Life was not easy for the people who lived in the ‘Charnton’ of feudal times. The lord of the manor did more than keep them in check – they were more or less imprisoned. He allowed none to pass the parish boundary without payment of a toll. Still, it worked both ways and discouraged visits from undesirable characters.
Behind the Yew Tree Inn is a cricket pitch reputed to be one of the oldest in the country. Matches have been played there for at least 200 years and in the 19th century the Sussex XI even used it for county games. England played here too in the 1970s, albeit the national ladies’ team under Rachel Heyhoe-Flint who took on Ripe and Chalvington CC. The club had one of the first fatalities ever attributed to the switch from underarm to Overarm bowling. An unfortunate batsman was struck on the knee by the ball (no pads in the first half of the 19th century) and died two weeks after having his leg amputated.
The fact that the name of the cricket team includes Chalvington’s next door neighbour (they are practically semidetached) is common in most things today, with the majority of activities taking place at the more populous Ripe. But little Chalvington retains its own identity where it can, and has a rare treasure in the church: stained glass from the 13th century depicting, it is believed, St Thomas a Becket.