Copthorne, Sussex

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St John The Evangelist, Copthorne, Sussex - geograph-4153412.jpg
St John The Evangelist, Copthorne
Grid reference: TQ317394
Location: 51°8’21"N, 0°7’5"W
Population: 5,000  (est.)
Post town: Crawley
Postcode: RH10
Dialling code: 01342
Local Government
Council: Mid Sussex

Copthorne is a village which sits on the border of Sussex with Surrey; the centre and greatest part of the village is in Sussex but the border runs through the northerly lanes of the village.

Gatwick Airport in Surrey is close. The nearest big towns are both in Sussex; Crawley to the south-west and East Grinstead to the east. Together with Crawley Down makes up a civil parish named Worth.


The name Copthorne probably comes from copped or coppiced thorn, meaning a cut thorn tree.[1]

Parish church and school

The parish church is St John the Evangelist church. It stands next to the Copthorne Church of England School in the west of the village.


Lying on the borders between the counties of Sussex and Surrey has contributed to Copthorne's history. There are stories of smugglers from the south coast stashing their goods in the woods around the village, conscious that it was easy to step across the county boundary, and escape any pursuing constabulary.

Similarly, a number of significant boxing prize fights took place in Copthorne Common in the early 19th century; illegal but enjoyed by all classes and widely patronised by the gentry, the fights took place near county boundaries in case the ring had to be shifted at the approach of the county constables. The most famous of all these was the championship fight of 1810 fought between Tom Cribb of Bristol and Tom Molineaux, a freed slave from Virginia. The fight was billed as the world championship, between the champions of Britain and America. Cribb won, but barely and it is said that a “long count” given to him prevented Molineaux’s triumph.

About the village

A Copthorner is traditionally known as a "Yellowbelly", and there are several of stories told as to why this might be.[2] Some talk of villagers wearing their gold strapped around their bellies, but the most likely reason is probably tied to the traditional local trade of charcoal burning, where some of those working stripped to the waist found their skin turned yellow with the smoke. Another possibility has it that the smugglers had to crawl through the mud to avoid detection and thus acquiring muddy yellow bellies.[1]

As part of a village Millennium project, a history of the village Copthorne - The Story So Far was published by the community in 1999/2000.[1]

There is a King George V Playing Field at the northeast end of Copthorne (just across in Surrey).

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Copthorne, Sussex)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "History of Copthorne village" (Website). Copthorne village website. 2007. Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2007. 
  2. "BBC Southern Counties: Glossary of local terms" (Website). BBC. 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2007.