Discover Haywards Heath - Town Walk

(Haywards Heath looking north-east, showing Mr Compton's old farm house on what is now Sydney Road and Lindfield Church in the distance. Painted by Ford in the 1860's when the enclosure of Haywards Heath allowed 30 acres to be set aside for public use, now Claire Meadow)


The purpose of the Town Walk is to try to:

1. Link the user with those inhabitants and their surroundings of just over 350 years ago.

2. Reveal many of the interesting and perhaps less familiar parts of Haywards Heath

3. Expose the many vantage points and views both within the town and beyond its boundaries.


Haywards Heath, our town name, first appears as "Heyworthe" in deeds which survive from 1265. At that time a Philip of Hayworth is mentioned and one year later, Thomas of Hayworth, in 1358, a land transaction mentions John of Hayworth... 'of the parish of Cuckfield'. As Wyn Ford wrote:

The name Hayworth is taken to indicate some sort of fence or enclosure. We can be fairly definite about what kind of enclosure it was. We know that much of the Weald was afforested, that is, reserved for conserving game for the use of the king or local magnate ( in this case the Earl of Warenne); there is a letter from Edward I addressed to the warden of the chace at Cuckfield and Worth, and in the enquiries of 1279 the jurors of Buttinghill hundred, in responding to a question about animal reserves, complained of the damage done by the animals to the crops of those who lived close to the unenclosed reserves. We know from Domesday that these reserves possessed special enclosures called haiae or hays, in which game was conserved for hunting. The name Hayworth seems to mean an enclosure for keeping animals for sport.

It was during the lordship of the Hardham family that, in 1638, Nicholas Hardham commissioned James FitzOsberne to survey his land - and surrounding areas- to delineate the Waste of the manors of Heyworthe and its associated manor, Trubweek. Details of the roads and trackways, property owners and tenants are recorded. The map notes that the 'bound-treaders' in 1638 were Thomas Renfielde, aged 72 (who lived at what is now Burnt House, off Copyhold Lane, Cuckfield); Robert Woods, aged 62 and Nicholas Hardham (aged 28). Given the ages of Nicholas' companions, it is clear that detailed local knowledge gathered over years, was considered important.

The Waste was that part of a manor where the land was poor and had not been taken into cultivation. Some of those tenants and landowners living around the Waste would have had rights - perhaps to cut firewood, gather furze for kindling or to allow their animals to graze or forage. The Waste at Heyworthe was not common land and belonged to the lord of the manor.

During the 17th century and after Nicholas Hardham's death in 1662 (following a series of mortgage arrangements and sale) the family of Warden ( Butlers Green) acquired the manors of Heyworth and Trubweek, including the Waste portion and a number of freehold properties as well. By inheritance, marriage and Act of Parliament (which allowed the surname to continue) these lands came into the ownership of the Sergison family. Much of the Waste portion was sold and developed during the 19th century, after the coming of the railway, to create the town as we know it. The last portion of the Sergison estate was sold in 1968 when a section of open land, Blunt's and Paige's Wood was bought for public use by the District Council.

We begin our walk, as did Nicholas Hardham and his colleagues in 1638, at the western end of Ashenground Road, just before the railway bridge.

POINT B Ashenground Road - railway bridge - to The Priory, Sussex Square via Sheppeys, Southdown Close, Vale Road, Edward Road, Wivelsfield Road, St John's Road, Sussex Road, Petlands Road, Kents Road, Petlands Gardens, Dellney Avenue, Franklynn Road

"The bounds of the Waste of the manor lands of Hawards Hoth begineth at Half Streete lane and leadeth S. some 16 (?) perches then E. to a bounde and gravel pits some 25/15 (?) perches. Then (S.) E. by a cast bank or ditch, leaving said banks on our right hande to Felreade Bottom some 25 perches. Then N.E. some 60/66 perches, leaving Felreade Bottom.

Keymer Common - On our right hande.

Then E by N some 55 perches to a bounde stone leaving on our right hand Weivelsfeilde Common. Then E.N.E. some 42 perches between 2 okes upp to John Warden's ditch and hedge called Petlands where the bounde beech was cut downe, parting Hawards Hoth and Weivelsfeild Common.

Then N.W. some 58 perches by the tenants' enclosed landes."

On reaching Ashenground Road, and crossing the point where the manorial boundary was, continue down to cross the London/Brighton railway line and look over each side of the bridge. The rail track is completely straight and, with good daylight, you can see through the tunnel running under the highest point of the heath Waste to Haywards Heath station. Our path, now crossing a stream is a public bridleway which leads around the Great Haywards domain until it reaches Isaac's Lane, just below Butler's Green, meeting the Bolnore Road footpath (to Beechhurst) on the way. The bridleway has been resurfaced following the building of Bolnore Village but boots may still be needed in wet weather. All the land to our left was part of the Manor of Trubwick and half of this bridleway's surface forms the Waste of that manor. The track was styled 'the King's Highway' or 'Half Street Lane' in 1638 but lost its importance and was not metalled and turned into a proper road. On our left is Catt's Wood and on the right Four Acre Wood, although the woodland has been considerably reduced by the building of Bolnore Village to the south and west.

We retrace our steps until we reach Sheppey's on our right, having walked beneath a cluster of beeches and an oak, a remnant of Ashenground Wood. The name Sheppey's is taken from a farm of that name on whose land the houses of lower Vale Road and Sandy Vale were built. Although the Waste boundary runs back up on the south side of Ashenground Road to cross Ashenground Close, we cannot follow that route but must divert along Sheppey's which, at its higher end, with few trees to add contrast to the 1960's semi-detached houses, seems rather severe. Looking towards the skyline can be seen the ridgeway of Rocky Lane and houses built in the 1990's. To our right, behind the houses and railway line, is the dense growth of Catt's Wood. Cross over the road by No. 39 and notice as the road runs downhill that many of the woodland trees have left on verges by the roadside. At No. 63, turn left into a footpath (noting Scots Pine) which leads through to Southdown Close.

At the footpath's end is a multi-stemmed hornbeam, a survivor from a hedge-line that continues further to the right. Also on the right is an expanse of grassy play area and beyond it, in Sandy Vale, the Church of the Ascension and Community Hall. Walk up Southdown Close (NE), note large oaks remaining from Ashenground Wood and on the skyline to the left is a woodland, the edge of the Ashenground House enclosure - now Redwood Drive. Walking past the large bungalows to the cul-de-sac end, we find a footpath to the right which leads between the gardens and houses and cross where the Felride Bottom stream used to flow. This land, in 1638, fell within the parish of Keymer.
Turn left and walk NE past the bungalows, both pre and post war, which line Vale Road.
Look between Nos. 70 and 68 on the left hand side; towards the skyline the redwood and copper beech, which between them mark the SW end of the Waste form a line to an angle roughly at the side of the white poplar, between Nos. 56 and 58. That line then runs NE. Cross the road to the noticeboard and walk up to the fence. Looking SSW across the allotments, behind a hedgerow and stream-line with mature trees was the site of Sheppeys Farmhouse - on the 1638 map shown as 'Davis House'.

Looking to the SE skyline are the trees in the grounds of the former St Francis Hospital on Colwell Road, originally built as the County Lunatic Asylum in the 1860's and now converted into a complex of flats, many having magnificent views over to the South Downs. Retrace our steps to Vale Road, turn right and cross over again until we reach Vale Close; look for two manhole covers in the road, one round and one square, which are on the line of the Waste boundary and give access to the culvert containing the stream.

Leaving Vale Road to turn right into Edward Road, note the line of trees, some oak, which runs at the intersection of the gardens on Bruce Close, again part of the SE boundary. Looking back across this valley, the redwood and copper beech on the Ashenground Road boundary can be recognised. We must now divert again to reach the continuation of the boundary and turn right up Edward Road (passing mainly pre-war semi's and bungalows) and then left to reach Wivelsfield Road. We have wandered some way from the Waste and have now reached the two enclosures of land, coloured red on the 1638 map, which stand on either side of Wivelsfield Road. To the W of the road, the land was in the parish of Keymer and to the E, set in green, the land was part of Wivelsfield parish. As we leave the top of Edward Road, on our right, hidden by hedges, is Old Nurseries - not included on the 1638 map but a timber-framed house (Grade II) dating from the 16th C. nevertheless.

We cross Wivelsfield Road to the small shop premises on the E side. This was formerly a Post Office/general stores and still bears the sign 'The Handy Stores Post Office' on the north wall. Turning to face the road again, a panorama of the town opens before us. Looking from W to NE on the skyline can be seen the copper-clad spire of the former convent, now Grosvenor Hall, at the end of Bolnore Road with the trees of Reading Wood slightly S, St. Wilfrid's Church, the 1960's block of flats - Stockwell Court (dubbed 'Centre Point' and with enough radio antennae to rival GCHQ!) - and the steep roofs, cupola and clock tower of the Priory. In the foreground to our right, across the road amidst the cars of Dinnage's garage stands the timber-framed house shown on the 1638 map as 'Pennies' (Grade II) and dated 1606. How many Jacobean buildings in Sussex - or even in the U.K. - are used to sell cars? Turning right to walk along Wivelsfield Road, we come to St. John's Road and the enclosure shown on the 1638 map in red and noted as 'Shoulder's House'. That house appears not to have survived but some 18th and 19th C. cottages still line this attractive cul-de-sac which is connected by a footpath to Colwell Road. At the top of this steep lane and running NE - SW is a line of oaks, sycamore and ash growing along the boundary line of the red-coloured enclosure. Beyond is Francis Close, a new housing development which has maintained the cottage style, opposite the hospital.

We retrace our steps down to Wivelsfield Road, past the small grassy area planted with rowan, birch, maple and ash trees. A Sainsbury's Local, Pet's Corner and flats now occupy the site of the former public house latterly called 'The Duck' and before that 'The Wivelsfield', 'The Ugly Duckling' and, originally, 'The New Inn', built in the 1860s. Continuing down into the higher portion of the Felride valley note the early Victorian terrace built of yellow brick with stucco detailing. Between the last of these houses and the St. Edmund's Hall building (now a mosque) is the N boundary of 'Shoulder's' enclosure. We are still diverting from the route of the Waste boundary and intend joining it via Petlands Road but at this point, running beside the hall, is an unofficial footpath leading up to St. Edmund's Close where, turning left, we could join the route of the boundary. Continuing along the main road and looking across can be seen the United Services Club (ex British Legion) set between late 19th C. semi's. These houses, as with so many constructed at the time, were built with the purply-buff, rather coarse brick with red brick detailing (both made locally), originally slate roofs and often terracotta door arches and ornamentation. At the point where Wivelsfield Road becomes Sussex Road, on the W side, we meet the boundary line again (here a mixed species fence beyond the boundary fence between Nos. 2 and 72) as it follows the slope of the land where the valley forms down to Bruce Close. We continue up Sussex Road until we reach the corner of Petlands Road. Divert briefly across that road where the high redbrick walls of the Jireh Chapel (1879) are retained by 'S' shaped tie-bar ends; the inscription over the door reads 'Strict Baptist'. We return to Petlands Road and carry on until St. Edmund's Road is reached, where we turn down to the right to find the boundary continuing in a line following the ends of the gardens of the Petlands Road houses, Nos. 6 - 28. Retracing our steps, stop and look N to note a two-storey building with flat-topped pyramidal roof which stands behind the Petlands houses. This is now part of an undertaker's premises but originally seems to have been used for drying; a local oast house? Rejoining Petlands Road and turning right, our view is filled with the large modern development of flats (with orange brickwork and distinctive red window frames and woodwork) on land formerly White's builder's yard. At the corner of Petlands Road and Kents Road is a fine magnolia in the garden. Round the corner to the right and, looking up to the southern skyline, is the Italianate campanile of the former chapel of the St. Francis complex. We cross the road to the left to join a footpath between fencing and note the silver birches, younger to the left and older to the right. At the end of the footpath we join Petlands Gardens, a hidden part of the town, with a line of earlier Victorian cottages on our right; the line forming the bottom of these cottage gardens is the Waste boundary again.

Walking up Petlands Gardens, we pass a long, high hedge on our left. Part is a mixture of species but most is composed of large-leafed box. We turn right at the end of this lane to join Franklynn Road, so named after the Manor of Franklands/Franklyns (first surviving record 1332) which lay to the south of Colwell Road and N of Lewes Road. Taking great care, we cross to reach Dellney Avenue either here, or go to the pedestrian crossing if the road is busy, and at the corner of Dellneys is the furthest point SE of the Waste. Petlands Farmhouse (16th C?) stood on the western corner; on the 1638 map it is marked 'Warden's House and lande', which extended down Franklynn Road to the Priory. The Waste boundary ran parallel to this road but its precise alignment does not leave any discernible trace. Before following that route, we should divert along Dellney Avenue to see the splendid strawberry tree thriving in the garden of the bungalow at No. 13 and magnolias and cherry trees in other gardens. Then we turn right and walk back to the corner of the road, look SE and note the wooded hill top; Turvey Wood on the left was saved from destruction by the Haywards Heath Society's campaign. Look down Franklynn Road to Stockwell Court and the shops of South Road.

We pass Frost's Garage on our left and note the tile cladding, a modern Sussex-style idiom that we will have seen on the newer buildings at Dinnages Garage in Wivelsfield Road and will meet again at the Sainsbury Superstore.

Note that the semi-detached Victorian houses on our right, built of similar materials to those in Sussex Road, have plaques let into the brickwork at first floor level. Sadly, the names and dates of the houses have long since faded.

As we pass the ends of Eastern and Western Roads, there are glimpses of the higher Weald between Ardingly and Horsted Keynes. In Eastern Road is St. Wilfrid's C. of E. Primary School and towards the end of Western Road lies the town cemetery. On the opposite side of Franklynn Road are the colourful flats whose new blocks we passed in Kents Road. Adding to the architectural mix is a mock-Tudor bungalow on our right. Note too, on the E corner of Triangle Road, a well-designed flat development with an attractive tower making up the corner. Looking again back up the Franklynn Hill, the water tower on the St. Francis' site stands boldly on the skyline. On our right we meet a high wall behind which is a long screen of mature chestnut trees; this originates from the time of the convent. On the right hand side a tree-lined footpath with chestnut, sycamore and hawthorn leads into the Priory housing estate.

In 1885, Hazelgrove Park, a house with extensive grounds mainly fronting Franklynn Road but with an entrance in Hazelgrove Road (and noted as 'Ferralls house and lande' in 1638) was acquired by a community of canonesses from the English convent in Bruges. Although an enclosed order, they opened a school for girls which included Daisy Ashford (the author) as one of the early pupils. The Priory church and its spire in Gothic style remain with some of the other buildings, now carefully converted to offices and a restaurant, but the very successful school closed in the 1960's and the Priory removed to new premises at Sayers Common in 1978.

The Priory housing estate, begun in 1972, now covers the grounds, with some of the mature oak trees being retained, particularly along the stream running from Syresham Gardens and Priory Way. On Franklynn Road part of the boundary wall has been demolished and rebuilt to create a lay-by and includes railings set between brick piers to provide a new entrance to the restaurant.


To follow more of the Haywards Heath Town Walk (there is another 16 pages) please contact to purchase the attractive folder containing the pages for £5.00. Also available from Waterstones (Haywards Heath Branch).