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Crowborough Cross - - 456437.jpg
Crowborough Cross, 2007
Crowborough is located in East Sussex
 Crowborough shown within East Sussex
Area  13.6 km2 (5.3 sq mi) [1]
Population 20,607 (2011)[1]
   – density  3,812/sq mi (1,472/km2)
OS grid reference TQ518312
   – London  33 miles (53 km) NNW 
District Wealden
Shire county East Sussex
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district TN6
Dialling code 01892
Police Sussex
Fire East Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Wealden
Website Crowborough Town Council
List of places
East Sussex

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Crowborough is a town in the Wealden district of East Sussex, England. It is situated on the Weald and at the edge of Ashdown Forest, in the High Weald Area of Outstanding National Beauty 7 miles (11 km) south-west of Royal Tunbridge Wells and 35 miles (56 km) south of London. It has road and rail links and is served by a town council. It is the largest inland town (by population) in East Sussex.


Various derivations for the town's name have been put forward.[2] Early local documents give the names Crohbergh, Crowbergh, Croweborowghe, Crowbarrow and Crowboro. Croh (Old English: saffron or golden-yellow colour) and berg means hill. Gorse, growing in profusion in the Crowborough Beacon area, and its yellow flowers might well have contributed to the meaning.

In 1734, Sir Henry Fermor, a local benefactor, bequeathed money for a church and charity school for the benefit of the "very ignorant and heathenish people" that lived in the part of Rotherfield "in or near a place called Crowborough and Ashdown Forest".[3] The church, dedicated to All Saints, and primary school still survive today.

The railway arrived in 1868, leading to significant growth of the town. By 1880, the town had grown so much that the ecclesiastical parish of All Saints was separated from that of St Denys, Rotherfield.[4]

In the late 19th century Crowborough was promoted as a health resort based on its high elevation, the rolling hills and surrounding forest. Estate Agents even called it Scotland in Sussex. The town's golf course opened in 1895, followed by a fire station and hospital in 1900.[4]

From 1942 to 1982, a site near Crowborough hosted notable radio transmitters including the Aspidistra transmitter during WWII and, after the war, the BBC External Service broadcasts to Europe transmitters.


Crowborough became an ecclesiastical parish in 1880: previously it had been part of Rotherfield. A civil parish was established on 6 April 1905; the parish council was renamed as a Town Council on 24 May 1988.[5]

Until 2012, Crowborough shared the headquarters of Wealden District Council with Hailsham, 14 miles (22 km) to the south. The Council moved all of their operations to Hailsham in 2012[6] although East Sussex County Council still operates a library service from the Pine Grove building. In July 2014, the Crowborough Community Association put in a bid to buy Pine Grove to retain the library and develop the rest of the building as an "enterprise hub".[7]


Highest point
Elevation 242 m (794 ft)
Prominence c. 159 m
Parent peak Leith Hill
Listing Marilyn
Location High Weald, England
OS grid TQ510305
Topo map OS Landranger 188

Crowborough is located in the northern part of East Sussex, around 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the county border with Kent. The town is 57 kilometres (35 mi) south of central London. The nearest major towns are Tunbridge Wells, 11.5 kilometres (7.1 mi) to the north-east; Brighton, 35 kilometres (22 mi) to the south-west; and Crawley, 26.5 kilometres (16.5 mi) to the west. The county town of Lewes is 24 kilometres (15 mi) to the south-west.

The town is located on the eastern edge of the Ashdown Forest, an ancient area of open heathland which is protected for its ecological importance and was also the setting for A. A. Milne's stories about Winnie-the-Pooh.

The highest point in the town is 242 metres above sea level. This summit is the highest point of the High Weald and second highest point in East Sussex (the highest is Ditchling Beacon). Its relative height is 159 m, meaning Crowborough qualifies as one of England's Marilyns. The summit is not marked on the ground.

The town has grown from a series of previously separate villages and hamlets including Jarvis Brook, Poundfield, Whitehill, Stone Cross and Alderbrook, Sweet Haws and Steel Cross.[4]


The main road through Crowborough is the A26, which runs through the centre of the town. From Crowborough, the A26 runs north to Mereworth via Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. To the south, it runs to Newhaven, via Uckfield and Lewes.

Two 'B roads' run through the town. The B2100 starts at the junction with the A26 (Crowborough Cross) and runs east to Lamberhurst via Jarvis Brook, Rotherfield, Mark Cross and Wadhurst. The B2157 Green Lane provides a short link between Steel Cross and Crowborough Hill, within the town.

Crowborough railway station is located in Jarvis Brook at the bottom of Crowborough Hill. Trains run on the Oxted line which is operated by Southern, providing a direct link with London Bridge, East Croydon, Edenbridge and Uckfield. The journey time to London Bridge is approximately one hour.

A regular, frequent bus service passes through the town, linking it with Brighton and Tunbridge Wells.


Crowborough is served by one secondary school: Beacon Academy; and by seven primary schools:

  • Whitehill Infant School
  • Herne Junior School
  • High Hurstwood CE (controlled) School
  • Jarvis Brook County Primary School
  • St Johns CE (aided) School
  • St Mary’s RC School
  • Sir Henry Fermor (aided) CE School
  • Grove Park Special School

There are also two independent preparatory schools.


Crowborough Hospital is a small cottage hospital with a midwife-led maternity unit. It has been threatened with closure numerous times but services are still offered in part due to a strong local campaign.[8] Non-maternity services are provided at hospitals in Pembury and Haywards Heath.

Sport and leisure

Sports teams and associations

The town's main football club is Crowborough Athletic F.C., who are based at the Crowborough Community Stadium and currently play in Sussex County League Division One.[9] Jarvis Brook F.C., founded in 1888, run four senior sides, the highest of which plays in the Mid Sussex Football League Premier Division.

Crowborough Rugby Football Club won promotion from the Sussex leagues in 2006 and now plays in the London South 2 division.[10]

Crowborough Tennis and Squash Club has nine outdoor all-weather tennis courts and four squash courts, as well as offering racketball and other sporting activities. The club competes in Sussex County leagues in both tennis and squash. The Club is open to the public for Pay and Play tennis, squash and racketball. There are also a host of social events from quizzes to live music.

Crowborough Netball is a coaching club formed, with help from Crowborough Town Council, in 2013. The club coaches children and adults from those new to the game to league players at Crowborough Leisure Centre, Beacon Academy's Green Lane Gym, and Goldsmiths outdoor court. The club arranges friendly, fun matches and competitions for all ages.[11]

Crowborough hockey club has four male and two female teams, playing their home matches at Beacon Community College. Established 50 years ago they play their fixtures throughout the county in the Sussex league.

The town also has its own fishing association. It owns two lakes in the town with waters in nearby Eridge and Marsfield as well as lakes around Sussex. There is a thriving senior section but they also boast a successful junior programme, fishing every other Saturday from June until the climax of the season with a joint junior and adult match on the first Saturday in October.


Crowborough has several recreation grounds, perhaps most notably Goldsmiths, which is the site of the local leisure centre. The Goldsmiths Recreation Ground was given to the parish by private owners in 1937. The town council has since purchased additional land and has developed the ground into a much needed recreation centre for the whole community. The ground houses a sports centre including a swimming pool, a boating lake and a miniature railway.[12]

Crowborough Common is an ancient common covering over 220 acres to which the public was granted a legal right of access "for the taking of air and exercise" in 1936.[13] The common is owned by Crowborough Beacon Golf Club and several private owners. Most of the common is heathland and woodland, with less than half of the total area comprising golf links. In 2012 the golf club was refused permission to build a new car park in woodland on the common by Wealden District Council after a campaign involving local residents and organisations including the Open Spaces Society.[14][15][16]

Crowborough Country Park is a 16-acre nature reserve located in the southern part of Crowborough. The park started life as a clay quarry serving the Crowborough Brickworks that closed in 1980. Evidence of its industrial past can still be seen by the interesting topography on the site. The site of the brickworks was developed into Farningham Road industrial estate and housing in the area of Osborne Road. For nearly 30 years the quarry was left to natural regeneration and local people used it for informal play, with stories of swimming in the ponds and losing Wellington boots in the wet areas of the site. In 2008 Crowborough Town Council acquired the site with the intention of developing it for use by the Public for informal recreation and also to enhance the site's biodiversity. In 2008 work began in the Country Park with a stone track and bridges installed. The site was declared a Local Nature Reserve in 2009 ensuring the future management of the site for the benefit of the wildlife and for people to enjoy quiet recreation.

The Crowborough Players, established in 1933, are the resident community drama group at the 300-seater hall at Crowborough Community Centre (opened in June 2012). After resting between 2009 and 2011, the group was relaunched in 2012 and has 100+ members [May 2014]. The Players put on the town's first community pantomime, "Cinderella" in December 2012, following with "Dick Whittington" in December 2013 (50 actors, 28 dancers and 126 people involved in the production). 2014's panto is scheduled for December 2014.[17]

Crowborough Scout Group, the third largest in the UK,[18] is actively involved with the Crowborough community.

Notable people

File:Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Cloke's Corner - - 316397.jpg
The statue of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at Crowborough Cross

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930), the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories, lived at Windlesham Manor in Crowborough for the last 23 years of his life. He moved to Crowborough from Surrey in 1907 when he married his second wife, whose family lived next door at Little Windlesham.[19] Windlesham Manor is now a retirement home.[19] Conan Doyle was buried in the grounds of the manor, although he was later interred with his wife in the New Forest.[20][21] His statue stands at Crowborough Cross, in the town centre.[22] An annual Sherlock Holmes festival was held in Crowborough in the mid-1990s, reportedly attracting 25,000 visitors.[19] Conan Doyle is commemorated in the town through street names such as Watson Way and Sherlock Shaw as well as the Cafe Baskerville on the Broadway.

Other notable people from Crowborough include:

Popular culture

The town also serves as territorial designation in the title of the Duke of Crowborough (portrayed by Charlie Cox) in the premier episode of the show Downton Abbey.[29] Cox grew up in the vicinity of the town.[30]

Local traditions

A main event in the town's calendar is its celebration of Guy Fawkes Night, held annually on 5 November. An average of five thousand people descend upon Goldsmiths Recreation Ground for this town council event. Donations on the night are traditionally collected by the local Lions Club and now also the Rotary Club, and donated to the mayor's charity.

However this is overshadowed by Carnival night, which sees the whole of the town taking to the streets on the second Saturday in September, run by the town's Bonfire and Carnival Society. It involves a fête on the town green during the day, followed by a torchlight parade led by the carnival princess in the evening, with various Sussex bonfire societies joining the march round the streets, culminating in a bonfire on Crowborough Green or at Goldsmiths Recreation Ground. Street collections are received on the night and are given to around six different local charities a year. On average the society manages to raise approximately £2,000 - £3,000 per year. This tradition dates back around 70 years, celebrating the discovery of the gunpowder plot and is part of the buildup to the Lewes Bonfire Celebrations on November the 5th. The town council also puts on a summer fair and a Christmas fair, for which the dates are agreed annually. A summer funday is organised by the Crowborough Chamber of Commerce and Crowborough Hospital has a fête every August Bank Holiday.

There is a monthly Farmers' Market on Saturdays and an annual French Market in the summer.

According to local legend, Jarvis Brook Road is haunted by a bag of soot. The spectral bag pursues people walking along the road by night.[31]

Twin towns

The town is twinned with:

On 22 April 1990, Crowborough and Horwich became the first towns in England to be twinned with other English towns.[32]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "East Sussex in Figures". East Sussex County Council. Retrieved 26 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. A newspaper article of 1933 suggested that, since iron smelting was carried on here,[citation needed] it was derived from the Irish for iron, which is croe.
  3. "Historical Notes about Crowborough". Archived from the original on 26 February 2012. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Crowborough - Official Guide. Spotlight Publications / Crowborough Parish Council. 1973. p. 15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex
  6. "Office moves for Wealden District Council". Sussex Express. 23 May 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Crowborough group bids for Council HQ". Sussex Express. 19 July 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Hallett, Richard (8 July 2003). Mavis Kirkham (ed.). The Crowborough birthing centre story. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 53–60. ISBN 978-0-7506-5497-5. Retrieved 25 September 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  10. "Crowborough Rugby Football Club website". Retrieved 8 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  12. "Crowborough Town Council official guide". Retrieved 8 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Law of Property Act 1925 (section 193) (1) (b)" (PDF). Crowborough Beacon Golf Club. Retrieved 14 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Group opposes Crowborough golf club car park plans". BBC News. 14 May 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Crowborough Beacon Golf club in bunker over car park plan". this is Sussex. 8 June 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Wealden woodland saved from private car-park plans". Open Spaces Society. 1 June 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  18. "Crowborough Scout Group website". Retrieved 8 October 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  22. Peter Costello (25 October 2012). Conan Doyle, Detective. Constable & Robinson Ltd. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-4721-0365-9. Retrieved 15 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Obituary Notices of Fellows deceased: Isaac Roberts. 1929-1904". Retrieved 17 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 75: 356, 362. 1904-1905.
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  25. Jason, David (2014). My Life. Arrow.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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External links