The village of Chiddingly is the picture of old English rural countryside. A primary school, two pubs, a brewers, a cricket club, a scenic centrepiece of a church dating back to the 13th Century, only 3220 residents at the last census, and a mention in the Domesday Book from the 11th Century.
It’s also the occasional source of the odd news story which can only be described as the epitome of rural life, and is unsurprisingly the venue of a handful of campsites for its obvious beauty being surrounded by the Sussex countryside.
Right at the heart of the village servicing both the locals and those passing through alike is the village shop.
They’re a focal point of rural communities which have somewhat fallen by the wayside, overtaken in favour of trips to the nearest supermarket or online, with village shops all over the county wearing new clothes with each new owner, often ceasing to be the always relevant local resource.
In 2012 Chiddingly residents decided their community was lacking that resource, and being a proactive group they took the initiative to set one up themselves. Both a local shop and a café, it is a feature for cyclists and ramblers, for campers and residents. It also has one major advantage over any competition further afield – they source everything possible from local farms and businesses.
The importance of treating our environment with greater care is forever growing in the public’s consciousness, an issue that is gradually causing people to change their habits and behaviours for the better. Food which travels from all over the continent and world is convenient, but increasingly people are becoming aware of the damage such behaviour can cause when en masse.
Buying locally is one of the easiest ways to lower your impact on the environment, forgoing the excessive carbon footprint from transportation, and more often than not also forgoing any unnecessary plastic packaging (looking at you supermarkets with fruit in sealed containers!).
Taking a proactive approach to this issue, the shop stock their own reusable bags and environmentally friendly products wherever able, sourced from ethical companies and local businesses.
So the next time you’re passing through Chiddingly or find yourself nearby why not pop in? Stop in the café and enjoy the view, maybe even visit the gallery across from them after you’ve finished your coffee or tea.
And if you feel you can contribute yourself, why not look at volunteering to help? The shop and café are run by a team of volunteers who are always welcoming of additional assistance. There can’t be many better locations to immerse yourself in whilst giving your time to help others.
For directions or any other information please feel free to check their website.
Written by Neil Sonsthagen