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MANOR East Grinstead [21 miles]
Saint Hill Road East Grinstead West Sussex RH19 4JY
Saint Hill Manor is one of the finest Sussex sandstone buildings in existence, It was built in 1792 by Gibbs Crawfurd. A subsequent owner, Dr Edgar March Crookshank, greatly expanded Saint Hill by adding extra wings on to the manor. Other owners of this fine building included Mrs Drexel Biddle, the American Ambassadors wife, who commissioned the delightful hundred foot Monkey Mural, painted by Sir Winston Churchills nephew. During the Second World War, Mrs. Norman Laski generously accommodated Royal Air Force officers, patients of Sir Archibald McIndoe, the pioneer of plastic surgery at East Grinsteads Queen Victoria Hospital. In 1959, the final owner, acclaimed author and founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, bought the manor from the Maharajah of Jaipur. Under the direction of Mr Hubbard, original marble panelling was expertly preserved and restored.
Records of Saint Hill Manor date from 1567 when Stephen Bord of Cuckfield left in his will one cottage and 12 acres of pasture held by Thomas Nicholas of his Manor of Saynt Hill, by rent of 4d, worth £5 a year. In 1733, John Crawfurd of Ayreshire came into possession of Saint Hill and, by successive purchases, he formed the Saint Hill estate. John's son, Gibbs, rebuilt Saint Hill Manor in 1792 into a grand country manor as it stands today.
The sandstone for the building was quarried by hand from nearby West Hoathly. The Crawfurds took an active part in the life of East Grinstead which has become part of the heritage of all owners of Saint Hill. Robert Crawfurd, grandson of Gibbs, was instrumental in having the first railway to East Grinstead built in 1845. From 1889 to 1945 Saint Hill was owned by the Crookshank family. They built a school and a chapel at the nearby Saint Hill Green, which at the time was part of the estate. John Spencer Churchill spent three months sketching monkeys at London Zoo and three months painting. There are 145 monkeys and 20 different species: "Much as I tried to prevent it happening, the monkeys resemble human beings", he wrote in his autobiography The Crowded Canvas. A capuchin monkey painting under a tree portrays his uncle Sir Winston. The Winter Garden, added by the Crookshanks, was later transformed into an elegant dining room. Standing out on a lawn near a 250 year old towering cedar tree or walking through a pleasure garden, "It's so calm you could pack boxes of serenity out of it", wrote Mr. Hubbard.
Although best known as an author, L. Ron Hubbard also gained international acclaim for his horticultural research. Garden News wrote in August, 1959: "Mr Hubbard's current experiments are 25 years ahead of today's methods and ideas". Saint Hill Manor is situated in 59 acres of landscaped gardens, woodlands and lakes, and open to the public daily, all year round.
Open all year - Daily tours (2pm -5pm on the hour)
Contact: Liz Nyegaard
Saint Hill Castle
Contact: Tatiana Keenan
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