I have been trying to find more about the myth of the Lady in Grey at Butlers Green, after having come across an item in Colin Manton's fascinating book on Haywards Heath. In fact we featured the story as part of a much longer article a year ago which we found in the West Sussex County Times. But thanks to Colin's inclusion of a photo of the pond - we can now locate the pond precisely from the photo in the book. Here is the County Times story again:
The 18th century ghost story of the grey lady of Butler's Green has always been given credence. The story runs that the grey lady's husband was a man of wild habits and of an extremely jealous nature – a gambler and given to outbursts of violent passion.
In a fit of ungovernable temper he is said to have stabbed his wife while she was endeavouring to protect their child. Whereupon she ran out of the house, down the flagged path, through the now locked gate, and drowned herself and her baby in the pond under the old lime trees. The gate was there after laid under a curse that if anyone should ever passed through it a death would occur in the household within the year…
To prevent such a happening the gate was locked and chained and another entrance arranged for the house. The ghost of the Lady Grey is reported to haunt occasionally the beautiful garden and the ruins, but no one has seen her for many years and no living person has ever seen the gate unlocked.
West Sussex County Times - Friday 22 July 1938
Colin Manton's account varies slightly:
The deep pond on the green has long since been filled in. Wayside ponds served to water the horses.
According to legend, a 'lady in grey' haunted the closed gate at the front. The old chain could be heard rattling when she appeared. It was said that she was banished by her husband, who was convinced that she had taken a lover. She fled in darkness with her infant child in her arms and fell into the pond.
Tragically, they drowned.
From 'Haywards Heath Through Time' by Colin Manton, Amberley Publishing, 2013
Extracts from this book can be read in Google Books at https://tinyurl.com/y57unp3y
You can read more about Butler's Green, the house itself and also about the 'phantom horses' in another Cuckfield Connections story here.
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.