William Blake in Sussex: Visions of Albion Exhibition

William Blake's The Last Judgement, 1808

Open 13 January - 25 March 2018 at Petworth, William Blake in Sussex: Visions of Albion offers a rare opportunity to see original works by Blake inspired by the Sussex coast and countryside re-united for the first time.

Please be aware this exhibition has now ended but please visit our website for more information on our next major exhibition

£12 for National Trust members, National Art Pass holders or Arts Society members. £16 for non-members.

Ticket includes entry to the Exhibition, Pleasure Ground and deer park. You can also join a Treasuring Petworth tour of separate rooms of the mansion included within this entry price.

The William Blake in Sussex: Visions of Albion Exhibition takes place in the Servants' Quarters Gallery and the mansion. Due to limited space in the Servants' Quarters Gallery, timed tickets are required for this part of the exhibition.

Please keep in mind there is a 700 yard walk from the car park to the house and we recommend arriving in plenty of time for your timed ticket entry.

A very limited amount of tickets are available on the day sold on a first come, first serve basis. We recommend arriving early and checking with our team for any last minute availabilities but to avoid disappointment we advise booking at least 24 hours in advance.

‘Visions of Albion’

Celebrating Blake’s three years living in Sussex between 1800 and 1803, this unique exhibition features over 50 loans from such prestigious collections as the British Museum, V&A and Tate. These are complemented by works from the Petworth collection acquired by George Wyndham, the 3rd Earl of Egremont and his estranged Countess, Elizabeth Ilive.

Sussex remains the only area outside of London where Blake ever lived, settling with his wife in a cottage in Felpham, which he described as ‘the sweetest spot on Earth’. It is here that Blake saw ‘Visions of Albion’, surrounded by the Sussex coast and countryside that would continue to inspire his work.

This exhibition is the first to re-unite these works and nowhere could be more fitting than Petworth, the only great English country house to hold major paintings by the artist.

" William Blake in Sussex is not only a subject of great local interest but also of national cultural significance, not least because the famous lines that were later adopted for the song Jerusalem were written in the county"
- Andrew Loukes

Outstanding original works

Among the highlights of the exhibition, on loan from the British Museum, are hand-coloured relief etchings from Blake’s illustrated epic poem Milton, of which only four are in existence. Written and illustrated between 1804-1811, the preface contains the words ‘And did those feet in ancient time’ that was adopted for the anthem Jerusalem.

A section of a hand drawn illustration from Milton by William Blake

This illustration from the poem, included in the exhibition, features a comet symbolising the spirit of John Milton, the author of 'Paradise Lost', landing on the foot of Blake. It depicts the moment when the artist was inspired to write this epic poem.

Philip Pullman

As part of the William Blake in Sussex exhibition step inside an immersive experience featuring the original drawings by the author and President of the Blake Society, Philip Pullman, created for his best-selling His Dark Materials trilogy.

Using projections, sound and text, Pullman’s Miltonian works are brought to life and offer parallels with Blake’s art which also draws inspiration from the 17th century English poet John Milton.

Elizabeth Ilive

Two of the paintings by Blake featured within the exhibition from the Petworth collection were commissioned by Elizabeth Ilive, the estranged Countess of Egremont. 

A section of William Blake's 'A Vision of the Last Judgement', 1808

Of particular note is this painting, The Last Judgement of 1808, which carries particular significance in the context of her troubled relationship with Petworth's 3rd Earl of Egremont.

As part of Petworth’s year celebrating the lives of remarkable women, another part of the exhibition features contextual exhibits relating to this extraordinary patron.


Visit Blake's cottage

Open on select days as part of the exhibition, discover how Blake's 17th century cottage in Felpham has developed over four centuries.

The cottage is empty at present awaiting renovation, and so gives a rare opportunity for architectural detective work. Find out how the Blake Cottage Trust is planning to renovate the building to a form that William & Catherine would have known during their three year stay (1800-1803) as well as creating a beautiful new annex designed by one of the leading firms of architects.

To visit this grade II* listed buildings visitors are required to book this separately from the exhibition ticket and make their own way to cottage in Felpham, 20 miles from Petworth.

To book please follow this link or call on 0344 249 1895.

A full day out at Petworth

Entry to the Servants’ Quarters Gallery for the William Blake exhibition is by timed ticket but while you wait there is a whole day available for you included within your ticket.

The Phillip Pullman and Elizabeth Ilive displays are accessible at any time.

If you have time to spare why not check availabilities for the Treasuring Petworth tours included within the admission price and book one around your timed ticket?

West Front at Petworth

Treasuring Petworth tours and Spotlight on Conservation

From January 2018, join a tour of selected state rooms and find out what conservation goes on to care for the interiors and collection of Petworth.

For the first time the Estate Offices are open to enjoy on a free flow basis. Step into the offices and discover how the agents and clerks worked to assist the 3rd Earl of Egremont in managing his estates and interests. You can also get hands on with some of our items to find out how we care for the many treasures of the collection with a Spotlight on Conservation.

If you have longer to wait try one of our downloadable walks and venture out into the deer park or Pleasure Ground and enjoy a winter walk in the crisp air.

Become a member

Admission to the William Blake in Sussex: Visions of Albion exhibition is £16 for non-members and includes admission across Petworth to enjoy the mansion tours, Pleasure Ground, parkland and our downloadable walks.

Join the National Trust as a member before you book and pay just £12 for the exhibition. You cn then enjoy access to Petworth all year round. As a National Trust member you can also enjoy free parking and entry to over 500 other special places.

There are also other exhibitions running at local properties Nymans, Standen, Mottisfont and Polesden Lacey that are also included in a National Trust membership.

William Blake in Sussex catalouge

On sale as part of the exhibition you can purchase the catalogue William Blake in Sussex: Visions of Albion. 

Accompanying the first exhibition devoted to the subject, William Blake in Sussex considers the collective significance of the English county to the life and work of the the celebrated artist and writer.

Edited by Andrew Loukes, Exhibitions Manager at Petworth House, William Blake in Sussex features a series of illustrated essays and catalogue entries by established and emerging scholars in the field.

With thanks to our supporters

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Images by Tim Clarke