Apr 12, 2016

Church of Scientology denies that Tom Cruise has moved into Saint Hill Manor

Thomas Mackintosh
East Grinstead Courier
April 9, 2016

Saint Hill Manor
Saint Hill Manor
THE Church of Scientology has dismissed reports that Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise has moved into Saint Hill Manor saying there is "no truth to the story whatsoever".

The Daily Mail first broke the story, claiming that the actor was "dipping into his own vast personal fortune" to turn the religion's headquarters into a "major landmark" that "will overshadow Buckingham Palace".

It has since been followed up by a host of other national newspapers and websites, with a Guardian columnist even penning a disparaging opinion piece yesterday (Friday) which claimed East Grinstead was "Britain's strangest town".

Planning documents prove that parts of the Mail's story are accurate, as the piece refers to work that was approved at Saint Hill.

But a spokesman for the church insisted the star of films such as Rainman, Top Gun and Jerry Maguire had not moved, and is not moving, into the imposing manor on the edge of East Grinstead.

He said:"There is no truth to the story whatsoever. Saint Hill Manor is preserved as the historic home of L Ron Hubbard, Founder of the Scientology religion, and it is open to the public.

"Saint Hill Castle houses the Church of Scientology and its religious practices and is an emanation point for the community programmes operated by the Church, including drug education, human rights education and disaster relief."

The reports in national papers talk about renovations costing "up to $16 million" having taken place at Saint Hill.

Planning applications were submitted to Mid Sussex District Council in 2014 for work to be carried out at the estate.

In October 2014 permission was granted to extend a gym and spa.In November 2014 permission was also granted for a café/pavilion to be built.

How much this cost, though, is unclear.

A spokesman for Mid Sussex District Council confirmed there was nothing unusual about the Church's planning applications.

He said: "Anything on the outside of the building, just like with any other property, they need to submit a planning application, and that is what they have done.

"What happens inside their building is very much up to them."

One East Grinstead Scientologist told the Courier that regardless of what work has or hasn't taken place he does not believe the actor has moved into the manor.

John Wood, of Garden Wood Road, said: "It is the biggest load of tosh I have ever heard.

"That is the home of L Ron Hubbard, everything has been preserved for decades."

In December national newspapers wrote that Cruise was selling his reported home in nearby Dormans Park.

Six-bedroom mansion Rede Place, which was built in 2003, remains on the market with estate agent Savills for £4.95 million.

He is reported to have bought the property in 2006, with his ex-wife, the actress Katie Holmes.

Along with a separate two-bedroom outbuilding, the home has a tennis court, heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, billiards room, cinema, dance studio, gymnasium, orchard and paddock.

The Mail's piece this week also claimed that the Church of Scientology donated $10,000 to East Grinstead Rugby Club.

The club is based opposite Saint Hill and is reported to have allowed trucks to use its car park while renovation work took place at the estate.

The reported donation is said to have been a sign of gratitude for the disruption the work had caused.

The Mail published extensive quotes attributed to the rugby club's director of rugby Phil Major.

A photo of Mr Major with Cruise was published with the piece.

Mr Major told the Courier that the Mail's story was "false" but would not elaborate on this or the quotes attributed to him.

East Grinstead councillor Bob Mainstone was also quoted in the Daily Mail piece, talking about the annual gala at Saint Hill.

The report says he met Cruise at last October's gala and quotes him as describing the star as "nice and unassuming".

The Courier understands the actor was at the event.

However, when the Courier spoke to the district councillor for Imberhorne this week, he said: "I was there, but it was more of a party. I can't remember Tom Cruise being there."

The Courier has asked the Daily Mail if it stands by its story and is awaiting a response.


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