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The majestic 700 acre deer park is important as one of the finest surviving unspoilt examples of an English landscape park designed by the celebrated Lancelot 'Capability' Brown. Petworth House the grand 17th century home of the Earl of Egremont known as the 'House of Art', contains one of the best art collections in Britain, including twenty works by JMW Turner on display.
Petworth House is situated on the very edge of the park with its back to the town. The west front is a triumph of design being a combination of French and English elements.
The 6th Duke of Somerset, Charles Seymour, was responsible for the building program in 1690 that turned the 14th century medieval manor into a masterpiece of the Baroque. Although not destined to inherit the title, he unexpectedly succeeded to the dukedom when his older brother, the 5th Duke, was murdered in Italy by the husband of a lady he had offended. Charles married Elizabeth, of the famous Percy family of Northumberland, and heiress to the family fortune and estates. These included the Petworth property.
The 2nd Earl of Egremont commissioned Capability Brown to design and landscape the deer park. The park, one of Browns first commissions as an independent designer, consists of 700 acres of grassland and trees. Brown removed the formal garden and fishponds of the 1690s and relocated 64,000 tons of soil, creating a serpentine lake. He bordered the lake with poplars, birches and willows to make the natural view pleasing. A 1987 hurricane devastated the park, and 35,000 trees were planted to replace the losses. Gracing the 30 acres of gardens and pleasure grounds around the home are seasonal shrubs and bulbs that include lilies, primroses, and azaleas. A Doric temple and Ionic rotunda add interest in the grounds.
Despite the grand setting I found the park sadly lacking colour and found myself wishing they had retained the formal gardens in the design, also the deer were disappointingly elusive.
Petworth Park is situated In centre of Petworth (A272/A283) in West Sussex.