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The Deer Park at Petworth House and Park

View across Petworth Deer Park, West Sussex, with rolling hills and gatherings of trees in summer leaf
Explore Petworth Deer Park | © National Trust Images/Andrew Butler

The 700-acre Deer Park at Petworth is one of the finest surviving and unspoilt examples of an English landscape designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Boasting far-reaching views of the South Downs, the historic park is an ideal place to escape the crowds, take an invigorating walk and let the children run wild. Petworth Park is open for you and your dog to enjoy every day of the year.

A historic herd

The 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 1520s. Today between 700 and 800 deer grace the parkland. You may be able to glimpse a few as you explore.

Ancient trees at Petworth

Petworth Park is home to an assortment of ancient and veteran trees, some of which are nearly 1,000 years old. Here are some highlights to look out for:

  • Three ancient oak trees, one of which was a sapling during the Norman conquest of 1066 and is likely older than any of the buildings at Petworth.

  • The ‘Beelzebub’ oak dates back to 1779 and marked the parish boundary; it has been suggested that its name came from the superstition that land outside the parish was dangerous.

  • Sweet chestnuts up to 600 years old, some gnarled and twisted from lightning strikes.

  • A hollow common lime tree, at least 500 years old but able to continue as a hollow shell for hundreds more.

How the Park is managed

The grounds are managed sustainably for wildlife and are protected under a Higher Level Stewardship agreement with Natural England. Please be mindful of the environment and follow the Countryside Code when you visit.

Fallow deer stags at Petworth House and Park, West Sussex
Fallow deer stags at Petworth | © National Trust Images/Adrian Holloway

Summer wildlife in the park

The park shines bright green during the summer with the deciduous trees in full leaf. A variety of wildlife also enjoys the sun; keep an eye out for migrant birds, such as house martins, swifts and swallows, that have flown all the way from Africa to spend the spring and summer at Petworth.

On a walk around the Upper Pond you might spot waterfowl including tufted ducks and mute swans, along with greylag, Canada and Egyptian geese. Dragonflies are frequent visitors, including the black-tailed skimmer and broad-bodied chaser. You might also see Azure damselflies with their black and blue colouring too, or even a common lizard basking in the sun.

View over the lake at Petworth, West Sussex
View over the lake at Petworth, West Sussex | © National Trust Images/John Miller

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 your safety; swimming is not permitted.

The rotunda with yellow daffodils in the foreground in Petworth's pleasure garden.

Discover more at Petworth

Find out when Petworth House and Park is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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