Crowborough, Sussex; Home of Arthur Conan Doyle.

By Lyn Funnell

Arthur Conan Doyle statue


Where is Crowborough? It’s nine miles from Tunbridge Wells, which is in Kent.

Arthur Conan Doyle lived there with his 2nd wife Jean Lechie in Little Windlesham House from 1907 until his death in July 1930.

Crowborough occupies some of the highest ground in East Sussex and lies on the edge of the lovely Ashdown Forest. With a population of well over 20,000 people, it is the most inhabited town in the East Sussex Weald.

Until the 1880s Crowborough was part of the parish of Rotherfield which is a small village approximately 2 miles away.

It was recorded as Crowbergh in the late fourteenth century and was first recorded as Crowboro Hill in Speeds map of Sussex 1610. The original Crowbergh is probably derived from Crow beorg (meaning crow’s hill). Early documents also give the names Crohbergh, Croweborowghe, Crowbarrow and Crowboro. Croh is old Sussex for saffron and the colour of golden-yellow and berg means hill. With the bright yellow flowers of gorse growing in the area this might well have given Crowborough its name.

Early travel was often dangerous due to the terrible roads, all the smuggling gangs and highwaymen, and travellers thought of the Ashdown Forest and the area around Crowborough as frightening country. But the Victorians grew to love the countryside here. Some thought it similar to the Scottish countryside which was a highly fashionable holiday location at that time. This led to a growth in the popularity of Crowborough.

Ashdown Forest lies between Crowborough, Maresfield and Forest Row in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Rising to an altitude of 732 feet (223 metres) above sea level, its heights provide some beautiful views across the heavily wooded hills of the Weald to the chalky North Downs and South Downs on the horizon.

Crowborough Common is an ancient Common covering over 220 acres to which the public was granted a legal right of access “for the taking of air and exercise” in 1936. It’s owned by Crowborough Beacon Golf Club and several private owners. Most of the common is heathland and woodland, with less than half of the total area being the golf course.

Crowborough Golf Club

Crowborough Council acquired the 16 acre site in the southern part of the town in 2008. It is now a Country Park with development including a stone track and bridges and the site was declared a local Nature Reserve in 2009.

The old quarry now

The park was a clay quarry for the Crowborough Brickworks that closed in 1980. For nearly 30 years the quarry was left to natural regeneration and local people used it for recreation, walks and swimming in the ponds.

One of the ponds; you wouldn’t swim in it now!

It is a beautifully designed place for walks.

There is only one thing wrong with it – the dog’s mess everywhere. Why are some dog walkers so stupid, lazy and selfish?


  • Lyn Funnell

    Lyn is the co-owner of Unknown Kent and Sussex. She lives in Sussex. Lyn has been writing for most of her life, both Fiction & Non-Fiction. She loves cookery & creating original recipes. She's won a lot of prizes, including Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu & on BBC The One Show as a runner-up, making her Britain's Spag Bol Queen! She has had nine books published so far. History, Travel & Restaurant Reviews are her main interests.

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