Staying at a hotel with such an unusual 200-year history like Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club's is exciting enough; add in what the surrounding area has to offer, any guest who loves history will be in their element!
Ashdown Park itself started life as a home for affluent families, since then it has been a convalescent hospital for Belgium Soldiers, a home to Order of the Sisters of Notre Dame (who built the amazing Converted Chapel and extensions to the property), a university, a training centre and in 1993 Elite Hotels purchased the property.
Ashdown Park's stunning converted chapel still boasts stunning stain glass windows by Irish born artist Harry Clarke. Learn more about Harry Clarke.
The Ashdown Forest
Ashdown Park sits in the heart of the Ashdown Forest, an area of 6,500 protected acres with one of the largest populations of wild deer in Europe. (It is a near daily occurrence for guests to see these deer on the hotels' 186 acre estate.)
Excitingly there's archaeological evidence of human activity around the Ashdown Forest dating back to the Late Palaeolithic period - 750,000 to 10,000 BC! From basic ancient weapons, building foundations and Roman roads.
The Ashdown Forest is also 'home' to the infamous and loveable Winnie-the-Pooh & friends. Written in 1926 by A.A.Milne, many places which are said to have inspired the creation of key locations within stories, such as Pooh Bridge can be visited, and is a must for any Winnie-the-Pooh enthusiasts!
You can reach the local village of Hartfield by foot (maps are available from concierge) or a short car journey. For more information about Winnie-the-Pooh Hartfield please click here.
The local historical town of East Grinstead is approximately 4 miles from Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club. Founded in Medevil times, the High Street still remains in much its original state, 19 timber frame buildings from the 14th & 15th centuries along with 13 Tudor and Stewart buildings are part of the designated conservation area, created in 1969.
Near the end of High Street is Sackville college, not the secondary school named after this important family, but the Sackville families home. The families crest included a snow leopard, which can be seen sitting atop the building today and is indicative of high status.
John Sackville married Margaret Boleyn, of THE Boleyn family. She was, in fact, Anne Boleyn's aunt. (Anne Boleyn's childhood home, Hever Castle, is just 25 minutes from Ashdown Park.)
Sackville college has another claim to fame. Between 1846-1866, John Mason Neale was Warden, living at the home with his family.
He penned numerous well-known hymns and carols, including "Good King Wenceslas".
Today East Grinstead has a Southern Rail line to London, via Oxted. When the railway was at its peak, the tracks ran North, East, South & West connecting East Grinstead to Three Brodges, Lewes, and more locally Forest Row.
In 2013 the Bluebell Railway completed a restoration project and opened up part of the train line once more, famous locomotives now visit East Grinstead once more, with special events running throughout the year. Bluebell Railway FAQ's.
WWII, The Guinea Pig Club & McIndoe
You may have heard of the 'Guinea Pig Club', an exclusive drinking club for airmen who were severely burned and injured during World War II and treated by world-renowned pioneering plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe. A public Consultant in Plastic Surgery to the Royal Air Force, McIndoe arrived in East Grinstead to run the Centre for Plastic and Jaw Surgery in 1939 (today known as the Queen Victoria Hospital).
McIndoe pioneered medical techniques which underpin the treatment of burns today; he also helped with the recognition of the importance of social rehabilitation.
During World War II, East Grinstead experienced the worst air bombing attack on Sussex. On 9th July 1943, after reportedly spotting a convoy of Military trucks in the town, a lone German bomber plane dropped eight bombs, which hit multiple targets, including the Whitehall Cinema. At the time of the bombing, in the afternoon, the cinema was full of families, 108 men, women and children died, and 235 were injured.
For more about East Grinstead's history please click here. The East Grinstead Museum is situated just off of the High Street.
If this snippet of history has got you wanting more, please take a look at our historical places of interest page.
There's so much more history to explore all within a short distance from Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club!