HistoryA Brief history of Petersfield

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A Brief history of Petersfield

Some of the earliest people to settle in the East Hampshire Area were the hunter gatherers of the Mesolithic era (from about 7000 BC). They settled on the lower greensand heathlands, and left behind a scatter of flints especially their characteristic microliths. Many flints, arrow heads, flakes were discovered on the Heath when turf was re-laid for the golf course in about 1907.
During the Bronze (2000 BC-1000 BC) and Iron Age (1000 BC-0) the Heath continued to be used. During the late Bronze Age life became more settled. Agriculture and cattle rearing gradually replaced the nomadic lifestyle.
During the early twelfth century a small chapel was built which was dedicated to St. Peter. The new town growing up around it was named Petresfeld or Petersfield.
A market place was laid out north of the chapel and plots of land were allocated either side of the main street. In the late eleventh century the growing population of Petersfield was in need of a bigger church. St. Peter's was enlarged to become a cruciform church. The chapel was retained as the chancel, and some of the original stonework of the transepts can still be seen.

article The Cattle Market in Petersfield Town Square

Petersfield was an important town on the Portsmouth road, especially during the 17th Century, the peak time of coach travel (17th Century). With inns to service a change of horses and provide a good meal, eminent personages, such as Samuel Pepys were among many travellers who stopped on their way between London and Portsmouth.
In 1812 the Statue of William III, donated by Sir William Jolliffe, was moved to its present position in The Square, after the demolition of Petersfield House where it had stood at the entrance.

The inter-war years saw a flourishing of creativity in the arts, crafts and musical circles of Petersfield. The artist Flora Twort (1893-1985) of the Petersfield Workshop produced some of her finest pictures during this time amongst them the poultry market which was opened in 1920.

Extracts from the Story of Petersfield

Available to buy from the Museum or Gallery.

Opening hours

March to December - Tuesday to Saturday 10 - 4

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