Village Feature: Wisborough Green

THE residents of Wisborough Green have really shown their mettle lately.

In the face of a planning application which could ultimately lead to ‘fracking’, villagers have joined forces and pledged to save their area – they will not sit back and take things lightly.

Even local celebrities, acting stars James Bolam and Susan Jameson, have got involved to help their community.

Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty who filmed with Craig Vit and his daughter Siobhan's pub the Cricketers.''C140001-6 Mid Wisborough Green

Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty who filmed with Craig Vit and his daughter Siobhan's pub the Cricketers.''C140001-6 Mid Wisborough Green

Motorists passing through on the A272 will get a glimpse into this quintessential English village which it divides.

The tranquil scene comprises a village green, central to life here.

It is home to sports teams and just a stone’s throw 
away from two out of the three pubs.

The sense of family and community ethos is apparent in the pubs, with two run by one family.

The Three Crowns and The Bat and Ball are run by a close-knit team.

Pub pizzeria The Bat and Ball, just down the road at Newpound, opened towards the end of 2013 following several months’ closure and refurbishment.

Alongside ales, it offers a popular takeaway service of fresh, made-to-order homemade stone-baked pizzas.

Craig Vit has been manager of the Cricketers Arms pub for six years, alongside daughter Siobhan, and the pair also double up as chefs.

Last August, the pub played host to none other than celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver.

The ‘naked chef’ chose the Cricketers as the backdrop for his new series, Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast in which he stars alongside pal Jimmy Doherty.

Showing on television early this year, the pair used the kitchen and bar to battle it out and see who could make the best Huckle-My-Buff beer, which they then asked locals to sample and judge out on the village green.

Craig said: “Jamie’s company chose our pub to film in, as it is a typical olde-worlde English inn.

“It was quite an honour – Jamie used our kitchen for the preparation of the cockles and whelks which he added to the drink.

“The Cricketers really is a traditional family pub, and the hub of the community.

“We have regular themed nights, live music, and an acoustic duo on Sunday lunchtimes.

“During a Christmas power outage, everyone rallied round and brought in a generator.

“We look after locals as best as we can.”

Not only do locals help one another, so too do traders.

Following a 24-hour power cut on Christmas Eve, Wisborough Green Stores were without a fridge.

So the Three Crowns stepped in and offered to keep all the shop’s chilled food in the pub kitchen.

“We were really busy over Christmas, but everyone helped one another out,” said Kristina Self, who works in the shop which is owned by her parents.

The store has been in her family for more than 30 years, run by her parents and her grandparents before them.

And business was boosted thanks to a grant from Chichester District Council back in 2008.

The village is also home to Fishers Adventure Farm Park.

Owner Tim Rollings bought the derelict farm back in 1987, and it started life as a pick-your-own fruit farm before being transformed into the award-winning site it is today.

From the 6,000 visitors it saw in its first year, it now attracts more than 140,000 people annually.

“We have lots of exciting things planned for 2014,” said Tim.

“We’ve opened a new play farm with a sensory room 
for babies, and slides for young ones.

“There will also be a horse show, where horses will parade and kids can feed them.

“The park has had a tough few years, but business is improving and we’re very optimistic and positive about the future.

“We have lowered membership prices for 2014, and our restaurant has won an award – it serves quality, locally-sourced food.

“A lot of our staff have been here since the beginning – we are one big family.”