Petersfield High Street South Side

Part of front cover designed by Edward Grainger for Petersfield Monographs No. 2 entitled ‘High Street Petersfield’.

Historical Society News

Photographing the town

During the past two years a major redevelopment, by 6a Vision has taken place on the site of Holders Yard and the old engine house in Station Road. This includes seven new homes and the regeneration of the two original buildings on the site, the barn (parts of which date back to 1750) and the engine house, which is the building attached to the chimney.

There are only two such chimneys left in Petersfield, following the removal of the third one relatively recently. This one is now here to stay as an important feature of the site, and the town’s history. These neglected buildings have been given a new lease of life and will be here for future generations.

The housing development is now called Clarendon Close.

Engine House, Holders Yard 2015

Holders Yard 2018

Visit: Watts Gallery, Compton, 17 August 2018

Twenty one PAHS members enjoyed a trip in August to Limnerslease - the home of George and Mary Watts at Compton, Surrey. Our extremely knowledgable guide, Jane Turner, provided a wealth of information. An accomplished potter and craftsperson, Mary married symbolist painter G F Watts in 1886. Limnerslease, by Arts and Crafts architect Sir Ernest George, was completed in 1891.

The Watts escaped London each autumn and winter. It was designed as a comfortable house. The ceilings were low and decorated with jesso mouldings created by Mary and her team of craftswomen. There were interesting wooden doors and panels, some of which they had rescued from architectural salvage. A replica carpet was to Mary’s original design. The studio contained a mechanism for raising or lowering the height of Watts’ enormous paintings.

We also viewed Mary’s own studio and the wonderful Grade I listed Art Nouveau Cemetery Chapel.

 Watts Cemetary ChapelWatts Gallery

Visit: Edes House & Guided walk of Cathedral Lanes, Cloisters & Bishops Palace, 31 July 2018

On a fresh sunny day at the end of July, about 20 of us spent an enjoyable day in Chichester. Our guide for the day, Hilly Sloan was excellent, being very well informed and clear in her delivery.

We learnt that John Edes, whose family were involved in clothing production and malting, was responsible for Edes House. Notable for its baroque style, it passed through many private owners including, briefly, Charles Kemp and his partner Edward Tower before becoming the property of West Sussex County Council in 1916. Externally, it has changed little over the years and the inside has recently been restored to the original, as far as possible.

On our walk after lunch, we were told about the history of the bell tower, the cloisters and the Close. We learnt about the Song School, the Vicar’s choral, the prebends and the chantries. We heard about Waller’s Parliamentarians arriving through the postern gate to enter the city in December 1642 and we heard of Keats’ visit, which inspired St Agnes’ Eve in January 1819.

Bishop's Palace ChichesterEades House

Victorian Guided Walk, 8 June 2018

On 8 June 20 PAHS members gathered in The Square to hear our guide, Bill Gosney, briefly outline the history of Petersfield’s Victorian period. He explained how several important families dominated the area, described the layout of The Square 150 years ago and the redevelopment of Chapel Street in 1868.

We turned up Nine Post Lane (Windsor Road today) and heard the story of St Andrew’s chantry chapel from its days as an outpost of Durford Abbey. From there, we turned along Station Road and heard the histories of the Methodist and Catholic Churches and their congregations.

We then crossed the railway footbridge and learnt about ‘The Middy’ - the Midhurst rail service that ran until 1955. Next we heard the story of Amey’s Brewery. Borough Hill recreation ground was just around the corner and Bill explained how it had once been a sandpit to provide building materials for the town. We returned to The Square, past the site of the old Cottage Hospital, up the footpath next to the site of the Victorian school and Courthouse, finishing at the Police Station, which was built in 1858.

Victorian Walk Route

Visit: Guided walk of Bosham, 15 May 2018

It was an auspiciously sunny morning as we parked among yachts in various states of repair, a clue to our proximity to Chichester Harbour. With our guide, Hilly Sloan, our focus was to be Bosham Church and its place in history. Its name is a clue, deriving from ‘Boscum’ - oak essential for shipbuilding.

Bosham, a Royal Manor from Saxon times, played a significant role in English history featuring in the Bayeaux Tapestry. The Royal connections meant that Bosham Church had a College of Priests whose interests clashed with those of the parish. The Church itself dates back to Saxon times but has been extended eastwards.

The remoteness of Bosham meant that smuggling was rife and we saw gravestones that could be removed to hide contraband from the Revenue men. Although Bosham had proved an unsuccessful startup site for a conquest of Normandy, matters were more auspicious in the 2nd World War when Bosham was a base for early radio transmissions to France and its ship building facilities were used to build and test the ‘Mulberry Harbours’ used in the D Day landings.

Bosham Church


How To Join

Contact us for an application form. Membership costs £12 per person or £17 per couple. This includes eight meetings per year with a speaker and five optional meetings of the Society’s Archaeological Group. You will also receive a copy of the Society’s twice-yearly bulletin.

Petersfield Museum

Petersfield Museum

Visit the Petersfield Museum to see some of the archival work PAHS has undertaken.

Musical Festival

Petersfield Musical Festival Petersfield Musical Festival has entertained the town with choral music for over 100 years.

Physic Garden

fritillaryThe Physic Garden is open daily except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s day. Check the website for times. Entrance is free.

People of the Heath

People of the Heath Visit People of the Heath for more on the excavation of the Petersfield Heath barrows.