History of The Gatwick Manor and Lowfield Heath
Situated at Lowfield Heath, enveloped by ten acres of stunningly beautiful grounds, The Gatwick Manor’s earliest building – now the Great Hall - dates back to the middle of the 13th century. Originally known as Hyders, the main building is a fine example of a Wealden Open Hall, a timber-framed farmhouse once common throughout Kent and Sussex. The oak panelling, cruciform crown post and gigantic oak beams from the original hall, where the ‘ate Hyde’ family lived on the edge of Lowfield Heath, are all still intact. Modified in Tudor times with the addition of a brick-built wing of vast fireplaces, mullioned lead-paned windows and chimneys - one complete with a hidey-hole - all encased in walls over three feet thick, today The Gatwick Manor is an architectural gem with Grade II listed status.
The remains of an original moat can still be seen to the front of the building and the characterful exterior of timber, mellowed brick and native Horsham stone have been blended by time and craftsmen over many centuries. For most of its long life it served as the farmhouse for wealthy yeoman farmers, and the 1851 census records the estate as a farm of 126 acres.
Until the expansion of Gatwick Airport, Lowfield Heath was a small country village in the Parish of Charlwood, close to the River Mole on the boundary between Surrey and Sussex. For centuries, the ancient ‘County Oak’ marked the border and served as a landmark for travellers on the London-Brighton road. In the early 18th century, an Act of Parliament authorised the construction of ten miles of roadway from the historic market town of Reigate to the High Wealds town of Crawley, crossing the Heath and stimulating the growth of the village. The road was made into a toll road in 1755, becoming part of the main London to Brighton turnpike route in 1770, offering safer coach passage to the newly fashionable Regency seaside resort.
Ideally situated on the A23 at the county boundary, The Gatwick Manor is a perfect point from which to explore the beautiful Sussex countryside of the South Downs National Park – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Stretching from the historic cathedral city of Winchester to the spectacular chalk cliffs of Beachy Head, the South Downs National Park offers a rich tapestry of stunning landscapes.
The 100-mile long South Downs Way follows the chalk ridge from Winchester to Eastbourne, taking in scenic views and picturesque villages. En route near Chichester, the Weald and Downland Museum gives visitors a unique insight into a lost way of life, including a complete Wealden open hall – like The Gatwick Manor – reconstructed as it was in 1540.
Gatwick Manor is situated amidst beautiful English countryside, yet close to all the major transport networks. Today, guests can still enjoy a tranquil break from their journey along with a delicious pub meal and a glass of fine wine or cask ale. Whether exploring the stunning South Downs, the historic nearby towns like Reigate and Winchester, or travelling further afield, this attractive 15th century inn with its extensive grounds is well worth a visit.
You can find Gatwick Manor on the A23 London Road off Junction 10 of the M23 and close to Gatwick Airport. Just key RH10 9ST into your satnav.