Monday 30 June 2014

Week 3: Petworth House

The irony of living somewhere is that you rarely get to see what's right on your own doorstep.

As a child, I grew up not too far from Petworth House but have never been there to visit!  Not even on a school trip. Astounding!

So, an opportunity arose this week which meant I was able to make time to stop by on my way past.

It's a glorious place - the actual entrance is just north of the town and it's surrounded by a large and expansive park, laid out by Capability Brown in the 1750s.  There's a herd of famous white fallow deer, which can sometimes be spotted over the park walls.

Petworth House
The house itself is crammed full of art and sculpture - far more than I expected.  Hundreds of artists - most famously Turner but also Van Dyck, Constable, Gainsborough, Blake, Cuyp, Heironymus Bosch and many others.

North Gallery - Petworth House
A surprise was the room created by Grinling Gibbons with yet more Turners and other masterpieces.  Each room has a very informative guide - giving details of all the art and sculpture in each room as well as the history and development of the room.

The Carved Room - Petworth House
On Monday afternoons two of the private rooms, used by the Egremont family, are opened up to the public and the bedrooms are open on another day.

The park is also a great place to walk around, although I didn't have time to do more than a short circuit up to an impressive stand of chestnut trees, complete with spotted flycatchers, flitting about in the branches.

Sweet chestnut trees - Petworth Park
Of course there's somewhere to take a break and refresh after you've done the tour - in either the Coffee shop or the restaurant, which are both in the servants quarters - also worth a visit, as was the archaeology exhibition.

I can highly recommend the Marmalade cake!

Petworth House is closed on Thursday and Friday but special 'behind the scenes' tours run on these days.

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