Petworth day trip

27 February 2023 by Darren Leach

Petworth town George James weekend trip

Petworth is official one of the best places to live in the UK, according to the annual Sunday Times list, with the judges stating: “Nowhere does posh better than this old-fashioned Sussex market town. The independent shops in its town centre are a delight and Petworth Park and the surrounding South Downs are perfect places for walks - with or without a lockdown dog.” 

It really is a delightful town, with cobbled streets, pretty houses, historic buildings and a plethora of independent shops. It is one of those rare places that is large enough to offer a wonderful mix of convinces and interest, but it is also small enough to still hold the rural charm many of us associate with living in the South Downs.

St Marys Church Petworth George James
St Mary's Church
St Marys Church Petworth George James
Petworth church St Marys George James Archtiects

Things to see

Petworth is full of charm, the delightful market town is steeped in history and has many different attractions well worth visiting, here are just a few of the things we have most enjoyed around the town.

St Mary’s Church is located centrally in the town; the church has a long history with Saxon origins, it was even mentioned in the historic Domesday Book in 1086. The majority of the church we see today is much later in date, from around the 13 / 14th century, with much rebuilt in 1827 and 1904. There are feint traces of the early structures in the arches, and internally you can see a Medieval wall painting on one wall in the Leconfield Gallery.

Petworth Cottage Museum is at 436 High Street. The building is an original Leconfield Estate workers cottage, which has been faithfully restored to demonstrate how life might have been for those living there around 1910. The living museum offers us a glimpse into our past, showing the house designs, decorations and the home technology of the time.  

Leconfield Hall, a neoclassical Grade II Listed building situated in the heart of the town, just on the main market square. Originally built in 1793 as a market hall, the impressively grand building replaced an earlier wooden market structure on the site. The building has recently undergone renovations work, it is now used as a non-for-profit cinema and event space. Leconfield Hall is also home to the annual Petworth Literary Festival, which has been running in the town since 1979.

Newlands House is now opened as a contemporary art gallery, set within the grand, beautifully preserved 18th century townhouse in Petworth. The gallery, which was opened in 2020, boosts 12 rooms of gallery space, hosting leading modern and contemporary artists. It is also where the HG Café is located, see below for more information.  

Petworth town views cobbled streets church Goerge James
The pretty cobbled streets, with St Mary's in the background.

Retail therapy

If retail therapy is your thing, Petworth is a town you should definitely visit. With nearly 40 independent stores, and little of the standard chains you find in most High Streets, it is easy to indulge and find something a little different.

Petworth is known as ‘The Antique Centre of the South’ and there is an antique store to suit ever taste, and budget. There are too many to write all about here, but here are a few that we enjoy; The Petworth Antiques Market is a great market with over 70 stalls, it is well suited for those who enjoy rummaging to find something unique. The Bear sells a good mix of mid-century modern, antiques and home accessories. Tudor Rose Antiques and Interiors is located in one of the oldest buildings in the town, which seems a perfect backdrop for the items they sell.

If you are looking for some art, head to Ottocento on the Golden Square. The fine art dealer always has some special, individual pieces for your home.

 

There is also the fabulous Hennings Wine Merchants in the centre of town, a wonderful wine retailer that has been in Petworth since the 1970’s. Selling a wide selection of quality wines, with helpful staff on hand to help you with your selection, should you need it.

Petworth cafe George James v2
Coco Cafe and Sugar Lounge, in central Petworth

Feeling peckish

If you are needing a pitstop, you are spoilt for choice in Petworth, whether it is for a quick coffee, drink or if you have more time to spend over a meal, there is plenty to pick from. 

A firm favourite of ours is The Hungry Guest, a deli that is twice winner of the UK Delicatessen of the Year by Muddy Stilettos, amongst its multiple award wins. They are passionate about what they serve, and it shows with the epic, local, artisan food on offer. Situated in Newlands House Gallery (as mentioned above), it is also an idyllic setting to enjoy your break, with a tranquil terrace for the warmer months.

If you are just looking for a quick stop, an excellent spot for coffee and cake (they do also have a full menu) is Coco Café and Sugar Lounge, located at Saddlers House in the town.

If you have time to stop for a long lunch, or evening meal, we could recommend you try to get in at E Street Bar and Grill. The food is delicious, with a focus on modern dining with locally sourced meat and fish, they have been awarded British Restaurant of the Year by Prestige Awards. The restaurant is housed in a beautifully restored 17th century building in the centre of town, the refurbishment has created a light and airy space that showcases the heritage of the original architecture.

 

If you are able to stay a little longer it is easy to find somewhere to stay overnight, it is well worth trying The Angel Inn is an old coaching inn with luxurious rooms. During winter months the cosy pub has roaring open fires, perfect to huddle around after a long walk, whilst in warmer months there is a spacious garden relax in and enjoy.

Doric temple Petworth Park George James Architects
petworth house George James Architects v2

Petworth House and Gardens

The magnificent Petworth House cannot be missed! The home was gifted to the state in 1947 and is now managed by the National Trust, encompassing a stunning county home with gardens designed by ‘Capability’ Brown and a 700-acre deer park. The architecture of the home was inspired by 17th century Baroque palaces of Europe, inside the house is bursting with some of the finest paintings of the era, including Turner (who was a frequent visitor), Gainsborough and Van Dyck.

The house has been owned, and is still lived in, by the same family for over 900 years. Remains of the earlier, more humble medieval house can still be seen today in the grounds, the chapel from this house still survives. The house we still see today was built from 1661 onwards, designed to rival the likes of The Palace of Versailles in France.

The natural looking landscaping, with rolling hills and long sweeping views over a large serpentine lake, is considered to be one of the finest remaining Capability Brown landscapes to be seen today. There is a really good 4 mile art and architectural walk around grounds that is a lovely way to spend a few hours, full details here.

Petworth walking with Archi dog v2
Walking with Archi

Other nearby points of interest

There are a several other heritage site around Petworth that you might want to visit. The Coultershaw Beam Pump, is a small restored beam pump on the river, with a small display and model upstairs explaining the history of the site. Interestingly the existing pump house we see today, was a originally a wagon shed on the Goodwood Estate, which was dismantled and relocated at Coultershaw.

The local Petworth Cricket Club is a vibrant club that was established in 1840, it has an active adults and youth team. We have included it in our list as it has some of the best views from the club across South Downs and Petworth House, so worth a quick trip!

The Langham Brewery is an award winning, independent, micro-brewery housed in a beautiful 18th century granary barn in Lodsworth, just 4 miles out of Petworth, which is open through the week for take aways or to enjoy in their tap room. They host several events over the year, including their own Pride event, celebrating all LGBTQ+ life in the heart of the South Downs, this year it will be taking place on Saturday 8th July 2023. 

We do hope you have enjoyed our suggestions of places to visit in and around Petworth, do get in touch with your top tips or with suggestions of places you would like us to write about.

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