Cuckfield- a town
with a 13th century charter to prove it.
Cuckfield (Cuca’s Feld - the latter meaning an open space rather than a field), as all its habitants will proudly tell you, was a town long before its near neighbour Haywards Heath “was even thought of”.
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that Cuckfield (pronounced Cookfield) is an ancient place which by virtue of its charter, that dates back to the mid 13th century, can truly claim to be a town. In spite of its close proximity to Haywards Heath and the flow of traffic that goes through it, Cuckfield keeps much of its charm. There is development, of course, but on the whole the new blends well with the old.
Pictured above is a typical corner of old Cuckfield, with the spire of the Holy Trinity Church in the background.
The Headmaster of Cuckfield Church of England Primary School, Mr E. Schwartz, kindly allowed John Pollard to take this picture of infants at play in the school playground. The headmaster is not only proud of his school, but of a rare, possibly unique distinction it enjoys. The older part of the building, which is shown in the photograph dates back to about 1610. It stands on the same site as a far older building and both were used to howls the boys of Cuckfield school. This school was founded about 450 years ago, in the reign of Henry VIII. It was a boarding school for boys, and its syllabus was copied from that of Eton, which had been founded 70 years previously. Eton’s rival, Harrow, was founded 60 years after Cuckfield school.
In 1844, 26 years before the passing of the Education Act, Cuckfield School became a day school and departments were added for girls and infants, which must have put Cuckfield well ahead in the educational field in those days. In 1957 the senior children went to the new secondary school and the old school assumed its present status. The Jacobean building has been modernised but the Headmaster showed us a dormitory where generations of schoolboys have slept. Today's young pupils enjoy advantages which were unknown in any type of school 40 years ago, let alone 124 years ago when the last generation of boy boarders faded away.
The King’s Head Hotel is listed by the Ministry of housing and local government as a building of architectural and historic interest, the Prince Regent stayed there when Daniel Dench, who was famed for his table, was the landlord. Mr George Gage, the present landlord, pointed out that one of the hotel walls is scarred by the shaft of the Prince Regent's coach. The handsome doorway is early Victorian.
This picture of the interior of Holy Trinity was taken by permission of the vicar, Canon Fisher. Much of the building dates from the 14th century, but it was restored in the 1850s. A feature is the finely painted roof which was done by C. E. Kempe in 1886.
Mrs Chandler told us that Kingsley's (below). had recently been used as an antique shop, but it has been lovingly restored by its present owners. Although one authority refers to it as being 17th-century, Mrs Chandler says that at least part of the building dates back to the 15th century.
Dating as it does from the early 16th century, this attractive cottage, The Sanctuary was probably part of the Cuckfield scene when those first boarders went to Cuckfield School.
Formally called Attrees, the half timbered cottage at the top of the High Street is now known as Kingsleys. This commemorates its association with Henry Kingsley, the younger brother of Charles Kingsley, the novelist, who lived for some time at Attrees prior to his death at the age of 46 in 1876. The present owners of the building are Mr and Mrs Peter Chandler, and we are indebted to Mrs Chandler for her helpful co-operation when we called unexpectedly in connection with this feature. She showed us a cunningly contrived hiding place which was used by smugglers to hide their smuggled goods.
This row of cottages with the red tiles and green doors, stands in the churchyard from which there is a superb view of the Weald stretching away into the distance. The nearby grave of the Harry Preston was covered with a mass of roses on the day we visited Cuckfield.
Article and photographs acknowledged with thanks to Sussex Life Magazine September 1968 Volume 4, No.9