An Archaeological Excursion

Midhurst Church in 1880. Source:

On 17th August 1867, the Sussex Advertiser carried a report of the annual excursion of the Sussex Archaeological Society, a happy summertime event for the members of the society.  Each year they chose a different location of historical interest to visit, and in 1867 it was the turn of Midhurst:

The annual summer excursion of the Sussex Archaeological Society took place Thursday last, the ancient town of Midhurst and its neighbourhood being the scene of exploration upon the occasion. The programme provided for a visit to the parish church, also to the Cowdray Ruins and Easebourne Priory. An energetic committee had made every arrangement for the excursion, and nothing was wanted to make the meeting a successful one but fine weather. The heavy rains of the past two days had somewhat damped the expectations of the intending excursionists, and everyone was invoking that, as

“The rain brings dulness, dulness brings dismay,
Come, sun! and chase the weeping clouds away.”

In the early morning of Thursday the rain poured down freely, and prevented many, especially ladies, from joining in the excursion; but notwithstanding, there was a very large gathering of the members and their friends, many of whom had come a considerable distance to be present, Midhurst being at the “far west” of the county. Happily for those who left their homes, the weather cleared up, the sun shone brightly, and the day proved one of great enjoyment…

The party arrived at Midhurst station soon after noon and on alighting they at once proceeded to


An inspection of which was the first the business of the day. The Rev. W. Haydon the incumbent, kindly explained the character and architectural features of the church…


Most of the company at once wended their way to the ruins of Cowdray House, one the most interesting places in the county, kindly thrown open for the occasion by Lord Egmont, its present owner. T hose who visited the place for the first time were struck with the beauty and of the ruins, which are covered to a great extent with neatly-trained ivy, and situated as they are in the midst of charming woodland scenery, the visit was a most pleasing one. The services of Sir Sibbald Scott, Bart., R.S.A., were here called into requisition, and in an able manner he pointed out in succession the features of interest about the runs, and said much that was instructive about Cowdray House and its possessors.

Some excellent views of the ruins and other places of interest in the neighbourhood were exhibited by Mr. G. D. Wolferstan, of Midhurst.

In the course of the day many of the party visited the tomb of Richard Cobden, the great free trader, at Westlavington, and the remains of


Both of which lie within a short distance of Midhurst. The Priory was founded about the middle of the thirteenth century, through the liberality of a neighbouring landholder, John de Bohun, whose family held an important position at Midhurst down to the time of Henry VII.

The members of the society concluded their excursion with a celebratory dinner, where some enthusiastic speeches were given, the perfect end to a very enjoyable day in Midhurst:

“The ladies” and “Our next merry meeting” having been given from the chair, the company separated, and shortly afterwards took their departure for their respective homes, highly gratified with the whole of the interesting engagements of the day, and hoping to have an equally pleasant excursion another year.

Midhurst Church in 1880. Source:

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About Roger Pocock

Co-writer on Author of Editor of
This entry was posted in 19th Century, Britain, England, History, Local History, Newspapers, Travel and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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