Buxted Treacle Mines

 

7oot 7IJdV

 

"Next to the lighthouse,

near the harbour..."

 

Published by the 'Friends of Horwich' 1998

 

Many claim to know that there were Treacle Mines in Buxted, but few know the full story. They will tell you that the treacle mines of Buxted were sited next to the lighthouse near the harbour. They will not tell you that, in the 17th century, barges came up he river Uck and berthed on the quay-side, where treacle rock was loaded and transported to the coast; where it was taken by oxen driven wagons to larger towns, where the treacle was used to make treacle floss, treacle tarts, treacle toffee and surprisingly limpet mines! (All stored in the Lighthouse).

 

The lighthouse was a focal point of the old village of Bukktsted. The treacle miners operating in the area used the lighthouse as a lookout-post (camera obscura); as a bank for treacle nuggets; the storage for the miners' candles and products produced and as a meeting point for the village Morris Men.

 

Most of the treacle miners came from three of the families living in Bukktsted (Buxted) and they successfully mined treacle for two hundred years, from 1628 to 1828.

 

The treacle seams followed the ley lines stretching from old Buxted through Etchingwood beyond the Spotted Cow Ale House, along the Hadlow Down ridge and beyond to Hadlow Down, Jarvis Brook, Steel Cross and the Boar's Head.

 

The successful families, with others, included the Appleyards, Fowles and Luxffords. They made a reasonable living out of their mining activities, provided much entertainment in the village where Fred Appleyard was the 'fool' (leader of the Morris Men) and also dubbed the 'Village Squire'.

 

There was a dramatic change in the village when Lord Liverpool of 'Jam Butty' fame inherited the Buxted Estate and being a man of some importance, he did not wish to associate with the treacle people. So he persuaded the families to move their homes and resume their mining activities east of Coopers Green towards Hadlow Down.

 

When the exodus was completed, he had successfully wiped the old village off the map and had established the Buxted Deer Park, which was his intention. The Manor house was extended and the old church remained. Surprisingly, the families that had vacated Lord Liverpool's estate, remained faithful to their church.

 

In its new location (with no lighthouse) and no river transport, the treacle mining became uneconomic and was continued for a few more years under the patronage of some of the local gentry.

 

In an old log book, found at a car boot sale in 1990, Fred Appleyard tells the story of 'You Faull', it would seem that at a meeting of the Parish of Buxted on January 2nd, 1613, where thirty-eight local people determined that the Parish Feast should be kept on St James's Day, July 25th.

 

At this feast the 'Faull' = 'Fool' would preside over the feast, which would be followed with Morris Dancing and much drinking.

 

Fred Appleyard was the most famous of the Treacle Miners' Morris, achieving the distinction of being toasted by the village folk with - "to Yon Fool Fred" - after the many story-telling sessions which attracted many of his friends to he Spotted Cow Ale House.

 

The 'log-book' records these stories.

 

There are stories of Fred Appleyard getting lost in the Buxted Treacle Mine and after an underground adventure, coming to the surface at Boar's Head Rock near Crowborough. Later he find himself crossing an underground lake and is rescued by Jonah Wickens through -"Wicken's Well'.

 

A visit to Wicken's Drift Mine in Jarvis Brook leads to the discovery of a sea of treacle. Following a dispute of ownership, Mr Wickens blows up the 'treacle lake' and it rains treacle for several hours over Hadlow Down.

 

Ghostly stories tell of underground caves in Jarvis Brook and of an entrance near the Plough and Horses. Here Matt Malone uses a 'treacle twitching' walking stick, which after his death, haunts Tubwell Lane.

 

'YON FOOL FESTIVAL'

 

Fred Appleyard is remembered in an annual festival held in July. At the Treacle Miners' Dinner, held at the Plough and Horses in Jarvis Brook, members of the Ancient Order of Treacle Miners, their friends and anyone seeking a good night out, assemble for the election of the Treacle Miners's Monarch chosen by finding a hidden coin in the pudding!

 

If the coin is found by man or woman - the Monarch is 'crowned' and royally robed. The toast is "to the memory of Yon Fool Fred". Entertainment, follows the meal.

 

 

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