Cooksbridge

Word games and puzzles here. Coney’ is an old Sussex word for a rabbit so it does not take a lot of stretching to turn the grand mansion of Conyboro into Rabbit Burrow; and Shelley’s Folly is the name of an 18th century mansion of Flemish bond brick. But did it not refer to the curious clump of pines which stood (before the hurricane of 1987) on the adjacent hill, a natural “folly’ and a landmark for miles?

Conyboro was constructed in the 1860s to the design of Henry Marley Burton for MP John George Dodson, who was created Lord Monkbretton of Conyboro and Hurstpierpoint in 1884. The building work was undertaken by Henry Card of Lewes, who was also the county surveyor, and took more than two years at a total cost of £9,650. The hot water system cost a further £272, chimney-pieces and stoves £122 and furniture £1,967.

Even the name of the village has an unlikely story to account for its origin. Simon de Montfort’s army stopped here on the march from Fletching to the Battle of Lewes in 1264 and the cooks served breakfast on the bridge.

Peppercorn rents do not seem as common in this material age as they used to be but at Cooksbridge The Malthouse is let to the parish council by Lord Monk Bretton at 1/- a year (still the old-fashioned bob, not 5p) and a management committee is responsible for its maintenance.

The village once had its own brewery, supplying the local pubs. It has disappeared now, but still very much a part of the community after more than 100 years is McBeans Orchids, launched by Scotsman James Ure McBean with a single greenhouse in 1879. Today the firm is world famous for its steady stream of new varieties of delicate blooms and for the hundreds of prizes it has won.