Hooray For Handcross
by Ruth Lawrence
Handcross is the largest of the four villages that constitute Slaugham Parish and its position within a stone’s throw of the A23, making it ideally placed for commuters to London and Brighton. Ruth Lawrence finds out more.
Handcross has managed to retain its village atmosphere and there is a lively, close knit community which hosts a surprising number of clubs, societies and events for its size. The Petanque Club for Mid Sussex is based in Handcross and promotes itself as “an exceptionally friendly club,” which actively welcomes members who are new to the game, also known as boules. It’s an enjoyable competitive game which can be played by all ages and abilities, and the club caters for those who want to play for fun and those who love the thrill of competition. There’s a strong social element to the club, which meets for informal games every Sunday and Wednesday and those who want to progress to league matches or even national events can find support to do so. Handcross Bowls Club also welcomes new members who can practice daily throughout the summer and take part in home and away matches at the weekend. If football’s more your game, the village has two teams that play in the Mid Sussex League and weekend matches take place at the recreation ground with training on a Wednesday and Thursday evening.
Gardeners who want to grow their own can take on a council run allotment in the village; renting a plot can be an excellent way to keep fit, make new friends and of course bring home plenty of the fruits of your labours. Older members of the community are particularly well catered for in the village; the Handcross Rosemary Club is a friendship group who meet on the third Wednesday every month for tea, sandwiches and entertainment with two outings a year and a Christmas party. The Spotlight/Dorcas Group is a formal service for the more mature members of the Parish, combined with the ladies who produce knitted and crocheted goods for homeless people and those in need. The group supports charities including St Catherine’s Hospice and Faith in Action. The charmingly named Handcross Mustard Seed Group is a Parish ministry for mature friends in the four villages who meet in All Saint’s Church in Handcross. They aim to provide at least two lunches and a Christmas meal for each member between September and April in warm, comfortable surroundings. There is also a Handcross Ladies Association that meet regularly.
Young people have their own youth club with games, crafts and activities and Amigos is a childrens club who offer games, sport, craft, worship and activities on Monday afternoons. Help at Hand is a voluntary group who organise transport for those with no other means of making essential trips such as hospital appointments and visiting relatives and volunteer drivers are always needed for this service.
Local history enthusiasts will enjoy the comprehensive archive of over 2,200 photographs collected from the village; they weave a tapestry of village life from the 19th and 20th century. Browsing them provides a wonderful glimpse of the days before cars and the great changes brought about by two world wars. In one photo, dated 1890, a fully laden stagecoach is about to hitch up its leading horse to assist with the long haul up Handcross Hill and another scene in 1876 shows a collection of villagers awaiting a wedding carriage. In 1920 a single car travels down the High Street, passengers being driven by a man in a cap, most likely the family chauffeur. There’s a photo of the High Street decked in bunting for the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and numerous fascinating pictures of individuals at village fairs, shows and sports days.
Handcross may have changed over the centuries but it still retains its community based village intimacy and offers a welcoming social hub for residents and newcomers alike.