The state rooms of Petworth House
Inspired by the Baroque Palaces of Europe, Petworth House was rebuilt in the 17th-century with grand staterooms in order to display the family's wealth, taste and royal connections. These rooms were never intended for everyday living so inside you'll find few domestic furniture arrangements. Instead the interiors and the extraordinary collection gathered by generations over 900 reflects the family's journey through the Tudor Reformation, the Gunpowder Plot and the Napoleonic Wars.
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.
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 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.
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 picture 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 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.
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 May 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