Rodmell and Southease

VILLAGE HALL: The Trustees of our village hall, a dedicated bunch, have taken the decision to finance a new kitchen which, it is hoped, will make it more user friendly. The hall will be closed for a week some time in August. I understand that this decision will considerably reduce the finances so there will be a need for more fundraising. The only income fir this important building is from rents and fundraising.

IN THE VILLAGE: Those of us that have been in the village many years and have seen much coming and going, are pleased to hear that Andrew and Susie Hambury are moving back to Rectory Cottage after many years of living abroad.

SAD NEWS: I was sad to read in our parish magazine that Tina Jeffrey, who used to live in Rodmell for a number of years, but who moved with husband Ian and two daughters to Coddenham, near Ipswich, had died recently. Although I did not know her terribly well I always passed the time of day with her when we met and I did take David brown, who was I understand curator of The Tate Art Gallery in London and friend of my Japanese friend Kayoko, down to meet Tina and her husband Ian, as David wanted to meet them as Ian was known in the art world. This was some years ago.

RODMELL ON RODMELL: I received this write up via a friend of mine in Presteigne, just over the border in Wales. I thought it may amuse readers: Rodmell is my surname in case you’re wondering. It’s rare but I was born with it (and given the forename Kenneth). On the paternal side, my father is Brian Edward Rodmell (b1930), a retired economist and only child of bank employee Ernest George Rodmell with roots in the London suburb of Mottingham. Beyond that my memory is hazy. My mother researched our family tree but, rebellious child that I am, I paid scant attention to it. Having shunned any patriotic duty, my branch of the family tree stops here. My only memory of seeing Rodmell was on a family farm-stay holiday, way back in 1966 or 1967. My stock recollection of the visit goes something like this: ‘I don’t think we even got off the bus. We were going from Lewes to Newhaven or vice versa; I can’t remember why, maybe just for the novelty of seeing our surname on a road sign. It wasn’t much of a place as I recall – a pub, post office, church, two or three tumbledown cottages, maybe a farm or two and that was about it. Blink and you’d miss it.’

Whether the hazy memory of a 6 or 7 year old, nearly 50 years on, does it justice I don’t know. I’ve never been back and have no pressing desire to do so. I’m sure it’s special in its own ordinary way but I’ve seen all seven continents and get my wow-factor kicks from the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland, the peaks of Mongolia, Patagonia and Alaska – so there.

A look at Google’s satellite view tells me there’s either been some hectic building in Rodmell over the past 50 years or my memory is tainted. I have a strong notion though of ascending some stone steps in Lewes Castle and seeing an old penny-farthing leaning against an interior wall. It’s a funny thing, memory; it’s hard to know what I’m meant to be doing tomorrow without checking my calendar but I can still picture that old pedal powered relic, hand painted in some garish hue over the rust. What else do I know about Rodmell? Not a lot – Virginia Woolf’s ashes are interred there. From a sense of cultural duty I tried reading Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway but gave up after fewer than 50 pages. I know the zero degree meridian runs close by and that the name Rodmell was once printed on aviation charts as a hang gliding site.

ON TV: It was interesting to see Julian Bell on TV recently as we all remember him and his family when they lived in Rodmell with their then young family, how time flies.

CTLA: Some villagers have joined the CTLA Community Transport for the Lewes area. It is free to join and offers door to door transport, outings etc for very reasonable prices. To find out more ring 01273 517332 and ask for their brochure. I intend to.

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