The Fred Packard Museum & Galleries of British Sporting Art at Palace House
The Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of Sporting Art is situated in the remaining portion of Charles II’s Newmarket palace. The King was a passionate sportsman. Throughout his reign he would regularly travel to Newmarket with the royal court to enjoy the racing and rural pursuits. His royal residence, which was designed by the gentleman architect William Samwell in 1668-1671, was specifically built to accommodate the King and his court on these outings. Today, all that remains of this sporting palace is the King’s Lodgings. Now better known as Palace House, this Stuart palace provides the most unique setting for an art gallery dedicated to British Sporting Art.
Palace House is a celebration of British sporting art and visual culture through the ages. This begins with the seventeenth century and the early origins of the genre. The rest of the first floor explores the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries - a golden age for rural sports in Britain. Visitors can see works by leading sporting artists like John Wootton and George Stubbs, who spearheaded the development of a thoroughly British school of sporting art. However, it’s not just about fine art. From sporting prints to decorative art and even furniture, the gallery explores how sporting imagery impacted on all levels of British visual culture.
The second floor of the palace begins in the later nineteenth century with the growth of leisure in Victorian times and the fashion for new garden games like croquet and tennis. Big sporting events also provide a great source of artistic inspiration.
By the early twentieth century, in response to periods of war and endless industrialisation, artists like Lionel Edwards and Sir Alfred Munnings present a nostalgic vision of rural sporting England. The final gallery moves into the twenty-first century to explore the many ways in which contemporary artists continue to be inspired by sport.
As a truly national celebration of the genre, the opening hang exhibits works on loan from public and private collections from across the UK. This includes works from Tate, V&A, National Galleries Scotland, Manchester City Galleries, MCC and the British Council to name just a few. In addition, Palace House also provides a new home for the entirety of the British Sporting Art Trust’s fine and decorative art collection.
Two audio tours are on offer in Palace House. The general tour explores the wealth of history associated with the building itself. It also takes a more in-depth look at the picture hang. Alternatively, in the Family Tour you can join Charles II and his horse Blew Capp on an adventure around the remains of this royal residence.
For more information on joining the BSAT visit the website.