Cowdray Estate and Family History Enquiries

Cowdray Estate receives dozens of enquiries every year from members of the public relating to Estate and family history. It is hoped the answers to the following Frequently Asked Questions will be of assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the arrows below to view some of our FAQs

For 15th to mid-20th Century related enquiries and family history enquiries about individuals who may have lived or worked on the Estate, please contact:

West Sussex Record Office
Home of the Cowdray Archives
3 Orchard Street
West Sussex
PO19 1DD

Tel: 01243 753602.

Regrettably, at the present time, the Estate cannot grant public access to more recent Estate records.

It is important to note that the surname of Michael the Fourth Viscount Cowdray is Pearson, not Cowdray. Cowdray is instead the name of the Viscountcy, a hereditary title conferred in 1917. More information on the Pearson family history can be obtained in the Cowdray History Book, available to purchase via our website.

It is also important to note that Lord Cowdray’s great-grandfather, Weetman Dickinson Pearson, the First Viscount Cowdray, was not from Midhurst but from Bradford, Yorkshire.

A good place to start is the Cowdray History Book, which contains a brief history of the Estate’s previous owners, encompassing:

  • The Bohuns

  • Sir David Owens

  • Sir William Fitzwilliam

  • Sir Anthony Browne and the Viscounts Montague

  • The Poyntzs

  • The Earls of Egmont

  • The Pearsons, Viscounts Cowdray

The Midhurst Society: A local history and heritage group founded in 1960 which hosts regular talks and exhibitions and produces publications on the history of Midhurst and its surrounding villages. A team of researchers are delighted to help members of the public with any questions they might have on the history of the area. Click here to visit their website.

Gravelroots: A website operating from the Fernhurst Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire border, through which hundreds of old photographs taken in the Midhurst district can be accessed. Click here to visit their website.

The Selham Airfield Project: Originally set up to record the history of RNAS Cowdray Park, the project has also recorded many other aspects of WWII history connected with Cowdray Estate. Click here to visit their website.

The Midhurst Museum: A small volunteer-run museum in the heart of Midhurst, with a static display on the Midhurst district and monthly themed exhibitions. It also has a small reference section where visitors may browse material of local interest. For opening times, consult the Museum website.

7-8 Knockhundred Row
West Sussex
GU29 9DQ

Click here to visit their website.

Wheeler’s Bookshop: Wheeler’s stock an extensive range of local history books, many of which are now out of print.

Red Lion Street
West Sussex
GU29 9PB

tel: 01730 817666

Click here to visit their website.

Publications available from Cowdray Lifestyle:

Cowdray Lifestyle
Cowdray Park
West Sussex
GU29 0AJ

  • Cowdray History Book by Matilda Reid, Tania Pons and David Ray. Includes biographies of the Four Viscounts Cowdray and a fascinating overview of both the Estate’s history and current activities. Click here to shop online.

  • Member for Mexico by Desmond Young. A biography of the First Viscount Cowdray.