A272 through Midhurst and Petworth immortalised in new book by Dutch couple

C111718-1 Mid Road Ode  Photo Louise Adams''In love with the A272  - Dutch couple Rita and Pieter Boogaart with their newly republished ode to the road.
C111718-1 Mid Road Ode Photo Louise Adams''In love with the A272 - Dutch couple Rita and Pieter Boogaart with their newly republished ode to the road.

To most of us, it’s little more than a place to get stuck behind a slow-moving farm vehicle with relatively few chances to overtake.

But to Pieter and Rita Boogaart, the A272 is 99 miles of pure heaven – a wonderful stretch which epitomises all that they love about England.

The road, which takes in Midhurst and Petworth on its way from Hadlow Down to Winchester, has long been special to the Dutch couple – a love (or some would say an eccentricity) which put them in the media spotlight 11 years ago when they first brought out their cult best-seller, A272 – An Ode to a Road.

They made the front page of three national newspapers and Pieter even ended up on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman.

Now they are back in the UK, celebrating the launch of the book’s latest edition.

They’ve fully updated it, revised and expanded it. Guess what, the book is now 272 pages long – a celebration in full colour of their own personal road to happiness.

Among the additions are sculptor Philip Jackson’s life size Archangel Gabriel in the parish church at South Harting.

The millennium monument at Cocking gets a mention as well as the newly opened gardens at Woolbeding House.

“They are just in shouting distance of the road and all new since we published the first edition,” said Rita.

“The road goes between the North and the South Downs and there are lovely rural scenes, lovely villages – and we think it epitomises England.

“You have got the language, the people, the landscape, the pitch of the roofs, the colours....

“We have got flat roads in the Netherlands.

“The A272 goes up and down and left and right. Pieter just fell in love with the road. The first time we were in Britain was hitchhiking in 1966.

“Pieter was studying English. We would go to England for the language. I was studying history of art, so I could say where.

“We went to London, Salisbury and Winchester.”

They were heading towards Winchester in a truck when the truck set them down and they continued by foot.

At the top of every hill, they thought they would see Winchester – but no, there was yet another hill to come.

Seven hills later, they finally saw the city. More importantly, they had fallen in love with the road they were on: the A272.

And they’ve been coming back ever since. Rita isn’t awfully impressed with British plumbing, but in every other respect they are ardent anglophiles.

“He was born when the English bombed Eindhoven. His mother went into labour because she was so frightened. And then later the English had a field kitchen in his father’s garden. That’s why English comes so naturally to him!”

A272 – An Ode to a Road is published by Pallas Athene at £19.99, ISBN 9781873429860.