East Grinstead is a strange old place. Sitting on the border of Kent and Sussex it has been home to many famous people, drawn to the town by the peace and quiet, the sweeping South Downs and the country pubs with roaring fires. Winston Churchill retired here, purchasing the impressive gaff Chartwell, Winnie-The-Pooh set up his pad in the nearby Ashdown Forest and talking of joke characters, Peter André lived here too.
But what draws such strange people to the area like Plastic Peter, or the ridiculous Right Said Fred (currently singing weekly at Saracens Rugby Club with their version of “Stand Up for the Champions”)? Some suggest it is not for the slice of Daily Mail inspired middle England, but because of Ley Lines. Ley Lines are alleged alignments of a number of places of geographical and historical interest, such as ancient monuments and megaliths, natural ridge-tops and water-fords. So is this the explanation for the presence in the town of organisations such as The Mormons, The Church Of Scientology, The New Life Church as well as your regular old religious denominations.
So why congregate on East Grinstead? The Scientologists arrived when founder L Ron Hubbard bought a big old pad in the town back in 1959 and since has welcomed celebrity followers such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Katie Holmes, Kirstie Alley and, er Peaches Geldof to their mansion on the outskirts of the town. Tom and Katie love a trip down to the Co-Op when they are in the shack, whilst John can park his Jumbo at Gatwick nearby.
With so many celebs wandering around town how could there be room for a football team? Last time I saw Tom Cruise at a game it was watching David Beckham playing in the Bernabau. So where does he get his fix of “soccer” in this part of East Sussex? East Grinstead Town obviously. The Wasps were formed back in 1890 and have probably seen a fair few Mormons and Scientologists tucking into a cup of tea and a burger in the GEC Stadium over the years. The Sussex League team have floated along without causing too much of a kerfuffle in the town during the last 120 years unlike the various religious sects and their moment of glory came one hundred years ago when they reached the final of the Sussex Senior Cup, losing to those legendary St Leonards Amateurs in a snow storm. Ironically with winter weather threatening to take hold of South East England, I was watching the Wasps take on the Rooks in the same competition one hundred years later. Continue reading