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1938: Ghostly midnight troop of riderless horses

Updated: Dec 5, 2023

Illustration created using Bing AI

At midnight on New Year’s Eve almost on the last stroke of the old year, Butlers Green is visited by a ghostly troop of grey riderless horses.

They do not appear every year, but at irregular and sometimes long intervals and always on a moonlight night. They are said to favour a misty moon when there is a tang in the night wind and just enough frost to curdle the air into a beautiful white rime [an accumulation of ice].

They come across meadows from the neighbourhood of Anstye into the old Bridle Path and down Copyhold Lane onto the Cuckfield Road. Here they turn and gallop madly up the road to Butlers Green. They enter (literally) through the big gates and rush to the old stables, and there they scrape the brick paving, and paw on the gravel and whinny in most unearthly sounds.

If at this moment a sleepy tousle-headed groom descends from the loft and opens the stable doors, the phantom horses pass in and no more is heard of them.

But - if he fails to awake and open the doors, then they wheel round suddenly as if in great terror and tear frantically through the gates down the Cuckfield Road and disappear into Copyhold Lane and so return to Anstye or from where they came.

Then before another year eve has passed some ghastly blight falls on one of the unfortunate individuals who is sleeping that night at Butlers Green .

No one knows what frightful tragedy lies behind this weird visitation, but the seriousness of the crime is evidenced by all the horses being riderless.

West Sussex County Times 22 July 1938

Cuckfield Connections would welcome any corroborating evidence, plus photographs of course, maybe some selfies with the horses perhaps?

Contributed by Malcolm Davison.

David Spear commented on this posting on Facebook Group 'Haywards Heath in days gone' on 24 June 2023: "A late colleague of mine at Cuckfield Hospital told me in 1974, of an incident in the 1960s. We were Operating Theatre Technicians.After a late on call shift the man in question was at Butler's Green when he was head on to horses pulling a coach. He drove off the road to avoid them. Police assumed at first that he was drunk. He was badly shaken but sober. All a chilling mystery."

Sharon Hastings added another comment: 'We lived at Beech Hurst and heard stories of ghostly Roman soldiers marching along the old Roman road. There seems to be quite a few ghostly stories linked to the area.'

Visit Cuckfield Museum, follow the link for details


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