The inhabitants and events of Cuckfield, both past and present, provide a rich history.
The snippets that follow merely scratch the surface of this history, but hopefully will help you build up a picture of its inhabitants and their lives.
William de Staines
In 1294 William de Staines, Vicar of Cuckfield, was sentenced for poaching deer in Cuckfield Park.
Henry Kingsley was born Jan 2, 1830 in Barnack, Northamptonshire and died May 24, 1876, Cuckfield, Sussex. He is the brother of Charles Kinglsey and is buried in the churchyard. He moved to the village in 1875 and took up residence at a property called “Attree”. Henry was an English novelist whose books were popular for half a century and who is best known for Ravenshoe (1861) and The Hillyars and the Burtons (1865). He wrote of Cuckfield:
Cuckfield is supposed to be the healthiest town in England. The church is one of the most beautiful in England – cared for like a jewel, and the wondrous old houses abutting it would be highly remarkable elsewhere.
On 6 Aug 1554 Robert Esterffylde, aged about 10, was riding a mare was pulling a little cart from his fathers house to ‘the westgate’ of Cuckfield Park. The mare threw him and he hung from her back by one foot on one of her ropes. The mare ‘feloniously murdered’ him; he suffered three mortal wounds on his head, 3 inches long, and to the brain. His father Richard Esterffylde was summoned to King’s Bench to answer for the mare.
John Clarke and John Griffiths
The two Johns were tramps who were charged, on 9 January 1883, with tearing up their clothes in the workhouse that morning, and were sentenced to 14 days hard labour.
On 22 July 1612 a gelding, belonging to John Brooker of Hurstpierpoint, gave Andrew Payne a severe wound in the brain. He immediately sickened and died in Cuckfield on 26 July. Brooker was summoned to King’s Bench to answer for the mare. Andrew Payne was buried in Cuckfield on 30 July 1612.
Daniel Walter was Vicar of Cuckfield for nearly half a century and one of the first trustees of the Middleton and Burrell Charity. He died at the age of 81 in 1761.
William Smith, James Comber, Charles Joice, William Clarke and John Harrison
These tramps were charged on 16 January 1883 with tearing up their clothes in the union-workhouse that morning and the first four were sentenced to 14 days hard labour and John Harrison to 7 days hard labour.
Sarah died at Cuckfield Place on 9 March 1840, aged 78 years. Her brother James died in the same year aged 81 years. Sarah’s employer, Mrs Sergison, placed a wood rail over her grave near the north door of the church. On the rail were inscribed “Having served with the strictest fidelity, honesty and sobriety for upwards of 50 years – be thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life”.
Miss Payne of Winchester Lodge, presented Cuckfield with a sundial in the recreation ground. The sundial originally formed part of the balustrade of the Old London Bridge.
The White Hart
Parts of the White Hart have been dated at the beginning of the 13th Century. It is believed to be the oldest building now used as a public house.
Easter Day in 1879 had weather more like Christmas than Easter – snow lay about 6 inches deep.
September 14th, 1815:- The opening of a new peal of bells, cast by Mr Thos. Mears of Whitechapel, London. Ringers met together to ring, amongst others, Oxford Treble Bob: a complete peal of 5,088 changes in three hours, one minute and a half.
Mid Sussex Caledonian Society was founded in 1926. Mr W E Mitchell attended the inaugural meeting and was on the initial committee. It is still a thriving Society in 2014.
Holy Trinity Church Christmas Tree Festival is held over the second weekend of December every year. The first festival was held in 2003 and it continues to grow and raise funds for both the Church and a different charity each year.
Joe Mitchell was the first Mayor of the Independent State of Cuckfield. He worked for the Fire Brigade mending fire engines before becoming publican of the White Hart Public House.
The Easter Monday Walking Race is organised by the Independent State of Cuckfield and started out as a “challenge” between E Jard and F Hoadley walking to Bolney and back.
New England Wood can be accessed from the corner of the recreation ground or the playing fields at Whteman’s Green. It is managed by The New England Wood Trust for the people of the village. Wild flowers, butterflies, birds and small mammals are just a few of the delights to be found as you wander the paths and bridges under the majestic trees and through coppiced areas.
Horsgate House was built in 1865 by the banker Robert Bevan and stands in just over an acre of ground. Richard died in 1918 but was to become know locally as the father of Cuckfield after his 50 years of involvement with village life. His most renowned memorial is the prominent Queen’s Hall, built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.East Sussex County Council bought the house in 1947 and it became a home for babaies and children. It was sold in 1966 and became residential aprtments.