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!
Easebourne mentioned in the Domesday Book
First mention of Midhurst in an historical document. Midhurst with Ford and Rustington severed from Arundel and established as a separate lordship.
Henry I leased Midhurst and Easebourne estates to Savoric Fitzcane, Lord of Midhurst.
Savoric’s son Geldwin inherited Midhurst estate. He later built a castle on St Ann’s Hill.
Midhurst first represented in Parliament
Cowdray House (now Cowdray ruins) built. An earlier Cowdray House existed at least as far back as the early C14th.
Henry VIII paid two visits to Cowdray Estate
Market Hall built
Henry VIII made his third visit to Cowdray Estate
1st Viscount Montague placed under house arrest at Cowdray for his Catholic beliefs.
Queen Elizabeth I visited Cowdray Park
First recorded Midhurst charity founded by George Ognell
2nd Viscount Montague, owner of Cowdray House, arrested in connection with the Gunpowder plot, but found not to have been involved.
2nd Viscount Montague, owner of Cowdray House, imprisoned for a year for refusing to swear allegiance to King James I.
First recorded vicar of Midhurst, William Featherstone
Cowdray Estate captured by Parliamentary forces
Midhurst Grammar School founded by Gilbert Hannam (originally on the upper floor of Market Hall)
Capability Brown employed to redesign Cowdray gardens
Rother Navigation Scheme completed, to make the River Rother navigable
Cowdray House fire, which left the building in ruins, as it appears today
Methodist Movement in Midhurst founded
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,478
Great Reform Act reduced Midhurst’s MPs from two to one.
Midhurst Poor Law Union formed
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,536
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,481
Gas lighting introduced in the town
First railway station opened, to service the line to Petersfield (London and South Western Railway)
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.
Catholic Church of St Francis of Assissi built on Rumbolds Hill (now converted to residential)
Final barge from Midhurst, the “Eleanor”, travelled along the Rother.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,465
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.
Public Hall opened in North Street.
First Edition of the “Midhurst Times” published (4 pages, priced 1d)
Redistribution Act disenfranchised Midhurst, which became part of Chichester division, no longer sending an elected representative to parliament.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,674
New Road built, to provide a link between two railway stations.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,650
Building of Methodist Church commenced. King Edward VII laid the foundation stone for the Sanatorium (later King Edward VII Hospital).
Methodist Church opened in North Street
Sanatorium opened by King Edward VII
Congregational Temple built in Bepton Road (later destroyed in WW2)
Cowdray Estate purchased by Sir Weetman Dickenson Pearson.
Midhurst fictionalised in HG Wells’s “Tono Bungay” as “Wimblehurst”.
Sir Weetman becomes Baron Cowdray of Cowdray. Polo first played at Cowdray Park.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,894
Baron Cowdray of Cowdray becomes Viscount Cowdray
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.
LSWR station closed, but still used as a goods office and its sidings were still used.
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
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,812
Cowdray Estate inherited by the 3rd Viscount
Chichester to Midhurst railway line closed to passengers, but continued to run as a goods line.
A Canadian tank attempted to enter West Street and smashed a shop window.
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.
Petersfield to Pulborough railway line closed to passengers. Petersfield to Midhurst section closed for Goods.
Catholic Church built on Bepton Road.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 1,880
Midhurst to Pulborough goods railway line closed.
Sanatorium widened its range of treatments and becamed known as King Edward VII Hospital.
A tank transporter took a wrong turn into West Street and got stuck!
Wharf fire station closed, and New Road fire station opened.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 2,166.
Medical Research Institute at King Edward VII Hospital opened by Queen Elizabeth II.
Original Victorian police station on the corner of Bepton Road demolished.
Jubilee path created in celebration of the Queen’s silver jubilee
Grange Centre opened.
Census records Midhurst’s population as 4,680.
Reported UFO sighting in Midhurst.
Cowdray Estate inherited by the 4th Viscount
Lavant Workwear opened their Midhurst branch.
Reported ghost sighting on the A286 near Midhurst.
Census records Midhurst’s population at 4,889
King Edward VII Hospital closed.
Midhurst Grammar School and Midhurst Intermediate School closed, to be replaced with Midhurst Rother College.
Midhurst area included in the new South Downs National Park.
Olympic Torch carried through Midhurst
New Grange Centre built
We would like to acknowledge the help of Mr Antony Hemans in providing information about the railways.