1. Crawley History
  2. Early History
  3. Historical Events of Crawley

A Look Into the Historical Events of Crawley

Explore the historical events and timelines that have shaped Crawley throughout its history.

A Look Into the Historical Events of Crawley

Crawley has a rich and varied history that dates back centuries. From the Iron Age to the present day, it has been the site of many significant events that have shaped its past and present. From ancient battles to historic royal residences, Crawley has seen it all. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the most important historical events that have taken place in Crawley and how they have left their mark on the town.

From royal visits to historic battles, discover the stories behind Crawley's rich and storied past. The earliest evidence of human activity in the area of Crawley dates back to the Neolithic period. During this time, a number of Bronze Age barrows were constructed in the region, suggesting it was an important area for burial rituals. In the 6th century, the area was settled by the Saxons, who established a small settlement near what is now known as Crawley. In 1086, William the Conqueror commissioned the Domesday Book, which listed Crawley as a small village with a population of about 100 people.

The village was home to a number of mills and other small industries, and by the 13th century it had grown to become one of the most important settlements in Sussex. In 1536, Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and seized their lands, including the land around Crawley. This land was then given to Thomas Cromwell, who built a manor house on it. The manor house was later destroyed during the English Civil War in 1642. In 1660, Charles II was restored to the throne and he granted a charter to the people of Crawley, allowing them to hold a weekly market and two annual fairs. This allowed for further economic growth in the area, and by the 18th century there were several major industries in operation, including papermaking, brewing, tanning and iron working. In 1848, the London and Brighton Railway Company opened a railway station in Crawley, connecting it to London and Brighton.

This sparked a period of rapid growth as businesses moved into the area to take advantage of the improved transport links. By 1901, Crawley had grown to become a bustling market town with a population of over 10,000 people. In 1933, Crawley was designated as a new town under the New Towns Act of 1946. This led to a period of rapid expansion as new housing estates were built and industry flourished. By 1971, Crawley had a population of over 50,000 people. Today, Crawley is a thriving town with a population of over 100,000 people.

It is home to many major businesses, including Gatwick Airport which is one of the busiest airports in Europe.

The Domesday Book

In 1086, William the Conqueror commissioned the Domesday Book, an extensive survey of England and Wales. This survey provided a detailed list of settlements, including Crawley. The Domesday Book was an important source of information, providing insight into the population size, land holdings, and other important details about the area. It was one of the earliest comprehensive records of a settlement’s history. The Domesday Book listed Crawley as a small settlement with two small mills and a church.

It showed that the settlement was owned by William de Warenne, who was also the Earl of Surrey. The book also noted that some of the land surrounding Crawley was wooded and that the town had a river running through it. This information gave us a glimpse into what Crawley looked like in the 11th century.

The Saxon Settlement

The origins of Crawley date back to the Saxon settlement of the region in the 5th century. It is believed to have been established by a Saxon chief named Crawa, who was granted land in the area by King Aethelstan in 919 AD.

This marked the beginnings of Crawley as an important settlement in Sussex. The name 'Crawley' is derived from the Old English words 'crawa' and 'leah', meaning 'the clearing of Crawa'. The area was first documented in the Domesday Book of 1086, which referred to it as 'Crachele'. Over time, the name evolved to become 'Crawley'.For centuries, Crawley was a small farming village surrounded by woodlands and heathland. It remained largely unchanged until the 19th century, when it began to experience rapid growth as an industrial center.

The first industry to arrive was iron foundry, followed by brickworks and paper mills. Today, Crawley is a vibrant town with plenty of historical sites and landmarks that mark its rich history. From the beautiful church of St John the Baptist to the ruins of Crawley Castle, there are plenty of opportunities to explore and discover Crawley's past.

The Railway Arrives

The arrival of the railway in Crawley was a defining moment in the town's history. It sparked a period of rapid growth and development, transforming the small market town into the bustling industrial hub it is today. The London and Brighton Railway first opened in 1841, bringing trains to Three Bridges station.

At the time, Crawley was a small village of just over 2,000 people. However, with the arrival of the railway came a dramatic influx of new businesses and industries, as well as a surge in population. In 1846, Crawley became part of the railway network when the Horsham branch line was opened. This line connected Crawley to Horsham and increased its accessibility to London.

The opening of the railway station encouraged more and more people to move to Crawley for work opportunities. The railway also enabled the transportation of goods and services from Crawley to other parts of England. This allowed local businesses to expand and thrive, contributing to the town's growth and prosperity. Today, Crawley remains an important railway hub and is served by multiple lines, including the Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Southern services.

Thanks to the arrival of the railway in the 19th century, Crawley has gone from a small village to a thriving town with a rich history.

Henry VIII Dissolves Monasteries

In 1536, King Henry VIII dissolved all the monasteries in England and Wales as part of his Reformation of the Church. This effectively meant that all of their lands, including those around Crawley, were seized by the Crown. This was a major turning point in the history of Crawley as it led to the creation of new settlements and towns, as well as significant economic and social changes in the area. The Dissolution of the Monasteries had a particularly significant impact on Crawley as it removed the power of the Church and allowed for new landowners to come in and develop the area. This led to increased agricultural activity, and more importantly, increased trade and commerce.

The town grew rapidly after this, with new industries such as cloth-making, iron-working, and tanning being established. The Dissolution of the Monasteries also had a huge effect on Crawley’s religious life, as it meant that the Church of England was now the official religion in the town. This led to a period of significant religious change in Crawley, with many of its inhabitants embracing Protestantism. This new religious outlook was reflected in the architecture of Crawley’s churches, which still stand today.

Henry VIII

, Dissolution of the Monasteries, Crawley, Reformation, Church of England

Charles II Grants Charter

In the 17th century, Charles II granted Crawley a charter of incorporation, which allowed the town to become a borough with a mayor, aldermen, and borough council. This charter granted Crawley a number of privileges, such as the right to hold fairs and markets, and to hold court sessions. The charter was also important in terms of economic growth.

It opened up the possibility of new industries, such as tanning and brewing, and it allowed for the growth of local businesses. It also opened up trade opportunities with other towns and cities in the region. This increased economic activity and helped Crawley to become an important industrial centre. The charter was renewed in 1762, and since then it has been amended several times to reflect Crawley's changing needs. This has allowed the town to continue to prosper and grow, and it remains an important part of Crawley's history.

Crawley Today

Crawley has grown from a small market town to a thriving commercial hub.

In the last century, the town has become home to many major businesses, offering employment and opportunities to the local community. The town's industrial history began in the 19th century, when Crawley was transformed from a small farming village into a thriving industrial center. This included the building of a railway station in 1841, bringing people from far and wide to the area. The railway brought with it an influx of industries, such as coal mining and manufacturing, which helped to fuel the town's growth. In more recent times, Crawley has become known for its international businesses. The town is now home to a number of major corporations, such as Airbus, Rolls-Royce and British Airways.

These companies have provided employment for many local people, as well as creating a diverse business community. Crawley has also become an important center for technology, with companies such as Microsoft and Dell setting up offices here. Crawley's modern-day success is largely down to its strategic location near London and Gatwick Airport. The town also benefits from excellent transport links, making it an ideal base for businesses looking to reach global markets. Today, Crawley is a vibrant town that continues to evolve. With its rich history, strong economy and exciting future, Crawley is an attractive destination for both businesses and visitors alike.

Crawley Becomes A New Town

Crawley is a town with a long and fascinating history.

In the late 1940s, Crawley was declared a new town under the New Towns Act of 1946. The designation of Crawley as a new town was part of a wider government initiative to provide more housing and create jobs. The New Towns Act was an ambitious plan to construct new towns around London and other cities in the UK. The first new town to be built was Stevenage in Hertfordshire in 1946, followed by Crawley in 1947. The plan for Crawley was to develop a self-contained, livable and sustainable community with good transport links. It was designed to be a modern town with green open spaces, housing, employment, shopping, and leisure facilities. Crawley was designed with a focus on providing quality housing for its residents.

The town was laid out on a grid system with wide streets and large parks. New housing estates were built with modern amenities such as electric lighting, running water, and central heating. The town also had access to shops, schools, churches, and other public services. In order to attract people to the new town of Crawley, the local government offered incentives such as low-cost mortgages and rent subsidies. This helped to attract more people to the area and made it easier for them to settle in the town.

As the population of Crawley grew, so too did its economy. The construction of the Gatwick Airport in the late 1950s further boosted its economy and increased its population. Today, Crawley has grown into an important hub for business, leisure and tourism. It is home to many businesses and has excellent transport links with London and other major cities. Despite its transformation from a small village to a thriving new town, Crawley still retains its rich history and continues to be shaped by the events of its past. Crawley has experienced significant historical events throughout its long history.

From its settlement by the Saxons to its designation as a new town in 1933, these events have shaped Crawley into the vibrant and diverse town it is today. The Saxon Settlement, The Domesday Book, Henry VIII Dissolving Monasteries, Charles II Granting a Charter, the Arrival of the Railway, and the Designation of Crawley as a New Town are all historical events that have contributed to Crawley's success. Today, Crawley is home to many major businesses and industries, offering a variety of job opportunities and economic growth for its citizens. Crawley's rich history is something to be proud of, and its continued success is well-deserved.