THE HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD - Online Book

The rise and progress of the town and the history of its institutions & people.

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EAST GRINSTEAD.
CHAPTER I.
East Grinstead is a town of considerable antiquity and importance. As its name implies, it possibly owes its origin to the fact that it was a "green stede" or a pasture clearing ("East" being added later to distin­guish it from West Grinstead) in that great Forest of Anderida, 120 miles long by 30 miles wide, which formed an almost impenetrable barrier stretched along the northern boundary of the County of Sussex, but which, in time, got cut up into several minor forests, of which that of Ashdown was one of the most extensive. This latter is now mainly within the boundaries of the parishes of Buxted, Forest Row, Hartfield, Maresfield, Fletching and Withyham. The site of the Forest of Anderida can be still traced in a complete line from Tunbridge Wells to Horsham, there remaining to this day portions known as the Forests of Frant, Broadwater, Ashdown, Worth, Tilgate, Balcombe and St. Leonard's. In Saxon times it must have been the scene of many wild forays and freebooting encounters. The kingdom of Sussex was founded by Ella in 491. In 650 it was ruled by Ethelwald and was unsuccessfully invaded by Ceadwalla, a Prince of Wessex, who was repulsed, how­ever, and had to seek refuge in the Forest of Anderida, where he drew to his side a band of outlaws, whose numbers so increased that finally he met and slew King Ethelwald in battle. Then followed years of bloodshed, of which this district must have seen its full share. In time the kingdom was conquered, and annexed, in 803, by Egbert, King of Wessex, to his dominions.
From the time of Edward III. down to the reign of Charles I. Ashdown Forest was strictly preserved as a Royal hunting ground, and our Monarchs often followed
B
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