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1937: 'ARP' History of Haywards Heath - Part 2

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Mr A. R. Pannett, affectionately known to locals as 'ARP' gave many delightful insights into earliest Haywards Heath days; in 1937 at the age of 80 he offered a final absorbing talk to a packed and appreciative audience. We serialise this fascinating record because of the density and detail it provides..... here is Part 2

"I have before mentioned that about 100 years ago the place was as it had probably been for centuries, and as the change dates approximately from that time, I propose to begin the story of its development from then. I must ask you to exercise your powers of imagination, and try from my brief description to visualise the Haywards Heath of 1837, the year when Queen Victoria began her reign.

The information on which my description is based is derived, apart from my own memory which goes back for three quarters of a century, from that given me by people who had previously lived and were then living there, including my own parents and an old relative who was born at the mill house in 1793 and lived until 1894. At this period the only highway roads were those running west to east from Cuckfield to Chailey and Lewes, and north to South from Lindfield to Ditchling and Brighton and I propose in the first place to make


along each. By doing this a fairly good idea of the then existing state of things can be formed. Starting, then, from an old Turnpike gate crossing the road at Butlers Green, the old seat of the Warden family, we come first to the still existing Steeple Cottage, with the mysterious still unexplained markings on its western end, and not far from it another old house called Wigperry, the exact site of which I am not certain about, and meadows on each side of the road.

This (colourised) photo of Butler's Green tollhouse was taken pre 1866

Continuing, we come to the Sergison Arms, a very ancient inn even then, and near it the house which is still standing but which is much altered known now as Muster House. Between them was a large pond and a farm track serving as part of Bulltrough Farm and leading to Lucas farm.

This track was later to form the present Paddockhall Rd. Muster Green was there, but was larger than it is now and extended westwards to the eastern side of the Broadway, approximately to where Caffyns Motor Works now are. On the northern side of the green another track


still existing, and continued across the heath to join the Lindfield Road in Bents Hill, now the Oathall Road. A part of this track may still be seen on the recreation ground. Starting again from the Sergison's Arms, we come on the Southside to a track leading to great Haywards Farm and the old house which I have mentioned before; continuing, we come to a track leading across the eastern end of the Muster Green and across the heath to join the Lindfield-Balcombe Road, about where Mill Green Road joins it now.

This track was eventually to become Perrymount Road of today. By the side of this track, approximately where the house called San Remo stands now, was a three tenement block of old cottages, long since removed. From the same point at the southeast corner of the Muster Green a track led up the hill to a windmill, with the miller's house adjoining, which stood just to the north of the site of Saint Wilfrid's Church. On the southern side from the track leading to great Haywards to the western side of Victoria Park was meadow land separated from the road by an irregular strip of waste, with


where Cobbs Stores now are; then more meadow and waste to the eastern side of the park, where another track lead across the heath to little Haywards Farm. Continuing our journey, we cross the Lindfield-Ditchling Road, with a large pond on the southwest angle of the junction, and with gorse and heather on both sides, with the exception that on the north side we find an old inn called the Red Lion standing where the tree of our ladies Priory stands now; and at the extreme end of the heath a small farmhouse and a meadow, just above the present eastern road. Starting now from the northern boundary at Scrase Bridge, we come, on the right, to an old farm track now part of Sydney Road - leading to Southlands Farmhouse, which stood on what is now part of Queens Road, just eastward of its junction with Church Avenue.

After this we pass the old track from the Cuckfield Road, and later the main Cuckfield Road, but with no buildings and nothing but gorse and heather. On the left we come first to the original Ote Hall, the old home of the Bent family, and from there to the Cuckfield-Chailey Road we have cultivated land, the boundary of which lies considerably from the highway from which it is separated by the usual wide strip of gorse covered waste.

This was later on enclosed, but the original boundary can still be traced in places. About halfway up what is now the Oathall road were two detached cottages, now gone, then the old Middle Farm House, and descending the hill on the other side two more, one of which still exists and is in my own occupation, on the other on the site of what is now Saint Joseph's School. Then we come again to the Red Lion with nothing but

'Dick Turpin's Cottage' (unknown date)


to the end. On Bulltrough Farm, approximately where the police court now is, was an old labourer's cottage, which for no reason whatever came to be called Dick Turpin’s cottage, and with the inclusion of this, I believe that I have now enumerated all the houses existing in Haywards Heath 100 years ago and consisting of: 2 inns, 8 farm houses, one windmill and house, 9 cottages -a total of 20, including one block of three. I do not claim that this list is a complete one, but I believe it to be.

We have now a fairly clear picture of the heath 100 years ago: a wide waste of gorse and heather dotted here and there with clumps of Scotch furs shrouded by small farms, and with a windmill at the highest point, and traversed by two highways crossing approximately right angles." 

to be continued.......


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