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Petworth House via Petersfield

EXCURSION

15 July 2009




Petworth House (West Sussex) has been lived in by members of the Percy family and their dependents since 1150. The present house has its origins in the rebuilding carried out after 1682 by the 6th Duke of Somerset. He employed Grinling Gibbons and other 'Royal' craftsmen to ensure high quality work. In 1763 the Earl of Egremont inherited Petworth and held if for 74 years in what has become seen as the house's Golden Age. This was the earl who became patron to a whole generation of British artists and extended the north gallery twice (in 1824 and 1827) to hold his growing collection of paintings. This now forms the largest collection held by the National Trust and has works by Turner, Van Dyke, Reynolds and Blake. There is also a collection of ancient and new-classical sculpture as well as many important wood-carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The state rooms contain important examples of furniture, whilst, as a contrast, in the servants quarters there is a copper Batterie de cuisine comprising more than 1,000 pieces. The 700 acre deer park was redesigned by 'Capability' Brown in the 1750s and became the subject of some of Turner's paintings.


On the way to Petworth we will stop at Petersfield for two hours for coffee and lunch. This is a busy Hampshire market town with mainly 18th century buildings. In the central square by the parish church is an equestrian statue of King William III. Nearby, in Chapel Street, there is the well-known Petersfield Bookshop which has a vast stock of second hand and antiquarian books as well as new books and art materials.


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