Surrey facts for kids
Surrey in England
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Lord Lieutenant||Michael More-Molyneux|
|High Sheriff||Richard Whittington (2016-17)|
|Area||1,663 km2 (642 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||35th of 48|
|Population (2005 est.)||1,075,600|
|• Ranked||13th of 48|
|Density||644/km2 (1,670/sq mi)|
2.2% S. Asian
|County council||Surrey County Council|
|Admin HQ||Kingston upon Thames (Extra-territorially)|
|Area||1,663 km2 (642 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||25th of 27|
|• Ranked||5th of 27|
|Density||644/km2 (1,670/sq mi)|
Districts of Surrey
Unitary County council area
|Members of Parliament||List of MPs|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC)|
|• Summer (DST)||BST (UTC+1)|
Surrey (//, American English how to say: /ˈsɜri/) is a county in the south east of England and also one of the home counties bordering Greater London. Surrey shares borders with Kent to the east, East Sussex to the south-east, West Sussex to the south, Hampshire to the west and south-west and Berkshire to the north-west. The county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits extraterritorially at Kingston upon Thames, administered as part of Greater London since 1965. With a resident population of 1.1 million, Surrey is the most densely populated and third most populated county in the South East region, after Kent and Hampshire.
Today, administrative Surrey is divided into eleven districts: Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate and Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Tandridge, Waverley, and Woking. Services such as roads, mineral extraction licensing, education, strategic waste and recycling infrastructure, birth, marriage, and death registration, and social and children's services are administered by Surrey County Council. The London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Wandsworth, and parts of Lewisham and Bromley were in Surrey until 1889. The boroughs of Croydon, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Sutton and Richmond upon Thames south of the River Thames were part of Surrey until 1965, when they too were absorbed into Greater London. In the same year, the county gained its first area north of the Thames, Spelthorne, from defunct Middlesex. As a result of this gain, modern Surrey also borders on the London boroughs of Hounslow and Hillingdon.
Surrey is noted for being a particularly wealthy county due in large part to its proximity to London and Heathrow and Gatwick airports along with access to major arterial road routes (including the M25, M3 and M23) and frequent rail services into Central London. It has the highest GDP per capita of any English county and some of the highest property values outside Inner London.
- Historic architecture and monuments
- Arts and sciences
- Popular music
- Places of interest
- Surrey in film and books
- Images for kids
Surrey is divided in two by the chalk ridge of the North Downs, running east-west. The ridge is pierced by Surrey's principal rivers, the Wey and the Mole, which are tributaries of the Thames, the river which formed the northern border of the county before modern local government reorganisations. To the north of the Downs the land is mostly flat, forming part of the basin of the Thames. The geology of this area is dominated by London Clay in the east, Bagshot Sands in the west and alluvial deposits along the rivers. To the south of the Downs in the western part of the county are the sandstone Surrey Hills, while further east is the plain of the Low Weald, rising in the extreme south-east to the edge of the hills of the High Weald. The Downs and the area to the south form part of a concentric pattern of geological deposits which also extends across southern Kent and most of Sussex, predominantly composed of Wealden Clay, Lower Greensand and the chalk of the Downs.
Much of Surrey is in the Metropolitan Green Belt. It contains a good deal of mature woodland (reflected in the official logo of Surrey County Council, a pair of interlocking oak leaves). Among its many notable beauty spots are Box Hill, Leith Hill, Frensham Ponds, Newlands Corner and Puttenham & Crooksbury Commons. Surrey is the most wooded county in England, with 22.4% coverage compared to a national average of 11.8% and as such is one of the few counties not to include new woodlands in their strategic plans. Box Hill has the oldest untouched area of natural woodland in the UK, one of the oldest in Europe. Surrey also contains England's principal concentration of lowland heath, on sandy soils in the west of the county.
Agriculture not being intensive, there are many commons and access lands, together with an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways including the North Downs Way, a scenic long-distance path. Accordingly, Surrey provides much in the way of rural leisure activities, with a very large horse population.
The highest elevation in Surrey is Leith Hill near Dorking. It is either 293, 294 or 295 metres (961, 965 or 968 ft) above sea level and is the second highest point in southeastern England after Walbury Hill 297 metres (974 ft) in West Berkshire.
- See also: List of places in Surrey and List of settlements in Surrey by population
Surrey has a population of approximately 1.1 million people. Its largest town is Guildford, with a population of 66,773; Woking comes a close second with 62,796. They are followed by Ewell with 39,994 people and Camberley with 30,155. Towns of between 25,000 and 30,000 inhabitants are Ashford, Epsom, Farnham, Staines and Redhill. Guildford is the historic county town, although the county administration was moved to Newington in 1791 and to Kingston upon Thames in 1893. The county council's headquarters have been outside the county's boundaries since 1 April 1965, when Kingston and other areas were included within Greater London by the London Government Act 1963. Recent plans to move the offices to a new site in Woking have now been abandoned. Due to its proximity to London there are many commuter towns and villages in Surrey, the population density is high and the area is one of the richest parts of the UK. Surrey is Britain's most densely populated county, excluding Greater London, the metropolitan counties and Bristol. Much of the north of the county is an urban area contiguous to Greater London. In the west, there is a conurbation straddling the Hampshire/Surrey border, including in Surrey Camberley and Farnham.
British and Roman Surrey
Before Roman times the area today known as Surrey was very probably occupied by the Atrebates tribe, centred at Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester), in the modern county of Hampshire. They are known to have controlled the southern bank of the Thames from Roman texts describing the tribal relations between them and the powerful Catuvellauni on the north bank. In about AD 42 King Cunobelinus (in Welsh legend Cynfelin ap Tegfan) of the Catuvellauni died and war broke out between his sons and King Verica of the Atrebates. The Atrebates were defeated, their capital captured and their lands made subject to the Catuvellauni, now led by Togodumnus, ruling from Camulodunum (Colchester). Verica fled to Gaul and appealed for Roman aid. The Atrebates were allied with Rome during their invasion of Britain in AD 43. The area of Surrey was traversed by Stane Street and other less well known Roman roads. The remains of Roman temples have been excavated on Farley Heath and near Wanborough.
The Saxon tribes and the sub-kingdom
During the 5th and 6th centuries Surrey was conquered and settled by Saxons. The names of a number of possible tribes inhabiting the area have been conjectured on the basis of place names. These include the Godhelmingas (around Godalming), Tetingas (around Tooting) and Woccingas (between Woking and Wokingham in Berkshire). It has also been speculated that the Nox gaga and Oht gaga peoples listed in the Tribal Hidage may refer to two groups living in the vicinity of Surrey. Together their lands were assessed at a total of 7,000 hides, equal to the assessment for Sussex or Essex. Surrey may have formed part of a larger Middle Saxon kingdom or confederacy, also including areas north of the Thames. The name Surrey is derived from Suthrige, meaning "southern region", and this may originate in its status as the southern portion of the Middle Saxon territory.
If it ever existed, the Middle Saxon kingdom had disappeared by the 7th century, and Surrey became a frontier area disputed between the kingdoms of Kent, Essex, Sussex, Wessex and Mercia, until its permanent absorption by Wessex in 825. Despite this fluctuating situation it retained its identity as a coherent territorial unit. During the 7th century Surrey became Christian and initially formed part of the East Saxon diocese of London, indicating that it was under East Saxon rule at that time, but was later transferred to the West Saxon diocese of Winchester. Its most important religious institution throughout the Anglo-Saxon period and beyond was Chertsey Abbey, founded in 666. At this point Surrey was evidently under Kentish domination, as the abbey was founded under the patronage of King Ecgberht of Kent. However, a few years later at least part of it was subject to Mercia, since in 673-5 further lands were given to Chertsey Abbey by Frithuwald, a local sub-king (subregulus) ruling under the sovereignty of Wulfhere of Mercia. A decade later Surrey passed into the hands of King Caedwalla of Wessex, who also conquered Kent and Sussex, and founded a monastery at Farnham in 686. It remained under the control of Caedwalla's successor Ine in the early 8th century. Its political history for most of the 8th century is unclear, although it may have been under South Saxon control around 722, but by 784–5 it had passed into the hands of King Offa of Mercia. Mercian rule continued until 825, when following his victory over the Mercians at the Battle of Ellandun, King Egbert of Wessex seized control of Surrey, along with Sussex, Kent and Essex. It was incorporated into Wessex as a shire and continued thereafter under the rule of the West Saxon kings, who eventually became kings of all of England.
Identified sub-kings of Surrey
- Frithuwald (c.673 – 675)
- Frithuric? (c.675 – c.686)
The West Saxon and English shire
In the 9th century England was afflicted, along with the rest of north-western Europe, by the attacks of Scandinavian Vikings. Surrey's inland position shielded it from coastal raiding, so that it was not normally troubled except by the largest and most ambitious Scandinavian armies. In 851 an exceptionally large invasion force of Danes arrived at the mouth of the Thames in a fleet of about 350 ships, which would have carried over 15,000 men. Having sacked Canterbury and London and defeated King Beorhtwulf of Mercia in battle, the Danes crossed the Thames into Surrey, but were slaughtered by a West Saxon army led by King Æthelwulf in the Battle of Aclea, bringing the invasion to an end. In 892 Surrey was the scene of another important battle when a large Danish army, variously reported at 200, 250 and 350 ship-loads, moved west from its encampment in Kent and raided in Hampshire and Berkshire. Withdrawing with their loot, the Danes were intercepted and defeated at Farnham by an army led by Alfred the Great's son Edward, the future King Edward the Elder, and fled across the Thames towards Essex.
Its location and the growing power of the West Saxon, later English, kingdom kept Surrey safe from attack for over a century thereafter. Kingston was the scene for the coronations of Æthelstan in 924 and of Æthelred the Unready in 978, and, according to later tradition, also of other 10th century Kings of England. The renewed Danish attacks during the disastrous reign of Æthelred led to the devastation of Surrey by the army of Thorkell the Tall, which ravaged all of south-eastern England in 1009–11. The climax of this wave of attacks came in 1016, which saw prolonged fighting between the forces of King Edmund Ironside and the Danish king Cnut, including an English victory over the Danes somewhere in north-eastern Surrey, but ended with the Danish conquest of England and the establishment of Cnut as king.
Cnut's death in 1035 was followed by a period of political uncertainty, as the succession was disputed between his sons. In 1036 Alfred, son of King Æthelred, returned from Normandy, where he had been taken for safety as a child at the time of Cnut's conquest of England. It is uncertain what his intentions were, but after landing with a small retinue in Sussex he was met by Godwin, Earl of Wessex, who escorted him in apparently friendly fashion to Guildford. Having taken lodgings there, Alfred's men were attacked as they slept and massacred by Godwin's followers, while the prince himself was blinded and imprisoned, dying shortly afterwards. This butchery must have contributed to the antipathy between Godwin and Alfred's brother Edward the Confessor, who came to the throne in 1042. That hostility was of critical importance in bringing about the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.
Domesday Book records that the largest landowners in Surrey at the end of Edward's reign were Chertsey Abbey and Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex and later king, followed by the estates of King Edward himself. Apart from the abbey, most of whose lands were within the shire, Surrey was the not the principal focus of any major landowner's holdings, a tendency which was to persist in later periods. Given the vast and widespread landed interests and the national and international preoccupations of the monarchy and the earldom of Wessex, the Abbot of Chertsey was therefore probably the most important figure in the local elite.
The Anglo-Saxon period saw the emergence of the shire's internal division into 14 hundreds, which continued until Victorian times. These were the hundreds of Blackheath, Brixton, Copthorne, Effingham Half-Hundred, Elmbridge, Farnham, Godalming, Godley, Kingston, Reigate, Tandridge, Wallington, Woking and Wotton.
Identified ealdormen of Surrey
- Wulfheard (c.823)
- Huda (?–853)
- Æðelweard (late 10th century)
- Æðelmær (?–1016)
Later Medieval Surrey
After the Battle of Hastings, the Norman army advanced through Kent into Surrey, where they defeated an English force which attacked them at Southwark, before proceeding westwards on a circuitous march to reach London from the north-west. As was the case across England, the native ruling class of Surrey was virtually eliminated by Norman seizure of land. Only one significant English landowner, the brother of the last English Abbot of Chertsey, remained by the time the Domesday survey was conducted in 1086. At that time the largest landholding in Surrey, as in many other parts of the country, was the expanded royal estate, while the next largest holding belonged to Richard fitz Gilbert, founder of the de Clare family.
In 1088, King William II granted William de Warenne the title of Earl of Surrey as a reward for Warenne's loyalty during the rebellion that followed the death of William I. When the male line of the Warennes became extinct in the 14th century the earldom was inherited by the Fitzalan Earls of Arundel. The Fitzalan line of Earls of Surrey died out in 1415, but after other short-lived revivals in the 15th century the title was conferred in 1483 on the Howard family who still hold it. However, Surrey was not a major focus of any of these families' interests.
Guildford Castle, one of many fortresses originally established by the Normans as part of the process of subjugating the country, was developed as a royal palace in the 12th century. Farnham Castle was built during the 12th century as a residence for the Bishop of Winchester, while other stone castles were constructed in the same period at Bletchingley by the de Clares and at Reigate by the Warennes. During King John's struggle with the barons, Magna Carta was issued in June 1215 at Runnymede near Egham. In the following year Surrey was overrun by forces supporting Prince Louis of France, who passed through on their way from London to Winchester and back, and occupied Guildford and Reigate castles. Guildford Castle later became one of the favourite residences of King Henry III, who considerably expanded the palace there. In 1264, during the baronial revolt against Henry III, the rebel army of Simon de Montfort passed southwards through Surrey on their way to the Battle of Lewes in Sussex. Although the rebels were victorious, soon after the battle royal forces captured and destroyed Bletchingley Castle, whose owner Gilbert de Clare was one of de Montfort's leading supporters. By the 14th-century castles were of dwindling military importance, but continued to be a mark of social prestige, leading to the construction of castles at Starborough near Lingfield by Lord Cobham and at Betchworth by John Fitzalan, whose father had recently inherited the Earldom of Surrey.
Surrey had little political or economic significance in the Middle Ages. It was not the main power-base of any important aristocratic family or the seat of a bishopric. Its agricultural wealth was limited by the infertility of most of its soils, while urban development, excepting the London suburb of Southwark, was sapped by the overshadowing predominance of London, and by the lack of direct access to the sea or of centres of political or ecclesiastical power. Population pressure in the 12th and 13th centuries initiated the gradual clearing of the Weald, the forest spanning the borders of Surrey, Sussex and Kent, which had hitherto been left undeveloped due to the difficulty of farming on its heavy clay soil. Surrey's most significant source of prosperity in the later Middle Ages was the production of woollen cloth, England's main export industry. Cloth manufacturing in Surrey was focused on Guildford, which gave its name to a variety of cloth, gilforte, which was exported widely across Europe and the Middle East and imitated by manufacturers elsewhere in Europe.
One benefit of its obscurity was that Surrey largely avoided being seriously fought over in the various rebellions and civil wars of the period, although armies from Kent heading for London passed through what was then north-eastern Surrey during the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, Cade's Rebellion in 1450 and during the Wars of the Roses in 1460, 1469 and 1471.
In 1082 a Cluniac abbey was founded at Bermondsey by Alwine, a wealthy English citizen of London. The first Cistercian monastery in England, Waverley Abbey near Farnham, was founded in 1128. Over the next quarter-century monks spread out from here to found new houses, creating a network of twelve monasteries descended from Waverley across southern and central England. The 12th and early 13th centuries also saw the establishment of Augustinian priories at Merton, Newark, Tandridge, Southwark and Reigate. A Dominican friary was established at Guildford by Henry III's widow Eleanor of Provence, in memory of her grandson who had died at Guildford in 1274. In the 15th century a Carthusian priory was founded by King Henry V at Sheen. These would all perish, along with the still important Benedictine abbey of Chertsey, in the 16th-century Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Now fallen into disuse, some English counties had nicknames for those raised there such as a 'tyke' from Yorkshire, or a 'yellowbelly' from Lincolnshire. In the case of Surrey, the term was a 'Surrey capon', from Surrey's role in the later Middle Ages as the county where chickens were fattened up for the London meat markets.
Early Modern Surrey
Under the early Tudor kings magnificent royal palaces were constructed in northern Surrey, conveniently near London. At Richmond an existing royal residence was rebuilt on a grand scale under King Henry VII, who also founded a Franciscan friary nearby in 1499. The still more spectacular palace of Nonsuch was later built for Henry VIII near Ewell. The palace at Guildford Castle had fallen out of use long before, but a royal hunting lodge existed just outside the town. All these have since been demolished.
During the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 the rebels heading for London briefly occupied Guildford and fought a skirmish with a government detachment on Guildown outside the town, before marching on to Blackheath in Kent, where they were crushed by a royal army. The forces of Wyatt's Rebellion in 1554 passed through what was then north-eastern Surrey on their way from Kent to London, briefly occupying Southwark and then crossing the Thames at Kingston after failing to storm London Bridge.
Surrey's cloth industry declined in the 16th century and effectively collapsed in the 17th, harmed by falling standards and competition from more effective producers in other parts of England. The introduction of new furnace technology in the early 17th century led to an expansion of the iron industry in the Weald, whose rich deposits had been exploited since prehistoric times, but this hastened the extinction of the business as the mines were worked out. However, this period also saw the emergence of important new industries, centred on the valley of the Tillingbourne, which often adapted watermills originally built for the now moribund cloth industry. The production of brass goods and wire in this area was relatively short-lived, but the manufacture of paper and gunpowder proved more enduring. For a time in the mid-17th century the Surrey mills were the main producers of gunpowder in England. The Wey Navigation, opened in 1653, was one of England's first canal systems.
George Abbot, the son of a Guildford clothworker, served as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1611–33. In 1619 he founded Abbot's Hospital, an almshouse in Guildford, which is still operating. He also made unsuccessful efforts to revitalise the local cloth industry. One of his brothers, Robert, became Bishop of Salisbury, while another, Maurice, was a founding shareholder of the East India Company who became the company's Governor and later Lord Mayor of London.
Bankside in Southwark, then part of Surrey, was the principal entertainment district of early modern London. This was due to its convenient location outside the jurisdiction of the government of the City of London, since the social control exercised over this London suburb by the local authorities of Surrey was less effective and restrictive. Bankside was the scene of the golden age of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, with the work of playwrights including William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and John Webster performed in its playhouses. The leading actor and impresario Edward Alleyn founded a college in Dulwich with an endowment including an art collection, which was later expanded and opened to the public in 1817, becoming Britain's first public art gallery.
Surrey almost entirely escaped the direct impact of fighting during the main phase of the English Civil War in 1642-6. The local Parliamentarian gentry led by Sir Richard Onslow were able to secure the county without difficulty on the outbreak of war. Farnham Castle was briefly occupied by the advancing Royalists in late 1642, but was easily stormed by the Parliamentarians under Sir William Waller. A new Royalist offensive in late 1643 saw skirmishing around Farnham between Waller's forces and Ralph Hopton's Royalists, but these brief incursions into the western fringes of Surrey marked the limits of Royalist advances on the county. During a political crisis in summer 1647, Sir Thomas Fairfax's army passed through Surrey on its way to occupy London, and subsequent billeting of troops in Surrey caused considerable discontent. In the brief Second Civil War of 1648 the Earl of Holland entered Surrey in July, hoping to ignite a Royalist revolt. He raised his standard at Kingston and advanced south, but found little support. After confused manoeuvres between Reigate and Dorking as Parliamentary troops closed in, his force of 500 men fled northwards and was overtaken and routed at Kingston.
Surrey had a prominent role in the development of the radical political movements unleashed by the civil war. In October 1647 the first manifesto of what became known as the Leveller movement, The Case of the Army Truly Stated, was drafted at Guildford by the elected representatives of New Model Army regiments and civilian radicals from London. This document combined the presentation of specific grievances with wider demands for constitutional change on the basis of popular sovereignty. It formed the template for the more systematic and radical Agreement of the People, drafted by the same men later that month, and led to the Putney Debates between its signatories and the army leadership. In 1649 the Diggers, led by Gerrard Winstanley, established their communal settlement at St. George's Hill near Weybridge to implement egalitarian ideals of common ownership, but were eventually driven out by the local landowners through violence and litigation. A smaller Digger commune was then established near Cobham, but suffered the same fate in 1650.
Until the late 18th century Surrey, apart from its north-eastern corner, was sparsely populated and somewhat rustic, despite its proximity to the capital. Communications began to improve, and the influence of London to increase, with the development of turnpike roads and a stagecoach system. A far more profound transformation followed with the arrival of the railways, beginning in the late 1830s. The availability of rapid transport enabled prosperous London workers to settle all across Surrey and travel daily to work in the capital. This phenomenon of commuting brought explosive growth to Surrey's population and wealth, and tied its economy and society inextricably to London. Existing towns like Guildford, Farnham and most spectacularly Croydon grew rapidly, while new towns such as Woking and Redhill emerged beside the railway lines. The huge numbers of incomers to the county and the transformation of rural, farming communities into a "commuter belt" contributed to a decline in the traditional local culture and, in particular, the gradual demise of the distinctive Surrey dialect, which had been spoken by "Surrey Men" perhaps as recently as the late 19th Century; it is now extinct.
Meanwhile, London itself spread swiftly across north-eastern Surrey. In 1800 it extended only to Vauxhall; a century later the city's growth had reached as far as Putney and Streatham. This expansion was reflected in the creation of the County of London in 1889, detaching the areas subsumed by the city from Surrey. The expansion of London continued in the 20th century, engulfing Croydon, Kingston and many smaller settlements. This led to a further contraction of Surrey in 1965 with the creation of Greater London, under the London Government Act 1963; however, Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames, previously in Middlesex, were transferred to Surrey, making the county straddle the River Thames. The county's boundaries were altered again in 1974 when Gatwick Airport was transferred to West Sussex.
Until parliamentary reforms in the mid-19th century which abolished so-called rotten boroughs, Surrey returned fourteen Members of Parliament, two representing the county and two each from the six boroughs of Bletchingley, Gatton, Guildford, Haslemere, Reigate and Southwark.
In 1849 Brookwood Cemetery was established near Woking to serve the population of London, connected to the capital by its own railway service. It soon developed into the largest burial ground in the world. Woking was also the site of Britain's first crematorium, which opened in 1878, and its first mosque, founded in 1889. In 1881 Godalming became the first town in the world with a public electricity supply.
The eastern part of Surrey was transferred from the Diocese of Winchester to that of Rochester in 1877. In 1905 this area was separated to form a new Diocese of Southwark. The rest of the county, together with part of eastern Hampshire, was separated from Winchester in 1927 to become the Diocese of Guildford, whose cathedral was consecrated in 1961.
During the later 19th century Surrey became increasingly important in the development of architecture in Britain and the wider world. Its traditional building forms made a significant contribution to the vernacular revival architecture associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement, and would exert a lasting influence. The prominence of Surrey peaked in the 1890s, when it was the focus for globally important developments in domestic architecture, in particular the early work of Edwin Lutyens, who grew up in the county and was greatly influenced by its traditional styles and materials.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the demise of Surrey's long-standing industries manufacturing paper and gunpowder. Most of the county's paper mills closed around the turn of the century and the last survivor shut in 1928. Gunpowder production fell victim to the First World War, which brought about a huge expansion of the British munitions industry, followed by sharp contraction and consolidation when the war ended, leading to the closure of the Surrey powder mills. New industrial developments included the establishment of the vehicle manufacturers Dennis Brothers in Guildford in 1895. Beginning as a maker of bicycles and then of cars, the firm soon shifted into the production of commercial and utility vehicles, becoming internationally important as a manufacturer of fire engines and buses. Though much reduced in size and despite numerous changes of ownership, this business continues to operate in Guildford.
During the Second World War a section of the GHQ Stop Line, a system of pillboxes, gun emplacements, anti-tank obstacles and other fortifications, was constructed along the North Downs. This line, running from Somerset to Yorkshire, was intended as the principal fixed defence of London and the industrial core of England against the threat of invasion. German invasion plans envisaged that the main thrust of their advance inland would cross the North Downs at the gap in the ridge formed by the Wey valley, thus colliding with the defence line around Guildford.
Historic architecture and monuments
Few traces of the ancient British and Roman periods survive in Surrey. There are a number of round barrows and bell barrows in various locations, mostly dating to the Bronze Age. Remains of Iron Age hillforts exist at Holmbury Hill, Hascombe Hill, Anstiebury (near Capel), Dry Hill (near Lingfield), St Ann's Hill, Chertsey and St George's Hill, Weybridge. Most of these sites were created in the 1st century BC and many were re-occupied during the middle of the 1st century AD. Only fragments of Stane Street and Ermine Street, the Roman roads which crossed the county, remain.
Anglo-Saxon elements survive in a number of Surrey churches, notably at Guildford (St Mary), Godalming (St Peter & St Paul), Stoke D'Abernon, Thursley, Witley, Compton and Albury (in Old Albury).
Numerous medieval churches exist in Surrey, but the county's parish churches are typically relatively small and simple, and experienced particularly widespread destruction and remodelling of their form in the course of Victorian restoration. Important medieval church interiors survive at Chaldon, Lingfield, Stoke D'Abernon, Compton and Dunsfold. Large monastic churches fell into ruin after their institutions were dissolved, although fragments of Waverley Abbey and Newark Priory survive. . Farnham Castle largely retains its medieval structure, while the keep and fragments of the curtain walls and palace buildings survive at Guildford Castle.
Wholly or partially surviving medieval houses and barns include those at Littleton, Ewell, Horsley, Cobham, Guildford, Bramley, Ewhurst Dockenfield/Frensham, Chobham, Chertsey, and in the Weald from Lingfield to Haslemere, though with considerable later modifications.
The 16th century is the earliest from which a sizeable amount of non-military secular architecture survives in Surrey. Major examples include the grand mid-century country houses of Loseley Park and Sutton Place and the old building of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, founded in 1509. A considerable number of smaller houses and public houses of the 16th century are also still standing . From the 17th century the number of surviving buildings proliferates further. Abbot's Hospital, founded in 1619, is a grand edifice built in the Tudor style, despite its date. More characteristic examples of major 17th-century building include West Horsley Place, Slyfield Manor and the Guildhall, Guildford.
Besides its role in Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, many important writers have lived and worked in Surrey.
- The Owl and the Nightingale, one of the earliest Middle English poems, may have been written by one Nicholas of Guildford, who is mentioned in its text.
- John Donne (1572–1631) lived and worked for a time in Pyrford.
- John Evelyn (1620–1706) was born at Wotton and spent much of his life there.
- Daniel Defoe (1659/61-1731) was educated in Dorking.
- William Cobbett (1763–1835) was born in Farnham and is buried there; Surrey features prominently in his Rural Rides.
- Thomas Love Peacock (1785–1866) lived at Lower Halliford, then part of Middlesex, now in Surrey.
- Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81) wrote Conningsby while living in Dorking.
- Alfred Tennyson (1809–92) spent the latter part of his life, and died, in Haslemere.
- Charles Dickens (1812–70) wrote part of The Pickwick Papers in Dorking, and refers to the town in the novel.
- Robert Browning (1812–89) was born in Camberwell, then part of Surrey.
- George Eliot (1819–80) wrote most of Middlemarch while living in Haslemere.
- Matthew Arnold (1822–88) lived at Laleham, then part of Middlesex, now in Surrey.
- George Meredith (1828–1909) lived at Box Hill.
- Lewis Carroll (1832–98) wrote Through the Looking Glass, died and is buried in Guildford, where he had spent much time at his sisters' home.
- George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) lived in Woking and later in Hindhead, where he wrote Caesar and Cleopatra.
- Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) lived and wrote many of his books in Hindhead and served as deputy lieutenant of Surrey; the county forms a setting for many of the Sherlock Holmes stories.
- J. M. Barrie (1860–1937) lived in Tilford, and based The Boy Castaways, which later evolved into Peter Pan, in the nearby countryside.
- H. G. Wells (1866–1946) wrote The War of the Worlds while living in Woking; much of northern Surrey is laid waste in the course of the story.
- John Galsworthy (1867–1933) was born in Kingston and the Forsyte Saga is partly set in the area.
- E. M. Forster (1879–1970) lived and wrote in Weybridge and Abinger Hammer.
- P. G. Wodehouse (1881–1975) was born in Guildford and baptised there in St Nicolas' Church.
- Aldous Huxley (1894–1963) was born in Godalming and his remains are interred at Compton; the end of Brave New World is set in Surrey.
Arts and sciences
- William of Ockham (c.1288-c.1348), scholastic philosopher, most famous for "Occam's Razor", came from Ockham.
- Thomas Malthus (1766–1834), pioneer of demography, was born and grew up in Westcott, and later lived in Albury.
- Ada Lovelace (1815–52), mathematician, lived at East Horsley.
- Gertrude Jekyll (1843–1932), garden designer, lived for much of her life at Munstead near Godalming, created significant gardens in Surrey and is buried in Busbridge.
- Edwin Lutyens (1869–1944), architect, grew up in Thursley and many of his early works were built in west Surrey, including collaborations with Gertrude Jekyll.
- Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872–1958), composer, grew up at Leith Hill and later lived in Dorking.
- Laurence Olivier (1907–89), actor, was born in Dorking.
- Alan Turing (1912–54), mathematician and pioneer of computer science, lived for much of his early life in Guildford.
- Alex Kingston (born 1963), actress, was born and raised in Epsom.
- Tracey Emin (born 1963), artist, was born in Croydon, then part of Surrey.
The "Surrey Delta" produced many of the musicians in 60s British blues movements. The Rolling Stones developed their music at Crawdaddy Club in Richmond.
- Jimmy Page (born 1944) spent much of his early life in Epsom.
- Jeff Beck (born 1944) was born in Wallington, then part of Surrey.
- Eric Clapton (born 1945) was born and grew up in Ripley.
- The Stranglers were formed in Guildford.
- Paul Weller (born 1958) was born and grew up in Woking, which inspired the song Town Called Malice. The Jam were formed at Sheerwater Secondary School in the town.
- Peter Gabriel was born in Chobham and grew up in Surrey.
- Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim (born 1963) was raised in Reigate.
- Hard-Fi members Richard Archer, Ross Phillips, and Kai Stephens are from Staines-upon-Thames.
- Justin Hawkins, lead singer of rock band The Darkness was born in Surrey.
- Disclosure members Guy and Howard Lawrence are from Reigate.
Three major motorways pass through the county. These are:
- M25 (London Orbital) runs through the county, including a long cutting into the Reigate Hill-Walton Down scarp of the North Downs and has 8 junctions in the county.
It connects among others to the M1, M11, M20, M26, M4 and M40. The motorway runs close to London Heathrow Airport and the motorway network can be used to access Gatwick, Stansted and Luton Airports and the Channel Tunnel motor vehicle service.
- M3 crosses the north-west of the county. It connects London to Southampton and the South West of England (excluding Gloucestershire, Bath and Wiltshire connected by the M4) having in Surrey the Sunbury-on-Thames, M25 interchange and Lightwater/Bagshot junctions.
- M23 (north-south) in effect connects Croydon to Brighton as the dualled A23 trunk road to the north and beyond Crawley. It has junction to a spur to Gatwick Airport on the Surrey/Sussex border. It has a Surrey junction, the M25 Merstham interchange, close to the Reigate M25 junction.
Other major roads include:
- The A3 trunk road from Portsmouth to London. The road now bypasses and historically assisted in the growth of Haslemere, Godalming, Guildford, Esher and Kingston-upon-Thames. The Hindhead Tunnel bypasses a former bottleneck at Hindhead and the Devil's Punchbowl.
- The A24 from London to Littlehampton and Worthing. In Surrey, it passes through or around Ewell, Epsom, Ashtead, Leatherhead and Dorking. It passes Box Hill, near Dorking. Unlike the A3, which is almost completely dual carriageway, the A24 is apart from a large central Surrey stretch single carriageway; it bypasses Leatherhead, Dorking and Horsham.
- The A31 trunk road west from Guildford to Bere Regis via Farnham and is connected to the M3 near Winchester and via the A331 near Aldershot. It is dual carriageway along the Hog's Back from the A3 to Farnham. It is one of the ancient routes from London to Winchester, see Pilgrims' Way.
- The short A331 connects the A31 to the M3. It runs along the Surrey – Hampshire border, bypassing Aldershot, Frimley and Farnborough.
Much of Surrey lies within the London commuter belt with regular services into Central London. South West Trains is the key operator in Elmbridge, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Surrey Heath, Woking, Guildford and Waverley, running regular services into London Waterloo and regional services towards the south coast and South west. Southern is the main train operator in Mole Valley, Epsom and Ewell, Reigate and Banstead and Tandridge, providing services into London Bridge and London Victoria.
There are a number of national rail routes: in anti-clockwise order, the Waterloo to Reading Line, South Western Main Line, Portsmouth Direct Line, Sutton and Mole Valley Lines (from Horsham, West Sussex itself on the Arun Valley Line from Littlehampton) and the Brighton Main Line.
The Waterloo to Reading Line from Reading, selected stations of Bracknell, Ascot, Sunningdale, and into Surrey and calls at unskipped stops of Virginia Water, Egham, Staines and several other stations in Greater London before terminating at Waterloo. The South Western Main Line runs from Weymouth, Southampton, the significant technology towns of Basingstoke and Farnborough, then normally calls at Woking, up to six other Surrey stops including Walton-on-Thames, and then for fast services Clapham Junction and Waterloo only. The Portsmouth Direct Line is significant in linking Haslemere, Godalming and Guildford to the South Western Main Line at Woking. The Sutton and Mole Valley Lines link Dorking, Leatherhead, Ashtead, Epsom and then towards Waterloo via Ewell West or via Ewell East to London Victoria and also have spurs to the SWML northbound and New Guildford Line southbound. The Brighton Main Line calls at mostly unskipped stops Horley and Redhill before reaching either London Bridge or London Victoria. Reigate is the only town terminus one stop off this main line network, with its station west of Redhill station one stop further from London and is on the east-west North Downs Line.
Consequently, the towns Staines, Woking, Guildford, Walton-on-Thames, Epsom/Ewell and Reigate/Redhill, statistically the largest examples, are established rapid-transit commuter towns for Central London. The above routes have had a stimulative effect. The relative development of Surrey at the time of the Beeching cuts led to today's retention of numerous other commuter routes except the Cranleigh Line, all with direct services to London, including:
- Chertsey Line linking the first two of the above national routes via Chertsey and Addlestone
- New Guildford Line via Claygate and Effingham Junction from Surbiton
- Hampton Court Branch Line to Hampton Court via Thamres Ditton from Surbiton
- Shepperton Branch Line via Sunbury
- Ascot to Guildford Line from Guildford via Wanborough, Ash, into Hampshire to Aldershot, back to Surrey Frimley, Camberley and Bagshot before crossing into Berkshire to Ascot
- Alton Line via Farnborough that calls at the far southwest Surrey outcrop in Farnham into Hampshire with a change to steam at Alton for Alresford via the seasonal and off-peak hours heritage Watercress Line. This line used to run to Winchester before then notorious Beeching Axe.
- Epsom Downs Branch from Sutton and then Belmont in Greater London to Banstead and Epsom Downs only.
- Tattenham Corner Branch Line from Purley, London via Chipstead, Kingswood and Tadworth
- Oxted Line via East Croydon that calls at Oxted and Hurst Green and into East Grinstead with a change for the Bluebell Railway for services to Sheffield Park, or to Uckfield, which was truncated under the Beeching Axe, having previously run to Lewes.
- Redhill to Tonbridge Line via Godstone and Tonbridge connections to Ashford International.
The only diesel route is the east-west route in Surrey, the North Downs Line, which runs from Reading in Berkshire via Farnborough North, Guildford, Dorking Deepdene, Reigate, Redhill and into West Sussex to Gatwick Airport.
Trains to London Waterloo are run by South West Trains, trains to London Victoria and London Bridge are operated by extremely poorly managed Southern (train operating company), and services on the North Downs Line are operated by Great Western Railway (train operating company). South Eastern Railway previously ran the Redhill to Tonbridge.
Major stations in the county include Guildford (8.0 million passengers), Woking (7.4 million passengers), Epsom (3.6 million passengers), Redhill (3.6 million passengers) and Staines (2.9 million passengers).
Long-distance national services
- From Guildford a daily service with CrossCountry runs to Newcastle via Reading.
- From Gatwick Airport, in addition to the Gatwick Express, the north-south Thameslink route connects 50 stations: London Bridge, London Blackfriars, Farringdon, London St Pancras International, Kentish Town, St Albans, Luton Airport Parkway, Luton and Bedford; the Thameslink programme is under way to extend the line by 2018 to Peterborough, Cambridge and east to Ashford.
Both Heathrow (in the London Borough of Hillingdon) and Gatwick (in Crawley Borough, West Sussex) have a perimeter road in Surrey. A National Express coach from Woking to Heathrow Airport and early-until-late buses to nearby Surrey towns operate.
Fairoaks Airport on the edge of Chobham and Ottershaw is 2.3 miles (3.7 km) from Woking town centre and operates as a private airfield with two training schools and is home to other aviation businesses.
Redhill Aerodrome is also in Surrey.
Places of interest
Significant landscapes in Surrey include Box Hill just north of Dorking; the Devil's Punch Bowl at Hindhead and Frensham Common. Leith Hill south west of Dorking in the Greensand Ridge is the second highest point in south-east England. Witley Common and Thursley Common are expansive areas of ancient heathland south of Godalming run by the National Trust and Ministry of Defence. The Surrey Hills are an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
More manicured landscapes can be seen at Claremont Landscape Garden, south of Esher (dating from 1715). There is also Winkworth Arboretum south east of Godalming and Windlesham Arboretum near Lightwater created in the 20th century. Wisley is home to the Royal Horticultural Society gardens. Kew, historically part of Surrey but now in Greater London, features the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as well as The National Archives for England & Wales.
There are 80 Surrey Wildlife Trust reserves with at least one in all 11 non-metropolitan districts.
Surrey's important country houses include the Tudor mansion of Loseley Park, built in the 1560s and Clandon Park, an 18th-century Palladian mansion in West Clandon to the east of Guildford. Nearby Hatchlands Park in East Clandon, was built in 1758 with Robert Adam interiors and a collection of keyboard instruments. Polesden Lacey south of Great Bookham is a regency villa with extensive grounds. On a smaller scale, Oakhurst Cottage in Hambledon near Godalming is a restored 16th-century worker's home.
A canal system, the Wey and Godalming Navigations is linked to the Wey and Arun Canal with future full reopening expected after 2015. Dapdune Wharf in Guildford commemorates the work of the canal system and is home to a restored Wey barge, the Reliance. Furthermore, on the River Tillingbourne, Shalford Mill is an 18th-century water-mill.
Guildford Cathedral is a post-war cathedral built from bricks made from the clay hill on which it stands.
Brooklands Museum recognises the motoring past of Surrey. The county is also home to the theme parks Thorpe Park and flanks to three sides the farmland and woodland surrounding Chessington World of Adventures in Greater London.
Surrey in film and books
Much of H. G. Wells's 1898 novel The War of the Worlds is set in Surrey with many specific towns and villages identified. The Martians first land on Horsell Common on the north side of Woking, outside the Bleak House pub, now called Sands. In the story the narrator flees in the direction of London, first passing Byfleet and then Weybridge before travelling east along the north bank of the Thames. Jane Austen's novel Emma is set in Surrey and the famous picnic where Emma embarrasses Miss Bates takes place on Box Hill. The character Ford Prefect from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy claimed to be from Guildford in Surrey, but in actuality he was from a small planet somewhere in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Thomas Paine Kydd, the hero of the Kydd series of naval adventure novels written by Julian Stockwin, starts off as a young wig-maker from Guildford who is pressed into service and thus begins a life at sea. Atonement is set in Surrey. The late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman mentions Camberley in his poem "A Subaltern's Lovesong", while Carshalton forms the literary backdrop to many of the poems by James Farrar. In J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, the home of Harry's pernicious relatives, the Dursleys, is set in the fictional town of Little Whinging, Surrey. They lived at Number Four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
The county has also been used as a film location. Part of the movie The Holiday was filmed in Godalming and Shere: Kate Winslet's character Iris lived in a cottage in Shere and Cameron Diaz's character Amanda switched houses with her as part of a home exchange. The final scene of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason uses the village church, also in Shere, as does the movie The Wedding Date. In the 1976 film The Omen, the scenes at the cathedral were filmed at Guildford Cathedral. The film I Want Candy follows two hopeful lads from Leatherhead trying to break into the movies, and was partly filmed in Brooklands College (Weybridge campus). Surrey woodland represented Germany in the opening scene of Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe; it was filmed at the Bourne Woods near Farnham in Surrey. Scenes for the 2009 BBC production of Emma by Jane Austen, starring Romola Garai and Michael Gambon, were filmed at St Mary the Virgin Church Send near Guildford and at Loseley House.
Images for kids
Surrey Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.