Kingdom of Great Britain
The Kingdom of Great Britain called Great Britain, was a sovereign state in western Europe from 1 May 1707 to 31 December 1800. The state came into being following the Treaty of Union in 1706, ratified by the Acts of Union 1707, which united the kingdoms of England and Scotland to form a single kingdom encompassing the whole island of Great Britain and its outlying islands, with the exception of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands; the unitary state was governed by a single parliament and government, based in Westminster. The former kingdoms had been in personal union since James VI of Scotland became King of England and King of Ireland in 1603 following the death of Elizabeth I, bringing about the "Union of the Crowns". After the accession of George I to the throne of Great Britain in 1714, the kingdom was in a personal union with the Electorate of Hanover; the early years of the unified kingdom were marked by Jacobite risings which ended in defeat for the Stuart cause at Culloden in 1746.
In 1763, victory in the Seven Years' War led to the dominance of the British Empire, to become the foremost global power for over a century and grew to become the largest empire in history. The Kingdom of Great Britain was replaced by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 January 1801 with the Acts of Union 1800; the name Britain descends from the Latin name for the island of Great Britain, Britannia or Brittānia, the land of the Britons via the Old French Bretaigne and Middle English Bretayne, Breteyne. The term Great Britain was first used in 1474; the use of the word "Great" before "Britain" originates in the French language, which uses Bretagne for both Britain and Brittany. French therefore distinguishes between the two by calling Britain la Grande Bretagne, a distinction, transferred into English; the Treaty of Union and the subsequent Acts of Union state that England and Scotland were to be "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain", as such "Great Britain" was the official name of the state, as well as being used in titles such as "Parliament of Great Britain".
Both the Acts and the Treaty describe the country as "One Kingdom" and a "United Kingdom", which has led some much publications into the error of treating the "United Kingdom" as a name before it came into being in 1801. The websites of the Scottish Parliament, the BBC, others, including the Historical Association, refer to the state created on 1 May 1707 as the United Kingdom of Great Britain; the term United Kingdom was sometimes used during the 18th century to describe the state, but was not its name. The kingdoms of England and Scotland, both in existence from the 9th century, were separate states until 1707. However, they had come into a personal union in 1603, when James VI of Scotland became king of England under the name of James I; this Union of the Crowns under the House of Stuart meant that the whole of the island of Great Britain was now ruled by a single monarch, who by virtue of holding the English crown ruled over the Kingdom of Ireland. Each of the three kingdoms maintained laws.
Various smaller islands were in the king's domain, including the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. This disposition changed when the Acts of Union 1707 came into force, with a single unified Crown of Great Britain and a single unified parliament. Ireland remained formally separate, with its own parliament, until the Acts of Union 1800; the Union of 1707 provided for a Protestant-only succession to the throne in accordance with the English Act of Settlement of 1701. The Act of Settlement required that the heir to the English throne be a descendant of the Electress Sophia of Hanover and not be a Catholic. Legislative power was vested in the Parliament of Great Britain, which replaced both the Parliament of England and the Parliament of Scotland. In practice it was a continuation of the English parliament, sitting at the same location in Westminster, expanded to include representation from Scotland; as with the former Parliament of England and the modern Parliament of the United Kingdom, the Parliament of Great Britain was formally constituted of three elements: the House of Commons, the House of Lords, the Crown.
The right of the English peerage to sit in the House of Lords remained unchanged, while the disproportionately large Scottish peerage was permitted to send only 16 representative peers, elected from amongst their number for the life of each parliament. The members of the former English House of Commons continued as members of the British House of Commons, but as a reflection of the relative tax bases of the two countries the number of Scottish representatives was reduced to 45. Newly created peers in the Peerage of Great Britain were given the automatic right to sit in the Lords. Despite the end of a separate parliament for Scotland, it retained its own laws and system of courts, As its own established Presbyterian Church, control over its own schools; the social structure was hierarchical, the same elite remain in control after 1707. Scotland continued to have its own excellent universities, with the strong intellectual community in Edinburgh, The Scottish Enlightenment had a major impact on British and European thinking.
As a result of Poynings' Law of 1495, the Parliament of Ireland was subordinate to the Parliament of England, after 1707 to the Parliament of Great Britain. The Westminster parliament's Declaratory Act 1719 (also called the Dependency of Ireland
1983 United Kingdom general election
The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of the Labour Party in 1945. Thatcher's first four years as Prime Minister had not been an easy time. Unemployment increased during the first three years of her premiership and the economy went through a recession. However, the British victory in the Falklands War led to a recovery of her personal popularity. By the time Thatcher called the election in May 1983, the Conservatives were most people's firm favourites to win the general election; the Labour Party had been led by Michael Foot since the resignation of former Prime Minister James Callaghan in 1980. They had fared well in opinion polls and local elections during this time, but issues developed which would lead directly to their defeat. Labour adopted a platform, considered more left-wing than usual. Several moderate Labour MPs had defected from the party to form the Social Democratic Party.
The opposition vote split evenly between the Alliance and Labour. With its worst electoral performance since 1918, the Labour vote fell by over 3 million votes from 1979 and this accounted for both a national swing of 4% towards the Conservatives and their larger parliamentary majority of 144 seats though the Conservatives' total vote fell by 700,000; this was the last general election where a governing party increased its number of seats until 2015. The Alliance came within 700,000 votes of out-polling Labour. By gaining 25% of the popular vote, the Alliance won the largest such percentage for any third party since the 1923 general election. Despite this, they won only 23 seats, whereas Labour won 209; the Liberals argued that a proportional electoral system would have given them a more representative number of MPs. Changing the electoral system had been a long-running Liberal Party campaign plank and would be adopted by the Liberal Democrats; the election night was broadcast live on the BBC, was presented by David Dimbleby, Sir Robin Day and Peter Snow.
It was broadcast on ITV, presented by Alastair Burnet, Peter Sissons and Martyn Lewis. Three future Leaders of the Labour Party were first elected as Members of Parliament at this election—two of them would hold the office of Prime Minister, whilst Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015. Former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers, Joan Lestor and Tony Benn left Parliament as a result of this election, although Benn would return in a by-election the following year, Lestor at the following general election. Michael Foot was elected leader of the Labour Party in 1980; the election of Foot signalled that the core of the party was swinging to the left and the move exacerbated divisions within the party. In 1981 a group of senior figures including Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams left Labour to found the Social Democratic Party; the SDP agreed to a pact with the Liberals for the 1983 election and stood as "The Alliance". The campaign displayed the huge divisions between the two major parties.
Thatcher had been unpopular during her first two years in office until the swift and decisive victory in the Falklands War, coupled with an improving economy raised her standings in the polls. The Conservatives' key issues included economic growth and defence. Labour's campaign manifesto involved leaving the European Economic Community, abolishing the House of Lords, abandoning the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent by cancelling Trident and removing cruise missiles—a programme dubbed by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman "the longest suicide note in history". Pro-Labour political journalist Michael White, writing in The Guardian, commented: "There was something magnificently brave about Michael Foot's campaign but it was like the Battle of the Somme." Following boundary changes in 1983, the BBC and ITN co-produced a calculation of how the 1979 general election would have gone if fought on the new 1983 boundaries. The following table shows the effects of the boundary changes on the House of Commons: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited Buckingham Palace on the afternoon of 9 May and asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament on 13 May, announcing that the election would be held on 9 June.
The key dates were as follows: The election saw a landslide victory for the Conservatives, achieving their best results since 1935. Although there was a slight drop in their share of the vote, they made significant gains at the expense of Labour; the night was a disaster for the Labour Party. The massive increase of support for the Alliance at the expense of Labour meant that, in many seats, the collapse in the Labour vote allowed the Conservatives to gain. Despite winning over 25% of the national vote, the Alliance got fewer than 4% of seats, 186 fewer than Labour; the most significant Labour loss of the night was Tony Benn, defeated in the revived Bristol East seat. SDP President Shirley Williams a prominent leader in the Social Democratic Party, lost her Crosby seat which she had won in a by-election in 1981. Bill Rodgers, another leading figure in the Alliance failed to win his old seat that he held as a Labour MP. In Scotland, both Labour a
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
House of Commons of England
The House of Commons of England was the lower house of the Parliament of England from its development in the 14th century to the union of England and Scotland in 1707, when it was replaced by the House of Commons of Great Britain. In 1801, with the union of Great Britain and Ireland, that house was in turn replaced by the House of Commons of the United Kingdom; the Parliament of England developed from the Magnum Concilium that advised the English monarch in medieval times. This royal council, meeting for short periods, included ecclesiastics and representatives of the counties; the chief duty of the council was to approve taxes proposed by the Crown. In many cases, the council demanded the redress of the people's grievances before proceeding to vote on taxation. Thus, it developed legislative powers; the first parliament to invite representatives of the major towns was Montfort's Parliament in 1265. At the "Model Parliament" of 1295, representatives of the boroughs were admitted. Thus, it became settled practice that each county send two knights of the shire, that each borough send two burgesses.
At first, the burgesses were entirely powerless. Any show of independence by burgesses would thus be to lead to the exclusion of their towns from Parliament; the knights of the shire were in a better position, although less powerful than their noble and clerical counterparts in what was still a unicameral Parliament. The division of the Parliament of England into two houses occurred during the reign of Edward III: in 1341 the Commons met separately from the nobility and clergy for the first time, creating in effect an Upper Chamber and a Lower Chamber, with the knights and burgesses sitting in the latter, they formed what became known as the House of Commons, while the clergy and nobility became the House of Lords. Although they remained subordinate to both the Crown and the Lords, the Commons did act with increasing boldness. During the Good Parliament of 1376, the Commons appointed Sir Peter de la Mare to convey to the Lords their complaints of heavy taxes, demands for an accounting of the royal expenditures, criticism of the King's management of the military.
The Commons proceeded to impeach some of the King's ministers. Although Mare was imprisoned for his actions, the benefits of having a single voice to represent the Commons were recognized, the office which became known as Speaker of the House of Commons was thus created. Mare was soon released after the death of King Edward III and in 1377 became the second Speaker of the Commons. During the reign of the next monarch, Richard II, the Commons once again began to impeach errant ministers of the Crown, they began to insist that they could control public expenditures. Despite such gains in authority, the Commons still remained much less powerful than the Lords and the Crown; the influence of the Crown was increased by the civil wars of the late fifteenth century, which destroyed the power of the great noblemen. Both houses of Parliament held little power during the ensuing years, the absolute supremacy of the Sovereign was restored; the domination of the monarch grew further under the House of Tudor in the sixteenth century.
This trend, was somewhat reversed when the House of Stuart came to the English throne in 1603. The first two Stuart monarchs, James I and Charles I, provoked conflicts with the Commons over issues such as taxation and royal powers; the differences between Charles I and Parliament were great, resulted in the English Civil War, in which the armed forces of Parliament were victorious. In December 1648 the House of Commons was purged by the New Model Army, supposed to be subservient to Parliament. Pride's Purge was the only military coup in English history. Subsequently, King Charles I was beheaded and the Upper House was abolished; the unicameral Parliament that remained was referred to by critics as the Rump Parliament, as it consisted only of a small selection of Members of Parliament approved by the army - some of whom were soldiers themselves. In 1653, when leading figures in this Parliament began to disagree with the army, it was dissolved by Oliver Cromwell. However, the monarchy and the House of Lords were both restored with the Commons in 1660.
The influence of the Crown had been decreased, was further diminished after James II was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the Bill of Rights 1689 was enacted. Duration of English Parliaments before 1660 History of borough status in England and Wales Lex Parliamentaria List of Acts of the Parliament of England List of Parliaments of England List of Speakers of the House of Commons of England Modus Tenendi Parliamentum John Cannon, Parliamentary Reform 1640-1832 J. E. Neale, The Elizabethan House of Commons
Reform Act 1832
The Representation of the People Act 1832 was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced wide-ranging changes to the electoral system of England and Wales. According to its preamble, the Act was designed to "take effectual Measures for correcting divers Abuses that have long prevailed in the Choice of Members to serve in the Commons House of Parliament". Before the reform, most members nominally represented boroughs; the number of electors in a borough varied from a dozen or so up to 12,000. The selection of MPs was controlled by one powerful patron: for example Charles Howard, 11th Duke of Norfolk, controlled eleven boroughs. Criteria for qualification for the franchise varied among boroughs, from the requirement to own land, to living in a house with a hearth sufficient to boil a pot. There had been calls for reform long without success; the Act that succeeded was proposed by the Whigs, led by Prime Minister Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey. It met with significant opposition from the Pittite factions in Parliament, who had long governed the country.
The bill was passed as a result of public pressure. The Act granted seats in the House of Commons to large cities that had sprung up during the Industrial Revolution, removed seats from the "rotten boroughs": those with small electorates and dominated by a wealthy patron; the Act increased the electorate from about 400,000 to 650,000, making about one in five adult males eligible to vote. The full title is An Act to amend the representation of the people in Wales, its formal short title and citation is "Representation of the People Act 1832". The Act applied only in Wales; the separate Scottish Reform Act 1832 was revolutionary, enlarging the electorate by a factor of 1300% from 5000 to 65,000. After the Acts of Union 1800 became law on 1 January 1801, the unreformed House of Commons was composed of 658 members, of whom 513 represented England and Wales. There were two types of constituencies. County members were supposed to represent landholders, while borough members were supposed to represent the mercantile and trading interests of the kingdom.
Counties were historical national subdivisions established between the 16th centuries. They were not parliamentary constituencies; the members of Parliament chosen by the counties were known as Knights of the Shire. In Wales each county elected one member, while in England each county elected two members until 1826, when Yorkshire's representation was increased to four, following the disenfranchisement of the Cornish borough of Grampound. Parliamentary boroughs in England ranged in size from small hamlets to large cities because they had evolved haphazardly; the earliest boroughs were chosen in the Middle Ages by county sheriffs, a village might be deemed a borough. Many of these early boroughs were substantial settlements at the time of their original enfranchisement, but went into decline, by the early 19th century some only had a few electors, but still elected two MPs. In centuries the reigning monarch decided which settlements to enfranchise; the monarchs seem to have done so capriciously with little regard for the merits of the place they were enfranchising.
Of the 70 English boroughs that Tudor monarchs enfranchised, 31 were disenfranchised. The parliamentarians of the 17th century compounded the inconsistencies by re-enfranchising 15 boroughs whose representation had lapsed for centuries, seven of which were disenfranchised by the Reform Act. After Newark was enfranchised in 1661, no additional boroughs were enfranchised, the unfair system remained unchanged until the Reform Act of 1832. Grampound's disenfranchisement in 1821 was the sole exception. Most English boroughs elected two MPs; the City of London and the joint borough of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis each elected four members. The Welsh boroughs each returned a single member. Statutes passed in 1430 and 1432, during the reign of Henry VI, standardised property qualifications for county voters. Under these Acts, all owners of freehold property or land worth at least forty shillings in a particular county were entitled to vote in that county; this requirement, known as the forty shilling freehold, was never adjusted for inflation.
The franchise was restricted to males by custom rather than statute. The vast majority of people were not entitled to vote. Furthermore, the sizes of the individual county constituencies varied significantly; the smallest counties and Anglesey, had fewer than 1,000 voters each, while the largest county, had more than 20,000. Those who owned property in multiple constituencies could vote multiple times. In boroughs the franchise was far more varied. There were broadly six types of parliamenta
1832 United Kingdom general election
The 1832 United Kingdom general election, the first after the Reform Act, saw the Whigs win a large majority, with the Tories winning less than 30% of the vote. The Earl Grey had been Prime Minister since November 1830, he headed the first predominantly Whig administration since the Ministry of All the Talents in 1806–07. In addition to the Whigs themselves, Grey was supported by other allied politicians; the Whigs and their allies were coming to be referred to as liberals, but no formal Liberal Party had been established at the time of this election, so all the politicians supporting the ministry are referred to as Whig in the above results. The Leader of the House of Commons since 1830 was Viscount Althorp, who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer; the last Tory prime minister, at the time of this election, was the Duke of Wellington. After leaving government office, Wellington continued to lead the Tory peers and was the overall Leader of the Opposition; the Tory Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons was Bt.
John Wilson Croker had used the term "conservative" in 1830, but the Tories at the time of this election had not yet become known as the Conservative Party. This distinction would take hold after the Liberal Party was created. In Irish politics, Daniel O'Connell was continuing his campaign for repeal of the Act of Union, he had founded the Irish Repeal Association and it presented candidates independent of the two principal parties. Following the passage of the Reform Act 1832 and related legislation to reform the electoral system and redistribute constituencies, the tenth United Kingdom Parliament was dissolved on 3 December 1832; the new Parliament was summoned to meet on 29 January 1833, for a maximum seven-year term from that date. The maximum term could be and was curtailed, by the monarch dissolving the Parliament, before its term expired. At this period there was not one election day. After receiving a writ for the election to be held, the local returning officer fixed the election timetable for the particular constituency or constituencies he was concerned with.
Polling in seats with contested elections could continue for many days. The general election took place between December 1832 and January 1833; the first nomination was on 8 December, with the first contest on 10 December and the last contest on 8 January 1833. It was usual for polling in the University constituencies and in Orkney and Shetland to take place about a week after other seats. Disregarding contests in the Universities and Orkney and Shetland, the last poll was on 1 January 1833. For the distribution of constituencies in the unreformed House of Commons, before this election, see the United Kingdom general election, 1831. Apart from the disenfranchisement of Grampound for corruption in 1821 and the transfer of its two seats as additional members for Yorkshire from 1826, there had been no change in the constituencies of England since the 1670s. In some cases the county and borough seats had remained unaltered since the 13th century. Welsh constituencies had been unchanged since the 16th century.
Those in Scotland had remained the same since 1708 and in Ireland since 1801. In 1832 politicians were facing an unfamiliar electoral map, as well as an electorate including those qualified under a new uniform householder franchise in the boroughs; however the reform legislation had not removed all the anomalies in the electoral system. Table of largest and smallest electorates 1832–33, by country and number of seats Monmouthshire is included in Wales in these tables. Sources for this period may include the county in England. Table 1: Constituencies and MPs, by type and country Table 2: Number of seats per constituency, by type and country List of United Kingdom general elections List of MPs elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1832 Craig, F. W. S. British Electoral Facts: 1832–1987, Dartmouth: Gower, ISBN 0900178302 Rallings, Colin. British Electoral Facts 1832–1999, Ashgate Publishing Ltd Walker, B. M. ed. Parliamentary Election Results in Ireland 1801–1922, Royal Irish Academy Spartacus: Political Parties and Election Results
East Grinstead is a town and civil parish in the northeastern corner of Mid Sussex district of West Sussex in England near the East Sussex and Kent borders. It lies 27 miles south of London, 21 miles north northeast of Brighton, 38 miles east northeast of the county town of Chichester; the civil parish covers an area of 2,443.45 hectares and had a population of 23,942 persons in the 2001 census. The population of the town at the 2011 Census was 26,383. Nearby towns include Crawley and Horley to the west, Tunbridge Wells to the east and Redhill and Reigate to the northwest; the town is contiguous with the village of Felbridge to the northwest. Until 1974 East Grinstead was the centre for local government - East Grinstead Urban District Council - and was located in the county of East Sussex. East Grinstead, along with Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill, as part of the former Cuckfield Rural District Council, came together as Mid-Sussex; the town is located on the Greenwich Meridian. It is located in the Ashdown Forest lies to the south-east of the town.
The High Street contains one of the longest continuous runs of 14th-century timber-framed buildings in England. Other notable buildings in the town include Sackville College, the sandstone almshouse built in 1609 where the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas" was written by John Mason Neale; the college has sweeping views towards Ashdown Forest. The adjacent St Swithun's Church, stands on the highest ground in the town and was rebuilt in the eighteenth century to a perpendicular design by James Wyatt. In the churchyard are commemorated the East Grinstead Martyrs; the Greenwich Meridian runs through the grounds of the historic 1769 East Court mansion, home of the Town Council, giving the visitor an opportunity to stand with a foot in both the east and west. The mansion stands in a parkland setting. In 1968 the East Grinstead Society was founded as an independent body both to protect the important buildings of East Grinstead and to improve the amenities for future generations. On the outskirts of the town is Standen, a country house belonging to the National Trust, containing one of the best collections of arts and crafts movement furnishings and fabrics.
East Grinstead House is the headquarters of the Caravan Club. The town is the site of Queen Victoria Hospital, where famed plastic surgeon Archibald McIndoe treated burns victims of World War II and formed the Guinea Pig Club. A statue of Sir Archibald McIndoe caring for an injured airman was erected in June 2018 outside Sackville College and was unveiled by HRH The Princess Anne, the Princess Royal. Kidbrooke Park, a home of the Hambro family, was restored by the noted Sussex architect and antiquarian, Walter Godfrey, as was Plawhatch Hall. During the Second World War, the town became a secondary target for German bombers which failed to make their primary target elsewhere. On the afternoon of Friday 9 July 1943, a Luftwaffe bomber became separated from its squadron, followed the main railway line and circled the town twice dropped eight bombs. Two bombs, one with a delayed-action fuse, fell on the Whitehall Theatre, a cinema on the London Road, where 184 people at the matinée show were watching a Hopalong Cassidy film before the main feature.
A total of 108 people were killed in the raid, including children in the cinema, many of whom were evacuees. A further 235 were injured; this was the largest loss of life of any single air raid in Sussex. In 2006, the East Grinstead Town Museum was moved to new custom-built premises in the historic centre of the town, re-opened to the public. Chequer Mead Theatre includes a modern 320 seat purpose-built auditorium, which stages professional and amateur plays/musicals and music, ballet, folk music, tribute bands, event cinema and talks; the venue has a popular spacious cafe with outdoor seating. In addition to the nearby Ashdown Forest, East Grinstead is served by the Forest Way and Worth Way linear Country Parks which follow the disused railway line from Three Bridges all the way through to Groombridge and which are part of the Sustrans national cycle network. East Grinstead has an unusually diverse range of religious and spiritual organisations for a town of its size. A broad range of mainstream Christian denominations have places of worship in the town, several others used to be represented.
Several other religious groups have connections with the town, from owning property to having national headquarters there. The Church of England has four places of worship in the town. St Swithun's Church was founded in the 11th century. Architect James Wyatt rebuilt it in local stone in 1789 after it collapsed. Near the entrance to the church, three stones mark the supposed ashes of Anne Tree, Thomas Dunngate and John Forman who were burned as martyrs on 18 July 1556 because they would not renounce the Protestant faith. John Foxe wrote about them in his 1,800-page Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Two other churches are in St Swithun's parish. St Luke's Church in Holtye Avenue on the Stone Quarry estate was built in 1954 to serve the northeast of the town; the church wa