Petworth House

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Petworth House
UK, Sussex - Petworth House.jpg
Petworth House is located in West Sussex
Petworth House
location within West Sussex
General information
Type Country house
Architectural style Baroque
Country United Kingdom
Completed 1688
Owner Lord Egremont
Design and construction
Architect Anthony Salvin (1870)
16th century stained glass in the Percy Window at Petworth House Chapel, depicting arms of Henry Percy, 3rd Earl of Northumberland (1421-1461) impaling the arms of the Poynings, his wife's family

Petworth House in Petworth, West Sussex, England, is a late 17th-century Grade I listed country house, rebuilt in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, and altered in the 1870s by Anthony Salvin.[1] For centuries, it was the southern home for the House of Percy. Petworth is famous for its extensive art collection, containing many works by Turner and intricate carvings by Grinling Gibbons. It also has an expansive park, landscaped by Capability Brown, with the largest herd of fallow deer in England.


The Petworth lands first came into the Percy family as a royal gift from Adeliza of Louvain, the widow of King Henry I, to her brother Joscelin of Louvain. He later married into the Percy family and adopted the surname; his descendents became the Earls of Northumberland, the most powerful in northern England.[2]

The Percy family, whose primary seat was at Alnwick Castle near Scotland, intended for Petworth to be for occasional use. However, in the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I grew suspicious of the Percy's allegiance to Mary, Queen of Scots, and confined them to Petworth.[2]

In 1670, Josceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland died without a male heir, leaving his considerable fortune and estates of Petworth House, Alnwick Castle, Syon House and Northumberland House to his 2-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. In 1682, already twice widowed at age 16, Elizabeth Percy married Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset. The pair became one of the wealthiest couples in England.[2]

The current site was previously occupied by a fortified manor house founded by Henry de Percy, the 13th-century chapel and undercroft of which still survive. For the past 250 years the house and the estate have been in the hands of the prominent Wyndham family.[3]

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. 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.

Lord Egremont 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.[4]

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.[5]

Petworth Park[edit]

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

The 283-hectare (700-acre) landscaped park, known as Petworth Park, has the largest herd of fallow deer in England.[6] It is one of the more famous in England, largely on account of a number of pictures of it which were painted by Turner. There is also a 12-hectare (30-acre) woodland garden, known as the Pleasure Ground.[7]

Petworth House is home to the Petworth House Real Tennis Club (many such private estates held real tennis courts). Petworth Park was also a cricket venue.

Surrounding area[edit]

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.

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.

Art on display at Petworth House
Art on display at Petworth House
Petworth House interior with neoclassical sculpture


  1. ^ Historic England. "Petworth House (1225989)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Petworth House and Park: History". National Trust. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  3. ^ "In 1682 Petworth passed by marriage from the Percies to the 6th Duke of Somerset and it is to him the Proud Duke that we owe by far the larger part of the existing house" (Nicholson, Nigel, Great Houses of Britain, London, 1978, p.165)
  4. ^ Lane Fox, Robin. "The countess who gave Petworth House its garden". Financial Times. 
  5. ^ "Petworth House: Globe". Ye Olde Sussex Pages. Retrieved 2008-02-07. 
  6. ^ "National Trust Petworth House and Park". web page. National Trust. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "Petworth House and Park, Sussex". web page. Tourist Information UK. Retrieved 20 April 2012. 
  • Turner, Roger (1999). Capability Brown and the Eighteenth Century English Landscape (2nd ed.). Phillimore, Chichester: [s.n.] pp. 130–132. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°59′17.54″N 0°36′39.06″W / 50.9882056°N 0.6108500°W / 50.9882056; -0.6108500