Crawley, West Sussex
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Crawley, West Sussex, England

Rowley Farm at Crawley

"Rowley Farm, situated between Crawley Industrial estate and Gatwick Airport, is an early example of a smoke-bay house. Built in the late 16th century, when the iron workings were still in full production in the area, it belonged to the Culpepper family."
(Source of above text and drawing to the right: West Sussex Gazette & S. England Advertiser, 20 Jan 1983)

This once peaceful location is still a working farm that today sits only a few hundred yards south of the eastern end of the runway of London's busy Gatwick Airport. Those arriving at Gatwick who are sitting on the left side of the plane should be able to view it if the approach is from the east. Or when departing, if the takeoff is to the east, Rowley Farm can be seen from the right side of the plane.

Location: Immediately south of Gatwick airport. Take the A23 south to Gatwick Road. 1/4 mile S on Gatwick Road, then 1/4 mile W on James Watt Way, and turn right on dirt road. House is a few hundred yards up the dirt road, past some barns.
National Grid Coordinates: TQ 280 396.

Crawley Rowley Farm
Sketch by Crawley artist Mrs. Bruce Collins,  showing the oldest wing of the house.


Crawley Farm, March 2000
Rowley Farm photo taken in March 2000 by Warren Culpepper

Culpepers "of Crawley"

The only Culpeper known by Culpepper Connections to have lived in Crawley was Thomas Culpeper of Crawley, Esq., one of the 18 children of Nicholas and Elizabeth Culpeper of Wakehurst. Thomas was married to Anne and appeared to have died childless prior to 1540. Presumably he lived in the home known today as Rowley Farm.

The modern-day Culpeppers are descended from Walter Culpeper7b of Goudhurst, Bayhall and Hardreshull, the grandfather of Thomas.

St. John the Baptist Church, Crawley

Crawley Church, March 2000The "Culpeper" Brass of Crawley Church"Some of the oldest memorials in the church are on the floor of the central aisle of the nave. At the the chancel end... is a small but beautiful brass of a lady standing on a grass mound. She wears a long, tight fitting gown edged with fur, and with fur cuffs; an ornamental girdle, hanging centrally, broad-toed shoes, and a pendimental head-dress with long embroidered lappets. The character of the brass suggests an early sixteenth century date, and there is a legend that this may be in memory of Joan Colepeper..."
(Source: Pamphlet dated May 1981 from the Parish Church of Saint John the Baptist, Crawley, Sussex.)

Any Culpeper associated with this church would most likely have been a member of the Wakehurst line, seated nearby at Ardingly. The only known Joan to have been in the Wakehurst line of the Culpepers was a great-granddaughter of Nicholas and Elizabeth Culpeper of Wakehurst. She was born circa 1533, consistent with the sixteenth century reference in the church pamphlet.

Both photos above were taken by Warren Culpepper in March 2000.

St. John the Baptist Location: On High Street in Crawley

National Grid Coordinates: TQ 268 365


Modern Crawley -- an amalgamation of Three Bridges, Ifield and old Crawley village -- is one of the original 'new towns' that came into existence as a result of the New Towns Act 0f 1946. It's now a large and still expanding industrial community whose development has been encouraged by the proximity of London's Gatwick Airport -- all a very far cry from the crow-infested clearing in Tilgate Forest from which the town has grown. Its name has Saxon roots -- crawe leah. We find it spelled Crauleia in 1203, then Crawele just under 50 years later, and Crawley in 1316. (Source: Judith Glover, Sussex Place-Names, Countryside Books, 1997, p. 61)

Location: Near Gatwick Airport, 30 miles W of Goudhurst; 35 miles SW of Maidstone.
National Grid Coordinates:
TQ 290 370

1831 Topographical Dictionary:
CRAWLEY, a parish in the hundred of BUTTINGHILL, rape of LEWES, county of SUSSEX, 9 miles (N. by W.) from Cuckfield, containing 334 inhabitants. The church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is partly in the decorated and partly in the later style of English architecture.

Last Revised: 02 Jan 2015


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