The state rooms of the Mansion

North Gallery at Petworth House

Every room of the mansion at Petworth is part of a gallery of paintings that together make up the largest art collection in the care of the National Trust. The collection was formed over 900 years by generations of the family and reflects their journey through the Tudor Reformation, the Gunpowder Plot, the Napoleonic Wars and up to the present day. Find out more about the rooms open to visitors and the collection on display.

The Oak Hall

Since at least 1743 this has been the guest entrance to the mansion and still serves as such today for our visitors. in 1764 this room was called the 'Picture Star Case' and 34 picturs were hung here.

The Somerset Room

This room is named after the 'Proud' 6th Duke of Somerset (1662-1748) who bought several of the paintings that hung here. Originally this room would have formed part of the Duke's much larger Servants' Hall but in 1795 The 3rd Earl of Egremont split the room into the now named Somerset Room and the Square Dining Room.

The Square Dining Room

From the rooms creation in 1795 we know from a watercolour of the room by JMW Turner in 1827 that the room was densely hung with pictures by the 3rd Earl. The team of Petworth used Turner's painting to reconstruct the picture hang of the 3rd Earl's design, together with his choice of wall colour.

Dominating the far wall is Sir Joshua Reynold's Macbeth and the Witches acquired in 1813 by the 3rd Earl. Above the painting is an oval self-portrait of Reynolds.

Macbeth and the Witches (from William Shakespeare's 'Macbeth') (unfinished) by Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (Plympton 1723 - London 1792)
Macbeth and the Witches (from William Shakespeare's 'Macbeth') (unfinished) by Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (Plympton 1723 - London 1792)

The Square Dining Room is also home to a large group of Van Dyck portraits acquired by the 10th Earl of Northumberland (1602-1668). Of importance is the protrait of the 10th Earl's father, the Wizard Earl who was imprisoned in the Tower of London for sixteen years.

The Marble Hall

Once the main entrance, called the Hall of State, a formal drive led important visitors directly into this exquisite room. This room is little changed since it was completed in 1692 for the ‘Proud’ (6th) Duke of Somerset.

Now you can enjoy its wonderful view across the Park redesigned by Capability Brown in the 18th century. 

The Marble Hall at Petworth, West Sussex
The Marble Hall at Petworth House and Park

The Beauty Room

The room was devised by the 6th Duke as a tribute to the ladies of Queen Anne's court having served the Queen as Master of the Horse while his wife was Groom of the Stole.

These portraits were originally full-length but the 3rd Earl of Egremont rolled up the lower part of each canvas to create a shrine to the leading figures and events of the Napoleonic Wars in the space below, including a portrait of Napoleon, and bust of the Duke of Wellington and depictions of the battles of Vittoria and Waterloo, in which two of his sons participated.

The Grand Staircase

After a fire in 1714, Louis Laguerre painted a magnificent series of allegorical murals on the ceilings and walls of the Grand Staircase. They feature Elizabeth, sole heiress of the Percy family, who married the Proud Duke in 1682, enabling the transformation of Petworth with her inheritance.

Visitors on the Grand Staircase at Petworth
Grand Staircase at Petworth

The Carved Room

This magnificent room is named for the wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons that now frame its pictures, including the famous Henry VIII from Holbein’s studio. You can also get up close to some of Turner’s Sussex views, painted here in the early 19th century.  

The Red Room

Red has always been a popular colour on which to hang Old Master pictures. This scheme was devised by the 3rd Earl in 1806 and restored in 2002 by the team at Petworth, who also reinstated the picgture hang according to a watercolour by Turner.

The North Gallery

In the 18th century the 2nd Earl of Egremont built this gallery extension to house his fine collection of classical sculpture. His son the 3rd Earl enlarged the gallery and collected modern (19th century) art including works by Turner, Fuseli, Flaxman and Blake. Today you can enjoy these masterpieces just as Turner and Constable did.

The Chapel

The chapel is the best preserved interior from the medival Petworth. The 6th Duke of Somerset then went on to transform it with a grand Baroque flourish including the carved curtain and carved cherubs' heads.

Domestic Rooms

Lord and Lady Egremont still reside at Petworth so you won't see many domestic rooms and furniture on your visit. Join a behind the scenes tour on Tuesdays and Thursdays running from March to November and you may see some of the guest bedrooms. On Monday afternoons you also have the opportunity to see the White and Gold Room