A quintessential English summer in Lindfield

The Mid Sussex village of Lindfield abounds in green spaces, and you don't have to go far to find the perfect spot for a picnic. Words by Jenny Mark-Bell

Lindfield's High Street, lined with the lime trees that gave the village its name, leads to a beautiful spring-fed pond, home to ducks and other water fowl. The King Edward Hall, which this year is celebrating its centenary, is an important focal point for village events and meetings of the many organisations. The three churches are all very active in the community. Lindfield’s sense of pride and community is palpable. The Preservation Society was established in 1961 to promote the preservation and development of the village. The Society’s first battle was against developers who wanted to build five tower blocks near All Saints Church. Now they examine planning applications and work to maintain the character and appearance of Lindfield. Vice-chairman John Jesson says: “Lindfield’s character arises from the remarkable collection of architecturally and historically important buildings on our iconic High Street. It also comes from the sense of community generated by the shops, restaurants and pubs and the social activities in our village hall and on the Common.  Compared with some villages, Lindfield is always active, almost restless.”As well as its abundant man-made charms, Lindfield is blessed with a naturally beautiful situation. The River Ouse and its tributaries are important features of the landscape, and the village has two nature reserves. The Eastern Road Nature Reserve is a former sewage works and landfill site that has been allowed to develop naturally since 1975. The other, Scrase Valley, is home to a number of rare plant species. Christine Irwin, Clerk of Lindfield Parish Council, says that the location and setting of Lindfield makes it a great place to live: “We’re close to Haywards Heath for shops and transport links but the village has a separate identity and a unique character. We have a vibrant village centre with a good range of shops catering for basic needs and the more specialist shops which attract visitors and there’s a good choice of places to get a coffee or a meal. “Of course, Lindfield’s greatest asset is its people – a broad mix of families that have lived here for generations and others that have settled here more recently.  There is a huge amount of local talent which was brought together by the Arts Festival in May and so many people give freely of their time, keeping our traditions alive and supporting the organisations that are all part of the life of the village.”In Saxon times the village was called Lindefeldia, which meant open land with lime trees.

A sporting lifeYou can’t get much more English than cricket, and in Lindfield it’s an integral part of village life. Cricket has been played on the Common since 1747, making Lindfield one of the oldest clubs in the county. The Club has hosted many notable games over the years including Sussex Second XI versus Essex Second XI in 1948 and, more recently, a one day International match between Netherlands and New Zealand in the 1993 Women’s World Cup. For over 50 years the first week of August has been cricket week in Lindfield and at weekends the car park on the Common welcomes locals and visitors who come to watch the game in picturesque surroundings. Lindfield Bowling Club is also based at the Common, which forms the centre of many village activities.

Eat, drink and be merryIf there’s a finer summer combination than food, beer and music, we have yet to find it. Jeremy’s in Borde Hill is the perfect venue for summer celebrations, offering al fresco dining on a terrace overlooking a Victorian walled garden.  On Bank Holiday Monday, they are hosting a barbecue and beer event with local micro-brewery Fallen Angel. The soundtrack comes courtesy of the Bob Barnard Jazz Duo.The Stand Up Inn on the High Street is so-called because the original pub did not provide seating for its visitors. Thankfully, those times are now firmly in the past! It is owned by local brewery Dark Star and serves a fine selection of real ale in cosy surroundings. There’s an open fire, a heated patio, and regular live music.In balmy weather, treat yourself to a picnic and a cool bottle from South Downs Cellars on the High Street. They stock a wide variety of local wines as well as those from further afield. The shop also offers tasting services, and a Wine Club for connoisseurs. Last month, South Downs Cellars released the first release under its own label. They collaborated on the sparkling wine with the Wiston Estate in Washington, West Sussex, and winemaker Dermot Sugrue.

A trip down memory laneFor a nostalgic shopping experience, head to The Toll House. The shop is housed in one of Lindfield’s most beautiful and historic buildings, where you can meet friends at the in-house caf� while shopping for vintage fashions, homeware and gifts. “I am pleased to say that the cafe is very popular with our local residents and we have a lot of regulars,” says Peter Moss, who owns the shop with his wife Inger. “In the last month we have seen an increase in visitors from outside the area. One day we had a coach load of German tourists!”Weather permitting, the shop’s walled garden is the perfect place to reflect on prospective purchases.