Nestled away in the glorious English countryside is the ancient market town of Petersfield. This charming yet vibrant town originally founded in the Middle Ages by the Earl of Gloucester has since developed into a hub for social and cultural activity.
So what’s all the fuss about? These are just some of the best bits to squeeze into a weekend break – compiled by your very own (very jammy) Petersfield resident.
1. It’s a town of ancient wonders…
Establishing its presence on the map as a wool and leather tanning settlement in the 12th century, the fruitful history of this market town has continued to flourish and be nothing short of rich. At its centre in The Square stands the iconic statue of King William III in front of The Church of St. Peter dating back to 1120 which retains many of its original features. The streets themselves are dripping in stories of yesteryear; you can find over 10 Historic Plaques weaved throughout this small market town – which is very impressive considering the town’s size. Highly worth a visit is Petersfield Museum where curators have chronicled the stories of Petersfield in its 22,000 piece collection.
Embedded in the heart of East Hampshire’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the scenery offered both in the town centre and away to the more rural outskirts are just breathtaking – particularly on a stonkingly sunny spring day with lambs frollocking on pastures green. Some locations of particular interest are Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Petersfield Heath – boasting a variety of habitats to admire and home to some incredible flora and fauna. Petersfield is also a great starting point for adventures along the South Downs Way as it joins trails of different terrains and lengths; and can be explored by foot, horse or bike.
Arguably, one of the greatest joys is not having a complete mission to get to and in the middle of nowhere. This is definitely a destination that is well connected. Petersfield is one hour from London (Waterloo) and 30 minutes from Portsmouth Harbour by train. Road connections are excellent with 3 very large . There are good bus links to local towns, villages and the South Downs. The A3 bypasses the town and connects with the M25, 35 miles away. Historic Winchester is just 18 miles to the west and Chichester, with its superb Festival Theatre, is 18 miles to the south east.
Looking to escape the monotonous landscape of high street retailers? Pages Court, The Folly Market, Bakery Lane, and Lavant Street are home to purely independent shops providing a whole range of products and services. Not to mention, the main square plays host to twice weekly markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year including a visit from the Hampshire Farmers’ Market on the first Sunday of each month. A real shoppers paradise!
Threaded through the town are a handful of businesses offering services in beauty, aesthetics and wellbeing. Visitors to Petersfield can experience either luxury salon services at TIME to be ME or a more holistic approach through services offered at The Centre of Complementary Medicine. Perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of life and just take a few moments for themselves…
If you’re the sporting type, Petersfield offers a plethora of places for the active individual. Home to clubs for a mixture of sports including rugby, cricket and football; and boasting an open air swimming pool, a leisure centre, two golf courses, and tennis courts – there really is something for everyone.
Don’t be deceived by this tranquil market town – its inhabitants certainly have a zest for life. Petersfield has a thriving music scene as each year various venues throughout the town in March are home to the Petersfield Musical Festival which has taken place since 1901 with which many renowned composers and musicians have been associated. Fancy a beer and a boogie? Join in the fun and festivities for free across the year, put on by Petersfield Festivals for the community which has since become a real jewel in the crown of the town.
The most notable architectural features in Petersfield are its ecclesiastical buildings of the Roman Catholic Church (1891), the Primitive Methodists (1902), and the Primitive (1902) and Wesleyan (1903) Methodist Churches all located along Station Road. Scattered amongst the modern new builds and post-war buildings are real period gems like that of Dragon House, The Old College and assemblage of cottages down Sheep Street.
Making a decision of where to eat is one of life’s real battles and is certainly true in Petersfield. Not only is the choice of cuisine plentiful but what is fantastic is that independent restaurateurs, publicians and café owners vastly outweigh national chains. Many of the establishments chose to use local produce which has really upped the ante of the dishes seasonality and flavours. The foodie scene in Petersfield is certainly an attraction in itself!
It’s undeniable that no matter your interest or passion, Petersfield can provide you with an experience that will be treasured for a lifetime.