VCH Explore

Explore England's Past

Parham House Depicted

Depiction of Parham House from a portrait of Sir Edward Bisshopp displayed at Parham House

Parham House has been depicted many times in paintings, prints, sketches, maps and photographs, as well as in architectural drawings. By using the depictions of various dates we can trace how the house developed. We must always be conscious that such depictions are done by artists with different degrees of skill for different purposes. Some artists have a reputation for accuracy, usually established by comparing their images with what survives or what we can prove to have been there. Prints made as illustrations for books often conform to a distinct style, particularly when the book belongs to a series, and may give only a general impression. Sketches made by those who knew the house well, though amateur, may be quite accurate.

Some pictures show materials or setting clearly, for example this painting of the house which forms part of the background of a portrait of Sir Edward Bisshopp painted in 1636. It tells us that the house was plain with three tall gabled projections, information borne out by study of the house itself. It also suggests that it was roofed with red clay tiles, which we know from the roof structure was not true; the colour must have been added to enliven the painting. The features of the landscape are painted quite accurately and can still be traced, which is one of the reasons we know this is Parham House and not another house of the same type.

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Parham: An Elizabethan House and its Restoration' (ISBN 978-1-86077-485-0) for the England's Past for Everyone series