Danehill

No marauding Danes here, but certainly a hill from which the village enjoys some of the finest views in the county. The name is a corruption of ‘Den’ meaning an enclosure on the forest. There has been a settlement on the old East Grinstead to Lewes turnpike for centuries, but the parish is a modern one, formed in 1898 from chunks of Fletching and Horsted Keynes.

Richard Tamplin was born here at the end of the 18th century. He came from a family of mercers and his father died in debt, but Tamplin built up one of the largest breweries in Sussex and though it has long since been absorbed by one of the national giants the name lives on to this day. Tamplin’s first brewery at Southwick was destroyed by fire in 1811 and he made a fresh start at the appropriately named Phoenix Brewery in Brighton. He was the right man in the right place at the right time as Brighton was just about to take off as a seaside resort and there were a growing number of thirsts to be quenched.

They are fond of the past in Danehill and the village’s historical society has more than 120 members. The first president of the society was 90-year-old Dame Margery Corbett Ashby, an early leader of the women’s rights movement who was born in the village in 1882. At the age of 19 her interest in politics led her to become national secretary of the Constitutional Suffrage Movement, and in 1924 she was elected president of the International Alliance of Women. She was one of the United Kingdom delegates at the disarmament conference in Geneva in 1932. When she died in 1981 the Historical Society published a commemorative book on her life.

The writer Jane Austen’s niece, Adela Knight, married the ill-fated squire in these parts in the 1870s. He was Herbert Carey Hardy who died from shock in 1888 after having his leg amputated because of a carriage accident. He was just 40.

Hidden away on the forest at Chelwood Gate is a memorial to President John F. Kennedy. Five months before his assassination in 1963, he came here for talks with Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (the late Lord Stockton) who lived at Birchgrove.