kids encyclopedia robot

Dorking facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Dorking - - 788645.jpg
Dorking from Denbies hillside, Ranmore Common
Area 6.57 km2 (2.54 sq mi)
Population 11,185 (2011 census)
• Density 1,702/km2 (4,410/sq mi)
OS grid reference TQ165496
• London 21 mi (34 km) NNE
Civil parish
  • n/a
  • Mole Valley
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Dorking
Postcode district RH4
Dialling code 01306
Police Surrey
Fire Surrey
Ambulance South East Coast
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Mole Valley
List of places
SurreyCoordinates: 51°14′02″N 0°19′54″W / 51.2340°N 0.3318°W / 51.2340; -0.3318
Dorking South Street 1959
South Street in Dorking in about 1959
Dorking South Street 2009
South Street in Dorking in May 2009

Dorking /ˈdɔːr.kɪŋ/ is a market town in Surrey, England between Ranmore Common in the North Downs range of hills and Leith Hill in the Greensand Ridge, centred 21 miles (34 km) from London.

In the Georgian and Victorian periods six prominent sites in the former parish or on its boundaries became grand country estates: Leith Hill Place, Denbies (today a vineyard/hotel), Norbury Park, Polesden Lacey, Wotton House and Deepdene; five of which along with nearby Box Hill's promontory and chalk grassland slopes belong to the National Trust. Dorking is a commuter and retirement settlement with three railway stations and a few large offices of multinational companies. Similarly, Malden in 1911, noted the place was "almost entirely residential and agricultural, with some lime works on the chalk, though not so extensive as those in neighbouring parishes, a little brick-making, water-mills (corn) at Pixham Mill, and timber and saw-mills". Fine sand often in veins of pink, used for mortar and in glassmaking was dug, particularly in the 19th century — the Dorking Caves were accordingly excavated under southern parts of the town centre itself.

Dorking chickens with short five-toed legs are a major breed. The town has a local government headquarters and hosts repeating loops of the FIA-ranked London-Surrey cycle classic elite category event every year.

History and development

Dorking began to become more than an agricultural village as a small staging post on Stane Street, the Roman road between London and Chichester on the English Channel.

Dorking appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as the Manor of Dorchinges. It was held by William the Conqueror. Its Domesday assets were: one church, three mills worth 15s 4d, 16 ploughs, 3 acres (1.2 ha) of meadow, woodland and herbage for 88 hogs. It rendered £18 per year to its feudal system overlords.

Subsequent Lords of the Manor included the Dukes of Norfolk, who lived in Dorking until they moved to Arundel. One of them is buried in Dorking churchyard. In the medieval period, Dorking was a prosperous agricultural and market town with businesses, including milling and brewing, capitalising on its position on the junction of a number of long distance roads and local tracks.

In 1750, the construction of a turnpike road made Dorking a staging post on the route to Brighton and the coast. The Bull's Head in South Street had a famous coachman, William Broad, whose portrait hangs in Dorking Museum in West Street. An inn in the centre of Dorking, the White Horse, was developed in the 18th century; previous buildings on this site belonged to the Knights Templar and later the Knights of St John.

Dorking held a big wheat and cattle market in the High Street. The poultry market was held in the corner of South Street and round Butter Hill. Here the famous Dorking fowl were sold. This breed, which has five claws instead of the normal four, was a favourite for 19th century tables, including that of Queen Victoria.

Dorking lost its stagecoaches when the railways arrived, but then attracted wealthy residents who built large houses in and around the town, such as Denbies House and Pippbrook House (now with council offices in the grounds). Surrounding land and beauty spots such as Cotmandene and Box Hill were donated by landowners for public use, protected by the Metropolitan Green Belt and the AONB designation of the North Downs and Greensand Ridge.

Cotmandene is a 4.78 ha (12-acre) area of common land to the east of the town centre, (the name is thought to mean the heath of the poor cottages).

A game resembling rugby was once played here. The two sides were unlimited in number, representing the east and west of the town. The goals were the two bridges on the Pipp Brook. The Town Crier kicked off the ball at 2 pm and stopped play at 6 pm. The game was started at the church gates and was "rioted" up and down the High Street. It ceased in 1897 after complaints by tradesmen and it was officially stopped under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835.

Dorking was an urban district from 1894 to 1974. In 1911 it was described in the Victoria County History, compiled for the county that year and the next, as "almost entirely residential and agricultural, with some lime works on the chalk, though not so extensive as those in neighbouring parishes, a little brick-making, water-mills (corn) at Pixham Mill, and timber and saw-mills."


The town is in the west of the area between hill ranges in southern England known as Holmesdale which has headwaters of several rivers. The town's geography is undulating; for example, the elevation of the southern point of the central one-way system is 76 metres and on its northern side the elevation is 59–60 metres. The Mole's nearest point to the town lies at 45 metres.

Just northeast of the town the River Mole cuts a steep-sided valley through the North Downs. On the west bank is Denbies Vineyard, the largest vineyard in the UK. On the east bank is Box Hill, owned by the National Trust and Britain's first Country Park. The hill has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, because of the large number of rare orchids which grow there in the summer.

Further north is Norbury Park, which contains the Druids Grove, a forest of ancient yew trees.

To the south west of the town is Leith Hill, also owned by the National Trust, the second highest point in the south east of England after Walbury Hill. The tower on the summit elevates the hill to 1,000 ft (300 m) above sea level. The area is towards the east of the Surrey Hills AONB surrounded by the Greensand Ridge, including Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill, as well as the nearby escarpment of the North Downs from Box Hill to Newlands Corner.

A species of fish-eating dinosaur, Baryonyx walkeri, was discovered in clay pits just south of Dorking. The creature had a long curved claw on each hand and remains of its last meal were discovered fossilised in its ribcage. The skeleton can be seen at the Natural History Museum in London. One disused clay pit (Inholms lane) is now open to the public as a nature reserve.


Dorking experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom.

Amenities and landmarks

Let there be light in Dorking high street - - 1407931
'Let there be light', a decorative moulding above one of the shops in the High Street.
Dorking Hall
Dorking Halls

Much of the original character survives, whilst accommodating businesses that serve the needs of the 21st century. The town is well known for its antique dealers. The town's three main trading streets of High Street, West Street and South Street are complemented by a small open-air shopping centre, St Martin's Walk, which is adjacent to the town's main car park and easily accessed from the High Street.

In the late 1990s Dorking Halls was given a huge refit, to make it a cinema and theatre complex. In 2003 a new modern leisure centre and swimming pool were added to the Dorking Halls Complex.

There is a thin, somewhat shiny metal statue of a Dorking cockerel on the Deepdene roundabout.

Dorking and nearby Box Hill were chosen as part of the route for the 2012 London Olympics cycling road race and have featured in the FIA-ranked London-Surrey cycle classic every year since.

In the mid-1960s the Goodwyns council estate was built at the south end of the town, adjacent to North Holmwood. The design of the terraced houses, three- and four-storey flats and twin eleven-storey tower blocks was praised by architectural historians Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner.

The Deepdene Trail, a heritage walking trail, opens in September 2016 offering walks for all levels of fitness in a quiet space just 15 minutes from Dorking High Street.


Dorking cockerel a25
The "Dorking cockerel" as seen from the A24 roundabout.

Dorking is at the junction of the A24 (London to Worthing) and A25 (Maidstone to Guildford) roads.

The town has three railway stations.

Most bus services are run by Arriva, the main locations served being Guildford, Redhill and Reigate including villages in between, as well as some local services. Sunray Travel operates a Surrey CC supported route to Leatherhead and Epsom, and running via Box Hill. Metrobus took over Arriva's Horsham depot, and now run route 93 to Horsham, and London Buses route 465 to Kingston.

Leisure and culture

Public Library, Pippbrook House, Reigate Road, Dorking, RH4 1SH - - 111440
The public library
Vines at Denbies Wine Estate, looking towards Ranmore Common (taken in Autumn)

On 15 June 2004, Dorking was granted Fairtrade Town status.

The Dorking Halls is a cinema, theatre, leisure centre and swimming pool complex. There is also an "Arts Alive" Festival which takes place annually during the last two weeks of October. Dorking Halls is also yearly host to a professional pantomime which was re-introduced in December 2006, after several years of hosting Zippo's Circus.

Dorking also has a museum, a library, about twenty pubs and a CIU affiliated club. It is noted for its antique and art shops on West Street. Dorking has two Non-League football clubs Dorking Football Club who play at county level and are based in the centre of the town and play at the Meadowbank. Dorking Wanderers F.C. play at the Dorking Wanderers Stadium, which is near Westhumble.

Dorking rugby football club, which plays at Brockham, attracted national attention when it won the Powergen Vase in 2005/2006 and continues to do so having won promotion from National League 3 (London & South East) to National League 2 South and Surrey Cup double in 2014. Dorking and Mole Valley Athletics Club is based at Pixham Sports Ground. They host the annual Dorking Ten road race starting from Brockham Green. Dorking also has a cycling club that meets on Sunday mornings at the Sports Centre in Reigate Road at 8:45, offering group rides for all abilities and cycling interests. Peter King CBE former Chief Executive of British Cycling is the Honorary President of Dorking Cycling Club. The Mole Valley Bowmen meet in the grounds of St Martin's primary school.

Near to Dorking lies the Leith Hill escarpment of the Greensand Ridge, including the hills of Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill, as well as the nearby escarpment of the North Downs from Box Hill to Newlands Corner. Both ridges are notable in southern England for country walks, rambling and mountain biking, and the town in one of the narrowest gaps between high parts of them has a number of premises catering to these pursuits. Part of the 'Vale of Holmesdale', much of the post town but not town itself is within the Surrey Hills AONB. Also adjacent to Dorking is Denbies Vineyard. The Dorking Group of Artists exhibit locally twice a year, in Betchworth and at Denbies. They celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2007.

Underneath part of the town centre are the Dorking Caves which are open occasionally to the public and were dug for sand, mostly in the 19th century.

Leith Hill Music Festival

Each year in April, the town plays host to the Leith Hill Music Festival for local choral societies. This was founded in 1905 by Margaret Vaughan Williams, sister of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Lady (Evangeline) Farrer, wife of Lord Farrer of Abinger Hall. Ralph Vaughan Williams was the Festival Conductor from 1905 to 1953. The present Festival Conductor is Brian Kay.

The festival is competitive lasting three days, each day with a different division of choirs; each evening the choirs who have competed during the day combine to give a concert of the works which form the subject of the competitions. Following the tradition established by Vaughan Williams, the St. Matthew Passion or the St. John Passion of J. S. Bach are also frequently performed by the combined choral societies.

After the death of Vaughan Williams in 1958 the festival committee commissioned, from David McFall A.R.A., two identical bronze plaques with a likeness of the composer; one was placed in St. Martin's church and one in the Dorking Halls. In 2001 a smaller than life size bronze statue of Vaughan Williams by William Fawke was erected outside the Dorking Halls.

Demography and housing

In groupings by such bodies as Surrey County Council, the unparished area in terms of civil parishes in England, North Holmwood is grouped with Dorking, and is subsidiary to the town as lacking many amenities and services. However, as with Westcott, neighbouring settlements with their own church and a degree of physical divide (a hill and fields respectively) are considered separately.

2011 Census Homes
Ward Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flats and apartments Caravans/temporary/mobile homes/houseboats Shared between households
Dorking North 378 548 451 465 0 0
Dorking South 865 695 417 1,045 0 3

2011 Census Households
Ward Population Households % Owned outright % Owned with a loan hectares
Dorking North 4,157 1,842 34 38 255
Dorking South 7,001 3,025 34 32 402
Regional average 35.1 32.5

Images for kids

kids search engine
Dorking Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.