Poignant tribute to hundreds of tiny babies buried in village

Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield ENGSUS00120121224090250
Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield ENGSUS00120121224090250

A heart-rending tribute is being paid to hundreds of tiny babies buried in a village churchyard.

A commemorative bench is to be placed in the grounds of Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield, as a memorial to more than 500 tiny babies buried there.

The bodies of the stillborn babies - all born at Cuckfield Hospital - have remained for years in unmarked graves at the church.

But now Mid Sussex District Council has given Cuckfield Parish Council a grant of £3,000 for a special commemorative bench.

The grant follows a joint campaign by Cuckfield Museum and local historian Kate Fleming to highlight the poignant plight of the infants and their mothers.

During research Kate discovered that from the early nineteenth century up until the 1970s stillborn babies, or those who died shortly after birth, were buried in a communal grave or in a burial plot with an adult.

Cuckfield Hospital assumed responsibility for the burials and the babies’ mothers had no say in what happened to their children.

But now, thanks to help from the district council, the babies will at long last have their final resting place commemorated.

A bench designed by Sussex sculptor Christian Funnell will provide grieving parents with a focal point when they visit the cemetery.

The £3,000 grant for the churchyard bench is among a total of nearly £210,000 that Mid Sussex District Council has recently earmarked for worthy causes.

Others include £143,000 to East Grinstead Sports Club to improve facilities; nearly £5,000 to national charity Fixers to help tackle mental health issues in Mid Sussex and £2,100 to a ‘Girls Get Active’ to enable 240 young girls who are at risk of becoming disengaged with exercise to take part in activities in a fun environment.

Mid Sussex District Council cabinet member for resources Jonathan Ash-Edwards said: “In Mid Sussex we are fortunate to have so many local people who are willing to give up their time to support those in need and organise fantastic activities for local people to enjoy.

“They do tremendous work for the local community and I’m proud that we’re able to support their work with our latest allocation of grant funding.”