And just like that, the weather gods decide that summer is done. To celebrate their decision, they’ve sent us a 15 degree, properly rainy day. It makes for a later start, but it will take more than that to stop the day’s explorations.
Two wildlife sightings mark the morning: a teeny squirrel darts across the road to safety and a fancy pheasant scratching about on a verge. We don’t know it yet, but it’s an excellent portent of wildlife sightings yet to come. Squiz not quite quick enough on the camera though…
We’re spending the afternoon at another National Trust property, Petworth Estate, home to the largest and finest art collection held by the Trust. It’s possibly the largest estate we’ve been to over the years: on entry is a casual mention of the 5 miles of walks within the estate.
Built for the Earl of Northumberland, Petworth has been home to his descendants for over 900 years. The art collection in place today is the work of the 10th Earl, the 6th Duke of Sommerset and the 3rd and 4th Earls of Egremont, sourced between 1602 – 1837 including works from van Dyck, Turner (who was a frequent guest here), Gainsborough and Reynolds and over 100 marble sculptures.
Much of the ground floor is more remincent of an art museum than a home. Unique in the collection is the Molyneux Globe, made in 1592 it’s the oldest terrestrial English globe, thought to have been given to the 9th Earl by Sir Walter Raleigh.
Across the way from Petworth manor is a building of only slightly smaller proportions, the servants’ quarters, with extraordinary kitchens, store rooms and an excellent display showing the hierarchy of staff, their wages, responsibilities and photographs.
The rain has eased to a light drizzle by late afternoon, but nothing short of a downpour could keep me from dragging Chris to the Deer Park within the grounds, full of ancient chestnut and walnut trees.
We’ve encountered deer parks before and not even seen a whisker, but today our luck is in. At the top of a hill overlooking the lake, we can see a small herd in the distance, but better yet, on the way back to the manor, we spot a further two, much closer. They allow us relatively close, very shy, but also a little curious.
I have to be dragged away as usual with threats of the gates closing on us and being trapped for the night. Not sure what the problem might be there, now that I have new friends to play with. Spotty loveliness.