The Petworth Pleasure Ground
The Pleasure Ground you see today was designed by ‘Capability’ Brown (c.1715-16 - 1783) during the latter half of the 18th century. Brown removed the formal features that previously existed here and introduced serpentine paths as well as informal planting.
Finding your way around
The Pleasure Ground is situated between the Petworth House car park and the house itself. Open from 10am to 5pm in the summer and closing at 4pm in the winter, you can stroll through the Pleasure Ground at your leisure on your way to the House from the car park.
From the Pleasure Ground you can explore the monuments introduced by Capability Brown or make your way through the iron Tijou Gate beside the house and enter the Deer Park. Do make sure on your travels to take note of the closing time of the Tijou Gate if you've parked in the main visitor car park for Petworth House, these gates are the only way back to the main car park.
What are Pleasure Grounds?
Pleasure Grounds were a popular type of Georgian garden where the Lord and Lady and their guests could walk privately or socialise, perhaps over tea or a game of croquet. During this period, plant collecting in the Americas was becoming popular and the Pleasure Grounds became an area to showcase these new and exciting plants. Not only a patron of the arts, the 3rd Earl of Egremont was a patron of plant collectors and he used the Pleasure Grounds here to display his collection of North American trees and shrubs. Though informal in design, Petworth’s Pleasure Grounds were immaculately presented and the intriguing specimens were given prominent positions within the landscape.
Pleasure Grounds were designed to instill a variety of emotions in those who walked within them. Brown’s design for the planting of the Pleasure Grounds was theatrical, with rising tiers of plants, enclosed spaces full of scent, and areas of extended viewpoint.
In part due to the changes Capability Brown introduced, since 1743 guests would have entered Petworth House through the courtyard on the opposite side of the house. As you make your way through the Pleasure Ground to the courtyard, enter Petworth House through Oak Hall, just as guests like JMW Turner would have done.
Though still Brownian in design, the Pleasure Ground has gone through periods of development and stagnation over the last 200 years. In the next ten to twenty years, Petworth will be working to accurately display the historical layers of the Pleasure Ground and the important periods of its development.
From 23 April to the beginning of November we are allowing dogs in to the Pleasure Ground on a trial basis. During this time we ask that dogs are kept on a short lead at all times and walkers keep to the hard or gravel paths. Extendable leads can be exchanged for short leads at our reception points. There is a maximum of two dogs per adult in the Pleasure Ground.
You can find more about dog walking in the Pleasure Ground and offlead walking in the Deer Park below.