Village and Town Features: Petworth

THE town that nestles under the high walls of Petworth House has a history that disappears into the mists 
of time.

It was already a ‘large handsome country market town’ in 1727, according to Daniel Defoe.

Sara Tremlett arrives with the Olympic flame

Sara Tremlett arrives with the Olympic flame

But its historic fair has been a regular feature since before 1189, taking place annually on November 20.

An antique collectors’ heaven, Petworth has also propelled itself into the 21st century through social media promotions.

And with much of its social life centred in the Leconfield Hall which sits in the middle of the town, Petworth supports the community both economically and socially. It enjoys success with its well-attended events. It played host to the Olympic torch in 2012 and many turned out for its Diamond Jubilee celebrations last June.

Petworth benefits from healthy trade, with long-standing delicatessens, book shops, butchers, coffee shops and restaurants along its winding lanes.

Elizabeth Lee owns Tudor Rose Antiques and Interiors and is a member of the Petworth Antiques and Decorative Arts Association (PAADA).

She said: “Old clay-tile roofs, timber-framed buildings and the atmosphere of centuries. Petworth beguiles the visitor with its wonderful mix of Tudor and current chic.”

Judith Burden has lived in Petworth all her life and recalled how everyone rallied round when she was involved in a life-threatening accident a year ago.

“There is a lot of goodwill in Petworth,” she said.

Her husband David, a Petworth town councillor, added: “You take for granted how much an area can change over the years – we used to have a railway station here.

“But Petworth has an awful lot going for it.”

Petworth Primary School continues to go from strength to strength and youngsters are also catered for in the Sylvia Beaufoy Centre, offering activities for young people across the town.

Leslie Martin is the proprietor at Stringer’s Gallery Arts and Supplies, East Street. He said: “I have grown to love Petworth since setting up my business six years ago.

“There is a strong sense of community, and support from residents and the business community – and everyone knows my parrot, Major.”

People enjoy living here not just because businesses flourish, but they feel at home, too.

For the full feature and pictures, see this week’s Midhurst and Petworth Observer (Thursday, October 3).