Haywards Heath

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.[3]

Haywards Heath

Haywards Heath Town Hall
Haywards Heath
Location within West Sussex
Area9.75 km2 (3.76 sq mi) [1]
Population22,800 [1] 2001 Census
33,845 (2011 Census)[2]
 Density2,338/km2 (6,060/sq mi)
OS grid referenceTQ335245
 London34 mi (55 km)N
Civil parish
  • Haywards Heath
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtRH16, RH17
Dialling code01444
FireWest Sussex
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament
WebsiteHaywards Heath Town Council


The name Hayward comes from Old English meaning an official who protected hedged enclosures from wandering livestock.[4] There is a local legend that the name comes from a highwayman who went under the name of Jack Hayward.[5][6]


Haywards Heath's Muster Green was the site of the Battle of Muster Green, a minor battle that took place in early December 1642 during the First English Civil War between a Royalist army under Edward Ford, High Sheriff of Sussex, and a smaller (but more disciplined) Parliamentarian army under Herbert Morley. Due to the fact that neither side possessed field guns, hand-to-hand combat ensued and after roughly an hour of fighting and 200 Royalists killed or wounded, the Parliamentarians emerged victorious and routed the Royalist army.[7]

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.[3]

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.[8] In 1978 it was converted to a restaurant and offices.[9]

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, 3, 4a and 5 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.

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 has re-routed the A272 to the south side of the town. Construction work on the relief road commenced in 2012, with it being completed in August 2014, the previous A272 route through Haywards Heath has been renamed to the B2272.

In 2008, local residents won a bid to set up and run their own primary school for the village.[10] The new school opened in September 2008.


As Bolnore village's construction has nearly finished the majority of new housing for Haywards Heath has been on the southern side of the A272, the site is commonly referred to as Sandrocks after the house that was previously there. This area has 6 main development areas, of which 2 have been completed as of Summer 2018.

New housing developments have also appeared on the northern side of the town. Both of them allow approx 400 new dwellings to be built. The first one is on the northern end of Penland Road and south of Hanlye Lane and started development in 2017. The other one is between Lindfield and Walstead, this started in 2015 and is due to be completed by the end of 2019.

There are also plans that the land around Hurstwood Farm will be built on, with the provision of a new primary school, Country Park and allotments included in the master plan which has received planning permission.[11]



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

  • 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

Oathall Community College is a secondary school for the town and surrounding area. Facilities include a school farm. There are also several primary schools.

There is also a new Chichester College campus opening September 2020, which will be called Haywards Heath College. The college will use the old Central Sussex College Haywards Heath campus on Harlands Road which closed in Summer 2017.[12] The new principal will be the current Worthing College principal.[13]

Haywards Heath is also home to a number of local primary schools, one of which is St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, located on Hazelgrove Road near the centre of the town.

Private schools

Twin towns

Haywards Heath is twinned with:

The section of the A272 that runs south beside Bolnore Village 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, Haywards Heath Town F.C. who play at Hanbury Park and St Francis Rangers F.C. who play at The Colwell Ground.

Haywards Heath also has a rugby union team. Due to their errant passing methods they have occasionally been nicknamed 'Waywards Sheath' by disreputable part-time sports journalist, Rick O'Shea.

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.[14][15]

Notable people

See also

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


  1. "2001 Census: West Sussex – Population by Parish" (PDF). West Sussex County Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2009.
  2. "Town population 2011". Neighbourhood Statististics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  3. "Haywards Heath". westsussex.info. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  4. "Hayward Webster's Dictionary". Webster's Dictionary. Retrieved 27 December 2009.
  5. Haywards Heath Master Plan Supplementary Planning Document (PDF) (Report). June 2007. p. 13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 May 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  6. Page, Sarah (2 January 2018). "Notorious highwayman rides again". Mid Sussex Times.
  7. Veitch, Robert (23 August 2015). "THE GREEN THAT TURNED TO RED". Sussex Living Magazine. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  8. Good Stuff. "The Minstrels Gallery Restaurant: The Priory Club and Squash Courts – Haywards Heath – West Sussex – England – British Listed Buildings". britishlistedbuildings.co.uk.
  9. "BBC – Domesday Reloaded: The Priory of Our Lady". domesday.
  10. Curtis, Polly (12 June 2008). "Parents win right to set up eco-school in village woodlands". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  11. "Plans for 375 homes in Haywards Heath and downgrading of Hurstwood Lane approved". www.midsussextimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  12. "Opening date set for Haywards Heath sixth form college". www.midsussextimes.co.uk. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  13. "Chichester College Group announces opening of Haywards Heath College". Worthing College | Home. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  14. "Location – St Francis Hockey Club". Pitchero.com. 29 April 2013. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  15. "Mid Sussex Hockey Club". Mshc.co.uk. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  16. Herring, Richard (15 December 2017). "RHLSTP 159 - Richard Osman". Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  17. "Nicki Minaj's 'Last Chance' Gave Natasha Bedingfield 'Goose Bumps'". MTV News. 24 November 2010.
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