January 28, 2022
As the highest point in the High Weald, Crowborough occupies an elevated position in the region. Victoria Roberts reflects on its history and talks to some of the shopkeepers about what makes the East Sussex town such a pleasure to live and work in…
THE ORIGINAL source of wealth for Crowborough was its location in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), located west of Ashdown Forest, which A. A. Milne used as the setting for his Winnie the Pooh stories In the 1920’s.
Traditionally it has been promoted as ‘the Scotland of Sussex’, for its rolling hills and healthy breezes, and even a golf course from 1895.
By the time travel writer EV Lucas came to write his Highways and Byways in Sussex in 1903, there was so much demand for accommodation in the area that the beautiful location was all ‘be-villa’d’ with equivalents Edwardian buildings of new construction, with scaffolding and piles of bricks indicating more new homes to come.
There was also plenty to do for current and future residents, with touring artists advertised all over the town’s billboards and ‘shops that wouldn’t disgrace Croydon’!
This growth saw Crowborough become a civil parish in 1905, and the parish council became a town council in 1988.
Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle moved here in 1907 and lived with his second wife until his death in 1930. The couple’s three children were born and raised in Crowborough.
More recently, the “Fourth Doctor”, Tom Baker, also lived here, followed many years later by actress Cate Blanchett. Atomic Kitten singer and Big Brother personality Kerry Katona also lived here for many years before downsizing during the lockdown.
And with a number of excellent schools including Beacon Academy, Jarvis Brook Primary, Ashdown Primary and Grove Park School, if you have a family there really is no reason you should leave.
Crowborough is not just a bedroom community for commuters.
There is no shortage of supermarkets, banks and services to manage your financial and personal affairs, and a large cluster of independent shops. There are even flexible office and coworking spaces in Pine Grove (Regus/Base Point) and Stone’s Throw.
Sport also figures prominently in the town, with the golf club, two football clubs, a tennis and squash club, a netball club and a rugby club.
A former local rugby player, Matt Weston, has even been selected to compete in the Beijing Winter Olympics this month, in the skeleton bobsleigh event. Good luck, Matt!
Beyond the town’s leisure, shopping and services, it’s the events and traditions that really set Crowborough apart.
The town’s bonfire tradition is a very special event, with a carnival night in September featuring the eerieness of marching masked figures lit by flames. There is also a torchlight memorial service in November and a bonfire caroling service at Christmas.
Like other Sussex bonfire societies, the Crowborough Bonfire and Carnival Society raises money for local charities. The City Council hold separate Summer and Christmas Fairs, while the Chamber of Commerce holds a Summer Fun Day and Crowborough Hospital holds a Bank Holiday Party in August.
Do you still see yourself here? Join us as we chat with some of the local businesses that have planted their beacons on the High Weald…
It works for fitness fans
TOM BURGESS has run the SweatIT gym near downtown for almost six years.
Mr Burgess says Crowborough’s greatest strength is the number of independent businesses in Crowborough, which makes it an ideal town for shopping and trading.
‘For anyone who hasn’t visited Crowborough, we would say come visit us and see other businesses on display,’ he told The Times.
“We’re a bit smaller than other towns, but we still have great independent businesses to offer. »
From humble beginnings in a school hall, SweatIT transformed a wonderfully attractive farmhouse, “the cow barn”, into a facility that housed top-of-the-line equipment and supported many people in their quest for better quality of life.
SweatIT has become a personal training room with the intention of striving for greatness only.
The gym has a proven track record in the area due to the personalized service it can offer customers.
“We offer personal training to residents of Crowborough and Tunbridge Wells in small groups of up to six people,” said Tom Burgess.
“It still allows us to keep things personalized and structured for everyone while adding a social aspect. If you’ve never tried the gym, feel like you’ve failed the gym, or are looking for a little more direction, we’ve got an approach for you.
Drop anchor in scenic locations
THANKS to its location in the High Weald, Crowborough has no shortage of pubs and great places to eat.
Tucked away on the A26 near Ashdown Forest in the High Weald is The Blue Anchor, providing beers, wines and great food to Crowborough residents and those who have been visiting the area for several years .
Manager, Amy Glenie, says it’s the diversity of people who walk through the doors that makes it so great to work in Crowborough.
She told The Times: ‘The pub is full of character and charm for a relaxed or intimate visit or celebration, which is why we see such a diverse range of people, including local families, friends and couples looking for a romantic evening.
“Our team is here to provide a relaxing environment where guests can relax and chat with our friendly, knowledgeable staff who bring a wealth of experience with them.
“A home away from home feeling, our pub is cozy with two crackling fires inside to keep everyone warm in the winter months.”
She added that the pub also benefits from a large secluded garden, equipped with an outdoor kitchen for the warmer months for alfresco dining and a play area to entertain toddlers.
No boarding in containment
PETER Randall originally started Ashdown Gaming to buy and sell used mini gaming figures on online websites such as Ebay.
The Covid lockdown in 2020 gave him the time he needed to set up his own dedicated online store.
He has since moved away from the second-hand market and opened his own online store based in Crowbrough, which has proven a hit with video game fans across the UK.
The online store now lists more than 2000 products.
Explaining his business, Mr Randall told The Times: “We stock a huge range of products from all the big names in the industry like Games Workshop, Star Wars Legion, Marvel Crisis Protocol and Infinity. We also stock a wide range of board games, from quick games to entertain the kids to truly epic games that require a full day.
“If board games aren’t your thing, we also stock Pokemon and Magic the Gathering trading cards, and if you’re more on the painting side, we also print our own miniatures, from designers like Cast ‘n’ Play and TytanTroll.
“We’re all hobby fans so if people have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us, we love getting to know our customers and can often order pieces that we don’t currently have in stock.”
You can find Peter’s game store at ashdowngaming.co.uk
WHERE TO FIND YOUR COPY OF THE TEMPERATURE IN CROWBOROUGH
If you can’t find yours, copies are available from the city center newsagent CV Fieldbuss at 5 London Road.
Come in and ask about their delivery service…