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1846: Political ill-will generated in Cuckfield's rival pubs

Brighton Gazette - Thursday 15 January 1846


Sir Robert Peel became Prime Minister for the second time in 1841; he was the son of a northern manufacturer and embodied the broadening social background of the Tories, and their acceptance of the need for (conservative) reform.

However, the process of reform was dramatically interrupted by a great division on the principle of free trade versus protectionism, crystallised in Peel’s repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, which allowed more cheap imported grain into Britain. Peel split his party on a matter of principle, and ushered in almost 30 years of Whig–Liberal dominance.

Cuckfield was divided.

Brighton Gazette - Thursday 15 January 1846


The Rival Balls.—On Thursday night the trade and inhabitants of the neighbourhood held two balls here, one at the King's Head and the other at the Talbot.

Both were equally well attended, but we were sorry to see party feeling carried so far.

Cuckfield, famous for its party parochial and political feeling, has long been free from it, and all right-thinking persons wished never to see it revived; but on this occasion a rancorous spirit seems to have arisen, which it will not be easy to allay.

The Kings Head circa 1900

A ball some time since was announced to be held at the King’s Head, at which the Stewards took upon themselves the right of issuing invitations, and in consequence sent round circulars inviting parties to a select ball on Thursday; and select in every sense of the word they made it, for in their invitations, families were divided, one portion being asked and not another; sisters were invited and brothers left out, single brothers and not married ones, the daughter and not the parent, the brother and not the brother and his wife, single sisters and not married ones, one tradesman’s family and not their equally respectable neighbours; in fact, such a strange division as Cuckfield in its days of opposition never dreamed of; and the consequence was that a private ball was got up the same evening at the Talbot, which was quite as respectable and quite as numerous as the select one.

The Talbot circa 1910

No one blames the worthy host at the King’s Head; but it is far from a charitable feeling thus to attempt, on the part of the concoctors of the ball, to sever families and to create an uncalled-for confusion and ill-will.


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