|Type||Country house, Baroque|
|Location||Petworth, West Sussex|
|OS grid reference|
|Designated||1 Jun 1984|
Petworth House in the parish of 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 to the design of the architect Anthony Salvin.It contains intricate wood-carvings by Grinling Gibbons (d.1721). It is the manor house of the manor of Petworth. For centuries it was the southern home for the Percy family, Earls of Northumberland.
Petworth is famous for its extensive art collection made by the Northumberland and Seymour/Somerset families and George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837), containing many works by his friend J. M. W. Turner. It also has an expansive deer park, landscaped by Capability Brown, which contains a large herd of fallow deer.
The manor of Petworth first came into the possession of the Percy family as a royal gift from Adeliza of Louvain, the widow of King Henry I (1100-1135), to her brother Joscelin of Louvain.He later married the Percy heiress and adopted the surname Percy. His descendants became the Earls of Northumberland, the most powerful family in northern England. The Percy family, whose primary seat was at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, bordering Scotland, intended Petworth to be for their occasional residence only.
The site was previously occupied by a fortified manor house built by Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy (1273–1314) in 1308–9, the chapel and undercroft of which still survive as part of the current house.
However, in the 16th century, the Percy family came into conflict with the crown as the staunchly Catholic family fell foul of the English Reformation which resulted in Petworth being briefly taken from them by Henry VIII, restored to them by Queen Mary I before the wider family came under scrutiny during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland allied the family to Mary, Queen of Scots and led the 1569 Rising of the North against the Queen with the aim of deposing her and placing Mary on the throne - this failed and led to his execution for treason in 1572. His younger brother, Henry Percy, 8th Earl of Northumberland, would regain his title from the Queen after begging her mercy and was granted his freedom on the condition that the family be confined to Petworth where they could be observed by the court. The house at Petworth was therefore transformed and expanded to become the permanent home of the family with grand stables erected and a pleasure garden laid out at this time.A part of this era manor house, a 'Lost' North wing, was discovered during archaeological excavations in 2012-15 under the lawn at the front of the house having been demolished in 1692.
In 1670 Josceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland (1644-1670) died without a male heir, and thus his considerable fortune and estates of Petworth House, Alnwick Castle, Syon House and Northumberland House were inherited by his 2-year-old daughter and sole-heiress, Lady Elizabeth Percy (1667-1722). In 1682, at the age of 16 and already twice widowed, she married the 20 year old Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset (1662-1748), whose family seat was Marlborough Castle in Wiltshire. They became one of the wealthiest couples in England.
It was the 6th Duke, nicknamed 'the Proud Duke', and the Duchess who rebuilt the house between 1688 and 1702 in the Baroque style that favoured order and symmetry.It was very much inspired by the Palace of Versailles and aimed to establish Petworth as a rival to these European palaces.
The grounds and wider parkland were also managed at this time with the parkland being home to quarries and proving an industrial and working landscape supporting the building works and the house. Around the house were planted more formal gardens including an avenue of lime trees approaching the house, a canal gardens and fishponds, parterre, great greenhouse and Orangerie. Completing the formal gardens was a Quarter Piece Lawn and Rampart terraces comprising a series of walks carved into the hill and accompanies by carved seats, stairs and statues.
Since 1750 the house and estate have been owned by the prominent Wyndham family, descended from Sir Charles Wyndham, 4th Baronet (1710-1763) of Orchard Wyndham in Somerset, a nephew and co-heir of Algernon Seymour, 7th Duke of Somerset (1684-1750). As part of the inheritance and splitting-up of the great Percy inheritance, which had been a source of contention between the 7th Duke and his father the 6th Duke, in 1749after the death of the 6th Duke, King George II granted the 7th Duke four extra titles in the peerage, including Baron Cockermouth and Earl of Egremont, which latter two were created with special remainder to Sir Charles Wyndham, the intended and actual recipient of Petworth, Cockermouth Castle and Egremont Castle. Following the 7th Duke's death in 1750, his lands and titles were split between his daughter, Lady Elizabeth Seymour and her husband Sir Hugh Smithson, 4th Baronet (d.1786), and Charles Wyndham through the 7th Duke's deceased brother-in-law Sir William Wyndham. The former inherited the northern Percy estates, including Alnwick Castle and Syon House, together with the titles Baron Warkworth of Warkworth Castle and Earl of Northumberland and whose descendants are the current Dukes of Northumberland based at Alnwick Castle. The latter inherited Petworth and some estates in Sussex, Cumbria and Yorkshire as Earls of Egremont.
The 2nd Earl was responsible for the collections of Rococo mirrors and antique statues that exist in the house todayand was responsible for commissioning Lancelot 'Capability' Brown to landscape the parkland during the 1750s and 1760s. The works involved the demolition of the formal gardens that preceded it, the landscaping of the wider parkland to raise the profile of the lawn in front of the house, infill quarries, smooth over the terraced walks and digging out buildings in the parkland down to foundation level. Archaeological investigations seemed to suggest that the turf was removed prior to the levelling works so they could be replaced after the works were completed and aiding the current natural look to the landscape.
It was the 3rd Earl of Egremont, George O'Brien Wyndham (1751-1837) who solidified the house's reputation as one of fine art. He inherited the house in 1763 and began what has been termed a 'Golden Age' of Petworth when he expanded his collection of contemporary art and expanded and changed the house in order to display it best, in particular through the addition of the North Gallery in 1824–5.He was patron to many contemporary artists including J. M. W. Turner and John Constable who were frequent guests to the house and painted the house and its parkland frequently - this has more recently helped inform restorations to the house and parkland.
The 3rd Earl bequeathed Petworth and Cockermouth Castle to his illegitimate son and adopted heir Col. George Wyndham (1787-1869), but who could not inherit the title of Earl of Egremont so was instead created Baron Leconfield by Queen Victoria in 1859.
The title of Earl of Egremont instead passed to his nephew George Wyndham, 4th Earl of Egremont (1786-1845) who, while not inheriting Petworth, instead received the (not inconsiderable) entailed Wyndham estates including Orchard Wyndham, still owned today by the Wyndham family. He attempted to make up for the loss of Petworth by building his own stately home in Devon called Silverton Park, which was widely deemed hideous and was demolished in 1901.
The house and deer park were handed over to the nation in 1947 by Edward Wyndham, 5th Baron Leconfield (1883-1967) and are now managed by the National Trust under the name Petworth House & Park.The Leconfield Estates would continue to own much of Petworth and the surrounding area and the family would be able to continue living in part of Petworth House. It was John Wyndham, 6th Baron Leconfield and since 1963 also 1st Baron Egremont, who negotiated the gift of the contents of the house, in particular the paintings and sculptures, into the property of the National Trust in lieu of accumulated death duties. The current Lord and Lady Egremont continue a tradition of unbroken occupancy at Petworth House today with Max Wyndham, 2nd Baron Egremont and his family living in the south wing, allowing much of the remainder of the House to be open to the public. Lady Egremont has restored the gardens. In its 2018/2019 Annual Report, the Trust reported that Petworth House received 178,760 visitors. In its 2022 Annual Report, the Trust reported that Petworth House received 147,079 visitors in 2021-22, having had a dip in numbers to 88,600 due to the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020-21.
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, classicaland 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.
The 283-hectare (700-acre) landscaped park, known as Petworth Park, contains a large herd of fallow. 12-hectare (30-acre) woodland garden, known as the Pleasure Ground and some unusual Ha-has. The landscaped park and pleasure grounds of Petworth are Grade I listed on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.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
Petworth House is home to the Petworth House Real Tennis Club (many such private estates held real tennis courts). Petworth Park is also a cricket venue, for the refounded Petworth Park Cricket Club.
As was usual for a mediaeval manor house, it was built in its original form next to the parish church (to provide the lord of the manor with enhanced spiritual benefits), around which developed a village, now grown to a sizeable town. Such position is unusual for a country mansion of its size and date, which were frequently later re-built on new more private sites away from the original manor house, or the churchand village were on occasion demolished to provide the desired privacy. Petworth House and Park are thus today situated immediately adjacent to the town of Petworth, with its 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.
Since being opened to the public, the house has attracted a significant number of visitors each year to see the art collections, explore the parkland and pleasure grounds. As such, the National Trust opened and run a number of facilities for visitors at the site.
The trust run two car parks for visitors, a main car park ideally placed for the house and pleasure gardens and a more northern car park for the wider deer park. With the exception of a visitor reception near to the main car park and a food and beverage kiosk in the old fire station, the visitor amenities are all located within the old service block for the house. This service wing contains the site shop, a second-hand bookshop,a cafe in the old Audit Room (which opened originally as a sculpture gallery before being used as a hall for large gatherings of the estate staff and servants), toilets and a seasonal art gallery. The service wing also contains a few of the historic kitchen rooms preserved for the public to view.
In addition to publishing a general visitor guidebook, the trust also publishes an in-depth guide to the different art pieces within the house and detailing in more detail the family history associated with the collection. They also have a virtual guide for visitors in addition to the volunteer room stewards present around the house.They also announced in 2021 the opening of a second shop within the house selling books related to the art works in the house and art supplies.
Petworth House has been used extensively as a location for film and TV productions. Included in the credits are Barry Lyndon (1975), Silver Bears (1977), Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Maleficent (2014), Mr Turner (2014), Rebecca (2020),Bridgerton (2022). A major production filmed at Petworth in March 2022.
Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, known by the epithet "The Proud Duke", was an English peer. He rebuilt Petworth House in Sussex, the ancient Percy seat inherited from his wife, in the palatial form which survives today. According to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, he was a remarkably handsome man, and inordinately fond of taking a conspicuous part in court ceremonial; his vanity, which earned him the sobriquet of "the proud duke", was a byword among his contemporaries and was the subject of numerous anecdotes; Macaulay described him as "a man in whom the pride of birth and rank amounted almost to a disease".
Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont, PC, of Orchard Wyndham in Somerset, Petworth House in Sussex, and of Egremont House in Mayfair, London, was a British statesman who served as Secretary of State for the Southern Department from 1761–63.
Baron Leconfield, of Leconfield in the East Riding of the County of York, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created in 1859 for Col. George Wyndham (1787–1869). He was the eldest illegitimate son and adopted heir of George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751–1837), from whom he inherited Petworth House in Sussex, Egremont Castle and Cockermouth Castle in Cumbria and Leconfield Castle in Yorkshire, all formerly lands of Josceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland (1644–1670), inherited by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset (1662–1748) on his marriage to the Percy heiress Elizabeth Percy (1667–1722) and inherited as one of the co-heirs of his son Algernon Seymour, 7th Duke of Somerset, 1st Earl of Egremont (1684–1750) by the latter's nephew Sir Charles Wyndham, 4th Baronet (1710–1763) of Orchard Wyndham in Somerset, who inherited by special remainder the Earldom of Egremont. The 1st Baron's eldest son, the second Baron, represented West Sussex in the House of Commons as a Conservative. He was succeeded by his eldest son, the third Baron, who served as Lord Lieutenant of Sussex from 1917 to 1949. The latter's nephew, the sixth Baron, served as Private Secretary to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan from 1957 to 1963. In 1963, four years before he succeeded his father in the barony of Leconfield, the Egremont title held by his ancestors was revived when he was raised to the peerage as Baron Egremont, of Petworth in the County of Sussex. As of 2017 the titles are held by his son, the seventh Baron. Known as Max Egremont, he is a biographer and novelist.
John Max Henry Scawen Wyndham, 7th Baron Leconfield, 2nd Baron EgremontFRSL DL, generally known as Max Egremont, is a British biographer and novelist. Egremont is the eldest son of John Edward Reginald Wyndham, 6th Baron Leconfield and 1st Baron Egremont, and Pamela Wyndham-Quin, and succeeded his father in 1972. He is a direct descendant of Sir John Wyndham. He married Caroline Nelson, the garden designer, in 1978 and they have four children, three daughters and a son. He lives at the family seat of Petworth House in Sussex, which his family gave to the National Trust in 1947.
The House of Percy is an English noble family. They were one of the most powerful noble families in Northern England for much of the Middle Ages, known for their long rivalry with another powerful northern English family, the House of Neville.
General Algernon Seymour, 7th Duke of Somerset, styled Earl of Hertford until 1748, of Petworth House in Sussex, was a British Army officer and Whig politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1708 until 1722 when he was raised to the House of Lords as Baron Percy.
Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Baronet, of Orchard Wyndham in Somerset, was an English Tory politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1710 to 1740. He served as Secretary at War in 1712 and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1713 during the reign of the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne (1702–1714). He was a Jacobite leader firmly opposed to the Hanoverian succession and was leader of the Tory opposition in the House of Commons during the reign of King George I (1714–1727) and during the early years of King George II (1727–1760).
Earl of Egremont was a title in the Peerage of Great Britain. It was created in 1749, along with the subsidiary title Baron of Cockermouth, in Cumberland, for Algernon Seymour, 7th Duke of Somerset, with remainder to his nephews Sir Charles Wyndham, 4th Baronet, of Orchard Wyndham, and Percy Wyndham-O'Brien. The Duke had previously inherited the Percy estates, including the lands of Egremont in Cumberland, from his mother Lady Elizabeth Percy, daughter and heiress of Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland. In 1750 Sir Charles Wyndham succeeded according to the special remainder as second Earl of Egremont on the death of his uncle. His younger brother Percy Wyndham-O'Brien was created Earl of Thomond in 1756.
George O'Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of EgremontFRS of Petworth House in Sussex and Orchard Wyndham in Somerset, was a British peer, a major landowner and a great art collector. He was interested in the latest scientific advances. He was an agriculturist and a friend of the agricultural writer Arthur Young, and was an enthusiastic canal builder who invested in many commercial ventures for the improvement of his estates. He played a limited role in politics.
George Wyndham, 1st Baron Leconfield, was a British soldier and peer.
Charles Henry Wyndham, 3rd Baron Leconfield, was a British peer, army officer and political figure. He succeeded his father as third Baron Leconfield in 1901.
JoscelinePercy, 11th Earl of Northumberland, 5th Baron Percy, of Alnwick Castle, Northumberland and Petworth House, Sussex, was an English peer.
Percy Wyndham-O'Brien, 1st Earl of Thomond was a British Member of Parliament and an Irish peer.
Elizabeth Seymour, Duchess of Somerset and suo jureBaroness Percy was an English heiress. She was styled Lady Elizabeth Percy between 1667 and 1679, Countess of Ogle between 1679 and 1681, Lady Elizabeth Thynne between 1681 and 1682, and Duchess of Somerset between 1682 and 1722. She was the only surviving child and sole heiress of Joceline Percy, 11th Earl of Northumberland (1644–1670). Lady Elizabeth was one of the closest personal friends of Queen Anne, which led Jonathan Swift to direct at her one of his sharpest satires, The Windsor Prophecy, in which she was called "Carrots".
George Francis Wyndham, 4th Earl of Egremont of Orchard Wyndham, Somerset and Silverton Park, Devon, was an English nobleman and naval officer.
Wyndham is a surname and a given name. Notable people with the name include:
Coultershaw Bridge is a rural community situated 1.5 mi (2.4 km) south of the town Petworth in West Sussex, England where the A285 road from Petworth to Chichester crosses the River Rother.
Hugh Archibald Wyndham, 4th Baron Leconfield was a British peer, politician and author. He succeeded his elder brother as fourth Baron Leconfield in 1952. He was the historian of the Wyndham family.
Pamela Wyndham, Lady Egremont was a British society hostess and traveller, who worked at Bletchley Park during the Second World War, before marrying her cousin John Wyndham, 1st Baron Egremont.
Elizabeth Ilive was an English polymath. She was the mistress and later wife of George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont. She was the mother of eight of his children.