10 Things about Henfield
PUBLISHED: 00:16 07 February 2011 | UPDATED: 20:36 20 February 2013
Henfield is a large village, home to 5,000 people, with a fascinating and interesting history. Here are 10 things that you may or may not know about it
Henfield Cricket Club and Henfield Common
Formed in 1771, Henfield Cricket Club is one of the oldest in the world. It was founded a full 17 years before the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) which for years was the governing body of the game.
It was obviously a benefit that the players could use Henfield Common for the games. The Common is thought to be the second or third oldest cricket ground still in use today. There are diary references to cricket being played there as early as 1719.
Henfield railway station
Henfield is the third largest place in Sussex without its own railway station. The station closed in 1966 as part of the closures prompted by the report The Reshaping of British Railways by Dr Richard Beeching, the then chairman of British Rail, who lived in East Grinstead.
Now there is nothing of the station remaining. The road names Upper Station Road, Lower Station Road and Station Road do remain. Ironically the homes that were built on the site are on a street called Beechings.
St Peters Church
The church was founded in 770. Parts of the current building, which is at the highest point in the village, date back to 1250. According to the churchs website, the medieval church was added to in the 16th century with a Lady Chapel, now known as the Parham Chapel, where daily prayers and midweek services are held. The church was extensively rebuilt in 1871 to a fine design by the architects to the Woodard Foundation of schools (see below). The glass is of high quality, much of it the work of Charles Eamer Kempe who was born in Ovingdean and lived at Henfieldvicarage whilst designing and installing the churchs east window.
Nathaniel Woodard, founder of the Woodard schools, lived at Martyn Lodge in Church Street from 1862 until his death in 1891. The Woodard schools include, among many others, Lancing College, where his tomb is in the chapel, Hurstpierpoint College and Ardingly College.
Henfield is lucky enough to have its own museum. It started in 1948 and moved to its current building in 1994. The exhibits take the visitor through time from the Stone Age through the Middle Ages into Edwardian times. There are many local paintings and photographs of the village and its surroundings. And you can buy a copy of the fabulous Henfield Millennium map for just 4.
Henfield Cemetery which has been in operation for just over a century is the last resting place for some well-known people, including Prince Littler, a theatre proprietor and manager who was connected to three of the West Ends most successful productions in the 1960s, the Black and White Minstrel Show, Theres a Girl in my Soup and Fiddler on the Roof.
Bysshop was Post Master General from 1660 to 1663, an office granted him by King Charles II. He is famous for introducing the first postmark, known as the Bishop Mark, in 1661. They were used for more than 100 years.
The Cat House
The famous Cat House at Henfield, is decorated with cut-out metal cats just under the roof line, each with a bird in its paws. The house was once owned by Robert Ward. The story goes that a cat belonging to Nathaniel Woodward (see above) killed one of Wards pet canaries, which really annoyed him, so a bizarre revenge was planned.
Ward bought a number of metal bird scarers the cats that now line the upper storey and positioned them all round his house, at ground level, threading a long string through them on which he tied a large number of bells. Whenever Nathaniel Woodward passed on his way to or from Henfield Church, a vigorous pulling of the string saw him greeted by a huge jangling of metalwork and bells to remind him of the crime his cat committed. There is a pub and restaurant called the Cat & Canary in Upper Station Road. It was former called the Old Railway Tavern and before that the Station Hotel.
Henfield fire station
Henfield used to have its own fire brigade. It was founded by Henfield Parish Council in 1904. Chanctonbury Rural District Council took it over in 1942 and on April 1, 1948 it became part of West Sussex Fire Brigade. It is staffed by retained firefighters, who live or work within four minutes of the station by car.
Plastic bag free
Henfield went plastic bag free on 3 May, 2008. Campaigners in the village reckon that in the first 18 months they stopped more than 1,000,000 single-use carrier bags being issued, which in addition to the benefit to wildlife, saved 209 tons of CO2. Henfield was the first plastic bag free place in Sussex.