East Grinstead in 1842
East Grinstead, which is the largest parish in the county, containing upwards of 15,000 acres, is a market-town situated in the rape of Pevensey, near the borders of Ashdowne Forest, on the high road from London to Lewes, at a distance of 28 miles from London.
The town is pleasantly placed on a considerable eminence, but consists only of one principal street, irregularly built. There is a market for corn on Thursdays, and a cattle-market on the last Thursday in the month.
When the roads in Sussex were scarcely passable in winter, East Grinstead, as one of the nearest points to the metropolis, was selected for the holding of the Lent assizes, but the practice was discontinued in 1799, and Horsham chosen instead, the gaol being there. East Grinstead is a borough by prescription, and returned two members to parliament from 1st Edward II till the passing of the act 2 William IV, c.45, when it found its place in schedule A. The old right was in the owners of the burgage tenements, of which there were thirty-six.
At the east end of the town is a quadrangular stone building, used as a college for twenty-four aged persons of both sexes, who, under the government of a warden and two assistants, have each a separate apartment, and an allowance of £8 a year. The college was founded by Robert, second earl of Dorset, and was erected in 1616. The endowment is £330 a year. Within the walls is held a free grammar-school, founded in 1708 by Robert Payne, at which twenty-five boys are educated. In this parish stand the ruins of Brambletye House, built in the reign of James I by Sir Henry Compton, from an Italian model ; but it soon fell to decay from the neglect of its subsequent owner. In this parish is Kidbrooke, built for William, forty-second baron of Abergavenny, by Mylne, the architect of Blackfriars-bridge : it was sold in 1805 to the Hon. Charles Abbott, afterwards Lord Colchester.
The church, which is a handsome stone edifice, with an embattled tower surmounted by light pinnacles, stands on the east side of the High-street. It is in a pure style of Gothic architecture, and was erected in 1786. The benefice is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Lewes, of the annual net value, in 1835, of £340. The population, in 1831 was 3,364.