This is a story as it was told to me years ago by an old lady who had lived some exhibited evidence of having been hag-ridden* supplied the needs of travellers in respect of food and shelter at nights. Then, as now, times progressed, even if more slowly, and as traffic increased the hospitable monks and friars found that their accommodation and resources were being overtaxed. This was especially the case when the great barons travelled about the country with their esquires and men-at-arms.
These gentlemen were not in the habit of taking refusals or excuses and so there was only one course open to the monks - to provide houses of rest by the wayside for the bowmen and retainers, and these rest houses were the forerunners of the church alehouses, from which our modern inns evolved.
As few people. even the nobles - who indeed would have thought it beneath their dignity to have been scholars - could read or write other than the monks, it was necessary to provide signs by which the houses could be known, and later, when the great nobles followed the earlier example of the monks and built their own resthouses. they generally hung out their coat of arms. Thus we get the Burrell Arms, the Norfolk Arms, and in connection with the latter, the White Horse.
The height of prosperity of the old King's Head, at Cuckfield. was undoubtedly reached during the dashing days of the Regency, when Bucks and Corinthians passed through in steady procession and, it is reputed, some 50 coaches a day used the Cuckfield road.
From 'Picturesque West Sussex and its borders No 7 - Cuckfield' by AR Hodges. West Sussex County Times 22 July 1938.
* afflicted by nightmares
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.
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