'˜Unimportant' farmhouse with a fascinating history

At the junction of Stonefield Close with the Brighton Road, there was once a late-16th century timber-framed farmhouse.

Thursday, 13th July 2017, 4:16 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 12:07 pm
Front view of Crawley Cottage - formerly Crawley Lodge and Charterhouse - in 1930

Being of insignificant appearance and not considered of importance, it was demolished in the 1980s without any research or historical investigation.

The house’s original landholding was approximately one acre, with a large attached orchard.

However, the farmland extended northwards as far as what is now East Park and southwards to opposite the entrance to Perryfield Road. The farm produced mainly wheat.

Interior of Crawley Tea Barn 1930

The first definitely known owners were two generations of the Gyles family, who in 1632 sold the farm to John Gillam, a yeoman farmer of Slaugham, who tenanted out the property. By the middle of the century it had been acquired by George Tidy, the blacksmith, who was buying several properties within the town, but did continue these premises as a farm.

It was inherited by three generations of the family until the 1770s when this house was left to another George Tidy’s wife, Joan.

When she died, it came to her son Thomas, who was a farmer in Hever, Kent. He sold the estate in 1778 to Dr John Dungate, tenant of The Tree.

Dr Dungate made several changes to extend the house. The original was to the rear and consisted of two rooms above and below, with massive beams.

Crawley Tea Bard 1930. The golf potting green

The house was extended to the front, to house a hall, staircase and two further rooms either side of the stairs, both down and up.

At a later date, further extensions to south and east were made. At the bottom of the garden, Dr Dungate built a surgery and his apothecary shop, which in later years gave to the rumours this house was a hospital.

In the 1830s, Dungate heirs sold to the Rev Lewin, who tenanted it out to various persons, and finally, in the 1890s, the farmland was sold off for building plots. The field from East Park to the house boundary was purchased by Moses Nightingale, to develop his own house and shops. The farm itself had several names over time. Dr Dungate called it Charterhouse, later it became known as Crawley Lodge then Crawley Cottage.

In the early 1900s there were several owners for short periods. In 1930, the enterprising owner started a successful commercial business using the barn and grounds, with tea rooms and a mini golf course – ideal on the busy London to Brighton Road. World War Two saw an end to this enterprise.

Interior of Crawley Tea Barn 1930

In the 1950s and 1960s, the barn was rented to the RSPCA by the then owner of the cottage.

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Crawley Tea Bard 1930. The golf potting green

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