The origin of Newchapel

The origin of Newchapel

New Chapel lies to the north of Felbridge and the west of Lingfield on the main road to London. It is dominated by the Mormon Temple complex and a new comer to the area, or anyone under forty five may believe that the name derives from the building of the Mormon ‘chapel’, but they would be wrong. The name goes back much further in history than 1955 with the construction of the temple. The Victoria History of the Counties of England – Surrey, published in 1912, states that ‘New Chapel is in the south of the parish of Godstone and it is said to preserve the name of the chapel granted to Nicholas Louvaine by Hugh Craan in 1365, but no trace of a chapel exists’.

In 1365 Hugh Craan of Winchester granted to Sir Nicholas Louvaine and his heirs, the manor of Hedgecourt and Covelingley, called Lynlee, with the chapel in the park there, which he had received of the grant of John Husee. It is believed that Covelingley or Lynlee was probably Blindley Heath. The date of 1365 is the first mention of a chapel but there is no detail about where it stood.

In 1610 New Chapel appears on a map of Surrey, which also shows a part of Sussex. The map states that it is ‘described by the travills of John Norden, augmented and performed by John Speede’. I believe this is the start of the new chapel and was so called because there was or had been an ‘old’ chapel situated in Chapel Park.

The Evelyn map of 1748 shows Chapel Park, now called Chapel Wood, and Chapel Green where it is to this day. This map was commissioned by the Evelyn family to record their Felbridge Estate.

In 1761 the Clayton family, who owned much of Surrey, from the manor of Bletchingley down as far as Hedgecourt Common which was then bounded by the Crawley Down Road in Felbridge and a bit beyond. They commissioned a map which was an ‘Examination of all the cottages on the Common’, of which they owned. When overlaid on a modern O/S map, matching the field shapes and boundaries, the ‘New Chapel’ appears to have stood on the common which is now where ‘The Homestead’ stands, to the east of the main London to Eastbourne road opposite Lowlands farm.

The O/S map of 1789-1805, published in 1819, clearly shows Newchapel Common, with a building on it, although at what point it ceased to be a chapel is unknown, possibly in 1842 with the construction of Blindley Heath church or in 1865 with Felbridge church. What is known is that the site and the property that was on it was purchased as a dwelling, the property being demolished and rebuilt as ‘The Homestead’ shortly after the second world war by local builders Head Brothers. The Homestead stands in 2.75 acres, much of which is surrounded by remnants of a ditch and bank, with the original entrance leading to the old property about 100 metres past the Newchapel roundabout as you head north along the main London to Eastbourne road.

In conclusion, I propose that there have been two chapels. The first was built before 1365, as there is already mention of ‘the chapel in the park’ at that time. I believe this was built in Chapel Park, part of the Hedgecourt area and situated behind Chapel Farm, now the Mormon Temple complex. This chapel lent its name to Chapel Park, Chapel Wood and Chapel Farm. A new chapel then replaced the ‘old’ chapel at some time before 1610 as it appears on the Norden/Speede map of that year. This chapel was built on the common where ‘The Homestead’ now stands. This new chapel gave its name to the area we now know as Newchapel.