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History and heritage

Historic buildings

For what was originally group of small villages, Crawley has retained a wealth of interesting and historic buildings.

Listed Buildings

Crawley has 100 listed buildings, three of which have Grade I listing.

Local List

There are a number of buildings that are considered to be of local significance, which are included on the Local Building list.

Churches

Crawley was once three separate parishes; Worth, Ifield and Crawley, each had its own church.

St Nicholas Church

Worth Church dates between 950 and 1050, before the Norman invasion. The walls of the nave, transepts and the main arch are Saxon work. 

The church was owned by son in law of William the Conqueror, William de Warenne, until the 14th century, when it was passed to the Fitzalan family. 

The bell tower is Victorian, replacing the original wooden structure. It escaped damage in the fire of 1986, when roof timbers set alight. The timbers had to be replaced, as well as the nave roof, pews and flooring. 

St Margaret’s Church

The church in Ifield dates from early 13th century. It was originally built in a box shape and was extended in the 14th century by the inclusion of side aisles to allow more people to come to the services. 

Work on the church in 1760 showed that Ifield was a wealthy parish, as a large gallery for musicians was created and box pews for the congregation were installed. In 1847 a new vestry was added along with a bell turret and in the 1870s heating was added. 

St John’s Church

The town centre’s church was first opened as a chapel in the mid 13th century for the parish of Slaugham.

Only the south wall remains of the original simple four wall structure. The large tower was added in the 15th century when the church was rebuilt and extended, and an oak beamed roof was added. 

The church became a parish church in 1551, when the last rebuilding work for 400 years was carried out. In 1880 a new aisle was created and bells were hung in the church.

Estates

There were several large estates around the villages of Crawley, Worth and Ifield, and some of the mansions can still be seen.

Tilgate Park Estate

The Tilgate Park Estate was first recorded in 1647 and covered a large part of the South of Crawley, up to the edge of Three Bridges and Ashdown Forest. 

In 1861 owner George Ashburner developed a French style mansion on the site of the original old house, and his mansion remained there until its demolition in 1966.

Crabbet Park Estate

Crabbet Farm first features in Crawley’s history from 1698 when it was purchased by Leonard Gale Jr. 

In 1872 the manor house was rebuilt in late 17th century style. In 1916, then owner Lady Wentworth sold various parts of the estate but kept the manor house to breed horses.

High Street

Sixty coaches a day used to passed through Crawley High Street on their way to ‘Brightelmstone’ now Brighton. 

Many of the medieval homes and farm buildings became inns, restaurants and tea rooms to cope with the trade, many of which still stand.

The George - c1450

The George was timber-framed open hall house, in 1689 the inn had 15 beds. In the 18th century, The George was so busy an annexe was added in the middle of the High Street. This was demolished in 1933 to make way for a car park.

The Tree - c1300

The Tree is the oldest surviving medieval house in the High Street. The section facing the Boulevard dates from the 1400s. Home to local doctors for over 130 years, The Tree stood opposite a huge Elm, which had a small room in its base. 

The Ancient Priors - c1450

The Ancient Priors started out as a private house and then became the original 'Whyte Harte' Inn during the mid-1600s, but it was too small so after a new White Hart Inn was built in 1770, it became a furniture shop.

The Punch Bowl - c1450

The Punch Bowl was originally a dairy farm until the late 1800s when it was divided into two cottages. In 1929 after extensive restoration, Ye Olde Punche Bowle opened as a tea room. In the 1950s it was used as a bank, until it became a public house.

The Old Barn - c1500

The barn originally stood behind The Tree, and may have been a medieval meeting hall. In the 1960s the building was removed and displayed at the Weald and Downlands Museum.

The Hogs Head- c1450

The Hogs Head is a timber-framed open hall house, operating as a public house, The Brewery Shades. 

Ifield Mill

Ifield Mill was built in 1683 and rebuilt in the early 19th Century as the structure seen today. The mill still has a working waterwheel but the building stopped being used as a corn mill in the late 1920s.

The impressive millpond is considered to be one of the most important wetland sites in Crawley.

The mill was bought and restored by Crawley Borough Council in 1974. It houses a local history display and is operated by Crawley Museum Society.