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Petworth house

16/10/2014

I have been in England for 3 days and am enjoying the opportunity to catch up with family and friends as well as acquaint myself with the old country of my forebears (as much as one can on a week-long visit).

After arriving to the expected wet and unappealing London weather I headed to Brighton (a place I will blog about in my next post) then it was on to Chichester by train to visit some relatives.

That afternoon one of my hosts took me to the nearby Petworth House, an enormous and remarkable stately home containing a huge collection of very impressive artworks both British and international. Petworth house is a decent sized estate which includes a sprawling field known as Petworth Park. I took the following picture of the outside of the house where you can see the park in the background but I don’t think it really captures the scale of the place:


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The house and surrounding estate represents the era of English aristocracy which peaked in the 19th century and is now enjoying a revival in interest following the popularity of the period drama Downton Abbey (a show which I must admit never piqued my interest).

Today the house is largely open to the public (I understand the current Duke lives there -the titular system of England is weird to me) and run by the National Trust an organisation which takes on the task of preserving historical places in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The trust is a charitable entity funded by member subscriptions and entrance fees for places like Petworth.

Petworth contained artistic delights which were extremely diverse; ranging from paintings by famous British and Dutch artists to sculptures, reliefs and Greek and Asian vases amongst other impressive works. Much of the collection was acquired by the third Earl of Egremont in the late 18th and early 19th century. The Earl was also the patron of the widely renowned British artist Joseph Mallord William Turner.

I consider myself quite far from an afficianado when it comes to Art but I was rather taken by the works of Turner there on display at Petworth. His remarkable skill is in capturing the quintessential English twilight as he depicts a number of scenes such as the one below:

Another painting of Turner’s which quite struck me is called “The Confluence of the Thames and the Medway” which impressed me because of how he showed the waves being whipped up in the foreground with the sailboats in the background:

All in all I felt the visit to Petworth represented an afternoon fairly well spent and certainly worth the fourteen pounds entrance fee.

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