Category: Christmas

December 26th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

Above: The good King featured on last year’s Christmas stamps

THE answers to the Christmas Quiz by Roy Henderson we published yesterday are:

1. John Mason Neale   –   Sackville College   –   Good King Wenceslas
2. Archibald McIndoe   –   The QVH   –   New Zealand
3. Lady Blount   –   Our Lady and Saint Peter
4. Patrick Moore   –   Brockhurst Observatory
5. Neil Gaiman   –   Harwoods Lane   –   The Ocean at the End of the Lane
6. Peter Andre   –   New York Coffee Club (NYCC)

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with:

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 18.54.30
December 26th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

INo_selfie_sticks_sign,_Museum_of_Brisbane,_2015N a survey before Christmas, one in five of the adults questioned in the south east said the present they least wanted for Christmas was a selfie stick. 

Other duds were celebrity cookbooks and autobiographies, work-out DVDs, Minion toys, socks, onesies and Star Wars merchandise.

So if Santa delivered you something that was just the tiniest bit disappointing, the British Heart Foundation would be very glad if you would regift it to them, to sell on to someone who will really appreciate it  – and fund life-saving research.

With over a third (39%) of people saying they feel guilty about getting a present they don’t want or won’t use, BHF shops are urging everyone to turn guilt into good by donating their unwanted Christmas gifts.

Mike Taylor, Retail Director at BHF, said: “One person’s unwanted gift is another person’s perfect present, and whilst a selfie stick may not have been on the top of some people’s lists, there will be others who can’t wait to get their hands on one.

“So please help our fight against coronary heart disease, the UK’s single biggest killer – every item you donate helps.”

The BHF shop in East Grinstead is at 64 London Road.

Photo:British Heart Foundation, 64 London Road, courtesy of Google Street View


Posted in Charity, Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 14.49.17
December 25th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

HOMEMADE presents are best, and Good King Wenceslas, composed by the Rev John Mason Neale, former Warden of Sackville College, is the gift that keeps on giving.

So as you sniff the air expectantly, waiting for the first whiff of turkey to permeate the house this morning, here is the choir from St Swithun’s taking us at a brisk trot through one of the world’s favourite Christmas carols. And ours.

Have a happy day East Grinstead!

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: ,

Rev Julia Peaty
December 25th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Rev Julia Peaty of St Swithun’s gave a brief reminder of the true meaning of Christmas when she attended the Rotary Clubs’ Tree Lighting ceremony on 5 December.

Here, on the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, she reminds us of what Christmas is really all about:

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: , , ,

December 25th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

by Bob Marchant

Above: McIndoe helps the nurses serve Christmas lunch

CHRISTMAS is the traditional time for families to get together, to exchange presents, and enjoy good food and wine, so it is important that the hospital does all it can to make the patients’ stay as comfortable and as enjoyable as possible, if they have the misfortune to be away from their families over the festive season.

In the early days the staff made every effort to decorate the wards, and each one would have its own tree, which had usually been donated by either the League of Friends, or local business people.

After getting the routine of washing the patients, bed-making and dressings completed, the patients would settle with a hot drink, often with a mince-pie, while preparations were made for lunchtime.

QVHI517_cropped-300x184The Guinea Pigs were always ready to receive VIP visitors over the festive season, like in 1942 when Ava Anderson, the wife of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer visited.

Right Ward 3 in 1942

Prior to lunch, patients were allowed a small sherry, if this didn’t interfere with their medication – but not on Ward 3, where the Guinea Pig Members still had their barrel of beer, plus the other odd tipple.

Patients who were able to, sat round a large table on the ward which had been laid just like home, with crackers, table decorations and serviettes, and it was always expected that one of the Senior Surgeons would come in to help the nurses, by carving the turkey – each ward had its own bird.

Following the patients having their lunch, they would be settled down for an hour’s rest before visiting time, so the staff could sit down together to enjoy their own lunch (but sadly no sherry!) always keeping one eye on the patients they were responsible for.

Either side of lunch a number of the senior members of staff, often with their families, would come in to tour the hospital to show their respects and to wish the staff on duty a happy Christmas.

Now luckily in some ways, but unfortunately in others, surgery has progressed, so not as many patients have to spend their time in hospital  away from their families.

But the wards are still decorated, and for those not so lucky to be at home, a Christmas lunch will be served by the nurses.

They are still made to feel special and the day is made as enjoyable as possible by all the staff on duty, who are also missing their own families to care for patients who are away from theirs.

Posted in Christmas, History, News Tagged with: , ,

On the Sunday before Christmas Santa set up his grotto in John Pye's Book Shop
December 25th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

HAPPY Christmas everyone!

Father Christmas has come, the pudding is bubbling gently on top of the stove and the smell of roasting turkey will soon be wafting around the house.

So whatever you are doing today, we wish you all a very happy time.

And we also want to thank everyone who has supported us throughout the year.

Without our readers, our regular columnists and our many occasional contributors, East Grinstead Online would not be the success it has been.

So here’s to a very happy New Year for the whole town – and in 2016, may all our news be good.

Geraldine and Barney

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with:

December 24th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE manger at St Swithun’s lies empty this evening as the world waits for midnight and the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Photos Caroline Metcalfe

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: , , ,

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 13.11.55
December 24th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

MUSICIAN Andy Twyman’s cheeky Christmas ditty Naturist Naked Noel, which has attracted thousands of views on YouTube since we carried a story about it a month ago, will be featured at 10pm tonight on Channel 4’s Christmas Rude Tube.

Andy, 24, a former Sackville pupil,  wrote and performed the risque ditty with a group of friends wearing nothing but smiles and nipple tassels – plus a few carefully positioned props.

The film was made at his parents’ East Grinstead home in October, and the Christmas decorations have stayed up ever since, laughed Andy who is looking forward to seeing his catchy song go nationwide tonight.

So – what CAN we say?

Have a naked naturist Noel

Let your baubles hang down low,

Just below your belly button

Hang the mistletoe…

See Andy in action below:


Posted in Christmas, Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: ,

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 17.45.57
December 24th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

EAST Grinstead author and Hollywood scriptwriter Neil Gaiman has recorded a reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the New York Public Library.

Gaiman performs a memorable dramatic reading from NYPL’s own rare copy of A Christmas Carol which includes edits and prompts Charles Dickens wrote in his own hand for his unique public readings 150 years ago.

Dressed in full costume and joined by writer and BBC researcher Molly Oldfield, Gaiman performs the classic tale as its great author intended.

To get into the mood for celebrating Christmas Present this Christmas Eve see the link below – the reading starts, after the introductions, at 12 minutes.


Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,

Queueing outside Fry's for the turkey
December 24th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

IT was barely light when the queue started to form outside Fry’s in the Lingfield Road this morning as customers arrived to pick up the makings of their festive feast.

Steve Pond caught the dawn scene for us – and found a picture of Fry’s in 1905 where the birds and beasts were hanging outside ready for the big feast.


Posted in Business, Christmas, Food and Drink, News Tagged with: , ,

Farm Close was turned into a Winter Wonderland with great light displays
December 24th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

OVER the past week or so we have published some of the prettiest Christmas decorations to be found around the town, but we have saved the best until last – East Grinstead’s very own Winter Wonderland in Farm Close.

The close-knit neighbours, led by 66-year-old cancer survivor Cyril Curtis, have been putting on their light spectacular since 2000, and every year the displays get a little more magical.

Cyril, who used to raise money for the town’s Christmas lights committee, believes they are a great way to bring the community together – and raise money for the fight against prostate cancer.

So if you haven’t already been, take a Christmas Eve trip to see the prettiest display in East Grinstead.

You can make a donation online via which has already raised £350.

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with:

December 22nd, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THIS evening’s Christmas decorations feature this festive trio – a snowman, a penguin and a gingerbread man –  ready to welcome Santa in Hampton Way, in front of a house beautifully lit up with icicles hanging from the roof and a tree covered in white lights.

If you have some decorations to share, send the photos to


Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: , , , ,

December 22nd, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

OUR appeal for the prettiest Christmas decorations going up around the town has brought in two wreaths today.

The one at the top was made by Liz Brinkhurst to hang at her home near the Meads, and uses garden greenery with berries, slices of dried apples and oranges, and cinnamon sticks.

While Holly Cadogan’s pretty wreath, made on a moss base, features a variety of greenery and flowers including, unusually succulents, and even feathers.


Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with:

December 21st, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

IMG_3243ST Mary’s Windmill Lane held a candlelight service last night in which traditional readings, reflections and carols were interspersed with works from the choir.

Afterwards the congregation enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine in the church hall.

Photos Steve Pond

Posted in Christmas, Church, News Tagged with: , ,

December 21st, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

imageRight: Melvin – East Grinstead’s Mr Christmas, receiving an award for his unstinting service to the town

TOWN Clerk Julie Holden has given public thanks to Melvin Philips and his Christmas lights committee for more than three decades of voluntary work raising funds for the town’s lights and displaying them.

East Grinstead was one of the first Sussex towns to light up Christmas, and over 34 years Melvin has been responsible for screwing in more than 100,000 bulbs.

His quiet, unstinting service was recognised with a Paul Harris Award by the Rotary Club of East Grinstead last summer, acknowledging his place in the town’s affections, and last year he was nominated by the Town Council for a community award from Mid Sussex District Council.

But like all good things, the work of Melvin’s committee has now come to an end, and for the past three years the Town Council has taken over responsibility for the lights on a phased basis.

This year the Christmas Lights Committee only provided the stretch on London Road  between the High Street roundabout and Robert Dyas, leaving the Town Council responsible for the High Street, the stretch from  Robert Dyas to the clock tower, and the top of Railway Approach

And from next year, there will be further change when the Council takes on the entire stretch of London from the High Street to the Clock tower, and a new community group looks at doing additional places.

They will be asking for public donations, the Council has set aside a budget of £10,500 and will also be looking for corporate sponsorship.

Julie said: “The Council is very grateful for all the many years’ illumination that the community group under Melvin Phillips have given East Grinstead.

“The Town Council’s website has included maps and information about the changes and we look forward to the Council continuing the display with support from the new community group for next Christmas.”

Photo top: Roy Henderson


Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,

December 21st, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE nativity scene at Our Lady and St Peter’s in place above the main door to the church on London Road.

Photo Roy Henderson

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: ,

December 21st, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

IN the run-up to Christmas we are featuring some of the pretty decorations around the town.

This little house, which backs on to St Swithun’s church yard, is charmingly cottagey and the hung tile cladding gives it a gingerbread house look.

If you – or your neighbours – have great outdoor lights, or other decorations, send a photo to:

Below: a brass door knocker holds a pair of glass hearts – it’s the details that count.



Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: ,

December 21st, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THE Grinch did his best to spread misery in the High Street yesterday, but the Christmas cheer laid on by the High Street traders for their Twas the Sunday Before Christmas event was too much even for him to defeat.

Father Christmas made himself at home in John Pye’s Book Shop, ably assisted by his trio of Bennett elves, there were rides on one of the oddest buses ever to hoot its way along the High Street, and everyone who went was full of Christmas goodwill to all men…and the Grinch.

A great day of good old-fashioned fun – and one enjoyed by everyone who made the effort to support it.




Posted in Business, Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,

December 20th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

DAWN Spalding and Roger Gwatkin at the town tourist desk in the library have wished everyone in East Grinstead a very Happy Christmas.

Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: ,

December 20th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

THIS is the Season for giving and receiving gifts, spending time with our families and having a good time. It is also the time to try to support people who are not so fortunate and will be on their own this Christmas.

Throughout 2015, I have seen so many wonderful people who work tirelessly for others in our community and I thank them all for their fine contribution, and for helping to make East Grinstead a very special place to live.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Town Mayor Dick Sweatman


Posted in Christmas, Council, News

December 20th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

MAY I send all of my East Grinstead constituents my warmest best wishes for a happy Christmas and a good New Year and say that I hope you have a wonderful break with your family and friends at such a really special time for us all.


For my own part, I particularly hope that our country will remember this year its Christian roots.  These traditions lie very deep in the life of this country and provide a wonderful architecture of support for our stable society, whose liberal values continue to be challenged as they have never been before.

It is that stability that millions, particularly in the Middle East, long for.

Our traditional Christmas, however we do it, evokes just that – treasured memories, habit and continuity, and confidence in the order of things.

I hope that this year we will all recognise how rare and precious a thing that is and be thankful for it.

My warmest best wishes to all of you and your families for a very happy Christmas.

Nicholas Soames


Posted in Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,

December 20th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

CWbhMLjW4AA30U5EAST Grinstead Concert Band will be at Sainsbury’s at 2pm today playing

Christmas carols in aid of East Park Riding for the Disabled.


Posted in Charity, Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,

The Rev John Mason Neale, who composed Good King Wenceslas, was remembered with a wreath on his grave
December 19th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline

IMG_5833THE sun was shining on the churchyard at St Swithun’s this morning where the warmth, and the blooming primulas, made it hard to believe that we are less than a week away from Christmas.

But in one quiet corner,  a simple wreath of Christmas greenery had been laid on the tomb of the Rev John Mason Neale, the man who wrote one of the world’s favourite carols – Good King Wenceslas.

Neale is remembered every December with this simple gesture by the volunteer stewards at Sackville College who go in torchlit procession to sing his carol around his grave.

Below: the primulas at St Swithun’s are in full bloom


Posted in Christmas, Church, History, News Tagged with: , ,

December 19th, 2015 by eastgrinsteadonline
TOYS donated at the New York Coffee Club in a Christmas collection organised by Becky Wells were delivered to children at Young Epilepsy yesterday by Santa accompanied by NYCC’s owner Danny Andre and his brother Chris.
“We all had a lovely morning,” said Becky, who had wrapped and sorted all the presents, afterwards.

Posted in Charity, Christmas, News Tagged with: , ,