From the mid 16th Century Cuckfield’s most profitable industry was iron production. Situated in the Weald at the time of Britain’s largest iron producing area, Cuckfield had all the natural resources for the smelting and forging of iron.
Click here to see a flowchart which shows the iron working process from raw materials to finished products.
Some of Cuckfield’s most prominent families, the Bowyers, the Burrells and the Coverts were ironmasters. They owned or built many of the large houses including Cuckfield Park and Ockenden Manor.
The Covert and Burrell families were linked by marriage and were also linked to another prominent local family, the Chaloner family.
Together, these families owned four furnaces and two forges within Cuckfield’s surrounding countryside, , with the Bowyer family owning furnaces and forges further afield.
Towards the end of the 18th Century, Wealden iron production was being supplanted by the more efficient coal-fired furnaces and forges in the north of England. All that now remains are the diverted streams, hammer ponds, patches of the waste slag and the place-names to remind us of this once thriving industry.