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Historic Kitchen at Petworth House shows the early development of kitchen design

Whenever I visit a National Trust property or any historic property, the place that fascinates me the most is always the kitchen. The heart of any property the kitchen will tell you so much about the wealth and status of the original owner, the number of servants they could afford to have and the kind of food that was prepared in some of the largest and most important historic kitchens in the world.

The kitchens in Petworth House, East Sussex. Image via Flickr user Anguskirk.

The historic kitchens at one of the largest National Trust properties at  Petworth House shows 300 years of cooking styles in one room.  The kitchen is huge, with high ceilings and like many other historic kitchens features a long central table, the main work surface of their day - fulfilling a similar function to our central islands that we now have in some contemporary kitchens. This large central table was also the place where the team of servants also gathered to eat their meals.

A number of our clients also wanted that same multi-purpose central island working area that also has space for eating, as well as incorporating ovens and hobs, combining three main functions within one island unit.

Our showroom is located at Bentworth and is close to a number of National Trust properties with Hinton Ampner, which is close to Alresford and The Vyne at Basingstoke just a 20 minute drive away and Petworth House is just 45 minutes’ drive from our showroom.

These grand historic properties are three of the most beautiful and interesting places to visit. Apart from the royal households and possibly a few other grand estates owned by the extremely wealthy, there are now very few country houses that can support a staff of 40 plus servants, which were required to run Petworth House from its origins in the mid-18th century.

Frankly I’d be glad to have just one servant helping me to deal with all of my domestic stuff!  The grand house kitchens may have been very spacious, but they needed to be just to accommodate the high numbers of people working within them.  The main kitchen was not the only place where they had to work, with sculleries, pastry rooms and huge walk in larders.


Every space is thought about carefully to use it in the best way possible.

Many of our clients are now wanting to replicate some of these features but modern houses, even the larger ones, don’t always have space for separate pastry rooms!  However, even the most modestly sized modern kitchen can have its own larder - either incorporated into the kitchen design, or if space permits a separate walk in larder or even an independent pantry - a separate piece of hand crafted furniture that our clients can take with them when they decide to move and that could be a future heirloom to pass onto the next generation.

Next time you visit a National Trust property, make a point of visiting the kitchen and see just how much our kitchens have evolved to bring us the multi-function rooms we enjoy today with their huge range of labour and time-saving devices.

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