Best things about living in Heathfield
PUBLISHED: 10:16 11 October 2016 | UPDATED: 10:16 11 October 2016
©National Trust Images/John Millar
Located almost exactly between Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne, Heathfield is on the edge of the Weald
Annual festivals and events
Heathfield hosts the Heffle Cuckoo Fair in Cade Street around 14 April to welcome the start of spring. The celebration dates back to 1315. The Heathfield and District Agricultural Show (pictured above) has been held on the second May bank holiday since 1946, initially as a fundraiser for local hospitals. Now based at Little Tottingworth Farm in Broad Oak it is one of the largest one-day agricultural shows in the country.
Ever since 1997 Heathfield has held Le Marche on the August Bank Holiday Monday featuring market stalls from French and English traders. The free event includes live music from brass and silver bands, rock and jazz performers and a magician for youngsters.
And every Christmas the market town’s Chamber of Trade, Heathfield Rotary, Heathfield Partnership and Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council put together a Christmas Family Fun Day on the last Saturday in November to mark the switching on of the Christmas lights.
Heathfield is served by the A267 and A265 and most easily accessible by car. The nearest railway stations are more than five miles away. Buxted is served by Southern trains to London Victoria and Uckfield. Stonegate is a Southeastern station with hourly trains going to Tunbridge Wells, Hastings and Charing Cross. From Monday to Saturday the town is served by the number 31 bus from Sussex Bus Company which goes to Uckfield and Haywards Heath, and Stagecoach’s 51, 251 and 252 buses to Eastbourne and Tunbridge Wells. The 225 Wealdlink bus from Crowborough to Battle runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the Cuckmere Bus Company runs a Wednesday service to Eastbourne.
There is evidence of Stone Age settlement in nearby Waldron, but Heathfield really came into existence some time in the 14th century, having received a Market Charter in 1316.
The town gained notoriety as the place where rebel Jack Cade was killed. He had raised a mob of thousands of protestors against the weak King Henry VI and his corrupt advisors in 1450. After a victory in Blackheath the mob marched on London, but was eventually turned back by a combination of the King’s troops and angry Londoners not happy at seeing their homes looted. Cade led a failed rally in Rochester before going to hide in a farm in Heathfield. When he came out, supposedly to play a game of bowls, he was spotted by Sheriff of Kent, Alexander Iden, who fatally wounded him and dragged him to London to be decapitated, disembowelled and quartered. The parts are said to have been sent to the various areas of Kent which supported the uprising. Cade Street, where he fell, now takes his name. His story forms part of Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part II.
Heathfield was also home to Robert Hunt, thought to be the first Protestant minister to preach in America having sailed to the New World as a chaplain in 1607 as part of an expedition to set up a colony in Jamestown, Virginia. He had previously been based at Heathfield’s All Saints Church, which has a stained glass window in his honour.
The private estate of Bayley Park was created in Old Heathfield in 1610 by the Dacre family. The now Grade II listed mansion at its heart was first built in 1676 by James Plummer and has been remodelled several times. The estate’s name was changed to Heathfield Park by Francis Newbery in 1791 who also built the now Grade II listed Gibraltar Tower in its grounds to commemorate former owner Lieutenant General George Eliott’s role in the Siege of Gibraltar. The park was painted by JMW Turner in 1815.
What to do
Heathfield is a perfect base for walkers and explorers, owing to its location not far from Ashdown Forest and within the High Weald. The former railway line now forms the Cuckoo Trail walk to Polegate. History lovers can visit nearby 17th century Bateman’s in Burwash, the final family home of Rudyard Kipling which is now owned by the National Trust. And the Trust also looks after the 14th century Bodiam Castle which is a short drive away near Robertsbridge.
There are also a range of clubs and societies including a cricket team, badminton and bridge club, choral society and drama club, branch of the Rotary Club and silver band.
Heathfield has shops along the High Street, Station Road and Station Approach, including a Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, several banks, estate agents, retailers selling everything from bridal wear to pet food, charity shops, cafes, Indian and Chinese restaurants, pizzerias and a fish and chip shop.
A farmers’ market is held on the third Saturday of every month on the Co-op car park.
Heathfield also has its own branch library, post office and GP surgeries.
The closure of The Prince Of Wales and The Beehive earlier this year meant Heathfield no longer has a town centre pub. But there is an impressive array not far from the centre including the Half Moon Inn in Cade Street; the 14th century Star Inn, in Church Street, Old Heathfield; The Black Duck in Church Hill, Warbleton; The Runt In Tun in Maynards Green; and The May Garland Inn in Horam. The Brewers Arms in Vines Cross is back open and being gradually refurbished after a fire in January.
Meet the neighbours
Heathfield is home to Olympic skater Jayne Torvill. Former residents have included England rugby international Joe Marler and former Dr Who Tom Baker. Author Rudyard Kipling lived out his last years down the road in Burwash.
Heathfield and Waldron Parish Council has been amalgamated since the 1990s. Heathfield comes under Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council.
• Primary schools - Parkside Community Primary, Beechwood Lane, 01435 864577, Ofsted rating good; All Saints’ and St Richard’s CoE Primary, School Hill, Old Heathfield, 01435 863466, Ofsted rating good; Cross-in-Hand CoE Primary, Sheepsetting Lane, Cross-in-Hand, 01435 862941, Ofsted rating good; Maynards Green Community Primary, Maynards Green, 01435 812622, Ofsted rating good; Punnetts Town Community Primary, Battle Road, Punnetts Town, 01435 830361, Ofsted rating good; Dallington CoE Primary, East Street, Dallington, 01435 830335, Ofsted rating good; Broad Oak Community Primary, Scotsford Road, Broad Oak,
01435 862951, Ofsted requires improvement.
• Secondary Schools - Heathfield Community College, Cade Street, Heathfield, 01435 866066, Ofsted rating good.
• Detached houses: £299,950 to £1.4m
• Semi-detached houses/terraces: £220,000 to £380,000
• Flats: £90,000 to £182,000
Estate agent’s view
“One of the most desirable parts of Heathfield is the Old Town,” says Trevor Mepham, office manager for Mansell McTaggart in Uckfield.
“Heathfield is a really nice little market town – it has an array of shops including the new Waitrose. It’s not that far from Lewes and Brighton. Because it doesn’t have a train link the prices are that little bit lower than perhaps Uckfield or Crowborough.”
Outside of Heathfield Trevor recommends investigating Burwash, five miles down the road, which is a little nearer to Stonegate station.
Mansell McTaggart is currently selling a £1.3m five-bedroom detached family home near Heathfield in Waldron. The recently improved Scallow Wish has ten acres of gardens, paddocks and woodland as well as a number of outbuildings and offices which can all be accessed down a little-used country lane. The house is only four miles drive from the centre of Heathfield.
For more information visit www.mansellmctaggart.co.uk