The sleepy Sussex market city of East Grinstead has gained a repute in latest a long time as a hotbed for offbeat non secular exercise. It has been described as Britain’s strangest city and the real-life reply to Twin Peaks. However East Grinstead hardly exudes a way of dreamlike Lynchian terror. Elegant 14th-Century buildings home bookshops and jewellers; butchers hawk burgers and sausages from market stalls; and buddies cluster cheerfully exterior cafes. The scene is one in all nice gentility. All of it appears so… regular.
Beneath the floor, nonetheless, this in any other case unremarkable Sussex market city is charged with an unlikely non secular zeal. A disproportionate variety of non secular organisations have made their house right here; some are historical and a few fashionable, some orthodox and others unconventional. One group specifically has generated extra column inches than the remaining.
On a forested hill to the south-west of city sits Saint Hill Manor, a lovely nation home inbuilt 1792 within the Late Georgian type. Saint Hill has had a vibrant life, serving variously because the headquarters of a Christian mission and the house of the Maharaja of Jaipur. When the latter moved out in 1959, Saint Hill’s most well-known inhabitant moved in: L Ron Hubbard, science fiction author and founding father of the Church of Scientology.
The property served not solely as Hubbard’s house however as Scientology’s worldwide headquarters till 1967. It’s nonetheless owned by the Church, and, as is usually the case in its enclaves around the globe, zany tales abound. Tom Cruise has visited a number of instances, and is even stated to have chosen a wing of Saint Hill Manor as his lockdown sanctuary in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, as reported in Tatler. Fellow A-list Scientologist John Travolta hit the headlines in 2011 when he tried – unsuccessfully – to ebook a desk for his entourage on the native department of Kentucky Fried Rooster. In 2013, native Sussex newspaper The Argus reported that three airline pilots noticed “two saucer formed silver discs” hovering within the neighborhood of Saint Hill – apparently unconnected to close by Gatwick Airport, the place the pilots had been coming in to land.
It’s not simply Scientology making waves right here, although. The mysterious Rosicrucians, a secret society that claims to protect a physique of esoteric truths in regards to the universe, keep a palatial mock-Tudor lodge at close by Greenwood Gate; whereas Opus Dei, a Catholic sect well-known for sporting spiked chains and hair-shirts as an act of devotional self-mortification, host self-improvement retreats on the enticing Wickenden Manor.
Much less unconventional, the British house of Mormonism lies a number of miles north of East Grinstead on the spectacular London England Temple, whereas Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Scientists have additionally arrange store on the town. Alternative routes of considering begin early in life round right here. The Michael Corridor College in close by Forest Row was the primary instance in Britain of a Waldorf faculty, the place pupils are taught based mostly on Rudolf Steiner’s non secular idea of anthroposophy, with a curriculum that focuses on emotional and creative growth. The world’s bevy of biodynamic farms, which use progressive composting preparations similar to cow’s skulls filled with oak bark and quartz, are additionally based mostly on Steiner’s teachings.