Tag Archives: cricket

Wandering: Haywards Heath Recreation Ground

19 Apr

A recreation ground may seem like an unusual choice for a place for me to go walking, but I had been looking for something to do on Saturday morning before the start of the SFHG Annual Conference and had come across a mention of the recreation ground and decided it might be interesting to take a closer look.

Black’s Guide to Sussex for 1898 gives the recreation ground a brief mention:

The building of many scattered villas and bits of streets has much cut up the heath, part of which will be found, to the east of the station, laid out as a pleasure-ground with paths and seats.

The idea that the recreation ground was the last trace of the heath from which the town got its name was what attracted me to it. I knew from the Ordnance Survey map that there wasn’t much left of it, but it would still be interesting to have a look around.

The recreation ground is divided into two parts, the northern part largely consists of a well maintained cricket pitch and the southern part is a wild area of woodland, divided in two by the cricket pavilion and a children’s playground.

Looking south across the cricket pitch

To be honest there wasn’t really much walking to be done, I could probably have walked around the perimeter of the recreation ground in fifteen minutes if I had really wanted to, but I had time to kill so I took my time, wandering at random around the paths.

The cricket pitch is quite interesting in that it looks like the ground has hollowed out, leaving a flat cricket pitch and an embankment on the eastern side, with a couple of paths running across the embankment which are dotted with benches. It is this cricket pitch which I had seen many times from within Clair Hall, but had never stepped outside to take a closer look.

The southern part was really what I was here for though. Given that it is surrounded by buildings on three sides (and a cricket pitch on the other) it is surprising rural in appearance. You are never far from a tarmac path but it didn’t seem to be overly managed, there are a few patches of daffodils and bluebells but it is mainly just scrubby ground with a mixture of trees.

Amongst the trees at Haywards Heath Recreation Ground

I was really surprised to very little sign of human activity, I had expected to find more litter, but perhaps it has not really been the weather for sitting in the woods and leaving your rubbish behind, perhaps that is more of a summer activity.

It is hard to say whether this patch of woodland is typical of the landscape of the original heath, it wasn’t really what I imagine heathland to be like and I suspect it owes more to the victorian pleasure ground than the earlier heath.

It is however an interesting reminder of an earlier time, before the railways and enclosure caused the heath to be torn up. I feel sure that someone must have studied the history of the heath in detail before but my limited research so far has failed to turn up much information.

I really must make an effort to take a stroll around the recreation ground again in the summer when there are more leaves on the trees and the surrounding buildings will be less visible.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The Hemsleys cricket team

4 Jun

I discovered a wonderful mention of my HEMSLEY ancestors yesterday in a book in the Oxfam Bookshop in Horsham, Sussex. I usually pop in once a week to see what they have to interest me, I have picked up some great books and maps from there in the past.

I didn’t actually buy this book yesterday, I couldn’t really justify spending the £24.99 they wanted for it, for one small mention of my ancestors. Instead I went to Horsham Library today and took a copy of the relevant part for my records.

The book is entitled The Memoirs of Gaius Carley – A Sussex Blacksmith and for a while the author was working in both Blackboys and Framfield in Sussex. There are only a couple of pages on each of these places, but in the Blackboys section he says

The village had a good cricket team and a family named Hemsleys could muster a team of their own and name.

Instantly I started to wonder if there are any records of the Blackboys cricket team and whether any of the HEMSLEY family did play, an interesting little avenue to follow one day.

Then I started thinking about how I would actually record this on my family tree? I can’t really attach the information to any particular generation or individual, in fact I can’t think of anywhere I could record it in my software. If you have any suggestions let me know?

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