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The Champion | by Sharon Emma Photography
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The Champion

I went for a walk around Petworth Park to see the deer during the rutting season, strange groaning and belching sounds echoed around the park. The clash of antlers could be heard for miles as the males showed off their virility to potential mates. This stag bellows shortly after winning a dual with a rival, then struts off to take over the harem.


The fallow deer (Dama dama) is a ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae. This common species is native to western Eurasia, but has been introduced widely elsewhere. It often includes the rarer Persian fallow deer as a subspecies (D. d. mesopotamica), while others treat it as an entirely different species (D. mesopotamica).


Petworth House and Park in Petworth, West Sussex, England, has been a family home for over 800 years. The estate was a royal gift from the widow of Henry I to her brother Jocelin de Louvain, who soon after married into the renowned Percy family. As the Percy stronghold was in the north, Petworth was originally only intended for occasional use.


Petworth, formerly known as Leconfield, is a major country estate on the outskirts of Petworth, itself a town created to serve the house. Described by English Heritage as "the most important residence in the County of Sussex", there was a manorial house here from 1309, but the present buildings were built for the Dukes of Somerset from the late 17th century, the park being landscaped by "Capability" Brown. The house contains a fine collection of paintings and sculptures.


The house itself is grade I listed (List Entry Number 1225989) and the park as a historic park (1000162). Several individual features in the park are also listed.


It was in the late 1500s that Petworth became a permanent home to the Percys after Elizabeth I grew suspicious of their allegiance to Mary, Queen of Scots and confined the family to the south.


The 2nd Earl of Egremont commissioned Capability Brown to design and landscape the deer park. The park, one of Brownâs first commissions as an independent designer, consists of 700 acres of grassland and trees. It is inhabited by the largest herd of fallow deer in England. There is also a 12-hectare (30-acre) woodland garden, known as the Pleasure Ground.


Brown removed the formal garden and fishponds of the 1690âs and relocated 64,000 tons of soil, creating a serpentine lake. He bordered the lake with poplars, birches and willows to make the ânaturalâ view pleasing. A 1987 hurricane devastated the park, and 35,000 trees were planted to replace the losses. Gracing the 30 acres of gardens and pleasure grounds around the home are seasonal shrubs and bulbs that include lilies, primroses, and azaleas. A Doric temple and Ionic rotunda add interest in the grounds.


Petworth House is a late 17th-century mansion, rebuilt in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset, and altered in the 1870s by Anthony Salvin. The site was previously occupied by a fortified manor house founded by Henry de Percy, the 13th-century chapel and undercroft of which still survive.


Today's building houses an important collection of paintings and sculptures, including 19 oil paintings by J. M. W. Turner (some owned by the family, some by Tate Britain), who was a regular visitor to Petworth, paintings by Van Dyck, carvings by Grinling Gibbons and Ben Harms, classical and neoclassical sculptures (including ones by John Flaxman and John Edward Carew), and wall and ceiling paintings by Louis Laguerre. There is also a terrestrial globe by Emery Molyneux, believed to be the only one in the world in its original 1592 state.


For the past 250 years the house and the estate have been in the hands of the Wyndham family â currently Lord Egremont. He and his family live in the south wing, allowing much of the remainder to be open to the public.


The house and deer park were handed over to the nation in 1947 and are now managed by the National Trust under the name "Petworth House & Park". The Leconfield Estates continue to own much of Petworth and the surrounding area. As an insight into the lives of past estate workers the Petworth Cottage Museum has been established in High Street, Petworth, furnished as it would have been in about 1910.

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Taken on October 19, 2014