We visited the wonderful Festive Feast installation at Petworth House today. Normally, the House is as one would expect, traditional, stately and quite proper. The special exhibition was completely surprising and different to anything I have seen at a NT property. A kind of Heston Blumenthalesque experience with psychedelic/gothic/fairy tale overtones. Each room within the servants' quarters was dressed as if some crazy fairytale was in progress...the servant's kitchen featured a terrace of Gingerbread houses some with windows revealing tiny mice. Smaller vignettes of needlefelted mice told another story, with wit and charm. Moving from the kitchen, then into a scullery with a table piled with fabulous kitchenalia. From there, onto the snoring housekeeper's parlour, with a massive installation of wine bottles. Then, the cold room with papier mache fish and a giant lobster plus a real life fishpond! curiouser and curiouser. From there, a forested room with fungi, leaves and a green man. The mood then changed and one arrived at the Sugar Plum Fairy installation, complete with gigantic three tier cake. Each room wass lit beautifully, with different colours and with atmospheric music enhancing the experience. Then, the finale - a feast table, set all in white with flashes of colour. Almost an Alice in Wonderland dreamlike quality, with gorgeous costumed mannequins. The mice featured again, with their own adorable story. Not content with this amazing experience, the dining room was also serving a special menu, with historic references to the house and its inhabitants. My husband's vegetable crumble was the best in show, with a delicious crumbled scone topping. My Poona beef curry was tasty, but suffered from being under a heat lamp a little too long - a bit over browned on top. Chocolate pud with salted caramel sauce was divine. The day ended with a potter around the delightful independent shops in Petworth including a superb bookshop, a great delicatessan and a very well equipped crafting shop, to say nothing of all the antiques shops. Catch the Feast at Petworth before 22 December - it was inspiring, uplifting and quite eccentric - a total step away from the usual worthy NT events.
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