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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porch roof


Above the entrance to the porch is the royal coat of arms of King Henry VIII, put there by the Earl of Southampton to commemorate the King's visits in 1538 and 1539. Inside, the porch is nearly square and the floor is paved with marble slabs. Above is a beautifully carved fan vault ceiling of stone. In the centre is the Tudor rose with a crown and arounding this are carved eight cusped quatrefoils. In the corners the fans are each divided into four sections, in which alternate a large anchor and a trefoil bearing the letters, W.S., referring to the builder, William, Earl of Southampton. Also, among the spandrels of the south-wet corner fan, there are four heads; two are obviously cherubim, while the others are that of a mature man and woman. Possibly, it had been suggested, that of the Earl and his Countess.

In the ruins today, the porch is one of the best-preserved portions of the house. The marble floor has gone, as has the plaster on the walls, but the carved ceiling is nearly fully intact and the carving still very crisp. The exterior of the porch also remains well preserved except for the royal coat of arms, which have been badly mutilated.

On passing through the porch, you would have entered a passage that ran through the house to another porch that gave access to the east, or garden front. To the right are three doors leading to the pantry, kitchen entry and the buttery. To the left would have been a wooden screen with gates across each of two doorways. Pass through one of these doorways and you enter the magnificent Buck Hall.

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