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In addition to the local services, our Living in Petersfield guide will give you a sense of what life is like in Petersfield – its history, its culture and its recreational activities.
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What Is Life Like In Petersfield?
Petersfield is a market town found in the East Hampshire corner of the South Downs National Park. Located 17 miles north of Portsmouth, this location offers convenient links to the seaside, city and countryside. With journeys into London Waterloo taking just under an hour, Petersfield is an excellent place for commuters who want to live in the beautiful Hampshire countryside.
Petersfield offers quaint country living, with twice weekly markets, fantastic coffee shops and restaurants all set within miles of rolling countryside. Schooling is excellent, as are the local amenities which include a Waitrose supermarket and a number of independent butchers, bakers and grocers. Petersfield has a relatively slow pace of life in comparison to the nearby Portsmouth, attracting families and London workers who commute from the local Petersfield railway station. The property market ranges from three bedroom Victorian cottages in the town centre to modern flats in the village outskirts.
History Of Petersfield
The town of Petersfield grew from the church of St Peter which was built in the area during the 12th century. The town’s name is a derivative of St Peter’s Feld, the common name for the area around the church. The historic church is still in use today, hosting services and ceremonies throughout the year.
Petersfield has historically been an important stop on the stagecoach route for travellers going between London and Portsmouth. Many notable figures stayed in the town on their way through, such as King Charles II and Samuel Pepys. There was such a demand for places to rest for the evening that by the end of the 17th century there were 9 coaching inns when the population stood at just 1,000.
The local economy has historically relied on a mixture of agricultural products and trading through its reputation as a large market town. The chalk lands of Hampshire favoured sheep, allowing wool production to become one of the most important pillars in the town’s economy. Petersfield produced its own woven cloth, known as Hampshire Kersey, which drew merchants from as far as Spain to trade with the town.
As the wool trade declined in the 18th Century, Petersfield’s importance waned and it became a small market town. The railway arrived in 1859, connecting the town to London and Portsmouth, but growth remained slow and by 1900 the population was still less than 4,000. As more amenities came to the area, housing development grew and today the population is around 13,000.
Days Out In Petersfield
Located within the South Downs, Petersfield has access to some of the best countryside destinations in the south east. Experience the great outdoors by walking, cycling, white water rafting, rock climbing, fishing, horse riding and more.
The hills of Hampshire have inspired many important writers and literary figures. Fans can visit Jane Austen’s House Museum, located just 11 miles north of Petersfield. Alternatively, walk or cycle the Dickens trail in Portsmouth, just 18 miles south of Petersfield, for a Charles Dickens tour through the city. You can also enjoy the Heath and boating lake on Petersfield’s outskirts, with their ancient burial mounds.
Things To Do In Petersfield
As a small market town, Petersfield has fewer amenities than its neighbour Portsmouth. There is, however, a variety of local restaurants, bars, cafés and pubs. Visit the Annie Jones tapas bar for Spanish-inspired food set in a Mediterranean-themed garden and bar. The Old Drum, Good Intent and Red Lion are all good pubs for nights on the town. For a casual coffee, there are several chains including Caffè Nero and Costa.
Shopping in Petersfield is limited to several independent boutiques and luxury fashion outlets. Residents looking for larger chain stores can take the short trip to Portsmouth.
The usual community clubs and societies on offer, with football, cycling, cricket, and rugby clubs as well as drama societies in the area. The local outdoor swimming pool will keep children busy during the summer holidays. Otherwise, members and visitors can play golf at the Petersfield Golf Club for a challenging course for all skill levels.
Schools In Petersfield
Petersfield and the surrounding Hampshire villages have several excellent schools.
Pre-schools and nurseries include:
- Petersfield Infant School
- Winton Playgroup
- Little Scrummies Playgroup
- The Kings Arms Nursery School
Primary schools include:
- Herne Junior School
- Sheet Primary School
- Langrish Primary School
Secondary schools include:
- The Petersfield School
Transport In Petersfield
Petersfield is well-connected to other towns and major cities via a range of efficient transport links.
Commuters can be in London Waterloo within just over an hour from the Petersfield Railway Station. Trains into Portsmouth take approximately 30 minutes. South West trains operate services, with several trains an hour to London via Guildford and Woking.
Buses and coaches
Stagecoach operate services between Petersfield and surrounding towns and villages. For travel further afield, National Express runs a coach service between Portsmouth and London via Petersfield.
Petersfield is within easy reach of London airports, particularly Gatwick and Heathrow Airports which are 33 and 38 miles away respectively.
Road connections from Petersfield are convenient. The A3 is within easy reach, meaning residents can quickly travel to the South Coast and Portsmouth as well as north into London.