Cuckfield (pronounced cook not cuck) is a village in West Sussex just outside Haywards Heath. Before the arrival of the railways in the 1840s, Cuckfield and Lindfield were the prominent villages in this area, with Haywards Heath little more than a heathland area in between the two. Cuckfield was a market town and was on the turnpike road from London to Brighton. As a result, it became a busy coaching stop. When the railway was built to run through what became Haywards Heath, Cuckfield’s importance as a coaching stop declined, but large houses started to spring up to accommodate a new phenomena, namely commuters who could now work in London and live in Cuckfield and West Sussex for the first time!
Places to eat in Cuckfield
Let’s start with the important stuff when it comes to living in Cuckfield. There are a number of pubs and eateries in and around the village. When it comes to pubs, there is The Talbot, The Rose and Crown, The Wheatsheaf and The White Harte and for fine dining, there is Ockenden Manor. For coffee shops try Cuckfield Corner House Café (this was a bakery when I was small and sold the most amazing chocolate truffles), Tom’s Food or the Tea Room.
Shopping in Cuckfield
For quite a small village, there are quite a few shops including ladies’ fashion, homewares, gifts, flowers, hairdressers, a chemist, and a general store. In short, you have pretty much all you need although if there is something else, Haywards Heath is only a short distance away with a number of different shops and restaurants. There is also a fabulous art shop which sells the work of local artists.
As with all small towns and villages, there is always lots going on. Activities and clubs include fitness, amateur dramatics, golf, tennis, badminton, cricket, football, and archery. There are also lots of things for children including dance, Brownies and Beavers, woodcraft and more. There’s a private members’ spa and gym at Ockenden Manor with a pool and there are two churches, namely the Holy Trinity Church and Cuckfield Baptist Church.
If you’re a commuter, your nearest train station is Haywards Heath which is on the main London to Brighton line with a regular and frequent service. The A272 runs just south of Cuckfield for those travelling east or west. And according to Rightmove, the average house in Cuckfield in 2022 was £551,393.
Hurstpierpoint and Ardingly are the two well-known private schools in the area but the village has its own primary school and is a short walk from Warden Park Secondary Academy (on the outskirts of the village) which has an Ofsted rating of Good.
Things you may not know about Cuckfield
Cuckfield has an interesting history and you may be surprised to learn:
- In 1822, the first known iguanodon fossils were discovered close to Cuckfield at Whitemans Green.
- There are two Elizabethan mansions here, namely Ockenden Manor and Cuckfield Park.
- In 1966, Cuckfield declared itself an independent state! Really. Between 1951 and 1966, every August Bank Holiday a fundraising Donkey Race used to be held (latterly at Whitemans Green). However, when the land was subject to compulsory purchase order to build the current sports field, the village needed an alternative way to raise money. So they decided on a Mayor’s election and declared the Independent State of Cuckfield. Today the Independent State of Cuckfield hosts a number of events and activities to help raise funds for local causes.
- The village has a museum.
- Aumale in Normandy has been a twin town since 1993 and Karlstadt in Bavaria since 1998.
- There used to be a prep school called Hatchlands on the Hatchlands housing estate.
- There have been a few famous residents or people born here, perhaps the best-known being Edward Fox and Jamie Theakston.
Things to do near Cuckfield
There is lots to do in the surrounding area including a visit to Highweald vineyard, or to the gardens at Borde Hill or Wakehurst. Ardingly Reservoir is a short drive away and has water sports, whilst Hickstead has horse shows.
Is Cuckfield in West Sussex a nice place to live?
Well, of course, that slightly depends on you, but it has a bustling community, lots of old buildings and beautiful architecture, and a lively social scene. With plentiful walks in the area, fellow walkers are friendly and the atmosphere is always welcoming.
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