On April 7th 2012, Forest Row burst into life with the opening of the new Forest Row Village Market. The entire Community Centre Car Park was transformed into a candy striped myriad of the finest local foods and hand crafted produce.
From Continental delicacies to good old traditional Sussex fare, Forest Row was able to offer the best in local produce from 50 hand-picked stalls to entice any shopper. Cheeses, meats, fruit and veg, breads and baked goods, beers, deli counters, fantastic crafts and gifts; in short...something for everyone!
Well into 2013, the market is still going strong and has become one of the region's favourite attractions.
So take in the market and take some time out to enjoy the village and its amazing surroundings. The village and the forest are steeped in history and is abundant in places of interest....
Area: 32.5 km2 (12.5 sq mi) Population: 5,054 (2007)
Density: 402 /sq mi (155 /km2) OS grid reference: TQ427348
London: 29 miles (47 km) NNW District: Wealden
Shire county: East Sussex
The civil parish of Forest Row is in the north-west corner of East Sussex, and borders West Sussex, Kent and Surrey. Ashdown Forest surrounds the village on three sides, and the upper reaches of the River Medway flow through the parish. The centre of the village lies at the intersection of the A22 road, the erstwhile turnpike, and the B2110 to Hartfield and Tunbridge Wells and there are a wide range of shops and businesses to serve the surrounding area.
Weir Wood Reservoir is a Site of Special Scientific Interest within the parish. It is also one of the largest areas of open water in the county and hosts a wide variety of resident and migrating birds.
The hotels in the village are The Brambletye Hotel, The Chequers and The Foresters Arms. In the 2006 radiation scare surrounding KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko the Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club were closed for 6 hours and the nearby Roebuck hotel was used as an evacuation point for arriving guests. Italian security expert Mario Scaramella may have stayed there but tests showed no evidence of "radiation toxicity".
The village architecture is a mixture of traditional and modern. As well as many older cottages in the classic Sussex style there is a variety of more modern development, which generally blends in well. Gage Ridge and Michael Fields, with their copper-roofed houses are examples of the latter.
In addition to the businesses in the village centre, there is also an industrial estate.
The village draws its name from its proximity to the Ashdown Forest, a royal hunting park first enclosed in the 13th century. From its origins as a small hamlet, Forest Row has grown, first with the establishment of a turnpike road in the 18th century; and later with the opening of the railway between East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells in 1866; the line, which included an intermediate station at Forest Row, closed in 1967 as a result of the programme of closures put forward by East Grinstead resident and British Railways Board Chairman Richard Beeching.
The village inn (now known as The Swan, owned by Mountain Range Restaurants), part medieval, was a centre of smuggling in the 18th century.
Brambletye House (known locally as Brambletye Castle) was built by Sir Henry Compton in 1631. This building features in the 1826 Horace Smith novel Brambletye House.
A mail coach robbery occurred at the bottom of Wall Hill on 27 June 1801. John Beatson and his adopted son William Whalley Beatson hid in a meadow at the foot of Wall Hill, by the entrance to an old Roman road. The mail coach made its way up Wall Hill, where it was stopped by them just after midnight. The Beatsons took between £4,000 and £5,000. Judge Baron Hotham sentenced the two men to death by hanging at the trial on 29 March 1802. Gallows were erected on the spot where the robbery took place, on 17 April 1802. Beatson and his adopted son were hanged in the presence of 3,000 people.
John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, came to Forest Row in June 1963 during his visit to the UK, attending a service at the Our Lady of the Forest church. At the time he was engaged in a series of discussions with the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan at his home in nearby Birch Grove. There is a plaque commemorating the visit on Freshfield Hall. This has added poignancy as it was placed there in 1964.
Forest Row became a Transition Village in 2007 with the official unleashing in March 2008 at the Village Hall.
The village hall, at the centre of the village, is quite distinctive in its style. It has an almost Germanic and British look to it. The hall was a gift for the people of Forest Row by the Alpine mountaineer Douglas Freshfield and his mother in memory of his son Henry Douglas Freshfield who died aged fourteen in 1891. The first Freshfield Hall was very short-lived, for it was burnt down on 14 February 1895, the day after the funeral of Henry Freshfield. Douglas Freshfield and his mother wasted no time in having it rebuilt and it reopened on the 17th November 1895. At the reopening Freshfield expressed the wishes of his mother and himself when he hoped the hall would be used by all classes of parishioners, and that it would keep alive the memory of its original founder.
The Forest Way, on the trackbed of the disused railway line, passes through the village from East Grinstead and continues eastwards as far as Groombridge, a total distance of 10 miles (14.5 km). Either side of the village the route is fairly flat and is used by cyclists and horse riders.
Forest Row provides many opportunities for leisure activities. In the performing arts there are: Forest Players an amateur dramatic society; Ashdown Pantomimers; the Forest Row Film Society; The Forest Row Jazz Club; and the Jupiter Chamber Orchestra. In sport there are football clubs; the Cricket Club; Anderida Golfers; Weir Wood Sailing Club; and the One Planker Club ; who organise Snowboarding and Monoskiing trips to the Alps each winter. Two other groups are the Ashdown Forest Conservators and the Forest Row Modelling Club.
The Royal Ashdown Forest Golf Club was established in 1889: there are two courses.
The Scapegoat Society is a psychologically-based group. The village is renowned for it's alternative therapists and lifestyle groups. There are many practising alternative therapists and two bio-dynamic organic farms. Yoga classes are available in the village.
The Brambletye Inn was frequented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and features in the Adventure of Black Peter in which Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson stay at the hotel in Forest Row whilst they investigate the murder of a retired sea captain.
The movie adaptation of John Fowles's novel The Collector directed by William Wyler in 1965, contains locations (at the close of the film) shot in Forest Row.