Midhurst History Time Line

After considerable research, we have put together a timeline of some of the most important events in the history of Midhurst. We make no claims to having included everything, so feel free to email us with any information you think should be added, or if you spot any errors. More articles of interest on Midhurst’s history will be included in the future, so keep checking back!

1086
Easebourne mentioned in the Domesday Book

1103
First mention of Midhurst in an historical document. Midhurst with Ford and Rustington severed from Arundel and established as a separate lordship.

1106
Henry I leased Midhurst and Easebourne estates to Savoric Fitzcane, Lord of Midhurst.

1158
Savoric’s son Geldwin inherited Midhurst estate. He later built a castle on St Ann’s Hill.

1301
Midhurst first represented in Parliament

1520-30
Cowdray House (now Cowdray ruins) built. An earlier Cowdray House existed at least as far back as the early C14th.

1538-1539
Henry VIII paid two visits to Cowdray Estate

1540-51
Market Hall built

1545
Henry VIII made his third visit to Cowdray Estate

1588
1st Viscount Montague placed under house arrest at Cowdray for his Catholic beliefs.

1591
Queen Elizabeth I visited Cowdray Park

1596
First recorded Midhurst charity founded by George Ognell

1605
2nd Viscount Montague, owner of Cowdray House, arrested in connection with the Gunpowder plot, but found not to have been involved.

1611
2nd Viscount Montague, owner of Cowdray House, imprisoned for a year for refusing to swear allegiance to King James I.

1618-1653
First recorded vicar of Midhurst, William Featherstone

1643
Cowdray Estate captured by Parliamentary forces

1672
Midhurst Grammar School founded by Gilbert Hannam (originally on the upper floor of Market Hall)

1770
Capability Brown employed to redesign Cowdray gardens

1791-4
Rother Navigation Scheme completed, to make the River Rother navigable

1793
Cowdray House fire, which left the building in ruins, as it appears today

1820
Methodist Movement in Midhurst founded

1831
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,478

1832
Great Reform Act reduced Midhurst’s MPs from two to one.

1834
Midhurst Poor Law Union formed

1841
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,536

1851
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,481

1860
Gas lighting introduced in the town

1864
First railway station opened, to service the line to Petersfield (London and South Western Railway)

1866
Second railway station opened, to service the line to Pulborough (London, Brighton and South Coast Railway). This was on the opposite side of Bepton Road to the LSWR station, with passengers for Petersfield having to cross the road via a footbridge to change trains.
Birth of HG Wells, pupil and tutor at Midhurst Grammar School during the early 1880s.

1869
Catholic Church of St Francis of Assissi built on Rumbolds Hill (now converted to residential)

1871
Final barge from Midhurst, the “Eleanor”, travelled along the Rother.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,465

1881
Railway line from Chichester to Midhurst opened, with a new station half a mile east of the 1866 station. Passengers wanting to change trains therefore had to walk a considerable distance in to Midhurst and back out on a different road. A road linking the two stations, New Road, was not built until 1895.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,615.

1882
Public Hall opened in North Street.
First Edition of the “Midhurst Times” published (4 pages, priced 1d)

1885
Redistribution Act disenfranchised Midhurst, which became part of Chichester division, no longer sending an elected representative to parliament.

1891
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,674

1895
New Road built, to provide a link between two railway stations.

1901
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,650

1903
Building of Methodist Church commenced. King Edward VII laid the foundation stone for the Sanatorium (later King Edward VII Hospital).

1905
Methodist Church opened in North Street

1906
Sanatorium opened by King Edward VII

1907
Congregational Temple built in Bepton Road (later destroyed in WW2)

1908
Cowdray Estate purchased by Sir Weetman Dickenson Pearson.

1909
Midhurst fictionalised in HG Wells’s “Tono Bungay” as “Wimblehurst”.

1910
Sir Weetman becomes Baron Cowdray of Cowdray. Polo first played at Cowdray Park.

1911
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,894

1917
Baron Cowdray of Cowdray becomes Viscount Cowdray

1921
Cricket first played at Cowdray Park (but Cricket played in Midhurst since at least the early C17th).
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,890.

1925
LSWR station closed, but still used as a goods office and its sidings were still used.

1927
Cowdray Estate inherited by the 2nd Viscount. Familiar yellow painting of Cowdray houses’ timber begins, originally as a political statement by Liberal MP, the 2nd Viscount Cowdray

1931
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,812

1933
Cowdray Estate inherited by the 3rd Viscount

1935
Chichester to Midhurst railway line closed to passengers, but continued to run as a goods line.

1941
A Canadian tank attempted to enter West Street and smashed a shop window.

1951
Midhurst railway disaster: a railway embankment collapsed in a storm, and a goods train from Cocking was destroyed. Cocking to Midhurst section of the railway closed. The remainder of the line closed in stages – Cocking and Singleton in 1953, and Lavant in 1968 for goods apart from sugar beet until 1970.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,895.

1955
Petersfield to Pulborough railway line closed to passengers. Petersfield to Midhurst section closed for Goods.

1957
Catholic Church built on Bepton Road.

1961
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,880

1964
Midhurst to Pulborough goods railway line closed.
Sanatorium widened its range of treatments and becamed known as King Edward VII Hospital.

1968
A tank transporter took a wrong turn into West Street and got stuck!

1971
Wharf fire station closed, and New Road fire station opened.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 2,166.

1973
Medical Research Institute at King Edward VII Hospital opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

1974
Original Victorian police station on the corner of Bepton Road demolished.

1977
Jubilee path created in celebration of the Queen’s silver jubilee

1980
Grange Centre opened.

1991
Census records Midhurst’s population as 4,680.
Reported UFO sighting in Midhurst.

1995
Cowdray Estate inherited by the 4th Viscount

1996
Lavant Workwear opened their Midhurst branch.

1999
Reported ghost sighting on the A286 near Midhurst.

2001
Census records Midhurst’s population at 4,889

2006
King Edward VII Hospital closed.

2009
Midhurst Grammar School and Midhurst Intermediate School closed, to be replaced with Midhurst Rother College.

2011
Midhurst area included in the new South Downs National Park.

2012
Olympic Torch carried through Midhurst

2013-2014
New Grange Centre built

We would like to acknowledge the help of Mr Antony Hemans in providing information about the railways.