Travel through the scenic countryside of the South Downs National Park in East Hampshire, and you will come to the ancient market town of Petersfield. The town has an important link with coaching, and its north-south/east-west routes were well used by travellers. One route in particular, which linked Portsmouth with London, is credited for helping the town grow, and with it coaching inns, and horses to hire appeared, and were available to travellers stopping off in the town, including Henry VIII who passed through on a visit to his ship the Mary Rose.
Visit the Petersfield Museum and you can find out more about the early growth of the town, the impact coaching, tanning and cloth trades had on the town’s economy, and the part horse sales and cattle markets played in the local community. This was a market town which made full use of the opportunities that came its way. When one industry declined, another was growing, and with the railway came new opportunities for commerce, travel, and trade.
Promotional material claims that there is plenty to see and do in this part of Hampshire whether you visit for a few hours, a few days, or for a few weeks holiday. Here are a few highlights you may see on a trip there:
A beauty spot for nature lovers of all ages, this site has a big 22 acre pond, and acres of surrounding heath and woodland. The ancient site is the home of a complex series of bronze-age burial mounds, and is now popular for fishing, boating, and walking. There’s also a children’s play area.
A National Trust property approximately 5 miles south-east of Petersfield, which is a popular attraction for all the family. The 18th Century house has a Georgian inspired interior, and is surrounded by gardens inspired by the style of Capability Brown. Guided tours are available if required, with highlights including a dairy, original Victorian servants quarters, and an famous dolls house dating from 1735 to 1740. There’s also a dog friendly woodland walk, restaurant, and shop, along with a programme of events that includes organised walks, rural crafts and activities, and outdoor games.
Flora Twort Gallery
Visit and take a look back in time at the historic Bedales Costume Collection, along with original artwork by Flora Twort, a water colour and pastel artist famed for her depictions of the people and places in Petersfield.
Butser Ancient Farm
A unique attraction open to the public to teach you all about life 3000 years ago. This is what’s known as an experimental archaeological research centre. Reconstructions of a Roman villa, along with roundhouses, and crops and livestock from the era, make this a living museum well worth checking out.
Petersfield has a popular market square which hosts weekly and monthly markets, along with a collection of boutiques and independent retailers, including Cocoa Moon Chocolate House where you can sample chocolates from some of the best UK and European chocolatiers.
From April to September you can enjoy the heated outdoor pool next to the festival hall building in the town, visit the Taro Leisure Centre, and play a round of golf at Petersfield Golf Club, or try out Brows Farm Golf Range. There’s also the 22 mile on-road cycling on offer from the East Hampshire Cycle Route, and you can also explore the countryside surrounding Petersfield by taking in some or all of the Petersfield Off-Road Cycle Trail, or the South Downs Way.
Whatever you choose to do on a visit to Petersfield, you may not want to leave, so why not book into one of the town’s hotels, bed and breakfasts, or self-catering accommodation, and explore more of what East Hampshire has to offer.