top of page

1937: Local historian 'A. R. P' Haywards Heath - Part 1

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:

Mid Sussex Times – Tuesday 26 October 1937

Haywards Heath, Cuckfield & Lindfield Chamber of Commerce



80 year old Mr AR Pannett, whose name has been identified with the growth of Haywards Heath, made what he affirmed to be his last public appearance at the Corn Exchange on October the 18th, when, at a meeting of the Haywards Heath, Cuckfield and Lindfield Chamber of Commerce, he gave an illuminating account of the origin, rise and development of the town for which he has done so much. So great was the interest which the event aroused that the hall was crowded, the meeting being an open one.

Mr H. V. Vaughan, president, who observed that ARP hardly needed any introduction, certainly not to the old residents, said Mr Pannett was born in Haywards Heath and had lived his whole life there. When the committee asked him if he would address that meeting, he consented to do so, but said it was the last speech he would make publicly. “We are told that a woman is as old as she looks and a man as old as he feels”, concluded Mr Vaughan. “Mr Pannett tells me he feels very young tonight” (Applause).

“The great difficulty in attempting to discuss the past history of Haywards Heath is that there is such an extremely small amount of available material”.


told his interested audience. “Unlike the neighbouring villages of Cuckfield at Lindfield with their centuries of record, Haywards Heath is of so entirely a modern nature and growth that up to about 100 years ago it must have remained practically unchanged from time immemorial, just as Shakespeare described this kind of place, a ‘blasted heath’. Of documentary evidence there is extremely little. 

In the first place it will be convenient to notice how the place came by its name, and with regard to this it will be advisable at once to reject the idea that it follows that of a supposititious highway robber of the name of Hayward, who at one time exercised his nefarious profession on the heath.

There is not the slightest foundation for this legend. To get a living by robbery, there must be someone to rob, and as no road of importance existed in the district, it would have been a very unremunerative pitch. The name is actually derived from the ancient Manor of Heyworth, which comprised the heath and adjoining land. No record has yet come to hand that gives the actual extent of the Manor, but there is ample evidence that it existed. It is believed that

An illustration of the blasted heath by H.P. Lovecraft (from


was the manor house or part of it and that the old house known as Little Haywards in Haywards Road, was one of the subsidiary farms. For the benefit of those who have no clear idea of what a manor was, I put it briefly that in ancient times the land was parcelled out into estates, each being called a manor and belonging to a person who was known as the Lord of the Manor, and who owed service to the King for it. These manors differed considerably in area and often one man owned many of them.

The land of the manor was further divided into that part occupied by the Lord and known as the Lord’s demesne, and the various portions let by him to others who were the tenants of the manor and who owed certain service to him. But in many manors there was found some land which on account of its position or nature was not cultivable: this was known as the waste of the manor, and in the vernacular, was called a ‘hothe’ or ‘heath’. Here, then, is the evident and certain origin of the name, the waste or ‘hothe’ of the manor of Heyworth - Heyworth 's Hothe, now modernised to Haywards Heath. There's plenty of documentary evidence of the gradual change in spelling and when I was young all the 


To be continued........


bottom of page