Petworth House

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Petworth House Summer 2012

Petworth House in Petworth, West Sussex, England, is a late 17th-century Grade I listed mansion, rebuilt in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, and altered in the 1870s by Anthony Salvin.[1] The site was previously occupied by a fortified manor house founded by Henry de Percy, the 13th-century chapel and undercroft of which still survive.

Today's building houses an important collection of paintings and sculptures, including 19 oil paintings by J. M. W. Turner (some owned by the family, some by Tate Britain), who was a regular visitor to Petworth, paintings by Van Dyck, carvings by Grinling Gibbons and Ben Harms, classical and neoclassical sculptures (including ones by John Flaxman and John Edward Carew), and wall and ceiling paintings by Louis Laguerre. There is also a terrestrial globe by Emery Molyneux, believed to be the only one in the world in its original 1592 state.[2]

It stands in a 283-hectare (700-acre)[3] landscaped park, known as Petworth Park, which was designed by 'Capability' Brown. The park is one of the more famous in England, largely on account of a number of pictures of it which were painted by Turner. It is inhabited by the largest herd of fallow deer in England. There is also a 12-hectare (30-acre) woodland garden, known as the Pleasure Ground.[4]

The Deer in Petworth Park, J. M. W. Turner, 1827

For the past 250 years the house and the estate have been in the hands of the Wyndham family — currently Lord Egremont. He and his family live in the south wing, allowing much of the remainder to be open to the public. Lady Egremont has restored the gardens. [5]

The house and deer park were handed over to the nation in 1947 and are now managed by the National Trust under the name "Petworth House & Park". The Leconfield Estates continue to own much of Petworth and the surrounding area. As an insight into the lives of past estate workers the Petworth Cottage Museum has been established in High Street, Petworth, furnished as it would have been in about 1910.

Petworth House is home to the Petworth House Real Tennis Club (many such private estates held real tennis courts).

Unusually for a country mansion of its size, Petworth House and Park are immediately adjacent to the town of Petworth, with it shops and restaurants.


A distant view of Petworth House across the lake in Petworth Park by J. M. W. Turner.
  1. ^ English Heritage. "Petworth House (1225989)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  2. ^ "Petworth House: Globe". Ye Olde Sussex Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  3. ^ "National Trust Petworth House and Park". web page. National Trust. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  4. ^ "Petworth House and Park, Sussex". web page. Tourist Information UK. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Lane Fox, Robin. "The countess who gave Petworth House its garden". Financial Times. 

The contents of the house, in particular the paintings and sculptures are now the property of the National Trust having been taken in lieu of accumulated death duties. (cf National Trust page for Petworth House )

Joan Aiken describes Petworth House and its gardens, as they were in 1798/99, in her novel "The Lightning Tree" (1980).

External links[edit]

Media related to Petworth House at Wikimedia Commons Media related to Petworth Park at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 50°59′18″N 0°36′44″W / 50.98825°N 0.61225°W / 50.98825; -0.61225