Small Town Vibe
by Ruth Lawrence
Pretty, small towns are fast becoming one of the most popular places to live. With more facilities than a village and none of the problems of urban life, people are rediscovering their numerous advantages
Steyning is one of the best located downland towns; situated at the north end of the River Adur, in a gap between the downs it lies only four miles from the sea. Its position made it an important trading place in the Middle Ages, acting as a river port for the downland wool trade. The silting up of the river Adur thwarted its economic development which means it is exceptionally well preserved. There are plenty of beautiful old buildings in the town including half timbered houses, elegant Georgian town houses and picturesque cottages. The Steyning bypass means that the High Street is spared heavy traffic and the associated noise and pollution.
The town used to have a railway, which was axed in 1966. The line has since been converted into the Downs Link, a footpath and cycle link, one of numerous opportunities to walk and bike using the town as a base.
If sampling local foods appeals more than pedalling the downs, Steyning has an award winning farmers market on the first Saturday of each month in the High Street car park from 9am until 1pm. Shoppers who prefer independent traders will find Steyning has much to offer with numerous craft outlets, artisan foods, clothes, books and charity shops for that vintage bargain.
The Steyning Society, which aims to retain the essential character of the town, hosts talks on local topics from September to June which include free tea and coffee for members and several other charities operate from the town. There are almost twenty clubs and societies to join, ranging from bell ringing and bridge to fine arts and one of the most successful camera clubs in the South of England. The Steyning and Henfield Rotary Club welcomes men and women to help give back to the community while enjoying a diverse range of social events and the History Society offers an intriguing mix of talks from September to May.
Singing seems to be a popular activity in the town with no fewer than twelve choirs, music societies and even an a cappella all male chorus. A monthly Live Lounge music club has opportunities to showcase your talents and even toddlers can join in with sing-along sessions once a month at the library.
Steyning is a town where people end up staying because of the combination of community spirit and the excellent facilities that can be enjoyed there. Add to that the unbeatable location and it’s not hard to see why this is a town prized by its fortunate inhabitants.
Photos: Jonathan Booty