Best things about living in Petersfield
PUBLISHED: 15:19 09 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:13 29 September 2014
A picturesque market town surrounded by beautiful countryside and a reasonable commute to London... Too good to be true? Emma Caulton finds out
Petersfield likes a festival, and a market. Its Market Square always seems to be busy with one or the other. And whenever there’s a gap in the calendar, a new event is created – such as the inaugural Beer and Cider Festival launched in February this year. This was added to a programme that already includes the Spring Festival, Petersfield Festival of Food and Drink and the Summer Festival, which is held over the August bank holiday weekend - as well as regular farmers’ markets and twice-weekly market days.
It is all quite appropriate for a town which has been known for its markets and fairs since medieval times. Although it is perhaps unusual for a commuter-friendly town to have succeeded in retaining the spirit, shape, size and purpose of a traditional market town into the 21st century. Step off the train from London and you do feel you’ve stepped back a few decades – in a very good way.
There are high street names, but it doesn’t feel as though they dominate. Independents, such as the likes of One Tree Bookshop and Tiger Rose boutique, are strong. And there are unlikely treats such as a retro cool outdoor pool.
It has a foodie vibe, too. Jake Watkins of JSW restaurant was awarded one of Hampshire’s first and few Michelin stars a while back, while Annie Jones restaurant and tapas bar has made it in to the Good Food Guide. Others rated by locals include The Fez and Monoloco, alongside a decent collection of pubs, among them The Old Drum and The Good Intent, and popular cafes like The Old Apothecary.
For commuters: Petersfield is on the Portsmouth to Waterloo line, although not the fastest service (taking an hour and a quarter). However the A3, which bypasses the town, is faster since the opening of the Hindhead Tunnel.
For families: schooling is top notch. Independents include prestigious Bedales, Churchers’ College and Ditcham Park. But the state schools are excellent, too. Most, if not all, in Petersfield and the village schools around boast ‘Good’ reports from Ofsted with Rogate Primary School, Langrish Primary School and The Petersfield School all rated ‘Outstanding’.
Housing stock includes wonky period properties in the centre, early 20th century piles overlooking The Heath and, out of town, country cottages in some of the prettiest villages in Hampshire including East Meon, West Meon, Buriton, Steep and Hawkley. They’re all worth exploring – perhaps by foot or bike as long distance paths pass through or nearby Petersfield, including the Hangars Way, the Shipwrights Way and South Downs Way.
The best thing about Petersfield is its location, surrounded by open countryside, including Elizabeth Country Park and Butser Hill, with wooded hillsides visible from Petersfield’s streets. It is situated wholly within the South Downs National Park, while at its heart is The Heath, 69 acres of heathland, woodland and parkland with a boating lake where locals gather on a summer’s evening to relax. Perfect.
“We see a huge mix of buyers as the area seems to appeal to people from all walks of life. There are a fair number of city escapees, up-sizers needing more space for growing famillies and down-sizers looking to release the equity in their homes for retirement; and we always have an element of buyers from overseas. Personally I think people just like the pace of the town; it’s busy, but not frantic. It has a nice feel about it, and it’s not pretentious. Neither do you have to go far to do anything. There’s a good selection of shops, the schools are good and it’s commuter-friendly.
In general the area is seen as fairly affluent and prices have definitely crept up over the years.
But the most noticeable shift has been the demand for town properties. Although villages like Froxfield, South Harting, Buriton, Steep, Sheet and The Meons are always popular, more and more families want the convenience of actually living in the town itself.
Roads to look out for are Oaklands Road, which has good homes close to the town centre; Woodbury Avenue, which is always popular and highly sought after, and Pulens Lane and the crescents - these are good buys as there’s potential for uplift with improvement.
I’ve worked in the town since 2006. It’s so friendly and I love the countryside, the view from the top of Ramshill as you drive into Petersfield, the market square, the annual festivities and the selection of little bars and cafes alongside the quirky independent shops.
Uniquely Petersfield is surrounded by open countryside and yet has access to everything. The scenery never ceases to amaze me.”