Poles Apart

Kev Neylon
8 min readFeb 21, 2021

Underwear. That’s how the latest wander to find historic Crawley buildings started this time. Helen had an order to pick up from Next, so I thought that County Oak would be a good place to park up and start to explore from. Of course it is a different County Oak from the one that appeared on the map at the turn of the twentieth century.

County Oak and Lowfield Heath 1901

We got out on County Oak Way and headed into the mish mashed styles of the industrial units taking a somewhat overgrown and almost hidden path between office buildings and storage units where high barbed wire fences, metal grilles and occasional fire exits lined either side until we come out into a car park and turn a corner to be faced with this.

County Oak Cottage

County Oak Cottage is hidden away at the very end of the industrial estate, dating from 1705, it is thought to have been a conversion of an even older barn, and is a Grade II listed building, converted to offices, with a somewhat sympathetic extension to the west side of it. Peeking around the corner of the picture above is a more modern, but also Grade II listed building.

Oak Cottage

Oak Cottage has been much modernised, but originally dates from the later half of the eighteenth century. Both sat on the edge of what is Lowfield Heath, all open land when they were built.

Lowfield Heath 1841 tithe map.

The more modern map I have in my pocket shows there is a footpath north from these buildings up to Poles Lane. And it is true, there is a gap in the fence and what must be a pleasant path to walk across the adjacent field in the summer. Only it isn’t summer, and with the most recent thaw and rains, the path is more stream that anything else. The whole field is like a marsh with tuffets of grass offering points of apparent solid ground amongst the surrounding quagmire. Only there is no substance to the grass and soon I am ankle deep in shockingly icy water. It will take an hour after I escape…

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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.