22 Feb 1996


Petworth Cottage Museum

The First Twenty Years

In 2016 we were able to stage an exhibition to celebrate twenty years of the museum. Extracted from the Petworth Society's scrapbooks of cuttings, the pictures and transcripts collected here occupied three sides of the exhibition hall. Five years on we cannot stage another physical exhibition but we can show these cuttings here. Unless otherwise stated the cuttings are all from the Midhurst & Petworth Observer. Click on the pictures to enlarge.

1 Hard Work at New Museum - 22nd Feb 1996

Since the kitchens at Petworth House have been opened up to the public at the National Trust public admissions at the property have soared. Now visitors have a further chance to look behind the scenes into the day-to-day running of the house with the opening of a cottage museum in the town. The house at 346 High Street is being taken back to how it would have been at the height of the Leconfield Estate at the turn of the century. When the cottage was provided by Lord Egremont as the venue for the museum it led to painstaking research to make the interior as accurate as possible. Trust member Raymond Harris, a retired architect, has been in charge of the restoration work at the cottage. Mr Harris said, “The building is basically a 17th century cottage - it may be 16th century, we can't be certain. What we are taking it back to is as it would have been at the first decade of this century.” Extensive work has been carried out by three builders from the town. Mr. Harris said, “The changes that have taken place since 1910 have been removed. We are not trying to create a pretty cottage. we are trying to create what it was like.” Wallpaper with an original turn-of-the-century pattern will hang on the walls and even the paint is a special “Petworth Green” created by Dulux (Farrow & Ball?) to match paint from the period. Mr. Harris said, “It was dark, the paint was dark and the walls were dark. We are putting gas lights in because there's been gas light in Petworth since 1835, originally for street lighting.” The cottage is also being fitted out with authentic fixtures such as a stone sink and copper bowl for washing clothes in the parlour (scullery?). The bricks under the copper bowl are also being taken from a Petworth cottage that is having its wash house taken down. Mr. Harris said, “They are all coming from other Leconfield Estate properties so they are genuine Petworth pieces. We have a cast iron range from another cottage and we hope to have that burning with a sizzling kettle on top.” As well as matching the interior fixtures, the real life history of the cottage is being created as accurately as possible. The cottage itself was the home of Maria (Mary?) Cummings - an Irish seamstress at Petworth House - who died in 1935. several Petworth residents who remembered Mrs. Cummings have been tracked down and the room in the Petworth House servants' block where she worked has been found. On the wall of the cottage will be a sepia print of a distinguished looking soldier that is another piece of the cottage museum riddle. The picture is of Michael Cummings who died before 1910 (later known that he moved away and died in 1917) but glass plate picture negatives of soldiers marked with his name were discovered in the Garland photographic collection kept at Petworth House. Cottage Museum Trust chairman Mr. Jerrome said, “The next step was to write to the military museum in London and see if they could identify the uniform.” It was discovered that the man in the picture was wearing the uniform of a Farrier Sergeant Major in the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars. Mr. Jerrome: “The next thing was to find out from the records of the regiment if there was such a man as Cummings serving and there was and he was a Farrier Sergeant Major.” The Petworth Cottage Museum is scheduled to open in May.


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