Travel

Petworth – a guide for visiting this town in 2023

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Sussex is full of lovely towns and villages (and cities), and we've written about a few of them before, but we think Petworth is quite unique. It has the charm of a small town, but there is a surprising amount of things to do and see here given the size of the place. Plus, it is an absolute haven for antique hunters (more on that in a second).

Where is Petworth?

Petworth is in Sussex, in the Chichester District of West Sussex (read our guide about Chichester here). It is 6 miles to the east of Midhurst and 16 miles to the North of Worthing. It'll take you just over an hour to reach the town from London if you're driving. It's located right on the edge of the South Downs National Park and is a great starting point for exploring the rest of the park.

 

Here are the best things to see and do in Petworth:
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Petworth House & Park

Petworth House & Park is a stunning country house and estate and a must-visit attraction during your time in Petworth. Managed by the National Trust, both the building and the surrounding land are immaculately well-kept and lovely to visit, with 700 acres of deer park to explore. The 17th-century Petworth House is stunning from the outside, but inside you'll find what is generally regarded as the finest collection of art in the care of the National Trust, including works by Van Dyck, Turner and Gainsborough. The Petworth Park Antiques & Fine Art Fair is held here every year (usually in May) and is a great time to visit Petworth Park, as you can explore the grounds and then explore the antiques. Learn more here - nationaltrust.org.uk
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St Mary's Church

Despite parts of the church dating from more than 1000 years ago, St Mary's is still standing strong and is great to visit. We also love that many of the original features have retained an "untouched" feeling, despite necessary refurbishments and repairs over the years. Among the most interesting features are the painted roof and the stained glass windows, which are beautiful. There is a graveyard to explore, and although the stones are so worn down that you won't be able to make out many names, it's still quite interesting to wander around. Learn more here - stmaryspetworth.org.uk
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Explore the Antiques

We mentioned in our introduction that Petworth was a haven for antiques - that wasn't an exaggeration. Before you head to Petworth you'll want to have done your homework on antiques, or at the very least you should download a good antiques value identifier app. The Petworth Antiques Market is home to a huge number of different vendors all under the same roof, selling items from every era. Whether you're looking for a cute trinket or an impressive piece of furniture, chances are you'll find it here. Like all good antique shops, those who are willing to rummage will find the real gems. Learn more here - petworthantiquesmarket.com

 

BEAR is a relatively recent addition to the Petsworth antiques scene (opened in 2020), but has quickly established itself as a go-to place for thoughtfully curated antiques, as well as more modern offerings. Based in a Grade II listed building, it's a joy to explore.

 

Thakeham Furniture has been around since the late 80s and has built up a reputation for consistent quality and a focus on Georgian furniture. If you like your furniture to show its age through patina and attractive wear, but still be restored to a high standard, then a trip here is highly recommended.
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Moncrieff-Bray Gallery

The collection of art at Pentworth House will undoubtedly impress you, but if you're keen to continue looking at beautiful art then a trip to Moncrieff-Bay Gallery is highly recommended. Based in a 120 square metre converted barn with amazing views across the Rother Valley, the setting of the gallery really compliments the art within, which ranges from stunning paintings of the British Isles to sculptures. The Sculpture Garden is open at certain times of the year and is wonderful to roam around. Learn more here - moncrieff-bray.com
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Newlands House Gallery

Another excellent gallery is the Newlands House Gallery, which specialises in modern and contemporary art from the 20th century onwards. Based in an Grade II listed 18th-century Georgian townhouse in the centre of Petworth, the gallery has exhibited the work of some of the world’s greatest artists from the last 2 centuries since it opened in March 2020. Learn more here - https://newlandshouse.gallery/visit/

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Coultershaw Heritage Site

This historic site features a waterwheel, a historic water pump, and a state-of-the-art 21st-century water turbine all situated around a lovely mill pond which is about a mile away from the town but well worth a look. The Beam Pump here was installed in the late 18th-century and was built to supply more water to Petworth. The exhibitions here explain the history of the machinery and what purpose it served, and it's all very interesting, plus there are a number of walking trails around the area which are a joy to explore. Learn more here - coultershaw.co.uk

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Petworth Cottage Museum

This museum is often described as a "living museum", and we really think that describes it well. Inside this unassuming cottage, you'll find a recreation of a Leconfield Estate worker's living conditions, furnished as it would have looked in the early 20th century. There is something both fascinating and quite sad about this museum, which is a tiny and very modest place for a family to live. There are so many little details to keep an eye out for, and despite the small size of the museum you could spend a long time exploring the nooks and crannies of the building. The staff here are very helpful and engaging, and the museum is well worth the small entry fee. Learn more here - petworthcottagemuseum.co.uk

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Where to stay?

Despite being a relatively small town, you've actually got quite a nice selection of accommodation options in Petworth. For starters, it's quite handy to have a number of Airbnb options in the town, with prices ranging from the very expensive to the ridiculously cheap as is so often the case with Airbnb. But for the traditionalists, a number of excellent independent hotels are in town including The Angel Inn, The Stonemasons Inn, and the Welldiggers Arms, all of which can be stayed in for less than £100 per night. The Spread Eagle in nearby Midhurst is a classy option which is ideal for anyone looking for a luxury place to base themselves during their stay.

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What to eat?

Similar to the hotel selection, Petworth has far more restaurants than you'd likely expect to find given the size of the town. If you're looking for something straightforward and bound to please, options such as the E.Street Bar & Grill and The Star serve up great pub grub in a relaxed atmosphere. For something a bit different, Meghdoots Mystique Masala serves up delicious Indian (and has an excellent name), and Badgers (another great name) is a pub serving up top-notch food, particularly things like roasts.

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Hopefully this guide has inspired you to visit this excellent town! If you enjoyed this guide, please check out our other guides about Sussex locations including Chichester. You could also explore some of the great towns in Kent such as Tenterden and Whitstable.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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