Expect a touch of Frankenstein at Petworth House and Park this half-term!

This October half term Petworth House and Park presents a family-friendly twist that celebrates the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Petworth House and Park - autumn visitors, National Trust Images Chris Lacey
Petworth House and Park - autumn visitors, National Trust Images Chris Lacey

Inspired by the 1818 novel by Mary Shelley, who briefly lived in West Sussex, Petworth House and Park are on the look out for science assistants to piece together what happened after an experiment by Elizabeth Ilive goes horribly wrong….

Petworth House spokesman Henry Jarvis said: “Called Elizabeth Ilive’s Hair-raising Laboratory Trail, this family activity focuses on the amateur scientist Elizabeth Ilive who lived at Petworth House until 1803.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

“In this disastrous experiment, lightning has accidentally hit the recently uncovered Pet Graves and something not so soft and cuddly has woken up.

“Petworth is searching for science assistants to journey the Pleasure Grounds and spot the spooky scenes to piece together the story of Elizabeth Ilive’s latest experiment.

“From chew marks to dug up holes and missing bones, something is terrorising Petworth. To make things more macabre, Petworth House has some spook-tastic story telling at selected times in the Servants’ Quarters in order to set the scene, with a prize onhand for those that work out what happened.

“As part of the trail, Petworth invites visitors to explore the exhibition on Elizabeth Ilive where visitors can discover more about the amateur scientist.

“Though there is no record to identify the location of the laboratory, Petworth House and Park have reimagined what her 18th century domestic laboratory might have looked like in this yearlong exhibition.

“Visitors can don an apron and goggles and discover more about the scientific achievements of this pioneering woman.

“Interest in science, particularly chemistry was not uncommon among members of the aristocracy in the late 18th century with ground breaking discoveries being made by scientists such as Lavoisier who wrote the first extensive list of chemical elements.

“Unrestricted work at this time gave rise to fiction like Frankenstein, written at the age of 18 by another pioneering woman, Mary Shelley, who briefly lived in Warnham and Worthing in West Sussex.”

Cathy Hakes, Visitor Experience Manager said: “It’s thrilling to be able to take inspiration from two prominent Georgian women associated with Sussex for this year’s Halloween at Petworth House. There’s no record that Elizabeth Ilive and Mary Shelley met, but both were clearly fascinated by the growing developments in science and both were pioneers in their own fields. To combine the aspects from Elizabeth Ilive’s life and celebrate the 200th anniversary of Shelley’s Frankenstein with themes from the book will make not just for the best Halloween at Petworth yet but one that tells another aspect of Petworth’s rich history.”

“Continuing the creepy capers, Petworth House and Park also invites visitors to bring their broomstick, sharpen their fangs and drop in for some craft activities, making Halloween decorations to take home.

“Create a ghoulish pumpkin garland, a petrifying paper jack o’lantern or a hanging bat to add a touch of the horrific ahead of Halloween.

For an additional charge at selected times, Petworth House are running fearsome face painting and temporary tattoos to complete your craft in style.

“Whether it’s a mad scientist, witch or ghost, dress to distress this autumn half term and prepare for the most horrifying Halloween at Petworth House and Park yet…”

For further information about Petworth and opening times visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth

Elizabeth Ilive’s Hair-raising Trail

Saturday 20 – Sunday 28 October

£3 per trail, normal admission prices apply

Halloween Crafts

Tuesday 23, Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 October

£2 per child, normal admission prices apply

Home to an extraordinary collection of art, this magnificent 17th-century mansion stands as a monument to the evolving taste of one family over 900 years. Rooted in the powerful northern Percy dynasty, their journeys through the Tudor Reformation, the Gunpowder Plot, the Napoleonic Wars and up to the present day are reflected in an astonishing array of treasures that survive at Petworth today. The palatial state rooms offer an infinity of paintings and sculptures, including major works by van Dyck, Turner, Flaxman and Blake. Separate Servants’ Quarters offer a glimpse of life below stairs, featuring domestic rooms and historic kitchens.

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people who saw the importance of our nation’s heritage and open spaces, and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. More than 120 years later, these values are still at the heart of everything the charity does.

Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 778 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than 24 million people visit every year, and together with 5 million members and over 65,000 volunteers, they help to support the charity in its work to care for special places for ever, for everyone.

For more information and ideas for great seasonal days out go to: www.nationaltrust.org.uk.