The Town That Didn't Stare: The Scientologists on the Hill

Jul 13, 2020, 06:00 AM

In 1959, L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, one of the world's most controversial religions, bought a manor house in the sleepy Sussex town of East Grinstead. In doing so, he changed everything for that town. East Grinstead was now world famous, not as a middle class commuter town with a beautiful timber-clad high street, but as the focus point of global concerns about abuses and corruption in alternative religion. How did it happen? What is life like for British Scientologists? And what did this little town do once it became Britain's home of occultist belief systems?

The Town That Didn’t Stare is written, produced and presented by Nick Hilton.
Intro and incidental music by George Jennings.
End credits music by Matt Payne and Ollie Lloyd at Shipyard Audio.
Podcast artwork by Tom Humberstone.

The interviewees on this episode were: Tony Ortega, Professor Eileen Barker, Jon Ronson, Charlotte G, Jon Atack, John Sweeney, Peter Fagg and Ken Eckersley. 

This is the second part of a 6-part series available on all good podcast platforms. You can find out more about the show on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook – just go to @thetownpod – or visit for episode notes and more information. 
The Town That Didn’t Stare is a Podot podcast, for more information visit For sales and advertising, email