Even More History In Crawley

Kev Neylon
8 min readSep 13, 2020

Everyone else was out, so I shook off some of my ennui, and went walking around Crawley. A lot of people, even those who live here, assume that as a new town, there is no history here, but as with anywhere, there is, you just have to scratch harder at the surface.

I had taken some inspiration from a book on local history, and a website by one of the admins on the Memories of Crawley Facebook group, and was heading out in search of Blue Plaques and Tudor houses. In addition, I’m still building up a collection of places of worship, and pubs (and former pubs) throughout Crawley.

I walked into the town centre and started outside Wilkos. The first blue plaque of the day is on a side wall, which is to the sculptor of the work on the upper part of the front of the building. You can tell it was early on my walk as there was no connection in my head between taking a picture of the blue plaque, and not taking a picture of the sculpture itself.

It didn’t seem to get any better as I moved on, although this one wasn’t my fault. I had done a deal of research before heading out and so believed that there would be a blue plaque on the wall of The Punch Bowl. Well, it may have been there, but all that is left is this.

The other two on the high street were still where they were supposed to be (there is another on the Museum, which I had a picture of from a previous wander).

From the High Street I headed across Asda’s car park into West Green. I got pictures of the first place of worship for the day, the Siri Guru Singh Sabha Sikh temple, in its functional looking building.

There were four more blue plaques in West Green, but it is a part of Crawley I haven’t really taken the time to walk around before, and I was pleasantly surprised by the varied styles and ages of the houses in the area, the first was to Sir Charles Court, father-in-law to the record breaking tennis legend Margaret Court (nee Smith).

Between there and the next two on Victoria Road and Victoria Mews, I passed through an area of housing that shows Crawley was a larger village that people give it credit for, long before the new town came after the Second World War.

In between these two is a lovely old cottage hidden by a high wall and trees, with a name that gives an impression of what it may have been used for previously.

From here I walked up past the hospital and the Charis Centre, and the Apple Tree and back around to the Crawley Baptist Church, a modern, and functional building, and then back around onto Little Crabtree, looking for the next blue plaque. If I had approached it from the other direction I would have missed a small blue plaque on the side of a house a few doors down from the one I was looking for, placed by the house’s (still alive) resident. The one I was looking for was to the man responsible for naming a lot of the streets in Crawley, a man who has me out taking photos of road signs.

I now headed to Northgate, with a whole host of buildings close together that I wanted to see and take photos of. There were three paces of worship, St Paul’s Methodist church,

A Kingdom Hall

And St Elizabeth’s, which is now a school of dance and drama.

In the middle of them is Northgate Community centre, where the last blue plaque of the day was.

From here, just across the road and less than a minute away from the Northgate parade of shops was the first of the really old cottages of the day. It is called Black Dog cottage, and would be where the pub that is now Efe’s took it’s name from.

Everything else I was planning to see was close to the A23, and so I headed in that direction, but took a detour, I went under the underpass under the A264, one that I used to go through most days when I first moved to Crawley in 2006. I think there was an abandoned shopping trolley underneath it then.

I did a quick detour into Tuscany Gardens and took a photo of the flat I lived in for the first twenty months in Crawley. It was a great flat with plenty of space for me, my books and all my records.

Just across London Road, hidden by a high wall is an old cottage that most people wouldn’t have noticed. It’s called Old House and is a Grade II listed building from the late seventeenth century (added to later).

And just a hundred yards down the road is another old, substantial cottage. I’ve never really noticed it as I always thought it was part of the Toby Carvery that is next to it, yet it is another gorgeous building that traffic just whizzes past. It is called Jordan’s and is a Grade II listed building.

As is the Toby Carvery, which sits in “Jordan’s Social Club”, the barn belonging to Jordan’s.

I carried on heading north to the corner of Martyrs Avenue, and the Islamic Centre on the corner, and took a brief detour down Martyrs Avenue to Old Martyrs, a Grade II listed building.

This is Martyrs farmhouse, now three separate houses, and surrounded by new builds, and hidden from casual passersby, as unless you knew it was here, there would be no way of knowing. I’d been past the end of the road numerous times on the bus and never known what was just a stone’s throw away.

I continued north, and there was no way I didn’t know where the next building was. Now called Gatwick Manor (formerly Hyder’s Hall) it is a pub, restaurant, and meeting venue, with a Premier Inn now attached to it. It was also the scene of two very messy work Christmas Parties.

Despite being here several times before, I was still captivated by the building, and somewhat amazed by the size of the complex. It was also a good spot to get a breather and have a drink before carrying on. It is a Grade II* listed building.

I then took my life in my hands as I crossed the A23 and walked into Lowfield Heath, and up to the church of St Michael’s and All Angels. It now belongs to the Seventh-Day Adventists, and isn’t in the best condition, which is a shame, seeing as it is also a Grade II* listed building.

Especially as it has some wonderful carvings around the rose window above the entrance.

In addition there is War Memorial in the graveyard of the church, which itself is a Grade II listed building.

The map suggested there was a footpath out of the back of Lowfield Heath that would take me to the next place I was aiming for — Rowley’s Farm. The footpath is just about still there, the entrance isn’t obvious as it’s covered by discarded aggregate bags. The path is narrow and fenced in closely on the left hand side, and the growth from the right hand side is getting to the point where it will be overgrown within a year if it isn’t cut back.

The path popped me out onto the side of the A23, which I needed to cross again. I had been walking along side it behind a ditch and some trees for some time, during which there was very little traffic. Of course, now that I wanted to cross the road, the world and their wives were speeding along in both directions.

Just across the road and a few yards into the footpath is the lovely Rowley Cottage,

At the midway of footpath is Rowleys Farm, a working farm, and also has a recycling business attached. On the day there was a lot of heavy machinery work going on, and so I couldn’t get close enough to get a really good photo, just a long zoom shot. It is a Grade II* listed building.

By now my legs were feeling a bit stiff, a look at my fatbit said I’d walked ten miles, and so thoughts of carrying on to find more Tudor buildings were put on hold for another day. The footpath brought me out on James Watt Way past some old farm machinery.

I had one last detour to make though.

Past the Beehive, the original terminal building for Gatwick Airport, then a pub, and now an events venue, and a Grade II* listed building.

My legs still feel heavy the day after this walk, but it was a good day. Now to plan the next one.



Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at www.onetruekev.co.uk. All pictures used are my own.