Christmas at Petworth

A female mannequin at A Christmas Masquerade at Petworth

Open from 3 December to 2 January 2017, visit Petworth for a spectacle of mischief and disguise. Inspired by the Italian paintings of the Petworth collection discover four state rooms of the mansion dressed for an Italianate Christmas Masquerade.

The Masquerade is brought to life by a series of scenes of mannequins, designed and created by Denise Watson of Delicarta – bringing paper to life, decadently dressed in period costume made entirely of paper. Exquisitely crafted, the 12 figures tell a tale of revelry, depicting dancing, feasting and romance.

Inside the mansion find a plethora of paper decorations to compliment the mannequins costumes, featuring large scale papier mache masks to intricately formed origami tree decorations.

The never before displayed 'Venetian Carnival' by Joseph Heintz the Younger (1600-1678) on loan from Lord and Lady Egremont, on display for A Christmas Masquerade and reflecting the source of some of our inspiration
Venetian Carnival by Joseph Heintz the Younger (1600-1678)

The Italian art of the Petworth collection takes centre stage and we invite you to marvel at the Venetian Carnival painting by Joseph Heintz the Younger depicting a view of the Piazetta, Venice, on loan from the private collection of Lord and Lady Egremont and not previously shown on public display.

A scene of the nativity, The adoration of the Kings by Venetian Bonifazio de'Pitat (1487-1553) featured in A Christmas Masquerade
The Adoration of the Kings by Bonifazio de'Pitati

Join in with the merry making and don an Italian mask as you wander through the Masquerade and perhaps borrow costume items in the Little Dining Room for a photo opportunity with your friends and family.

A feast for the eyes: a 6 tier, 70 kilogram cake made by Choccywoccydoodah for A Christmas Masquerade
A 6 tier cake made by Choccywoccydoodah

Look closely and you'll find references to commedia dell'arte which translates as 'theatre of the professional' and is known as the first form of professional theatre. The commedia is a form characterized by masked recogniseable characters beginning in Italy in the 16th century. 

The Masquerade is in full swing at Petworth for A Christmas Masquerade
Four mannequins in the Square Dining Room dressed for A Christmas Masquerade

On the stage in the Dining Room you'll find Arlecchino, which translates as Harlequin, a traditional character known for his pantomime comedy and his harlequin patterned costume of bright colours.

Open every day 11am to 3pm, from 3 December to 2 January 2017 except 24 and 25 December, visit Petworth for a Christmas spectacle like no other. When you do, your visit helps us to protect Petworth and the special collection for further Christmases to come. Please note during A Christmas Masquerade only four rooms of the mansion are open to view, all decorated for Christmas.

Mannequins deigned by Denise Watson of Delicarta - Bringing Paper to Life on display at Petworth for the Christmas Masquerade

Creating the Petworth Christmas Masquerade

Follow our step by step instalments behind the scenes as Petworth gets ready to present a Christmas Masquerade - a spectacle of mischief and disguise open 3 December to 2 January 2017.

Monty Mouse from a Woodland Creatures Party Trail standing by the Rotunda

Things to do with the kids this Christmas at Petworth

With an outdoor Christmas trail, mice hunting in the mansion, craft fun and costumed encounters there are lots of ways families can enjoy the festive season together at Petworth.

Costumed Encounters

3, 8, 11, 14, 18, 21 and 29 December

Meet some of our costumed interpreation team as they bring alive the sights, sounds and smells of Christmas in bygone times.