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The Dolphin Fair was the place to settle disputes; one could be sure of seeing fights there ...

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 18 November 1924


An Illuminating Lecture by Mr. A.R. Pannett.


Stories of the Past

A talk on the history of Haywards Heath by Mr A. R. Pannett provided a large audience of both sexes with an instructive and entertaining evening in St Richards Parish room, Haywards Heath, on Wednesday evening.

It was a periodical meeting under the auspices of St Richardson branch of the church of England men's Society.

Mr C.B.Hervey, who presided, said he was pleased to see so many present and welcomed them most heartily on behalf of the branch. Mr Pannett needed no introduction and there was probably no other man who knew more about Haywards Heath that he did.(Applause).

Mr Pannett opened by saying that after consenting to give that lecture in a weak moment he found there was absolutely nothing to talk about, as Haywards Heath was so different from many of the old villages roundabout, which had their old churches, families, buildings, etc. Haywards Heath was of mushroom growth with no old associations, or any persons of outstanding importance, although there were a good many who thought they were, but this assumption was based entirely on their own imagination. (laughter). After this typical introduction, Mr Pannett dived into


and took 8 million years for this purpose. He showed that Haywards Heath was part of the Hastings ridge is, composed of rock, gravel, sand and Clay. At one time the district was the bottom of a great lake, and millions of years after a layer of chalk covered the district to the depth of hundreds of feet. Eventually there was an upward pressure, not in a point, but in a long straight line, the ridge beginning at Winchelsea and finishing north of Horsham. That brought them to the bedrock again. They had an illustration of this uprising in a railway journey from Brighton, where first they saw the chalk of the downs, sand at Hassocks, clay at Burgess Hill, and rocks in the valley till Balcombe was reached. That wonderful uprising was very slow, and it was a fact that portions of England were still sinking under the sea, but they need not be alarmed, as it was not enough to trouble them in their lifetime. Turning to the archaeological records of the district, Mr Pannett remarked that these were very scanty. The first mention of Haywards Heath was in an old deed, dated 1349, belonging to the Sergison family. The father of the late Captain Sergison was asked if among the old deeds of the manor there was anything relating to Haywards Heath. The deeds were in Latin, and the one required was translated by Mr Payne, formerly of Cuckfield. At that time John de Hayworth was Lord of the Manor of Cuckfield, and the deed referred to the transaction of certain lands with a man named More, one of the family connected with More House, Wivelsfield.


died out in Sussex in the reign of King Henry VI but the name was associated with Yorkshire and Lancashire families of the name of Haworth. Mr Pannett described the coat of arms of the Hayworth and More families to show the similarity, and suggested that the urban district Council should adopt the Hayworth arms as its badge, whilst he was of the opinion that the manufacturers of Goss china would do better to use this as a crest instead of the incongruous Collection of golf clubs they used to present.(Laughter). The speaker interestingly explained how the term lord of the manor came about, remarking that they were persons who have land sublet to them by the great nobles. The man comprise the land used by the Lord himself and known as the Lords demesne, lands sub-let to tenants known as “villeins” and “cottars,” and who instead of rent paid by rendering certain service to the lord, and generally some portions of rough, uncultivated land known as the common or waste of the manor and which certain grazing and other rights were granted to the tenants. No doubt there were certain common rights at Haywards Heath. which was the waste of Hayworth Manor, but these had all been extinguished. The term “copyhold” meant that a man had a copy of his holding from the lord's roll. When a man died the lord claimed a “heriot,” which was usually the best beast on the farm or holding, and the son had to pay a relief before he took possession. All land in the country in those days was held by service the King. After that period there seemed to have been darkness over the face of the land, as far as Haywards Heath's history was concerned, until 1606. Here the speaker deprecated the destruction so many old deeds which would have enlightened them. Mr Pannett passed on to describe Hayward Heath as it was one hundred years ago and said much of his information was derived from personal talks with an old lady who was 33 years of age at the time. The speaker conducted his audience into Haywards Heath from Cuckfield and explained the object of a turnpike gate that stood on the boundary of Butler's Green and proceeded to Steeple Cottage, where the markings of a Gothic character the on the west wall suggested a former chapel which might have served Butler's Green House. The cottage perhaps, was the residence of the priest. These markings had always


From Steeple Cottage there was a bridle road to Lucas's, which did not in those days enjoy the fashionable name of Lucastes. (Laughter). This bridlepath proceeded to the mill and joined another path, now College Road. From the Sergison Arms a lane ran into the fields and died away, and in this region there was old cottage known as Dick Turpin’s Cottage, so-called probably because he was never within forty miles of it during the whole of his disreputable career. There was another old cottage which had been modernised and known as Muster House, and then there was Bulltrough Farm, which gave the local name of Boltro. The orchard of this farm ran out to Dr. Alderson's house, and the edge of the farm was bordered by a track now Perrymount Road, which led towards the other track in College Road. Among other interesting details Mr. Pannett stated there was a large pond on the site opposite the Sussex Hotel, there was the “Red Lion" public-house where the Presbytery now stands, and on the slope of Franklynn Road there was farmhouse which was pulled down only fifteen years ago. Most of these old cottages and houses had disappeared, but Steeple Cottage still remained, and there was the antique and interesting Sergison Arms. In the old days a pig fair was held there, and pigs were pounded on Muster Green. Dolphin fair it was celebrated for another thing, for it was here that the farm hands settled their disputes during the year.

Quarrels concluded with the remark ‘All right, ‘met’, I'll see ye at the Dolphin Fair,” and one could always be sure of seeing some fights there.

The fair eventually resolved itself into drunken blackguardism, and it was very properly suppressed. Another interesting event at


was the annual venison feast, it being the custom of the Lord of the Manor to give the landlord a fat buck to feed his customers with. (Laughter). This continued until the Sergison family sold the house.

The venison feast was always preceded by a hare hunt, and hares could then be found in the neighbourhood of Muster Green. Coming back to Muster House, Mr Pannett recalled the fact that his father lived there in the forties, when a young man, and had the experience of being in the house when it was ransacked by the notorious Heathfield gang. In reward to Muster Green, it had been

said it got its name from the fact that soldiers were mustered there for the Napoleonic Wars, but he was of the opinion that the name was of greater antiquity and undoubtedly derived from the time when soldiers were recruited from all over the country, as referred to in Shakespeare's ‘King Henry V.’ Probably the men from about Mid Sussex were mustered at Haywards Heath. The coming of the railway altered the face of the land altogether, and the district then began to sit up and take notice. The original intention was to run the railway through Cuckfield, but the latter did not desire it, and the results had been the making of Haywards Heath and the downfall of Cuckfield, which was then an important place with its market, petty sessions, County court etc. When he was young he had to go to Cuckfield to buy stamps. Today Cuckfield was but a ghost of its former self, and Hayward Heath was a flourishing township. The station and the Liverpool hotels quickly arose with the coming of the railway, and two shops were erected where Barclay's Bank now stood. At the back en Mr Pratts butcher shop there were railway shanties, and this spot was known as ‘Duck Alley’, the tracks in Paddockhall, Perrymount and Sydney Roads were hardened and made up, and in 1856 a man came to Haywards Heath who was destined to leave a lasting influence on the district. He was


the first Vicar of Haywards Heath (applause). He was a good all-round man, a thorough churchman and a true friend to all. Mr Pannett said the first services were held in a carpenter’s shop near the station, spoke of the building of St Wilfrid's schools where it was now difficult to recognise the original structure and paid a tribute to Mr Wyatt's keen interest in education, remarking that the work he did was greater than anyone could believe. Mr Pannett evidently saw a kindred spirit in the first Vicar, for the latter had a great fund of humour and could always tell a tale against himself. On one occasion an uncouth son of a Wickham farmer brought to the vicar, who lived at Vandalia, a goose, and handed it in in a discourteous manner. Mr Wyatt illustrated to the boy how he should have spoken and handed back the goose and requested him to knock and present it again. When the vicar opened the door the lad was retreating over Muster Green, and in response to the Vicar’s shout to come back replied “no, yer had yer chance to have it once!” (loud laughter). On another occasion in Paddockhall Road, the Vicar stopped to speak to man cutting a broom and asked him if he knew the Lord's prayer? The man said he knew nothing about it, whereupon Mr Wyatt expressed surprise. The man, in turn, asked the Vicar if he knew how to make brooms? When the vicar remarked “No”, the man said he always believed every man for his own trade. (Laughter). The last story related by Mr Pannett referred to Mr Wyatt expressing his pleasure to a parishioner over the admission that she


but the vicar was somewhat taken back when the woman replied, “But, lor’ bless yer, I don't believe half of it.” (laughter). Following the coming of the railway, the district grew, and the first buildings were at Triangle Terrace. It would take too long to say how the money was obtained to build the church, but what helped Haywards Heath to a large extent was the fact that several big Brighton tradesmen, such as the Treachers, Thorowgoods and Reeves, came to reside in the district. This had a great influence on the development of the district. Mr Pannett gave a humorous description of the old local board elections, remarking that the paper was sent round from house to house, and a candidate who could run the fastest got the most votes (laughter). By the local government act of 1894, Haywards Heath became entitled to an urban district Council. “I could say a lot about that, but it's not fair to talk about those who are dead, and I don't want to talk about those who are alive,” said the speaker amidst laughter. Mr Pannett spoke of how the recreation ground was once a swamp, and said that at the insistence of two gentlemen who were cricket enthusiasts, he took levels and prepared a plan, and the result was one of the most charming cricket grounds in the county.

“I cannot help feeling pleased, as I walk through that ground on a summers evening and see the children enjoying themselves, that in a long, chequered and misspent career I have done a little good”, remarked the lecturer prior to concluding by thanking the company for the patient hearing they had given him

The Rev. W. Johnson Jones (President of the Branch) initiated a cordial vote of thanks to Mr Pannett for his instructive lecture, this is being seconded by Mr A. W.Mapey (Hon. Secretary) and carried unanimously.


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