Bedales blog: Relocating to Petersfield

Bedales Pre-Prep, Bedales Prep, Bedales Senior

In a new blog, freelance writer Helen Martin explores the idyllic setting and vibrant community that makes Petersfield a standout choice for families looking to relocate to Hampshire. From its natural beauty and rich array of local amenities, to the strong sense of community and outstanding educational opportunities, Helen explores all that Petersfield has to offer. 

In 1900 John Badley moved his school, Bedales, from Lindfield, near Haywards Heath, to a small village called Steep, just outside Petersfield in Hampshire. It’s easy to see why the school is still here, over 125 years later. Surrounded by the stunning hills and woodlands of the South Downs, yet only 60 miles from London, the Petersfield area is a fantastic place to call home.  

Location is one of the area's main selling points 

“For families looking to move out of town into the country, the area is highly desirable,” says local estate agent, Claudia Hunt of the Country House Company. “You have all the benefits of living in the country without any of the disadvantages, including excellent schools, reliable broadband and fast, efficient transport links.” 

Heathrow and Gatwick airports and London are within an hour’s drive. Guildford, Chichester, Portsmouth, Winchester and the Wittering beaches are within half an hour. The Petersfield to Waterloo train takes just over an hour. 

In Petersfield itself there is the Heath Pond and playground, a huge variety of baby, toddler and children’s clubs, lido, leisure centre, yoga studio, Waitrose, M&S, two doctors’ surgeries, a community hospital and a centre of complementary medicine

Queen Elizabeth Country Park is located a few miles further south. There you’ll find mountain bike trails, an assault course, adventure play area, dog agility course and weekly parkrun. The surrounding countryside is filled with walks of varying difficulty, including the South Downs Way, Serpent Trail, Hanger’s Way and Shipwright’s Way. There are plenty of bridleways too for getting out in the fresh air on foot, bike and horseback.  

Families walking through Bedales
Steep, Petersfield, Hampshire
Cricket at Bedales
Bedales Olivier Theatre
Bedales Drama production
Bedales community
Bedales community
Sheep grazing at Bedales

The area is well served by historic country pubs 

The Hawkley Inn in Hawkley, The Harrow in Steep, The Queen’s Head in Sheet, The Thomas Lord in West Meon and The White Horse in Prior’s Dean (locally known as The Pub With No Name), all serve fantastic food in cosy, fire-lit surroundings (The Pub with No Name in particular has lots of safe, outside space for children).  

A little further afield is the Long Barn in Alresford: an elegant gift shop and café. In Petersfield itself there is Annie Jones for French cuisine and cocktails, Restaurant Six for Mediterranean food and  Lemongrass for Thai. For coffee we have Madeleine’s Kitchen or The Natural Food Deli.

Steep punches well above its weight for such a small village 

There is an eight-court floodlit tennis club with adjoining cricket ground (both of which host children’s sessions). To the north of the village is the Poet’s Stone, dedicated to local poet Edward Thomas, which rewards a sharp climb with stunning views of the South Downs. Nearby is the famous Edward Barnsley Workshop, where the eponymous Barnsley made the furniture that would see him become one of the most significant figures in the Arts and Crafts movement (Barnsley himself was a former Bedales student and made the furniture for the Bedales Memorial Library, widely regarded as one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts and Crafts architecture). 

Sir Alec Guinness was perhaps Steep’s most famous resident, and the legacy he left for a film society ensures a regular film club continues to run in the village hall. For live performance, Bedales’ own arts events programme offers a diverse selection, ranging from visiting drama and dance practitioners, musicians (the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Hackney Colliery Band are repeat visitors) and talks (in recent years they've welcomed the former Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, geneticist, author and broadcaster Adam Rutherford, and award-winning actress and Old Bedalian Minnie Driver, to name a few), as well as homegrown student productions.  

Small wonder the local property market is thriving 

“The property market is holding firm despite the roller coaster of Brexit, elections, weather and the pandemic,” says Claudia. “Supply remains low and demand is high, and it is likely that this demand will increase as we move through spring into the summer season and as families get organised for the start of the new school year in September.” 

For families looking for schools, Bedales Senior, Prep and Pre-prep are significant draws. Bedales’ approach encourages intellectual ambition, creative thinking and independent learning – vital requirements for further education and beyond – and they start developing these skills early with the youngest children as they progress through Bedales Pre-prep and Prep Schools. As the Good Schools Guide says: “This is a wonderful place to develop a strong sense of self, stretch minds, develop a love of learning and make lifelong friends.” 

“The delight of moving to the country is that the stress is taken out of constantly being in the car,“ adds Bedales Head of Admissions Janie Jarman. “The daily school-run is so much less pressured when everyone’s surrounded by fresh air and green fields. And with all the extra-curricular activities taking place in school, there is more family time at home.” 

When it comes to finding that family home, Claudia has some very sound advice. “Because time is precious and the logistics of settling in to a new school and new area can be significant, consider a rental property initially before committing to something more permanent to allow yourself time to better understand the local market and to give yourself options.” 

As John Badley himself might have said: keep an open mind.  

Bedales community on the Orchard outside the Library

Considering a move to Hampshire and looking at schools for your child? Get in touch with our Admissions team to arrange a visit to Bedales and discover what makes our learning environment so distinctive at an open morning or individual visit.