Petworth House, West Sussex
I'm very slowly trying to catch up on some long outstanding posts in between more recent ones. This one is a post, I'm ashamed to say, that actually goes back to just before I relocated to Scotland in September last year!
As those of you with long memories may recall I (and my husband for a while) lived back at my parents for a spell last year. If you come from or have lived in the UK (specifically England, Scotland has their August holiday earlier in the month) you'll also know there is a Bank Holiday at the very end of August, a kind of one last long weekend whilst the weather is hopefully still good enough to enjoy being outdoors. When I was growing up my parents and I would often visit a nearby attraction of some kind on Bank Holidays, making the most of the long weekend and my parents will usually still do this with friends or just by themselves. With this in mind my parents thought it would be nice for us to all go out together somewhere and we opted for Petworth House in West Sussex, somewhere I'd never been before.
Petworth House is a 17th Century country house and was the southern home of the Percy family, the Earls of Northumberland for many centuries. The house is within Petworth Park, a seven hundred acre landscaped park which has the largest herd of fallow deer in England, not that we saw any 😂 ! The park was transformed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown throughout the 1750s giving the house the natural looking surrounding landscape you can still enjoy today. The grounds look as if they've always been this way but if you visit the house you'll soon learn from exhibits in the house just how much work Brown did in order to give that impression.
The inside of the house is, as you'd expect, full of beautifully decorated rooms, the ceiling in the photo above was taken at the top of a gorgeous staircase. As you work your way around the house you go through formal rooms, kitchens and servants quarters as well as a family chapel. Within the formal rooms are many beautiful paintings by artists such as Van Dyck, Titian and JMW Turner to name just a couple. The rooms are full too of beautifully decorated dinner services, sculptures and ornaments.
About half way through our walk around the various rooms I happened to glance up at the chandelier in the room and noticed a small toy dog wedged into it. My thoughts ranged from someone having a joke, to a child having left it behind and the cleaners popping it there before finally settling on it being some kind of treasure hunt for children. Sure enough as I wandered further on I saw more of the same toy dog hidden in various rooms. It turns out that for children the house have hidden a number of these dogs to be hunted out and found with a little prize for children who succeed. I have to confess that even though I obviously couldn't win a prize I did walk around the house one more time just to find all of the hidden dogs, for my own satisfaction. I'm sure the house still does this and I'm sure they move them around (so you can hunt them more than once if you return) so it's worth looking out for them if you want to have a little extra fun on your visit whether you are with children or not.
As I said we visited the house at the end of August so the weather was a lot kinder to us, I think my photos show we had some good weather and it was warm enough to wander around without jackets etc. The grounds are fabulous for exploring and seem to stretch on endlessly before you. However I'm sure even at this time of year, especially now Spring is on the way, it would make for a very pleasant walk. We rounded up our visit with a long wander around the grounds, I actually thought we'd got a bit lost at one point, but we made it safely back to the car to head home via a countryside pub for a hearty dinner.