Haywards Heath

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Haywards Heath
Haywards Heath Town Hall.jpg
Haywards Heath Town Hall
Haywards Heath is located in West Sussex
Haywards Heath
Haywards Heath
 Haywards Heath shown within West Sussex
Area  9.75 km2 (3.76 sq mi) [1]
Population 22,800 [1] 2001 Census
   – density  2,338/km2 (6,060/sq mi)
OS grid reference TQ335245
   – London 34 mi (55 km) N 
Civil parish Haywards Heath
District Mid Sussex
Shire county West Sussex
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district RH16, RH17
Dialling code 01444
Police Sussex
Fire West Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Mid Sussex
Website Haywards Heath Town Council
List of places
West Sussex

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Princess Royal Hospital & Hurstwood Park Neurological Centre

Haywards Heath is a town in the Mid Sussex District of West Sussex, within the historic county of Sussex, England. It lies 36 miles (58 km) south of London, 14 miles (23 km) north of Brighton, 13 miles (21 km) south of Gatwick Airport and 31 miles (50 km) east northeast of the county town of Chichester. Nearby towns include Burgess Hill to the southwest, Horsham to the northwest, Crawley north-northwest and East Grinstead north-northeast. Being a commuter town with only a relatively small number of jobs available in the immediate vicinity, mostly in the agricultural or service sector, many of the residents commute daily via road or rail to London, Brighton, Crawley or Gatwick for work.[2]


The name Hayward comes from Old English meaning an official who protected hedged enclosures from wandering livestock.[3] There is a local legend that the name comes from a highwayman who went under the name of Jack Hayward.[4]


Haywards Heath gets a mention in English Civil War records.[5] 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.[2]

South Road in Haywards Heath

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).

The Priory of Our Lady of Good Counsel on Franklynn Road was built in 1886 and is Grade II listed.[6] In 1978 it was converted to a restaurant and offices.[7]

Former Priory

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

Bolnore Village

Housing in Haywards Heath has been expanded significantly in the last ten years due to the creation of Bolnore Village, located to the south west of the existing town. Planning permission was first granted in the late 1990s for 780 new homes on a greenfield site. The first house was completed in October 2002. Since then, phases 1, 2 and 3 have been built by the house builders Crest Nicholson in conjunction with several other developers. Housing was followed by the construction of various commercial units—currently occupied by the Co-operative Supermarket and the country's first self-governing parent-promoted primary school in September 2010. A pavilion and recreation ground will follow in 2013. Construction of the final phases of Bolnore village (phases 4 and 5) commenced in 2011 (located closer to Haywards Heath centre) with the first houses occupied in September 2012.

The decision to grant planning permission for Bolnore Village was somewhat controversial, since the Ashenground and Catts Woods on that site formed a Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI).

As a condition for planning permission, the developers are required to build a relief road for the town, often referred to as Haywards Heath by-pass, which will re-route the A272 south of the town centre. Although the first section of the relief road has already been built, it remains incomplete after the economic downturn, which heavily impacted property developers. Construction work on the relief road commenced in 2012, with completion expected in 2015. The next stage of the relief road will see a bridge over the railway and across the south east part of Haywards Heath, eventually joining the A272 (Lewes Road).

In 2008, local residents won a bid to set up and run their own primary school for the village.[8] The new school opened in September 2008.


The Mid Sussex District Council are planning to further modernise the town centre, and have published a Haywards Heath Masterplan which includes renovation plans for the railway station ticket office and new shared parking facilities.[9] The next steps for the redevelopment are currently unclear since the council's chosen developer, Thornfield Properties, went into administration in early 2010.[10] However, the council remains committed to achieving the redevelopment through alternative developers.

A further 685 homes are due to be built in the final phases of Bolnore Village (phases 4 and 5), and new homes are also expected to be built in the town centre as part of the Haywards Heath Master Plan.


Transport links

Haywards Heath railway station


Haywards Heath railway station is a major station on the Brighton Main Line. Some of the train services divide at Haywards Heath before continuing their journey to the south, or join other services before continuing north.


Haywards Heath is primarily served by the A272 road, which runs around the south side of the town. This is the new Haywards Heath by-pass, which was opened (ahead of schedule) in August 2014. It diverts town centre traffic south of the town, just south of Bolnore Village, Ashenground and the Princess Royal Hospital. The old A272 through the town centre is now the B2272. Following the A272 to the west, it joins the A23 road which runs both to Brighton to the south and London to the north.

Local attractions, culture and facilities

The library in Haywards Heath
  • Bars and restaurants in Broadway
  • Victoria Park
  • Clair Hall - community centre/event centre
  • Haywards Heath Leisure Centre
  • Borde Hill Gardens
  • Beech Hurst Gardens
  • Haywards Heath Recreation Ground
  • Haywards Heath Library
  • Haywards Heath Cadet Centre
  • Princess Royal Hospital
  • Paul Badham Gallery & Norman Wisdom Exhibition The Orchards Shopping Centre
  • "Town Day" - celebrated in early September each year including fireworks in the evening at Victoria Park.


State schools

Central Sussex College is a further education college providing courses from sixth form to degree level for all ages. Oathall Community College is a secondary school for the town and surrounding area. Facilities include a school farm. There are also several primary schools.

Private schools

Twin towns

Haywards Heath is twinned with:

France Bondues, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France

Germany Traunstein, Bavaria, Germany

A major road in the Bolnore Village area of the town has been named Traunstein Way and there is a German postbox outside the Town Hall to commemorate the link.

Sport and leisure

Haywards Heath has two Non-League football clubs St Francis Rangers F.C. who play at The Colwell Ground and Haywards Heath Town F.C. who play at Hanbury Park.

The area has two hockey clubs nearby: St Francis Hockey Club and Mid Sussex Hockey Club. They both play their home games at The Triangle leisure centre in Burgess Hill, and have a shared clubhouse based in Haywards Heath.[11][12]

Famous residents

Noted celebrities with connections to the Haywards Heath area include:

In fiction, Haywards Heath is the home of the Jennings family.

See also

  • Haywards Heath Living Memories, Author: Wilfrid Jackson, ISBN 1-85937-913-3. Published by Frith Book Company Ltd.


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External links