1927 - A review of The Rose and Crown

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

Worthing Herald - Saturday 09 April 1927

SOME OLD SUSSEX INNS 31.—THE ROSE AND CROWN, CUCKFIELD By George Tremaine


TIME plays strange tricks with our country Inns. At the period when Cuckfield was one of the most important halts on the Brighton Road and its "Talbot and "King's Head" were familiar to every traveller, the modest little "Rose and Crown" situated at the extremity of the village street, was but an insignificant alehouse. One can picture the host, with a long churchwarden pipe in his mouth, standing with envy at the front door while the coaches and phaetons and barouches swept by to discharge their aristocratic loads before the portals of those august establishments.


How are the mighty fallen! To-day the "Talbot" has become a Post Office and the King's Head" has "scrapped" its stabling. The ubiquitous char-a-bane has lifted the humble alehouse out of the mire in which it once stood (literally, as well as figuratively) and popularised it as a stopping place for afternoon teas. Apart from a conveniently situated roadside garden, with its central weeping ash, the expanse of ground in front of the "Rose and Crown" offers abundant facilities for parking, and enables big vehicles to draw up side by side without undue crowding.


An interesting discovery was made in the course of some recent alterations to the Coffee Room, when the removal of a minion of the wall brought to light an old stone chimney-piece in an excellent sate of preservation, incised with the initials and date, “W.B.A… 1688”. These also appear on the exterior of the larger of the two flanking chimneys, which contain some of the oldest masonry in the house. The form of the lettering, however, would indicate that neither the outside nor the inside inscription is contemporary with the stonework, but, as often occurs in the cases of doors and oak chests, the outcome of subsequent inspiration.


The general appearance of the "Rose and Crown" is undeniably picturesque. Although negatived to a certain extent by the modern slate roof, the admixture of green creeper and red tiling in the upper portion of the house harmonises well. Within, particularly in the Coffee Room, some effort has been made to restore the old condition of things, although the remnant of old timbering is easily distinguishable on examination from the counterfeit work. A gentleman who knew Cuckfield half a century ago mentions that the chief patrons of the local inns were grooms and coachmen, in consequence of the large number of carriage residents thereabouts. The "horsey" element, he states, impressed him as predominating in Cuckfield to a greater extent than in any place of equal size he had visited. Pleasant old fellows most of them were too, with deferential manners and clean shaven cheeks, bringing with them when they came into the tap room a faint whiff of the stable and general air of well-being and contentment. A type, surely, as obsolete to-day as the political novels of Disraeli and the furniture of our Victorian grandmothers!


Hardly any of the older features of the inn have survived to the present day, if we except the chimneys, the dormer windows at the rear, and a quaint little window beneath the eves in the front of the building. One might add that it would be more in keeping with the character of the ancient chimney piece if andirons were substituted for the present rather incongruous grate, and oak furniture for that now in use, but these, after all, are mere details. The visitor to the "Rose and Crown" may rely upon receiving both courteous treatment and excellent fare, which two things now as ever constitute the chief attractions of inn life.