Bridge Cottage, Uckfield
|Website:||Uckfield Town Council|
The origin of the name is unknown. One theory is that it is Uccanfeld; Ucca's field, after an otherwise unknown progenitor.
One theory suggests that it came from "Oak in Field", something which is reflected in several town crests.
Yet another theory thinks it is form a Celtic word for 'High' or 'Height', or for "water", and others appear over the years with no certainty.
About the town
Church Street contains a number of post-mediæval buildings. These include the Old Grammar School, Bakers Cottage and the Malt House with Malt Cottage (all built before 1700), and Church House with Andertons, Coppinghall and Milton Cottage (all 18th century). Notable inhabitants of these properties were the Markwicks (builders and carpenters, from 1700) at Coppinghall and Milton Cottage (Interestingly, the current generation of notable Markwicks in Uckfield run the local picture house), Edward Kenward (19th century maltster) at the Malt House, Thomas Pentecost (a Victorian leather cutter and local poet) in a cottage near the Grammar School and General Sir George Calvert Clarke (commander of the Royal Scots Greys at Balaclava) at Church House.
The village began to develop around the bridging point of the river, including the locally-famous Pudding Cake Lane where travellers visited a public house for slices of pudding cake; and the 15th-century Bridge Cottage, the oldest house still standing in Uckfield, now a museum. The town developed in the High Street and in the New Town areas (the latter to the south of the original town centre).
The Eversfield family, who later became prominent in Sussex history, giving their name to the prime waterfront street of St Leonards-on-Sea, first settled in Uckfield from their Surrey beginnings. The family, who later owned the mansion Denne Park in Horsham, which they represented in Parliament, acquired a large fortune through marriage, real estate acquisition and iron foundering. Their climb to wealth and prominence was a heady one: in fifteenth-century Sussex they were described as 'yeomen', but within a generation they were already among the first rank of Sussex gentry.
Uckfield is connected to London Bridge station by way of East Croydon. Until 1969 the rail link continued to Lewes; after it was closed Uckfield became the terminus; the station building was rebuilt in 1991 to avoid the necessity of a level crossing. The Wealden Line Campaign hopes to reopen the closed section to Lewes. They have not said that they would pay for it.
- Church of England:
- Holy Cross
- Grange Evangelical Church
- King's Church
- United Reformed Church
- Roman Catholic: Our Lady Immaculate and St Philip Neri
Tales of Uckfield
There are a number of mysteries and myths associated with the town and surrounding areas. The disappearance of Lord Lucan is one. In addition, the hoax of the Piltdown Man occurred in the nearby village of Piltdown.
In Uckfiled is told the tale of Nan Tuck's Ghost, in which an old witch is said to have lived in a wood in nearby Buxted. There is an area of the wood where nothing grows, and the ghost is said to chase people who wander along Nan Tuck's Lane at night.
The Picture House is the town's cinema, opened originally in 1915, and refurbished twice since then, the latest reopening being in February 2000.
Uckfield FM is a Community Radio station, and has been licensed full-time since 2009.
Sport and leisure
- AFC Uckfield, who play at The Oaks on Old Eastbourne Road
- Uckfield Town FC, who play at Victoria Recreation Ground.
Parts of Uckfield, owing to its location on the river, have been subject to extensive flooding on a number of occasions, the earliest recorded being in 1800. More recent floods have occurred approximately every nine years: in 1962, 1974, 1989, 1994, 2000 and 2007, although those in 2007 were not as severe as previous floods. Local residents have long been lobbying for flood defences in the town, and recently when the local Somerfield became a Co-op, its car park's walls were rebuilt as flood defences with a ramp to access the car park and a watertight pedestrian gate that can be closed when flooding is imminent. It is hoped that this new wall will act as a reservoir to contain the flood water until it recedes, allowing the water to flow back into the river Uck, which runs alongside the carpark. Due to the positioning of the river within Uckfield, any flooding is within the lowest part of the town centre and industrial estate, and so does not affect residential areas as these are all built on higher ground.
The West Park Nature Reserve contains a wide variety of habitats; it is located on the western edge of the town. It has several access points and a board-walk which runs through parts of the Reserve. The Reserve is a vestige of ancient parkland, containing herb rich uncultivated wet meadow, woodland, some thriving wildlife and the remains of Mesolithic settlement.
Hempstead Meadows are also a Local Nature Reserve. The River Uck runs through the flood plain, also occupied by the Hempstead Nature Reserve, and is an important area of wetland. The area has an abundance of unusual flora and fauna, which flourish on this ideal site. A new footpath, the River walk is a recent introduction to this area.
Nightingale Wood, adjacent to Harlands Pond, is a cool, shady haven, containing many different tree species and is a valuable site for early purple orchids.
Millennium Green to the south of the town is laid out on a site of disused clay pits.
References in literature
Uckfield has featured several times in notable literary works.
- Uckfield was the setting for the book Maximum Diner by Christopher Nye. It is an autobiographical work which tells of Nye's successful attempt to establish an American-style restaurant in a small town.
- Uckfield was featured in Julian Fellowes's novel Snobs, which included the fictional characters the Marquess and Marchioness of Uckfield.
- Uckfield was mentioned in the last chapter of John le Carré's The Honourable Schoolboy.
- The manic playwright Roland Maule, in the play Present Laughter by Noël Coward, is from Uckfield.
- The river Uck was mentioned in the 1990 novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
- A Compendious History of Sussex: Topographical, Archaeological & Anecdotical, Vol. I, Mark Antony Lower, London, 1870]
- Sussex Archaeological Collections Relating to the History and Antiquities, Sussex Archaeological Society, 1862
- "Nicholas Eversfeld of Boxstede, yeoman, to Francis Chaloner, Gent., of lands in Maresfeld," Archive of Frere and Company, London, solicitors, East Sussex Record Office, The National Archives, nationalarchives.gov.uk
- The Picture House, Uckfield
- "ibid" The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex"
- Report on the flooding of the Ouse catchment in 2000
- West Park Local Nature Reserve