Petersfield is an ancient market town originally built as a Norman ‘new town’ at the end of the 11th Century at the crossroads of the A3 running north to south and A272 running east to west. Its history goes back further though, and Petersfield Heath close to the town centre contains 21 Bronze Age Barrows. The town is named after the Anglican parish church, St Peter’s, a Norman church in the town centre, The Square. The Square also features an equestrian statue of King William III.
The town received a charter in the reign of Henry II where William, Earl of Gloucester, granted the burgesses of Petersfield all the liberties and customs enjoyed by the citizens of Winchester, including the right to have a merchant guild. There was also a very successful cattle market here which attracted other industries including cloth manufacture and leather working in Tudor times. Cloth was the principal occupation in the Stuart period, employing over 1000 people in the reign of James I. The town had nine inns in the 1690s because of the coaching trade.
The arrival of the railway in the 19th century secured the town’s importance in the local area. It is still a station on the main London to Portsmouth line today.
The artist Flora Twort, the musician Sir William Henry Harris, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon Willis, the footballer George Best and ‘The Day of the Triffids’ author John Wyndham are just some local celebrities to have lived in Petersfield over the years.
Petersfield is twinned with Barentin in France, and Warendorf in Germany.
Petersfield Town Council website (opens in a new window)
Queen Elizabeth Country Park is Hampshire’s biggest country park with 20 miles of trails.
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