Secrets of the National Trust with Alan Titchmarsh at Petworth

Secrets of the National Trust at Petworth House and Park in 2019

Earlier in the year we were joined by Alan Titchmarsh for the filming of Channel 5’s Secrets of the National Trust. Here are some of the stories that caught Alan’s attention at Petworth.

Secrets of the National Trust at Petworth House and Park in 2019

The Sculpture Collection

Alan was fascinated by one of the greatest collections of marble sculpture in the country. In particular he explored the patronage of the 3rd Earl of Egremont, who was rare among aristocrats of the early 19th century for his interest in contemporary art. Alan marvelled at the scale and detail of Petworth’s colossal St Michael Triumphing over Satan by John Flaxman and was amazed to discover how closely the patron had been involved in shaping the final carving.

Fighting Bucks, JWM Turner, 1829

JMW Turner

Alan had not realised there are twenty Turners at Petworth. Intrigued by the artist’s view of the house from the Capability Brown landscape he set off in a rowing boat across our lake to get the same view. Alan was moved when he discovered how convincingly the great painter had captured not only the appearance but the spirit of Petworth.

George O’Brien Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont (1751-1837) by Thomas Phillips, RA

3rd Earl of Egremont

Inspired to find out more about Petworth’s greatest patron of art, Alan met the archivist who looks after the privately owned historical records connected with the house, its estate and generations of owners. While the 3rd Earl has a mythical reputation as a womaniser, only a few of his relationships are documented and the truth of these turns out to be more interesting than the fiction. He also learns that, far from being a bohemian playground, Petworth became a second home to some of the most serious and established cultural figures of the day.

Secrets of the National Trust at Petworth House and Park in 2019

Elizabeth Ilive – Egremont’s Countess

Alan hears about the 3rd Earl’s most celebrated mistress, who became his only wife. The daughter of an Oxfordshire printer, she rose to the upper echelons of society and independently of her husband also became a great intellectual and a patron. He ventures into the rarely seen attics of Petworth House where he finds the remnants of Elizabeth’s laboratory, which had been the subject of National Trust exhibitions at the property in 2018.

Secrets of the National Trust at Petworth House and Park in 2019

Meeting Lady Egremont

Alan catches up with the present Lady Egremont in the Old Library, the room used by Turner and other artists as a studio and only occasionally opened to the public. He hears about what it’s like to live in a house as grand as Petworth and how the descendants of the 3rd Earl continue to use the spaces once inhabited by Turner.


Secrets of the National Trust at Petworth

Join Alan Titchmarsh as he goes behind the scenes at our places in a fourth series of Secrets of the National Trust. At Petworth, Alan learns of the 3rd Earl of Egremont whose passion for contemporary British art saw the house become an unofficial art school for some of the nation’s most exciting talents.