top of page

1851: Cuckfield goes to the Great Exhibition, leaving a 'deserted village'

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Brighton Gazette - Thursday 09 October 1851


This little town on Tuesday week presented the appearance a “deserted village”; for every body was gone to the Exhibition.

A special train was provided to take up a party treated with the trip by a subscription among the gentry, each adult paying one shilling, and being allowed to take two children for sixpence. J. P. Fearon, Esq., originated the affair, and was ably backed by the neighbouring gentry, the arrangement being left to a committee of the trade.

The Great Exhibition of 1851

At six in the morning, there was such an assemblage the street as is seldom seen of the labouring classes; snd they were soon marshalled by the committeemen, and marched off to a merry air from a cornopean and trombone. At Butler’s Green another party met them; and still another at the station, where they numbered 450. Captain Preston, R., Mr Fearon, and the Rev, TA Maberly, also ioined the party; and away they went with light hearts, although it was a drizzling morn, towards the “great village.”

Arrived at London Bridge, Captain Preston took the command, proposing to go by water; but some few fearing the dangers of steam and shipwreck, and having heard from the old song,

“The sea you know is a watery place,”

preferred the “overland” route. A great majority, however, depending on the nautical skill of their gallant leader, faced the briny” (we mean muddy) “deep,” and in due time were landed safely and soundly at Westminster Bridge. Here they again formed in irregular file, their hats and bonnets garnished with boughs and acorns from “the Sussex weed.” appearing like the “Burnham Wood” army, and proceeded across St. James’s Park, stopping at the Palace to give three cheers for the Queen, and play up the National anthem. Just one moment for a look at the iron Duke on his charger; and then “hurrah for Hyde Park and the Crystal Palace.”

What the folks thought of them was variously expressed; but the remark of a veteran, who enquired where they came from, was characteristic, “Why, you’ve brought up all the parish, ain’t ye? I think shall go down to Cookfull, and look out a house.”

It would fill a duodecimo to give the various opinions of the party of the sights they witnessed. They were quaint and terse; some good, and some highly amusing, but all expressive of gratitude to the gentlemen who gave them the treat. Mirabile dictu; not one was lost, and all arrived at Hayward’s Heath safe and sound, early in the evening.

For more on the Great Exhibition please follow the link....

Visit Cuckfield Museum for ‘Horsepower – Before machines altered the pace of life forever’ display and much, much more. Follow the link for details

bottom of page