Hooray For Henfield
by Ruth Lawrence
With a population of five and a half thousand, Henfield is large enough to boast numerous facilities yet small enough to retain a community village feel.
A compact High Street runs through the centre of the village with the advantage of free or economical car parking in two car parks or on the street. A browse round the shops reveals a refreshing mix of everything you need for day to day living alongside the quirky and unusual; a winning partnership that ensures there’s something to cater for every taste.
Tempting antiques, up to the minute clothes and charity shops for vintage upcycling sit side by side with friendly café’s, excellent local food and restaurants. Over six hundred businesses operate in and around Henfield and it boasts a leisure centre, playing fields, tennis courts and a skate park. Outdoor and indoor sports are catered for with cricket, snooker and bowls being popular activities throughout the year. Residents are never short of something to do; over 120 clubs and groups exist for every conceivable interest including book discussions, art, gardening, line dancing, calligraphy, chess, woodcraft and photography. A quick glance at the events of the week reveal a talk on the lifecycle of bees, a Christmas Fair, quiz night and two concerts; clearly the residents of Henfield are a proactive community who love to get together and share experiences.
The Henfield Hall is the social centre of the village and has its own website and rooms to hire for groups, social events and parties as well as containing Henfield Museum and a monthly travelling cinema. Henfield Haven is owned by Henfield Social Enterprise, a community interest company, set up by local volunteers and is open five days a week to provide services and fun activities for people to enjoy. After visiting the Haven some months ago, I was struck by how important a role it plays in the social fabric of the village; it’s somewhere you can guarantee a warm welcome and a place to share conversation and community events.
Set within rural surroundings, the village makes a wonderful centre for enjoying the Downs and opportunities for country walks are abundant whatever the season.
South of the village lies the 47 acre Woods Mill Nature Reserve, headquarters of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and an environmental education centre. It’s a wonderful place to visit; children love the ponds and twisty paths that open up opportunities to spot wildlife amid tranquil surroundings of ancient woodland and wild flower meadows.
Henfield is the ideal place for people who appreciate the advantages of numerous facilities and an active community while enjoying the abundant rural charms of the village and its attractive peaceful setting.
Photos: Amber Watkins