“They paved heaven and built a parking lot,” Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell once sang.
While one might assume Mitchell was singing about the physical and spiritual state of post-industrialized states, and not about a tiny village tucked away in the Sussex countryside, it’s not that far to welcome.
The small village, Lowfield Heath, was gradually dismantled and eventually dispersed to make way for Gatwick Airport in the 1970s.
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And today all that exists of the village is St Michael and All Angels Church, which was Grade II listed in 1948, protecting it from demolition.
It was designed by William Burgess in 1867, considered one of the greatest British architects of the time.
Lowfield Heath has been around since the Doomsday Book of 1086, where it was not referenced, but alluded to.
He was first referenced by name in the 14th century as Lowe Heath, gradually becoming Lovell Heath in the early 18th century.
It only developed into a thriving village community around the aforementioned pre-industrial period, thanks to King William II who authorized the construction of a main road between Reigate and Crawley in an Act of Parliament of 1755.
In 1900 it had all the characteristics of a large English hamlet.
There was a pub, tea room, school, a few shops and a post office.
Still, the decision to expand Gatwick Airport from a small airport with mostly domestic flights to an international hub to compete with Heathrow was the start of the end for little old Lowfield Heath.
Throughout the 1950s, houses were bought and demolished to make way for additional tracks.
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And, those that remained were quickly sold out, as the owners couldn’t stand the noisy construction that disrupted what was previously a quiet way of life.
By the 1970s pretty much everything was demolished, leaving St. Michael and All Angels Church alone.
Today the church still stands, with not much except a Gatwick Airport Travelodge for company.
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