Things to do in Petworth

Just 90 minutes from London, the picturesque market town of Petworth is a definite must for your weekend-away bucket list. The town has gained a well-deserved reputation as a fantastic centre for antique hunting, with over 30 dealers to browse within the town centre.

You cannot visit Petworth without exploring the National Trust’s Petworth House and Park, the walls of which surround the town; an ‘English Versailles’ built to rival the palaces of Europe, with grand state rooms and historic kitchens, and an astounding collection of fine art including works by JMW Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Gainsborough. The stunning ‘Capability’ Brown designed landscapes of the deer park and pleasure grounds cover 700 acres and offer tranquil walks, glimpses of the historic deer herd, ancient trees and far-reaching views of the South Downs. A fabulous day out.

Each September, as part of Heritage Open Days, the town stages a Heritage Weekend which offers free of charge entry to some of the area’s attractions, from the grand rooms and art collections of Petworth House to the working waterwheel powering an 18th Century Beam Pump at Coultershaw. Glimpse late Victorian/Edwardian life at Petworth Cottage Museum where a worker’s cottage is restored and furnished as it might have been when occupied by a Mrs. Mary Cummings.

The town has a strong arts-focused community, and each year produces a music festival, literary festival and heritage weekend, as well as playing host to an ADFL Antiques and Fine Art Fair. Building on its growing reputation as a centre for the arts, Newlands House Gallery, which opened in 2020, brings exhibitions worthy of a national stage set within a historic Sussex setting. Having already hosted impressive names including Helmut Newton, Julian Opie and Lee Miller, the gallery’s ambition is to stage world-class exhibitions focused on the great artists of the 20th century.

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