Hiyas. A small but intrepid bunch of suppressives met at Victoria rail station with about 10 minutes to catch the train, onward to the Saint Hill cult headquarters in East Grinstead --- approx halfway from London southward to the coast, in the stockbroker belt.
Present were Dave, Jens, Neil, Mark and Hartley, plus John Ritson who joined us at Croydon. Missing were Dave Gerard and Tony, who had various personal events to attend. Getting out at East Grinstead station, we noticed that a "local attractions" signboard mentioned Saint Hill, apparently the official responsible for it was a CofS member. We went by taxi to a pub called The Ship on Ship Street; despite pictures of a sailing vessel, my guess is that this was originally The Sheep on Sheep-Market Street (East Grinstead is about 25 miles from the sea).
One of us noticed a Sea Ogre known to him personally but, hey, it is "their town" and they are quite likely to be drinking there. Graeme Wilson says that half the population there i.e. 18,000 people are Scientologists. In fact he has a job to muster 1,800 across the entire country: perhaps a couple of hundred clams live in the area.
After a nice lunch of bangers and mash, we proceeded by taxi to the front gate of Saint Hill Manor. The click-through local map is not very good, but we come in via Turner's Hill on Saint Hill Lane. Most of that is a nice leafy tunnel where branches from trees either side join high overhead. The horse-shoe loop of road is where the Manor's sited, the main gate being on the nearest side.
Police were not greatly excited as yet. We mustered just off site and gave them a courtesy call: after a while they figured out who we were and what letter it related too, we said everything was peaceful so far but if they wanted to look at the situation we were happy with that. The scene as we saw it was fairly well organised, they had stewards in yellow tabards waving people through the gate. The main car park in the field was full as we arrived, perhaps 1500 cars. I should say this was Saint Hill's INTERNATIONAL EVENT. We understand that Miss Cabbage had been there on the Friday night, but a substantial event was proceeding on the Saturday afternoon. We were not catching the rush hour in and out (those probably take place before daybreak and after sunset, in a narrow busy lane, so we can't really do them). Nevertheless a moderate number of cars came through and saw us, containing staff and public members: we hope the rumour train was running on time and word got round. They didn't like us being there, though :->.
A police Sergeant and Constable arrived fairly quickly by car. At their suggestion we set up at a place visible but slightly offset from the gate, not directly in the face of the clams directing traffic. As we talked to him, his Ops room got a call about six "intruders" or whatever on the highway outside the Saint Hill grounds. He told them he was talking to us. We had a haggle about this and that, some posters and leaflets in some out. Further representations came from within that we had "been told this or that at Birmingham." We made clear a couple of us an afternoon with Civil Liberties lawyers who advised us that most of what the clams had told police in Birmingham was crap, and wouldn't stand up in court. We frankly weren't in a mood to defy a written order and be arrested, but if he gave us a written order which was improper then we'd all spend some time discussing it before the civil courts. He wasn't in a mood to give written orders, we just haggled out some details and went ahead.
In practice because of travel difficulties we only did 45 minutes at the gate, though it was a pretty good 45 minutes. Though it was the end of October, the weather would have been a nice surprise in early September: lovely clear skies and bright sunshine, with a few small high clouds. A couple of people came along and yacked at us or at the police, but we just went ahead. Dead on the end of the agreed time, we moved to the car rendezvous point about 50 metres away and called up transport back.
We spent some time at The Ship, then looked at the Saint Hill shop which we knew was empty, to let, and "moved" with no indication where to. In practice we did a photo opportunity of us pointing at the To Let sign with big grins on our faces. I was for a brief period of leafleting as we had arranged with police, but I was outvoted. We had another latte or soft drink mostly while waiting for taxis back to the rail station. The Sergeant dropped by and we told him what we had done i.e. a few minutes of photos and that was it we were now waiting for transport out.
We got there as the train from London pulled in to East Grinstead which is the terminus, then boarded it and waited a few minutes for it to pull out. And that was it: all in all, we had a Grand Day Out.
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A lovely warm, sunny autumn day for six suppressives to go down to Saint Hill to picket the IAS Birthday celebrations. But first a sup rise! We turned up at the Ship Inn in East Grinstead, opposite the rather obscure Scientology site (which had replaced the previous Saint Hill Bookshop and Information Centre on the main shopping street) to find that Scientology had closed down its last overt outpost in East Grinstead. Just a 'We have Moved' sign on the door (not saying where to - neighbours later told us it was back to Saint Hill Manor)), and a 'To Let' sign.
So we celebrated this victory in the pub, all the time being observed by someone who pretended to be there for the football on television, slowly sipping at a half of lager, but was recognised as a Scientologist , and who spent most of his time on a mobile phone, and a lot of time watching us.
Then we headed out for Saint Hill, where we stood with boom-box and placards on the other side of the road from the gate, but not directly opposite. A lot of car traffic because of the event taking place inside.
Negotiations took place with the police, and resulted in a compromise rather different to the events at our previous( Birmingham) picket. Again the Xenu leaflet was out because it contained the c-word, but this time 'cult' was perfectly acceptable, but 'clam' was not. However, Roland Rashleigh-Berry's original Xenu leaflet passed muster. Placards saying ' You are now entering a cult recruitment zone' were also no problem. Perhaps the East Sussex police have more experience with cults than their Birmingham colleagues.
After about an hour, we returned to East Grinstead, had a few more drinks, posed for photographs in front of the abandoned Scientology outpost, looked through the door at all the bills piling up, and went home, passing the two covert Scientology installations on the way: a tiny 'health food' shop offering nothing but rows of plastic pill-canisters, plus posters for Dianetics and astrology (methinks some mixing of practices going on there) and the Greenfields education centre, offering children the joys of clay-modelling and rote learning. .
-- John Ritson *** "If he can't exteriorize from this mass of particles which keep piling up on him, then he gets very leery about looking. And he doesn't want to look. Lookingness to him is something he would not like to have anything to do with. So he uses facsimiles, he lets pieces of energy that he puts way out stop the particles as they come in, and then he selectively brings in particles toward him and inspects them. And he gets a covert lookingness." - L. Ron Hubbard - 'Improving a Thetan's Perception' 1954 ***
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