A tour of the house led us through many rooms, kitchens, a church (they had their own private church!) and servants quarters. Petworth has one of the largest art collections in all of the Trust too with Turners and VanDyck in their possession. Both the house and the grounds have been immortalised in some of Turners paintings. This is an up close view of the house, just to show the scale look at the lady sitting in the window in the lower left. (I wasn't even that close when I took the photo) It was very impressive inside but photos aren't allowed.
Petworth by Turner, circa 1828
This is the view that you see when looking away from the house, towards the rolling landscape. Before I came to England, this was what my vision of it would look like, that I had dreams of, so to be immersed in it was very breathtaking. Just to notice the scale again, look for the tiny people on the right.
There are tricks that are sometimes built into the landscape to help deceive the viewer.
This is called a ha ha. What is that you ask?! Exactly as it sounds is what it is supposed to mean. These allowed people to 'borrow' surrounding landscape that wasn't always necessarily yours. It is supposed to trick the eye and when you get up close, you would realize it wasn't what you thought. When you stand on the side of the gate with the little tree and look out it leads your eye out to the landscape beyond, as in the other photo. The fence I would imagine was added on later so imagine it's not there. So these Ha-Ha'swere done where a dip was created with one side usually having a retaining wall. This would create the effect of a flat plane to the eye, meaning there was no break in the landscape floor. On the other side, lets say the left side in the photo, was usually where livestock, or in this case the herds of miniature deer that inhabit the park, would roam but not be able to wander where the people would mingle and socialize.
If you have ever been to Longwood there is a form of this there. When you are at Oak Knoll, looking down towards Longwood Road it looks as if it the bottom of the hill connects to the fields on the other side of the road. But you realize, when you see cars go by that there is a strategically placed stone wall that creates the effect of the turf connecting to the other side. Hope your not lost on that one.
Why does all of this matter? These are lessons to me in the history of landscape architecture and design. When you go to art school you take art history to study and learn from the masters, to me gardening is no different. We have to know where we come from to know where we are going.... These are the types of things i wanted to see to be inspired by.
And then over there, yes just over there on that hill, did I see them. The herds of fallow deer that have been living in the gardens for years. (The garden is walled so they are in a sense protected and I don't really consider 700 acres tiny for them.) Their fawns were running and jumping like kids after too much candy, it was a sight to watch. They kept their distance though and stayed in their groups far off the path