A little bit of Crawley Down history...
Crawley Down means ‘the hill near the pasture where the crows gather.’ As a village it did not exist until late in the 19th century; before that the name referred to a rectangular stretch of uncultivated common land, surrounded by fields and woods. The road from Lingfield to Turners Hill formed the western boundary of the common, with Bowers Place and Sandhill Lane forming the eastern edge.
The settlement of the Crawley Down area, however, goes back a great deal further than the 19th century. Just before the Romans invaded in 43 AD, a small iron smelting furnace was in operation near the bottom of Hophurst Hill. The clearance of the great Wealden forest gathered pace in Saxon times and the densest parts of the Weald remained thinly populated for many centuries. At first it was opened up as summer pasture for the communities nearer the coast.
The first mention that Crawley Down itself receives is in 1274, as a passing reference in connection with the road being blocked nearby. For the next seven hundred years it was merely manorial waste. The Manor of Burleigh Arches was absorbed into the Manor of South Malling Lindfield and after the dissolution of the College in 1545, passed into private ownership.
There were two other manors in the area, though: to the west of the Turners Hill road was the Manor of Ditchling, and to the north and east of Cuttingly Wood (once a hunting park) lay the Manor of Hedgecourt. It is in the records of the latter that evidence appears of the iron furnace that was built, in what is now Furnace Wood, in about 1567.
A few more snippets of information about Crawley Down...
Crawley Down with its population of approximately 4300 is situated in West Sussex half way between Crawley and East Grinstead.
Apart from Crawley and East Grinstead which are both about 5 miles away, within easy reach of Crawley Down are the shopping centres of Croydon, Tunbridge Wells and Brighton. The Bluewater Shopping Centre near Dartford is only 45 minutes drive away.
Crawley Down is ideally situated to visit the National Trust properties of Standen, Sheffield Park, Nymans Gardens and Polesdon Lacy. Just 4 miles South of Crawley Down is Wakehurst Place which is also owned by the National Trust but run and maintained by the Royal Botanical Society along with Kew Gardens. In nearby Crawley there is Tilgate Park and Buchan Park, both very pleasant for a gentle stroll.
Other nearby attractions include the Bluebell Railway, Ashdown Forest famous for Winnie the Pooh and friends. To the North West are Wisley Gardens and Legoland, Chessington and Thorpe Park theme parks.
The reservoirs at Ardingly and Weirwood are both close by. Weirwood has good facilities for sailing and fishing and Ardingly also can offer rowing.
The Worth Way is a seven mile walk along the disused railway line between Three Bridges and East Grinstead which passes through Crawley Down. Most of its length is suitable for horse riding and cycling and it is part of the SUSTRANS national cycle route 21. It is a pleasant country walk especially where it passes the ponds on the eastern approach to Crawley Down.
The nearby stations of East Grinstead and Three Bridges offer good services to London with a journey time of a little under an hour and Gatwick Airport can be reached with a 15 minute drive.