Haywards Heath V

Nuns let alone sheep and cows were once a sight from Western Road into the farmland of the Priory of Our Lady of Good Counsel with its school for girls. Lilian Rogers writes ‘The sisters arrived in July 1886… in 1891 the community included six teachers offering instruction in history, piano, arithmetic, geography, French, English and needlecraft. There were also two sisters designated as sacristan and ‘procurating’ (housekeeper), five servants and nine boarding pupils. A Belgian priest was living in the lodge, together with a gardener and another housekeeper.’ The sisters moved to Sayers Common in 1977 releasing their land for building. Picture: Charles Tucker.
Can anyone identify the site of the well on America Lane? The country road to Lindfield famous for its strawberries was built up first through philanthropist William Allen’s colony and then from the eastern expansion of Haywards Heath along New England Road. William Allen’s cottages were complemented by buildings on streets with…

Haywards Heath IV

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the demolition of Haywards Heath mill in 1969. Jenner & Higgs mill stood in a succession of mills tracing back at least to 1638. The site now offices is on the left as you go under the railway bridge from College Road heading for Sainsbury’s. It’s linked to the stream now diverted which powered it. The water wheels gave way to steam, gas and then electric power after 1915. Picture Charles Tucker.

There’s a great profile of heroes of Haywards Heath by Hanna Prince in September 2019’s Sussex Living magazine available free at points across the town. I was fascinated to read about the vapour baths Dr Lockhart Robertson used at the asylum to treat depression in the 1860s. In those days the physical restraint of sufferers of mental illness was giving way to a more enlightened therapeutic approach. Do pick up your free paper!
Drilling Haywards Heath railway tunnel in 1841 so impacted the contractor he built a house on top of it. This blue plaque above Fol…

Haywards Heath III

With railroad plans for Haywards Heath came concern for stagecoach horses put out to grass as in this Victorian cartoon displayed in Cuckfield Museum. The smell of horse dung gave way to the smoke smell and sound across the adjacent Heath when our railway opened 12 July 1841.

Conway Gabe and Wyn Ford’s ‘The Metropolis of Mid Sussex - A History of Haywards Heath’ was published 1981. It’s no light read as ‘magnum opus’ on our town despite its bright cover, section of the colourful 1638 ‘survae of the land belonging unto Nicholas Hardham’. There’s an invaluable tracing of the 1638 map over the 1981 map with 19 stars denoting where part or all of the original buildings still exist - or did in 1981!

Wishing you good luck from Haywards Heath! It’s not as green nowadays in Bents Wood where Anne and I live. I’m grateful to my friend Charles Tucker for this copy from his postcard collection which covers the town’s evolution over a century or more. Who can date this picture? The cars on South Roa…

Haywards Heath II

As the M25 skirts the North Downs south of London and the A27 skirts the South Downs and Brighton the A272 traverses the ancient home of Haywards Heath, the High Weald of Mid-Sussex. Heather Warnes 2009 history observes that ‘it was common in this part of Mid Sussex for early estates to be laid out across a ridge top, the north-facing slopes often being reserved to the lord for wood and timber’. The heath was open land facing south benefitting both from the sun and drainage of water from the rock underlay of the High Weald down to the southern claylands. The River Ouse north of the Weald provides a second natural boundary for our heath.
Haywards Heath is a town with population 33,845 (2011 census) that grew up to the north and east of the ancient ‘Hayworth’ estate after the arrival of the railway in 1841. Its name derives from ‘Hayworth’ south of Muster Green on the A272 formerly a prehistoric ridgeway track. In her ‘Assessment of the early history of Hayworth and Trubwick in Haywards …