Woolbeding, set in wonderful gardens near the River Rother, is a plain house of 1700. It was once owned by Lord Robert Spencer (1747–1831), the third and youngest son of the 3rd Duke of Marlborough. He is represented in the 1769 portrait by Reynolds, which was commissioned by his brother, George Spencer (1739–1817), 4th Duke of Marlborough. It formerly hung at Blenheim Palace but was at Woolbeding from 1938 until it was sold by the trustees of the owners’ descendants, Edward Charles Ponsonby Lascelles (1884–1956) and his daughter Miss A. L. Lascelles. Edward was also instrumental in Woolbeding being offered in lieu of tax on his death and transferred to the National Trust via the National Land Fund in 1958. The Reynolds portrait was sold at Sotheby’s, London, in 1970 but bought back at an auction in New York in 2004 by the property’s more recent tenant, the Honourable Simon Sainsbury (1930–2006), by whom it was bequeathed to the National Trust.
National Trust, Woolbeding
Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9RR England
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