The Low-Down on Midhurst-west Sussex
PUBLISHED: 17:03 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 11:51 28 February 2013
nce voted the most desirable place to live, Midhurst is renowned for its historical buildings, country houses and magnificent gardens all of which bring people from far and wide to visit its sites and to shop or dine in the town's independent ...
Once voted the most desirable place to live, Midhurst is renowned for its historical buildings, country houses and magnificent gardens all of which bring people from far and wide to visit its sites and to shop or dine in the towns independent boutiques and watering holes.
Days gone by
Set in the heart of the South Downs National Park, this picturesque West Sussex town is packed full of history with more than 100 listed buildings, some dating as far back as the 15th century.
Lying on the river Rother, it is home to one of Englands most important early Tudor buildings, Cowdray House. The building which has been in ruins since its 1793 fire is surrounded by its own stunning gardens, landscaped by Capability Brown.
Just outside of Midhurst is the Grade II-listed King Edward VII Hospital. Developed in the 1900s it is surrounded by remarkable gardens and offers views right across the south of the town.
The market square contains many historic buildings, including the Old Town Hall which retains original features such as the stocks but has now been converted into a coffee shop. The flourishing local community supports many pubs, restaurants and shops.
A boutique bonanza
The narrow lanes of Midhursts old town are lined with independent shops and one off boutiques, most of which are housed in ancient buildings. Even if youre just window shopping its a great place to spend a few hours.
West Street is full of shops not to miss including Kisschase Kids, for children's clothes and gifts, Black Sheep for wool, local crafts and knitted clothing, Rainmac, which specialises in rainwear and there is a new shop opening on September 23 called Truffle specialising in ladies footwear and complementary clothing. Another popular destination for fashionistas is Me and Maya on Knockhundred Row, a designer boutique stocking clothing and jewellery.
Room in the Garden, situated in the walled area at Cowdray has hand-crafted items from plant supports to gazebos.
For those with a discerning taste for fine wine and cigars, a must stop shop is Wine Etcetera with free tasting available every Saturday.
Meanwhile, on Red Lion Street a wide range of second hand and new books can be found at Wheelers.
Where to fill up
From country pubs to restaurants Midhurst has plenty of places on offer for when you need to grab a bite to eat.
North Street is home to The Angel Hotel which is the perfect place to grab a light bite in Bentleys Caf, also claiming to serve the best barista coffee in town. Alternatively, the hotel also has Bentleys Grill which provides a fuller meal and advertises its steaks as the worlds finest.
Another great place in the Market Square is Garton's Coffee House, Old Town Hall, billed as"the place where everyone eventually meets". It underwent a major refurbishment earlier this year. It boasts wraps, panini, sandwiches and salads.
Alternatively, a mixture of both modern and classic cuisine is available at The Spread Eagle Hotel and in the summer months lunch can be served in the more relaxed area of the terrace.
Seafood lovers can pay a visit to Seven Fish canteen, bar & grill on North Street offering a seafood-based, but not exclusively seafood menu. On the same street Khans Brasserie has some fantastic Indian food on offer containing the finest produce, herbs and spices.
On top of this Cowdray Farm Shop, in the park, contains both a bakery and butchers and has a wide range of produce available from free range eggs to a variety of cured meats.
What to see
The Queen Elizabeth Oak, estimated to be more than 1,000 years old is hidden in a secret fold in the hills and is definitely worth walking the extra mile.
Woolbedding Gardens are opening to special interest groups through the National Trust in August and September and provide a stunning location for both riverside and country walks. The gardens open every Thursday and Friday. Entry is 5.50. Midhurst is an ideal base from which to enjoy the South Downs National Park. For a more activity packed day the Cowdray Estate has something for everyone with ghost and treasure hunts, clay pigeon shooting and fly fishing available at various times For more, ring the park on 01730 812423.
Up and coming events
Magnum Antiques Fair
Sunday August 1
This popular fair at Midhursts leisure centre will have numerous stalls selling a wide range of antiques.
The Grange Leisure Centre, Midhurst: 01730 816841
A Georgian Country House Kitchen
Saturday August 7 and Sunday August 8
Experience life in a Georgian household with authentic recipes being cooked in Cowdrays original kitchen. Costumed characters will be on hand to demonstrate traditional crafts and household tasks.
Cowdray Ruins, Midhurst: 01730 810781
Beauty and the Beast
Thursday August 12
Perfect for children of all ages, the classic fairytale is set in the gardens of Cowdray Estates Park which is transformed into a magical setting.
Cowdray Estate, Midhurst: 01730 810781
Madhurst Music Arts and Drama Festival
Sunday August 22 to Monday August 30
Numerous events will be taking place within the week-long celebration, involving all genres of music, drama and arts. Charities, individual businesses and societies will be taking part in the festival, which ends with a carnival procession and musical theatre performance. (Yes it is called Madhurst!)
All around the town: 01730 813339
WHY I LOVE MIDHURST
Maarten Hoffmann, General Manager,
The Angel Hotel
Its a friendly, quaint and charming little place and is full of such kind and welcoming people which is quite unique these days. Its also one of the few towns where you can park on the high street without being charged and I hope the council dont manage to change this. Once voted one of the best places to live, I truly believe that it is.
Cllr John Etherington, Chairman, Midhurst Town Council
I was born and bred here. It was voted one of the best places to live some time ago and it still is. Its not a big town, its the sort of size I like. You can walk around and you know most people as you go. It suits all my needs. There are people moving here from all over the place so it must be a good place to live!