Felbridge and its surrounding district straddles a county boundary, being at the Northern-most extremity of the county of West Sussex, formerly part of Sussex, and the Southern-most extremity of the county of Surrey. Felbridge was late in becoming a parish in any right, either ecclesiastical or civil, being part of Godstone until the construction of thechurchofSt John’sthe Divine by the Gatty family ofFelbridge Placein 1865. A year later in 1866, the ecclesiastical parish of Felbridge was secured by an Order in Council, and was created from parts of the parishes of Godstone, Horne and Tandridge in Surrey, and East Grinstead and Worth inSussex. After the formation of the ecclesiastical parish, that part of Felbridge, which had formerly been part ofEast Grinstead, was retained under the administration of The Urban District Council of East Grinstead, now the East Grinstead Town Council, and that part, which had formerly been part of Crawley Down, was retained by Worth Parish Council. Both these councils are now regulated by Mid Sussex District Council, and in turn West Sussex County Council.
Three different parish councils administered the remainingSurreypart of the ecclesiastical parish of Felbridge, that of Godstone, Horne and Tandridge, and it was widely believed that some members of these councils had never actually set foot in Felbridge. The majority of the village of Felbridge formed part of the South Ward of the civil parish of Godstone, being separated from the ecclesiastical and civil parishes of Godstone by a strip of land forming part of the parish of Horne, and for this reason, Felbridge was known as ‘Godstone (Detached)’. With no one parish council in control of the area inSurrey, and being detached from Godstone, which was considered to be the main parish council for Felbridge, the residents of Felbridge felt isolated and forgotten. To try and give them a voice that might be heard they formed the strictly non-political Felbridge Ratepayer’s Association in 1945. Initially set up to represent the concerns of Felbridge, the ultimate idea being that if Felbridge could get a majority vote on any of the parish councils, the village would be able to achieve its aim of a separate civil parish.
Horne, as one of the parish councils that administered to Felbridge, was chosen as their scene for this stratagem. A large number of Felbridge people invaded a Horne parish meeting; the result was that Felbridge managed to get four Parish Councillors elected onto Horne Parish Council out of the seven available seats. Holders for this working majority were Richard Back, Herbert Ford, Charles Wheeler and Mrs Nancy McIver. At this point an official snag cropped up in the shape of the Government Commission onCountyBoundaries. Little more was heard of the Felbridge ‘separationists’, (as they were called), until the Boundary Commission died a natural death in 1949. That same year, Nancy McIver enhanced her career in local politics by gaining a seat on the Godstone Rural District Council, coming joint-second in the Godstone seats with 754 votes.
After 1949, momentum grew for the creation of a civil parish for Felbridge, but it took a further four years to achieve. By 1951, Godstone Rural District Council was satisfied that there was a case for making Felbridge into a separate parish and informed the Felbridge Ratepayer’s Association that they would be making a representation to Surrey County Council. Finally, in 1953, the Civil Parish of Felbridge was formed, which incorporated most of Godstone (Detached), the Southern part of Tandridge and the South Eastern corner of Horne that had fallen under the administration of Godstone Rural District Council.
In 1953, the definitive area of the civil parish of Felbridge was bounded on the North by West Park Road andNewchapel Road, on the East by the existing Tandridge boundary and to the West by the existing Horne boundary, and fell under the jurisdiction of Godstone Rural District Council, and ultimately, Surrey County Council. Today the Northern bound of the civil parish falls just short of theWest Park RoadandNewchapel Road, with the majority of the properties on the South side of the roads now under Horne, and Tandridge District Council took over from Godstone Rural District Council through changes in the Local Government Act that was passed in the early 1970’s. It is interesting to note that the original and amended boundaries of the civil parish of Felbridge differ from the boundary of the ecclesiastical parish of Felbridge, and that the boundaries of both parishes differ from the original boundary of the estate of Felbridge, which was created by Edward Evelyn in 1748. The reason for so many different boundaries of Felbridge is all due to the unique position of straddling the county boundary, a problem that has come back to haunt Felbridge on several occasions.
The first meeting of the civil parish of Felbridge was held at the St John’s(Felbridge) Institute, Copthorne Road, on Wednesday 1st April 1953, chaired by Nancy McIver, with approximately seventy people in attendance. The Clerk of the Rural District Council of Godstone, Mr F W Walpole, stated that the meeting had been called in accordance with Article 5 of the County of Surrey (Parish of Felbridge) Confirmation Order of 1953. Mr F W Walpole submitted the Order, of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and dealt with several matters that the Order required to be carried out prior to its coming into operation on the 1st April 1953, the main requirement being the election of Parish Councillors to represent the newly formed civil parish of Felbridge, which had been held on 28th March. The following candidates had been elected and formed the first Parish Council for Felbridge:
Richard Henry Back, of Bosworth House,Copthorne Road, Felbridge
Nancy Winnifred McIver, of Woodcock, Woodcock Hill, Felbridge
Lancelot Sanderson, (Captain, RN Rtd.), ofHomestead,Copthorne Road, Felbridge
Arthur Sidney Fry, of DoubleDee,London Road, Felbridge
John Sever Phillips, (Wing Commander, Rtd.), of Copthorne Cottage,Copthorne Road, Felbridge
Charles Wheeler, of Brockworth,Crawley Down Road, Felbridge
Frank Glover, of Bitterne,Rowplatt Lane, Felbridge.
The first meeting of the Felbridge Parish Council was held at the St John’s(Felbridge) Institute, on 16th April 1953, chaired by Richard Back, who was elected as chairman, with Arthur Fry being elected as vice-chairman. The Parish Council had received, from the Clerk of Godstone Rural District Council, Mr F W Walpole, a copy of the Order for the formation of the civil parish of Felbridge, together with the official map indicating the boundaries, and it was agreed that the map should be framed and hung in an appropriate place in the parish. The position of Clerk of the Parish Council was discussed and it was agreed that the salary should be £25 for the first year, rising to £30 for the following year. It was also agreed that a suitable person for the position would be Mr W G Phillips, of Pinecroft, Lake View Road, Furnace Wood, Felbridge, as he was a retired War Office clerk. He was duly approached and accepted the position. During the meeting of 16th April, the Parish Council set out the regulations for conducting the Parish business. The Westminster Bank, now National Westminster, was appointed to act as bankers, and it was agreed that two members of the Parish Council should sign all cheques drawn on the Parish Council. It was agreed that the Parish Council should hold ten meetings a year, at monthly intervals, excluding the months of August and December, and that meetings should be held on the third Thursday in each month at 7.30 pm. It was also agreed that a Footpaths Sub-Committee should be appointed to review the various authorised footpaths through the parish, the sub-committee voted in consisted of Charles Wheeler, Sidney Fry and Captain Lancelot Sanderson.
Godstone Rural District Council had sent a payment of £50 to meet the anticipated expenditure incurred by the Parish Council, and they also received a letter from the Surrey County Council inviting them to appoint two representatives to serve on the managing body of the Felbridge County Primary School to replace the two Godstone ones that had left on the 1st April. It was unanimously agreed that Rev Reginald Theobald, vicar ofSt John’s, Felbridge, and Arthur Fry would become the two representatives.
At the second meeting, held on 21st May, a sub-committee was formed to set out draft Standing Orders, the series of rules stating or recommending the way in which the Parish Council should conduct its business, some of the rules being compulsory and laid down in Acts of Parliament, which cannot be altered. These were duly submitted and later accepted at the meeting on 16th July 1953. Also at the second meeting, it was agreed that the Parish Council would need a Public Relations Officer and Captain Lancelot Sanderson was elected. The Parish Council also discovered that not only was it responsible for the public footpaths in the parish, but the public lighting as well, and at that time there were thirteen street lamps in the whole of the parish! A sub-committee was formed to take responsibility for public lighting with the aim of phasing in several new streetlights each year, thus preventing a huge outlay in expenditure in one go. This continued until 1973, when the District Council took back the responsibility for street lighting.
Felbridge is a small civil parish and the Parish Council concerns itself mainly with items and events within the parish, although of late, it has become more involved with the events just across the border in West Sussex, especially in the area of the parish that adjoins the parishes of Worth and East Grinstead where continued development is favoured by Mid Sussex District Council. The Parish Council has seven elected members who provide their time voluntarily and who work for the benefit of the parish as a whole; the only position receiving payment is that of the Parish Clerk. Initially, one person took the position of chairman until their resignation from the Parish Council, but in 1975, the decision was made that the position of chairman would be elected annually; preventing any one individual from dominating the Parish Council for a sustained period of time. Administration within the Parish Council falls under several different categories, with a councillor allocated to planning applications, transport, waste disposal and trees, and a sub-committee dealing with footpaths. The Parish Council is also responsible for appointing two Tree Wardens and representatives to:
Police Liaison Committee
East Surrey Parishes Liaison Group
SurreyCountyAssociation of Parish & Town Councils
Board of Governors ofFelbridgePrimary School
Felbridge Village Hall Committee
Felbridge Sports & Recreation Association
Beef & Faggot Charity
Bletchley Rural Charity
Sand and Gravel Pit Charity
With the formation of the civil parish, the Parish Council was eager to define the bounds of the parish with the erection of ‘Felbridge’ nameplates in 1953, which were erected at three places:
1) Outside the Lincoln Imp at the foot of Woodcock Hill (now the site of Fresco’s) on the A22
2) At the Felcot Farm bus stop on theCopthorne Road(now in the Furnace Wood lay-by after straightening the A264),
3) On theCrawley Down Roadat Leaping Well (now the site of Patbarossa, currently up for re-development after a fire destroyed the property in the 1990’s).
A pressing concern for the Parish Council was the fact that even in 1953, the parish of Felbridge had no main drainage and all houses were on cesspools only, resulting in a major and on-going problem of over-flowing sewage. Apart from policing the problem and contacting culprits to rectify their leakage, the Parish Council made an early resolution to link up to a main drainage scheme and by 1963, a new sewage scheme had been installed to many areas of Felbridge, although even today, some areas, like Furnace Wood, are still without main drainage. The most recent area to acquire main drainage is at Domewood, costing up to £7,000 for each household to be linked into the scheme. On similar lines, the parish was experiencing the unpleasant problem of dogs fouling the footpaths, and then, as now, it was found almost impossible to bring a prosecution against offending dog owners.
Even in the 1950’s the civil parish of Felbridge was under attack from developers. The policy of the Parish Council has always been to oppose back-garden development and encroachments into the Green Belt areas, although a certain amount of in-fill would be tolerated. The District Council has on occasions, supported this policy, although over the years there has been more and more pressure to develop the green areas of the village, particularly those that fall under the jurisdiction of Mid Sussex District Council. Unfortunately, neither the Parish Council or Tandridge District Council are informed by Mid Sussex of impending development, unless access is required through land inSurrey. Any proposed development on theSussexside of the boundary, South of Crawley Down Road, would undoubtedly affect Felbridge, particularly with the added traffic that development inevitably brings.
Another major environmental concern over the years has been the problem of flooding in the vicinity ofHedgecourtLake. On investigation it was found that the spillway level was about 12 ins/30cm higher than the level indicated on the ordnance survey maps of 1908, as a result there is occasional overtopping of the dam, resulting in the Copthorne Road flooding, to a depth of 18ins/45cms in 1974, erosion of Mill Lane and land upstream, particularly in Furnace Wood, becoming water-logged and flooded. Consultation has been made with the owners, Crawley Mariners, the County Council and Southern Water, but the problem is not that easily resolved. Another watery problem the Parish Council have had to resolve is the maintenance of the village pond outside The Limes, which at one time was largely over-grown and was threatened with filling in.
During the 1950’s many concerns were voiced by the residents of the parish for the Parish Council to look into and police, things that today are considered the norm. There was the problem of parking on grass verges, even outside ones own house, the appearance of touring caravans being parked in people’s gardens, ugly road signs, the clearance of rabbits, and the keeping of chicken. Added to these, there were the concerns, that are still relevant today, litter, horse riding on the Village Green, the recreation or play area, hooliganism and anti-social behaviour ‘by certain lads’, loss of the village ‘Bobby’, who retired in 1966, speeding through the village, the junction at the end of Crawley Down Road, the lack of a pedestrian crossing across Copthorne Road, and dumped cars, yes even in 1958!
The Parish Council has persistently sought a 30mph speed limit through the village, unfortunately this has not yet been achieved, although, over the years it has had some success in reducing the speed limit on longer stretches of the roads through Felbridge. The 40mph speed limit has been extended alongCopthorne Road, becoming derestricted after passing Doves Barn, when heading out of the village. The Parish Council has also achieved an extension of the 40mph speed limit along theCrawley Down Road, which at one time became derestricted on the village side of Wheeler’s Close. Again, the Parish Council has been instrumental in achieving a 50mph speed limit along the A264 in Snow Hill area, and in straightening the A264 in the areas of Furnace Wood andRowplatt Lane, where major accidents frequently occurred. Another ‘Black Spot’ on the parish roads was, and still is, Woodcock Hill, even though the Parish Council has been successful in reducing the speed limit to 40mph from the bottom of Woodcock Hill, and over the years arranged better visibility on the bend on Woodcock Hill. The Parish Council has long sought some improvement to the Star junction, first by the request for a traffic control policeman to stand on duty at peak times, and then with the request for traffic lights in 1959, which even after being sanctioned by Tandridge District Council in 1969, took a further two years to be installed.
As far back as 1956, The Parish Council has requested that something be done to minimise the risk of accidents at the junction ofCrawley Down RoadwithCopthorne Road. It has succeeded in implementing minor changes, at least allowing small vehicles to turn left along the A264, which at one time was an impossible feat without crossing into the lane of on coming traffic from theCrawleydirection. The Parish Council has for many years been campaigning for a safe crossing on the Copthorne Road, particularly as a small boy was knocked down after leaving Felbridge School in 1970. Eventually, through the Government’s Safe Routes to School initiative, a large sum of money was set aside for a crossing to be installed on the brow of the A264, at the rear of the School, near to the flashing School Warning lights, which incidentally were also installed at the insistence of the Parish Council. However, although promised in 1998, it has not yet materialised, the Highways Department of Surrey County Council now deeming the positioning too dangerous, (although, it is interesting to note that this location was chosen to site a ‘Lolli Pop’ man/lady when in operation during the 1980’s). The consequence now being that Felbridge has lost the Safe Routes to School money and has been offered several alternative schemes, none of which have yet been approved or budgeted for.
In 1970, another plan was published for an East Grinstead and Felbridge By-pass, at least ‘by-pass’ was what the proposed route would have done for East Grinstead, ‘divide in two’ was more appropriate for the parish of Felbridge, as the preferred route cut straight across the Village Green. The Parish Council organised a local discussion meeting that resulted in the formation of the By-pass Action Group, and held a postal referendum for the electorate of the Felbridge parish. The public meeting and the referendum clearly indicated that within Felbridge there was a total opposition to the proposed route of the by-pass and the Imberhorne Farm development. Currently, the by-pass rears its head again, but not without the obligatory 3,000 houses to cover the cost of construction. The Parish Council has already voiced its concerns, along with people of the parish, as to the impact that an extra 3,000 households would have on the ambience and amenities of the parish, and, with the average two cars per household, the extra 6,000 vehicles fighting for road space until the ‘By-pass’ has been eventually built. Building development should not be confused by the offer to build a by-pass, as has been the case in all the proposals to develop Imberhorne Farm, building development and the by-pass are two separate issues.
Since 1970, the M23 and the M25 have been built, andGatwickAirporthas been extended. The Parish Council opposed the building of theCopthorne Link Road, stating that some thought should be given to the impact of traffic on the A264 that runs East to West through Felbridge. Unfortunately, the Parish Council had a little voice and as a result of opening the link road, the A264 and its junction with the A22 are now grossly overloaded, although on the up side, an imposed speed limit, of virtually stationary, is now in operation at peak times of the day and weekends!
It is hard to believe, but in the 1960’s concerns were being voiced about the parking and congestion outside the School, particularly at the end of the school day. One has to remember that at this time, there had been no back-garden development in Felbridge, and there were only about sixty children on the school register, most living in the village and many of whom came from no car families. What would they make of the situation today, with 210 pupils, many of whom do not live in the village and travel to school by car, the must-use-car culture of today, even if they do live in the village, and increased traffic in general along the Crawley Down Road due to the development of Crawley Down itself? With roadside parking full, many people resort to parking in the Village Hall car park, which strictly speaking is for hirers of the hall to use, and not the general public. Various people have put suggestions forward to alleviate the parking problem over the years, on and off the Parish Council, these include:
The extension of the Village Hall car park to incorporate community parking.
A return to parking on the Green, which was a common sight in the 1950’s.
Even, hiring the entrance hall of the Village Hall for the duration of term time by one parent to enable them to legally use the car park!
Ultimately there has been no sensible or suitable solution to this problem and many feel it is a problem that the Surrey Education should sort out, as the parking problem only arises in connection with School events like end of the school day, Sports Day, Harvest Festival, the Christmas Fair and Nativity Play.
In 1989, during one of the proposed Imberhorne Farm/By-pass developments, the Boundary Commission proposed that Felbridge should become part of West Sussex, however, they neglected to consult the Felbridge Parish Council about the proposals, and were unaware that while they wanted Felbridge to become part of West Sussex, Felbridge and Surrey County Council had other ideas and wanted to extend their boundaries South to the Felbridge Water, to encompass South of Crawley Down Road and the whole of Furnace Wood, thus taking land away from West Sussex. This action would have made it difficult for any future development of that area of Green Belt, and would have helped secure the Surrey County Council’s policy of retaining Felbridge as a village without expanding its boundaries and sprawling into another conurbation. It was felt by the Parish Council that the Boundary Commission had no idea of the situation in Felbridge, and it was widely believed that they did not even know that Felbridge was a parish in its own right, which might have explained why notification of the proposed changes had not been forwarded to Felbridge Parish Council. Eventually a mass of protests persuaded the Boundary Commission to leave Felbridge inSurrey, but the Parish Council was far from happy. It wanted to see the whole of the village moved into Surrey, with Felbridge Water as the natural boundary, as had been agreed with Surrey andWest Sussexseveral years previously. As it stands, Mid Sussex District Council is slowly eroding the land South of Crawley Down Road through its policy of removing the strategic gap betweenEast Grinsteadand Felbridge.
Issues that affect the civil parish of Felbridge are surprisingly varied and are far too numerous to include every one. Apart from problems already discussed, associated with roads and traffic, development, environmental issues, and boundary changes, perhaps one other major issue is the social and community side the civil parish. In the 1950’s there were several clubs and societies that people could join, like the WI, Felbridge Horticultural Society, the Lake View Drama & Social Club, and even a Youth Club, on and off, but unless you belonged to an official sports club like the North End & Felbridge Cricket Club or the Felbridge Bowling Club there were no recreational facilities for the youth of the parish. In 1956, the Parish Council established a small recreation ground, located behind the Felbridge Bowling Club, off Crawley Down Road, forming part of a piece of land, known as the King George’s Field. The field had been purchased with funds from the publicly subscribed King George V Appeal, which was vested in the Godstone Rural District Council. During and after World War II, the bulk of the field had been leased to local farmers, but in 1969, the Parish Council was instrumental in forming the Felbridge Sports and Recreation Association and took over the lease. It is through their efforts that football has been played on the field since 1971, and tennis courts were completed in 1974, along with the construction of a pavilion. After the completion of the new Felbridge Village Hall in 1965, the Play Area of the Recreation Ground was re-located to the grounds of the Village Hall, along with the name plates, and now it is the grounds of the Village Hall that bear the bronze plaques, George V, AD 1910-1936, on one gate post and King Georges Field on the other.
In more recent years the Parish Council has responded to the changing pastimes of the youth of the parish and have installed goal posts on the King George’s Field to enable the youth to kick a ball around whilst not having to become a member of the Felbridge Football Club, and a skate board ramp for skate boarding, roller blading and BMX biking, although some residents view the installation of the latter as detrimental to the parish.
To add to the ambience of the parish, bulbs and flowering trees have been planted, particularly on the Village Green. Seats have been placed around the parish for people to sit and admire the views or just sit and watch the world go by, with many dedicated to the memory of past Parish Councillors. There are six seats in total around the parish and are located at:
The Limes, beside the village pond.
The Village Green, one near the Parish Notice Board to celebrate the Queen’s Silver Jubilee of 1977, and one to the memory of Charles Wheeler, an original Parish Councillor and his wife Dora, erected in 1973.
The Play Area on the King George’s Field, where two seats are to be found, one dedicated to the memory of John Boait, Parish Councillor between 1983 and 1987, and the other seat being presented by Tandridge District Council.
King George’s Field, in front of the copse, dedicated to the memory of Mr W P Parnell, Parish Clerk between 1960 and 1967.
HedgecourtLakecar park, dedicated to the memory of Peter Howard, Parish Councillor, who unfortunately died in 1999, after only three years service.
There are a further two seats on the Village Green, one donated by Mrs Marjorie Jones, formerly of Stream Park, in 1987, to replace a seat that had been demolished, and the second seat, outside the school entrance, to the memory of Mrs Edna Roberts, donated by her son and daughter in 2000. The Parish Council minute books also make mention of a further three seats, one that was once located in the original Recreation Ground and another at Judges Corner, although these have long since disappeared. There was also one to the memory of Bob Parsons, Parish Councillor who died in 1988, which once stood in the porch of the Village Hall but had to be removed after it was vandalised.
Also to be found on the Village Green is the Village Sign that was designed by Parish Councillor Ken Housman, who retired in 2002. The Village Sign was crafted by Jon Jones of Reddick Forge, formerly of Dormansland, but now operating fromCrawley Down Road, Felbridge, and presented to the parish by Tony Jones of Llanberis Farm,Crawley Down Road, in 1984. The design represents the bridge over the Fel, with one of the Evelyn chestnuts, which are a familiar sight in the village. The cannon and cannon balls are for the iron industry that flourished from the mid 1500’s to the late 1700’s, located atWarrenfurnace, Furnace Wood and Woodcock Hammer, later Wiremill. The water wheel is a symbol of the water that once powered the iron industry and reminds us of the water mill that once stood at Hedgecourt. The use of the squirrel either side of the word ‘Felbridge’ represents the symbol used byFelbridgePrimary School.
The Parish Council is also responsible for the publication of a footpath map of the parish. Originally published in 1977, the map was revised and updated in 1999, and shows all the current footpaths. Periodically, the Parish Council has produced a ‘What’s On in Felbridge’ leaflet, to inform the people of the parish of activities, clubs, associations, and services that are available to them, the most recent being published in 2003. It has also been responsible for two booklets about the history of Felbridge, outlining the history and development of the area, including the formation of the ecclesiastical and civil parish, and the community and people of Felbridge. The first edition was published in 1975, which was later revised and updated to celebrate the millennium, being published in December 1999. Millennium celebrations also included a party supported by the Parish Council to see in the new millennium, and a village fair at which its Snap Shot project was unveiled. The Snap Shot project was a Parish Council initiative, made up of a collection of photographs that were donated by the people of Felbridge, capturing the parish, its people and events at the turn of the millennium for future generations to view.
In 2002, the Parish Council supported another village fair, followed by a family disco in the Village Hall, to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The fare included a selection of charity stalls, a fancy dress competition, a Local History Exhibition, the Felbridge School Summer Fair and entertainment, including a rendition of The Felbridge March, dedicated to Charles Henry Gatty, written by Edward Hunt, and arranged and performed by the Lingfield Silver Band, tunes from Ye Olde Tyme Hand Bell Ringers, and songs from members of the Lake View Drama Club.
The fair also saw the unveiling of the Felbridge Golden Jubilee tapestry. This was a needlework project commissioned by the Parish Council after Felbridge had been omitted from the Commemorative Textile Artwork project that had been commissioned by Tandridge District Council to celebrate the millennium. The Felbridge Parish Council was, understandably, rather aggrieved by the complete over-sight and lack of acknowledgement of Felbridge, so it was decided that the Parish Council would commission its own. The Tapestry was a set of seven hexagonal panels that, when put together, formed a large hexagon, each panel being completed by members of the parish representing local clubs and organisations. Each panel was an easily seen landmark in Felbridge and included:
St John’sChurch, completed by Ann Morely, representing members of the congregation.
WhittingtonCollege, completed by Ann Tucker and Marilyn Marshall, representing the 1st Felbridge (St John’s) Guides, Brownies and Rainbows.
An Evelyn Chestnut Tree, completed by Jean Roberts and Dorothy Harding, representing the Felbridge & District History Group.
The Star Inn, completed by Molly Murby, representing the Felbridge WI.
The Village Sign, completed by Di Giles, representing the people of the parish.
FelbridgePrimary School, completed by the children under the direction of Kay Probert and Lesley Jones, representingFelbridgeSchool.
Central Jubilee Commemorative panel, completed by Lesley Jones, representing The Fabric Patch.
The panels were then stitched together by Di Giles and Molly Murby, framed by Dee-Jay Framing of Lingfield, and on completion the Felbridge Golden Jubilee Tapestry was hung in the Village Hall for successive generations to view.
In 2003, the civil parish of Felbridge celebrated its own Golden Jubilee, having been formed fifty years previously in 1953. The Parish Council arranged a small get-together of past and present Councillors who were invited to a social evening of reminiscing. For the people of the parish, a Village Day was organised between Linda Hainge and staff and PTA members fromFelbridgePrimary School, with the support of the Felbridge Parish Council. The event included a Local History Exhibition with a display on the history and development of the civil parish of Felbridge, a Craft Fair where people of the parish could show and demonstrate their craft skills, and an old fashioned Summer Fair run by and in aid of the School. The evening followed with a barbeque and family disco, run by the School, for the people of Felbridge to enjoy their fifty years of independence as a civil parish.
In addition to the civil business of the parish, there are many interesting features to be found in the civil parish of Felbridge. There are two SSSI’s, (Sites of Special Scientific Interest),HedgecourtLakeand adjoining nature reserve, and the Beavers Fishery; both cared for by the Surrey Wildlife Trust. HedgecourtLakeis also the largest expanse of open water in South East Surrey and the reed swamp at the South East corner provides nest sites for many species of water birds. The other SSSI, at the Beavers Fishery, lies between Hedgecourt and Park Farm and is close to The Moats, a listed monument. Here can be found the fragmentary remains of a medieval moated manor house, the original site of Hedgecourt manor, created in 1290. Another listed site is to be found on what was part of Hedgecourt Common, being in both the counties of Surrey andWest Sussex. This site is an enclosure, East of the site ofWarrenfurnace, in the area of Yew Tree Farm, Felcot Farm and Michaelmas Farm, which is believed to have been a ‘ShantyTown’ for the workers of the furnace. Also, cutting diagonally across the civil parish can be found traces of theLondonto Brighton Roman road, entering the parish at theCrawley Down Roadend ofRowplatt Laneand leaving the parish when it crosses the River Eden, to the North West of Wiremill Lake.
The parish can boast of no less than three properties designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, one by William Bowles, another by Blunden Shadbolt, and an extension by Charles Rene Mackintosh. There are a least seven listed buildings, Rabies, Park Farm, Long Wall, Felbridge Copse, Felcot Farm, Doves Barn, Mill Cottages and the Schoolhouse. FelbridgePrimary School, founded in 1783, is the oldest school inSurreythat is still using its original school building and during recent years has constantly been in the top ten of the Government’s league table of best primary schools. The parish is also home to the famous almshouses,WhittingtonCollege, founded by Dick Whittington in 1424, moving from Highgate to Felbridge in 1966. Felbridge was also the choice of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when they were looking for somewhere to build theirLondonTemple, in 1954.
During its fifty years, the parish has also had it share of celebrities, Frederick Forsyth the author of such novels as Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File and The Dogs of War, and the actress Melanie Parr who appeared in several West End Musicals, including Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz both lived in Felbridge. Also, there are Claire Still, Principal Dancer with the Royal Danish Ballet Company, and Ann Dunkley who went on to dance with The Royal Ballet School and has appeared in several Renault car adverts on the television, both of who trained with the Roshe School of Dancing that holds classes at the Felbridge Village Hall. Other pupils, past and present, from the Roshe School have also been seen performing in various professional productions in the West End including, Annie, Whistle Down the Wind, Oliver!, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, Starlight Express, Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Grease, as well as studying with the English National School of Ballet, Central Ballet School, Ballet Rambert and Italia Conti.
In 1988, Brockworth and Lynton, two houses onCrawley Down Roadwere demolished and the site developed as Wheeler’s Way. 1989 saw the building of Tithe Orchard at the rear of Pulruan and Marbeth,Rowplatt Lane. Lyndhurst Farm Close replacedLyndhurstpoultry farm onCopthorne Roadin 1990, and Alton House,Crawley Down Road, was demolished and replaced by McIver Close in 1994. 1996 saw the development of the Wyevale Garden Centre, off theCopthorne Road, being replaced byHedgecourt Place. 2000 saw an extension to McIver Close with the building of Evelyn Close. 2003 saw development of the grounds of Ann’s Orchard, again under the jurisdiction of Mid Sussex District Council with access over land in Tandridge. Felbridge Parish Council objected, however, on this occasion Tandridge District Council did not and the development was approved, giving an opportunity to build a further two properties behind 57 & 59,Crawley Down Road. So from what was once a small parish, Felbridge has grown and now has a voting population of just less than 1550, an increase of over 40%.
Felbridge Parish & People, FHA
Labour Challenge Fails, article in the Surrey Mirror, May 1949, FHA
RDC takes up Felbridge cause, Kent &SussexCourier, 6/7/1951, FHA
A New Felbridge Parish, article from a local newspaper, c1953, FHA
Felbridge Parish is a year old, local newspaper article, April 1954, FHA
Notes on the Felbridge Parish Council, by Nancy McIver, FHA
Felbridge Parish Council, by A King, 1988, FHA
Minute Books for the Felbridge Parish Council, 1953-2003
Thanks are extended to Ken Housman, Parish Councillor 1968-2002, and Alec King, Parish Councillor since 1971, for their information and help.