Haywards Heath - History

History

Haywards Heath gets a mention in English Civil War records. Early in December 1642 the High Sheriff of Sussex (Sir Edward Ford) advanced with Royalist troops towards Lewes in East Sussex from Chichester in West Sussex. He was intercepted in Haywards Heath by local Parliamentarians and defeated. Haywards Heath as a settlement is a relatively modern development. Following the arrival of the London & Brighton Railway in 1841, its size has increased considerably. Haywards Heath railway station opened on 12 July 1841 and served as the southern terminus of the line until the completion of Brighton station on 21 September. The position of Haywards Heath, and its place on both this railway and near the main road (A23) between London and Brighton, enables it to function as a commuter town, with many residents working in London, Brighton, Crawley and Gatwick Airport.

Other noted historical events in the town's history include:

  • The opening of the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum (later called St Francis Hospital) in 1859. The superintendent here was, for many years, Dr Lockhart Robertson, later Lord Chancellor's Visitor, and brother of the eminent ophthalmologist, Dr Argyll Robertson.
  • The opening of Bannister's Cattle Market, the 12th largest in UK at one point, in 1859. This was closed to make way for a Sainsbury's supermarket in 1989.
  • The opening of Victorian and Edwardian villas built as early commuter settlements in 1894
  • The opening of the Eliot Cottage Hospital, later King Edward VII Eliot Memorial Hospital, in 1906, named after benefactor, Alice Annie Eliot (1864–1904)
  • Schemes in the 1920s to help families on low incomes to become self-sufficient, resulting in the building of Franklands Village in the 1930s.

In the 1960s and 1970s, two light industrial estates were built. Office development has lately resulted in the town being a regional or national centre for a number of national companies and government agencies.

The population has risen from 200 in the early 1850s to 22,800 (2001 census), making it one of the larger towns in West Sussex. The area of the civil parish is 974.99 hectares (2,409.3 acres).

The parish church, dedicated to St Wilfrid, and the Roman Catholic church of St Paul are among the churches and chapels in Haywards Heath. Other places of worship include the Methodist church in Perrymount Road and two Baptist churches, St Richards (C of E), the Church of the Presentation (C of E) and the Ascension Church (C of E).

Haywards Heath was in East Sussex, but a change to the county boundary in 1974 brought it under the jurisdiction of West Sussex.

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