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The History of Crowhurst Park

2022 marked the 70th Anniversary of Crowhurst Park as a Holiday Village

Turner Engraving
Engraving of ‘Pevensey Bay from Crowhurst Park’ by J.M.W. Turner

Early History

The history of Crowhurst Park can be traced back to Roman times, when the area in which the park is situated was once a leading source of 'ironstone' which, when processed, was taken to the coast and transported to every corner of the Roman Empire. In addition to it being an abundant source of iron, the Park offered a rich source of good quality timber.

The Manor House

The earliest recorded date with which the manor house is associated is 1627. This date was recorded on an old iron fireback once situated in the inglenook fireplace in the manor house. Throughout its long history, the manor house has been used for a number of purposes including a base for Canadian soldiers prior to the D Day landings, a hotel, country club and as a nursing home for the elderly. In 1952 Crowhurst became a caravan park and has evolved since then to include a fabulous leisure club, caravan holiday homes, club house and luxury lodges.

Pelhams and Papillons

The Crowhurst Estate had long been associated with two noteworthy local landowning families, the Pelhams and the Papillons, and the house was owned intermittently by one or other of the families for over three hundred years. It was in 1942 that the estate's association with the two families finally came to an end when the estate was put up for auction by John Pelham Papillon on Wednesday 11th February 1942 because there were no heirs to whom he could pass this imposing and historical estate.

The Pelham Buckle

The much coveted symbol of the park is the Pelham Buckle, said to have been awarded to John de Pelham for his part in the capture of King John of France at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. The buckle first appeared on the coat of arms of the Earl of Chichester, originally known as Baron Pelham of Stanmer. The Pelicans which also feature on the coat of arms are a play on the name 'Pelham' and the buckles which adorn the coat of arms are said to represent those of the surrendered sword of King John.

Once Upon a Time

There are many mysteries and stories which abound about the time the house was in ownership of the Papillon family and a detailed account of these can be read in the Crowhurst Park publication entitled, "Once Upon a Time…"

John Turner

The magnificent view which stretches south across the lush green Sussex countryside to the coast, was painted in 1816 by J.M.W. Turner, and although the whereabouts of the original painting is now unknown, a sketch made by Turner of the same scene is stored as part of a collection of sketches by Turner, in the Tate Britain Gallery.

Ownership today

One of the estate's principal features is that it is still privately owned. Since the Simmons family acquired ownership of Crowhurst Park in 1952, emphasis has been placed on attention to detail and a desire to offer guests a great holiday experience. Our success as a principal holiday venue is in no small part due to its status as a privately run holiday park under the personal supervision of the Simmons family.
The front of a postcard pre the 1987 hurricane

70th Anniversary

Of the ownerships over the past 400 years, two historical families stand out. The Pelhams and later the Papillons were certainly the most influential dynasties – each of whom leaving behind them mysteries and speculations in place of historical facts, from which legends and ghost stories have grown.
The main characters in this story now are a Sussex family called Simmons – who were farming the land around Crowhurst Park when the property came on the market in 1949. From 1949 to 1952 the Manor House continued to be used as Country Club Hotel and lately a nursing home.

2022 now marks the 70th Anniversary of Crowhurst Park as holiday Village – thank you for being a part of our story.