Forest Row Village

Forest Row is at the northern tip of both East Sussex County Council and Wealden District Council. The outlying areas of the parish border three other counties - West Sussex, Surrey and Kent. The nearest town is East Grinstead, which is 'over the border' in West Sussex.

Originally a small hamlet that grew up at one of the 'gates' of Ashdown Forest where the turnpike road (now the A22) began its climb up the forest ridge, the village of Forest Row has grown gradually over the past 150 years or so. Much of its growth was due to the arrival of the railway in 1866 and the opening of the golf course in 1889. For 100 years the village had a direct train service to London, but sadly, the line was an early casualty of the 'Beeching Axe'. The steady growth of Forest Row has, however, continued with a population in the parish of nearly 5,500 at the last census.

The village is surrounded on three sides by Ashdown Forest and this forms a natural boundary, preventing development on a large scale.

The village has retained much of its rural character and is a pleasant mixture of old and new, with traditional Sussex cottages and pleasing modern developments. There are several village greens carefully preserved and maintained by the Parish Council, giving an attractive open appearance.

Forest Row is now a shopping centre for quite a wide area and virtually every trade and profession is represented amongst the small shops and businesses that still provide a personal service. A small number of small industrial units have also been built and these have helped to create a balanced and sustainable community without intruding on the basic character of the village.

The population of the village is quite diverse and dynamic, largely due to the presence of Michael Hall School and Emerson College, and over the years the village has become something of a centre for organic produce and services - witnessed by the presence of award-winning Tablehurst and Plawhatch farms, Cyrnel Bakery, the Seasons and other small businesses. There are also many 'alternative' practitioners in the village, making it something of a centre for such treatments.

A growing number of activities is well provided for in the two village halls, the community centre and the new memorial pavilion at the recreation ground.