‘The Belfry listing welcome but Convent’s fate still rankles’

Our Saturday independent columnist Observer praises the listing of an historic Uckfield building.


How my heart soared when I read The Belfry in New Town had been given a Grade II listing.

The property is one I have admired on many occasions when walking down from Ridgewood.

It’s great news and is a huge part of the town’s history; representing a period when villas and large homes were established on the major routes into and out of the town.

Domesday Book

Uckfield is in many ways a modern town.

It didn’t rate a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086 and 200 years later was only referred to as no more than part of Buxted.

It was the coming of the railway which made the difference.

Rural isolation 

The book Bygone Uckfield [Fuller and Turner] records: “It brought the town out of rural isolation and took goods and passengers daily to places previously out of reach.

“The railway also brought about expansion in building. Several good sites were made available to the north and south of the town, and many larger, fashionable villas were built south of the railway. 

“This area became known as High Street, New Town.”

My heart still grieves when I think of the former St Michael’s Convent, which was demolished to make way a small housing development.


The new, modern houses are striking and contemporary. However, the convent played a huge part in the development of agricultural education and should not have been lost.

It was said it was not worthy of listing – maybe not architecturally but surely as a striking skyline building which was part of the town for more than a century. Anyway, it was bulldozed.


Most of our historic buildings are, of course, in private hands. They are people’s homes and I am sure the owners regard themselves as “temporary custodians” of these wonderful properties which they will wish to hand down to future generations in good order.

They deserve our thanks and support; just as did the person who had the foresight to seek a listing for The Belfry.

From our files:

Uckfield . . . a modern town

History of St Michael’s Convent

See also:

Flats plan at Halland hotel

Lavender Line gala and other Uckfield events

Find local organisations in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on UckfieldNews.com


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