A village where weight-lifters thrived

The English Place Name Society gives the earliest reference to Cross-in-Hand as Cruce Manus in 1547, and the name is believed to be based on the legend that Crusaders assembled there before embarking for the Holy Land.

The village once had two fairs a year, on June 22 and November 19, when the landlord of the Cross-in-Hand Hotel was expected to prepare a feast of roast beef and plum pudding, with all the trimmings, for the revellers.

By tradition the fairs featured weight-lifting contests. These were always won by Strong John Saunders, a local miller who could lift 2cwt and died in 1835 at the age of 82.

A cottage industry that grew to greater things was established at Homestalls, in New Pond Hill, where George Foord lived with his wife Eliza and son.

Mrs Foord made ginger beer for the thirsty workmen out in the fields and young son Thomas in later life made a successful business from it.

He is recorded in Kelly’s Directory of Sussex for the year 1882: ‘Foord, Thomas. Manufacturer of ginger beer, lemonade, soda, seltzer, potash, ginger ale and other mineral waters for which he is famous.’

He was also a farmer and a parish surveyor at an annual salary of £10.

Another local delicacy was flead cakes (flead being pure lard from the pig’s intestines) made by a baker called Tingley in Warren Lane.