Visit Midhurst West Sussex and the surrounding villages and stay in bed & breakfast, hotel or vacation rental accommodation provided by BedPosts members.
Midhurst is an old market town on the River Rother, full of attractive houses and several fine old inns and pubs. Midhurst is the centre of one of the most beautiful regions of Sussex, and there are good walks west and east along the Rother, southwards towards the downs and northwards across the river to Cowdray Park. The Cowdray estate village of Easebourne lies just across the river to the north of the town; in its church is the tomb of the first Lord Montagu who, in 1591, entertained Elizabeth I at Cowdray House.
Curfew was rung every night at 8 p.m. every night at the parish church. It is said that a rider, lost in darkness, found Midhurst by following the sound of its church bell; in gratitude he bought a piece of land in Midhurst, now called Curfew Garden, and gave it to the town to pay for the nightly ringing of the bell.
Read about the surrounding area and maybe stay outside Midhurst in a nearby village or hamlet in a B&B or self catering cottage accommodation.
The name “Midhurst” is Old English meaning “Middle wooded hill”, which is still very apt, as there are plenty of walks around the area through very lovely woods. Midhurst has few outstanding buildings but a number of very attractive 16th-17th century houses. Note Elizabeth House, its half-timbering revealed by removal of plastering a few years ago. The road to Petworth undulates through the beautiful park of Cowdray. Near the famous polo grounds are the ruins of the splendid 15th-century mansion burnt down in the 18th century (some say because of a curse on the Browne family to whom it belonged).
After reading about the historical places to visit you might want to extend your stay in a Midhurst bed and breakfast, hotel or inn.
The novelist H. G. Wells went to school in this lovely little market town. In his semi-autobiographical novel Tono-Bungay he wrote “I found something very agreeable and picturesque in its clean cobbled streets”, in which Midhurst becomes Wimblehurst, “...its odd turnings and abrupt corners, and in the pleasant park that crowds up one side of the town.”
In 1881 the 15-year-old Wells was apprenticed to a chemist on Church Hill. In those days apprentices had to pay for their position and after a month's trial he could no longer afford the cost. Instead, he became a pupil at Midhurst Grammar School and stayed in the headmaster's house. However, six weeks later, his mother-housekeeper at nearby Uppark House got him another apprenticeship in Southsea and he left. But he returned to the school two years later as student assistant and lodged over the sweetshop in North Street.
Midhurst school, founded in 1672, stands in North Street. Lower down the street is the curiously named Knockhundred Row. The name is thought to derive from medieval times when Midhurst had a castle, and the owner could call upon 100 men to defend it - which was done by knocking on 100 households.
On the north side of the square is the parish church of St Mary Magdalene and St Denys, mostly 19th century but with earlier traces.
Close by is the half-timbered Elizabeth House, a restored Tudor building. The Old Market Hall, on a corner near by, was built in the 16th century and was the Grammar School's first home in 1672. Below the Old Market Hall is South Street, flanked by South Pond, a calm oasis of water and grass, and the Spread Eagle Hotel, a coaching inn dating from 1430. Elizabeth I is said to have visited it while staying at Cowdray House, and Edward VII stayed at the inn at the turn of the present century. Rising above the town is St Ann's Hill, site of a long-vanished Norman castle. The River Rother curves past the hill on its way to the majestic ruins of Cowdray House. The ruins can be reached either by way of Queen's Path, a favourite walk of Elizabeth I along the river, or by a causeway branching off North Street near the Grammar School. The house was built about 1530 by the Earl of Southampton, but the interior was destroyed by fire in 1793. However, visitors can still see around the rooms-including the Great Chamber, the Great Parlour and the Chapel. The wainscoting in the hall still bears charred evidence of the fire.
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