Cuckfield Union Workhouse, designed by Assistant Poor Law Commissioner H.W. Parker and architect S.O. Foden, was completed in 1845 at a cost of £7,500 in classical style in red brick with a chequer work pattern, sandstone dressings and a slate roof to the front elevation. It was designed to accommodate 450 inmates in the main building, with infirmary blocks added in 1877 and 1890.
The new Union Workhouse served the parishes of Albourne, Ardingly, Balcombe, Bolney, Clayton, Cowfold, Cuckfield, Horsted Keynes, Hurstpierpoint, Keymer, Lindfield, Newtimber, Pyecombe, Slaugham and Twineham (plus Haywards Heath after 1894). It replaced the Burrell & Middleton Charity’s premises in Ockenden Lane, formerly the Bull Inn.
Cuckfield Union Workhouse was converted to a Canadian Military Hospital early in WWII and then became Cuckfield Hospital after the war until its closure in 1991 when many of the original buildings were still in use. Only the Victorian main block and chapel remain, as part of what is now a modern housing estate.
The museum holds detailed architectural plans of the workhouse and an extensive collection of photographs relating to the site as both workhouse and hospital.