A walk down the High Street will show you that there is a lot more to Crawley than the New Town story. There are several attractive buildings that date from medieval times, all with their own interesting history. The shape of the High Street could be the result of the waterlogged state of roads in medieval times, causing traffic to skirt wider and broaden the road. At one time there were several houses in the middle of the High Street, which probably started out as market stalls.
There are several books and booklets available which explain the history of High Street buildings. Click on the link to go to the Contacts and Reference pages for a list.
One of Crawley's best known buildings, The George was timber-framed open hall house, which grew over the years to incorporate neighbouring buildings. In 1689 the inn had 15 beds, it now has over 80. In the late 1700s the Prince Regent's new enthusiasm for Brighton led to Crawley became increasingly popular as a resting point half-way on the journey from London. At the turn of the 18th century, the George was so busy an annexe was added in the middle of the High Street. This was demolished in 1933 to make way for a car park.
Despite appearances, the Tree is also a timber-framed building, which has had a brick skin added at a later date. The part facing the High Street is the oldest surviving Medieval house in the High Street. The section facing the Boulevard dates from the 1400s. Home to local doctors for over 130 years, The Tree stood opposite a huge Elm, which had a small room in it's base. Unfortunately the tree was damaged by storms and died in the early 1900s.
The Ancient Priors is an impressive medieval building, which has seen many changes over the years. It was started out as a private house, and became the original 'Whyte Harte' inn during the mid 1600s, but proved too small for the amount of business, so after a new White Hart Inn was built in 1770, it became a furniture shop, and later took on the present name and trade, as a restaurant.
A classic `Wealden Hall-house', the Punch Bowl was originally a dairy farm until the late 1800s when it was divided into two cottages. In 1929 the building's new owner began extensive restoration, and soon after, Ye Olde Punche Bowle opened as a tea room. From the 1950s the building was used as a bank, until it recently became the Punch Bowl again, this time as a public house.
This building originally stood behind The Tree, and may have been a medieval meeting hall. In the 1960s the whole building was removed and transported to the Weald and Downlands Museum where it is now on display.
Another building that is older than it looks, the Hogs Head is a timber-framed open hall house, now operating as a pub - The Brewery Shades.
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