Thursday, 27 April 2017

Family Fun at Petworth House, National Trust #CountryKids

A few weeks back on a Sunday our family headed over to West Sussex to Petworth House. I've been wanting to visit this National Trust site for well over a year but as it's about a 90 minute journey we needed to have enough time available to us to make it worthwhile. Petworth houses the finest collection of art in the care of the National Trust and I thought my arty daughter and I would particularly enjoy seeing this.

The Mansion
I wasn't wrong, there are some really magnificent pieces on display and my favourite by far was the walls and ceiling of the Grand Staircase painted by Louis Laguerre (1663 - 1721). I stood there and gazed in wonder for such a long time. There are many other internationally important paintings on display too with works by Turner, Van Dyck and Reynolds to name just a few. There are also dozens and dozens of interesting classical and new-classical sculptures too and my girls were chuckling away at all the body parts on display!

Of course what the National Trust always does well is engage the kids and they had a trail around the house to look for stuffed dogs around the house and then if they spotted them all they got an exclusive badge.

Most every day there is some kind of talk or tour within the mansion and the volunteers at entry will let you know what is going on or you can check the webpages before travelling. If you are thinking of taking your family in the next couple of weeks then I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear there is a Cadbury Easter egg hunt from 8th - 23rd April 2017 with a cost of £3 per child.

Servants Quarters
We also headed into the servants quarters which are fabulous to look around. We were lucky enough to be just in time for a talk from one of the volunteers about how the kitchen and servants quarters would have operated and this really bought the area to life. I've been to many stately homes but I've never come across one where the servants used underground tunnels to get from the servants quarters and food preparation rooms to the state rooms.

700 acres of Capability Brown landscaped grounds
As well as the house and servants quarters there are an amazing 700 acres designed by Capability Brown and you are well worth going for a wander. Close to the house are the pleasure gardens, a 30 acre area enclosed within a ha-ha with dense shrubbery and trees that make you feel secluded but then you glimpse the panoramic deer park beyond. You can stroll by the Doric temple, war memorial and Rotunda as well.

As time was pressing on and we didn't want to miss the closing deadline for gates and the car park close to the house, we took a drive about a mile down the road to the park car park that stays open longer. This was a smart move on our part as whilst we couldn't see the house from where we were it was much quieter and our payoff was to be able to get up close to a herd of fallow deer.

The 700 hundred acres is home to around 900 fallow deer but they are notoriously shy and tend to stay away from the large crowds. We had a perfectly wonderful time in the woods and crossing the grassland on our trek to seek the deer. The kids had lots of fun completing some of their 50 things to do before you're 11 3/4 as we walked. They climbed trees, had 'sword' fights and walked the plank as part of their games.

We had tea and cake in the restaurant and it is a really pleasant place to rest your feet after a long walk. I have to be honest and say that I thought the prices were on the expensive side and the scones were tiny considering you only got one with a cream tea. As well as the restaurant there is also a smaller coffee shop and some outside seating if you've bought your own picnic but of course you can enjoy this with a blanket anywhere in the grounds.

The toilets we visited were clean and well stocked and there is baby change and accessible toilets. Most areas are accessible for pushchairs and wheelchairs and the paths were well maintained.

There is a small shop onsite offering the regular National Trust fare and also a second hand bookshop with an honesty payment system.

Opening time & Prices
During the Spring and summer months the site is open 10am -5pm with the house opening at 11am and the times in the Winter months may differ and the house is only open for guided tours on the hour.

The the full opening hours in Summer the price for an adult including gift aid is £15 or £7.50 for a child and a family ticket can be bought for £37.50. As I've said many times before though I'd urge you to check out family annual membership as there is such a wealth of places to visit and we've found it really does pay for itself. Do make sure you check online for deals or cash back promotions as there always seems to be something good on offer if you browse around.

I'm linking this post up with Fiona at Coombe Mill for #CountryKids.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall 

Disclosure: we've received some free passes for our family to use at National Trust sites in exchange for an honest write-up about our family's day out.

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