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London-Portsmouth link

Petersfield became an important stopping point on the way from London to Portsmouth as it was found that it had access to one of the less steep crossing points of the South Downs Way, and was able to provide inns and horses for travellers, including Henry VIII when he first visited his favourite ship, the Mary Rose.

Under the Tudors, in the 16h century, Petersfield grew in importance, its cattle market supplying the cloth and tanning industries. In the mid-16th century it appeared to be self-governing – run by a mayor and commonalty – under the lords of the manor, the Stafford family. On 23 July 1599, towards the end of the reign of Elizabeth I, Thomas Hanbury bought the Letters Patent for £216, entitling him to rents for the town, ponds, mill stream, running waters, rights of enclosure, and, perhaps more importantly, to hold Courts Leet, fairs and markets and to retain fines and dues.

Hanbury’s efforts to exert his rights over the inhabitants of Petersfield culminated in a case which started at the Court of Exchequer in 1608. The court decided in his favour in 1610, and that legally established his power over the mayor and burgesses.