Things to know before you visit
Inspired by the imposing palaces of Europe, Petworth House was rebuilt in the 17th century with grand state rooms designed to display wealth, taste and royal connections. Arranged as they were when the 3rd Earl of Egremont lived here, see the state rooms of this English ‘Versailles’ just as visiting artists like JMW Turner did. Across the courtyard you can explore more about life 'below stairs' in the Historic Kitchens of the Servants' Quarters.
These rooms were never intended for everyday living so inside you'll find few domestic furniture arrangements; instead, the opulent rooms display one of the finest art collections in the care of the National Trust. The more lived-in part of the house is where today Lord and Lady Egremont continue a tradition of unbroken occupancy.
Rooms open to view in Petworth House
During the winter we close a small number of rooms on rotation to enable us to carry out conservation meaning not all of the state rooms will be open.
1 November - 24 November
The Oak Hall, Chapel, North Gallery, Red Room, Carved Room and Little Dining Room will be open between 1-24 November.
The Historic Kitchens will be closed.
25 November - 1 January: Colours of Christmas
From 25 Novemeber the Oak Hall, Somerset Room, Sqaure Dining Room, Marble Hall, Little Dining Room, Carved Room, Red Room, Chapel and Historic Kitchens will be open and dressed for Christmas.
2 January - The House will be closed
Discover the State Rooms
The Oak Hall
Since at least 1743 this has been the guest entrance to the mansion, and in 1764 this room was called the 'Picture Staircase' as 34 pictures were hung here.
The Somerset Room
Named after the 'Proud' 6th Duke of Somerset (1662-1748) who bought several of the paintings that originally hung here, this room would have formed part of the Duke's much larger Servants' Hall. In 1795 this room was split in two, with half becoming the Square Dining Room.
The Square Dining Room
A watercolour of this room by JMW Turner in 1827 shows it was densely hung with pictures by the 3rd Earl. The team at Petworth used this painting to reconstruct the picture hang of the Earl’s design, together with his choice of wall colour.
The Square Dining Room is also home to a large group of Van Dyck portraits acquired by the 10th Earl of Northumberland (1602-1668). One is a portrait of the 10th Earl's father, known as the ‘Wizard Earl’, who was imprisoned in the Tower of London for 16 years.
The North Gallery
In the 18th century the 2nd Earl of Egremont built this gallery extension to house his collection of classical sculptures. His son enlarged the gallery and added more modern art to the collection, including works by Turner and Blake.
The Beauty Room
The portraits in this room feature women who were part of the close circle of cousins and friends of the 6th Duke and Duchess of Somerset, who rebuilt Petworth House into a Baroque palace. Some of these portraits, which were painted by Swedish artist Michael Dahl (1659-1743) in the late 1690s, were originally full-length but the 3rd Earl of Egremont rolled up the lower part of each canvas to create a shrine below to the leading figures and events of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Grand Staircase
After a fire in 1714, Louis Laguerre painted a series of symbolic murals on the ceilings and walls of the Grand Staircase. They feature Elizabeth, sole heiress of the Percy family, who married the ‘Proud' Duke in 1682, enabling the transformation of Petworth with her inheritance.
The Carved Room
This magnificent room is named for the intricate wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons that now frame its pictures, including a famous portrait of Henry VIII from Holbein’s studio. Writer and antiquarian Horace Walpole (1717-97) visited Petworth in 1749 and wrote that he saw ‘the finest carving of Gibbons that ever my eyes beheld’. You can also get up close to some of Turner’s Sussex views, painted here in the early 19th century.
The Red Room
Red has always been a popular colour on which to hang Old Master pictures. This scheme was created by the 3rd Earl in 1806 and restored in 2002 by the team at Petworth, who also reinstated the picture hang according to a watercolour by Turner.
The Marble Hall
Originally the main entrance and known as the Hall of State, a formal drive led important visitors directly to this beautiful room. It has changed little since it was completed in 1692 and offers a wonderful view across the ‘Capability’ Brown parkland.
The chapel is the best-preserved interior from the medieval Petworth. The 6th Duke of Somerset went on to transform it with grand Baroque flourishes including the carved curtain and carved cherubs' heads.
The Servants' Quarters at Petworth House
Built in the mid-18th century, the Servants' Quarters have changed little since Victorian times. The building would once have accommodated around 40 live-in servants, who were needed to support the large estate. In 1829 alone these kitchens served nearly 30,000 guests.
Rooms to see in the kitchens
Scullery: This room is dominated by the Victorian low-pressure twin-flue steam boiler that produced steam to power the equipment in the kitchen and to heat water.
Still room: Maids used this room to prepare tea trays and other light refreshments for the family and their guests.
Winter dairy: Built as part of an extension in 1891 along with the meat larder, these rooms are partly underground to make them cool.
Larder: Before the north end of the Servants’ Quarters was extended this was the main larder, later becoming a general food preparation and storage area.
Pastry room: Away from the heat of the main kitchen, this room provided ideal working conditions for the making of pies, biscuits, cakes and pastries.
Petworth’s private rooms
During certain parts of the year you can visit some of the domestic rooms used today by Lord and Lady Egremont. Due to the private nature of these rooms, visitors are kindly asked not to take any photos.
The Petworth House guest bedrooms
Open Wednesday's 10.30-13.45 15 March-27 September
See Mrs Wyndham's Suite, which contains the Petworth State Bed, an English rococo masterpiece of the 1750s, as well as the Trellis and Belzamine Suites.
The White and Gold Room and the White Library at Petworth
Opening Monday's 10.30-13.45 13 March-25 September
Enjoy the White and Gold Room, which features mid-18th century decoration, and four Van Dyck portraits of English Countesses, thought to be among his best works. The White Library displays J.M.W Turner's wonderful painting of Petworth House viewed from across the lake.
Unlocking Petworth - Weekdays only, 2 - 27 October
The Stone Hall was built by Victorian architect Anthony Salvin as part of his modifications to Petworth around 1870. Today the current Lord and Lady Egremont use it as their private entrance.
The Cambridge Bedroom is named after the Duke of Cambridge, who slept here during the Victorian period. This room is the only room in the house that offers views of both Petworth town and the deer park.
The Chamber Landing, also called the Grand Passage, was among the alterations made by Anthony Salvin.
Please note the Stone Hall, Cambridge Bedroom and Chamber Landing will be on weekdays throughout October only - the last open day for 2023 will be Friday 27 October.
From famous pieces of art and sculpture to decorative arts and furniture, explore some of the most important collections in the National Trust.
From Tudor monarchs to Romantic painters, discover the rich history of Petworth House. Follow its journey from medieval home to grand and inspirational house.
Enjoy food and drink in the historic Audit Room Café. Shop for art inspired gifts, pick up a plant to take home or browse for the perfect pre-loved book.
With plenty of space to run, jump and play there's lots to fun for families to have at Petworth.