Petworth Park... through Turner's eyes
Petworth Park, Petworth, West Sussex, GU28 0AERoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Discover the views that inspired England’s greatest landscape painter, JMW Turner. Stroll around the glassy lake where the artist regularly fished, take in the view revealed in his painting ‘Dewy Morning’ and look out for the flaming yellow and orange foliage of acres, as well as vibrant red oaks and the red purple canopy of island-based liquid amber.
This trail is approximately 2.5 miles long as a circular route.
- Bus stop
Start: House car park, grid ref: SU974224
To start the trail turn right as you enter the Pleasure Ground and follow the path through the gate to the Park, past the kennels (on your right) and towards Lower Pond.
After an early morning sketch Turner would go fishing at Lower Pond. While the 3rd Earl of Egremont was used to this daily routine, it landed him in trouble at Tabley House in Cheshire. When commissioned by Sir John Leicester in 1809 for an oil painting of the lake there, he would often be found fishing mid-morning instead, and when pressed he responded that the sketch had already been completed! The finished painting was bought by the 3rd Earl on the death of Sir John, and can be found in the North Gallery in the House. You will still often find fishermen at Lower Pond where there are healthy pike, tench and carp populations.
This modern view of Upper Pond, as seen from Petworth House, inspired Turner (1775-1851) time and time again. Petworth House is home to 20 Turner oil paintings, the largest collection outside of the Tate.
From the top end of Lower Pond any of the three paths towards Arbour Hill will lead you to Upper Pond. Follow the path to the right of Upper Pond, and stop shortly after the gate. You should have the two spring-fed Stew Ponds ahead of you and a lumpy grass hill on your right. Look across Upper Pond towards the House to see the scene from Turner’s oil painting entitled ‘Dewy Morning’, one of a set of four exhibited in the White Library in the House - this room is open occasionally to visitors, by kind permission of Lord and Lady Egremont. The paintings took over four years to complete due to Turner testing different subjects and compositions.
Petworth Park is home to a herd of fallow deer, geese and numerous birds of prey. Look out for them on your walk.
Walk across Mansion Lawn until you are roughly half way between Upper Pond and the House, and then turn around to look back across the lake - this was the inspiration for ‘Sunset, Fighting Bucks’, which is currently located in the Carved Room in the House. If you visit us in late September or October the deer are often seen rutting very close to the House.
The view you see today may differ slightly from that immortalised in Turner’s paintings, as Turner often drew from memory. After a quick pencil sketch he would complete the painting indoors, normally at his studio in London. He also painted an idealised view of the landscape and, finally, the park has grown in size since the early 19th century when Turner visited.
Petworth House is home to many more Turner oil paintings - 13 in the North Gallery, four in the Carved Room and two in the Red Room. From Mansion Lawn take the gate to the left of the House through to the Pleasure Grounds. Take a right turn to visit the House or a left turn to return to the Visitor Centre and car park.
End: Entrance to house, grid ref: SU974224
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 2.5 miles (4.2km)
- Time: 2 hours
- OS Map: Explorer 121
Undulating parkland terrain over stony trails and on grass, including one steep incline.
- How to get here:
On foot: Pedestrian access from Petworth town and A272
By bus: Worthing to Midhurst (no. 1 bus) passes Pulborough train station. Horsham to Petworth (no. 75 bus, passing Horsham train station) and Midhurst to Petworth (no. 1 bus)
By train: Pulborough (5¼ miles)
By car: Both house and park car parks located on A283; follow signs from centre of Petworth (A272/A283) - parking fee applies for non-National Trust members
Parking available at the start location, £3.00 for non members, National Trust members park for free
Toilets are located at start and end of the trail in the main car park.
Admission charges apply to non-members to access the National Trust cafe, shop and restaurant.
- Telephone: 01798 342207
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house/visitor-information/