Christmas Concert and Party

Members and guests enjoyed the Christmas concert performed by the 16 voices of the Siena Singers on 15 December.

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Stone Age Hunter Gatherer talks to the Midhurst Society

Back in September we had a talk by Paul Ullson, the History Man. It was a great talk and we want to invite him again. But he nearly failed to arrive. He used satnav to find the Memorial Hall but the same postcode took him to Midhurst Pharmacy. So he got out of his car to ask passersby for directions to the Hall. His appearance apparently caused some concern, especially as he was armed with a stone axe.

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Programme of Talks 2022

We have an excellent programme of talks for 2022.  Free entry for members - £3.00 for non-members.  So if you think you might attend several talks - it might pay you to become a member!


For more details see our Talks Page

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New seat for North Street

For many years there was a seat outside Rosemary's Parlour, but when Midhurst Town Council took it away for repair they found it was too far gone.  MTC asked us if we would like to pay for a new one, which we were happy to do - drawing on the legacy funds given to us in the will of Mrs E G Carne from Easebourne.

MTC installed the seat in December 2021 and we have added a plaque.

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New Committee Members

22 November 2021
At last month’s AGM, three committee members stepped down; Mike and Sue Balmforth after serving four years, and Jeremy Herrtage because of other commitments.  We are now pleased to announce two new appointments.

Nick Cansfield is our new Treasurer.  Nick is a newcomer to the Midhurst area, having moved into Stedham with his wife and two grown up sons at the beginning of 2021.  After 26 years with ICI, Zeneca and Syngenta working from a number of different sites, including Fernhurst, Nick spent the last ten years of his working life as Head of Reward and Pensions with the Insurance company Ageas.  Nick decided that working life was getting in the way of his hobbies and took early retirement to spend more time playing golf, taking photographs, following Aldershot Town FC and writing niche books that are unlikely to be of interest to anyone.
Tina Litchfield is our new Talks Organiser.  She says: “I was born and raised in a large happy family in Michigan in the USA. My first husband was a fellow art student. Being adventurous, we left our studies and emigrated to Europe in 1969. We settled in Haslemere where we brought up our two sons.  But she found herself on her own in the early 90's and moved to Midhurst. I published two books on patchwork and on the strength of that, I opened a quilt shop in West Street. After a while I sold the business and worked for a few years as a secretary before I met Gavin in 2005. We have a wonderful life in our retirement. We both enjoy choral singing, countryside walks, gardening, and travel. I wrote and self-published ‘Easebourne Village Vignettes’ in 2011. We now live in Midhurst but I continue as editor of Easebourne United magazine and I am on several local committees, including that of The Midhurst Society.”


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Winning Ticket!

To mark the occasion of a return to South Downs Memorial Hall on 23 November 2021, all members and visitors attending Ian Gledhill's talk on the Cable Cars of San Francisco were given a ticket on arrival.  At the end of the evening, Ian pulled out the winning ticket, which was in the possession of long-term member Angela Campbell-Horne.  Angela has lived in Midhurst for 40 years, finding the place 'magical' after moving down from London.  She ran an antique shop in Church Hill, where she met many interesting people.  When she retired she joined several local clubs and societies (including The Midhurst Society) and enjoys them all.

The prize was a signed copy of the poster designed by Philip Jackson for his talk to The Midhurst Society on 18th July 2019 - the only signed copy in the world!  Angela was delighted!  She has admired Philip's work ever since she first saw an exhibition of his at West Dean.  Angela is shown here receiving the print from Acting-Chairman Harvey Tordoff (photo by Dawn Cansfield).

The poster features Philip's sculpture of Empress Elisabeth of Austria - "Sissi".  The original, in bronze (life-size + a third), was commissioned by ‘Association Sissi 1998’ and unveiled in 1998 by Prince Marcus von Habsburg.  Location: Geneva, Switzerland.

Note: In 1898 the Austrian Empress Elisabeth 'Sissi' is stabbed to death by an anarchist soon after she left hotel Beau-Rivage in Genève. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of this assassination, Beau-Rivage and the Association Sissi had erected this statue near the hotel.

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Midhurst Vision First Project

The first project to be developed by the Midhurst Vision Partnership was announced this week, 13 November 2021.  It is to create a design template for the town centre making it greener and more pedestrian and cycling friendly. The aim is for planting, hard landscaping, signs and street furniture to be attractive and cohesive throughout the town.
The first phase will focus on creating a clear pedestrian-friendly route between The Grange Car Park and the old town, and North Street and the old town by improving planting and signs. The shopping areas of Bepton Road near Sainsbury’s and Grange Road will also be included. This will not only improve the Midhurst experience for visitors, but increase footfall in the quieter areas of the town supporting the businesses located there.

Midhurst Vision Partnership includes residents, business owners, representatives of MTC, CDC, West Sussex County Council, Cowdray Estate, South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) and key local organisations like Midhurst Town Team CIC and Midhurst Society. It is now a Community Interest Company which enables it to apply and for and receive funds. There are three founding directors – Geoff Allnutt (local business owner), Philippa McCullough (part of Visit Midhurst tourism group) and Jonathan Russell, CEO Cowdray Estate.


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AGM 2021

Our 60th Annual General Meeting was held at The Grange Centre on 27 October 2021.  It was followed by a talk from Langham Brewery.

The usual business was dealt with: approval of the Minutes of the 59th AGM; the adoption of the Accounts for the year to December 2020; and the election of officers.

Mike (Chairman) and Sue (Hon. Secretary) Balmforth stepped down after three years of service (two of which were 'the Covid Years') and were thanked by Sheila Ryan, who presented them with small tokens of the Society's appreciation.  The Treasurer who had been appointed in July had, due to over-commitment, been unable to carry out his duties and chose not to offer himself for re-election.

The remaining four officers are committed to strengthening the Committee over the coming months, and would welcome offers of help from Members.



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Special Issue Magazine

We received coverage of Cecil's Stedham in the Midhurst & Petworth Observer on 14 October 2021.

Copies can be bought at Midhurst Museum (Knockhundred Row); Spar Shop & Post Office (Bepton Road Filling Station; Dummers (West Street); and the Hamilton Arms, Stedham.  Contact us if you would like to receive a copy by post.

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Midhurst Magazine #33

We have now (8 May 2021) taken delivery of the 2021 Spring Issue of Midhurst Magazine, no 33.  In our humble (and unbiased) opinion, it is stunning!  Our thanks go to Julia of Hooli Design, who has taken our magazine to a new level.  As usual, the contents cover a variety of subjects of interest to anyone with connections to Midhurst District.

The magazines will appear in the usual outlets and in the letterboxes of subscribers over the next week or so.

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Grange Site Redvelopment

The planning history can be found on our Planning page, but the site made the news this week following the withdrawal (16 September 2021) by Montpelier of their latest application. Whilst we are not in favour of a residential care home on this cramped site adjacent to a large car park, we are frustrated by the time that has elapsed with no action.  The site is completely enclosed by ugly hoardings, and has been for years.  We were prompted to file a request with Chichester DC under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking more information about the sale of the land to Montpelier.

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Paradise is elusive

The search goes on for a site for Dante.   An update from Midhurst Town Council following their Committee Meeting on 13 September 2021.

Every stakeholder has an opinion, and bureaucracies have to be satisfied.


Watch this space!

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War Graves Week

From the Midhurst & Petworth Observer 20 May 2021

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission coammemorates more than 300,000 British and Commonwealth service personnel at more than 12,000 locations.

For the first time it is running war graves week from May 21-28. Phil Stringer is a member of the Midhurst Society and volunteers for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)’s Eyes On Hands On project.

He said: “The project was conceived to help ensure that scattered graves are inspected more frequently and where needed, receive attention.

“Every grave is a piece of history and as part of the project, the CWGC hope that volunteers will find out more about the person whose name is carved on the headstone.”

For information about individual graves in our area, downloadable PDFs are available here

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Championing Midhurst

Finding out more about the society that champions Midhurst

The Midhurst Society’s aim is to enhance the experience of living, working and visiting Midhurst and the surrounding area.

An article on The Midhurst Society from the Midhurst & Petworth Observer, 22 April 2021.

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New President

22 February 2021:  After 20 years in the role, earlier this year Viscountess Cowdray stepped down as President.  We are delighted to announce that Philip Jackson has agreed to become our new President.
“I have been asked if I would take on the role of President of the Midhurst Society.  I feel very flattered but somewhat inadequate to the task. However I have been assured that it involves being a ‘figurehead’ and so I have accepted the invitation with thanks. Jean and I have been members of the Society for some years and have been enormously impressed by the wonderful work done by the officers and membership to investigate, record and disseminate the history of this wonderful and historic area that we live in and enjoy. The importance of a Society such as this in quietly bringing together a community and instilling a sense of belonging cannot be overstated and I am delighted at the prospect of being slightly more involved in the future.”

 ~ Philip Jackson CVO DL

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Midhurst is Paradise!

11 February 2021: Cocking-based sculptor Philip Jackson is gifting a bronze-cast to the town with plans for it to be placed in the Market Square because, to the artist, Midhurst is Paradise!

Note: the photo is a mock-up indicating what the bronze might look like when installed.  It is based on the small maquette.  The design changed slightly during the construction of the large model.

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New Treasurer

At a Committee Meeting on 6 February 2021, Dave Widdup was appointed Treasurer, replacing Harvey Tordoff who remains as Vice-Chairman.  At the same meeting, the Committee acknowledged the wish expressed by Viscountess Cowdray to step down from the post of President after 20 years of patronage, and discussions took place regarding the possibility of appointing her successor.

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Dante revealed!

In July 2019 Philip Jackson, whilst giving a talk to The Midhurst Society, announced that he would donate a sculpture to the town.  The figure, Dante Searching for Paradise, existed only as a maquette, but Philip intended working up a full-size model to be cast in bronze.  The Society has been consulting with Midhurst Town Council and the Midhurst Town Trust, exploring possible sites and dealing with potential issues, and hoped by now (February 2021) to be unveiling Dante in the Market Square.  However, although the model was ready in November 2020, Covid restrictions have prevented Dante from travelling to the foundry.  We couldn't justify it as an essential journey!

Recently, Sussex Life went to Philip's studio in Cocking, to interview him about his current project, a tribute to the National Emergency Services.  They couldn't help but notice a nine-foot statue dominating the studio, and included a photo in their February 2021 issue.  We had been holding off releasing preliminary photos, to lend more dramatic effect to the unveiling ceremony, but now Dante has made an unplanned public appearance.

We would like to offer two minor corrections to the Sussex Life text.  The full-size figure, not a maquette, will be installed in Market Square.  And The Midhurst Society did not say to Philip: "You've been here 40 years, it's time we had one of your sculptures."  In fact, we approached Philip (with great trepidation) and asked if we could borrow one of his fibreglass models to display somewhere in the town.  He turned us down, on the basis that the models are too fragile.  "But I could give you a bronze," he added!  He went on to say that he and Jean had often thought about how they could give something to Midhurst, after living here for 40 years.  We just happened along at the right moment.  It is an incredibly generous gesture.


Read Sussex Life for more information about the Emergency Services project.

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Our President steps down

In February 2021, after 20 years as our President, Viscountess Cowdray decided to step down.  We would like to record our thanks, on behalf of members past and present, for her patronage over so many years.  As we go our (slightly) separate ways, no doubt she and The Society will continue to strive for a vibrant and successful Midhurst.  We wish Marina, her family, and the Cowdray Estate, the very best for the future.

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Can you identify these people?

In February 2021 a photo album was been donated to The Midhurst Society, showing various people at King Edward VII Sanatorium in 1928.  There is no clue as to the identity of the compiler, who simply describes herself as 'Self' on the descriptions under the photos.  Here is 'Self' on Telegraph Hill.  Several people are referred to only by their first names.  The only photo with a full name is Derek Trail.  Or it could be Trait. Please get in touch if this rings any bells.

We intend to run an article on KEVII in Midhurst Magazine later in 2021, and we hope to include some photos of nurses and doctors from this album, but we would love to pass the album on to any living relative of 'Self'.

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Newsletter: January 2021

E-Newsletter for the Midhurst Society - January 2021

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Midhurst Community Land Trust

7 January 2021:  Congratulations to our friends at Midhurst Community Land Trust!

Spring 2021 will see our first project
"We are pleased to announce that, with a great deal of help and assistance from the South Downs National Park Authority and Chichester District Council, Midhurst CLT have exchanged contracts to purchase 2 two-bed houses. The community-led project, which has been three years in the making, will launch its first affordable homes due for completion in the spring 2021"

The houses at Wyndham Court off Lambert’s Lane in Midhurst are currently in the final stages of construction by award-winning Metis Homes who have a successful history of developments in the town.

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Dunford House

7 October 2020: a message from Chris Boxley and Nick Cobden Wright. Perhaps this paves the way for meaningful discussions with the YMCA about securing the future of DUNFORD HOUSE as a legacy of Richard Cobden.


Today we received the news which we have been waiting months to hear, that all of the Applicant’s plans have been refused by the South Downs National Park Authority Planning division.

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Midhurst Magazine #32

28 October 2020The Autumn Issue of the Midhurst Magazine is now available. Copies can be bought at a number of outlets in town, or directly from us.  The lead story is by Jess Brown-fuller, taking a look at how Midhurst coped with Covid. Read how the Midhurst Rugby Club came into being, and what the local connection is with Fred Karno. Some reminiscing about the Stedham School Dragon and the Ice House on St Ann's Hill. Extracts from David Johnston's book 'Sussex Wayfarer' (with previously unseen photos). Plus regular features by Richard Williamson and Bridget Howard, and lots more!

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Midhurst WW2 Memoirs:2. Evil Rising, Good Awakening.

In September 2020, Committee member and co-editor of The Midhurst Magazine, Peter Sydenham, published the second in the series of books prompted by his experiences as an evacuee to Midhurst during WW2.  Covering the 1930s, Peter first explains how WW2 came about by the deceit and imperialist aims of Italy, Germany and Japan using unprecedented armed force to enforce their doctrines.  This 564-page book includes hundreds of colour, and black&white illustrations. Its format matches the first book, with easy to read print and a gentle style of explanation.


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Planning Officer

On 17th August 2020 we announced a new appointment to the Committee.

Keith Tregunna has lived in the Midhurst area for some 30 years. Prior to retiring this year he worked in the construction industry for some 40 years providing commercial management, delay and programme management expertise to all types of projects in the UK and overseas including assisting one of the parties to prepare, defend and negotiate claims in connection with major and varied building and engineering projects. Whilst living in Trotton he became a Parish Councillor taking an interest in and advising the Parish Council in regard to Planning matters. Since moving to Midhurst he joined the Midhurst Society and began assisting Harvey Tordoff in addressing and commenting on Planning issues and applications. He has now accepted an invitation to become a member of the Committee of The Midhurst Society as Planning Officer and will continue to consider and comment on planning matters. Given the Prime Minister's stated intention to modify and simplify the planning process thereby increasing the number of homes being built, vigilance, investigation and comment within the Midhurst and SDNP area will continue to be of importance.”

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Midhurst Supermarket

On 27 July 2020 we received this email:

Dear Mr Balmforth
We’re emailing on behalf of Sainsbury’s, to pass on a from Christian Wakelin, Sainsbury’s Supermarket Development Manager.
The attached letter provides details of a new Neighbourhood Hub store that Sainsbury’s will shortly be opening in Midhurst, replacing the existing Budgens store on Bepton Road.
We hope that the attached letter is helpful. Should you have any queries at all, please do get in touch and we’d be more than happy to assist.
Kind regards
Charles Bushe
Director, DevComs


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Newsletter: May 2020

Covid-19 restrictions meant that we had to postpone the 2020 AGM, and as not all Members subscribe to our magazine, on 27 May 2020 we issued a Newsletter to Members.

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Midhurst Community Land Trust

Progress report from MCLT - 20 June 2020

Exciting news on three plots of land!!!!


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Capron House

Capron House, North Street, Midhurst GU29 9DH

Cowdray Estate has decided to move the Estate Office from Easebourne to Capron House, but to do so certain changes are required.  The proposal is for bicycle storage, refurbishment and repairs to the roof, all chimneys to be rebuilt as existing with new lead trays, installation of photovoltaic panels, replacement of all existing UPVC rainwater goods, SVPS, and services cast iron, alterations to external lighting and fenestration including removal of external fire escape and all windows to be redecorated in Cowdray gold/yellow.

We considered the planning application, sought comments on Facebook, and whilst we supported the majority of the proposals we felt we had to object to the use of yellow paint on this grand building.


The write-up in the Midhurst & Petworth Observer from 21 May 2020 can be found on the next page.

Further details can be found in our planning section.

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Tree-felling in North Street

Cowdray Estate has advised us that tree-felling will take place in North Street, opposite the Methodist Chapel.  This is for safety reasons.  For more information see text of letter below.

This case is discussed on our planning page, along with photos of the felling.

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It's easy to find out about the spread of COVID-19 around the world, but what's happening here in Midhurst?
Midhurst Angels to the rescue!!!
A group in the early planning stages to help the elderly and more vulnerable who may be self isolating through midhurst due to Covid-19. Initially offering a phone service and asking an angel to take the job if available.  Check out this site if you need help or if you are prepared to help others.

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Rotary Club of Midhurst & Petworth

On 4th February 2020 Mike Balmforth (Chairman) and Harvey Tordoff (Vice Chairman) gave a talk to the Rotary Club of Midhurst & Petworth.  A short account appears on their website.

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YMCA 'sells' Dunford House?

Dunford House was recently put up for sale by the current owners, the YMCA, and the Cobden family descendents, now scattered all over the world, together with the people of Heyshott and surrounding area, argued that the YMCA are morally obliged to return it to them.  The house had been a gift 60 years earlier, from the Cobden family to the YMCA, to preserve Richard Cobden's name.

It has now been announced that YMCA have ignored the request and accepted a commercial bid, but it's not too late to have your say. The Cobden family have appealed to the Charity Commission.  If you think that Dunford House, home of Richard Cobden, should be preserved for the nation (and our little part of it) tell the Charities Commission. Write to:

Listen to a BBC Radio 4 programme "The Untold - Fighting for Dunfold" for the full story:

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Breaking News: Dante to come to Midhurst!

At a packed SDNPA Memorial Hall on 18 July 2019 Philip Jackson stunned the audience with the announcement that he is to donate a full-size bronze to the people of Midhurst.

This came during a talk given by Philip, one of a regular series of inspirational, entertaining and informative talks presented by The Midhurst Society, on subjects of local interest or with local connections. 

The figure Philip has chosen is of Dante looking for Paradise.  Having ventured through the Inferno and Purgatory Dante now arrives within sight of Paradise.  Midhurst!

Dante currently exists as a small maquette (shown) which  Philip will scale up to prepare a full-size bronze casting.  In this process modifications may be made as the sculptor takes into account the way the piece will be seen in situ.

For several months The Midhurst Society has been working with Philip, Midhurst Town Council and Midhurst Town Trust to identify a suitable site, and Market Square has been chosen.  The Society will take the project forward, seeking consents where required and funding for site preparation.

This is an incredibly generous gift.  Dante will no doubt be embraced warmly by the people of Midhurst and is surely destined to become a tourist attraction for the town and the National Park.

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Future of Stedham School

After a successful campaign by Governors, villagers, parents and supporters across West Sussex, Stedham Primary School was granted a reprieve.  The threat of closure was lifted in February 2020.  Stedham Primary School is to be federated; with Harting Cof E School.

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Tree-felling: A286

Concerns have been expressed at the tree-felling alongside the A286. In June 2019 we put those concerns to Cowdray Estate.

CEO Jonathan Russell provided this helpful response, which we hope reassures our members and followers that the Estate has acted responsibly:

"Thank you for your e-mail relating to the tree felling alongside the A286. This work has been undertaken as part of the Estate’s ongoing tree safety management and as a response to threat of Ash Dieback. This section of road was surveyed over the winter by our forestry team who flagged the area as high risk in terms of the impact of dieback and the proximity of trees to the highway. Over the winter two trees on Cocking Hill failed and narrowly missed falling onto the carriageway so the decision was made to fell the trees as soon as possible to maintain public safety. 95% of the trees removed have been ash, although there have been a very small number of oak, sycamore and cherry felled where significant defects or decline were found during the inspection. The hazel understory has been cut to facilitate the felling of the mature trees. Felling work in the Cocking area has now been completed and the remaining residues will be removed over the next couple of weeks. The Estate will then undertake some replanting of the cleared areas later in the year using site native species.

"We would normally try to do this type of work outside the bird nesting season however it was felt that the imminent threat of significant tree failure was such that it was unavoidable. We are aware that the site had a significant rookery. These birds nest early and fledge by mid May. A drone was flown over the area in advance of felling to ensure that the birds had fledged and the nests were empty. The contractors undertaking the work were briefed on the environmental impacts and undertook their own site assessments prior to work taking place to minimise the impact of the operations.

"All work undertaken has been compliant with environmental and forestry management guidance and is legally compliant.

"Unfortunately, Ash dieback is going to have a significant impact on our landscape and the Estate, along with other landowners in the area, are acting now to maintain public safety but also looking at how we manage ash in woodland areas in the future. This involves retaining ash in low risk woodlands to see if any trees show signs of resistance to the disease as well as planning future regeneration of ash dominated woodlands through appropriate replanting programmes."

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Midhurst Vision

Midhurst Vision has re-launched (11 July 2019) and is seeking views on the future for Midhurst. 


Tkae part in the survey and make your voice heard!

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Strengthening of The Midhurst Society Committee

Chairman Mike Balmforth is delighted to announce that following increased involvement with the affairs of Midhurst this year The Midhurst Society have strengthened their Committee...

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Summer Garden Party

Tony and Sarah Bolton generously opened their wonderful garden in Woolbeding for our summer garden party on the evening of 7th June 2019.  With impeccable timing we chose the wettest day of the summer, but over 80 members and guests braved the elements and enjoyed the food, drink and conversation on offer. 

Unfortunately, the torrential rain confined us to the marquee, and we were unable to stroll round the garden, but even so it was a delightful evening.  Our thanks go to Sarah and Tony, and to Sue Balmforth who arranged the evening.

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Sussex, West (Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England)

Special Offer !!!

Yale University Press is offering The Midhurst Society members 20% off the full price of £35.00 of Pevsner Architectural Guide to Sussex: West, plus free P&P. Valid for UK orders only, via the Yale website (
Offer ends 1st August 2019
Enter promo code Y1952 at the checkout stage of your order.

The revised edition has new colour photography and expanded entries, including a section on Midhurst that highlights its churches and Pevsner-approved perambulations (!).

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Blue Bell Hub Cocking

Cocking’s Community buys the Blue Bell Hub (Press Release: 9 May 2019)

The Blue Bell Community Hub in Cocking, near Midhurst, West Sussex is on the verge of reality as local support has enabled the village to buy its threatened pub. Now they are seeking the final funds for refurbishment and a tenant to share in the vision.


Completion on the purchase took place on 30th April 2019 as ambitious plans to transform the Blue Bell into a thriving Community Hub bear fruit. A Community Share Offer remains open for anyone to invest, and people can also support via donations on the project’s crowdfunding site. Three quarters of the targeted £637,000 has been raised, with another £150,000 to be found.

The village is now preparing to refurbish the building, and is holding a series of fundraising projects – a quiz night raised money in March, on the 22nd May an Open Garden and Charity Fair will be held at Crypt Farm and an Open Gardens Event will be held on 16th June.

Villagers and supporters from further afield rallied round to help provide the funds for the new hive of community and voluntary activity at the centre of Cocking as well as a visitor gateway for the South Downs National Park.

In addition to pledges, grants and generous support from local and national trusts and donors, a Community Share Offer has seen over 80 households so far invest in the venture which will not only save the pub, but provide a shop, café, meeting place and the post office when the local post master retires.

Peter Gibbon, one of the villagers spearheading the fundraising campaign, said: “The Hub will be a hive of community and voluntary activity, a relaxed, accessible venue where people of all ages can enjoy the pub, restaurant and café. It will enhance community life, preventing social isolation and bringing young and old together. The Hub will also create employment and volunteering opportunities, and we plan to partner with local charities to offer garden maintenance, bicycle repairs and the chance to work in the café.

“By working with the South Downs National Park, we have been determined not to lose the key assets of our community and to welcome all those visiting the South Downs and key destinations in the area, such as the Weald & Downland Living Museum, West Dean College and Goodwood.”

Peter added: “We are now seeking a suitable tenant to run the venue, to live on site and share in the vision for the pub to become a true social hub, providing facilities and services that bring the community together and serve its visitors.”

The South Downs National Park is supporting the project in principle and subject to planning permission, with a visitor gateway in the Hub, providing a place where ramblers, cyclists and all those visiting this beautiful area can discover more about the Park with its historic sites, walks, trails and wildlife.

Andrew Lee, Director of Countryside Policy for the South Downs National Park, said: “The SDNPA is keen to foster the social and economic well-being of the local communities in the National Park and to enable them to understand and enjoy this nationally designated landscape. With immediate access to the South Downs Way and many other local attractions the Community Hub’s unique location offers the opportunity for an important Visitor Gateway attracting people to the area to and supporting local businesses in the process.”

The Community Hub was launched after agreement was reached to buy the closed pub. A packed village meeting demonstrated support and a Community Benefit Society was set up to raise funds: exchange on the property took place at the beginning of April.

To get involved and support the project visit or go to

For further details on the project contact Frances Russell at


Read the introduction to the share offer by world-renowned sculptor (and resident of Cocking and President of the Hub) by clicking on 'More' 

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Dunford House

Richard Cobden was born just outside Midhurst, and returned to rebuild his birthplace into what is now known as Dunford House, where he lived for many years. He was one of the great social reformers of the 19th century, and Dunford House, which still contains many of his possessions, would make a great museum.  He is buried in the churchyard at West Lavington and comemmorated by an obelisk bearing the words:


Dunford House is now being put up for sale and the Cobden family descendents, now scattered all over the world, together with the people of Heyshott and surrounding area, are endeavouring to take the house under their wing.

If you would like to help the new foundation build up a case for ownership, please consider completing this questionnaire and let them have your views.

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Defibrillator for Cowdray Sports Pavilion

On 13 April 2019, just three months after donating a defibrillator (AED) to Midhurst (located outside Tesco in North Street) The Midhurst Society handed over a second, this time to the Cowdray Sports Pavilion. Several clubs use the Pavilion, and on hand to receive the AED were representatives of Midhurst Rugby Club, Midhurst Cricket Club and Midhurst Stoolball Club. Between them the clubs have approximately 450 members, so with spectators and visiting teams this is an ideal location for life-saving equipment. It will also be accessible for polo matches on the adjacent field.


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2019 AGM

The Midhurst Society will hold its 58th Annual General Meeting at the South Downs Memorial Hall, Midhurst GU29 9DH on 18th April at 7.00 pm. 


1.Apolologies for absence

2.Approval of the Minutes of the 57th Annual General Meeting 2018

3.Matters arising

4.Report from the Chair

5.Report from the Treasurer

6.Adoption of Accounts

7.Election of Officers

8.Election of Executive Committee

9.Appointment of Independent Examiner


Item 7

CHAIR: Michael Balmforth is willing to stand for re-election


HON.SECRETARY: Sue Balmforth is willing to stand for re-election

HON.TREASURER:Harvey Tordoff is willing to stand for re-election


Item 8 The following members of the Executive Committee are willing to stand for re-election:

Michael de Jong-Smith, Peter Shaw

Please note that Claire Cox is standing down and this position is therefore Vacant

Interval of 25 minutes



A live on -screen tour of the Society’s new website with a stop at our Planning and Campaigns pages updating all our members on the status of each application. Presented by Harvey Tordoff


Guest Speaker to round off the evening’s events

David Johnston is a local artist who has exhibited widely in Sussex. His paintings of local landmarks depict everyday scenes in bygone days.  He will have post cards on sale and will take orders for larger prints.


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Defibrillator comes to North Street

On Monday 14 January 2019 The Midhurst Society and Tesco 'opened' a defibrillator outside the Tesco store in North Street.  Funding came from the Mrs E G Carne Legacy (under the control of The Midhurst Society) and the charity Tesco Bags of Help.

What they said:

“We are delighted that we have been able to install this life-saving equipment in memory of Mrs Carne. It has been a pleasure to work with Tesco on this project.” (Harvey Tordoff, Organiser, The Midhurst Society)

“It means a lot to us that we have been able to work with The Midhurst Society for the benefit of the community.” (Dave Woods, Store Manager, Tesco)

“Midhurst Town Council are thrilled to see this defibrillator installed in North Street and offer our thanks and congratulations to all concerned.” (Judy Fowler, Midhurst Town Council)

“We are delighted to see this defibrillator just a few yards from our shop. All our volunteers are CPR-trained and can be called on if necessary.” (Zoe Nunn, Midhurst Manager, British Heart Foundation)

“This is great news, but this isn't all that we're working on. We are in talks with members of Midhurst Sports Association with a view to installing a defibrillator at the Cowdray Pavilion.” (Mike Balmforth, Chairman, The Midhurst Society)

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Future of the Midhurst Community Hospital

From an email from Healthwatch West Sussex on 11 March 2019:

"Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust own the [Riverbank] site and we understand they are currently undertaking a detailed review of how to utilise the whole site in the interest of meeting the local need for NHS services, that includes Rotherfield Mews but excludes the Medical Centre, which is owned by the GP Practice."


Brief notes taken at a Meeting hosted by Rural North Chichester Patient Participation Group

South Downs Memorial Hall, 26 February 2019

The majority of the speakers were GPs, and they outlined the vision and priorities of the group.


  1. The group consists of the practices from Midhurst (Riverbank), Petworth, Pulborough and Loxwood.

  2. In addition to the ongoing problems of dealing with the changing conditions and needs of otherwise generally healthy patients, a special need was identified for providing:
    - Social care prescribing service
    - Frailty service
    - End of life care
    - Home visits
    and obtaining feedback from patients and other organisations.

  3. Solutions would have to include:
    - Community networking
    - A reactive hub
    - Proactive prevention of illnesses and conditions that drain NHS funding and resources
    and fit within the NHS Long-Term Plan

  4. Teams should include:
    - GPs
    - Community Matron
    - District Nurses
    - Occupational Therapists
    - Occupational Psychotherapists
    - Social Workers
    - Community Psychiatric Nurses
    - Pharmacists

  5. These teams, or hubs, would therefore need to be:
    - accessible (perhaps with free transport)
    - multi-disciplinary
    - one-stop assessment centres (with integrated IT records)
    where GPs could refer patients with complex needs, and where a patient would remain on the caseload for life.

  6. The focus would be on patients remaining in their homes wherever possible, with care at the Hub or in the community provided by staff whose needs are understood and recognised to ensure staff retention and resilience. This would be cost-effective and efficient in the long-term because it would reduce unnecessary hospital visits and stays, as well as unnecessary staff recruitment and relocation costs. 


The location of a hub for this area hasn't been decided, but as the Riverbank complex is “a fantastic site” and as there is nothing else that compares it seems highly likely that this will become the hub. Meanwhile, the Bailey Unit remains closed, and the Rotherfield Mews building has been closed for many years, growing ever more dilapidated. It is hoped that full use can be made of the entire site.

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Midhurst Magazine

What do you think of our magazine?  The format hasn't changed in recent years, consiting primarily of three or four lengthy articles - usually with historical interest, with black and white photographs.  Back in the 1990's the magazine had more varied content.  Should we reintroduce that variety?  Let us know what you think by email at or by printing out and completing the attached questionnaire 




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Chichester District Councillors come to Midhurst !!!!

At a packed Memorial Hall on 10 January 2019 Chichester DC Leader Tony Dignum and his wife and co- Councillor Pam Dignum faced a grilling from the people of Midhurst.


Harvey Tordoff, who organised the event on behalf of The Midhurst Society, explained the plan for the evening. Questions had been requested in advance and made available to the Councillors several days earlier. Now they would be read out by the questioners to be dealt with one by one. First, Pam and Tony introduced themselves and outlined the relationship between CDC and Midhurst; in particular, the many ways in which CDC had supported initiatives in the town. The biggest single financial commitment was the £8.3m paid out of reserves for the building of the current Grange Centre, resulting in more CDC money being spent in Midhurst than in any other part of the District.


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Christmas Celebration

The Midhurst Society Christmas Celebration took place on 5th December in the Castle Room at the Walled Garden. Mulled wine was drunk, nibbles were nibbled, mince pies were consumed.  And there was lots of chatting.  Amazing how we can talk for two hours!  A great evening.

Thanks to the staff at the Walled Garden; thanks to the organisers on our side; and thanks to everyone who turned out at the end of what had been a very wet December Day.  


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The old NatWest Building

Facebook:  3 October 2018

The old NatWest building in Rumbolds Hill has only been empty for a few months and already it's looking run-down. It's being offered for rent, but there is a restrictive clause: it can only be used for banking purposes. As most banks are moving out of town centres, perhaps we can expect the building to remain empty for quite a while.

Rather than wait for something to happen - and then decide we don't like it - should we be taking action? Our options are limited. Should we be supportive of any attempt to remove the restrictive clause? Should we encourage Nationwide to move across the road? What do you think?

(1,225 people reached; 17 comments)

7 October 2018: wrote to Midhurst Town Council and the CEO of Cowdray Estate, urging them to remove the restrictive banking clause that could result in the building being unoccupied for some considerable time.  Also wrote to the Deputy CEO of Nationwide Building Society alerting him to the current opportunity.



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Redevelopment of the Grange Site

Facebook 4 October 2018

Let's clear up some of the confusion surrounding the Grange site.

CDC own the site and paid for the development of the new Grange Centre. As owners, they are entitled to do whatever they want with it, subject to the usual planning laws. They made it clear when the new Grange Centre was built that they would need to sell off the remaining part of the site to offset some of the costs.

CDC cannot enter into a dialogue with every resident who has an opinion. The long-established system is for local town and parish councils to protect local interests.

Perhaps our Town Council didn't do enough to solicit local views during the four years since Waitrose withdrew; perhaps CDC could have communicated more with the Town Council. Perhaps the people could have been more proactive. That's water under the bridge now.

We at The Midhurst Society intend to be more proactive in future - hence our post regarding the old NatWest building. Meanwhile, we encourage everyone who is concerned about the proposed nursing home to use the planning process before SDNPA considers the application on its merits.

As always, we will attempt to collate views expressed here when we make our representations to SDNPA.

(303 people reached)

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Facebook: 21 September 2018

Those of you who don't believe in divine providence might want to think again. The forecast of high winds has resulted in the cancellation of Velo South on Sunday. According to the Chichester Observer, a West Sussex County Council spokesman said: “We have been informed of the decision to cancel the Velo South cycle ride by the organisers CSM Active due to the serious weather forecast this weekend.

"We sympathise with those who have trained hard and raised money for charity and made many arrangements to attend on Sunday but obviously safety comes first in any large event and we are pleased the organisers are taking that duty so seriously.

"The Temporary Traffic Road Order (TTRO) will not be enacted and roads will be open as usual.”

Let's hope that lessons have been learned, and that if a similar event is to be held in 2019 the organisers take time to consult with those affected. If that happens, let's not bear a grudge; let's give the cyclists a warm Sussex welcome.

(235 people reached)


We forwarded this message to WSCC on the same day:
The announcement of road closures to facilitate Velo South 2018 created some heated exchanges, some of them on our own Facebook page. The major criticism was that people who were affected had not been consulted. The cancellation gives us all breathing space, and if the event is to be considered in 2019 can we request that our own Town Council in Midhurst be included in consultations at an early stage. We would also appreciate it if The Midhurst Society could be informed as well. This morning I posted this on our Facebook page: "Let's hope that lessons have been learned, and that if a similar event is to be held in 2019 the organisers take time to consult with those affected. If that happens, let's not bear a grudge; let's give the cyclists a warm Sussex welcome."



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Swimming Pool for the Grange site

Facebook: 31 August 2018

When Geoff Thompson replied to our post about the Grange Site he had this to say:

"When the new sports centre was being built there were many rumours that this plot was to be a swimming pool, which was a very popular idea. It would draw in customers from the surrounding area's who are currently travelling away from Midhurst to Chichester and Petersfield. It would also upgrade Midhurst's attractiveness to anyone looking at moving to the area, especially families with children. It would be very nice to see this plot used for the benefit of the Midhurst and surrounding community!"

Swimming offers good exercise in a safe environment, something that would be welcome as levels of obesity continue to rise.

What do you think?

(3,164 people reached; 1,500 clicks; 114 comments; 22 shares)

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Sussex Record Society

On 21 September 2018 we received this message from Martin Hayes:

"I’m on the Council of the Sussex Record Society and we went live with an online Sussex Bibliography 15 months ago. Between 1,500 and 2,000 users look at the Bibliography each month and it is the most popular part of the SRS website.
"You may find the Midhurst entries interesting and hopefully comprehensive as regards books. Indeed there are over 100 entries on the town, grammar school and Edward VII hospital."
Happy browsing!

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AGM 19 April 2018

At the 57th Annual General Meeting of The Midhurst Society, held at The Memorial Hall, North Street on 19th April, retiring Chairperson Sue Edwards thanked the large number of members and guests who had shown their support with their attendance. The minutes of the previous meeting, together with the Treasurer's Report, were approved and adopted, and Sue delivered her final report from the Chair. She drew attention to the steady decline in membership numbers over the last few years and the difficulties experienced by the Committee in ascertaining the wishes of the membership. Various initiatives have been undertaken in the last twelve months to raise the profile of The Society and to communicate with the wider community, and Sue hoped that this would lead to more involvement as we move forward.

Sue thanked her committee members individually, acknowledging in particular the dedication and commitment over a number of years of retiring members Malcolm Hutchings and Lesley Campbell. She then introduced Mike Balmforth, who had agreed to put himself forward for the Committee and take on the roll of Chairman, and his wife Sue Balmforth who was willing to serve as Honorary Secretary. They were duly nominated, seconded and elected unanimously. Treasurer Harvey Tordoff, Administration Officer Claire Cox, Membership Secretary Michael de Jong-Smith and Talks Organiser Peter Shaw were also re-elected unanimously. Mervyn Evans-Jones was thanked for checking the Accounts and was appointed Independent Examiner for another year.

As the meeting was brought to a close ex-Chairperson Sheila Ryan thanked Sue Edwards for her tireless work for The Society since being elected in 2012, first as Membership Secretary and then as Chairperson. Sheila presented Sue with an orchid and an e-book gift card and wished her well in her much-delayed retirement.

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