Bringing the view that inspired JMW Turner's 'Dewy Morning' back to life

JMW Turner, Petworth, Sussex, the Seat of the Earl of Egremont: Dewy Morning, 1810

The Upper Pond of Petworth Park is one of the marvels of the Capability Brown designed landscape, an entirely artificial feature within the landscape that went on to inspire the artist JMW Turner in his notable painting 'Dewy Morning' of 1810. Over time the quality and appearance of the Upper Pond has changed markedly since the view captured by Turner. In partnership with Natural England, we're restoring the pond, bringing back the iconic view as depicted in the 'Dewy Morning' painting for you to enjoy.

Since 1810 several trees have grown on the 18 islands dotting the Upper Pond and these have now obstructed the view that inspired Turner. This year we'll coppice these trees whilst retaining the historic trees such as the Swamp Cypress and Weeping Willow which will also help to support new birdlife on the islands.

Throughout 2017 we'll be coppicing the trees on the islands of the Upper Pond to restore the view that inspired JMW Turner
Trees obstructing the view that inspired JMW Turner's painting 'Dewy Morning'

To help restore the water quality further, we're planning a major civil engineering feat, to repair the carved limestone of the historic Tillington tunnel, the largest of the tunnels that feeds water into the pond running from Tillington. The tunnel has collapsed in a number of places thereby reducing the flow and it’s hoped that preserving the historic infrastructure that feeds the pond it will improve the water quality and restore the look of the landscape created by Capability Brown.

The shape of the Upper Pond has changed over time and the crisp lines around the edges have shifted. We'll be repairing the coping stones surrounding the pond this year and replacing some in a reinforced mortar to define the shape of the pond just as it was initially designed.

Floating Pennywort, an invasive species, found its way to the Upper Pond 10 years ago and we are on a mission to get rid of it.

Over the summer months blue-green algae blooms in the pond due to the large concentration of phosphate in the water, this too is something that Turner wouldn’t have seen this year we've got plans to remove the phosphate to restore the water quality and colour.

Visitors by the lake in the park at Petworth House
Couple sitting by the lake in the park at Petworth House.

Some of this work will go on behind the scenes but stop by Petworth Park this year and you will see the gradual transformation of the Upper Pond to once again inspire those that stand by the water's edge.