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A Day Exploring Petworth House, West Sussex, England


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Tina Wilbanks



Welcome to the charming and historic Petworth House in West Sussex, England. Nestled amidst the picturesque South Downs National Park, Petworth House is a grand mansion with a rich history and an intriguing past. A visit to this exquisite estate promises to transport you back in time, where you can explore stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and a remarkable art collection.


Originally built in the 17th century, Petworth House underwent several transformations over the years, making it a captivating blend of architectural styles, from medieval to Baroque. The house is owned by the National Trust, a charitable organization that works tirelessly to preserve the country’s cultural heritage.


As you step through the grand entrance of Petworth House, you’ll be greeted by an atmosphere of elegance and refinement. The sprawling estate boasts impressive state rooms, opulent interiors, and an extensive art collection that rivals some of the finest museums in the world.


But Petworth House offers more than just a glimpse into the lives of the wealthy aristocracy; it also provides a unique insight into the lives of the servants who once worked tirelessly behind the scenes. With its preserved servants’ quarters, you’ll have the chance to delve into the fascinating history of the house from a different perspective.


Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply seeking a tranquil escape in the English countryside, Petworth House has something for everyone. From strolling through the landscaped gardens to exploring the meticulously restored state rooms, each corner of this extraordinary estate is brimming with stories waiting to be discovered.


Join us as we embark on a journey through time to uncover the secrets and beauty of Petworth House, a true gem of West Sussex. Let the allure of history and culture envelop you as we delve into this remarkable destination.


History of Petworth House

The history of Petworth House can be traced back to the late 17th century when the first mansion was built on the site. The house has been home to several influential families over the years, with each leaving their mark on the estate.


The original house was constructed for Charles Seymour, the 6th Duke of Somerset, who sought to create a residence befitting his status. However, it was in the 18th century that Petworth House truly flourished under the ownership of the Egremont family.


Charles Wyndham, the 2nd Earl of Egremont, transformed the house into a grand mansion, expanding its size and commissioning renowned architect James Wyatt to redesign and enhance the structure. The resulting architecture showcases a harmonious blend of medieval and Georgian styles.


The Egremont family’s association with Petworth House spans several generations, with many influential figures leaving their mark. One notable family member, George Wyndham, the 3rd Earl of Egremont, was known for his patronage of the arts. It was during his time that Petworth House became a hub for artists and intellectuals.


The house also played a significant role in British politics during the 19th century. Henry Wyndham, the 4th Earl of Egremont, was a close friend and advisor to Prime Minister Spencer Perceval. Perceval’s portrait can be found in the house, serving as a reminder of the political connections Petworth House once held.


Throughout its history, Petworth House has witnessed many significant events, including visits from British monarchs and political leaders. It has remained in the care of the Egremont family until the early 20th century when the 3rd Lord Leconfield bequeathed the house and its magnificent collection to the National Trust.


The National Trust has been dedicated to preserving the heritage and history of Petworth House and ensuring that future generations can appreciate its beauty. Today, visitors can step into the past and immerse themselves in the fascinating stories and cultural significance of this illustrious estate.


Architecture and Design

Petworth House is renowned for its exquisite architecture and stunning design, which reflects the tastes and styles of different periods in history. The house is a perfect blend of medieval, Tudor, and Georgian influences, resulting in a unique and visually captivating structure.


The original mansion constructed for Charles Seymour, the 6th Duke of Somerset, showcased a medieval-inspired design. However, it was the transformation undertaken by the Egremont family in the 18th century that truly defined the architectural beauty of Petworth House.


James Wyatt, a prominent architect of the time, was commissioned to remodel the house, incorporating elements of the Georgian style while preserving the existing medieval structure. The result is a harmonious blend of grandeur and elegance.


One of the standout features of Petworth House is the magnificent window designs. The windows are adorned with intricate stone tracery and delicate mullions, adding a touch of sophistication to the façade. This architectural detail showcases the skill and craftsmanship prevalent during the Georgian era.


As you explore the interior, you’ll be captivated by the elaborate plasterwork and ceiling decorations found throughout the state rooms. From the ornate cornices to the stunning rococo plasterwork, the craftsmanship on display is truly remarkable.


The opulent interiors of Petworth House are further enhanced by the luxurious furnishings and decorations. The house boasts an impressive collection of antique furniture, intricate tapestries, and fine art, each carefully chosen to enhance the ambiance of the rooms.


One notable feature of Petworth House is the Long Gallery, a magnificent space that stretches over 160 feet in length. With its ornate ceiling and large windows, the Long Gallery is a testament to the grandeur of the house and serves as a showcase for the family’s impressive art collection.


Overall, the architecture and design of Petworth House are a testament to the vision and taste of the Egremont family. The combination of different architectural styles and the intricate detailing throughout the house make it a true treasure, giving visitors a glimpse into the past and the world of the aristocracy.


The Grounds and Gardens

Surrounded by acres of lush parkland and manicured gardens, Petworth House offers visitors an enchanting outdoor experience that perfectly complements its grand interiors. The grounds and gardens of Petworth House are not just a backdrop but an integral part of the estate, showcasing the beauty of the English countryside.


As you step outside, you’ll be greeted by rolling lawns, majestic trees, and serene lakes that create a tranquil and picturesque setting. The design of the gardens has evolved over the centuries, with each generation adding their own touch to the landscape.


One of the highlights of the grounds is the Pleasure Grounds, a meticulously designed area that offers a delightful walk through a variety of landscapes. Here, you’ll find winding paths that lead you through woodland areas, vibrant flowerbeds, and charming follies. The Pleasure Grounds provide a peaceful escape where you can connect with nature and enjoy the serenity of the surroundings.


Another notable feature of the gardens is the vast Deer Park, home to a herd of fallow deer. This expansive area allows visitors to observe the graceful creatures in their natural habitat while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.


For those with a green thumb or a love for horticulture, the Walled Gardens are a true delight. These beautifully maintained gardens are bursting with colorful blooms and fragrant flowers. From vibrant roses to lush herbaceous borders, the Walled Gardens enchant visitors with their seasonal displays.


A stroll through the gardens also leads to the stunning Pulham Falls, a series of cascades and pools that add a sense of drama and tranquility to the landscape. As you wander along the pathways, you’ll encounter hidden alcoves, charming bridges, and peaceful seating areas where you can pause and take in the beauty of the surroundings.


Exploring the grounds and gardens of Petworth House is not just a visual experience but also an opportunity to connect with nature and appreciate the timeless beauty of the English countryside. Whether you choose to wander through the Pleasure Grounds, observe the deer in the Deer Park, or admire the colorful blooms in the Walled Gardens, the outdoor spaces of Petworth House are a true testament to the beauty and serenity of this remarkable estate.


The Art Collection

One of the notable highlights of visiting Petworth House is the exceptional art collection that graces its walls. The house is renowned for its extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, making it a haven for art enthusiasts and cultural enthusiasts alike.


The art collection at Petworth House spans multiple periods and styles, offering a diverse range of artistic masterpieces. From Renaissance and Baroque paintings to 19th-century British portraits, the collection showcases the evolution of art across centuries.


One of the most celebrated works in the collection is the original painting of “The Fall of Man” by the renowned artist Peter Paul Rubens. This impressive masterpiece is proudly displayed in the Carved Room, where visitors can marvel at its intricate detail and powerful depiction of the biblical story.


Another prominent artist featured in the collection is J.M.W. Turner, one of Britain’s most beloved landscape painters. Petworth House boasts a significant number of Turner’s creations, allowing visitors to admire the artist’s ability to capture the essence of the English countryside through his brushstrokes.


In addition to the renowned works, the art collection at Petworth House also includes pieces by Thomas Gainsborough, William Blake, and Anthony van Dyck, among others. Each painting tells a story, offering a glimpse into the historical, cultural, and social context of the time.


Aside from paintings, Petworth House houses an impressive collection of sculptures and decorative arts. From intricately carved marble statues to exquisite furniture pieces, visitors can explore the craftsmanship and artistry of different periods.


The carefully curated art collection at Petworth House is a testament to the patronage and appreciation of the arts by the Egremont family. Their affinity for collecting and supporting artists has allowed the house to become a sanctuary of artistic expression and a repository of cultural heritage.


Visitors to Petworth House have the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of art and experience the beauty and significance of the masterpieces on display. Whether you’re a seasoned art connoisseur or simply appreciate the power of creativity, the art collection at Petworth House is sure to captivate and inspire.


Exploring the State Rooms

Stepping into the state rooms at Petworth House is like entering a world of grandeur and elegance. These opulent spaces provide a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the aristocracy, showcasing exquisite architecture, luxurious furnishings, and remarkable works of art.


One of the standout state rooms is the Great Hall, a magnificent space that serves as the heart of the house. The soaring ceilings, intricate plasterwork, and monumental fireplace create an imposing yet enchanting ambiance. This impressive room sets the stage for the grandeur that awaits you throughout the rest of the house.


As you continue your journey through the state rooms, you’ll encounter stunning drawing rooms, salons, and libraries, each adorned with richly decorated ceilings, sumptuous draperies, and elegant furniture. The meticulous attention to detail and the craftsmanship displayed in these rooms is awe-inspiring.


The Carved Room is another highlight of the state rooms and is renowned for its intricate woodwork and stunning tapestries. The room is home to the aforementioned masterpiece by Peter Paul Rubens, “The Fall of Man,” which adds a sense of drama and significance to the space.


Throughout the state rooms, you’ll also find an impressive collection of portraits and family heirlooms, providing a glimpse into the lives and legacies of the Egremont family. From formal portraits of family members to scenes of everyday life, these artworks offer a fascinating insight into the history and connections of Petworth House.


One of the notable rooms in Petworth House is the Red Library, a cozy space adorned with shelves of books and comfortable seating. This room provides a tranquil retreat where visitors can immerse themselves in the written word while surrounded by the ambiance of the house’s rich history.


Exploring the state rooms is like stepping back in time, allowing visitors to experience the lavishness and grandeur of the aristocratic lifestyle. The combination of stunning architecture, luxurious interiors, and remarkable artworks creates an unforgettable ambiance that encapsulates the essence of Petworth House.


Whether you have a keen interest in history, art, or simply appreciate the beauty of refined interiors, a visit to the state rooms at Petworth House promises to be a captivating and immersive experience.


Visiting the Servants’ Quarters

While the state rooms of Petworth House showcase the grandeur and luxury of the aristocracy, the servants’ quarters provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to keep the household running smoothly.


Exploring the servants’ quarters allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the social structure and daily routines that governed life in a grand house like Petworth. These areas have been meticulously preserved to reflect the working conditions and living arrangements of the servants.


One of the key areas to explore is the Servants’ Hall, where the staff would gather for meals and socialize during their downtime. This communal space provides insight into the hierarchical relationships and camaraderie among the servants.


Adjacent to the Servants’ Hall, you’ll find the Kitchen, a bustling hub of activity in its heyday. The historic kitchen displays an array of period cooking utensils, providing a fascinating look into the culinary practices of the time.


As you make your way through the servants’ quarters, you’ll encounter other areas such as the Housekeeper’s Room, the Butler’s Pantry, and the Still Room. Each of these spaces played a vital role in the smooth running of the household, highlighting the division of labor and the meticulous organization required to cater to the aristocratic occupants.


Exploring the servants’ quarters at Petworth House offers a unique perspective and a chance to appreciate the important contributions of those often overshadowed by the grandeur of the aristocracy. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the social dynamics of the time and gain a deeper understanding of the complex workings of an estate like Petworth House.


Visiting the servants’ quarters allows us to appreciate the dedication and hard work of the individuals who played a crucial role in maintaining the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by the aristocracy. It adds depth to the history and story of Petworth House, ensuring that their stories are not forgotten.


Petworth House as a Film Location

Petworth House is not only a historic treasure and cultural landmark, but it has also served as an iconic backdrop for numerous film and television productions. Its impressive architecture, opulent interiors, and stunning grounds have made it a sought-after location for filmmakers looking to add a touch of grandeur and authenticity to their productions.


One of the notable films that utilized Petworth House as a filming location is the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility.” The house and its grounds were the perfect setting for the Dashwood family’s estate, Barton Cottage, providing an ideal backdrop for the timeless romance and societal drama depicted in the story.


Petworth House has also appeared in other period dramas, such as the 2008 film “The Duchess,” starring Keira Knightley. The house’s grand interiors and elegant rooms were utilized to recreate the lavishness and decadence of the Georgian era.


In addition to period dramas, Petworth House has been featured in other genres as well. The house served as a filming location for the horror film “The Haunting” in 1999, where its atmospheric interiors and grand architecture helped create an eerie and haunting atmosphere.


The magnificent landscapes and gardens of Petworth House have also captured the attention of filmmakers. The estate’s picturesque surroundings were featured in the critically acclaimed film “Pride,” which depicted the true story of a group of LGBT activists who raised money to support striking miners in the 1980s.


Choosing Petworth House as a film location not only adds visual appeal to productions but also lends an air of authenticity and historical depth. The house’s rich history and grandeur bring a sense of realism to period dramas, while its elegant interiors and tranquil gardens provide a captivating setting for a wide range of stories and genres.


As you wander through the rooms and gardens of Petworth House, you may find yourself recalling scenes from your favorite films or imagining the stories that have unfolded within its walls. The house’s role as a film location further solidifies its status as a cultural icon, allowing it to be enjoyed and appreciated by both history enthusiasts and film buffs alike.


Dining and Shopping Opportunities

A visit to Petworth House is not just about exploring historic architecture and beautiful gardens; it also offers a range of dining and shopping opportunities to enhance your experience.


After immersing yourself in the grandeur of Petworth House, take a break and indulge in a delightful meal at one of the estate’s charming dining establishments. The on-site cafe offers a selection of delicious treats, including freshly baked pastries, sandwiches, and hot meals made with locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy your food in the picturesque surroundings of the estate, taking in the serene views as you savor your meal.


If you’re in the mood for a more formal dining experience, consider visiting one of the nearby historic pubs or restaurants in the quaint town of Petworth. These establishments offer a range of traditional and contemporary dishes, often featuring locally sourced produce and ingredients.


After satisfying your taste buds, take some time to explore the various shops and boutiques around Petworth House. The town is known for its vibrant arts and antiques scene, making it a perfect place to discover unique treasures. Browse through charming gift shops and antique stores, where you can find a wide range of artwork, vintage furniture, pottery, jewelry, and more.


For art enthusiasts, there are several galleries where you can admire and purchase original works by local artists. Whether you’re interested in traditional landscapes, contemporary pieces, or sculptures, you’re sure to find something that captures your interest.


If you’re more inclined towards outdoor activities, Petworth House’s location within the South Downs National Park offers ample opportunities for outdoor gear shopping. Explore specialist stores offering hiking, camping, and cycling gear, allowing you to make the most of the surrounding countryside.


Don’t forget to visit the National Trust gift shop at Petworth House, where you can find a variety of souvenirs, books, and other items related to the estate and its history. Proceeds from the shop directly support the ongoing conservation and upkeep of Petworth House and its grounds.


Whether you’re looking to indulge in a delicious meal, hunt for unique treasures, or pick up a memento to remember your visit, Petworth House and the town of Petworth provide a range of dining and shopping opportunities to suit every taste.


Practical Information

Planning a visit to Petworth House? Here’s some practical information to help you make the most of your experience:


Location: Petworth House is located in the town of Petworth in West Sussex, England. The address is Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0AE.


Opening Hours: Petworth House is typically open to the public from spring to autumn, with limited opening hours during the winter months. It is recommended to check the official website or contact the National Trust for the most up-to-date information on opening times.


Tickets: Admission fees apply to enter Petworth House and its grounds. National Trust members receive free entry, while non-members can purchase tickets on-site or online. It is advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, to secure your preferred time slot.


Guided Tours: Guided tours may be available at certain times, offering additional insights into the history and art collection of Petworth House. Check the website or inquire at the visitor center for tour availability.


Accessibility: Petworth House is committed to providing accessible facilities for all visitors. The estate offers accessible parking, ramps, and lifts for wheelchair users, as well as accessible toilets. Some areas of the house may have limited accessibility due to their historic nature, but alternative arrangements can be made to ensure everyone can enjoy their visit.


Amenities: Petworth House has public toilets, including accessible facilities, and a gift shop where you can purchase souvenirs and snacks. There are also nearby restaurants and cafes for dining options.


Photography: Photography is permitted in most areas of Petworth House, but flash photography and tripods may not be allowed in certain rooms to preserve the artwork. It is always a good idea to check with the staff beforehand if you have specific photography needs.


Parking: There is ample parking available near Petworth House, both on-site and in nearby public car parks. Charges may apply for parking, so be sure to check the signage or the National Trust website for parking details and fees.


Public Transportation: Petworth is well-connected by public transportation. The nearest train station is Pulborough, which is approximately a 15-minute drive from Petworth House. Buses and taxis are also available from nearby towns.


With these practical details in mind, you’re ready to plan your visit to Petworth House with ease and enjoy the historic charm and cultural treasures it has to offer.



A visit to Petworth House in West Sussex, England, offers a captivating journey through time, immersing you in the grandeur, history, and natural beauty of this remarkable estate. From the impressive architecture and opulent interiors to the meticulously landscaped gardens, every aspect of Petworth House tells a story and invites exploration.


As you wander through the state rooms, you’ll be transported to a bygone era, where aristocracy held court and the finest artworks adorned the walls. The art collection at Petworth House is a true testament to the passion for culture and patronage of the arts that has shaped its legacy.


But Petworth House is not just a house; it is a living tapestry of history. Exploring the servants’ quarters provides an intriguing glimpse into the lives of those who worked behind the scenes, reminding us of the intricate social dynamics that shaped life in a grand estate.


Outside, the sprawling grounds and gardens offer a sanctuary of tranquility. From the picturesque Pleasure Grounds to the expansive Deer Park, the outdoor spaces at Petworth House provide an opportunity to connect with nature and revel in the beauty of the English countryside.


Beyond its historical significance, Petworth House has also left its mark in popular culture as a sought-after filming location. Its architectural grandeur and elegant interiors have graced the big screen, adding authenticity and charm to period dramas and other productions.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a nature admirer, a visit to Petworth House is an enriching experience. From the practical information provided, you’ll be well-prepared to navigate the estate and make the most of your visit.


Petworth House is more than just a house; it is a testament to the past, a glimpse into the lives of those who lived and worked there, and a celebration of art, culture, and natural beauty. So, plan your visit, immerse yourself in the grandeur, and let the stories of Petworth House unfold before your eyes.