Visit historic Saint Hill Manor
Saint Hill Manor, located on the outskirts of East Grinstead, is reputed to be the finest 18th century sandstone building in Sussex. It is also one of the few historical attractions that is open to the public all year round, even during the autumn and winter months.
Saint Hill Manor has had a succession of distinguished owners, each family leaving behind a part of its own unique history, with a fascinating blend of Eastern and Western cultures.
L. Ron Hubbard, the final owner, purchased the estate in 1959, establishing it as his family residence. Best known as acclaimed author and founder of the Scientology religion, Mr. Hubbard carried out much of his research into the mind and the spirit of man at Saint Hill. Hundreds of students came from all four corners of the earth to study under him. In the impressive library, his 560 published works can be seen, in subjects ranging from fiction, photography and art to philosophy, education and even drug rehabilitation, for which he has received hundreds of international awards.
Mr. Hubbard had extensive renovations carried out of the manor and personally oversaw much of the work - his aim was to restore the house to its original beauty. The numerous marble fireplaces and floors have been expertly restored and polished, and original woodwork rejuvenated. Wood cabinetry that had been hidden for a century has been unmasked and newly brought to view. As a result of the constant care and upkeep, the manor today is in outstanding condition.
Records of Saint Hill Manor date from 1567 when Stephen Bord of Cuckfield left in his will one cottage and 12 acres of pasture held by "Thomas Nicholas of his Manor of Saynt Hill, by rent of 4d, worth pounds a year".
In 1733, John Crawfurd of Ayrshire came into possession of Saint Hill and, by successive purchases, he formed the Saint Hill estate. John's son, Gibbs, rebuilt Saint Hill Manor in 1792 into a grand country manor as it stands today. The sandstone for the building was quarried by hand from nearby West Hoathly.
Other owners of the Manor include Edgar March Crookshank, who added wings to the Manor house, and The Maharajah of Jaipur who was the owner of the estate prior to Mr. Hubbard's acquisition of the property in 1959.
Being of English descent, Mr. Hubbard had a great respect for British architecture and carried out extensive research into Saint Hill's history in order to plan for the restoration of the property. Thirty-two years later, his original plans have been completed bringing the Manor and it's 59½ acres of beautiful gardens and natural grounds.
The Crawfurds took an active part in the life of East Grinstead which has become part of the heritage of all owners of Saint Hill. Robert Crawfurd, grandson of Gibbs, was instrumental in having the first railway to East Grinstead built in 1845. From 1889 to 1945 the Crookshank family owned Saint Hill Manor. They built a school and a chapel at the nearby Saint Hill Green which, at the time, was part of the estate.
The Maharajah of Jaipur added the magnificent black Spanish marble columns in the grand entrance hall.
John Spencer Churchill, nephew of Sir Winston Churchill, painted the splendid mural for the "Monkey Room" in the manor in 1945. The owner of Saint Hill manor at the time commissioned Mr. Churchill who wanted a mural for her cinema room.
John Spencer Churchill spent three months sketching monkeys at London Zoo and three months painting. There are 145 monkeys and 20 different species: "Much as I tried to prevent it happening, the monkeys resemble human beings," he wrote in his autobiography "The Crowded Canvas". A capuchin monkey painting under a tree portrays his Uncle, Sir Winston.
Saint Hill Manor is situated in 59½ acres of landscaped gardens, woodlands and lakes, and is open to the public daily, all year round.
"Standing out on a lawn near a 250-year-old towering cedar tree or walking through a pleasure garden, it's so calm you could pack boxes of serenity out of it," wrote Mr. Hubbard.
Saint Hill Manor overlooks a beautiful lake. The feature, added by the Crawfurd's during their restoration and extensive additions to the property, is an attraction for visitors including our wildlife visitors. Fishing in the lake is quite popular all year round.
The recent addition to the grounds includes a beautiful waterfall surrounded by nature walks through the countryside.