Midhurst has consistently been voted one of the top country market towns, and one of the best places to live for those looking for traditional rural charm.
The small market town retains rural tranquillity and pastimes such as riding, hunting and shooting in amongst the hectic conurbations of the South East.
Cowdray House in Midhurst, once a great Tudor house, now lies in ruins after a fire in the 18th century but acts as a reminder of the historical importance and prosperity of the area.
It is now home to the Cowdray Park Polo Club – “the home of British Polo” – and host of the world-famous Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup.
Polo has been played on site for 100 years, and Cowdray Park was an important force in re-establishing polo as a sport in England after WWII.
Country sports such as hunting and shooting have been popular across Britain for centuries, and hunts and shoots occur throughout the season across the South Downs.
Game birds, such as pheasants and partridges, are often stocked by country estates in readiness for the shooting season, which runs throughout late autumn and early winter.
The King’s Walk Shoot at West Dean in Midhurst has been singled as one of particular importance in South East England.
Famous guns of the shoot have included royalty such as the Czar of Russia, King Alfonso of Spain, George V and King Edward VII, for whom the shoot is named.
The 2,000 acre King’s Walk estate is stocked with 32,000 pheasants and partridges every year for the shoot, an important source of income for rural areas for locals and shoot enthusiasts.
Fox hunting with dogs is now illegal in the United Kingdom, as it was banned by the Hunting Act of 2004.
However, many rural mounted hunts still exist, either choosing to ignore the ban or changing their rules to hunt within the law.
The Crawley and Horsham Hunt have been based about 20 kilometres from Midhurst since the 17th century.