Maytime merriment in Medieval Midhurst

The victor - A member of Ravon Tor as a a Knight of St John
The victor - A member of Ravon Tor as a a Knight of St John

THE REJUVENTATION of Midhurst’s town square was shown at its best over the bank holiday weekend as it bustled with medieval fervour.

The first Medieval Midhurst drew in the crowds and highlighted the town’s important past and promising future.

“It’s lovely,” said Deryck Hamon, who was in Midhurst on Saturday.

“As a bit of a historian, I find it fascinating and there’s a lot of research gone into it.

“As the first event here, it’s very good and I hope it blossoms.”

With the first event a success, it is hoped it can return next year 
and become an annual event to start off the summer.

“We’re really pleased,” said Melanie Burgoyne, rural towns co-ordinator with Chichester District Council.

“The whole idea was to get people aware of the square and have an event that would create some interest in the town.”

People came from far and wide, especially after the event got a plug on BBC Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans’ breakfast show, following an email from organiser Michael Chevis.

Michael also reiterated his delight at seeing the square used to celebrate Midhurst’s history.

“It’s just been used for years and years as an unofficial car park, so now we’ve got it refurbished, we need to be able to use it, so I just had this idea for a medieval event,” he said.

He settled on a celebration of the medieval period because of the town’s history as a medieval market town.

“We’ve got a lot of history here,” he said.

“I felt, historically, it was the right thing to do for the town.”

On Saturday and Sunday, people turned out to see medieval storytellers, period bagpipes and a hurdy gurdy, archery demonstrations, sword demonstrations and much more.

Paul Ullson, of history group Raven Tor, which recreates displays from a number of eras, said the event helped highlight Midhurst’s ‘Sussex market town charm’ and he was thrilled with the turnout.

“This exceeded my expectations. I was honestly expecting about 100 people,” he said.

“The nice thing is that it’s put Midhurst on the map for the right reasons. Midhurst is nearly 1,000 years old and you nearly forget that when you’re driving through.”

Visitors Richard Carless and Joanna King were holidaying in the area from London and stopped to see what was going on. They were enjoying the demonstrations and said the previous time they visited the area was when Madhurst, (Midhurst Music Arts and Drama Festival) was on in August.

“It’s always festival day in Midhurst when we come,” said Joanna.

For pictures of the event, see this week’s Observer (out May 8).