Grinsted, East (St. Swithin)

GRINSTED, EAST (St. Swithin), a market-town and parish, the head of a union, and formerly a representative borough, in the hundred of East Grinsted, rape of Pevensey, E. division of Sussex, 19¾ miles (N.) from Lewes, and 30 (S. by E.) from London; containing 3586 inhabitants. This town, which was once of considerable importance, and gave name to the hundred, is pleasantly situated on an eminence, near the northern border of the county, on the road from London to Brighton and Lewes; it is irregularly built, but contains several neat modern houses, is paved, and supplied with water from wells. The market, at which a great quantity of corn is sold, is on Thursday, and there is a market for cattle and live-stock on the last Thursday in every month: large cattle-fairs are held on April 21st and December 11th. The parish comprises 15,073 acres of land, of which 1265 are common or waste; the soil is generally poor, and the scenery open and wild: good building-stone is obtained. An act was passed in 1846 for the formation of a branch, 6¾ miles long, from the London and Brighton railway, to this place. A branch of the river Medway rises at Turner's Hill; and in the parish are several springs, similar to the spa at Tonbridge-Wells. East Grinsted is a borough by prescription, under a bailiff, who is chosen yearly by a jury of burgage-holders, at the court leet for the manor. It returned two mem hers to parliament from the 1st of Edward II. to the 2nd of William IV., when it was disfranchised: the right of election was vested in the holders of 36 burgage tenements belonging to the Germain family, and the bailiff was returning officer. The Lent assizes for the county were formerly held at the place, but were discontinued in 1799. Petty-sessions are held on the fourth Tuesday in the month: the powers of the county debt-court of East Grinsted, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of East Grinsted.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £20, and in the patronage of Earl Amherst; impropriators, Earl Amherst, and R. Crawfurd, Esq.: the great tithes have been commuted for £1300, and the vicarial for £500. The church having been burnt by lightning about 1684, and the greater part of it destroyed by the fall of the tower in 1785, the present handsome and spacious edifice was completed in 1789, in the later English style, with a lofty embattled tower, conspicuous for many miles round; in the interior are several neat monuments, and it is the burial-place of the Neville family. A chapel of ease was erected in 1835, at Forest-Row. There is a place of worship for the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion. A free school was founded in 1708, by Robert Payne, who endowed it with land producing about £44 per annum. Sackville College was founded by Robert, Earl of Dorset, who by will dated February 10th, 1608, directed a college to be built, and endowed it with £330 per annum, for the support of a warden and 30 poor persons; it was completed by his son, about 1616, but, in consequence of various lawsuits, the endowment dwindled to £216 a year, and the number of inmates was reduced to a warden and 12 persons. The building is quadrangular, and substantially erected of stone, on an eminence at the eastern extremity of the town, commanding extensive views. The poor law union of East Grinsted contains a population of 12,619, and comprises seven parishes, six of which are in Sussex, and one in Surrey. Near Forest-Row are the interesting ruins of Brambletye House, the scene of the novel of that title by Horace Smith; and in the immediate vicinity is the site of the old manorhouse of Brambletye. In 1838 a quantity of bones were dug up in the garden of the vicarage-house, supposed to be those of Thomas Dungate and two others, who were burnt here July 18th, 1556.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.