took on a massive renovation and restoration project, and restored it to its former glory. During the building process, they also collected pictures and antique furniture, some of which had belonged to Parham at one time. They established a library, and a fine portrait collection, while Alicia acquired a large collection of needlework and wool hangings.
Alicia traveled with Clive as he toured the world for business, and she expanded her needlework collection by returning home with pieces from almost every continent. Most of the tapestries and needlework pieces she collected in England are from the 17th Century, Stuart era. However, there are Elizabethan pieces as well as later pieces. The range of objects embraces an unparalleled group of Stuart embroidered pictures and panels, together with covers for furniture, room hangings, bed hangings, horse furniture, samplers, and many other items executed by both amateur and professional embroiderers.
Most of the embroideries on display had a religious theme, and were of raised embroidery (now known as stumpwork). In particular, there was an amazing casket which is indicative of the embroideries done from 1650-1700. There was a beautifully wrought picture of a rabbit that was totally life-like that I thought was interesting. It was from the 1600s, but totally different from anything else we saw in that time period. It looked like it was made using a silk shading technique.
Parham is currently a private house with part of the house open for public tours. The family still occupies part of the manor house. And part of the amazing and extensive gardens are set aside for the family.