Cooksbridge, Offham & Hamsey

CHURCH SERVICES: Sunday, at St Peter’s Church, 8am Holy Communion, 10.15am Sunday School in the church hall, 10.30am Parish Communion followed by coffee in the hall.

BRADNESS GALLERY: Reminder, on Sunday a one day course, Growing Cut Flowers for the House with Judy McClelland. Call Michael or Emma if you would like to attend on 01273 400606. On Thursday a one day course, Landscape Painting in Watercolours with Michael Cruickshank. Saturday and Sunday, March 5 and 6, a two day course, Painting Abstracts with Emma Burnett. Tuesday and Wednesday, March 8 and 9, a two day course with Michael Cruickshank, Getting to Grips with Oil Painting. Thursday March 10 a one day course, Growing Cut Flowers for the House. Saturday and Sunday, March 12 and 13, Landscape Painting in Watercolours with Michael Cruickshank.

OVER DEVELOPMENT: In what was once a lovely country lane, which has already become urbanised with the installation of a concrete footpath which caused a lot of controversy and upset for some resident’s. I have now received calls showing concern for more proposed development with an application for 23 dwellings to be constructed in the field opposite the village hall. Under the Southdowns National Park the number is SDNP/16/00749/PRE submitted by Ryden Homes. For that amount of dwellings and with most families having two cars, that would probably mean another 50 vehicles using the lane which was considered unsafe, hence the argument from some people to have the pavement installed. I think that some residents who already live in Beechwood Lane will be horrified when they see where the entrance to the site is positioned. I would have thought that the planners, be it SDNP or LDC, will have to tread very carefully before they allow this development that most residents don’t’ even know about, especially following the about-turn over all the planned development around Lewes District which has now enraged the developers for having their time wasted. Leave our country lanes alone, otherwise more of our precious countryside will turn into a concrete jungle.

BLACK CAP PUDDING: Whilst sorting out some of my cookery books to make room for more, I came across one entitled Sussex Country Recipes, first published in 1987 and published again in 1996. Somebody made a mistake as it says that Black Cap is a village near Lewes in East Sussex. Blackcap is a well-known landmark on the Downs above Courthouse which I can see from my kitchen window and enjoy watching through all the seasons. Only a few weeks ago I was watching early in the morning at first light and it was a beautiful sight, bathed in an orange light which lit up the whole of the Downs. As I have so many cook books I had never really used it and glancing through spotted the name so decided to read further. Lo and behold under the acknowledgements Mr Russell Smith, formerly of the White Hart, Lewes for Sussex Rabbit and Pigeon Pudding, Black Cap Pudding, Trip Romaine and Pork in Cider. I must admit having now read the recipe it does not look very appetising.

SOME SUSSEX BY WAYS: Is one of a collection of very old books that were given to me by my late father-in-law and was written by the late Viscountess Wolseley who strangely enough lived at our lovely old Elizabethan house in North Chailey many moons ago where she trained a team of lady gardeners. When Derek and I moved there in the 1970s the house still had the wonderful herbaceous border that she had created amongst many other garden delights. Sussex By Ways is a delight and has lovely colour plates by Garnet Wolseley, ARWA. I had only read parts of it as I have other books by the author, but as there is now a local group who have formed to save Hamsey Church, I thought the following summed up the strong sentiments that so many have for this much loved church. The author had travelled extensively around Sussex and when it comes to describing The Coombe in Offham and the Bridger and Shiffner family, she then goes on to describe her next objective as the little ‘lost’ church of Hamsey, ‘which we reach by turning left opposite the park gates of Coombe Place and leaving the modern church of Offham on our left. It is this church that has supplanted that of Hamsey, the latter being now used as a mortuary chapel, and if subscriptions to the repair of this ancient and historic building are not forthcoming, Sussex will lose one of her most treasured possessions. It is loved not only for its connection throughout the centuries with well-known families, but also because of its beautiful surroundings, it’s isolated position, standing up on a hillock right in the midst of the levels that form part of the river-bed of the Ouse. The railway it is true, has come close to it, and shrieking engines with their smut-laden smoke pass near, but when they are out of sight, it seems as if this small church and old Hamsey Place farmhouse with its barns and stockyard standing below the solitary hillock return to the silence of Tudor days or maybe earlier times when communication was slow an only wayfarers on foot or horseback came here.’

‘An inlet of the sea at one time came as high as where Hamsey Place farmhouse now stands, for an old Dutch chart marks where the Toll House as Hams Plaas, which is said to have given the name to this house.’ There is very much more interesting history that the author has written about Hamsey Church and its surroundings but I am sure that if it has survived as long as this, it will carry on for the next generation to enjoy it.

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