Udimore

Including invited guests, some fifty of us gathered in St Mary’s Community Hall last Saturday afternoon for the “All Our Yesterdays” tea party arranged by the Friends of St Mary’s Church. A comprehensive display of photographs and albums kindly loaned for the occasion soon brought back many memories of Udimore in former times, which in due course led to a fascinating series of reminiscences. But first there was tea and a mouthwatering array of cakes (fully up to the Friends’ usual high standards). Conversation flowed freely at the tea tables, to be interrupted for a few minutes, so that everyone could listen to some individual recollections.

These included accounts of life at Udimore School and the long walks school pupils made from the furthest parts of the village, sport in the days when Udimore used to field both cricket and football teams, and the wonderful experience of growing up at a time when young people were free to wander anywhere, climbing trees, fishing, birdsnesting or pole vaulting over the Tillingham, without anyone worrying about them. There were memories too of the various aircraft brought down in the village during and after the Battle of Britain: two of the guests there (one of whom had come all the way from Folkestone) were both in the old Church Room one morning in December 1940 when the Vicar’s nativity play rehearsal was interrupted by the noise of a Messerschmidt making a forced landing nearby (that aircraft is now on display in a museum in Johannisburg). Later in the war, antiaircraft gunners installed in a battery near Farthings Wood to intercept doodlebug flying bombs noticed that the Hicks’s geese sometimes gave them earlier warning of an approaching missile than their radar could!

Many of us there had the pleasure of meeting again friends we hadn’t seen for many years, sharing reminiscences and listening to the above and many other stories. Harold Moores, of Pound House, who has been collating material for the Udimore archive, unfortunately wasn’t able to be there, but it’s to be hoped he can be put in touch with several of the people who contributed so much to the pleasure and interest of the afternoon. At the close Celia Langrish, Chairman of the Friends, described how the Friends raise funds for essential church repairs (a new lychgate at the western end of the churchyard for example) and thanked everyone who had helped to make the afternoon such a success, baking cakes, washing up and simply coming along to support the event (which, we discovered later, raised £234 for this important work).

If it’s fine tomorrow (Saturday), the autumn colours at Peasmarsh Place will be well worth seeing. The gardens and grounds will be open to the public from 11am till 3pm, with a small entry fee in aid of St Michael’s Hospice: ploughmen’s lunches available.

That evening, at 7.30pm in Winchelsea Beach Community Hall there will be a talk on the wildlife and scenery of the South Downs West of Lewes. The speaker, Patrick Coulcher, will be illustrating his talk with his own slides. Free entry, refreshments and raffle: donations to the Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.

At 7.30pm on Tuesday (October 22) in St George’s Church, Brede, there will be another slide show, this one by accomplished local photographer, Colin Page. His subject will be An Island Race (a trip around Scotland, to include wildlife, history and birds). Tickets £7.50, to include buffet supper, are available from Marion Firman (01424 751165).

Richard Holmes, Beauchamps