The front facade
The entrance facade
The rear facade
The staircase hall in 2019
The staircase hall in 2019
A doorway from the 12th century Priory of St. Pancras in the staircase hall in 2019
One of the two circa 1773 Chippendale Melbourne Cabinets at Firle
Detail of the Chippendale Melbourne Cabinet
The 1761–62 Sèvres soft-paste purple porcelain flower vase (vase hollandois nouveau ovale) today in the collection at Firle Place.
Earlier Houses: The 12th century Priory of St. Pancras was on the site of the current house (elements of the priory were incorporated into the house; see "Images" section).
Built / Designed For: Probably for Sir John Gage
House & Family History: The core of the current house was probably begun in the early 16th century by Sir John Gage, a major player in the Court of Henry VIII (he served as chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, comptroller of the household, constable of the Tower, and lord chamberlain). Starting in the 18th century his successors Georgianized the house, beginning with the work of the 1st Viscount Gage, whose rebuilding work was carried out between 1744 and 1754, and ending with the additions and alterations (1754-83) of the 2nd Viscount Gage. The 2nd Lord Gage's younger brother, General Thomas Gage, was the British commander-in-chief in the early days of the War of American Independence (he served from 1763 until 1775 as commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America). In 1774 General Gage was also appointed as the military governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay with specific instructions to implement the Intolerable Acts, which were enacted by the British Parliament to punish Massachusetts for the Boston Tea Party.
Collections: Firle contains fine collections of Old Master paintings, Sèvres, and French and English furniture, the stars of which are Chippendale's Melbourne Cabinets (see "Images" section). These identical circa 1773 cabinets (with holly and tulipwood marquetry) are the tallest pieces of marquetry furniture ever made by Chippendale—8′ 1¼” high. The cabinets, created to display porcelain, were part of a suite commissioned from Chippendale by the 1st Viscount Melbourne for Melbourne House, London. The other piece from the suite, the Renishaw Commode, is today in the collection of Renishaw Hall. The Melbourne Cabinets came to Firle in 1952, at the death of Ethel (Ettie), Lady Desborough, when her daughter, Imogen, Viscountess Gage, inherited much of the collection of Cowper Collection at Panshanger Park. A mid-18th century Meissen and Vincennes (hard and soft paste porcelain) ormolu clock, at Firle until the 1970s, is today in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Rococo clock features scrolling gilt-bronze lattice work dotted with porcelain and enamel flowers and porcelain figures of a lady sitting at a sewing table and a man at right leaning toward her in an affectionate manner. At the 1928 Christie's sale of the collection of Daws Hill House, a member of the Gage family likely purchased a 1761–62 Sèvres soft-paste purple porcelain flower vase (vase hollandois nouveau ovale); this important piece (see "Images" section), originally one of a pair, is today at Firle (its mate is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). A pair of Queen Anne silver gilt standing cups and covers were sold at Christie's on November 26, 1980.
Country Life: XLVII, 78, 108, 1920. CXVII, 480 plan, 564, 620, 1955.
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 2008
Reference: pgs. 163, 860
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Hardback
Title: Disintegration of a Heritage: Country Houses and their Collections, 1979-1992, The
Author: Sayer, Michael
Year Published: 1993
Publisher: Norfolk: Michael Russell (Publishing)
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade II
Current Seat / Home of: Henry Nicolas Gage, 8th Viscount Gage; Gage family here for over 500 years.
Past Seat / Home of: Sir John Gage, until 1556; Sir John Gage, 1st Bt., until 1633; Sir Thomas Gage, 2nd Bt., 1633-54; Sir Thomas Gage, 3rd Bt., 1654-60; Sir John Gage, 4th Bt., 1660-99; Sir John Gage, 5th Bt., 1699-1700; Sir Thomas Gage, 6th Bt., 1700-13; Sir William Gage, 7th Bt., 1713-44; Sir Thomas Gage, 8th Bt. and 1st Viscount Gage, 1744-54; William Hall Gage, 2nd Viscount Gage, 1754-91; Henry Gage, 3rd Viscount Gage, 1791-1808; Henry Hall, 4th Viscount Gage, 1808-77; Henry Charles Gage, 5th Viscount Gage, 1877-1912; Henry Rainald Gage, 6th Viscount Gage, 1912-82; George John St. Clere Gage, 7th Viscount, 1982-93.
Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home