Summer Display

Trading Places

Contributed by Sue Burgess

Although the outline of Cuckfield’s High Street buildings looks much as it did a hundred years ago and more, the trade carried on in them has changed beyond all recognition.  

An old coaching inn, the colourful King's Head Hotel in the 1970s
Converted into apartments when it ceased trading as a pub


The butchers, bakers, ironmonger, dairy, cobbler, haberdasher, grocers, clock maker and banks have been slowly but steadily replaced by boutique clothing, cafés, estate agents, hairdressers, dentists, beauticians, tea rooms and lifestyle stores. Several shops and businesses have been converted to residential use, such as Stephen Knight’s extensive builder’s yard at Whiteman’s Green and The King’s Head, one of the original coaching inns.

Knight's Ironmongers, famous for the range and variety of stock
The shop window now a seating area for Beauty Within


Older residents can remember when it was possible to meet almost all household shopping needs in Cuckfield but people are much more mobile now than even 50 years ago, far fewer are employed locally, small independent shops can’t compete on price with national names and all the main supermarkets deliver.   For those new to the village, and for anyone interested in social history, this is an opportunity to see just how much Cuckfield trade has altered since the days when it was the centre of a much slower pace of life.

From L to R: Win and Frank Seldon with employee Alfred Berry outside the shop. They took great pride in elaborately decorating the window for both national and seasonal events.
The premises today



Images from the Museum’s extensive photo archive will show how some premises are still instantly recognisable despite their dramatic change of use and we aim to bring the past to life with items from our collection  that would have been familiar to previous generations  of Cuckfield’s residents.


The Great Storm of 1987

Grounds of Ockenden Manor



Cuckfield Museum remembers the Great Storm of 1987 with a display of photographs memories and a recreation of what life was like with no powerwhen people literally camped out in their houses, eating by candle light and cooking over whatever sources of heat they could find.






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.