Petworth Deer Park

Visitor to Petworth park sitting on a wooden bench looking at the view across open countryside of fields and trees with the South Downs in the distance.

The majestic 700-acre Deer Park at Petworth is one of the finest surviving and unspoilt examples of an English landscape designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Explore the historic park at Petworth, wander in the footsteps of artists, encounter the majestic herd of deer and sweep away the cobwebs with our walking trails. You’ll find something to stop and admire wherever you walk.

Finding your way 

Boasting far-reaching views of the South Downs, our historic park is an ideal place to escape the crowds, take an invigorating walk and let the kids run wild. Petworth Park is open for you to enjoy every day of the year (8am to 8pm British summer time and 6pm in the winter). 

The park has a dedicated car park, which lies one mile north of Petworth on the A283 (the closest SAT NAV postcode is GU28 9LS). Parking at the North Car Park is free for National Trust members, and £3 for non-members. This can be paid by a PayByPhone contactless service (location number 803378). Instructions are on a sign in the car park. Please note there are no facilities in the park, such as toilets, but there are some in the town car park. There are also pedestrian entrances to the park through the Cowyard tunnel in Petworth town and two on the A272 Midhurst Road. 

Please be mindful of the environment and follow the Countryside Code when you visit. 

Walks 

During the third Earl of Egremont's (1751-1837) 'Golden Age' of Petworth, artists like English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner were invited to Petworth to take inspiration from the collection and the surrounding landscape. 

Take a walk around Petworth Park and discover the views that inspired Turner on his visits, you can then see these paintings for yourself in the Carved Room of Petworth House. 

Dog walking 

The Deer Park is an area where we allow dogs off the lead but under close supervision, however during the fawn season (late May to August) please keep your dogs on leads. Mother deer often leave their fawns alone in the long grass, so if you find one of these hidden babies on your walk, please leave them be and give them space. 

If you are a member or have bought an entry ticket to Petworth House and Garden you are also welcome to walk your dog in the Pleasure Garden on a short lead. Please note that assistance dogs only are allowed into the House and Servants' Quarters.  

A historic herd 

Our magnificent herd of fallow deer have called Petworth Park home for over 500 years. They were reportedly hunted by Henry VIII on his visit to Petworth in the 1500s. Today around 700-800 of them grace the parkland. See if you can glimpse a few as you explore. 

Fallow deer at Petworth House and Park
A fallow deer with brown and speckled white coat looks at the camera
Fallow deer at Petworth House and Park

Spring wildlife in the park 

As the leaves on the deciduous trees start to unfurl, young wildlife species also appear in the parkland. From March to June fledgling birds begin to explore the world outside their nest for the first time.  

You’ll also be able to see the goslings of greylag, Canada and Egyptian geese by the Upper Pond, while in the heart of the park you could see juvenile green woodpeckers and stonechats that are learning to fend for themselves. 

 In April and May keep your eye to the sky to spot swallows and swifts as they return to Petworth Park all the way from Africa. Insect activity also increases at this time of year, with black-tailed skimmer and broad-bodied chaser dragonflies visible by the park waterbodies.  

Spring and early summer are also fawn season in the park for the fallow deer, as young are born in June and July. Please keep your dogs on leads when you visit to make sure the young deer remain safe. Mother deer often leave their fawns alone in the long grass, so if you find one of these hidden on your walk, please give them space. 

Ancient trees 

Discover some of our ancient and veteran trees, some of which are nearly 1,000 years old and were mere saplings in 1066. 

An image of the oak thought to have been a sapling in 1066

Petworth's Ancient and Veteran Trees

Find out more about some of the oldest trees in the Deer Park, some nearly 1,000 years old. From a tree that fell in the 1987 Great Storm to an Oak that denotes where a Tudor building once stood, there is plenty of history to uncover as well as gnarled and twisted trunks to discover.

Ancient trees of Petworth Park and the lower pond in winter

Water safety

Please refrain from entering the water in Petworth Park. The water quality isn't tested and there is a high risk of waterborne diseases and toxins in standing water. There are also underwater obstructions and no lifeguards to watch over people's safety. Therefore we do not permit swimming.

History 

The landscape gives every impression of being totally natural but in reality nothing is further from the truth. The park was transformed in the 1750s and early 1760s by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown stripping away the formal gardens and the long driveway to the front of Petworth House to create a serpentine lake framed by rolling hills and wide sweeping vistas of a perfect 'natural' looking landscape. 

Since this transformation, entrance to the house has been through the courtyard on the other side of the house, and guests would have arrived through the town of Petworth. 

The project took 12 years and no less than five contracts to complete. To this day Petworth remains a supreme surviving example of Capability Brown's landscape portfolio. 

Aerial view of Petworth

The transformation of the park

The majestic 700-acre park at Petworth is one of the finest surviving and unspoilt examples of an English landscape designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Find out more about the transformation from formal garden to 'natural' parkland and its use during the Second World War.