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Let’s move to East Grinstead and Forest Row, West Sussex: mystically fruity | Money


What’s going for it? Do you believe in the genius loci, the spirit of the place? Well, there must be a fruity old spirit in East Grinstead and Forest Row. Is there something in the water, in the soil, in the wind? How else do you explain the congregation here of those who, shall we say, walk the path less travelled? Forest Row has two biodynamic farms. The newsagent’s noticeboard is stuffed with offers of reiki this, hot stone that. In East Grinstead, there is an uncommon clustering of the spiritual, with its Scientologists, Opus Dei adherents, Rosicrucians, not to mention art therapy, Montessori, colleges of naturopathic medicine, all as common as Costa Coffee shops here.

On the surface, they are both pleasant places, but nothing out of the ordinary. Forest Row is the smaller, and the posher, in an unshowy kind of way. Prosperous enough to support a fishmonger; demure enough to hide its large piles behind high hedges. East Grinstead is more your well-heeled commuter town – Fat Face, White Stuff and all – though it hides at its heart the complete surprise of a beautiful half-timbered old town. Anyway, nothing you wouldn’t find in Cuckfield or Crowborough.

So why here? What lies beneath? I have scoured the internet. Ley lines? Cosmic rhythms? Ancient burial site of a pagan goddess? Conspiracy theories invited.

The case against The path less travelled is generally less travelled because it costs more; it’s not cheap round here.

Well connected? Trains: East Grinstead gets you to London Victoria (56 mins), London Bridge (55 mins) and London St Pancras International (70 mins); two to four an hour to East Croydon. Driving: 25 mins to Gatwick Airport, 15 mins to the M23, 30 mins to the M25 and Tunbridge Wells.

Schools Primaries: In East Grinstead, St Peter’s Catholic, Halsford Park, St Mary’s CofE, Baldwins Hill, Estcots and The Meads are all “good”, says Ofsted, and, in Forest Row, Forest Row CofE and Ashurst Wood. Secondaries: Sackville and Imberhorne in East Grinstead are both “good”.

Hang out at… Tablehurst farm cafe does a magnificent sausage roll. The Hop Yard for hipsterish thrills.

Where to buy East Grinstead’s beautiful old town would be my first stop; but many come here for the commuter properties. Some sizeable piles, especially south-west to Coombe Hill Road, and north to Dormans Park and Felcourt. In Forest Row it’s mostly about the large detacheds, especially around Ryst Wood Road, Park Road and Chapel Lane. Large detacheds and townhouses, £500,000-£2.75m. Detacheds and smaller townhouses, £375,000-£500,000. Semis, £350,000-£550,000. Terraces and cottages, £325,000-£425,000. Flats, £225,000-£475,000. Rentals: one-bedroom flat, £650-£850; three-bedroom house, £1,300-£1,700.

Bargain of the week Not a chance. The nearest you’ll get? A three-bedroom detached close to East Grinstead station, in need of modernisation, £420,000, with garnhamhbewley.co.uk.

From the streets

Chris Parsons “Ashdown Forest for wonderful walking; a mix of open heath and woodland.”

Kate Eden “A bit cliquey.”

Anna Kilpatrick “Easier to get your chakras read than buy a pair of tights.”

● Live in East Grinstead and Forest Row? Join the debate below.

Do you live in Saffron Walden, Essex? Do you have a favourite haunt or a pet hate? If so, email lets.move@theguardian.com by Tuesday 17 March.

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