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High Street Timeline

This Timeline is the first known attempt to collate the key dates and events relating to the coaching period and development of Cuckfield High Street and was created principally in collating relevant dates for The Talbot. The majority of the sources are cross referenced although some authors have not credited their own sources. There are many other events and individuals' names that can be added, but it's a start.

1638 A 1638 map of most (but not all) of the town, which shows two inns or taverns (the Talbot and what may be the Pied Bull or the Kings Head). Cuckfield Historic Character Assessment Report, October 2005

1726 First recorded mention of an inn on this site was in the will of William Buckwell of Cuckfield as ‘my messuage: or tenement … commonly known by the sign of the Hound … in the town of Cuckfield … in the occupation of John Heasman’. The alehouse was held as a copyhold of the Manor of Cuckfield (Maisie Wright).

1774 John Buckwell contributes to Land Tax, probably for The Talbot. The Polls of the Shire to Represent the County of Sussex … 1774

1780 We now, for the first time, hear of Cuckfield on the route from Brighton to London; and a quaint place it used to be, the White Hart having a sort of outdoor tap, at which subsequently coachmen waiting for up or down coaches, and as many of the villagers who were not better employed, used to congregate. From ‘Brighton and its coaches’ by WCA Blew.

1782 Prince George first visited Brighthelmstone. History of Brighthelmstone - the Ancient and Modern History of Brighton, JA Erredge 1867.

1784 First mention of the name ‘The Talbot Inn’. A Talbot was a superior breed of hunting dog.

Dench, landlord [ED: previously ran the George Inn, Crawley] in the 1770s, was well known for providing good food, as was his brother who ran the Talbot in Cuckfield. The coach roads to Brighton, Geoffrey Hewlett, 2014

‘On Thursday night the 9th inst, Mr Dench, master of the Talbot Inn, at Cuckfield, had three full-grown fowl, that roosted under cover, dropped dead from their perch, through the inclemency of the weather.’ Sussex Advertiser, Mon 20 December 1784.

There were two Daniel Dench’s - clarification from a 2009 email from Paul Wilson: ‘I was descended from Daniel Dench the landlord of the Hound (later renamed the Talbot). I'm descended from his son John. His other son Daniel Dench was the famous landlord of the King’s Head and described as the 'host to the Prince Regent'.

1789 Thomas Rowlandson’s (1756-1827) painting of ‘Cuckfield on a Fair Day’ dated 1789 shows the Hound/The Talbot, two instead of three stories but otherwise similar to today’s building.

1791 Messrs. Henwood, Scott, & Holbrook included the "original eight o'clock post-coach, via Cuckfield and Reigate, which, like Tubb & Davis's vehicle, reached London in eight hours, arriving at the Blossoms Inn, Cheapside, at four o'clock in the afternoon. From ‘Brighton and its coaches’ by WCA Blew.

1790 During the summer of 1790, Messrs. William Henwood and James Scott ran, between London and Brighton, a new and elegant post-coach, carrying four inside and three out. The route was through Cuckfield and Reigate the coach left the White Horse Inn, Brighton, at eight o'clock in the morning, and reached the Blossoms Hotel, Lawrence Lane, Cheapside, in nine hours; the inside passengers paid eighteen shillings, and the outsides half that amount. From ‘Brighton and its coaches’ by WCA Blew, P39.

1793 Messrs. (James) Scott and (Thomas) Owden ran The New Inn in North Street Brighton built 1785. In 1800 this was kept by William H Henwood. ‘A Peep into the past Brighton’, ‘Brighten in the Olden Time’ by John George Bishop

1793? Thomas Owden takes over The Talbot Inn.

1795 Scott and Owden listed in advertisement 17 August, Worthing Herald / Sussex Advertiser. Whereas It has been the custom for post boys, on their return borne, to take up passengers and retain the hire for their own use, to the great loss of the postmasters, and very great injury of their chaises and horses. We, whose names are hereunder set, do acquaint the public, that anyone riding in our returning chaises In future, must expect to pay the full hire; and we likewise offer a reward of half a guinea to anyone that will give Information of any of our postboys taking up passengers on their return, without our content, or accounting to us for the full hire: and our postboys are to take notice, that the first offender will be immediately discharged. Signatories include: Scott and Owden, W. Henwood (Brighthelmston). NOTE: Scott and Owden could still have been working from Brighton at the New Inn at this time.

1797 Confirmation of ‘the Talbot’ name: In the year 1797, Mr John Murrel, at the Talbot Inn, Cuckfield, Sussex, had been in a consumption for one year and a quarter, and reduced to so weak a state as not even to bear the fatigue of riding on horseback, but was cured by Dr Miller’s Nervous Cordial and Restorative Pills, and remains perfectly well to the date hereof. Oct. 1800. Kentish Gazette, 7 November 1800

1797 Customers of the nearby Talbot Inn were charged a penny a time by successive landlords of the nearby King’s Head to check the time or to synchronise their fob watches. The Talbot eventually got their own clock for this purpose. Cuckfield Connections.

1798 Daniel Dench, landlord of King’s Head was declared bankrupt 5 June 1798.But pays out dividends 9 November 1799 at Friar and Oak, Clayton. Kentish Weekly Post 18 October 1799.

1799 James Scott was listed as proprietor and occupier in UK Land Redemption, 15 February 1799.

1799 50 stage coaches a day passing up and down Cuckfield. A Chronicle of Cuckfield by Maisie Wright, 1991.

1800 Customers were charged a penny a time by successive landlords of the nearby King’s Head to check the time or to synchronise their fob watches. West Sussex Inns’ by Brigid Chapman 1988.

"1802 The will of John Buckwell of Framfield grandson of (see 1726) William refers to the sale of ‘my capital messuage … situate in the town of Cuckfield commonly called or known by the name or sign of The Talbot, to James Scott of Cuckfield, Innkeeper’. Cuckfield Museum records."

1803 The war with France broke out again in 1803. Napoleon assembled a large army at Boulogne to invade England. Soldiers billeted in local inns: 39 at The Talbot, 50

c1803 Faulkner Best, in the early part of this century, having purchased the Talbot Inn of Mr John Owden (1764-1811) - his business partner was John Owen.

1804 Faulkner Best owned the Talbot Hotel and farmed 250 acres. French invasion scare. Mr. Falkner Best … having purchased the Talbot Inn of Mr Owden, father of Sir Thomas Owden, a late Lord Mayor of London, there was of course a rivalry between the two houses, and Mr Best, on the vacation of Dench, closed the Kings Head about 65 years ago (c1818), and removed the market and the posting work to the Talbot, which gave rise to the building of the present King’s Head Hotel’. Mid Sussex Times, 22 May 1883

1806 Faulkner Best dissolved his partnership with Daniel Dench.

1808 In 1808 a Bill was before Parliament to make a new road (the present A23) to reduce the distance to the fifty miles required by Parliament as the maximum distance the sovereign might reside from Westminster. In spite of a meeting held at The Talbot to oppose the Bill, the road was completed and opened. Maisie Wright in Chronicle of Cuckfield. But this may have been a rejected early proposal, see 1813 below.

1811 John Owden the Talbot landlord died in May.

1811 King’s Head for sale:

In the great road from London to Brighton. A freehold dwelling house in the centre of the town of Cuckfield, in Sussex, opposite The Talbot Inn, calculated for any business whatever, as there is room for great improvements, containing seven bedrooms one attic, two shops or parlours, a front kitchen, ditto a back, with an oven, a pantry, wash-house, warehouse, a good cellar, with a vault; a pump, with good water, which never fails; an extensive garden, well stocked with young fruit trees, and a large drying yard. A good brick stabling in the front of the town, large enough for ten or twelve horses; a good stable yard; 40 miles from London, 15 from Brighton, and 14 from Lewes.

May be viewed on application to Robert Chatfield, proprietor; or to Mr John Kennard, St. Ann's, Lewes. Sussex Advertiser 19 August 1811"

1810 June 28th, the London Road, by way of Hickstead, opened from Pyecombe. History of Brighthelmstone - the Ancient and Modern History of Brighton, JA Erredge 1867.

1811 6 Feb The Prince of Wales became Prince Regent

1811/12 Faulkner Best who was 39 bought the Talbot Inn.

1812 Napoleon was assembling barges at the Channel ports to transport his troops for the invasion of England.

1812 Turnpike tolls let out at New Inn, Hurstpierpoint for new section of Brighton road from 'Pyecombe to Handcross' on 27 April 1812. Sussex Advertiser 31 My 1813.

1812/13 Hubert Bates records in his journal the number of soldiers that had been billeted in local inns in the area. The Talbot taking 30 and the King’s Head 50.

1813 This is the date given by Rev JH Cooper in ‘A History of The Parish of Cuckfield’ for the opening of the new toll route via Hickstead. Confirmed by ‘Brighton and its coaches’ WCA Blew (1894) which says was referred to as ‘the well-wooded vale of Newtimber’, and by this road, which was opened in 1813. But see the entry for 1810.

1813 Daniel Dench moved his business to the Castle at Hickstead to pick the business that was now diverting past Cuckfield

1816 King's Head owned by Daniel Dench advertised for sale to be held 19 January 1816 described 'Freehold under lease expiring Lady Day 1817' with 'numerous sleeping and seating rooms, larder, bar, excellent cellerage, stabling for 30 horses, ggod standing for carriages'. Sussex Advertiser 25 December 2015.

1817/18 Rerouting the London to Brighton coaching route away from Cuckfield High Street. Authorised by Act of Parliament in 1809 (49 Geo III c94) It extended for a distance of 12 miles and 1 furlong. Plans in ESCC Keep.

1818 Faulkner Best relocated the King’s Head business to the corner of Church Street.

1818 Thomas W Best born 6 Sept 1818. Cuckfield Church Baptisms

1821 It was comfortable and well run and many people of note stayed there, including Dr. Gideon Mantell between 1821-1830, the palaeontologist who discovered the famous fossils in the quarries at Whiteman's Green. Sussex Life, March 29, 1981

1820-30 Maisie Wright in 'A Chronicle of Cuckfield' believed that The Talbot was ‘rebuilt in 1820-30’. This is possible but no evidence has since been found to support this.

1825 In 1825 a first survey was made for a railway from London to Brighton; several different routes were proposed and landowners who were opposed to a route through Cuckfield met at The Talbot.

1826 We dined at the Talbot Inn, and then drove to the upper quarries; nearly 30 men were employed …' Gideon Mantell’s Journal 26 September 1821. He also stayed there 17 June 1843

1828 Faulkner Best is landlord Pigot’s Directory

1830 The Talbot was expanded and refurbished in 1830. Cuckfield Village and Brook Street Design Statement’ Supplementary Planning Document

c1830 Stephen Wileman (1786-1858) became landlord of the Kings Head. The old Kings Head may have been demolished at this point - but it was up for sale in 1811 and it happened then. Maisie Wright in Chronicle of Cuckfield believed this was after 1841.

1830/1 Cuckfield Swing riots an angry crowd surged round the steps of the Talbot Hotel as a young apprentice named Pagden who had been arrested and brought before the magistrates sitting in the Court Room was awaiting escort. He had been committed for trial at the Lewes Assizes. Maisie Wright in Chronicle of Cuckfield and Mid Sussex Times, 8 May 1888, Brighton Gazette 19 Nov 1830. Cuckfield Connections.

1832-4, 9 Faulkner Best landlord. Pigot’s Directories.

"1835 The Cuckfield Ball will take place in the New Assembly Rooms, at the Talbot, Cuckfield 23 April, 1835. Dancing with Weipart’s Band. Tickets, including supper, to be had of Mr Best at the Talbot, gentleman is 12s - ladies 8s. Sussex Advertiser 6 April 1835"

1835 The Cuckfield Ball will take place in the New Assembly Rooms, at the Talbot, Cuckfield 23 April, 1835. Dancing with Weipart’s Band. Tickets, including supper, to be had of Mr Best at the Talbot, gentleman is 12s - ladies 8s. Sussex Advertiser 6 April 1835

1836/7 Meetings to support Rennie’s route of Brighton line to avoid Cuckfield held at The Talbot. Brighton Gazette, 10 March 1836, 9 March 1837

1837 27 Nov A rather unusual gathering took place at the Talbot to this evening. A party of the Society of friends (Quakers) held a meeting in the great ballroom for worship. Upwards of 300 of the inhabitants attended. History of Cuckfield

1838 Thomas Best (20) set up Cuckfield Brewery possibly on premises at The Talbot. he later expanded over the road at the former King’s Head. The business was listed in the 1839 Pigot’s trade directory.

1841 Brighton Railway to Haywards Heath opened 2 July 1841 and rest of the line on 21 Sept 1841.

1846 In 1846 Stephen Wileman sold the Kings Head business to Edward Jenner, a local brewer known as Uncle Ned, who died in 1881.

1850 The Talbot Hotel: an advertisement exists in Cuckfield Museum

1851 Census confirms Faulkner Best 79 (bn Charlwood), farmer 250 acres, employs 6 men was landlord. Census. Married to Eliza 54. Ambrose Dumsday 37 (bn Cuckfield) ran Talbot Tap, Married to Harriet 37.

1853 TW Best (at 35), Talbot Family Hotel, Commercial and Posting House, Ad in Brighton Gazette 3 Nov 1853

1853 Landlord 1853 Albert Dumsday. The traveller's album and hotel guide by Traveller

c1855 Photo taken by Albert Dumsday, son of Ambrose Dumsday, the proprietor of the Talbot Hotel.

1855 Brewery set up opposite Talbot by Thomas William Best.

1855 Faulkner Best - brickmaker and coal merchant. Info from Vic Redman, Eastbourne

1858 Faulkner Best died at the age of 86. Ancestry.

1858 Transfer of Dumsday’s business by Thomas William Best, brewer of Cuckfield (from Albert D.) to Ambrose Dumsday (1844-1903), innkeeper of Cuckfield ‘for the demise to the said Ambrose of a messuage or dwelling house, Inn and premises called the Talbot Hotel in Cuckfield, with the tap and Stabling known as the four Stalls with loft over and two stalls and other buildings belonging, with certain reservations. Term one year; yearly rent, £75.’

1858 The new site on the corner of Church Street was developed as the new home of the King's Head. This is Cuckfield, D Wood,1967.

1858 Tom Best the brewer built the present row of shops into Hill Rise. Maisie Wright, Chronicle of Cuckfield.

1859 The first enrolment of the volunteer movement took place in 1859. The headquarters of the first corps were at Brighton, of the second at Cuckfield. Their first meeting-place was the Talbot Hotel. Then the old workhouse

1861 Ambrose Dumsday 47, landlord with Harriet. Census.

1861 Thomas William Best (43) transferred his interest to the Brewery and moved into a house Hillrise, app.Talbot, with the brewery behind. This may have been the date that Old Kings Head transferred its business to corner site at bottom of High Street, but it could have been as early as 1830 or even 1811.

1861 Census confirms Ambrose Dumsday was landlord

1862 Thomas Best described as’ - brewer, maltster, coal merchant’ Info from Vic Redman, Eastbourne.

1866 Ambrose Dumsday listed as the proprietor of the Talbot Family and Commercial Hotel and Posting House in Cuckfield, as listed in the 1866 edition of Kelly's Directory

1866 Abolition of much hated Cuckfield and Hodges turnpike to Maresfield and its gate at Butler’s Green. Bar gate at Tylers Green for traffic heading down Isaacs Lane also removed. Poor road maintenance and high cost of tolls cited, affecting local business. The Ansty / Hurst turnpike had also recently been ended Sussex Advertiser 6 November 1866.

1867 Petty sessions are held every alternate Monday at the Talbot Hotel.

1871 Thomas Williams Best became landlord upon the death of his mother Eliza (1862?). Ambrose Dumsday (58) was hotel keeper bn Cuckfield with wife Harriet. The brewery was now employing 6 men. Census.

1871 Block of properties built opposite The Talbot and north side of Ockenden Lane, Burrell Coat of Arms and date on front of building.

1877 The brewery leased to (Info from Vic Redman, Eastbourne) Joseph Langton (22. who, a decade later. In the obituary of the wife of George Robinson (born 1861) who lived in Cuckfield he was described as ‘former coachman for Captain J Langton of Ockenden House, Cuckfield, (proprietor of Cuckfield Brewery)’. He later renamed it the Dolphin Brewery, probably inspired by the Lord of the Manor Sergison’s armorial crest. They lived at Hillrise, High Street (where Marcus Grimes the estate agent is located today). By 1879 it was selling nine galls of Bitter Beer for 36 shillings for 36 gallons. They had a range of nine beers available for purchase, with ‘terms cash’. Best’s eight pubs were: The Tiger at Lindfield; Sussex Hotel and Burrell Arms at Haywards Heath; Talbot Hotel and Tap at Cuckfield; the Green Cross at West Grinstead (or should this be Ansty); the Locomotive at Three Bridges and the Rifleman at Waminglid.

1879 Thomas Best marries Mary Ann Sorrell in St Peter’s, Brighton

1881 Census Edwin Dumsday (31) bn Cuckfield and Emma Doomsday (38) bn Middlesex joint hotel proprietors. Albert’s unmarried children, Albert had retired. Ancestry.

1881 Cuckfield Bonfire Society in battle array, at the front headquarters, the Talbot Hotel, 100 members

1881 Percy Lefroy Mapleton railway murder suspect first hearing

1885 Edwin Dumsday transferred Talbot Hotel licence to Thomas Thoroton Riches Mid Sussex Times 1 Sept 1885.

1885 King’s Head Hotel licence transferred from James Alfred Ford to Edwin Dumsday Mid Sussex Times 1 Sept 1885.

c1886 A West Sussex archive record shows transfer of lease from Thomas Thorston Riches to Joseph Langton of the Dolphin Brewery 13 May 1885.

1888 The Stoners moved from The Tap and became landlords of The Talbot which had stables, hayloft and harness room, that again made ideal places to play on wet days. There was also a huge room above the pub where the assizes once were held, then that was moved to Haywards Heath (before my time) the room was used for dances, a band room and later Hoadleys had it for second hand furniture. C1920s. Cuckfield Connections.

1888 Demise of the petty sessions (in 1888) which were held alternate Mondays and county court (in 1890) in Cuckfield Post Office Directory 1851 and Cuckfield Historic Character Assessment Report, October 2005

c1890 Around 1890, the Talbot Hotel was taken over by Thomas Thorston Riches bn Sheffield. In 1881 Census he was Master of the Cuckfield workhouse (34) with Edith Jane Riches who was matron (33). He was master of Workhouse for 11 years. Sx Agric Express 4 March 1905 and there in Was there in 1879 West Sussex County Times 29 Nov 1879. Died in March 1905.

c1890 Edwin Dumsday and his sister Emma Dumsday, children of Ambrose, acquired the King's Head Family Hotel

1891 Census says Thorroton Riches (40) bn Sheffield is hotel proprietor, wife Edith (39.

1895 Ambrose Dumsday died aged 83 1812 - 1895

1898 Tom Best’ leases brewery to East Grinstead Breweries Ltd. EGB subsequently sold the plant to Tamplins (Richard Tamplin) who closed it down in 1923 with the whole business going into liquidation in

1924 The brewery building will then have been sold and was converted and divided into the two properties in Ockenden Lane.

1900 Still a hotel. Relief of Mafeking celebrations led from the portico of the Talbot Hotel Mid Sussex Times, 22 May 1900

1901 Census says Ernest John Hooker (25) single, born Crawley, is innkeeper

1903 Thomas Best sells Cuckfield Brewery to Southdown and East Grinstead Breweries Ltd

1906 Thomas Best died at 88. After his retirement he had moved into a sizeable mansion half a mile south of Ansty called Harvest Hill. In his will he left £28961 14s. lld. (ie £1.6 million in today's money) to his son Thomas (49) and his daughter Louisa (47).

1906 Talbot empty and to let ‘… furnished by the recent closing, after a 150 years or more, of the once chief inn of Cuckfield: the fine and stately Talbot, now empty and ‘To Let’; the hospitable quotation, ‘You're welcome, what's your will’, from The Merry Wives of Windsor on its fanlight, reading like a bitter mockery. The Brighton Road: Speed, Sport and history on the classic highway, by Charles G Harper, 1906

1911 Census says Ernest John Hooker (25) single, born Crawley, is innkeeper.

c1912 The Talbot is the Liberal headquarters and the seat of ‘government’

1912 We are informed on good authority that Mrs Ringer, of Chichester, has been appointed postmistress at Cuckfield in succession to Mr Anscombe. She will enter on her duties on April 1st. Mrs. Ringer is a widow, and at one time was a telegraphist in the Chichester Post Office. The Cuckfield office is to be removed to the Talbot Hotel, and will be more up-to-date than the present building. Sussex Agricultural Express, 29 March 1912

1913 Ernest John Hooker was landlord

1915 Funeral of Mrs Hooker of the Talbot Hotel, Mid SussexTimes 9 Feb 1915.

1918 Mrs Kathleen Stoner was landlady

1920s The Stoners moved from The Tap and became landlords of the Talbot which had stables, hayloft and harness room. The assizes once were held here, then but moved to Haywards Heath. The room ‘Court Room’ was used for dances, a band room and later Hoadleys had it for second hand furniture.

1926 Talbot serves Cuckfield as a Post Office; creepers are gradually covering its red-brick walls. Worthing Herald 26 June 1926

1938 Mrs Kathleen Stoner was landlady

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