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September, 2018

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My great grandfather moved from Sussex to London but having driven through the hamlet where he was born I understand why he later told a census officer he came from Steyning.

We were driving to Worthing and thought we’d like afternoon tea. A sign to Ashworth suggested possibilities but the first we found was a garden centre. The idea was a real tea shop so we drove on. A narrow road to begin with became almost a track before we found the school, a couple of houses and a sign to the church, but no tea shop.

A short distance on was a more important road, so we took that. Three miles on was Steyning. It has a mainly Y-shape, one road in and two roads out, with alleys and minor roads off. The road in was attractive enough but there was nowhere to park. We turned towards the church and as we did so noticed at least the second tea shop. Fortunately there was also a parking bay allowing one hour – plenty of time for tea.

Or was it? The walk back meant passing the old grammar school, established in 1614. A delay for photographs, followed by more at the junction, then the tea shop. It fulfilled all we had hoped for: not only a range of teas (we chose Earl Grey) but also a variety of cakes. A special of the day was rhubarb scone with clotted cream and rhubarb jam. Who could resist? Not us certainly.

A few minutes to wait was well rewarded: warm scones that really lived up to the ‘large’ on the blackboard; enough rhubarb in them and a splendid jam beside. The tea came in a generous old fashioned teapot, of the kind that was repeated on shelves around the tea room. A delicious end to what had seemed a lost cause.

The temptation was to stay for the entire hour, but we resisted. Our reward was a walk past more splendid old buildings, still doing service as shops, banks, estate agents and most of the provision a small town needs. Everyone seemed busy but in no sense rushed.

We filled our hour and drove to the car park opposite the church. The church tower is impressive and promised an interesting interior. Opposite was a statue of the presumed Anglo-Saxon founder: Steyn perhaps. Unfortunately we had no time for further exploring but promised ourselves a return visit before very long.


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