by Ruth Lawrence
Hassocks is an attractive village settled just to the north of the South Downs. It combines an abundance of great amenities and a welcoming community, all set in a beautiful landscape.
Seven miles north of Brighton lies Hassocks, sheltered by the South Downs and a perfect base from which to explore the delights of the National Park.
Comprising the old parishes of Clayton and Keymer, the name Hassocks is thought to originate from the rough tufts of grass in surrounding fields and today, the village offers a wide variety of shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants to make it a lively hub for residents and visitor alike. The village market on the fourth Saturday of each month brings in further choice and Adastra Hall near the village centre hosts the WI, Field Society and Horticultural Society and is home to the Star Cinema. The hall is suitable for parties, dances, meetings, craft fairs and weddings and is owned by the Hassocks Community Association, a registered charity formed in 1976.
Keymer is home to the fully restored Oldland Mill, an award winning, working post mill, which hosts themed open days throughout summer, including activities for children and adults. Visitors are welcome to explore the mill. It is open on Thursday mornings when many of the volunteers are working on site and it is usually possible to have a guided tour for a small, recommended donation. The first open afternoon this year will be on the 2nd April, followed by a Special Event Day on the 7th May. As a former volunteer, I can vouch for the tremendous amount of work that has been lavished on this beautiful mill. Visible from the Downs, it stands as testimony to the perseverance of a hundred volunteers for nearly forty years of restoration.
Residents often cite the friendly community as one of the main charms of Hassocks and commuters will appreciate the fast rail link direct to London or Brighton. Visitors are spoiled for choice when planning a walk or cycle ride. A short drive takes you to a car park next to the Jack and Jill windmills where you can strike out east or west across the Downs by foot or two wheels. Horse riders have access to the 100 mile South Downs Way and everyone can enjoy easy access walks and panoramic views overlooking the village. A small seventeen acre ancient woodland called Butchers Wood lies to the south of the village and it’s a wonderfully tranquil place to spot birds and enjoy bluebells in the spring.
Hassocks seems to have achieved a balance of contrasting attributes; great transport links, a supportive community, numerous leisure opportunities with the advantage of surprisingly affordable family housing whilst set in the stunning scenery of the UK’s newest National Park.