The White Harte, Cuckfield - Behind the Counter

The White Harte Inn, Cuckfield

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[

Leanne is the new mayor of Cuckfield

Leanne Knappman, Cuckfield Mayor 2018

Leanne Knappman, Cuckfield Mayor 2018

By Mike Schlup

October 2018 saw the annual election of the Independent State of Cuckfield’s Mayor. The event took place at the White Harte on the evening of Friday 19th October, with five candidates standing. Votes are cast in the form of pennies and the candidate with the most pennies, or votes, at 11pm when the polls closed is declared the winner. It soon became apparent that Leanne Knapman was heading for a landslide victory and, sure enough, she finished with a phenomenal total of over one million votes! It’s only taken her 14 years to finally win but during that time she has raised tens of thousands of pounds for local good causes, more than any other candidate.

Overall this year, the candidates raised almost £11,000 which will be distributed to local good causes. More details on this in future issues.

On Saturday the sun was shining as the new Mayor began her procession from Warden Park school, along London Lane, around Brainsmead and down to the High Street. Hundreds of spectators lined the streets to welcome the new Mayor, cheering and clapping as she passed by in her open top car. The procession was supported by the fantastic Burgess Hill Marching Youth Band and the Surrey and Sussex Drum and Bugle Corps.

There were many fabulous floats but the winners were, in 1st place, Holy Trinity School, 2nd Cuckfield Scouts and 3rd Cuckfield Preschool. Winning the prize for best walking group were BPM with their silent disco and fantastic make-up. The new mayor was welcomed at The Talbot by the Sheriff of Cuckfield where she was presented with the keys to the town and a celebratory drink. The Talbot also kindly provided all the event marshals and helpers with a drink for their efforts.

Who is the new Mayor of Cuckfield?

Cuckfield's Mayor's Procession and Election Night 2017

Evelyn Stenning elected as Mayor of Cuckfield on Friday 20th October 2017

Friday 20th October 2017 was the night when Cuckfield would find out who its new Mayor would be. In the end lifelong Cuckfield resident Evelyn Stenning wore the robes as she 'won' the most votes on the night. 

There's a full story in the November issue of Cuckfield Life magazine - but here are a couple of videos of the action as it unfolded on the Friday night, and for the Mayor's Procession on Saturday 21st October.