Take the trip to…
This pretty market town is known for its antique shops but now also has a new art gallery. Newlands House Gallery, which opened in 2020 in a converted Georgian townhouse, focuses on ‘the great artists of the 20th century’. It has had a string of stellar exhibitions so far, including Lee Miller, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró.
Frank Auerbach: Last summer’s Unseen was a superb collection of paintings, etchings and drawings by one of Britain’s greatest living artists. The current exhibition is Two Worlds Intertwined: Annie Morris and Idris Khan, shows the artist duo’s work side-by-side for the first time in the UK (adult £14.50, child £7.25, runs until 7 May).
Petworth House, a stately home called ‘that house of art’ by John Constable, has one of the best collections of National Trust paintings. There are 19 landscapes by JMW Turner, who was a regular visitor, as well as works by a host of other artists including Titian, Bosch, Van Dyck and Gainsborough. Other treasures include an early copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (c1420) and the Molyneux Globe (1592). The current exhibition is Explorations in Paint (£12/£6, until 24 September), featuring works by Sir Frank Bowling, Gillian Ayres and others, and inspired by the ‘Studio Experiments’ of Joshua Reynolds, born this year 300 years does. Conversely, the Petworth Cottage Museum offers an insight into the humbler lives of estate workers. It’s furnished as it would have been in 1910, when the seamstress Mary Cummings lived there (free, open 2-4:30pm, Tue-Sat, Apr-October).
When we go
Anytime, but the Petworth festival is a three-week summer bonanza (July 11-29); its sister event is a Fall Literary Week (October 27-November 5).
Shopping for souvenirs
The Petworth Art and Antique Dealers Association has 37 members, including Petworth Antiques Market. There is an annual antiques and fine art fair at Petworth Park from 19th to 21st May.
The National Trust has come up with a Turner Walk through Petworth Deer Park, designed by Capability Brown. Includes the lake where Turner fished and the landscapes depicted in his paintings The Lake, Petworth: Sunset, Fighting Bucks.
Drinks and dinner
E Street Bar & Grill specializes in Sussex produce; the Star pub in Market Square dates back to 1591. The Horse Guards Inn in nearby Tillington has a daily changing menu of foraged, home-grown and local food, perhaps Brighton mackerel with fennel and anchovies (£16.50) . Langham Brewery has a taproom with 11 beers. Upperton Vineyards is open for tastings on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Angel Inn, a historic coaching inn, has seven elegant bedrooms and excellent breakfasts (doubles from £124 B&B). Woodfire Camping is a lovely off-grid campsite on a small working farm a few miles south (pitches £19.50 / £9).
The old railway station is now a café and B&B (the line closed in 1955), but there are buses from Chichester, Worthing and Horsham.