In July, the Prince’s Countryside Fund launched its Village Survival Guide – a guide to help rural villages and communities survive and thrive in challenging times and includes many inspirational examples of villages and local businesses who are determined to keep their unique communities going.
For many rural communities, as well as semi-rural village like Limpsfield, it’s getting harder and harder to survive and thrive in a modern world where local business is under threat.
Limpsfield Parish Council has worked hard to produce the Limpsfield Neighbourhood Plan that will play a very important part in securing our vision for how we’d like to see our village survive and thrive into the future. This looks at everything from planning, conservation of our historic buildings as well as our green spaces, traffic, local business, communications and infrastructure.
We only have a couple of shops left on the high street, so it’s down to us, the residents; businesses and organisations, such as Memorial Stores, Coffee @ Kiwi House, The Bull Inn, The Limpsfield Club, The British Legion, Limpsfield Infants School, St Peter’s Church, Ebbutts Funeral Services – and all the fabulous community projects, societies and groups to really try to bring the community together.
It’s all about involvement, participation and supporting all that’s great about our village.
So, what’s great about Limpsfield and how are we trying to maintain our village life and how can we do to keep our community thriving?
In order for villages like Limpsfield to survive, it’s so important to get involved with community events and activities and support those businesses that are still on our high street or based in our village.
We have an ever-dwindling high street, with so many businesses closing and too much change of use from commercial to residential property, so it’s hugely important that we continue to use and support the businesses that are still here, such as Panda Nursery, Avalanche Gallery, Chic Grooming, Surrey Dance School, Coffee @ Kiwi House, Limpsfield Ceramics, Meldon House & Home, Fancier Dress and Surrey Skin & Laser Clinic. Let’s also not forget the lovely gentlemen at Northdown Nursery behind the churchyard who sell fantastic fresh vegetables all year round as well as their seasonal Christmas trees.
The four most important hubs in our village are of course Memorial Stores, The Bull Inn, Coffee @ Kiwi House and St Peter’s Church.
Memorial Stores. Our fabulous community shop and post office, owned by the Limpsfield community and run by volunteers, recently turned 20 and is the most amazing business. Its aim is to keep a local stores and post office running in the village for as long as humanly possible, providing much-needed face to face contact and daily social interaction for many people in the village. The Stores is always keen for more volunteers of all ages. It’s a great way to get to know your community.
The Bull Inn. Now owned by Enterprising Limpsfield, consisting of over 200 local investors, The Bull Inn has been reinvigorated and offers great food and drink as well as meeting spaces, event spaces, sports events viewing, free local cycle rides and walks with Jon Rayner of Limpsfield Fitness, yoga classes and lots more. Having been at the centre of the village for hundreds of years, we hope this new incarnation will mean it continues to play a huge part for centuries to come! It’s also looking for new investors in case you missed out before – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coffee @ Kiwi House. This lovely family-run cafe has also become a real hub of the community and hosts lots of events, parties, shopping evenings with local businesses. With free Wi-Fi, it’s perfect for informal meetings, or to go through emails etc over a cup of coffee and a piece of Sean’s fantastic homemade cakes, which are becoming quite legendary in the village!
St Peter’s Church. Always a huge part of every community, whether you’re a believer or not, the local church is a great place for all sorts of activities and events; from its regular services, to Messy Church for the children; exhibitions and concerts, choirs and a huge variety of events and activities in its church hall, including fairs, sales, workshops, talks and coffee mornings. It is also of course, the home of Surrey Dance School. St Andrew’s Church on Limpsfield Chart also has a very proactive community and throughout the summer hosts Sunday afternoon teas every week.
Away from the high street, the Limpsfield’s Royal British Legion has one of the best locations in the village, sitting on the edge of the Limpsfield & Oxted Cricket Club pitch, on the edge of the Limpsfield Chart Golf course and is a fabulous place for a quiet drink, while watching the cricket. It also holds all sorts of events and association meetings, has fabulous food in its restaurant and hosts a weekly pétanque morning – Wednesdays for ladies, Thursdays for Gentlemen – as well as snooker, darts and a wicked cheeseboard on a Sunday!
The Limpsfield Club – undergoing a lot of refurbishment – is a fantastic place to keep healthy and socialise and offers memberships for participation in the various racket sports on offer, but also social membership too. It’s lovely to just sit in the sunshine with a glass of something watching the tennis, even if you couldn’t hit a ball to save your life!
Voluntary activities and projects
Limpsfield also takes part in Limpsfield in Bloom every year – part of the RHS Britain in Bloom and tries to get everyone in the village involved in keeping their gardens and the village looking beautiful. Limpsfield in Bloom keeps the village looking beautiful, but also works with Limpsfield Infants School to educate the children on nature, flowers and sustainability. We win gold most years, but the team could definitely do with some more help – so look out for working party dates which are published on their page (and usually shared on the Limpsfield page too).
If you have some time and love being out in the countryside in all weathers, then why not join Mark Richards from the National Trust and the Friends of Limpsfield Common? They spend their time maintaining and improving our fabulous local woodland, heathland and historic sites such as the air raid shelters at Grub Street. Find out more here.
We’re very lucky in that we have some fabulous activities and projects such as the Community Orchard Project– that is a volunteer led orchard that educates the local infant school about growing fruit etc. They have a photo competition running at the moment, so why not enter? Deadline is October 1. Email email@example.com for more info.
If you’re a fan of fitness training then Jon Rayner’s Limpsfield Fitness on the Glebe Meadow has something for everyone and if you have a little one, Panda Nursery next door offers child care while you train. The very sociable and popular Oxted & Limpsfield and Limpsfield Chart Cricket Clubs and Limpsfield Chart Golf Club also provide other leisure pursuits.
There are also a number of great societies and groups to join, including the Limpsfield Arts Society, Oxted & Limpsfield Music Society, Choral Society, Limpsfield Riding Club, Limpsfield & Oxted District Horticultural Society and the choirs at St Peters and St Andrews.
Communication is so important
There are many people in the village who don’t really get out much and for whom a quick chat with their neighbours outside their door, in the stores or the café is a lifeline and the highlight of their day.
There are also lots of busy parents who are back and forth to school or on the train to London and simply don’t have the time to go to events and talk to people face to face, but it’s so important to try… Just a trip to Memorial Stores on a Saturday morning can really help to make you feel connected and in tune with what’s going on!
Of course, not forgetting our very own Parish News! Produced by St Peter’s team and several other people in the village, it’s entirely written by locals who give up their time to write interesting and informative articles for you to enjoy. You can now access the magazine online, too.
For those who get most of their information online, then the Limpsfield village website and social media was set up to provide a central point of information and interest, promoting local businesses and general info and goings-on. https://limpsfieldsurrey.com and associated Instagram and Facebook accounts – @limpsfieldsurrey.
HOW YOU CAN HELP YOUR VILLAGE SURVIVE
- Use your village post office
- Shop local whenever possible – Memorial Stores is not for profit
- Go to local council meetings once in a while – find out what’s going on and get involved
- Use your local pubs and cafes as often as possible
- Join a local club or society like the horticultural society, arts society or choir
- Participate in local events and community endeavours like Limpsfield in Bloom
- Make a point of getting to know and being there for your neighbours
- Give up some time – an hour a week could make a huge difference to a local person or activity that relies on volunteers
For more information on the Village Survival Guide, go to https://www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk, where you can also download a copy.
Article written by Sophie Martin and published in the Limpsfield Parish News – Autumn 2019.
See the full magazine here. https://www.stpeterslimpsfield.org/uploads/1/2/0/7/120754977/autumn_2019_web.pdf