Archaeology project

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The 'lost' north wing

Uncovering floors and walls from the North Wing, demolished in 1692

Uncovering floors and walls from the North Wing, demolished in 1692

We know there was an L-shaped manor house at Petworth from at least the 14th century, but in 1692 the north wing was demolished leaving only the east wing which remains today. During the excavations, we were able to uncover the walls and floors of the building and discover how it would have looked around 400 years ago, complete with green glazed fish-scale roof tiles, gothic arch windows, ornate metalwork and elaborate moulded and painted plaster cornice-work.

Henry VIII's banquet house

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Henry VIII built a banqueting house here during the time he owned the park; excavations may have identified the location of this building on the northern face of lawn hill. Remains of a substantial stone building, with brick additions, pottery and small finds such as a jeton (a french medieval token) and dagger, all point to a high status building which was in use during the 15th and 16th century.

Stables

In the early 18th century, the 6th Duke of Somerset built a monumental stable block near Upper Pond. We’ve been able to identify the site of the stables and a survey has revealed the outline of the building, the gatehouse entrance and individual stalls, as well as a possible fountain in the central courtyard.

Formal gardens

Yellow – lawn, purple – canal garden, green – iron court, blue - parterre

Yellow – lawn, purple – canal garden, green – iron court, blue - parterre

The park with sweeping lawns, gentle slopes and serpentine lake was landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1750’s. His work replaced vast formal gardens that surrounded the house in the 17th and early 18th century. These included rampart terraces, a great greenhouse, orangery, ornamental canal gardens and the 6th Duke’s ‘Iron Court’ – a huge carriage turning circle in front of the house, approached along an avenue stretching to where the Upper Pond now sits.

Finds from the excavations

The seal of the Percy family who lived here from the 12th to 17th century © National Trust

The seal of the Percy family who lived here from the 12th to 17th century

A fragment of a glass bottle excavated from the north wing of Petworth House, bearing the stamped seal of the Earl of Northumberland – a crescent moon topped with the ducal coronet – probably dating to the early 17th century. The same seal can be seen on a set of chairs in the house, which were commissioned around 1620AD.

Finds from the excavations

Here you can see both sides of the detailed jeton © National Trust

Here you can see both sides of the detailed jeton

A jeton, a French medieval token dating to around 1500AD. They were originally produced to help with counting and calculations, later they used as a substitute for money.

Finds from the excavations

A piece of clay pipe decorated with a whale  © National Trust

A piece of clay pipe decorated with a whale

A fragment of a 17th century clay pipe stem for smoking tobacco, recovered from excavations at the site where the medieval village of Tillington once stood in the Park. The surviving part of the pipe is decorated as a representation of the whale from the biblical story of Jonah and the Whale.

Finds from the excavations

This bronze cavalry spur was found when metal detecting the excavated soil © National Trust

This bronze cavalry spur was found when metal detecting the excavated soil

A bronze cavalry spur, probably dating from the 17th century, recovered from a trench on Lawn Hill, suspected to be the site of Henry VIII's banqueting hall.

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