Eight objects to look out for on your visit

A French black Boulle sarcophagus-shaped commode

Petworth has been described as ‘a world- class museum collection set in the Sussex countryside’. These 8 highlights from our sculpture, furniture and decorative arts collections are not to be missed.

Thomas Tompion (1639 - 1713) long-case clock

One of the last clocks to have been made by Thomas Tompion, 'the father of English clock-making'
The long-case clock in the Oak Hall

Oak Hall

With its case of burr walnut, this clock was among the last clocks to have been made by ‘the father of English clock-making' around 1712. Among the most outstanding examples of Tompion’s craft, it still bears splashes of wax on its interior workings from where it was wound by candlelight in years gone by.

Emery Molyneux (d.1598-9) Terrestrial globe

Thought to be the earliest terrestrial globe in existance
The Emery Molyneux terrestrial globe

North Gallery

Made by the pioneer of globe-making, Emery Molyneux, this example is thought to be the earliest English-made terrestrial globe in existence. It includes coloured lines which show voyages of exploration made by Francis Drake and others, and was acquired by the 9th ‘Wizard’ Earl of Northumberland – perhaps a gift from Walter Raleigh.

Geoffrey Chaucer (b. around 1343 - d.1400) The Canterbury Tales

See a different page of the 'Canterbury Tales' Chaucer manuscript as we turn the pages throughout the year
A photo of an open page of The 'Canterbury Tales' Chaucer manuscript at Petworth

North Gallery

This handwritten copy by different hands of Chaucer’s famous work is written on vellum and illuminated in ink and gold. Written around 1420-1430, it predates the first printed version by over 50 years and probably entered the collection through the 2nd Earl of Northumberland, whose wife Eleanor was Chaucer’s grandniece. It is the most important book in the care of the National Trust.

The book is too delicate to touch so if you want to have a read and turn the pages take a look at the copy online. You can read the first 300 pages and the second 300 pages by following the links here.

John Flaxman (1755-1826) St Michael triumphing over Satan

Made form one single block of marble this piece by Flaxman was inspired by John Milton's Paradise Lost
St Michael triumphing over Satan by John Flaxman in the North Gallery

North Gallery

A monumental piece of carving, from a single block of marble, this was the supreme sculptural commission of the 3rd Earl of Egremont – a rare aristocratic champion of British art in the 19th century. The subject was inspired by John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the Square Bay of the North Gallery was designed especially for it.

André-Charles Boulle (1642-1732) Sarcophagus-shaped commode

An exquisite brass and tortoise-shell inlaid lacquered commode
The Sarcophagus shaped commode made by André-Charles Boulle

Red Room

Featuring ormolu-moulded sphinxes at its corners and lion’s paw feet, this major piece of furniture made around 1710 is uniquely identical to two pieces ordered by Louis XIV for the Palace of Versailles. It is a very rare example by Boulle himself, whose name is generally associated with this type of brass and tortoise-shell inlaid lacquered furniture.

Roman (1st century BC) The emperor Nero as a boy

This sculpture of Nero as a boy was recently identified as one of only three likenesses in existence
The Emperor Nero as a boy marble statue in the Little Dining Room

The Little Dining Room

Among around 100 pieces of antique classical marble acquired by the 2nd Earl of Egremont, a great Grand Tourist, this example was recently identified as one of only three likenesses in existence of Nero as a boy. All others are thought to have been destroyed by the Roman mob following the unpopular emperor’s suicide.

Claude Passavant (d.1766) Exeter carpet

One of only three surviving carpets made by Passavant in 1758
The Exeter Carpet by Claude Passavant

The Grand Staircase

In the year before this carpet was made the Royal Society of Arts expressed concerns that the craft of hand-knotted carpet-making was dying out in England. Made in Exeter in 1758, based on French designs, this carpet responds to that challenge. It is one of only three such carpets to survive, one is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the other is in a Scottish private collection.

Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) Giltwood sofa 

A unique Chippendale piece with seperate elbow paritions
The Chippendale Giltwood Sofa in the Somerset Room

The Somerset Room

The 3rd Earl of Egremont bought several pieces of furniture from Chippendale, England’s premier 18th-century cabinet-maker. This sofa made around 1760-70, with its separate elbow partitions at either end, is unique in Chippendale’s work.