Coordinates: 51°04′N 0°10′E / 51.06°N 0.16°E / 51.06; 0.16
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Crowborough Cross, 2007
Crowborough is located in East Sussex
Location within East Sussex
Area13.6 km2 (5.3 sq mi) [1]
• Density3,812/sq mi (1,472/km2)
OS grid referenceTQ518312
• London33 miles (53 km) NNW
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtTN6
Dialling code01892
FireEast Sussex
AmbulanceSouth East Coast
UK Parliament
WebsiteCrowborough Town Council
List of places
East Sussex
51°04′N 0°10′E / 51.06°N 0.16°E / 51.06; 0.16

Crowborough is a town and civil parish in East Sussex, England, in the Weald at the edge of Ashdown Forest in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 7 miles (11 km) south-west of Royal Tunbridge Wells and 33 miles (53 km) south of London. It had a population 20,607 at the 2011 Census.[2]


All Saints' Church

Various derivations for the town's name have been put forward.[3] Early local documents give the names Crohbergh, Crowbergh, Croweborowghe, Crowbarrow and Crowboro. Croh in Old English meant saffron or golden-yellow colour, and berg meant hill. Gorse grows 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".[4] 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.[5]

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.[5]

From 1942 to 1982, a site near Crowborough hosted notable radio transmitters, including the Aspidistra transmitter during World War II and, after the war, the BBC External Service broadcasts to Europe transmitters.[6]


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.[7]

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[8] 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".[9]


Highest point
Elevation242 m (794 ft)
Prominencec. 159 m
Parent peakLeith Hill
LocationHigh Weald, England
OS gridTQ510305
Topo mapOS Landranger 188

Crowborough is located in the northern part of East Sussex, around 6 kilometres (4 mi) from the county border with Kent. The town is 57 kilometres (35 mi) south of central London. The nearest major towns are Royal Tunbridge Wells, 12 kilometres (7 mi) to the north-east; Brighton, 34 kilometres (21 mi) to the south-west; and Crawley, 26 kilometres (16 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 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.[5]


The main road in Crowborough is the A26. From Crowborough, the A26 runs north-east 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 is 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 has one secondary school, Beacon Academy, and seven primary schools:

  • Ashdown Primary School, formed from the merging of Whitehill Infant School and Herne Junior School in September 2015.[10]
  • High Hurstwood Church of England (controlled) School
  • Jarvis Brook County Primary School
  • St Johns Church of England (aided) School
  • St Mary's Roman Catholic School
  • Sir Henry Fermor Church of England School
  • Grove Park School

In addition there are two independent preparatory schools.[citation needed]


The local paper is the Kent and Sussex Courier published in Tunbridge Wells. Owned by the regional newspaper publisher Local World, there are six editions of the paper including a Sussex edition.[11] Local television news programmes are BBC South East Today and ITV Meridian. In 2014 a local news website (Hyperlocal) called was established by Stephan Butler.[12] Local radio stations are BBC Radio Sussex on 104.5 FM, Heart South on 102.4 FM and Ashdown Radio on 94.7 FM.


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.[13] Non-maternity services are provided at hospitals in Pembury and Haywards Heath.

Sport and leisure[edit]

Sports teams and associations[edit]

The town's football clubs comprise Crowborough Athletic F.C., who are based at the Crowborough Community Stadium and currently play in The Southern Counties East Premier[14] and Jarvis Brook F.C., founded in 1888, run four senior sides, the highest of which plays in the Southern Combination Division 2.

Crowborough Rugby Football Club won promotion from the Sussex leagues in 2006 and now plays in the London South 2 division.[15]

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.[16]

Crowborough is host to a detachment of the Army Cadet Force, a national organisation sponsored by the MoD for youths aged between 12 and 18.[17] 1st Crowborough Scout Group comprises 1 Squirrels, 3 Beavers, 3 Cubs and 3 Scouts sections.[18]


Crowborough has several recreation grounds, including Goldsmiths Recreation Ground, which 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 recreation centre. There are a sports centre with swimming pool; a boating lake; and a miniature railway.[19]

Crowborough Common is an ancient common covering over 220 acres, or about 90 hectares, to which the public was granted a legal right of access "for the taking of air and exercise" in 1936.[20] The common is owned by Crowborough Beacon Golf Club. Most of the common is heathland and woodland. In 2012 Wealden District Council refused permission for the golf club to build a new car park in woodland on the common after a campaign involving local residents and organisations including the Open Spaces Society.[21][22][23] On 1 February 2013 the Club served notice to DEFRA to revoke the Section 193 agreement which governed the public's right of access on the Common. On 7 February 2013 DEFRA confirmed the revocation of the rights.[24] Due to Health and Safety reasons, not least of which is the outcome of a court case known as the 'Nidry Castle' case[25] members of the public are requested to keep to official public footpaths and bridleways to mitigate the possible incidence of accident and injury. The club however are in consultation with Wealden District Council and other interested parties to endeavor to relocate some footpaths to make it safer for members of the public who use such footpaths. In addition, to give better access to the common for members of the public, the club are looking at ways of introducing some permissive pathways to give access to areas not served by public footpaths.[26] The club, with the assistance of Natural England, have embarked upon a 10-year programme to restore as much of the common as possible to heathland so this endangered environment will be preserved for future generations.[27][28] Adjacent to the fourth fairway is a memorial to nine Canadian soldiers of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment who were killed by a flying bomb on 5 July 1944.[29]

Crowborough Country Park is a 16-acre (6 hectare) nature reserve located in the southern part of Crowborough. The park was previously a clay quarry serving the Crowborough Brickworks which closed in 1980. The topography of the site is evidence of its industrial past. 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 to develop it for informal[clarification needed] 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 which opened in June 2012. [30]

Notable people[edit]

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.[31] Windlesham Manor is now a retirement home.[31]

Sir Arthur was a past Captain of Crowborough Beacon Golf Club in 1910 and Lady Conan Doyle was Ladies Captain in 1911.[citation needed]

Conan Doyle was initially buried vertically in the grounds of the manor, but later interred with his first wife at Minstead in the New Forest.[32][33] His statue stands at Crowborough Cross, in the town centre.[34]

A Sherlock Holmes festival was held in Crowborough for several years running in the mid-1990s, reportedly attracting up to 25,000 visitors.[31]

Conan Doyle is commemorated in the town through street names such as Watson Way and Sherlock Shaw, and Conan Way.

Other notable Crowborough people include:

Popular culture[edit]

The town is the territorial designation in the title of the Duke of Crowborough (portrayed by Charlie Cox) in the first episode of the TV show Downton Abbey.[40] Cox grew up in the vicinity of the town.[41]

The town is also mentioned in series 3 episode 6 of Unforgotten. Series villain Dr Tim Finch (played by Alex Jennings) claims that he had practiced medicine in Crowborough in 1997.[42]

Local traditions[edit]

A main event in the town's calendar is its annual celebration of Guy Fawkes Night on 5 November. An average of 5000 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. This is run by the town's Bonfire and Carnival Society. It involves a fête on Chapel 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. The evening culminates in a bonfire on Chapel Green or sometimes there have been fireworks at Goldsmiths Recreation Ground. Street collections are received on the night and are given to around six different local charities each year. On average the society raises about £2,000–£3,000 per year. This tradition dates back around 70 years and is part of Sussex Bonfire Tradition the largest event of which being the Lewes Bonfire celebrations on 5 November.

The town council also puts on a summer fair and a Christmas fair. A summer fun day is organised by the Crowborough Chamber of Commerce, and Crowborough Hospital has a fête every August Bank Holiday.

There is a farmers' market on the fourth Saturday of the month.[43] and a French Market held as part of the Chamber of Commerce's Fun Day in June.[44] As well as this for the last few years Sussex day has been celebrated on 16 June with a small fete in Chapel Green

According to local legend, Walshes Road is haunted by a bag of soot. The spectral bag pursues people walking along the road by night.[45]

Twin towns[edit]

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.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "East Sussex in Figures". East Sussex County Council. Archived from the original on 28 December 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2008.
  2. ^ "About Crowborough". Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "Historical Notes about Crowborough". Archived from the original on 26 February 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Crowborough - Official Guide. Spotlight Publications / Crowborough Parish Council. 1973. p. 15. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  6. ^ "The Biggest Aspidistra in Crowborough « What's on in Crowborough - For all your local events & information visit Your Crowborough". 5 March 2011. Archived from the original on 5 March 2011. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  7. ^ The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex Archived 27 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Office moves for Wealden District Council". Sussex Express. 23 May 2011. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  9. ^ "Crowborough group bids for Council HQ". Sussex Express. 19 July 2014. Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  10. ^ Butler, Stephan (5 September 2015). "Opening of Ashdown Primary School". CrowboroughLife. Archived from the original on 25 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  11. ^ "ABC Circulation Certificate 2014" (PDF), ABC, 25 February 2015, archived (PDF) from the original on 11 March 2016, retrieved 17 February 2014
  12. ^ "About CrowboroughLife". CrowboroughLife. Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  13. ^ Hallett, Richard (2003). Mavis Kirkham (ed.). The Crowborough birthing centre story. Elsevier Health Sciences. pp. 53–60. ISBN 978-0-7506-5497-5. Archived from the original on 9 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Crowborough Rugby Football Club website". Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  15. ^ "Crowborough Rugby Football Club website". Archived from the original on 11 October 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  16. ^ "Crowborough Netball website". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Sussex Army Cadets". Army Cadets UK. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  18. ^ "1st Crowborough Scouts". Archived from the original on 5 September 2019. Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  19. ^ "Crowborough Town Council official guide". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  20. ^ "Law of Property Act 1925 (section 193) (1) (b)" (PDF). Crowborough Beacon Golf Club. Retrieved 14 April 2013.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Group opposes Crowborough golf club car park plans". BBC News. 14 May 2012. Archived from the original on 17 May 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  22. ^ "Crowborough Beacon Golf club in bunker over car park plan". this is Sussex. 8 June 2012. Archived from the original on 5 May 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  23. ^ "Wealden woodland saved from private car-park plans". Open Spaces Society. 1 June 2012. Archived from the original on 6 July 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
  24. ^ "Official Crowborough Common website". Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  25. ^ "Nidry Castle case". Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Consultation about footpath diversions on Crowborough Common - Crowborough Life". Crowborough Life. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  27. ^ "A brief review of the extent, nature and costs of lowland heathland management in England - ENRR101". Natural England - Access to Evidence. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  28. ^ "Golf Club restore heathland - Crowborough Life". Crowborough Life. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  29. ^ "British Legion present Crowborough Beacon Golf Club with shield for exceptional support and assistance - Crowborough Life". Crowborough Life. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
  30. ^ "The Crowborough Players website". Archived from the original on 27 April 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  31. ^ a b c McGrory, Daniel (5 July 1997). "Conan Doyle 's town detects its fortune". The Times Digital Archive (subscription required). p. 8. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  32. ^ "Deaths". The Times Digital Archive (subscription required). London, England. 9 July 1930. p. 21. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  33. ^ Dudley Edwards, Owen (2004). Doyle, Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan (1859–1930). {{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  34. ^ Peter Costello (2012). Conan Doyle, Detective. Constable & Robinson Ltd. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-4721-0365-9.
  35. ^ "Dirk Bogarde: House and Home". Archived from the original on 24 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017. Dirk Bogarde: House and Home
  36. ^ Wilde, Arthur (June 2010). Richard Jefferies - A Tribute. Read Books. pp. 137–139. ISBN 978-1-4455-0696-8.
  37. ^ Obituary Notices of Fellows deceased: Isaac Roberts. 1929-1904. Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2013. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 75: 356, 362. 1904-1905.
  38. ^ "Team GB announce Olympic Skeleton team - BBSA".
  39. ^ Macintyre, Ben (2015). A Spy Among Friends. London: Bloomsbury. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-4088-5178-4.
  40. ^ "Charlie Cox: I get recognised more from Downton Abbey than Boardwalk Empire". Metro. 28 November 2012. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  41. ^ "Charlie Cox: Star turn". The Independent. 29 January 2008. Archived from the original on 18 August 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  42. ^[bare URL PDF]
  43. ^ "Local Markets". Wealden District Council. Archived from the original on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  44. ^ "Summer Fun Day 2016". Crowborough & District Chamber of Commerce. Archived from the original on 23 March 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  45. ^ Simpson, Jacqueline (1973). The Folklore of Sussex. B. T. Batsford Ltd London. p. 48. ISBN 0-7134-0240-7.
  46. ^ Crowborough Town Council (2011). "Twinned Towns". Archived from the original on 17 October 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2012.

External links[edit]