Cowdray House, Midhust, West Sussex title banner, a history of a magnificent 16th Cent house, destroyed by fire in the late 18th Cent
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Cowdray plan


Cowdray House is roughly square in plan, having an overall dimension of about 230ft square. Within is a large court, measuring 120 foot from north to south and 109 foot from east to west. The principle entrance is via the great gatehouse in the centre of the west range and the principle rooms were contained in the east range. Connecting the two were the now destroyed north and south ranges. One hundred yards to the north-west is an octagonal building, 30ft in diameter and two stories in height. This was the Conduit House from which the water for the house was supplied. There used to be steps leading to the first floor on both sides, but little is known of how the water was supplied and stored. The conduit hose, being on slightly higher ground than Cowdray, allowed the water to flow downhill through special pipes to service the fountain and other water-using parts of the great house.

Entrance and Court Yard
If you came to Cowdray in about 1770, during the time of the Seventh Viscount Montague, you would enter through the great double doors of the Gate House. The imposing gatehouse was three stories high, with an octagonal turret at each of its four corners. Above the entrance arch are the coat of arms of the First Viscount Montague and at the very top, just below the embattled parapet, a single handed clock, another face of which was on the court side of the gatehouse. Passing through the inner doorway, you entered the quadrangular court, in the centre of which was an early sixteenth century Florentine bronze fountain that replaced an earlier, smaller one. The conduit house supplied the water that flowed from it.

In front of you, on the east side of the court, is a great bay window of the hall; flanked on the left by two lesser bays and down to the right is the porch. Above, on the roof of the hall is a beautifully carved wooden louver, with nine golden vanes supported by beasts. The north and south were simpler, two storied ranges. In the centre of each was a large three storied bay, flanked on both sides by turrets. To the west, on either side of the gatehouse, were two more bays and a turret in both the north and southwest corners of the court.

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