East Grinstead

East Grinstead

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name = East Grinstead
latitude= 51.129
longitude= -0.007
population = 29,000
civil_parish = East Grinstead
shire_district = Mid Sussex
shire_county = West Sussex
region= South East England
constituency_westminster = Mid Sussex
post_town = EAST GRINSTEAD
postcode_area= RH
postcode_district= RH19
dial_code = 01342
os_grid_reference = TQ395385

East Grinstead (archaically spelt "Grimstead" [cite web | url=http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=27744 | title=House of Commons Journal Volume 9 | date=1679-04-07 | accessdate=2007-11-15 | publisher=University of London & History of Parliament Trust | work=British History Online | format=html] ) is a town and civil parish in the northeastern corner of Mid Sussex, West Sussex in England near the East Sussex, Surrey, and Kent borders. Until 1974 East Grinstead was in the county of East Sussex but was moved, along with Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill during a boundary re-organisation. The large civil parish covers an area of 2443.45ha (6035 acres) and had a population of 23,942 persons in the 2001 census.

It is located on the Greenwich Meridian. The Weald and Ashdown Forest lie to the south of the town.

Places of Interest

The High Street contains the longest continuous run of 14th-century timber-framed buildings in England. Other notable buildings in the town include Sackville College, the sandstone almshouse built in 1609 where the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas" was written by John Mason Neale. The Greenwich Meridian runs through the grounds of the historic 1769 East Court mansion, home of the Town Council, [http://www.eastgrinstead.gov.uk/tourism/localattractions.php East Grinstead Town Council ] , Centre website] giving the visitor an opportunity to stand with a foot in both the east and west. The parkland setting has sweeping views towards Ashdown Forest. In 1968 the East Grinstead Society [http://www.eastgrinsteadsociety.org/ East Grinstead Society Link] , Society's website] was founded as an independent body both to protect the historically important buildings of East Grinstead (and its environs) and to improve the amenities for future generations.

On the outskirts of the town is Standen, a country house belonging to the National Trust, containing one of the best collections of arts and crafts movement furnishings and fabrics. On the A264 to Tunbridge Wells, there is a historic house called Hammerwood Park which is on occasions open to the public. East Grinstead House is the headquarters of the (UK and Ireland) Caravan Club.

Local attractions include Ashdown Forest (where the Winnie-the-Pooh stories are set) and the Bluebell Railway, a preserved heritage line with steam locomotives. The town is also the site of Queen Victoria Hospital, where famed plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe treated burns victims of World War II and formed the Guinea Pig Club. The town is well located to visit Chartwell the country home of Sir Winston Churchill, Hever Castle home of Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn, and Penshurst Place home of the Sydney family.

During the Second World War, the town was a secondary target for German bombers who failed to make their primary target in London. During the evening of July 9, 1943, a Luftwaffe bomber became separated from his squadron, and made an attack on the town. One of his bombs fell on the Whitehall Cinema in the High Street. 108 people were killed, including many children who were watching the matinee. This was the largest loss of life of any single air raid in Sussex.

In 2006, the East Grinstead Town Museum [http://www.eastgrinsteadmuseum.org.uk East Grinstead Town Museum Link] , Museum website] was moved to new custom built premises located in the historic centre of the town, and successfully re-opened to the public. The Chequer Mead Community Arts Centre [http://www.chequermead.org.uk Chequer Mead Community Arts Centre ] , Centre website] includes a modern 349-seat purpose-built theatre, which stages professional and amateur plays and music (local rock groups to chamber music orchestras), opera, ballet, folk music, tribute bands, and talks. The centre has a large art gallery for temporary exhibitions.

In addition to the nearby Ashdown Forest, East Grinstead is served by the Forest Way and Worth Way linear Country Parks which follow the disused railway line from Three Bridges all the way through to Groombridge and which are part of the Sustrans national cycle network. To the south of the town lies the Weir Wood Reservoir which offers sailing [http://www.wwsc.org.uk/index.php Weir Wood Sailing Club ] , Sailing Centre website] and a nature reserve which attracts an interesting assortment of birdlife. It is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Religious Organisations

East Grinstead has a varied selection of churches and cults (see below).

Church of England:
* St. Swithun's Church is the main church in the parish. One of the most impressive buildings in the town it has been on its present site since the 11th century. Near the entrance to the church, three stones mark the supposed ashes of Anne Tree, Thomas Dunngate and John Forman who were burned as martyrs on the 18th of July 1556 because they would not renounce the Protestant faith. There are also three other Anglican churches:
* St. Barnabas in Dunnings Road
* St. Luke’s in Holtye Avenue
* St. Mary’s in Windmill Lane

Other Protestant and Non-conformist:
* The Baptist Chapel in West Street
* The Trinity Methodist Church at the junction of London and Lingfield Roads
* The United Reformed Church
* The New Life Church a (New Frontiers evangelical charismatic church)

Roman Catholic churches:
* The Church of Our Lady and St. Peter Roman Catholic in London Road – which was built by local landowners, the Blount family, for the local community
*Opus Dei have premises in the town

Other Christian orders:
*To the north of the town is the Mormon London England Temple

Cults & other Belief Systems

East Grinstead is also home to several religious cults and other non-mainstream belief systems

*Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in London Road
*The Rosicrucians own property in the town
*The UK headquarters of the Church of Scientology is at Saint Hill Manor. Bought by Scientology’s founder the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1959, Saint Hill was the cult’s world headquarters through the 1960s and 1970s - it still remains the organisation against which all other Scientology organisations are measured. Scientology remains as controversial in East Grinstead as elsewhere.

The curious co-incidence of so many faith organisations located in or close to the town has prompted debate and speculation over recent years. In 1994, a documentary entitled "Why East Grinstead?" was produced for Channel 4 by Zed Productions and directed by Ian Sellar. The documentary didn't come to any definite conclusions: the explanations ranging from the fact that East Grinstead sat on the convergence of ley lines to the more prosaic idea that the various religious inquirers had settled there because they liked the views.


The East Grinstead Town Centre Master Plan was adopted on 10 July 2006 as a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). [cite press release | url=http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/page.cfm?pageID=4685 | title=Revised Masterplan to safeguard unique character of town | date=2006-07-04 | accessdate=2007-10-02 | publisher=Mid Sussex District Council | format=html | language=English] The scheme arranges regeneration of the town centre in association with Thornfield Properties PLC. As of September 2007 Thornfield Properties has submitted plans to the council for the start of an ambitious development of the Queens Walk and West Street area. It is expected that other redevelopment companies will fulfil targets outlined in the SPD over the next 20 years. Landowners and developers are being encouraged to put forward plans achieve the vision set out in the SDP. The Master Plan is part of a larger scheme which will also see the redevelopment of the Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill town centres. [cite web | url=http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/Nimoi/sites/msdcpublic/resources/LDSadoptedOct2006%2Epdf | title=Local Development Scheme | format=pdf | language=English | accessdate=2007-11-15]

A legacy of 1970s buildings followed by decades of low investment and short term planning have left the town with outdated retail spaces. The plan envisions a complete reconstruction of large parts of the town centre with a new town square as its focal point, a mix of commercial retail space, increased active shop frontage, and over 600 residential properties.The clear priority as stated by Mid Sussex District Council is the regeneration of the town centre, Queensway car park, Queens Walk and West Street.

Competing plans have been developed for the redevelopment of the Queen's Walk shopping arcade by Onslow East Grinstead ltd and Martells, a major land owner in the town centre. The Planning proposal is to demolish the existing Queen's Walk building 24 new shop units to replace the existing nine and create 185 new town centre flats together with a shared shoppers and residents underground car park. No planning application has been submitted to Mid Sussex District Council.

The problems the town faces have directly affected the volume of trade and the town's economic well-being. Residents do most of their non food shopping out of town, which has resulted in retailers in the town centre closing down and commercial premises being left vacant as they cannot compete with the more attractive shopping centre in Crawley with its better transport infrastructure and larger shop areas. [cite web | title=East Grinstead Town Centre Supplementary Planning Document | url=http://www.midsussex.gov.uk/Nimoi/sites/msdcpublic/resources/EGmasteraug06%5F02introduction01%2Epdf | format=pdf | language=English | accessdate=2007-10-02 | publisher=Mid Sussex District Council] No public money is being spent, with the SPD being a guide for private developers and landowners to pursue the ideas. The SPD helps this in that it in essence shows locations in town that have been given an arbitrary planning permission for projects as long as they fulfil the guidelines set out in the SPD.

A new bypass is planned to ease congestion. A projected increase in population from new housing developments and an increase in tourism from the proposed linking of the town with the heritage Bluebell Railway will service the plans to regenerate the town centre. These plans have been welcomed by many although various public consultations made it clear that any development must retain the town's character. The railway station will also be redeveloped as its simple concrete construction is seen as unattractive and a bad gateway into the town, along with the dilapidated state of the Railway Approach road that leads into town. The current station was built to replace a grand wooden Victorian-era railway station that was sold and moved to the USA. Public transport has also come under criticism for being badly linked and of poor quality, resulting in many residents using private cars to move around, further increasing congestion, with limited public car parking space in town.

Other parts of the plan require new car parks, alterations to the external appearance of two supermarkets, among other improvements to the town.Fact|date=November 2007


Crime rates in East Grinstead are lower than the national average. [cite web | url=http://www.findaproperty.com/crimefacts.aspx?edid=00&salerent=0&areaid=0540 | title=East Grinstead crime statistics | date=2005-06 | publisher=FindaProperty.com | format=html | language=English]



East Grinstead has been a railway terminus since the 1960s, after the lines to Lewes, Three Bridges, and Royal Tunbridge Wells were closed under the Beeching Axe, a rationalisation of British Railways' branch lines based on a report by Dr Richard Beeching, a resident of the town at that time. ("see also" East Grinstead railway station for history of rail lines)

In the late 1970s the town's inner relief road was built along a section of one of the closed railway lines and is named "Beeching Way". It is rumoured that this road, which runs through a cutting, was intended to be called "Beeching Cut", but that the name was altered at the last minute in the interests of formality.Fact|date=January 2008 Much of rest of the trackbed of the disused Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central line now forms the route of the Worth Way and Forest Way, highly prized linear Country Parks allowing easy access to the beautiful Wealden countryside.

Bluebell Railway connection

A part of the Lewes line may be reinstated by the Bluebell Railway, [ [http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/extend.html Bluebell Railway extension] ] a nearby preserved standard gauge railway. Work has now actively started on the final push to the north towards East Grinstead where the line will once again join to the national railway network. A new railway station is to be built just south of the main-line station.


The town lies on the junction of the A22 and A264 roads. For just over a mile, from just to the north of the Town Centre to Felbridge village in Surrey, the two routes use the same stretch of single carriageway road. This is one of the principal causes of traffic congestion in the town.

The town is within commuting distance of London (about 40 miles) and Crawley/Gatwick (about 10 miles) by road. According to the 2001 Census, one in eight residents commuted to Crawley for work with over 98% travelling by car.

Twin towns

The town is twinned with the towns of:
*flagicon|France Bourg-de-Péage, France
*flagicon|Spain Sant Feliu de Guíxols, Spain
*flagicon|Germany Mindelheim, Germany
*flagicon|Austria Schwaz, Austria
*flagicon|Italy Verbania, ItalyThe village of West Grinstead is located some 25 km to the southwest.

Famous Residents Past and Present

*Dr. Richard Beeching
*Neil Gaiman
*Ted Hutt
*Jane Leeves
*Rev. Dr. John Mason Neale
*Sir Archibald McIndoe
*Sir Patrick Moore (lived at Glencathara, Worsted Lane, 1929-1965)
*Tom Morton-Smith
*Louise Redknapp
*Andrew Sullivan
*Johnny Waldron

*"Right Said Fred"

East Grinstead in Literature

East Grinstead is the destination of the adulterous lovers Norman and Annie in Alan Ayckbourn's trilogy of plays entitled "The Norman Conquests". It was chosen because Norman, after some effort, couldn't get in at Hastings. In the 1978 BBC-TV version of the trilogy, Norman and Annie were portrayed by Tom Conti and Penelope Wilton.

East Grinstead also features in Christopher Fowler's novel, "Psychoville" (1996), in which the town features as harbouring the fictional Invicta Cross, as well as the eventual New Invicta. The town of New Invicta was later used by Jo Amey in "Heist" as a safehouse

East Grinstead is mentioned in the lyrics to British musician Robyn Hitchcock's song, "Listening To The Higsons". ("The Higsons come from Norwich, but I prefer East Grinstead.")

East Grinstead is the home of Harry Witherspoon, one of the lead characters in a musical comedy by Flaherty and Ahrens called "Lucky Stiff".

ports and Social Clubs

East Grinstead is well served by local sports and social clubs. Municipal facilities include the King George's Field, named as a memorial to King George V. The King's Centre leisure centre, [http://www.olymposcentres.co.uk/ East Grinstead King's Centre] , Centre website] currently owned and operated by Mid Sussex District Council is located on this land, which was left to the town by a local benfactor. The centre includes an indoor swimming pool and other facilities such as a gym and sports hall. The Council is currently reviewing the provisions of this facility and as part of this is looking at contracting out the management. There are floodlit tennis courts and bowling green at Mount Noddy and also tennis courts and a variety of pitches at East Court. All facilities at East Grinstead are booked via the Kings Centre.

Local sports clubs include:
* [http://www.dunningsmill.co.uk/ Dunnings Mill Squash & Health Club]
* [http://www.egac.co.uk/ East Grinstead Athletics Club]
* [http://www.egscc.co.uk/ East Grinstead Hockey Club] who now compete in the English Hockey National League Premier Division.
* [http://www.eglc.co.uk/ East Grinstead Lacrosse Club] formed in 2004
* [http://www.egrfc.co.uk/ East Grinstead Rugby Football Club]
* [http://www.egtsc.org/ East Grinstead Tennis & Squash Club]
* [http://www.egtfc.co.uk/ East Grinstead Town Football Club] formed on May 8, 1890
* [http://www.felbridge.freeuk.com/ Felbridge Lawn Tennis Club located just outside East Grinstead]

Other Clubs include:

*East Grinstead Ex-servicemen and Women's Club. (C&IU)Affiliate
* [http://1343sqn.org.uk/ 1343 (East Grinstead) Sqn] Air Cadets. Often seen parading in town on Remembrance Sunday, Mayday and other Events.


External links

* [http://www.eastgrinstead.gov.uk/ East Grinstead Town Council]
* [http://www.egnet.co.uk/ East Grinstead Community Website]
* [http://www.east-grinstead.com/ East Grinstead Tourism and History Guide]
* [http://www.eastgrinsteadmuseum.org.uk/ East Grinstead Museum]
* [http://www.eastgrinsteadsociety.org/ East Grinstead Society]
* [http://www.werelate.org/wiki/Place:East_Grinstead,_Sussex,_England East Grinstead WeRelate Wiki for local history and genealogy]
* [http://www.swithun.co.uk/ St. Swithuns Church Website]
* [http://www.trinitymethodist.org.uk/ Trinity Methodist Church]
* [http://www.meridianfm.com/ Meridian FM, the local Community Radio Station]

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