Welcome to the Cowfold Village History Society website. We hope that you enjoy browsing through the material collected about the history of our village and will find the records of our past as fascinating as we do.

We are always pleased to receive comments on the website itself (good or bad!) and will also be grateful for any additional material for inclusion on the site, or for help on our various ongoing projects. You can contact us by completing the form here.

Future Events

Until we are able to meet up again in person, we are looking at holding future talks either via Zoom or YouTube and would be pleased to hear your views on these options.

We sponsored a YouTube presentation by Ian Everest on “Shepherds of the South Downs – their lives and times” in October, which was very well received by our members, and are now considering hosting a talk via Zoom in the New Year.

Cowfold celebrates VE Day

Front cover of the Victory Celebration programme

On the 8th May 2020 it was 75 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe was officially declared after six years of hardship, deprivation and loss of life for members of the armed forces and civilians alike. There were massive outpourings of celebrations and thanksgiving across the country, both on that day and subsequently.

But how did Cowfold celebrate the event?

On Saturday 8th June, a month after the declaration, Cowfold celebrated with a full day programme of events, including parades, a thanksgiving service, sports, sideshows, a ball and a torchlight procession with fireworks. The following extract from Mike Burt’s recent book “When the Lights go on Again- the Story of Cowfold in WW2” describes the day:

“The day started at 10.30 am with a parade of members of the British Legion, Army Cadets, Fire Service, Girl Guides, and Women’s Land Army in the School playground who then marched through the village to the church.

 A service of thanksgiving was followed at 2.30pm by sports events held on the Cricket Ground; sports included running races for various age groups, egg and spoon races, and a 100 yards race for men and women over 25 years old. There was also an obstacle race for men only, a sack football match between the British Legion and Cadets, and a tug-of-war with four teams representing north, south, east and west Cowfold and judged by Captain Lovett-Cameron RN.

 Side shows included “The Lucky Bucket”, a treasure hunt, skittle alley, hoopla, darts, guessing the name of the doll (presented by Mrs Sayers) and guessing the weight of the cake (presented by Mrs Plumbley) – it is interesting to speculate how big this could have been given rationing!

 Children’s entertainment was provided in the Marquee on the Cricket Ground by a conjurer, one Roy Hart.

 A Victory Ball was held in the Village Hall from 8pm to midnight with fancy dress optional and music provided by The Nightswingers (Brighton) Dance Orchestra. It was this ball that was remembered by Pat Ferri who went dressed as a tramp; she said that it was easy for her to play this part because she was not noted for “posh” dressing!

 At 10.15pm there was a torchlight procession starting from Sprinks’ Stores and a Bonfire and Fireworks display, which ended at 11pm. Among the fireworks were The Rainbow Wheel, The Royal Star, The Electric Prince of Wales Feathers (one can only imagine what that was like), and the Huge Golden Palm.

 So ended what must have been a memorable and tiring day but a good tribute to those six years of struggle.”

Mike Burt’s book “When the Lights go on Again – the Story of Cowfold in WW2” (Matador, £12.99; troubadour.co.uk/matador) can be purchased by emailing the Society at:


What’s New on the Website

The following items have recently been added to the website. Please click on the images and take a look!

Heritage of Horsham District in One Hundred Objects

Lady Emma and members of the team

The book launch of “ Heritage of Horsham District in One Hundred Objects” was held on Monday 7 October 2019 at Parham House, hosted by Lady Emma Barnard and attended by over fifty guests, including representatives of Heritage Forum member organisations and Jonathan Chowen, Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for Community and Culture.

Jeremy Knight, Curator of Horsham Museum and Art Gallery

The book has been written by Jeremy Knight, Curator of Horsham Museum and Art Gallery, and edited by Mike Burt, Chairman of Cowfold Village History Society and Coordinator of the Horsham District Heritage Forum, with contributions from Heritage Forum members and the rest of the Horsham Museum team.

Mike Burt, Chairman of Cowfold Village History Society

It was made possible through a grant awarded by the 2019 Horsham District Year of Culture and distils thirty years of knowledge and understanding into a concise and accessible record told through the one hundred objects. Transport, agriculture, local politics, the retail trade, domestic life and warfare are just some of the topics covered by this beautifully illustrated book, which provides a superb companion and guide to a journey of discovery around the district and its rich heritage.

The book, priced £19.99, is on sale at the Horsham Museum and a number of local bookshops, including Waterstones and the Steyning Bookshop.

Parham House


“Cowfold” Tank Locomotive

“Cowfold” D Class tank locomotive

The Society has recently acquired a postcard showing a D Class 0-4-4 tank locomotive that was named after our village!

The engine, No. 394, was designed by R J Billinton and built at the Brighton Works of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR) in March 1894.

The D Class tank locomotives were used for working passenger trains along both country and main lines and some would have operated from railway sheds at Brighton and Horsham. It appears that a number of the engines were named after stations within the LBSCR region.