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Digging deep past Welbeck tunnel stories

Posted onPosted on 6th Jul

A new exhibition at The Harley Gallery reveals the life of the elusive 5th Duke of Portland, who owned the historic Welbeck estate during the Victorian era.

The fifth Duke was an unusual figure in society, and many myths and legends have grown around his memory.

These include him always wearing three pairs of socks, only eating roast chicken, and communicating exclusively by letters through his bedroom door.

He is best known for his building projects, which include one of the world’s largest riding schools, 2¾ miles of tunnels, a subterranean ballroom, and an underground donkey stable.

The 5th Duke of Portland/Tunnel Vision exhibition illustrates his life beyond the tunnels, including stories of lost love, art collecting, and the creation of the landscape that can be seen today at Welbeck.

Lisa Gee, director of The Harley Gallery, said: “We wanted to illustrate that the fifth Duke was more than a tunnel builder.

“He was a true man of his times; a great art collector, prolific correspondent, philanthropist, and innovator, using the latest technology and design.

“Welbeck and The Portland Collection was greatly improved by the Duke for his heirs and future generations.”