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Midhurst – Description

From Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867

MIDHURST is an ancient borough, market, and union town, parish and polling place, in the Western division of the county, 50 miles from London, 12 from Chichester, 6 from Petworth, 10 east from Petersfield (Hants), and 8 from Haslemere (Surrey), in Easebourne hundred, Chichester rape, diocese and archdeaconry, and rural deanery of Midhurst. Midhurst, according to some authorities is the Mida of the Romans: it is not, however, mentioned in “Domesday Survey,” and. this is accounted for by supposing that it was included in Easebourne, or, as anciently written, Essebourne, when the Earl of Montgomery, after the Conquest obtained the earldom of Arundel: in the reign of Henry I. it was erected into a minor barony or lordship, and as such remained many years in the possession of a family named Bohun, one of whom, John de Bohun, was some time prior to 1367 summoned to Parliament as Baron Midhurst. by marriage with the daughter of the last heir of the Bohuns, Sir David Owen succeeded to the manor, and in 1528, sold it to Sir William Fitzwilliam, K.G.: it subsequently passed to Lord Montague and W S. Poyntz, Esq., and is now the property of the Earl of Egmont. It is pleasantly situated on a gentle eminence near the navigable river West Rother, which communicates with the Arun, the Wey, the Thames, and the sea. It is an ancient borough by prescription, and returned two members to Parliament pursuant to 4th of Edward II.; but on the passing of the Reform Bill it was reduced to one member, and the boundary extended to the adjoining parishes within a circuit of 4 miles. The town is governed by a bailiff, elected annually at the court baron of the lord of the manor. Petty sessions are also held here every alternate Thursday. The county court is held every alternate month at the Town Hall, and comprises within its jurisdiction the following parishes: Ambersham North, Ambersham South, Bepton, Chithurst, Cocking, Didling, Easebourne, Elsted, Farnhurst, Graffham, Harting, Heyshott, Iping, Linch, Linchmere, Midhurst, Rogate, Stedham, Terwick, Treyford, Trotton, Woolavington, Woolbeding. A market for corn is held on Thursday; and fairs on the 6th April, 29th October, and Whit-Tuesday for cattle. A Grammar school was founded here in 1672, by Gilbert Hannam, “for teaching twelve poor men’s sons in Midhurst, such as can read the Bible and Testament;” but either from the inadequacy of the endowment, or from some unexplained cause, the school has sunk into insignificance, and is now totally disused. There is a national school on the Petersfield road, supported by subscription, and there are also some almshouses, situate at the northern entrance of the town. The Mechanics’ Institution has an excellent library, and is well supplied with newspapers, &c. A gas company was formed in 1860, and the town is lighted with gas. The church of St. Denis is in the Later English style: it has been repaired, repewed, and enlarged: it consists of a chancel, nave, south aisle, low embattled tower with 6 bells, and has a very handsome stained glass window, the expense of which was defrayed by several of the former pupils of the Grammar school. The register commences in 1563. The living is a perpetual curacy, yearly value £170, in the gift of the Earl of Egmont, and held by the Rev. William Haydon, M A. of University College, Oxford. The Calvinists and Baptists have each a chapel here. The possessions of the order of St. John of Jerusalem still form a liberty. There are two good hotels in the town, the ‘Angel,’ in North-street, and the ‘Spread Eagle,’ in South-street; omnibuses run daily to and from Chichester and Haslemere. There are three lines of railway, one by the London and Brighton Company from Petworth, the other by the South Western Company from Petersfield, and one now forming to Chichester. Midhurst is the head of a union comprising 26 parishes, viz.:- Bepton, Chithurst, Cocking, Didling, Easebourne, Elsted, Farnhurst, Harting, Iping, Linchmere, Lodsworth, Lurgashall, Midhurst, North Ambersham, North Chapel, Rogate, Selham, South Ambersham, Stedham, Terwick, Tillington, Treyford, Trotton, Woolavington, and Woolbeding. The union contains a population of 13,066, and covers an area of 63,346 acres. The Union Work House is at Easebourne. On a mound on the south bank of the Arun are the ruins of the Castle of the Bohuns; within its walls was a chapel dedicated to St. Ann. Eastward of the town is Cowdray Park, situated in a beautiful valley between wooded hills: it is of considerable extent, and contains some very fine chesnut trees: the mansion, built by William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, was destroyed by fire in 1793: the remains are peculiarly interesting as a specimen of the magnificent architecture of the reign of Henry VIII. and the early part of Elizabeth’s. Sir Joseph Ayloffe published a description of the very curious paintings at this seat, some of which were engraved for the Antiquarian Society. In the same year in which the fire happened, the owner of Cowdray House, George Samuel, eighth Viscount Montague, with Mr Burdett his fellow traveller, were drowned in rashly attempting to sail down the cataract of the Rhine at Schaffhausen, when the estate came by marriage into possession of the late William Stephen Poyntz, Esq., of Midgham, Berkshire: it has since been purchased by the Earl of Egmont. The scenery surrounding it is exceedingly beautiful and picturesque, and, added to the ruins of the noble pile of buildings mentioned, renders this an attractive spot for visitors. The Calvinists and Baptists have each a chapel here. The possessions of the order of St. John of Jerusalem still form a liberty. The population in 1861 was 1,340. Area of the parish, 671 acres.