Forest Row

Last updated

Forest Row
Forest Row centre.jpg
The centre of Forest Row
Area32.5 km2 (12.5 sq mi)  [1]
Population4,954 (2011) [1]
  Density 152/km2 (390/sq mi)
OS grid reference TQ427348
  London 29 miles (47 km) NNW
Civil parish
  • Forest Row [2]
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town FOREST ROW
Postcode district RH18
Dialling code 01342
Police Sussex
Fire East Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
List of places
East Sussex

Coordinates: 51°5′53.5″N0°2′0.3″E / 51.098194°N 0.033417°E / 51.098194; 0.033417 Forest Row is a village and relatively large civil parish [3] in the Wealden District of East Sussex, England. The village is located three miles (5 km) south-east of East Grinstead.

Geographic coordinate system Coordinate system

A geographic coordinate system is a coordinate system that enables every location on Earth to be specified by a set of numbers, letters or symbols. The coordinates are often chosen such that one of the numbers represents a vertical position and two or three of the numbers represent a horizontal position; alternatively, a geographic position may be expressed in a combined three-dimensional Cartesian vector. A common choice of coordinates is latitude, longitude and elevation. To specify a location on a plane requires a map projection.

Civil parish Territorial designation and lowest tier of local government in England

In England, a civil parish is a type of administrative parish used for local government, they are a territorial designation which is the lowest tier of local government below districts and counties, or their combined form, the unitary authority. Civil parishes can trace their origin to the ancient system of ecclesiastical parishes which historically played a role in both civil and ecclesiastical administration; civil and religious parishes were formally split into two types in the 19th century and are now entirely separate. The unit was devised and rolled out across England in the 1860s.

Wealden District Non-metropolitan district in England

Wealden is a local government district in East Sussex, England: its name comes from the Weald, the remnant forest which was once unbroken and occupies much of the centre and north of this area. The term is cognate with Wald, forest or wood in German.



The village draws its name from its proximity to the Ashdown Forest, a royal hunting park first enclosed in the 13th century. From its origins as a small hamlet, Forest Row has grown, first with the establishment of a turnpike road in the 18th century; and later with the opening of the railway between East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells in 1866; the line, which included an intermediate station at Forest Row, closed in 1967 as a result of the programme of closures put forward by East Grinstead resident and British Railways Board Chairman Richard Beeching.

Ashdown Forest heathland area in the county of East Sussex

Ashdown Forest is an ancient area of open heathland occupying the highest sandy ridge-top of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is situated some 30 miles (48 km) south of London in the county of Sussex, England. Rising to an elevation of 732 feet (223 m) above sea level, its heights provide expansive vistas across the heavily wooded hills of the Weald to the chalk escarpments of the North Downs and South Downs on the horizon.

Toll road Roadway for which a fee (or toll) is assessed for passage

A toll road, also known as a turnpike or tollway, is a public or private road for which a fee is assessed for passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance.

The Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line was a railway line running from Three Bridges in West Sussex to Tunbridge Wells Central in Kent via East Grinstead in East Sussex, a distance of 20 miles 74 chains (33.7 km). Opened in 1855, the main section of the line was a casualty of the Beeching Axe – the last train ran on 1 January 1967. The remaining section to Tunbridge Wells closed on 6 July 1985, although the section between Groombridge and Tunbridge Wells West was reopened in 1997 under the auspices of the Spa Valley Railway.

The village inn (now known as The Swan, owned by Mountain Range Restaurants which you can see on the right hand side of the picture, originally the Yew Tree), part medieval, was a centre of smuggling in the 18th century. [4]

Smuggling illegal movement of goods or people

Smuggling is the illegal transportation of objects, substances, information or people, such as out of a house or buildings, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of applicable laws or other regulations.

Brambletye House (known locally as Brambletye Castle) was built by Sir Henry Compton in 1631. This building features in the 1826 Horace Smith novel Brambletye House.

Horace Smith (poet) English poet and novelist

HoraceSmith was an English poet and novelist, perhaps best known for his participation in a sonnet-writing competition with Percy Bysshe Shelley. It was of Smith that Shelley said: "Is it not odd that the only truly generous person I ever knew who had money enough to be generous with should be a stockbroker? He writes poetry and pastoral dramas and yet knows how to make money, and does make it, and is still generous."

A mail coach robbery occurred at the bottom of Wall Hill on 27 June 1801. John Beatson and his adopted son William Whalley Beatson hid in a meadow at the foot of Wall Hill, by the entrance to an old Roman road. The mail coach made its way up Wall Hill, where it was stopped by them just after midnight. The Beatsons took between £4,000 and £5,000. Judge Baron Hotham sentenced the two men to death by hanging at the trial on 29 March 1802. Gallows were erected on the spot where the robbery took place, on 17 April 1802. Beatson and his adopted son were hanged in the presence of 3,000 people.[ citation needed ]

Baron Hotham

Baron Hotham, of South Dalton in the County of York, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1797 for the naval commander Admiral William Hotham, with remainder to the heirs male of his father. Hotham was the third son of Sir Beaumont Hotham, 7th Baronet, of Scorborough, and in 1811 he also succeeded his nephew as eleventh Baronet. Lord Hotham never married and on his death in 1813 he was succeeded in both titles by his younger brother Beaumont, the second Baron and twelfth Baronet. He had previously represented Wigan in the House of Commons.

Hanging execution involving suspension of a person by a ligature

Hanging is the suspension of a person by a noose or ligature around the neck. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain "hanging". Hanging has been a common method of capital punishment since medieval times, and is the primary execution method in numerous countries and regions. The first known account of execution by hanging was in Homer's Odyssey. In this specialised meaning of the common word hang, the past and past participle is hanged instead of hung.

Gallows structure for execution by hanging

A gallows is a frame, typically wooden, from which objects can be hung or “weighed”. Gallows were thus widely used for public weighing scales for large objects such as sacks of grain or minerals, usually positioned in markets or toll gates. The term was also used for a framework from which an ship’s anchor might be raised so that it no longer sat on the bottom, i.e., “weighing [the] anchor”. In modern usage it has come to mean almost exclusively a scaffold or gibbet used for execution by hanging.

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, came to Forest Row in June 1963 during his visit to the UK, [5] attending a service at the Our Lady of the Forest church. At the time he was engaged in a series of discussions with the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan at his home in nearby Birch Grove. [5] There is a plaque commemorating the visit on Freshfield Hall.

John F. Kennedy 35th president of the United States

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, often referred to by the initials JFK and Jack, was an American politician who served as the 35th president of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963. Kennedy served at the height of the Cold War, and the majority of his work as president dealt with managing relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba. A Democrat, Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate prior to becoming president.

Harold Macmillan former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, was a British Conservative statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1957 to 1963. Dubbed "Supermac", he was known for his pragmatism, wit and unflappability.

Birch Grove Horsted Keynes, Mid Sussex, West Sussex, RH17

Birch Grove was the family mansion of former British prime minister Harold Macmillan, Earl of Stockton, who died there in 1986. It is on the edge of Ashdown Forest near Chelwood Gate in East Sussex, England. The house is now owned by James Hay.

Forest Row became a Transition village in 2007 with the official unleashing in March 2008 at the Village Hall.


An electoral ward in the same name exists. The population of this ward taken at the 2011 Census was 5,278. [6]


The civil parish of Forest Row is in the north-west corner of East Sussex, and borders West Sussex, Kent and Surrey. Ashdown Forest surrounds the village on three sides, and the upper reaches of the River Medway flow through the parish. The centre of the village lies at the intersection of the A22 road, the erstwhile turnpike, and the B2110 to Hartfield and Tunbridge Wells and there is a wide range of shops and businesses to serve the surrounding area.

Weir Wood Reservoir is a Site of Special Scientific Interest within the parish. It is also one of the largest areas of open water in the county and hosts a wide variety of resident and migrating birds. [7]

The hotels in the village are The Brambletye Hotel, The Chequers and The Foresters Arms. In the 2006 radiation scare surrounding KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko the Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club were closed for 6 hours and the nearby Roebuck hotel was used as an evacuation point for arriving guests. [8] Italian security expert Mario Scaramella may have stayed there but tests showed no evidence of "radiation toxicity".

The village architecture is a mixture of traditional and modern. As well as many older cottages in the classic Sussex style there is a variety of more modern development, which generally blends in well. Gage Ridge and Michael Fields, with their copper-roofed houses are examples of the latter.

In addition to the businesses in the village centre, there is also an industrial estate.


The Church of England eccesiastical parish combines two churches: Holy Trinity, Forest Row, and St Dunstan's Ashurst Wood. [9] There are also other denominational churches: The Christian Community Forest Row; [10] Our Lady of the Forest (Roman Catholic); a Baptist chapel; Providence church; and the cemetery chapel.


State education is provided at Forest Row CE Primary School. [11] Greenfields School, which caters for children of all ages, is an independent school in the village which gives its students the opportunity to follow the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, amongst other things. Institutions associated with the Anthroposophical movement of Rudolf Steiner are located in or near the village, notably Michael Hall, a Steiner Waldorf School offering education to children from kindergarten up to age 18 [12] and Emerson College. [13]

Leisure and culture

Literary connections

Notable people

There have been several notable residents of Forest Row in the recent past and present. These include Owen Barfield, the writer and philosopher, Ben Elton, the comedian and novelist, David Gilmour from the band Pink Floyd, Violet Needham, author, Richard Jones, bass player and background singer in the Feeling, Jonael Schickler, a Swiss Philosopher and Sean Yates, professional cyclist. The singer Engelbert Humperdinck had a holiday cottage in the village during the 1980s. Actor Ed Sanders is from Forest Row. [22] American-born DJ and producer Secondcity (real name Rowan Harrington) lived in Forest Row having moved there when he was 12. Noted amateur golfer and writer Horace Hutchinson called Forest Row his home in the late 1920s and early 1930s, before his death in 1932. John Milner Bailey, a diamond magnate and the Second Baronet Bailey of Cradock, South Africa, was born here in June 1900. His first wife was Diana Churchill (1909-1963) the first child of Winston and Clementine Churchill, they were divorced in 1935

Related Research Articles


  1. 1 2 "Population and Households profile for Forest Row (parish)". East Sussex in Figures. East Sussex County Council. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  3. Forest Row Parish Council website
  4. Village Centre Walk
  5. 1 2 Scott, Brad. "The JFK Memoral". Forest Row Village Hall. p. 1. Archived from the original on 27 August 2008. Retrieved 28 June 2009.
  6. "Ward population 2011" . Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  7. "Natural England - SSSI". English Nature. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  8. BBC News Hotel in radiation alert reopens
  9. Forest Row and Ashurst Wood parish churches
  10. The Christian Community Forest Row
  11. Forest Row CE Primary School
  12. Michael Hall School
  13. Emerson College
  14. "Forest Row Village Hall History". Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  15. "Forest Way Country Park". East Sussex County Council. 17 December 2007. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  16. Forest Players Archived 12 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  17. Ashdown Pantomimers Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  18. Jupiter Chamber Orchestra Archived 10 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  19. Forest Row Junior Football Club
  20. Forest Row One Planker Club
  21. The Scapegoat Society
  22. Thompson, Jessica (24 January 2008). "Big Screen Start Back At School". East Grinstead Courier. Retrieved 31 January 2008.[ dead link ]