6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Sussex Life today click here

What it’s like to live in Crowborough

PUBLISHED: 11:28 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 14:16 14 November 2017

View of Crowborough High Street (Photo by Duncan Hall)

View of Crowborough High Street (Photo by Duncan Hall)


Sussex’s highest town has a chequered past but a busy community life as Duncan Hall discovers

Getting there

The A26, connecting Lewes and Tunbridge Wells, is the main road through Crowborough. It meets the High Street at Crowborough Cross, with most major routes in the town coming from it. The railway station is to the south-east edge of the town with regular hourly services to London Bridge and Uckfield.

Buses serving Crowborough include Brighton and Hove’s Regency Route 29 service between Brighton and Tunbridge Wells. Seaford and District’s 228/229 services also run from Crowborough to Tunbridge Wells. Limited community transport services run on weekdays, taking in Wadhurst, Battle, Rotherfield, Mayfield and Uckfield.


Today Crowborough boasts of being the highest town in Sussex, but it hides a dark past. M A Lower, writing in 1870, called the town the most “uncivilised” place in Sussex according to Chris Hare’s Historic Sussex: A Guide Book. Crowborough Warren had apparently once been a favourite resort for smugglers who were able to see the approach of the excise men from their high vantage point.

The town was really established in the 18th century after local benefactor Sir Henry Fermor bequeathed money for a church (All Saints) and charity school for the benefit of the “very ignorant and heathenish people”, as he described them in his 1732 will, who lived in Crowborough and Ashdown Forest.

The town expanded with the arrival of the railways in 1868 and became a health and holiday centre – earning the soubriquet of Scotland in Sussex. A golf course, hospital and fire station were added between 1895 and 1905.

Gradually the town grew to incorporate neighbouring Jarvis Brook, Poundfield, Whitehill, Stone Cross and Alderbrook, Sweet Haws and Steel Cross. The expansion wasn’t to everyone’s taste. In his 1972 book Companion into Sussex Norman Wymer described it as “an unpleasantly overgrown town”.

Now it is home to more than 20,000 residents, served by a small town centre and gives access to the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Ashdown Forest.

Annual festival and events

Crowborough Bonfire Carnival Society hosts a summer fete on the village green every June, which in 2017 included a dog show. The town council also holds an annual summer fete in Goldsmiths Recreation Ground in July and a boundary walk in May.

The first Crowborough Community Festival took over the town in May offering a programme of family-friendly events from 1 to 27 May. The next event is due to take place in 2019. Visit crowboroughcommunityfestival.org for more.


Crowborough is home to a Waitrose and Morrisons supermarket in the town centre, and an out-of-town Tesco superstore to the south-east. The High Street has a range of shops, pubs, cafés, post office and banks.

Crowborough War Memorial Hospital in Southview Road has a minor injuries unit. There are also a number of doctors’ and dental surgeries spread around the town.

Crowborough has an active number of groups and societies including the Lions and Rotary Clubs. As well as Crowborough Arts (see above), there is a historical society, youth theatre group What You Will, a branch of the University of the Third Age, flower club and horticultural society. Sports lovers can join one of two badminton clubs, Crowborough Runners, the Beacon golf club, anglers’ association, netball and tai chi societies. There is a Freedom Leisure Centre in Eridge Road, with a swimming pool and gym, as well as group exercise classes for all ages. Surrounding Crowborough are two golf courses and a 16-acre country park.

Founded in 1894, Crowborough Athletic FC is part of the Southern Counties East League Premier Division and plays from the Crowborough Community Stadium.

Meet the neighbours

Crowborough’s most famous resident is Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose statue can be seen at Crowborough Cross. He moved to the town in 1907 and lived out his days at Windlesham Manor. Victorian nature journalist Richard Jefferies wrote his last essay in Crowborough.

Cotchford Farm, home of AA Milne and his inspirations Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh, is to the north-west of the town, towards Hartfield. 


Crowborough has its own town council. Its five wards are represented by eight councillors on Wealden District Council and two on East Sussex County Council. Conservative Wealden MP Nus Ghani retained the seat she first won in 2015 with more than 61 per cent of the total electorate and gaining more than 5,000 votes. 


What it’s like to live in Steyning - The West Sussex town offers a village experience in the heart of the downs, as Duncan Hall finds out


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sussex Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sussex Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sussex Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Friday, July 13, 2018

10 of the most beautiful, inspiring and simply stunning photos of Sussex shared on Instagram over the past week...

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

There are some fantastic restaurants and cafés in Eastbourne serving up delectable food and catering for all tastes. We round up some of the best…

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

With the South Downs, quaint villages and coastal trails, Sussex is a great place for a walk. Here we round up some of the best

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Bognor Regis is perhaps most famous for King George V’s unflattering epithet. But there’s much more to the town than that, as we find out

Read more
Tuesday, July 3, 2018

From glorious gardens to stunning seascapes, and not forgetting fabulous food, we bring you the best places to eat this summer

Read more
Monday, July 2, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Sussex this month

Read more
Monday, July 2, 2018

For those who eat a diet free from meat or any animal product, Sussex is a great place to live. We present a guide to the best restaurants/cafés/pubs for vegetarians and vegans

Read more

An afternoon or bank holiday spent in a pub beer garden is a true delight of British life. A few of our favourites are here. Here’s hoping for a blistering summer…

Read more
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This short circular stroll leads along the leafy Forest Way and through fields

Read more
Monday, June 25, 2018

Community lies at the very heart of this Sussex parish, which was once home to Rudyard Kipling

Read more
Monday, June 18, 2018

Laura Paton visits Horsham’s The Pass and finds exciting food served with infectious enthusiasm

Read more
Monday, June 18, 2018

Enjoy the dappled shade of woodland and stroll across fields on this riverbank circular

Read more
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Clive Agran gets a new perspective on the much loved seaside city of Brighton

Read more
Monday, June 11, 2018

Over the past three years there has been a revolution in Worthing’s restaurant culture

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook

Local Business Directory

Sussex's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search