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“A Festive Feast for the Eyes - wonderful!”

Petworth House and Park
Ranked #1 of 7 things to do in Petworth
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Step inside the imposing 17th-century mansion and discover a treasure house filled with an internationally important art and sculpture collection.
Horsham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“A Festive Feast for the Eyes - wonderful!”
Reviewed December 16, 2013

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.

Visited December 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank tatmeister
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Exeter, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
92 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 221 helpful votes
“A Feast For The Eyes!”
Reviewed November 30, 2013

Have just come back from a visit to the first day of Petworth's Christmas event 'A Feast for the Eyes', and decided now was the time to write my review I walk in the park regularly (good photo opportunities with the Deer and views) and also enjoy visiting the house - it's better I think to ask questions and understand the property you are visiting, a lot of people seem to forget the family live in the more 'homely' part of the house and what you are able to see every day is the 'State rooms' of the house. I'm not knowledgeable about art, but I love the grinling gibbons carvings and once you have the folder in the North gallery and know what you're looking at, you could spend hours in in each room as there is so much to see - that element of wonder and spectacle is captured perfectly in this years Christmas event - where the servants quarters have been transformed, so that even if you have visited many times before it is a completely different experience (for anyoen that's been in the exhibition room - where the archaeology exhibition was this summer, you won't recognise it as the same room!).
Impressively I was told everything you see was hand made and assembled by volunteers and staff at the property, it must've taken a lot of time, I still can't believe what the sewing volunteers have managed to do with paper!!!. Take your time to explore, each room has it's own 'theme' and you'll have a favourite by the end (mine was the 'fish' room, woodland room a close second, although there were many impressive bits in the kitchens!) and enjoy letting out that sense of 'childish wonder' that many of us seem to lose as we grow older and more cynical..!
There is a children's activity *within* the event too, lots of tiny little mice to find (also hand made by staff apparently!) all in different outfits with a little story to follow. Not having children we didn't follow it closely but they added to the 'surprise/wonder' in each room as you spotted them and were very cute, especially the one in the pastry oven!
The restaurant also has a new menu specific to the event as well which is vastly more interesting than the usual NT restaurant fare (pork belly and choc sponge with salted caramel sauce - yumyum) and also included an interesting brunch option and a separate menu for kids. All in all well worth a visit, especially if you're a NT member as you get in for free (not always the case with extra events).

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank fenny89
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leicester, England, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
7 reviews
“Stunning”
Reviewed November 25, 2013

Absolutely beautiful location, the house and surrounding park are very best of British heritage to be enjoyed by all. The nearby Petworth market sq., has all sorts of attractions, shops , antiques and the fabulous Star pub and restaurant.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
Thank Alison Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“A Super place for everyone”
Reviewed November 19, 2013 via mobile

Lovely place to visit i am a national trust member so free to get in loads of things to see paintings etc we keep comeimg back and learning new things everytime as i say a great day out

Helpful?
1 Thank Jonathan C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bordon, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
198 reviews
56 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 113 helpful votes
“Could be much better”
Reviewed October 31, 2013

Petworth is a stunning property and makes for a great day out for all the family but there is so much more that could be done to make it a really great experience.
First of all the good points: The staff on duty on our visit were, without exception, enthusiastic, friendly and informative. I would particularly single out the guide dressed as a butler in the dining room who was a mine of information and particularly amusing in his delivery.
For children, much thought has gone into making what could be a dry and dusty experience, fun and interesting. There are intriguing 'toy' boxes in many rooms and trails designed to keep youngsters amused and excited.
The restaurant served a variety of tasty good value food from substantial lunches to tea and cakes in pleasant surroundings and despite the fact that we visited on a busy Saturday we secured a table with no problems.
The grounds are beautiful and deserve a visit in their own right.
Now for the negatives:
This is a huge house but not that much is open to the public. Visiting as we did at a weekend, many rooms were not open and we did not even see a bedroom. The second hand bookshop was also closed which seemed strange given the number of visitors and the money making potential.
The house is, rightly, famed for its vast collection of paintings. However, these are poorly displayed. The lighting is dismal and many are in dire need of cleaning. The cataloguing also leaves a lot to be desired and seems designed to confuse.
In summary, Petworth is surely a jewel in the National Trust's crown but one that is seriously tarnished and could benefit from a lot of TLC.

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
4 Thank Alison52
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
PetworthHouse, Media and Marketing Coordinator at Petworth House and Park, responded to this review, November 12, 2013
Thank you for your review and your suggestions. We’ll make sure to pass your kind comment onto the ‘butler’ too.

Just to reply to a few of your concerns. The bedrooms are open on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon as they are used by guests of the family on weekends. Part of the house is still lived in by the family and therefore only the ‘staterooms’ are open to visitors.

Our book shop is run by volunteers and on a busy weekend sometimes we do need to close it in order to ensure we have enough cover in the house.

Petworth House is home to the finest collection of art and sculpture in the National Trust and we are continually working to interpret the collection for our visitors, through volunteers, our room information folders and our multimedia guides.

We are currently working on a project to improve the lighting in the house and have just installed trial lighting in the North Gallery, you can find out more about this on our blog.

We hope you’ll consider visiting us again soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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