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1922: The Opening of the Birch Hotel - a 'true home of comfort'

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

Sussex Agricultural Express - Friday 26 August 1921


The splendid modern country residence Birch House, Haywards Heath, is to be offered at the London Auction Mart, Queen Victoria-street. E.C. 4, on Tuesday next, at two p.m., by Messrs. Powell and Co.. Lewes, in conjunction with Messrs. Lofts and Warner, the estate agents. London.

The rich furnishings at Birch House were disposed of some weeks ago during a three day sale by Messrs. Powell and Co. The house, which is situate about a mile from Haywards Heath Station, is in a commanding position, and has well-timbered and laid-out grounds. Extensive woodlands and pasturage make total area of 171 acres. There are farm buildings and bungalow and eight cottages on the estate. The internal equipment is fully modern, with central heating system, electric lighting, public water supply, passenger lift. etc. There is excellent shooting on the estate, and golf and hunting are available, the country being run by the Southdown. Burstow and Horsham and Crawley packs.

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 26 December 1922



Mr. T. White’s Employees entertained

It has long been a complaint that Haywards Heath is insufficiently provided with hotels. The district is a charming one, and naturally people are anxious to visit it, but many have been kept away because of the difficulty of finding agreeable accommodation.

Today that difficulty has been largely overcome by the conversion of Birch house, the magnificent residence of the late Mrs Jowers, into a private hotel. The work was entrusted to Mr Thomas White, the well known builder and contractor, of Haywards Heath and he has executed it in a manner deserving of the highest praise.

The hotel was opened on Saturday December 23rd, and we have no hesitation in saying that all who stay there will be delighted with the place, which is truly a “home of comfort”.

Aerial view of the Birch Hotel

The decorations and furnishing are pleasing to the eye, being in perfect taste: Central heating has been installed; to all the bedrooms hot and cold water have been laid on; there are gas fires and also electric light throughout the building. Further, there is a special apparatus for dealing with an outbreak of fire, and the staff are to be trained to use it.

The hotel is situated at the highest part of Haywards Heath, and being near to the golf links at Lindfield, and within easy reach of Brighton, it should be popular with golfers as well as those out to benefit their health.

The up to date garage and stabling are associated with the hotel and we may add that from it motors can be hired. The telephone numbers are 170 and 171.

Another fact which is certainly should not be omitted is that the pleasure grounds attached to the Hotel comprise 130 acres. This is unique, and undoubtably will secure for the place the patronage of nature lovers.


At the invitation off Mrs E. M. Rodgers, the employees of Mr T. White were given a sumptuous repast at the hotel last Tuesday evening. The Rev E. Cresswell Gee (vicar of Haywards Heath) provided, and his supporters at the head table included Mr. Harry White, Miss G. White, mr and Mrs A. Smith and Miss Smith, Mr G. Clarke, (Captain of the Haywards Heath fire brigade) and Mr E. G. Hayden. Others present where Mr C. White, Mr C. Geere, Mr H. Nye, Mr T. Gaston, Mr and Mrs A. H. Softley, Mr P. Scott, Mr N. Botting, Mr G. Baker, Mr T. A. Winter, Mr A. Saddler, Mr L. Knight, Mr E. Knight, Mr G. E. Sands, Mr T. A.Welfare, Mr A. G. Knight, Mr J. Haskell, Mr T. Linford, Mr W.Laker, Mr W. Andress, Mr C. H. Plummer, Mr C. Fermor, Mr G Homewood, Mr N Sherman, Mr H Pattenden, Mr R. S. Harvey, Mr G Stoner, Mr B. Oram, Mr F Larnford, Mr F. Nye, Mr F. White, Mr W. J. Goldmark.

The feast was served in the handsome hall and Mr W. Wakeman (Head waiter at the hotel) is to be complimented on his decoration of the tables. Miss Crowe and Mr chalk (Great Walstead) were among those who waited on the guests, and the Christmassy fare provided was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Between the songs, toasts were proposed, and from the chair came the toast “success to the Birch Hotel”. Mr Gee pointed out how great they need was for it, and he was confident it would be a success (Applause). It afforded him a considerable pleasure to respond to the invitation to be present on that occasion. He liked to see gatherings of employers and employees, and the more capital and labour mixed together the better it would be for everybody (Hear, hear). He congratulated the management of the hotel on their appreciation of what the workmen had done in so pleasing a manner. It was the generosity of Mrs Rodgers to provide such a fine spread (Applause) and the manageress, Miss Crowe, was also entitled to their thanks for superintending so admirably the arrangements (Loud applause). He asked the company to rise and drink to the success and prosperity of the hotel, a request which was enthusiastically complied with.

Miss Crowe, in reply, expressed her great pleasure at seeing such a happy Company, and she hoped there would be no slackening of the enjoyment until the end of the evening.

Mr Clarke proposed “The health of Mr T. White” and in doing so pointed out that Mr White came to Haywards Heath when he was 11 years old and he (the speaker) when he was three years of age, so he was very well-qualified to submit the toast. Some 50 years ago there were only about 20 houses in Haywards Heath so Mr White had not only seen the development of the place but had also taken a very active part in that development. (Applause). Never a word had he heard to the detriment of Mr White as a builder. He was thorough in all that he did (Applause). No one had ever called him a “jerry builder”. Mr White was now well advanced in years and happily he had sons who could look after his interests. Those sons and grandsons were with them that night, and no doubt they would worthily uphold the name for sound workmanship which Mr White had created. (Applause). He sincerely wished father and sons continued prosperity. (Musical honours).

Mr Smith (a son-in-law of Mr T. White) thanked the last speaker for his very generous remarks, and proceeded to state that he had worked for Mr White for 28 years and a better employer one could not wish to have (Applause). As a foreman Mr Smith said he could testify that the staff was an excellent one. The men not only knew their work that could be relied on to do whatever was set them when the eyes of those over them were not upon them (Applause). The more work that could be found for them the better they were pleased. (Hear, hear). They would like to have had Mr T. White with them that night (Applause) but he was not so strong as some of them, and the inclement weather and darkness had to be reckoned with. Mr White was esteemed by then all as a good master and they hoped he would be spared to them for a long time to come (Loud applause and the company also sang “for he's a jolly good fellow”)

. Mr Harry White gave the toast of “our Chairman”. Mr Gee, he said, had given them all great pleasure by his presence that night (Applause). There was a time when it was said ‘make the fool of the family a parson’ (laughter). “but ladies and gentlemen”, added Mr White when the laughter had subsided, “our vicar was born after that time,” (Applause). They were all glad that Mr Gee was their vicar, (Applause). They were fond of him because he was a hard worker, broadminded, a good preacher, and better still, because he practised what he preached (Applause). Mr Gee was admired by men and adored by the fair sex ( laughter and applause) and if he were widower the next morning, (the speaker) was bold enough to imagine that half the ladies in the parish would be on his doorstep in the evening! (loud laughter). Being a hard working man himself, their vicar was glad to be with working men, and if they all followed his advice none of them would go wrong. (Hear, hear). Mr Gee was out to promote peace and goodwill and friendliness on all sides. (Applause) and because of that they hoped that he might be spared to occupy for many years the honoured position of vicar of Haywards Heath. (Loud applause).

In responding, the chairman said he did not know that he deserved all the kind of things said about him but he could honestly say that he tried to do his duty and he would leave it at that. Nothing pleased him more than to be amongst men. “we were meant to be brothers,” said the vicar in closing “and may we be so to the end.” (Loud applause).

Some excellent songs were rendered (at times the company joined in the choruses), those contributing to the program. When it was time to depart for Home the National Anthem was sung, and Miss Crowe was once again cordially thanked for all she had done to make everything pass off so pleasantly.


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