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Saint Hill Manor
Saint Hill Manor.jpg
Type Country house
Location Saint Hill Green, East Grinstead
OS grid reference TQ 38237 35883
Area West Sussex
Built 1792
Architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Gibbs Crawfurd
Architectural style(s) Late Georgian
Owner Church of Scientology
Listed Building – Grade II
Official name: Saint Hill Manor
Designated 2 August 1972
Reference no. 1249037
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Saint Hill Manor is a Grade II listed country manor house at Saint Hill Green, near East Grinstead in West Sussex, England. It was constructed in 1792 and had several notable owners before being purchased by L. Ron Hubbard and becoming the British headquarters of the Church of Scientology.

Early history

Saint Hill Manor was built by Gibbs Crawfurd in 1792, situated on 59 acres (239,000 m²) of landscaped gardens overlooking the hills of the High Weald. A number of archeological artefacts in the immediate area have been attributed to the existence of a small priory or early 17th-century dwelling on the site. The original name, Sinta Hill, is thought to have come from the local Roman occupation and later Medieval iron-workings found throughout the area.

Subsequent owners included Edgar March Crookshank and Mrs. Drexel Biddle, who commissioned the famous Monkey Mural which was painted by John Spencer-Churchill, nephew of Sir Winston Churchill. It was once owned by William Thomas Berger and in the late 1800s served as the headquarters of the China Inland Mission. Hudson Taylor and Berger met there often and it was a centre for training recruits for the mission field.

Saint Hill Manor has been Grade II listed on the National Heritage List for England since August 1972.

L. Ron Hubbard purchase

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, bought the mansion from Sawai Man Singh, the Maharajah of Jaipur, in 1959 after meeting at a casino in London. The Maharaja needed to settle his gambling debts. Hubbard claimed in a subsequent lecture that he purchased the property for £58,000. He lived there with his family until early 1966 before moving abroad.

Under Hubbard's ownership, the manor was extensively modified, with a series of extensions and new buildings constructed on the estate during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s to accommodate the training facilities and attendant administration functions. The largest is a mock-Norman castle built adjacent to the main manor house after 1968 to provide a purpose-built training facility for Scientology students. The East Grinstead Urban District Council initially refused planning permission. After a public enquiry, however, the Church of Scientology was granted permission to go ahead with the construction of "Saint Hill Castle".

Saint Hill Manor served as Hubbard’s organization’s headquarters until the year 1967 after its acquisition in 1959. It was inaugurated in 1955 and was the site where Hubbard “announced Scientology milestones emerging from his research.” It was also the site of the church’s first Distribution Center, which was operative for the church’s missionary outreach.

2015 renovations

The Church of Scientology’s renovations on the Saint Hill Manor were completed in the summer of 2015 and are reported to have cost a total of US$16 million. The church claims that they are preserving it as a “historic monument.” Chairman of the Board of RTC David Miscavige and Scientologist actor Tom Cruise donated $10,000 to cover the local rugby team’s costs and invited team director Phil Major to an annual gala when their activities were disrupted for six months because of the renovations. Saint Hill Manor is now a museum that features the works and accomplishments of L. Ron Hubbard.

Following the completion of the renovations, the Church of Scientology purchased seven brand new 29-seater ADL Enviro200 midibuses to transport the 400 staff members between the manor and the town of Crowborough, fourteen miles away.

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