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East Grinstead – Description

From Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Essex, Herts, Middlesex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex, 1867

EAST GRINSTEAD is a parish, market town, railway station, and polling place for the Eastern division of the county, giving name to a hundred and union, in Pevensey rape, diocese of Chichester, and archdeaconry of Lewes, 30 miles from London, on the Lewes road. The petty sessions for the division are held every fortnight at the Crown Inn, East Grinstead, and Swan inn, Forest Row, alternately. The Board of Guardians meet at the union house every alternate Thursday, and a county court is held on a Wednesday once in two months. The town is built on an eminence, and is well supplied with gas and an abundance of good water: it consists of one principal street. The town is a borough by prescription, and returned two members to Parliament until the passing of the Reform Bill, when it was disfranchised. Brambletye House, now in ruins, was built in the reign of James I., in the Italian style, by Sir Henry Compton. Kidbrooke, or Kidwoke House, was built by Mylne, and is the property of Lord Colchester. The town is fast improving and increasing in size. There is excellent hotel accommodation, and several good inns in the town. A corn market is held at the Crown Inn every Thursday, and a cattle market on the second Thursday in each month. The cattle fairs are on April 21st and December 11th. The church of St. Swithin was rebuilt at the close of the last century: it is a stone building, with square tower and 8 bells: the roof is square over the nave, and five lofty arches divide the latter from the side aisles: there is a gallery at the west end, and an organ. Against the east wall is a brass inscription to the memory of Dame Elizabeth Grey and her two husbands; and on the floor, in front of the chancel, are three small brasses: the family of the Earl of Abergavenny are buried here, the late Earl having possessed Kidbrooke, which was subsequently sold to the first Lord Colchester. The joint owners of the great tithes are the Countess De La Warr (Baroness Buckhurst), and Robert Crawford Esq., the chancel of the church belonging to the latter gentleman. The living is a vicarage, yearly value £320, with residence, in the gift of the Countess De La Warr (Baroness Buckhurst), and held by the Rev. John Peat, M.A., of St Peter’s College, Cambridge. There is a Free Grammar school, founded and endowed by Robert Payne, Esq., in the year 1708; also National schools, a handsome pile of buildings north-east of the town; the funds were raised by voluntary subscriptions, the site was given by the Amherst and De La Warr families, and the stone by the late Mrs. Cranston; they were opened in January, 1861, and can accommodate 250 boys and girls. A new infant school has been added, and is well attended. Sackville College was founded by Robert, Earl of Dorset, in the year 1608, for twenty-one poor men and ten poor women, all of whom are to be unmarried. The present patrons are the Earl and Countess De La Warr, the latter being a descendant of Robert, Earl of Dorset, the founder. In consequence of a loss of property sustained by the college some years ago, the number of brothers and sisters has been reduced. Here are places of worship for Lady Huntingdon’s Connexion and Independents. Earl Gage, Lord Amherst, Earl De La Warr, A. G. Biddulph, A. F. Meyrick, and William Pearless, Esqrs., are lords of the several manors. The Lewes Old Bank has a branch here, also the East Grinstead Bank. A penny savings bank was established in this town in 1851, which has worked very beneficially. A Literary and Scientific Institution was established here in 1853 and destroyed by fire in 1858. In 1862 a Literary Association was formed, consisting of 124 members. A branch line of rail was opened in July, 1855, from the Three Bridges station to East Grinstead, and a new line of railway has lately been completed from East Grinstead to Groombridge, where it joins the Tunbridge Wells and Uckfield line. A dispensary was founded in 1858 for the benefit of the poor, supported by voluntary contributions. A Cottage Hospital, having accommodation for six patients, was established in 1863 by Dr. Henry Rogers. The St. Margaret’s Home and Orphanage establishment was opened in 1855; upon application the sisterhood visit and attend the sick, and perform other works of charity; it has also an orphanage and a middle school, the latter on the Common. A Union House was erected in 1859, and can accommodate 260 persons. The union comprises the following seven parishes, which are divided into two districts, namely:- East Grinstead, Hartfield, and Withyham, the first district; Crawley, Lingfield, West Hoathley, and Worth, the second district. The population of the union was 14,086 in 1861. The petty sessional division embraces East Grinstead, Hartfield, West Hoathley, Withyham, and Worth; and the county court jurisdiction extends to the following parishes: East Grinstead, Hartfield, Withyham, West Hoathley, Worth, Cowden, Lingfield, Horne (part of), Burstow (part of), Tandridge (part of), Godstone (part of), and Crowhurst: the latter six named places are in the county of Surrey. The soil in this locality is various, partly light in the vicinity of the town, and clayey in the more remote parts of the parish, contiguous to the forest or common land, which forms a great portion of this parish: great advantages are derived from this latter section by the lower class, who are privileged to feed small stock, and cut turf for fuel. Here are two small breweries, and brick and tile making is carried on. The area is 15,071 acres, and the population in 1861 was, with Forest Row, 4,266.

Parish Clerk, John Payne.