Ockenden Cottage - 21 South Street (article from Cuckfield Society Newsletter 2001/2002)
Ockenden Cottage is one of the oldest inhabited houses in Cuckfield. According to the late T. W. Mason, author of "timber framed houses of the Weald" it would have been a single story hall with a solar two storey wing at right angles and may have been a parsonage. From its heavy timbers and wooden shutters on one side it can be dated from the 15th century or earlier.
At some time in the distant past it was an inn called the White Horse.
In 1659 Walter Burrell bought Ockenden house and it seems probable that he acquired Ockenden Cottage at the same time. Sir Walter Wyndham Burrell and his wife and children lived at Ockenden House from 1862. In 1876 a Walter Wyndham died, but Lady Burrell stayed in the house, and her butler, Albert Burtenshaw occupied Ockenden Cottage. His granddaughter, Miss Hammond has a photograph of him with his second wife, one time lady’s-maid to Lady Burrell, in the garden of the house (reproduced in old picture postcards of Cuckfield).
Albert Burtenshaw enjoyed a long retirement in Elkington cottage where he became a well-known character of Cuckfield. In his book "the lure of Sussex" the writer R. Thurston Hopkins records a visit in 1927 to Cuckfield where he was introduced to a "fine grand old gentleman" who was famous for his own apples and rabbits, which he put in together with their fur, for flavour. Old residents still talk of the results of these petitions on unwary visitors. Mrs Burtenshaw was still living, as a widow, in the house in October 1938.
In the 18th century when South Street was the butchers’ quarter, the ground floor of the old hall house was a butcher’s shop. There is a painting of the shop with an open front with joints of meat hanging from the hooks. The butchers were Philip and Charles Jenner in the mid-19 century. Their brother Edward, (Ned) was the Baker with a shop in the old building at right angles to the hall.
In 1846 he moved across the road to open the new Kings Head and sold his bakery business to Mr Bunting who carried it on for 50 years. When he died it was said that he had sung in the church choir every Sunday, and had been out of Cuckfield for only one day, when he went to the Isle of Wight for his wedding.
It seems probable that the remodelling of the bakery wing with a modern shopfront to the Dutch gable on the upper story was carried out during this time. Mr King succeeded Mr Bunting the baker, while Mrs King presided over the shop.
On the outbreak of war in September 1939 a member of the Burrell family was prevented from carrying out their plan to take up residence in Ockenden cottage. From November 1939 Mrs Robin Fox rented the house and moved there with her two young sons while her husband was away in the army.
In the early 1950s the Burrell Estate put up for sale a number of their properties in South Street. The Kings and Foxes bought their separate parts of 21 South Street. In 1968 the Kings sold their bakery and shop to Mr and Mrs Fox who removed the Victorian additions and converted the building into one with their house. Robin Fox (first chairman of the Cuckfield Society) died in 1971, and a few years later Mrs Fox sold the property to the present owners Mr and Mrs Montfort Bebb.
A fine tree is a feature of the garden, some say it is deodar, others that it is a Cedar of Lebanon and even claim that it grows from a cone planted by a crusader returned from the holy land.
Thanks to the Church magazine for this extract and to the Montfort Bebb family. Thanks also to The Cuckfield Society for the article taken from The Cuckfield Society Magazine 2001/2
If you know anything about the of the history of your Cuckfield home - or any stories about it, please contact us at cuckfieldconnections.org.uk and we would be delighted to include it in an article.