It’s an austere and confusing house on the outside, with a long severe frontage facing onto the park and, on the other side, different periods and different styles clashing into each other. You get a feeling that this house is all about the inside and the previous generations of owners concentrated on the interior design, which was designed to show their stunning art collection. If the art is this good, why waste money on lavish exterior showmanship?
The previous house was rebuilt in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, incorporating walls and windows of the previous Gothic architecture in the chapel. The splendid suite of State Rooms still retains the grand painted hall, and was later extended with the North Gallery. more as a setting for the amazing art collection rather than a comfortable home, the rooms of which are located elsewhere in the house. At the same time, the pleasure grounds were altered by Capability Brown with a Doric Temple, an Ionic Rotunda and, of course the Corinthian orders were in the house itself…..
Petworth House is a treasure house full of art and sculpture, mainly collected in the 18th century, including works by an astonishing array of artists including Titian, Turner and Canaletto, the unique North Gallery for sculpture and paintings and a long gallery awash with amazing wood carvings by Grinling Gibbons and protégés.
The National Trust does what it does best, focussing on the people who have lived in the house, in the case the women of power and, in particular, Elizabeth Ilive – a woman ahead of her time, who became the first female member of the Royal Society of Arts,