THE PAST HISTORY OF CUCKFIELD
THE LORDS OF ITS MANOR.
Cuckfield’s new Parish Room was crowded on Thursday, when under the auspices of the Parochial Organisation, Canon Cooper, the historian of the Mid-Sussex parish, gave another lecture of great local interest, the Lords of the Manor being specially dealt with. Major Maberly, J.P. presided.
The Lecturer went over the ground of his former lecture (delivered on January 17th) to introduce a number of new slides made by Mr. Herrington, especially some from Queen Matilda’s Tapestry representing the Battle of Hastings and one of Gundrada’s Chapel at Southover. He said that though the forest land on which Cuckfield is situated was given to William Warrenne, yet that there were no inhabitants before A.D. 1100, when the second Earl William had inherited the Manor.
This Earl had rather a rough time, as he fought for William in Odo’s rebellion, for which he was rewarded with the Earldom of Surrey; then against the King on the side his brother Robert, for which he lost his Sussex estates; and lastly, having returned to his allegiance and fought for Henry in Normandy, they were restored to him. The origin of his quarrel with the King was said to be a joke, the point of which is now lost: he called Henry “Pied de cerf” (stag’s foot). The third Earl went to the Crusades, and was never seen after leaving Laodices. The sixth Earl was one of King John’s advisers in granting Magna Carta, and a slide was shown in which his name, and that of the Earl of Arundel, appeared plainly in the Charter. The next Earl, John, having married Henry III’s sister,’ took his side in the Barons’ war. King Edward made him Governor of Scotland, but he was defeated by the patriot Wallace at Stirling in 1297. His great sorrow, however, was the death of only son, who was killed in a tournament at Croydon, just before the birth of his child John, who succeeded when only 17, and married directly Joanna de Bar, daughter of Edward I. He had little training or education, save in war, from his old grandfather, and proved to be a faithless husband.
He was divorced and his Estates taken by the king.
He left no legitimate children and his property went to his sisters son, Richard 13th Earl of Arundel, the Admiral of Edward III, who won the great victory over the French fleet which is supposed to have been commemorated by the design on the coins called nobles issued shortly after. Reference was made to the Balcombe find of Edwardian coins, some of which was shown on a slide.
His son Richard, 14th Earl, after virtually governing the country during the minority of Richard the second was beheaded by him in 1394. His son-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, who succeeded to his estates, attended him to the scaffold, but was soon himself banished.
His son Thomas returned to England with Henry the fourth, and had the old King given into his custody. He married Beatrix, daughter of the King of Portugal, and the Cuckfield Estates were settled on her. To him and his wife was erected the most beautiful of the tombs in the Fitzalan chapel at Arundel, of which the Church was deprived by judgement of Lord Coleridge’s.
The Wars of the Roses were then touched upon and a slide shown of the plucking of the roses in the Temple Gardens (1st part of Henry VI, Act II, Scene IV).
“Let him that saith that I have pleaded truth
From off this briar pluck a white rose with me”, etc
Thomas died childless, and his property was divided among his four sisters, of whom only two had descendants: Elizabeth, married first Thomas de Mowbray whose great grandchild Anne was married in 1478 to Edward, Duke of York, the age of six. He was murdered in the tower, and his little bride died soon after.
A slide was shown of Millais’ exquisite picture of the Princes in the Tower. Elizabeth and Thomas de Mowbray had also a daughter, who married Sir John Howard, of Norfolk, and was the means of bringing that famous family into Sussex. The lecturer said that this name was originally written Hayward, and that it was to a noble Howard, rather than to a wretched Highwayman, that we were to look for the origin of Haywards Heath or ‘Heward's Horthe’ as some of them used to call it.
Their son created Duke of Norfolk was slain at Bosworth field after receiving the warning described by Shakespeare
“Jockey of Norfolk be not too bold,
For Dickon thy master is bought and sold.”
Lord Stanley, who turned the scale in that battle and placed the crown on Henry's head, was a grandson of Elizabeth Fitzalan by her third husband, Sir Robert Goushill, and from her he inherited a fourth of the Manor of Cuckfield, which his descendent Henry, fourth Earl of Derby, sold in 1573 to Henry Bowyer.
A short account was given of the Dukes of Norfolk who were the Lords of the Manor of Cuckfield, and of the frequency with which their heads were removed by the Tudor monarchs, and of Philip, son of the fourth Duke, who fell victim to the cruel persecution of Roman Catholics in the reign of Elizabeth. He was fined £10,000 and sent to the Tower for refusing to change his faith.
He had to sell his Cuckfield property to Walter Covert of Slaugham, whose great granddaughter parted with it in 1735 to Mr Sergison. A slide of Henry Bowyer's brass was exhibited by Mr Herrington. He was the builder of Cuckfield Park, and by the kindness of Mr Sergison slides had been made of Grimm’s drawings of the Park in 1796, which were viewed with great interest. In conclusion the Lecturer pointed out that after the division of the Manor among three great families for 450 years, there was now but one Lord, the present Mr Sergison, who assuredly took more interest in the welfare of Cuckfield, and was more respected and beloved by its inhabitants, than any of his famous predecessors.
The excellent lantern slides of local objects made by Mr Herrington added greatly to the interest of the lecture.
Major Maberley expressed the cordial thanks of the audience to Canon Cooper who in replying said he was glad that his lecture had been appreciated.