Petworth House is now owned by the National Trust after crippling family death duties forced the gift to the Trust by the 3rd Lord Leconfield in 1947. Before this it had an illustrious history!
The vast late 17th-century mansion is set in a beautiful 283-hectare (700-acre) deer park, landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and immortalised in Turner’s paintings.
Inside, the house contains the National Trust’s finest collection of pictures, with numerous works by Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake, ancient and Neo-classical sculpture, fine furniture and carvings by Grinling Gibbons.
The servants’ quarters contain fascinating kitchens (including a copper batterie de cuisine of more than 1,000 pieces) and other service rooms.
In 1682 heiress Elizabeth Percy, who at just 16 was already twice widowed, married Charles Seymour the 6th Duke of Somerset. Together they formed possibly one of the wealthiest couples in England. Charles soon set about creating a home fit for him and his wife by rebuilding Petworth in the grand Baroque style you see today. This, and his often arrogant character, earned him the name the ‘Proud’ Duke.
Just 50 years after Charles Seymour had installed elaborate formal gardens, Charles Wyndham, nephew to the 7th Duke of Somerset, commissioned ‘Capability’ Brown to landscape the parkland into the style you see today.
Charles’ son George, the 3rd Earl of Egremont, inherited in 1763 and what’s now known as the golden age began. As a collector of British art, the 3rd Earl was patron to many contemporary artists, including JMW Turner who was a frequent guest.
John Constable, also a guest of the 3rd Earl, called Petworth the ‘house of art’. After the 3rd Earl’s death in 1837 his son inherited all but the title, due to illegitimacy. 22 years later he was made Lord Leconfield.
There are MANY unique and special features around the house and Park for visitors to see and do, but some of the highlights are:
- The Gringling Gibbons carvings, especially in the carved room
- The 20 resident Turner paintings, especially in the North Gallery
- The many beautiful sculptures in the North Gallery
- The large herd of Fallow Deer in the park, along with the lakes.
- The stunning main staircase lined with paintings, gilded carvings etc
- The variety of different main rooms in the house.
- The “below stairs” experience – especially the kitchens which are still in use
- The Square dining room surrounded by works of art by famous artists of the day, and large mirrors.
- The family Chapel
- Restaurant serving local, seasonal homemade food
- Coffee shop
- Vintage ice-cream and coffee outlet
- Shop selling range of gifts
- Plants and garden products for sale
- Parking, 750 yards (700 meters) from main entrance
- Coach drop-off point at Church Lodge entrance. Designated parking in house car park
- Dogs welcome under close control in historic park only
- Guided tours available – please contact us before you visit
- Multimedia tours
- Groups welcome – please contact us before you visit
- Photography (without flash) is permitted in the house and historic kitchens, but not in the special rooms open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays from 1pm.
Costs of Entry:
- Adult: £12.50
- Child: £6.20
- Family: £31.20
- Group adult: £11.20 – these are prices without GiftAid, its a bit cheaper with..
© Gayle Palmer / www.ChichesterSelfcatering.co.uk