The golden sandstone building of Sackville College, founded as alms-houses in 1609, is open to the public through the summer. Lyrics to the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’ were written here by John Mason Neale in 1853.
Chequer Mead Theatre
East Grinstead boasts a luxury 340 seat theatre. A wide variety of live performances, music, drama, comedy and film can be seen throughout the year. The Apron Cafe is an ideal place to meet friends and relax.
St. Swithun’s Church
St. Swithun’s is the Parish Church of East Grinstead; Situated on a hill-top site near the entrance to the town, there has been a church here since the 11th century. To this day it remains a visible landmark although the building has been remodelled on several occasions in the past. Near the entrance to the church, three memorial stones remember Anne Tree, Thomas Dunngate and John Forman; three Protestant martyrs burned at the stake in East Grinstead’s High Street on 18 July 1556 for refusing to renounce their faith.
The tomb of John Mason Neale; Warden of Sackville College 1846-66 can be found in the church yard and many notable features can be found inside.
Sir Archibald McIndoe Statue by Martin Jennings
Sir Archibald McIndoe (1900-1960) developed techniques to rebuild the terribly disfigured faces and hands of airman injured during WW2. He realised that these men were badly damaged psychologically too and encouraged the nurses and the residents of East Grinstead to socialise with these airmen and welcome them into their homes during their recuperation. The townsfolk accepted these men as they went about their daily business and East Grinstead became known as the
‘The Town that does not stare.’
The New Zealander, knighted in 1947, was called ‘The Boss’ or ‘The Maestro’ by his patients who became known as The Guinea Pigs, after the animals that were used for medical research. ‘The Guinea Pig Club’ was formed as a ‘drinking and Social’ Club in 1941 and met annually until 2007. The last AGM and 75th Anniversary celebration of the Club was held at East Court, East Grinstead in 2016 with the remaining members, widows and officers of the club along with guests from surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe’s family, the Queen Victoria Hospital where they were treated and members of the ‘Friends of the Guinea Pig Club’ which included past Town Mayors, Councillors of the East Grinstead Town Council and representatives of the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation and the Town Museum.
A seven foot high bronze statue of Sir Archibald by sculptor Martin Jennings stands in the High Street outside Sackville College.
The Greenwich Meridian also runs through the town, in keeping with East Grinstead’s location as a hub for four counties, for this is the only place where East and West Sussex meets Surrey and Kent. The town has celebrated its position on the Meridian Line since 1954 when the Urban District Council, later to become East Grinstead Town Council, commissioned a coat of arms to mark its diamond jubilee. The design incorporated a vertical white line representing the Meridian running through the town. East Grinstead continues to be proud of its place and over the years has erected markers to confirm its existence. Stand astride a plaque on the terraces of the town council offices and receive a certificate to celebrate being in the Eastern and Western hemispheres at the same time. Download a Meridian Line leaflet here.
East Grinstead Museum
Located in Cantelupe Road, just off the historic High Street, on the site of the former cattle market, the museum is of an outstanding modern design.
The museum is run by an independent board of trustees subsequent to the donation of the site which was purchased by the Town Council. Not only is the history of the town displayed in an innovative manner, but the museum also has a large archive of still and movie footage which can be viewed by appointment.
An important part of the Museum’s collection relates to the work of Sir Archibald McIndoe and the famous Guinea Pig Club, which is of both national and international importance and an exhibition entitled ‘Rebuilding Bodies and Souls’ about his pioneering work is on permanent display.
Floral East Grinstead
The High St Flower Beds have become a much admired feature of the town in recent years and have been managed by the Town Council since 2012. The beds are re planted three times a year with winter, spring and summer bedding plants supplied by Ferrings Nursery. Summer planting is themed by the Council to recognise local and national events and historical anniversaries which often compliment temporary exhibitions at the Town Museum.
Standen, National Trust
On the Southern outskirts of the town lies Standen, the National Trust’s flagship Arts and Crafts country house. Famous for its William Morris wallpapers, textiles and contemporary fittings, the house was built in the 1890s by architect Philip Webb. The House and the acres of gardens and walks with superb views over the Medway Valley are open from March to November.
‘The Kingscote Valley’ sits within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it is an ideal location for those wanting to experience the ‘great outdoors’. Read more here.
The Bluebell Railway
The Bluebell Railway the country’s premier restored steam railway, how has its Northern Terminus in East Grinstead, adjacent to our brand new main line station. The track runs through 11 miles of outstanding natural beauty, calling at the country stations of Kingscote and Horsted Keynes and down to the Bluebell main terminus at Sheffield Park. Here you can see the biggest and most historic collection of locomotives and rolling stock outside of the National Railway Museum. Also there is a restaurant, museum and shop as well as the Bluebell’s own Golden Arrow Pullman train, a unique railway dining experience! You can ride all day, stopping off at the stations en route if you wish, and there are special events through the year.
Indoor swimming and a range of other sports can be found at the Kings Centre.
A three screen cinema Scott Cinema is located in the centre of the town.
Walkers and cyclists have a wide choice of walks and trails that leave the town for the surrounding countryside. The beautiful Forest and Worth Ways both start in the town and form part of the Sustrans National Cycle Trail. The long distance High Weald Landscape Trail also passes through the town from Horsham en route to the sea at Rye.