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  An Illustrated Guide to Crowborough by Boys Firmin
published by The Hansard Publishing Union Ltd in 1890
Note
Excludes chapters V and part of Chapter VI
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The history of Crowborough is closely associated with that of Rotherfield. To a certain extent the records of the one place are identical with those of the other.
Crowborough was an outlying district of Rotherfield parish, very little cared for or considered, either with regard to the value of its soil or the welfare of its few inhabitants. It was probably at an early period avoided as a wild region, and its people regarded as dangerous characters.

Rotherfield was its centre of civilisation, a place of refuge or security from the rough and violent foresters who, sheltered in rude cabins on the forest land, lived by charcoal-burning, poaching, smuggling, and occasionally by digging or collecting the iron mine for smelting.

There is no indication of anyone taking the smallest interest in the place, or of any dwelling beyond cottages having been erected upon its land, until Sir Henry Fermor, Bart., out of commiseration for the neglected people, by his will directed that a chapel and school-house, which he amply endowed, should be built for their instruction and religious benefit. Had this charity been managed with ability and zeal - had the purpose of Sir Henry Fermor been properly carried out by competent persons, greater results might have been achieved. Whether the investment of the sum with which the charity was endowed was made with judgment and advantage I am unable to ascertain, as the information upon which an opinion might be formed has not yet reached me.

The growth of Crowborough has been slow. An impulse now and then accelerated it, but not to any great extent.

Between intervals of inertness and repose there were short periods of activity in building. The population gradually increased as new residents, attracted by the beauty and salubriousness of the locality, settled here, and as the demand for additional labour offered employment.

The opening of' the railway station, making the place easily accessible, no doubt brought Crowborough more under the notice of the public generally, though even after this event very few seem to have taken the trouble to visit the locality or to make themselves acquainted with its character and advantages. Many also were prejudiced against it by reports that it was a wild and bleak place, dull and isolated, a fit retreat for a recluse, but to be shunned by the lover of social enjoyment.

It is now populous, compared to what it was forty or even twenty years ago. The hill is becoming studded with houses, some of which ornament, while others disfigure it.

There is this solace for the eyesore of badly planned and hideous buildings: we can turn from them to the extensive and elaborate pictures of beauty which Nature has so lavishly displayed about Crowborough. It is improbable that these will be destroyed within this generation or the next, even should we be invaded by the army of destruction and greed.

The Crowborough of the past, compared with that of the present day, exhibits many different features, both with regard to its natural appearance as well as with respect to its social condition' Even within the last seventy years there were no houses of any size beyond cottages or small farmhouses.

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