Thursday September 28, 2023

Serene village near London with 'strange' medieval past

The village of Eats Grinstead is home to several religions, previously dubbed as a "hotbed" of religious zeal

By Web Desk
June 04, 2023
This picture shows East Grinstead in older times. — Twitter/@AboutEG
This picture shows East Grinstead in older times. — Twitter/@AboutEG

East Grinstead, a commuter town in West Sussex, would seem identical to any other commuter town in the home counties to someone passing by. 

Given that it is only 27 miles from London and has a charming town centre with a few cafes and pubs, it has long been regarded as a preferred location for city workers.

The small suburban town's several diverse and unusual religious groups and sects, however, also draw a whole distinct crowd of individuals to its streets. 

The town of East Grinstead is home to Scientology, Opus Dei, Mormons, Druids, and Pagans and was previously referred to as a "hotbed" of religious zeal, according to My London News.

The little town is home to the UK headquarters of Scientology, the craze that has ensnared several A-list celebrities. 

L. Ron Hubbard, who founded the religion, bought Saint Hill Manor, a remote country home on the town's western outskirts, in 1959.

Tom Cruise, a famous actor, is said to have stayed at the manor during COVID-19 and given the neighbourhood rugby team $10,000 earlier. John Travolta, who notoriously attempted to reserve a table at the neighbourhood KFC fast food chain restaurant, was also sighted there.

This picture shows Saint Hill Manor, headquarters of Scientology, East Grinstead in 2019. — Twitter/@@SarahBirdDogOne
This picture shows Saint Hill Manor, headquarters of Scientology, East Grinstead in 2019. — Twitter/@@SarahBirdDogOne

There are about 1,000 residents, and 50 of them own and operate local companies, according to MailOnline

A mock-normal castle was constructed as a training facility for Scientology adherents while it was under Hubbard's ownership, the website suggests. 

The 60-acre complex is surrounded by iron gates and several surveillance cameras, yet the general public knows very little about it. 

The London Temple of the Mormon Church is also three miles north of East Grinstead. 

Mormonism, which was founded by Joseph Smith in the 1820s, likewise accepts polygamy and believes that praying to God can cure people's lives. Tourists are welcome to wander the grounds, but they are not permitted to enter the temple because it is deemed "sacred".

Opus Dei, a branch of the Catholic church, is another religious organisation in the region that became well-known as a result of Dan Brown's 2003 movie The Da Vinci Code, whose portrayal received harsh condemnation from Christians.

The mortification of the flesh, in which people have been known to refuse self-flagellation, is one of the group's most contentious rituals. They are based at Wickenden Manor in East Grinstead; however, the property is private.

For decades, people have questioned why so many religious organisations have established themselves in a little Sussex village. 

However, a lot of people think it has something to do with "ley lines," which are said to be straight lines connecting three or more prehistoric or ancient sites worldwide.

The town's centre, in particular, is traversed by the Greenwich Meridian Line, which is said to have supernatural abilities. 

The neighbouring woodlands are thought to be the home of Druids, Pagans, Wiccans, and Satanists, so it is not just religious orders that have made East Grinstead their home.