By Jacqueline Elmore
On the corner of South Street in Cuckfield an imposing three-pronged chimney stack sits above a timberframed, fish scale-tiled coaching inn. Below its pitched roof is an image of a white deer flanked by the numbers ‘1881’. Other lettering around the old sign includes ‘H’ and ‘W’ for the associated brewery (Hall and Woodhouse) and ‘Ye White Harte Inne’, its ancient and locally loved name.
The White Harte Inn is one of Cuckfield’s ‘familiar faces’ and the first public house that you will see when entering the village from the south. The inn has been the place to go for a pie and a pint of ale for (literally) hundreds of years. Behind its doors lives landlord and long-standing publican James (Jim) Ayling, who has lived at the inn for nearly 15 years.
“I’ve not always been in the pub trade. It’s an interesting story actually. My now partner, Jackie, used to work here in the kitchen. One day we decided that we’d give it a go and take over the reins. That’s really how we ended up here and much of the reason why we are still here now.”
Jim, who was born and raised in Hove, originally worked in hotels and restaurants in Brighton and had stints as an engineer before returning to hospitality, this time as a publican.
When Jim first arrived in the village he worked behind the bar at the King’s Head pub, situated just around the corner from the White Harte.
[Full story published in the January 2019 issue of Cuckfield Life magazine[