208 HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD.
Neale himself. His study window commanded a view of Ashdown Forest, and gazing over its wide expanse he saw "scattered farms, lonely groups of two or three houses in an isolated green, 'ellenge' (i.e., solitary) cottages, charcoal-burners' huts, places four or five miles —and then through the worst of lanes—from any church : how are the poor inhabitants to be attended to in this world and prepared for the next ? " This question often forced itself on his notice and in the winter of 1854 two friends offered to engage in any work of mercy he cared to suggest, so it was determined to start a Sisterhood. A few weeks later Miss Gream, daughter of the Rector of Rotherfield, and who afterwards became Sister Ann and the first Mother Superior, offered her services. In the spring of 1855 a circular was issued, stating that it was proposed to establish an institution for supplying the clergy of Central Sussex and South Surrey with nurses trained for attendance on the sick poor, and their services were to be entirely gratuitous. Funds soon came in and one of the future Sisters was sent to Westminster Hospital to get nursing training. A second Sister soon followed, and in July of the same year the operations of the Sisterhood began. Its two first members were for a time resident in Sackville College and attended to the needs of the old people there. They also had a small house at Rotherfield, where one or two resided when not engaged in nursing work. The first Sister who went out on a nursing expedition of mercy left East Grinstead for Shoreham by the very first train which ran out of East Grinstead Station on the day of opening the line, July 9th, 1855.
The need of a central home in East Grinstead soon became apparent, so the house now used as offices by Messrs. Pearless & Sons was taken and the Sisters moved into it in June, 1856. Old Mr. Gream died at the same time and his daughter was free to take up her duties as Mother Superior and to devote the remainder of her life to the work of the Sisterhood. Then came the death of Miss Scobell and the riot at her funeral at Lewes, at which Dr. Neale and the Sisters barely escaped