Copthorne, West Sussex

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Copthorne village - main road. - - 75507.jpg
The main road through Copthorne
Copthorne is located in West Sussex
Location within West Sussex
PopulationApprox. 5,000[1]
OS grid referenceTQ317394
Civil parish
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townCrawley
Postcode districtRH10
Dialling code01342
FireWest Sussex
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
EU ParliamentSouth East England
UK Parliament
List of places
West Sussex
51°08′21″N 0°07′05″W / 51.1391°N 0.1181°W / 51.1391; -0.1181Coordinates: 51°08′21″N 0°07′05″W / 51.1391°N 0.1181°W / 51.1391; -0.1181

Copthorne is a village in the Mid Sussex district of West Sussex, England. It lies close to Gatwick Airport, 25.5 miles (41 km) south of London, 21.5 miles (35 km) north of Brighton, and 36 miles (58 km) northeast of the county town of Chichester. Nearby towns include Crawley to the southwest and East Grinstead to the east. It is the most northerly ecclesiastical parish in the Diocese of Chichester in the Church of England, and together with Crawley Down makes up the civil parish of Worth.[2]


The modern name Copthorne may have come from 'Copedorne' as mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book.[citation needed] This is believed to have stemmed from copped or coppiced thorn, meaning a cut thorn tree.[citation needed]


Lying on the borders between the counties West Sussex and Surrey, has contributed to Copthorne's history. There are stories of smugglers from the south coast stashing their goods in the woods around the village, conscious that it was easy to step across the county boundary, and escape any pursuing constabulary.[1] Evidence of smugglers tunnels and stash holes have also been found under properties near the church and the now closed The Hunters Moon Inn on Copthorne Bank.

Similarly, a number of significant boxing prize fights took place in Copthorne Common in the early 19th century. A significant one was the English championship in 1810, between Tom Cribb of Bristol[citation needed] and Tom Molineaux from Virginia, United States.

A Copthorner is traditionally known as a Yellowbelly, and there are a number of stories told as to why this might be.[3] Some talk of villagers wearing their gold strapped around their bellies, but the most likely reason is probably tied to the traditional local trade of charcoal burning, where some of those working stripped to the waist found their skin turned yellow with the smoke. Another possibility has it that the smugglers had to crawl through the mud to avoid detection and thus acquiring muddy yellow bellies.[4]

As part of a village Millennium project, a history of the village Copthorne – The Story So Far was published by the community in 1999/2000.[4]

St. John the Evangelist church[edit]

This church is located next to the Copthorne Church of England School in the west of the village.


  1. ^ a b "Mid Sussex District Council article on Copthorne". Mid Sussex District Council. 2007. Archived from the original (Website) on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2007.
  2. ^ "The Diocese of Chichester: St John the Evangelist, Copthorne" (Website). The Diocese of Chichester. Retrieved 14 October 2007.[dead link]
  3. ^ "BBC Southern Counties: Glossary of local terms" (Website). BBC. 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2007.
  4. ^ a b "History of Copthorne village". Copthorne village website. 2007. Archived from the original (Website) on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2007.

External links[edit]