The year the privy was stolen…

In 2019, our Membership Secretary, Mike Webster came across the article below from the Sussex Express on 9 November 1867:

Cuckfield Petty Sessions:

“John Marchant and John Pearce were charged with stealing and carrying off a privy from the premises of Mr Charles Mills of the Red Lion Inn. It appeared to be a regular bonfire spree and better be told in detail.

“PC Berry and Mr Jupp high constable for the hundred being in the street about 12 on the 5th of November Night saw a cavalcade of 10 or 12 persons carrying along a strange looking object to make a fire of, and on going up to them found they had carried away bodily on old privy from Mr Mills’s. The prisoners were under it and on its being overturned by the policeman were in danger of being crushed by it. Berry then took them into custody but Mr Mills declined to identify except by the smell. Berry said that other mischief had been done to property and he and Mr Jupp considered it proper to stop it. Jonathan Winter, gardener, identified the concern, a portion of which was brought by wagon and produced. He said Mr Mills desired him to inform the magistrates that he declined to prosecute. Berry said that Mrs Mills had desired him to watch their premises as they had lost property before. Superintendent Akehurst hoped the magistrates would not consider the policeman had exceeded his duty. Had it been himself he would have done the same.

“The magistrates said No No it was Mr Mills who had not done his duty  – remanded until 16th bail being accepted each in £20 and £10 security, and Mr Mills was ordered to be summoned to appear.”

In the anarchic tradition of Sussex bonfire, and to commemorate the event, on Boxing Day 2019, LBS members participated in the village’s annual Denman’s Lane Dash… complete with privy. Needless to say we didn’t win the Dash, but great fun was had by all!