Autumn Displays

1915 - Remembering Events at Home and Away

Contributed by Phillipa Malins

'1915 – Remembering Events at Home and Away.' Cuckfield Museum's Armistice Display is inspired by three objects discovered by chance.

A Cuckfield postcard sent by a Post Office rifleman, billeted in the village in the winter of 1914/15 while the battalion trained nearby before being sent to France. Then two diaries from the Gallipoli campaign found during a house clearance in London Lane: one was the official military diary for a gun battery while the other is the personal diary of one of the battery officers.

The display marks the centenary of these events and contains research into the men's lives. Display open until winter closure: Dec 12th at 1pm

PO Riflesmen being assembled in the High Street
PO Riflesman George Gates' postcard sent from Cuckfield in Dec 1914
2nd Lt Ralph Chalkley, the writer of the personal diary from Gallipoli, in the Sherborne School OTC in 1912, aged 16. Front row 2nd from left.
Plaque from the churchyard remembering the PO Riflesmen who never returned from France

"Ringing The Changes"

Contributed by Sue Burgess and Phillipa Malins


1.  Let there be heard no loud voices except the music of the Bells.

2.  Let all unseemly or unnecessary conversation be avoided.

3.  Let there be reverence of thought, word and deed.

We are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the re-casting of Holy Trinity Church’s original six bells and the addition of two new ones. They were first rung in September 1815, just three months after Wellington’s victory at Waterloo.

We also look at other aspects of the Church’s history during those two hundred years, show that re-ordering the interior is nothing new, and that general repair, replacement and restoration have been on-going for much of that time.


The church was reordered in the middle of the C19th when the vicar at the time, Rev. T.A. Maberly, was particularIy keen for change and employed the leading architect of the Oxford Movement, G.F. Bodley, to transform the church. A great deal of the dark wood which would have filled the church was removed including the old triple decker pulpit, the high box pews and the gallery around the side of the church. The stained glass designer C. E. Kempe was employed to paint the walls and ceiling of the chancel and later the ceiling of the nave. We are displaying some of Kempe's paintbrushes which were found on high ledges in the nave during conservation work in 2002.  Above is a photo of the beautiful Kempe ceiling which is such a feature of the church. The church certainly had a very different feeling after 1886 when the work was complete – it glowed with colour and was much less dark and congested.

The recent church reordering of 2012 saw another great change in the look and feel of the church. The mid Victorian bench pews were replaced by individual carved wooden seats which can be moved according to the occasion. This allows the building to be used for events other than services and draws people, who might not necessarily know the church, into this beautiful and peaceful place. The chancel screen was moved under the bell tower, opening up the view of the choir and the great east window to the congregation. The old wooden floor was taken up and a new under floor heating system installed. Visitors were invited to view the works and the barrel vaulted tombs which were found under the floor. Thought to date from the early C17th, none could be disturbed and, though the church has a list of likely names for the burials, none could be identified.

The Steeple and Weathercock

As many local residents will know, on 1st May 1980, the spire mysteriously caught fire and most of the tower collapsed into the churchyard. The photograph above shows the moment when the cross and the weathercock (made by a local plumber in 1818) crashed to the ground.  Fortunately Rev Hayden found both these items amongst the debris and, after repair by pupils from Warden Park School, the weathercock was reinstated atop the new spire – now sitting on a black orb to symbolise its having risen like a phoenix from the ashes!  More information and photographs about the fire and the weathercock can be found in our current display, as well as the finial which usually now hangs inside the bell tower.

Although some of the objects on display are from the Museum’s collection, most have been kindly loaned by the Holy Trinity bell ringers, the Churchwardens and Revd. Michael Maine.

If you are interested in this or any other Cuckfield topics, why not visit us in the museum. Click here to see our opening hours.