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2001: The earliest images of Cuckfield (1) John Colley Nixon : 'Cuckfield, the King's Head Inn c1790

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

From SUSSEX RECORD SOCIETY DIGITAL EDITIONS 2001 volume 85 : Sussex Depicted


Cuckfield owed its coaching trade to the turnpike road between London and Brighton on which a daily service operated from 1784 and which was the predominant route from 1790.


Detail from John Nixon's impression of Cuckfield High Street 1790 (Sold at Southeby's, London, 10 April 1980)

A lady is descending from a coach at the centre of the picture. James Lintott whose name is on the sign at the left, died around the turn of 1795 to 1796, and Nixon’s pictures of Brighton dated before then come from 1787, 1791 and 1793. Nixon’s vantage point was outside today's 18 High Street, at the corner of Ockenden lane, looking South to the parish church.


The site of the Kings Head Inn has long since been redeveloped, but the tile hung house with carved barge board to the left is still standing as ‘The Sanctuary’. Francis Grose and William Burrell stayed at the Kings Head on their tour in May 1777.


Thomas Rowlandson also sketched in Cuckfield while on the road. His water colour, ‘Cuckfield, Sussex, at fair time’, is taken from about the same spot and is dated 1789. As a finished picture worked up from sketches it is inaccurate topographically.


Rowlandson will feature in a future article.


John Colley Nixon (1755-1818)

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