History of MADhurst

Big ideas – even in the beginning

In its first year the festival was blessed with sunshine, and people came out in droves. There was music in the town square, a samba band, a “poetry pie and a pint” evening of bawdy comedy at The Wheatsheaf, and many concerts and art events. Street events played an important role as well; three pianos for people to play and open canvases at three different locations on which people could paint. Paula Groves’ ‘Midnight Pearl’ was the headline act in the final concert, and it was all concluded with a town-wide carnival procession and a huge firework display!

The Committee, with their many partners, had done it! They had founded a festival! They had developed a ‘brand’.  And, amazingly, they had balanced the books! The first MADhurst Festival had been a great success.  However the lasting legacy, and in fact the point behind it all, has been the growing relationships and inter-connections among the various organisations in the town, and the imaginative engagement of so many wonderful local people in co-creating a cross-community event.

And thank you….

None of this would have been possible without the vision of those founder members. So thank you to: Marco Frankland, Fr Marcus Ronchetti, Sean Kearney, John Barrett, Paula Groves, David and Trina Duncan, Ruth Benton, Susan Coulter, Steve Morley, Mike Fry, Alan and Maggie Gibson, Alistair Gibson, Heather Ongley (of Cowdray Heritage Trust), Jeanette Sutton, the art students at Midhurst Grammar School (who developed the MADhurst logo), Doon Muir and Wayne Osborne.

10 years of celebrating creativity and developing community!

MADhurst may have started as just 9 days of performances and activities but, over 10 years, it’s grown beyond it’s founders wildest dreams. The acts and events have got bigger, the festival’s reputation has spread and its 10th anniversary marked its expansion to a full month-long celebration of art, music, drama and creativity across the area.

2019 was the first year the festival increased from 9 days to the whole of August with music, arts, drama and community events spread across the whole month.  The festival may have grown but its aims remained the same; to spark local creativity and bring the Midhurst community together in new ways. Every year the line up demonstrates that clearly. With live music, comedy, drama, food, children’s and adult workshops, family events, guided walks, community events and much more. As before some of the events were organised and run by the MADhurst committee, others were organised and run the a variety of local venues and organisations (fringe events).  This collabaration between the festival committee and local venues demonstrate how well the whole community works together to provide Midhurst and the surrounding villages with a month long festival.

2018 – in pictures

2020 – Big Plan – on hold until 2021

At the start of 2020 the committee had a great list of acts and events lined up to entertain the whole community – but unfortunately Covid 19 had other plans – so we had to take a year off.  But we were back in 2021 with a MADhurst- light – a slimmed down version of our full festival with small events often outdoors but at least the festival went ahead. It was also the first year Midhurst Town Council provided us with a spectacular Street Party instead of the Carnival Procession – a new tradition we are now doing every year.

MADhurst 2021

2022 – Back – Big, Bold and Beautiful

Once again the Festival Committee and local venues and organisations were able to bring the full festival back for the enjoyment and entertainment of all of Midhurst and the Surrounding Villages. At it was one of our most successful years ever.  You can still see the range of events that we did on our archive pages.

Events archive

MADhurst 2022 Art Trail

MADhurst Treasure Hunt

Hugh Bonneville reads our winning short stories