The area around Tillington is steeped in history, in part due to its proximity to the three historic estates of Cowdray, Petworth, and Pitshill. The latter two estates provided housing and work for much of the parish throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Like so many other rural parishes, Tillington parish has had to adapt from a predominantly agricultural life to a vibrant, modern community.
Petworth House and Estate
To the east, Tillington Parish borders Petworth House and Park, the historic home of the Egremont family. The park’s 700 acres were designed by famed landscape architect Capability Brown, and contain England’s largest herd of fallow deer. The Leconfield Estate, centred on the house, is a traditional agricultural estate of around 14,000 acres containing farms, commercial property and fishing spots. In the past, the estate has been a large employer for the people of Tillington.
Pitshill, in the north of the parish between Upperton and River, came into the Mitford family around 1760 when it was bought by William Mitford of Petworth. During the late 18th and early 19th century, the family enlarged the estate through the purchase of nearby land, including the Manor of Dean. Pitshill was purchased by the Pearson family in 1998, who have since restored it to its former glory. Like Petworth, the Pitshill estate used to be a significant employer of parish inhabitants, particularly those from Upperton and River.
Some five miles west of Tillington, close to the town of Midhurst, lies the ruins of one of England’s most important Tudor Manor houses. Visited by both King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, the house was partially destroyed by fire in 1793. Little restoration was attempted, and by the 19th Century the house was a ruin. It came into the Pearson family in 1908 when Sir Weetman Pearson acquired the property, and arranged the preservation of the remaining walls. He became the 1st Viscount Cowdray nine years later. The much loved ‘Cowdray Ruins’ is now in the ownership of the 4th Viscount, and remains a popular attraction for visitors and locals.