Place:Burgess Hill, Sussex, England

NameBurgess Hill
Alt namesSt. Johns-Commonsource: suburb to north of the town
TypeParish, Urban district
Coordinates50.967°N 0.133°W
Located inSussex, England
Also located inEast Sussex, England     (1888 - 1974)
West Sussex, England     (1974 - )
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Burgess Hill is a town and civil parish in West Sussex, England, close to the border with East Sussex, on the edge of the South Downs National Park, south of London, north of Brighton and Hove, and northeast of the county town, Chichester. It had an area of and a population of 30,635 at the 2011 Census, making it the fourth most populous parish in the county (behind Crawley, Worthing and Horsham) and the most populous in the Mid Sussex District. Other nearby towns include Haywards Heath to the northeast and Lewes, the county town of East Sussex, to the southeast.

Burgess Hill is just on the West Sussex side of the border dividing the two counties, although parts of the World's End district are across the county boundary in the Lewes district of East Sussex.

Burgess Hill is twinned with Schmallenberg in Germany and Abbeville in France.



the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Early history

The London to Brighton Way was built connecting London to the South coast and passing through what is now Burgess Hill, and although a Roman road, there is no evidence that the Romans settled there.

Burgess Hill originated in the parishes of Clayton, Keymer, and Ditchling – all of them mentioned in the Domesday Book. The town's name comes from the Burgeys family when the name John Burgeys appeared in the tax rolls. The name of Burgeys stood for 'bourgeois', the inhabitant of a borough. By the Elizabethan period, a community had established itself there, and many buildings dating from this era still stand.

The hill in the town's name is taken to mean different things to different people. Many believe that the hill in question is the hill on which the railway station currently stands, but there is a Burgess Farm on a hill in the south-east of the town, in Folders Lane. Whether this is the hill referred to in the town's name is not known.

The few buildings in the area were the two farmhouses, at Hammonds Ridge (still standing as a residence) and one at Queen's Crescent, in the west of what is now Burgess Hill. Until the nineteenth century, however, the town was known as St John's Common, and much of what is now the town centre was common land used by the tenants of Clayton and Keymer manors for grazing and as a source of fuel. Buildings which supported the common land were the King's Head pub (now demolished), a blacksmith's forge, and several cottages.

From the fourteenth century or earlier, the annual Midsummer Fair was held on this common land on 24 June, the feast of the birth of St John the Baptist. The last such sheep and lamb fair was held in 1913.

With the development of the London to Brighton mainline railway, those in the business soon realised that transporting sheep by train was more cost effective and easier than using the old roadways. Most livestock trading began to centre on railside markets such as those at Hassocks, Haywards Heath, and Lewes railway stations. By the dawn of the 20th century, livestock trading had all but ceased in the Burgess Hill area.

1700 to 1900

By the early seventeenth century small scale brick and tile manufacture was flourishing and during this time parcels of common land were allocated for house building and small businesses. By the early eighteenth century brick making had been extended and four shops and one or two alehouses established on the common. Craftsmen such as smiths, shoemakers and weavers also worked there. Brickmaking by hand was still undertaken until very recently, by Keymer Tiles (formerly the Keymer Brick and Tile Company) whose tiles can be found in buildings such as St. James Church, Piccadilly and Manchester Central Station (now G-Mex).

The arrival of the London and Brighton Railway in the 1840s (the line was officially opened to Brighton from Haywards Heath on 21 September 1841) was an important milestone in the Town's history and development, despite the station remaining a request stop on the route for a number of years after opening. The influx of trades associated with railway construction and operation, including many navvies changed the demography of the town. The Railway Tavern in Station Road was constructed to provide accommodation for all who needed it on Railway business. The arrival of the railway shaped the traffic pattern of the Town and continues to this day; all road traffic has to cross the line either in the South on Station Road or in the North on Leylands Road. The opening of the Lewes Branch connected the Keymer Brick and Tile Company to the railway network providing access to greater markets. Wivelsfield railway station was originally built nearby on the Lewes branch.

The arrival of the railway and the proximity of Burgess Hill to Brighton, itself expanding as a result of the arrival of the railway, led to an influx of professional people looking for places to live. Not far from the station, the common was ripe for development with the result that the Keymer and Clayton portions were enclosed in 1828 and 1855 respectively. Between 1850 and 1880 the area changed from an insignificant rural settlement to a town of 4,500 residents.

In 1857, in an area now known as either 'the top of the town', or Hoadley's Corner, the Hoadley family of Heathfield established a large department store, of which the original building still stands, on the corner of Station Road and Junction Road. This successful business also had branches at nearby Ditchling, and Seaford too, but it was in Burgess Hill that the head offices were based.

In 1876, a large house known as Wynnstay was constructed opposite Hoadley's store in Junction Road, and became the principal residence of Mr Sampson Copestake. Mr Copestake later provided land and money and to build a new Church in World's End, which later became the parish of St Andrew's in its own right.

Wynnstay eventually became the Wynnstay Hydropathic Institution, known as the Hydro for short. The property was bought up and converted by a Professor Weidhaus when Copestake moved on, and converted to a nature cure establishment. It is thought that the views from the property, along with the fresh country air and proximity to Burgess Hill railway station, were the reasons for this enterprise. The Hydro remained until 1909, when the business was moved to Franklands, a large property to the south of the town. By 1914 Wynnstay had become a hotel and by the 1950s it was known as St Joseph's Convent and became a convent and school for Catholic children.

In 1897 the Victoria Pleasure Gardens were opened by local Edwin Street, a well-known farmer and butcher. The gardens were opened in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and contained a large lake, which covered , and what can only be described as a small early version of a roller coaster, known as a switchback (an alternative general term for a roller coaster). The lake was used for boating in the summer, and skating in the winter. The frozen lake was always tested by Mr Street, a man of 23 stone, before being used in the winter. This area is now the Victoria Business Park, an industrial estate.

1900 to present day

On 12 July 1944 a Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire fighter crashed at Greenlands Farm, off the Keymer Road, killing the Belgian pilot.

The town continued to grow, experiencing its largest population increase between the years of 1951 and 1961, when the population of about 7,000 residents almost doubled. This earned Burgess Hill the title of fastest growing town in the South East. By 1956, the Victoria Industrial Estate was completed, and has since expanded. It now contains the British headquarters of two substantial international companies. In 1986 a smaller industrial estate in the North of the town developed, known as Sheddingdean Industrial Estate. Both Sheddingdean and Victoria have now been renamed as business parks.

In the seventies and eighties several new housing estates were built, namely the Folders Lane estate (formerly known as Oakwood), the Oak Hall Park estate and the Sheddingdean estate. The 1980s saw the largest single development in the town's history; new housing was created in the northwest of the town with a development known as West End Meadows. Along with this a link road to the A23 was built, easing traffic on the previous route along Gatehouse Lane and Jobs Lane.

Further development took place to the South and West of the Town in the early 1990s. This became the Hammonds Ridge estate (known colloquially as the 'Tesco estate' due to its proximity to the supermarket) which was built at the time.

The Triangle, a large leisure and conference centre, was built in the Northwest of the town and opened by the Queen in 1999. In 2005 St Paul's Catholic College moved from Haywards Heath to their new site opposite the Triangle.

In 2004 Mid-Sussex District Council announced the Burgess Hill Master Plan, a scheme arranged with Thornfield Properties plc to massively redevelop Burgess Hill Town Centre. The Master Plan was part of a larger scheme that would have seen the redevelopment of Haywards Heath and East Grinstead town centres.

The plan would result in the complete reconstruction of most of the town centre, and the redevelopment of the Victorian era train station. However early in 2010 Thornfield Properties was reported to be in financial difficulties and ultimately the scheme did not move forward. Many of the proposed changes were included by New River Retail in their redevelopment plans for the town centre.

As well as the aforementioned developments, there have been two more housing estates built in the town – one in the town's north east, and the other in the area known as Folders Meadow in the east.

Some of the areas currently being developed are the old Keymer Tileworks and around the south east off Folders Lane. Almost 1,000 houses will be built on these sites over the next few years.

Future of the town

Mid Sussex District Council put forward its master plan for the development of the town in 2006. The town approved its Neighbourhood Plan in 2015. With the proposed housing quota for the area high, it is expected to grow further in the 21st century, and new housing will be created in the town centre in the form of flats as a result of the redevelopment plans put forward by New River Retail and for which planning has been approved. Town centre development includes the redevelopment of the Martlets Shopping Centre to include a ten-screen cinema complex, hotel, new shops and parking. The gasometer in Leylands Road has been removed and replaced with a Lidl supermarket.

The town is set for the development of 3,500 new houses as part of the Northern Arc development. Three schools as well as community facilities will be included and the planning of the development is at an advanced stage with the County, District and Town Councils working together to finalise this development, which is being promoted by the Government's housing agency Homes England. In addition a science park and industrial park are planned along the A2300.

Historic Buildings

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Hammonds Place, to the west of London Road as it leaves the town to the south, is a handsome Elizabethan residence which was substantially re-built by the Michelbourne family in 1565, the date engraved on its porch. Part of a structure dating from about 1500 was retained with the house. Grove Farm House, just south of Station Road, can be dated to about 1600 and was built about the same time as Farthings in Keymer Road.

Chapel Farm House and Walnut Tree Cottages on Fairplace Hill are on medieval sites and the present buildings date from the late Tudor period, as do Pollards Farm and Freckborough Manor House on the eastern boundary of the town.

High Chimneys in Keymer Road is a handsome farmhouse once called Woodwards, "Fowles Farm", a 17th-century dwelling is now called "Old Timbers" and West End Farm is now the "Woolpack Pub" were all built or, more correctly rebuilt in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The farm from which the town derives its name, referred to as Burgeshill Land in the 16th century, is now the site of Oakmeeds School and the Chanctonbury Estate. The farmhouse itself is long demolished.

Almost all the Victorian detached houses and workmen's terraced cottages built in the second half of the nineteenth century (when the town was renowned as a health resort) have survived.

Research Tips

  • The West Sussex Record Office is located in Chichester. Because it holds the records of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester, which covers the whole of Sussex, it has church records relating to both parts of Sussex.
  • An on-line catalogue for some of the collections held by the West Sussex Record Office is available under the Access to Archives (A2A) project (a nationwide facility housed at The National Archives, Kew).
  • West Sussex Past - database of 2 million records from West Sussex heritage organizations.
  • The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies' Sussex Collection (PDF). This is a 9-page PDF naming the files relating to Sussex in their collection-a possible first step in a course of research.
  • The National Library of Scotland has a website which provides maps taken from the Ordnance Survey England & Wales One-Inch to the Mile series of 1892-1908 as well as equivalent maps for Scotland itself. The immediate presentation is a "help" screen and a place selection screen prompting the entry of a location down to town, village or parish level. These screens can be removed by a click of the "X". The map is very clear and shows parish and county boundaries and many large buildings and estates that existed at the turn of the 20th century. Magnification can be adjusted and an "overlay feature" allows inspection of the area today along with that of 1900. The specific map from the series can be viewed as a whole ("View this map") and this allows the inspection of the map legend (found in the left hand bottom corner. Becoming familiar with the various facilities of these maps is well worth the trouble.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Burgess Hill. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.