Local Tradition and Culture
Sompting's landscape and its traditions can exert a fascination. Sompting Estate's Mike Tristram has taken inspiration to explore these from the land, from fellow local history enthusiasts in Lancing & Sompting Pastfinders, and from the works of Bob Copper of Rottingdean and his family.
Mike has founded and chairs the charity Sussex Traditions to conserve local traditions and make them more accessible. Many historic Sompting photographs and even folksongs from Sompting have contributed to Sussex Traditions' great archive database on www.sussextraditions.org .
Many threads of tradition are woven into the landscape and community of Sompting, as much as anywhere else in Sussex. Here are some pages to help you find your own way in:
Traditions are handed down within communities, and there have always been close communities in the Sussex downland farming villages and towns. These were cemented by growing up together and the need to work together (in the old days mainly in farming), as well as by sharing song and story and companionship outside the school or working day.
New communities continue to form across the downs, including the community of those interested in the Downs either because they live and/or work there in non-traditional professions, or because they have a strong leisure interest in the area.
The idea and name of the South Downs, which originally meant just the Sussex Downs, was extended westwards to include the Hampshire Downs when the South Downs National Park was designated. It's a big geographical area, but community contacts are already beginning to develop which make that more of a reality. For example the South Downs Network.
The closeness of the traditional communities is celebrated beautifully in Bob Copper’s books, as also are the songs that he learned in his own downland farming family, and those that he later learned from other singers across Sussex and Hampshire.
With all the enormous expansions to the original little village of Sompting, the newcomers have always gladly and proudly adopted the sense that it remains a village, which is a great way to sum up the aspiration for continuity with the old traditions, and for connecting with one another to build cohesive community life and a sense of familiar belonging in the place.