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Of course, our Living in East Grinstead guide wouldn’t be complete without giving you all the information about what it’s like living in the town – from its abundance of recreational activities, to its rich history, culture and community groups!
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What Is Life Like In East Grinstead?
East Grinstead is a historic town in West Sussex and lies close to the borders of East Sussex, Surrey and Kent. The town is surrounded by Crawley and Horley to the west, Tunbridge Wells to the east and East Grinstead and Reigate to the northwest.
The picturesque High Street is the heart of the town and is lined with 14th century timber buildings – believed to be one of the longest runs of these beautiful building types in England! As well as shopping at many of the independent stores and boutiques on the High Street, there’s also restaurants and cafes dotted around the town.
East Grinstead has a population of 24,000 and retains a friendly community feel, with a many of local groups and services on offer. There’s even a regular Farmers Market every first and third Thursday of the month, selling fresh produce.
History Of East Grinstead
With a name translating to “green place,” East Grinstead started as a Saxon village. By 1086 (and the time of the Domesday Book), it was a large village and then it became a town in the 13th Century. A charter was granted to the town in 1247, allowing the town’s people to hold weekly markets and even an annual fair. The town’s income was boosted during this time, as being located on the main road between London to Lewes (the county town of Sussex), meant many people on this long journey, stayed overnight in East Grinstead.
This continued well into the 18th century, when the town became a “stagecoach town”, when inns provided accommodation for people en-route from London to the growing seaside resort of Brighton.
The population grew rapidly during the 19th Century, from just 2,700 in 1801 to 6,000 at the end of the century. During this time the railway was built, connecting East Grinstead to London.
During the Second World War, the town’s cinema was bombed killing 108 people – the largest loss of life of any air raid in Sussex.
From 1945, more homes were built in East Grinstead, along with industrial estates and an inner relief road in 1978.
Days Out In East Grinstead
There are plenty of options for days out in East Grinstead! The town may be picturesque and pretty, but that doesn’t mean there’s not lots to do – quite the opposite in fact.
With so much history at the heart of the ancient town, many days out include looking back at East Grinstead’s past. Take a trip to Standen, a National Trust property on the outskirts. The country house holds one of the best collections of arts and crafts movement fabric and furnishings and has gorgeous gardens to explore. Or board the Bluebell Railway, and enjoy a steam train journey through the Sussex countryside. East Grinstead Museum, a custom-built building, in the town centre is well worth a visit to see exhibitions and find out more about the town’s interesting history.
The town also has a busy arts scene. The Chequer Mead Community Arts Centre is the main hub of activity for professional and amateur plays and music. With a new 349 seat theatre, the centre stages performances spanning ballet, opera, folk music, tribute bands and talks. It also homes an art gallery with pop-up exhibitions.
Things To Do In East Grinstead
East Grinstead may have started out as a small market town, but while the Thursday market still attracts local shoppers, the High Street and the town centre have many shops, for all your needs, including Boots, Waitrose and a Post Office, along with independent stores such as the long-standing High Street Bookshop, arts and crafts and gift shops.
The town also has a variety of restaurants, delis and cafes to dine in, to suit all tastes and all budgets.
East Grinstead has impressive sports facilities with the East Grinstead Sports Club and Kings Centre, both located in the town. There are lots of groups such as East Grinstead Hockey Club, East Grinstead Football Club and East Grinstead Athletics Club, for sports-lovers of all levels to join.
As well as sports groups, East Grinstead has many other clubs and societies of all kinds of interests to partake in, from the Women’s Institute to the East Grinstead Lions, the East Grinstead Art Society and Horticultural Society and more, there’s something for everyone!
Schools In East Grinstead
East Grinstead has a number of excellent schools and educational facilities within close proximity.
Primary and first schools include:
- Felbridge Primary School
- Blackwell Primary School
- St Peter’s Catholic Primary School
- Halsford Park Primary School
- Estcots Primary School
- St Mary’s CofE Primary School
- West Hoathly CofE Primary School
- Ashurst Wood Primary School
- The Meads Primary School
Secondary schools include:
- Imberhorne School
- Sackville School
- Woodfield School
Transport In East Grinstead
East Grinstead is well connected and has a range of transport links.
There are regular train services running from East Grinstead to London Victoria in an hour. The station is located in the town centre.
Buses and coaches
Metrobus serves the town with frequent bus routes to Crawley, Gatwick Airport, Lingfield, West Hoathly, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath and Brighton.
East Grinstead’s closest airport is Gatwick international airport, just ten miles away. Other nearby airports include Heathrow, which is just over an hour away and Shoreham, which takes forty-five minutes to drive.
Brighton is about fifty minutes’ drive from East Grinstead via the A23, whilst London is an hour and a half away, via the A22.