Wednesday, July 19, 2006

East Grinstead is a beautiful Sussex town.

When I first visited there I felt as though I had just walked into the Lord of the Rings. With its Tudor era High Street and churches, the sheep, the rolling hills, winding lanes, the apple trees and blackberry brambles, I wouldn't have been at all surprised to encounter one of the little people on the road up from the town to Saint Hill Manor.

Into this idyllic setting arrived L. Ron Hubbard in the last years of the 1950s -- the decade when Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health exploded him into the limelight throughout the English speaking world (and when unofficial hand-translated copies of the book made their way throughout Europe and even behind the Iron Curtain to Russia and China).

But L. Ron Hubbard made himself a very welcome part of the East Grinstead Community, contributing much to the lives of the local residents. Purchasing Saint Hill Manor, where he live and carried out his research, he set up the Saint Hill Organization which provided advanced auditor training to Scientology auditors from around the world (an auditor is a Scientology spiritual counselor) bringing Scientologists from all over the world to live in the town while they studies there.

Here's an excerpt from the East Grinstead Hall of Fame site which describes the impact Mr. Hubbard had on that community in the 8 or-so years he made the town his home.

"L. Ron Hubbard [March 13, 1911 - January 14, 1986] lived an extraordinary and adventurous life. Although best known as the founder of the Scientology religion, he was also a Master Mariner, Pilot, Photographer, Musician, Author, Explorer, Philosopher and much more besides.

"He lived at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, between 1959 and 1967 during which time he greatly contributed to the local community. He was the East Grinstead Road Safety Committee organiser, an East Grinstead Parade Marshal and he sponsored children's cycling competitions.

"He was Vice President of the East Grinstead Horticultural Society and carried out revolutionary horticultural experiments at Saint Hill. He was also involved with and contributed to numerous community events and local organizations such as the St Johns Ambulance brigade and the Adeline Genee Theatre to which he was an original donor.

"The East Grinstead community has profited enormously from Mr. Hubbard's decision to make East Grinstead the place to further his research on the mind and life. Countless visitors have come from all over the world to study his discoveries here since 1959 when Saint Hill was Mr. Hubbard's home."