15 things you should know about Midhurst
PUBLISHED: 12:12 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 13:47 08 April 2020
2019 Andrew Hasson
The West Sussex market town of Midhurst is a treasure trove of architectural interest, from the Tudor period to Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian structures.
If you’ve ever driven through Midhurst without stopping, you have almost certainly driven the length of North Street. If you’ve never stopped to have a look around, you should rectify that as soon as you can. (When the restrictions on movement have been relaxed). North Street itself has enough interesting facts about it to fill half a book. The streets and pathways coming off it have enough of interest to fill the other half.
Walking around this central part of town, through the Market Square, back up Church Hill, or along West Street towards North Street, is like walking through a living embodiment of why this country’s listed buildings policies are so important. It’s impossible to see anything other than fine Tudor buildings and coaching inns, with every building in sight looking at least four or five hundred years old. It doesn’t take much investigative work to stumble across Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian structures too.
The parish church of St Mary Magdalene and St Denys on Church Hill, next to Market Square.
The base of the tower dates from the 13th century but most of the rest is from the 16th century.
The village of Easebourne, a mile north-east of the town centre, is known for its many houses with yellow-painted window frames and doors. This distinctive colour scheme indicates those properties belong to the Cowdray Estate.
Yellow was chosen because of the 1st Viscount Cowdray’s links to the Liberal Party – he was MP for Colchester from 1895 to 1910.
Budgenor Lodge, on Dodsley Lane in Easebourne, was built as Midhurst Union Workhouse in 1794 and stayed in service until 1929. The building was later used by the council to provide temporary accommodation for homeless families.
In 2006, the building was converted into these charming houses and apartments.
The South Pond, just slightly out of the town centre, is one of the oldest structures in the whole town, dating from at least the 13th century.
These days, a pair of Egyptian Geese have taken up residence there and are busy raising a family of chicks.
Famous writer HG Wells lived in Midhurst and his time is commemorated with not one but three blue plaques, all within a few hundred yards of each other.
This one is near the entrance to the old Midhurst Grammar School on North Street, where Wells spent time as both a pupil and a teacher.
The Spread Eagle Hotel dates from 1430 and is split over three buildings in and around South Street.
Queen Elizabeth I stayed here and would recognise some of the original lattice windows.
There are more than 100 listed buildings in Midhurst, but one of the more unusual ones is this telephone kiosk outside the entrance to the old Grammar School.
It’s the classic Sir Giles Gilbert Scott design from 1935 and is used now as an information point for visitors by the council.
One of many Grade II-listed buildings on North Street, this is shared between a very old-style branch of Boots the Chemist with beautiful hand-painted signage, and Barclays Bank next door.
The building dates from 1667.
The Grade II-listed 18th century Church Hill House.
And other buildings on Church Hill next to the parish church.
The view across the water meadows from Cowdray Castle Causeway
The walk from the town centre to Cowdray ruins.
Cowdray House is the most well-known of Midhurst’s landmarks. Henry VIII came here at least three times, so knew the area and house very well. Some years later, Guy Fawkes was employed here as a footman.
The house was destroyed by fire in 1793, but the ruins still attract visitors.
The Old Town Hall in Market Square, now a coffee house, once housed the fire brigade.
You can see the bells on the front of the building.
Chester, a rescue dog from Seaford, takes in the view across the water meadows from Cowdray Castle Causeway
A popular dog-walking route from the town centre to Cowdray ruins.
Another coaching stop, The Swan Inn in Red Lion Street, dates from 1460.
As well as being a pub, it still offers room and board.
Just a few hundred yards away from the parish church on St Ann’s Hill, are clearly visible foundations.
All that remains of the Norman-era motte and bailey castle, which dates from 1120. Through the trees, in the winter at least, is a fine view over the Cowdray Estate, which is where the family who lived at the castle, the de Bohuns, moved to after abandoning the castle in the 13th century.