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1794: Prince George in Cuckfield coach crash

A scene outside the Kings Head c1905

We learn from The Sussex Weekly Advertiser in 7 July 1794: ‘The lad who drove the Prince [Prince George: future King George IV] on Wednesday, in turning into the town of Cuckfield, ran against a hack chaise belonging to Crawley, that was going the contrary way with a Lady in it, by which accident the front panel of the chaise was driven in by the pole of the Prince’s carriage, but without doing any injury to the Lady. His Royal Highness stopped to enquire if any material injury had been received, and on being answered a negative, proceeded on his journey.’

What was a hack chaise?

'Hack chaise' comes from the word 'haquenee' which means 'horse for hire'. In 1625 hackneys were introduced to central London as carriages available for use that were drawn by one horse with one driver. Hack chaises are equivalent to today's taxis. They were commonly seen in London at the time and were the fore-runner of a taxi.


Could this story be related?

There is a very similar story that appeared in the Sussex Life (Vol 4, No 9), September 1968, is this the same story or is it another?

'The King's Head Hotel is listed by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government as a building of architectural and historic interest. The Prince Regent stayed there when Daniel Dench, who was famed for his table, was the landlord. Mr George Gage, the present landlord, pointed out that one of the hotel walls is scarred by the shafts of the Prince Regent's coach. Apparently the horses bolted, and the scar has been carefully preserved ever since. The handsome doorway is Early Victorian.'

It's possible that the second article refers to the earlier King's Head building opposite The Talbot Inn.

If you can throw any light on these accident stories - are the marks are still preserved on the walls, do you have a photo? Do let us know.


First accident newscutting found on the Brighton Museum website.

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.


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