We like to support projects that make Midhurst a better place. In the past, we have paid for seats to be placed at strategic points around Midhurst, and we have supported renovation schemes. We planted an oak tree to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the visit to Cowdray by Queen Elizabeth I on 15 August 1591. We also donated funds to West Dean College of Arts and Conservation to help train master craftsmen in conservation skills, helping ensure such expertise continues to exist in West Sussex.
Although currently on hold (pending the end of Covid-19) we have been involved in several projects recently which will continue to take our time and energy - if not our funds:
1. With the assistance of SDNPA we are looking at the possibility of upgrading to wheelchair-friendly status a short stretch of footpath along the River Rother.
2. We worked for several months with Midhurst Town Council on an exciting new proposal for the Stag Garden Roundabout (by the bus station). The practicalities proved insurmountable, and attention switched to the Market Square, where a suitable site was identified for a bronze sculpture, a generous donation from Cocking-based sculptor Philip Jackson. Hoewever, Midhurst Town Trust decided they did not want a statue there, and we are now working with Midhurst Town Council, South Pond Group and Chichester DC on a location near South Pond. See News section for more details.
3. We introduced Midhurst Rother College to Schools Energy Co-op (one of the Energy4All family of renewable energy co-ops) with a view to placing solar panels on the roof of the gymnasium.
4. We actively encouraged the creation of a First Responder Group for Midhurst to partly compensate for the loss of our ambulance station.
Let us know if you have ideas for ways in which the Society can help Midhurst.
Bench for North Street
In May 2021 Midhurst Town Council approached us and asked if we would like to pay for a new bench outside Rosemary's Parlour, to replace one that had been removed because it was irreparable. One of our members had informed MTC that the bench was missed by elderly people who had to walk the length of North Street!
Drawing on our legacy funds (thank you Mrs Carne, late of Easebourne) we were able to reimburse MTC when they placed an order for a bench that was delivered and installed in December 2021. Plaque added in January 2022.
In September 2019 we provided 50% of the funding for the Midhurst Green Volunteers to buy a new cutter. This is the message they sent us:
"The cutter has been in lots of action around Midhurst and Easebourne and is saving us lots of time. The edges are also straighter than when using a hand edger.
Thank you to the Midhurst Society for their grant."
In April 2019, using money from the Mrs E G Carne legacy, we donated a defibrillator to the Midhurst Sports Association - sited at the Cowdray Pavilion. We were assisted by The Community Heartbeat Trust, the UK's leading community defribillator charity.
George Burdfield, Director of Rugby - Midhurst Rugby Club
Katherine House, Captain - Midhurst Stoolball Club
Peter Glass, Chairman - Midhurst Cricket Club
Harvey Tordoff, Project Manager - The Midhurst Society
John Whitby, Chairman - Midhurst Sports Association
Andrew Down, President - Midhurst Rugby Club
and the famous Cowdray Ruins!
Defibrillator in North Street
In January 2019, drawing on our legacy funds from Mrs E G Carne, we donated a defibrillator to the town (outside Tesco in North Street) sharing the cost with the charity Tesco Bags of Help.
Photo (by kind permission of Midhurst & Petworth Observer) shows Mike Balmforth (TMS) Peter Shaw (TMS) Zoe Nunn (British Heart Foundation) Judy Fowler (Midhurst Town Council) Sue Balmforth (TMS) Sue Tordoff (TMS) Harvey Tordoff (TMS) Dave Woods (Tesco)
Cabinets for Midhurst Museum
When the museum took over the room at the back, a number of display cabinets were donated by various parties. The Midhurst Society paid for two.
Diamond Jubilee: 2012
In 2012, celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Rotary Club of Midhurst & Petworth organised the creation of a community orchard by the Jubille Path. Individuals and organisations sponsored trees, and two were given by The Midhurst Society.
In 2022, one of 'our' trees is earmarked for removal to make way for the wider path planned for the new multi-use Midhurst Greenway!
Cowdray Heritage Porch
In 2009 concern was being expressed at the state of the porch roof at the Cowdray Ruins. Rainwater was penetrating, and the ceiling inside was at risk of severe and permanent damage. The Midhurst Society offered to pay for the roof repairs. (The gift was to the Cowdray Heritage Trust, and not to the Cowdray Estate.)
The roof was repaired in 2011, at a cost to The Society of £4,375, and this important Tudor ceiling was preserved.
The porch is nearly square with a beautifully carved fan-vault ceiling of stone, in the centre of which is the Tudor rose with a crown. There are eight cusped quatrefoils. In the corners, a large anchor alternates with a trefoil bearing the letters WS: William, Earl of Southampton, and Lord High Admiral. There are also four heads - two cherubs, and a man and a woman. Possibly, the Earl of Southampton and his wife.
Pevsner was not a fan:
"Inside, the porch has a fan-vault decorated in a very low relief with an astonishing mixture of Gothic and Renaissance detail typical of c 1535-40 - and which is light enough and facile enough to look late c18. We are lucky that this taste did not spread to the outside of the building."