The college is a Jacobean almshouse built of Sussex sandstone around a quadrangle and contains large mullioned windows and four exquisite old doorways, the northern one of which bears the Dorset Coat of Arms.
The College's connection with the Sackville family goes back to the year 1609 and the will of Robert Sackville, Earl of Dorset. This provided a sum of money with which to buy land and "build a convenient house of brick and stone" to be used as an almshouse. For many years the College had a second use, too: providing overnight accommodation for the Sackville family as they journeyed to and from their estates in Sussex.
The heads of the Sackville family have been Patrons of the College through its history. The present Patron is the 11th Earl De La Warr.
Today the College Warden lives in part of the wing that once served the Sackville family. The College still provides affordable accommodation, now modernised and comfortable, for elderly people. They each have their own flats and the use of the common room and the chapel behind the walls of a perfectly preserved quadrangle.
John Mason Neale used to be a warden at Sackville College. He is best known for writing the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’.
Good King Wenceslas
As many people who live in East Grinstead will know, the Christmas carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’ was written in Sackville College by John Mason Neale. It tells a story of Good King Wenceslas braving the harsh cold winter weather to give food and wine to a poor peasant on the day after Christmas (the second day of Christmas, December 26, which in the carol is called the Feast of Stephen). During the journey, his young servant is about to give up struggling in the cold weather but is enabled to continue by following the king's footprints which have been left in the freshly fallen snow.
The carol is based on the life of Saint Wenceslaus the first, Duke of Bohemia. However, he was never actually a king and never did anything that is mentioned in the carol.
Sir Archibald McIndoe
On the green outside Sackville College, there is a statue of Sir Archibald McIndoe. He became known for pioneering re-constructive plastic surgery for injured servicemen in the second world war. At the Queen Victoria Hospital, he treated very deep burns and serious facial disfigurement such as loss of eyelids. Patients at the hospital formed the Guinea Pig Club. Among the better-known members of his "club" were Richard Hillary, Bill Foxley and Jimmy Edwards.
As there were so many people in East Grinstead who had various deformities, the town became known as ‘The town that did not stare’.
East Grinstead at Christmastime
Over the Christmas period, East Grinstead hosts a wide variety of events. This period of time is often called Wenceslas Week(s). The most popular annual events are the tree lighting in the high street, and carol concerts held in the chapel at Sackville College.
The largest event is the Christmas Shopping Festival. This is normally held on the first or second Sunday of December. During the festival, the shopping part of London Road is closed to traffic and filled with fairground attractions and stalls.
The historic Bluebell Railway (geo.co/WMHTB9) also holds their own carol services and events as well as the Weekday Wonders Christmas Meal train which leaves at East Grinstead station and goes to Sheffield Park.
Finding the cache
The coordinates take you to the entrance of the Sackville College grounds. Here you will find two signs. Both of which state when the college is open to visitors.
If January is 1, February is 2, and March is 3:
The college is open to visitors mid A to mid B.
Nearby you will find the McIndoe statue.
The first date at the base of the statue CDEF
The second date at the base of the statue GHJK
The cache can be found at the following coordinates:
The cache is a short walk from Sackville College.