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A Legend of Cuckfield Church

Updated: Sep 27, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 19 November 1929


To the Editor of The Mid-Sussex Times.

Dear Sir, —There is an old tradition relating to the building—or re-buildingof Cuckfield Church that is worth repeating. People whose kin have been associated with Cuckfield for quite 130 years declare that it has been handed down in their families for all that period, but of course it is much older. I have recently been told that there are two versions of this legend, but the following is the only one I have heard. I wonder if any reader of The Mid-Sussex Times can furnish us with the other? It would be interesting to set them side by side. The tradition, as I know it, runs :

That owing to the old church having been destroyed by fire, it was proposed to build a new one on the highest spot in Cuckfield, near to what we now know as Whiteman's Green. When building operations commenced (as with so many Sussex churches) supernatural interference was experienced. The story goes that each night a huge man appeared, clothed from head to foot in pure white, and with superhuman strength flung the great blocks of stone down the hill. The good people of Cuckfield, tired of carrying them up again and again, piously decided to yield to the powers of the unseen world and to build their church on the beautiful site where it now stands. It was also told that from these strange happenings originated the name of Whiteman's Green.” l am afraid, however, that with modern students of Place-Names ” this story will not pass. I do not suppose that the name has any more relation to the White Man ” than Cuckfield has to the cuckoo.

Yours faithfully,



Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 03 December 1929


To the Editor of THE MID SUSSEX TIMES:

Dear Sir. I was much interested in Mr. Hubert Bates's letter about the Legend of Cuckfleld Church. The story is, word for word, what I was told when I was quite little girl. If there is another I have never heard it—and l am now over 80!

I believe imagination and fright play no little part in those weird tales. I have a book which belonged to an old aunt of mine in which there is a ballad telling how an old person, out late the dark, heard something following her home, and on reaching her door she fainted. When those inside came out with a candle they saw an ass foal which had lost its mother in the park and. as the verse had it—” Simple as a playful lamb had followed the dark.”

Many a time, if we could know what all these sights and noises are, we should find them, I guess, very different from what we think. But at the time we are too unnerved to try to fathom unusual happenings. The old lady in the ballad was so relieved when she found what the “ghost” was that she took It in and reared it as her own.

The final verse runs—

“Many a laugh went through the vale.

And some conviction, too :

Each thought some other goblin’s tale

Perhaps was just as true.”

It would be nice if Mr. Bates could give us, through The Mid-Sussex Times, more of his “memories.” I know his letters are read over a wide area with very deep interest.

Yours faithfully




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