Nestled within the picturesque Wealden district of East Sussex lies the charming village of Forest Row. With its idyllic landscapes and a history that meanders through centuries, this small yet significant village has tales that are waiting to be told. From its ancient roots to its contemporary charms, let's journey through the annals of time to uncover the history of Forest Row.
While the exact origins of Forest Row remain shrouded in mystery, archaeological findings suggest that the area had been inhabited long before the written records began. Bronze Age artifacts, as well as remnants from the Roman era, have been discovered in and around the village, providing evidence of early settlers.
The name 'Forest Row' harkens back to its association with Ashdown Forest. During medieval times, this vast woodland, once a royal hunting ground for the Normans, was an important source of timber, game, and other resources. 'Row' is believed to have been derived from the Old English word 'raw', which means a row of houses – essentially hinting at a line of houses at the edge of the forest.
**Transition to Modern Times**
The turn of the 19th century saw a significant transformation in Forest Row. The construction of the London to Brighton road in 1815 (now the A22) brought an influx of travelers and with them, prosperity. Coaching inns, like the Swan, flourished during this era, servicing the many travelers who passed through the village.
The arrival of the railway in the 1860s further boosted its prominence. Though the railway station closed in the 1960s, remnants of this era, including some beautiful Victorian buildings, can still be seen today.
**A Spiritual Centre**
One of the most interesting facets of Forest Row's history is its connection to the anthroposophical movement. In the early 20th century, the village became a hub for those who followed the teachings of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. The establishment of the Emerson College in 1962 solidified Forest Row's reputation as an educational and spiritual center, attracting students and seekers from around the world.
**Modern-Day Forest Row**
Today, Forest Row is a blend of its ancient roots and modern sensibilities. It retains much of its old-world charm with its village greens, historic inns, and traditional shops. Yet, it also embraces the contemporary with its array of cafes, art galleries, and community initiatives.
The village is also known for its commitment to sustainability and the environment, hosting a plethora of eco-friendly businesses and organic farms.
From its ancient roots to its spiritual significance, and its steadfast commitment to the environment, Forest Row stands as a testament to time, showcasing how history, culture, and nature can seamlessly intertwine. For those lucky enough to visit or call it home, Forest Row is more than just a village in East Sussex; it's a living, breathing tapestry of history.