While Petworth, West Sussex has long been a favorite destination for antique lovers, it has so much more on offer. It's the location of one of the UK's finest stately homes, Petworth House, which is packed with unique treasures, home to one of the country's best sparkling wine producers, the award-winning Nyetimber and well situated for lovely walks in Petworth House's Park or the South Downs National Park.
Stay and Eat
Dating back to medieval times, many of the seven cozy rooms at the Angel Inn still have the original exposed beams but don't worry, all the mod cons are provided, from Nespresso machines to flat screen TVs. At 300 yards from the market square in the town centre, the Angel Inn is ideally located for all of Petworth's attractions. The lovely, large private garden is great to come back to for drinks after a day of antiquing or walking. Ryde House, a recently refurbished three bedroom Georgian Villa located next to the Angel Inn, is an elegant accommodation option for families or groups.
Launched last month, the New Street Bar & Grill is a stylish new bistro offering a seasonal menu, much of which is sourced from local suppliers like Nyetimber, Goodwood and Nutbourne. Organic beef from Goodwood, yellow fin tuna and baked alaska with strawberry and elderflower ice cream are a few of the menu's highlights that are certain to make this new bistro a "destination" restaurant.
Diners at New Street Bar & Grill have the option of eating in the elegant main floor dining room, upstairs in rooms adorned with original artworks or, during good weather, on the patio. And a very inviting bar area is great for drinks and snacks if you don't fancy a full dinner.
For brunch, The Hungry Guest cafe is excellent, with a menu featuring favorites like avocado and poached eggs on sour dough toast to pancakes and eggs benedict. And if you like the food at the cafe, be sure to visit their award-winning food shop that offers their own freshly prepared soups, sauces and ready meals, local produce, a walk-in cheese room and charcuterie counter. With all this, it's no surprise that The Hungry Guest won UK Delicatessen of the Year two years running (2015 and 2016). Co-founder and master baker Troels Bendix also offers a tempting range of baked goods including brownies so moreish they're worth a trip to Petworth for.
No visit to Petworth would be complete without a browse through the numerous antique dealers on East and Lombard streets. Among the abundance of antique dealers, one that caught my eye was Hut Antiques on East Street, an eclectic mix of antiques and decorative items from all around Europe and Scandinavia. And for a mixture of antiques and contemporary items, a visit to Augustus Brandt is essential. Set over 17 rooms within the impressive Grade II listed, Newlands House, this shop offers a wide range of antique and contemporary furniture, artworks, photography, jewellery, clothing and gifts.
Augustus Brandt also hosts regular art exhibitions. A fascinating photography exhibition of works by four British photographers, Brian Griffin, Andrew Holligan, Bruce Rae and Gerry Castle was on display throughout the building when we visited. Augustus Brandt has also just opened a new shop on the market square, specialising in smaller items and gifts.
For a wide range of antiques all under one roof, Petworth Antiques Market houses 41 dealers selling antiques and decorative furniture, vintage and retro goods. In addition to antiques, there's an array of smart shops, including women's clothing boutiques Twenty and Sorella and Artful Teasing selling its own brand of toiletries.
See & Do
Petworth House, a 17th-century manor house, now a National Trust property, was for many years the southern home of the Percy family, the earls of Northumberland. Painter John Constable's description of Petworth as "that house of art" is certainly apt as the vast art collection includes hundreds of paintings, sculptures and art objects. The grand staterooms of Petworth House display major works by van Dyck, Gainsborough, Turner, Reynolds, Titian and Blake. JMW Turner was a regular guest of the 3rd Earl of Egremont who purchased 20 of the artist's paintings, making the Petworth Turner collection the largest outside of Tate Britain. Two of the Turner paintings on show are of Petworth Park and Petworth House was one of the main locations for the 2014 Mike Leigh film Mr. Turner portrayed by the excellent Timothy Spall.
Among the many other treasures at Petworth is a Molyneux Globe, created in 1592 and thought to be the earliest terrestrial globe in existence. Made by the Elizabethan mathematician Emery Molyneux, these globes would have been the most up to date representations of the world at the time, particularly of the New World - the Americas. Equally exciting is the most important book in the care of the National Trust, a handwritten copy of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales which predates the first printed version by over 50 years. Printed on vellum and illuminated in gold, it became part of Petworth's collection via Chaucer's grandniece Eleanor, who was married to the 2nd Earl of Northumberland. Another highlight of the house is an entire room covered with fascinating wood-carvings by master carver Grinling Gibbons, also known for his work at Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral.
Access to the beautiful 700 acre deer park designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown is free. The park was transformed in the 1750s and early 1760s by the famous garden designer who stripped away the formal gardens and the long driveway to the front of the mansion to create a lake framed by the rolling hills.
If a stroll through Petworth Park whets your appetite for another walk but you're not up for a major hike on the South Downs, a less ambitious but lovely country walk from a path near The Angel Inn meanders through the nearby valley to The Black Horse. This typical 16th-century English pub offers local beer in an expansive terraced garden overlooking the foothills of the South Downs.
An easy weekend getaway, Petworth, West Sussex is about 90 minutes southwest of London by train to the nearest station, Pulborough which is a short taxi drive away from Petworth.