This grand, central, hallway was once an open courtyard where visitors to the house would arrive and dismount their horses.
In 1662, it was roofed over by Dorothy, widow of the First Earl of Sunderland. She was also responsible for the installation of the imposing oak staircase. First stained to resemble walnut, architect Henry Holland had it painted white when he added the gallery balustrades, but the wood was stripped back at the turn of last century. The stairs are covered in a carpet bought by the Fourth Earl Spencer, from Smyrna (modern Izmir).