Posted 4 September 2013 by Andrew Gardner
This summer a fascinating project to uncover a lost wing of historic Petworth House reached its conclusions - and I for one am looking forward to the forthcoming exhibition showcasing the results.
It's long been known that an L-shaped manor existed on the site and when Henry VIII owned the house he built a banqueting house there, possibly on the northern face of Lawn Hill. The north wing was demolished in 1692 but excavations have revealed artefacts that point to a high-status building in use during the 15th and 16th centuries. Some of these will be on show from early October, along with paintings, documents and other evidence, including the results of geophysical surveys.
This was the first serious archaeological investigation at Petworth and it took about a year to complete. Project leader Tom Dommett told the National Trust: "Today, people see gentle rolling slopes, tranquil lakes and grand vistas, but 300 years ago it was completely different; there were vast formal gardens and avenues, parterres and greenhouses, rampart terraces and ornamental ponds."
Another building the archaeologists hoped to find was the monumental stables built by the Earl of Northumberland in the 17 th century. These were considered the finest stables in the south of England and dominated the view from the lake to the house.
If you were lucky enough to take part in the Big Dig in July - an event that aimed to give families a hands-on experience of the dig and its findings - you'll have some idea of what's in store. This should be a fascinating exhibition that will give a real insight into one of this region's most beautiful and historic buildings. We have a wonderful variety of Sussex holiday lets within a short distance of Petworth, from premier holiday homes to snug cottages, so why not make a date with history?