Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

Home | Order | Support | About | Contact | Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

xxxm                      HEFFUL CUCKOO FAIR                            311
Slaughter Common, near Heathfield, is said to be the scene of a more wholesale carnage, Heathfield people claiming that there Caedwalla in 635 fought the Saxons and killed Eadwine, king of Northumbria. Sylvan Harmer, in his manu­script history of Heathfield, is determined that Heathfield shall have the credit of the fray, but, as a matter of fact, if Slaughter Common really took its name from a battle it was a very different one, for Caedwalla and Eadwine met, not at Heathfield, but Hatfield Chase, near Doncaster.
It is at Hefful Cuckoo fair on April 14—Hefful being Sussex for Heathfield—that, tradition states, the old woman lets the cuckoo out of her basket and starts him on his course through the summer months. A local story tells of a Heathfield man who had a quarrel with his wife and left for Ditchling. After some days he returned, remarking, " I've had enough of furrin parts—nothing like old England yet."
If any one, walking from Heathfield towards Burwash, is astonished to find a " Railway Inn," let him spend no time in seeking a station, for there is none within some miles. This inn was once "The Labour in Vain," with a signboard re­presenting two men hard at work scrubbing a nigger till the white should gleam through. Then came a scheme to run a line to Eastbourne, midway between the present Heathfield line and the Burwash line, and enterprise dictated the changing of the sign to one more in keeping with the times. The railway project was abandoned but the inn retains its new style.
Warbleton, a village in the iron country, two miles south of Heathfield, is famous for its association with Richard Woodman, the Sussex martyr, who is mentioned in an earlier chapter. His house and foundry were hard by the churchyard. The wonderful door in the church tower, a miracle of intricate bolts and massive strength, has been attributed to Woodman's mechanical skill j and the theory has been put forward that he made this door for his own strong room, and it was afterwards moved to the church. Another story says that he was im-
Previous Contents Next