A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO HISTORY OF THE MODERN CIVIL PARISH OF WORLDHAM
The history of the modern civil parish is essentially that of several small rural settlements involved almost exclusively in agriculture until recently namely East Worldham, West Worldham, Hartley Mauditt and Truncheaunts Farm.
The area has been visited and inhabited for thousands of years as shown by a swathe of hundreds of worked flints found in the fields between East and West Worldham, together with a flint axe, part of a bronze age barrow and other archaeological finds from the Palaeolithic period onwards. The histories of the settlements developed differently despite their proximities until recently.
During the last 50 years advances in farming practices and declining demand for English hops have led to significant change in the Civil Parish of Worldham. Now there is little work available on the land, the farms have diversified and many farm buildings have been converted for light industrial or residential use. New homeshave been built, particularly in East Worldham, new families have moved in and residents now travel to work or are retired. Many of the older people remember with regret and pleasure the old close knit communities of village families who worked together in the hopfields and on the land, attended the village schools and enjoyed village outings and social activities. The questionnaire replies for the Parish Plan Project revealed that a strong majority still consider the rural environment, peacefulness, and community spirit important and appreciate the local history of the Parish.
ANNUAL TRADITIONS OF THE PARISH
The Rogation Day Walk
Rogation Day is the fifth Sunday after Easter. The custom of blessing the crops and praying for a good harvest dates back to at least the 14th century in this rural community. Whether you believe in Divine Intervention or not. it seems appropriate to think good thoughts and wish well to those who produce our food.
Villagers meet in the farmyard of West Worldham Manor Farm for a 3 o’clock start and process the half mile to Hartley church stopping at an oak tree, a garden, pasture and crops where appropriate prayers are said before joining a brief service in the church. The occasion is rounded off with tea in West Worldham.
Harvest Festivals and the Harvest Supper
Following the custom of most rural parishes Harvest Festival Services are held at the end of the harvesting season, usually in late October, in both East and West Parish Churches. Prayers are said and hymns sung in thankfulness for the harvest and the food available to us.
After the service in East Worldham a simple supper is served in the Village Hall. This is a time when residents from all parts of the parish crowd the tables, enjoy lively conversations and each others’ company.
During the six weeks of Lent a lunch is hosted, usually on Fridays, in a household in West or East Worldham, Kingsley or Oakhanger, Each lunch begins at mid-day when the hostess produces soup, bread and cheese. Everyone is welcome and it is a good opportunity to meet new people as well as old friends and acquaintances.
These are friendly gatherings and all donations from the lunches go to charities.
The annual fete what had started in the early 1930’s is still an important part of the parish year, which draws many visitors each year. Where 2010 was a very successful year.