Grinling Gibbons: The Carved Room at Petworth House

Grinling Gibbons: The Carved Room at Petworth House

The Carved Room at Petworth House, West Sussex, is the crowning achievement of the 17th century Dutch wood carver Grinling Gibbons.

Born in Rotterdam to English parents, Gibbons emigrated to the UK after training in the Netherlands. He was 'discovered' by diarist John Evelyn carving by candlelight in Deptford, South London. Evelyn was an enthusiastic supporter of the young craftsman, promoting his talent to key patrons and commissioners of the period. Gibbons's extraordinarily fine work soon came to the attention of King William III and he became known as the 'King's Carver', the monarch commissioning him to create exuberant carvings at Kensington Palace and Hampton Court.

Gibbons was employed to decorate the Carved Room at Petworth by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset. Seymour, an avid collector, was showing loyalty the king by using his favoured craftsman to create fashionable and bombastic new rooms in the house. Over the years, the Carved Room was extended and is in its present state a huge space, which comes alive with intricate swags, flowers and surprising oddities carved by Gibbons and other 17th century woodcarvers.

In this HENI Talk, National Trust curator David Taylor recounts the story of this remarkable room.

Time Period:

17th century