Cuckfield has associations with archery going back to the battle of Agincourt. The local club which celebrates its 50th anniversary started in Cuckfield:
A commemorative plaque dating from 1508 in the side chapel of Cuckfield's beautiful 13th Century church records the local Burrell family's patriotism in sending one boat, 20 men at arms and 40 archers to France with Henry V in 1415. There is a yew tree the Holy Trinity churchyard - as in many ancient English churchyards - the reason most often given is that they were planted to supply the yew for archers to make their bows. Many of these predate Saxon times 500AD.
The founding President of the archery club in Cuckfield in the 1970’s was Roy Viccari (more below), a larger than life character well known in the village and a successful and enterprising businessman.
The club was to be called 'Ye Cuckfield Bowmen' a title taken from an old piece of vellum (sen left) discovered amongst the artefacts at the Cuckfield Museum. 'Ye Cuckfield Bowmen' met on Whiteman’s Green at the northern end of the village and their numbers steadily grew until more than 40 archers would regularly turn up to shoot.
Safety concerns led to the club moving to Burgess Hill and then to Ditchling in 1987 where, as 'Ditchling Archery Club', are still going strong.
The huge success of British archers at the Paralympic games in 2012 prompted Roy to start up a new archery club based in Cuckfield that would have a special focus on the inclusion of those with disabilities. The club was formed in November 2012 with a core group of 15 adult and junior members plus two experienced coaches.
In the first competition entered by members of the newly formed club, the junior girl’s team won first place for the top scoring club team at the Sussex County Archery Association junior competition (‘Doreen’s 44th junior shoot’) in July 2014. Swiftly followed by winning the girl’s under 14 recurve trophy at the Eastbourne Junior tournament in August 2014. Membership peaked a few years ago at 67. For those that know the sport, they 'have the usual mix of recurve, compound and longbow archers'.
We wish the archers all the best for the next 50 years.
I knew Roy well as he used to attend the British Institute of Professional Photography regional meetings at Clair Hall in the 80s when I was a committee member. But I didn't know his full and fascinating story at the time, but you can read and excellent profile in the July 2017 Cuckfield Life on pages 20/21: https://www.cuckfieldlife.co.uk/cuckfield-blog/2017/7/10/village-people-roy-vicarri He was a good humoured man with many talents: a photographer, carpenter, hairdresser and a prolific artist. Roy sadly died in September 2020 at the age of 89. His widow Margaret is seen with Roy on the right..
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.
Visit Cuckfield Museum, follow the link for details https://cuckfieldmuseum.org.