Innes and Alehouses – Part 2


In the 1700s the land to the east of Sunte Avenue was common land mostly owned by the Manor of Ditchling. The north-west corner, around the site of the Witch, was however owned by the Manor of Framfield; held by the Sackville family. By 1798 this land had been cleared and enclosed as a farmstead known as Wigsells’ Watering occupied by a Nicholas Wisden. the name Wigsell could be derived from a Saxon word for a cattle and herdsman’s shelter.

George Clements purchased the property in 1851, and took it out of manorial control. a year later he sold it to George and Alfred Wood, owners of the Bear Brewery, Lewes, and by 1853 the Bricklayers Arms was opened. It was built by John Beard, a bricklayer, employing ten men. Being not too distant from the railways station at Haywards Heath, by the mid-1880s it had become a popular destination during the summer for ‘bean feasts’, a works outing and dinner, with parties travelling from as far afield as London and Brighton. it was the venue of choice for departments of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway’s engine works at Brighton, a London firm of book binders, and Reynolds builders of Brighton, among many others.

In 1898, the Bricklayers Arms was acquired by the Southdown and East Grinstead Breweries and later this brewery was purchased by Tamplin Brewery, Brighton, and in turn that became part of Watney Mann. In 1925, the Bricklayers changed its name to The Witch, reputedly the only pub with his name in England.

Another Tamplin’s pub, the White Horse, was situated opposite the Pond. Like the Red Lion featured in last month’s article, the sign of the White Horse and also moved twice. William Mason senior, joined two cottages in Walstead, Walstead Cottages, and obtained a licence to run the premises as a beerhouse. The first reference to a White Horse name first appeared in the Lindfield parish records in 1830s, this was just after the passing of the Beerhouse Act 1830. This name is usually associated with the Royal House of Hanover, as it was their crest.

In the early 1840s, the sign moved to Old Mead Cottage, now Mead Cottage, in Lewes Road, where it remained until 1851, when the sign transferred to the purpose built pub premises, built by George Mason, opposite the Pond (now Tamasha Indian Restaurant). However, it remained restricted to the sale of beer and cider only, with James Mason as the landlord. The Mason family connection continued for nearly five decades.

At a licensing hearing in 1867, it was claimed the White Horse had stabling for six horses and a three carriage coachhouse, but it transpired these were little more than coal sheds – the family also ran a coal and wood business. A full licence was not granted until 1931. Long-time landlords in the 20th century, Mr and Mrs George Cresswell, retained its character as a local pub and this continued until the White Horse ‘changed with the times’ becoming Tamasha a few years ago.

To the east of the village, in Snowdrop Lane, previously Sluts Lane, stands the Snowdrop Inn. The Mid Sussex Times reporting on a licence application in the 1930s said ‘the Snowdrop had been an inn for 300 to 400 years. It was an ordinary common inn for a great number of years. Afterwards it became a beer house, wit a six-day licence’. It would appear the Snowdrop’s history may have been considerably embellished to impress the Justices! At the time of the Tithe Map in 1848, the property was described as a ‘House and Garden’ owned by the Lowdell family, owners of the Bedales estate. The first identified reference for the property being licensed was in 1872, when a licence was granted to Edward Everest for the sale of beer and cider six days a week; it had to close on Sundays. Edward Everest had a market garden and shop and appears to have extended this business by acquiring the licence.

Apparently originally called Bedale Alehouse and later Lyoth Beerhouse, it was snot given the name Snowdrop until about 1907 when a Mrs Knight was the landlady. It remained an alehouse selling about 100 barrels a year, mainly to local farmworkers and those living nearby. It was not allowed to open on Sundays until the full seven day licence, mentioned earlier, was granted in the 1930s. In making the case for this licence it was claimed to be needed due to the development of Franklands Village.

On the road to Ardingly stood the Borde/Board Arms, now Grange Farm; it has also been known as Crawfurd Arms and Winterton Arms, being part of the Paxhill Estate with its name changing to reflect the family ownership. this alehouse could have existed as early as 1660s or earlier, as Rev Giles Moore, Rector of Horsted Keynes wrote in his journal that he purchased beer in a farm house when travelling between Horsted Keynes and Lindfield. By the mid-1800s, the Border Arms was becoming dilapidated and closed in 1867. George Saxby, the landlord for 40 years, was given notice to quit in 1849 and applied for his licence to be transferred to a new house built by himself, ‘situated by the canal side’ and ‘required for those who worked on the river’. The house, today Bridge Cottage, had its own brewery, but eventually closed following The Ouse no longer being navigable.

Moving across to Scaynes Hill, The Farmers – originally The Anchor – was another alehouse owned by an estate: the Bedales estate. Dating from around 1828, it is said that the name derives, not from any nautical connection, although an old ship’s anchor was displayed in the front garden, but because there was an anchor point used to ‘brake’ horse drawn wagons when descending the nearby hill. Rev Frederick Willett, formerly the vicar of West Bromwich, inherited Bedales in 1881 making it his home.

At this time The Anchor did not have a good reputation and during the late Victorian period temperance movement was in full swing. However, Rev Willett realised working men would not embrace teetotalism but could be encouraged to reduce their alcoholic consumption if the pub ambience and serving practice were improved. When the tenancy expired Rev Willett took the premises back into his direct ownership and installed a manager as licensee. The building was repaired, a club room with games opened, a quoits ground made in the orchard and an Anchor cricket team was formed. These changes almost ‘eradicated drunkenness’ and Rev Willett’s increased his income from £29 rent to a profit income of £40 a year. He regarded this an improvement method that ‘might be followed by any lady or gentleman owning such a property’. Shortly afterwards the Bedale estate, including the Anchor was put up for sale, and as The Farmers the pub trades to this day.

At the river end of the lane that goes from Scaynes Hill down to the Ouse, it is understood a cottage was once an alehouse known as the Miller’s Arms; now long closed. Unfortunately little else is known of this establishment, if you have information, please make contact.

A short distance further down the lane stands the Sloop Inn. this opened in 1833, originally probably as a beerhouse, and extended in 1860. apparently, sloops were the type of boat used to carry bricks for the building of the Balcombe Viaduct. It was no doubt opened to serve boatmen, men working on the nearby wharf and agricultural workers. It remain a beerhouse for many years, but like al the other pubs became fully licensed.

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