Dorking

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This article is about the market town in Surrey. For other uses, see Dorking (disambiguation).
Dorking
Dorking - geograph.org.uk - 788645.jpg
Dorking from Denbies Hillside
Dorking is located in Surrey
Dorking
Dorking
 Dorking shown within Surrey
Area  6.57 km2 (2.54 sq mi)
Population 11,185 (2011 census)[1]
   – density  1,702 /km2 (4,410 /sq mi)
OS grid reference TQ165496
   – London 21 mi (34 km)  NNE
Civil parish n/a
District Mole Valley
Shire county Surrey
Region South East
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
UK
England
Surrey

Coordinates: 51°14′02″N 0°19′54″W / 51.2340°N 0.3318°W / 51.2340; -0.3318

South Street in Dorking in about 1959
South Street in Dorking in May 2009

Dorking /ˈdɔr.kɪŋ/ is a long-established market and later railway town in the valley of the Pipp Brook between the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge approximately 21 miles (34 km)[2] from the centre of London, in Surrey, England. It is equidistant between two high points of the hill ranges, Box Hill and Leith Hill. It is also in the postal system a large post town that covers surrounding semi-rural villages, from Mickleham and Westhumble in the north to Capel in the south. The parish used to stretch further east, in its Pixham former part, a settlement which evolved into a village and ward, to the River Mole, and in the Middle Ages altogether had at least three mills.

With the exception of Cotmandene which remains mostly public land with far-reaching views in the town centre, in the Georgian and Victorian periods seven foothills and slopes in the neighbourhood became grand country estates: today's Norbury Park, Denbies Vineyard Resort, Betchworth Castle/Betchworth Park Golf Course, Polesden Lacey (NT), Wotton House and Dorking Golf Course/The Deepdene Garden.

Dorking is today more of a commuter settlement than ever before and has three railway stations. In 1911 it was economically described 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."

Poultry remains reared by some semi-rural inhabitants of the town – dorking chickens with an extra claw are a major breed. Sand of fine texture and often in veins of pink, for mortar and glassmaking was for a time dug, particularly in the 19th century, and some extensive caverns, the Dorking Caves were excavated for this purpose under southern parts of the town centre.

History and development[edit]

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.[3]

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 capitalising on its position on the junction of a number of long distance roads and local tracks, milling and brewing, surrounding cultivated fields and pasture.

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 5 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 now attracted wealthy residents who built large houses in and around Dorking, such as Denbies House and Pippbrook House (now with Council Offices in the grounds). Surrounding land and beauty spots such as Cotmandene,[4] and Box Hill were donated by landowners for public use, protected by the Metropolitan Green Belt and 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).[5][6] Cricket matches were played on the heath during 18th century and are recorded in Edward Beavan's 1777 poem Box Hill.[7] A painting entitled A Cricket Match on Cotmandene, Dorking by the artist James Canter, dating to around 1770, is now held by the Marylebone Cricket Club.[8]

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."[9]

Geography[edit]

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.[2]

Just northeast of the town the River Mole cuts a steep-sided valley through the North Downs. On the left bank is Denbies Vineyard, the largest vineyard in the UK[10] On the right 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, some of which are more than 1000 years old[citation needed]

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. Its modest tower climbs 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 new 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.[11] 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.

Climate[edit]

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

Climate data for Dorking
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8
(46)
8
(46)
11
(52)
13
(55)
17
(63)
20
(68)
22
(72)
23
(73)
19
(66)
15
(59)
11
(52)
8
(46)
15
(59)
Average low °C (°F) 2
(36)
2
(36)
3
(37)
3
(37)
6
(43)
9
(48)
11
(52)
11
(52)
8
(46)
7
(45)
4
(39)
2
(36)
6
(43)
Precipitation mm (inches) 69.5
(2.736)
64.5
(2.539)
43.7
(1.72)
48.6
(1.913)
56.9
(2.24)
32.0
(1.26)
51.3
(2.02)
37.0
(1.457)
46.9
(1.846)
103.8
(4.087)
91.7
(3.61)
90.7
(3.571)
736.6
(29)
Source: [12]

Amenities and landmarks[edit]

'Let there be light', a decorative moulding above one of the shops in the High Street.
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.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

Governance[edit]

Surrey County Council elected every four years, has three representatives, with only a few close but outlying farms falling under the latter two wards :

First Elected Member[16]

Ward

2005 Steven Cooksey Dorking and the Holmwoods – includes the town Dorking
2001 Helen Clack Dorking Rural – comprises farms and villages east of Dorking
1993 Hazel Watson Dorking Hills – comprises farms and villages south & west of Dorking

Five councillors sit on Mole Valley borough council, who are:

Election Member[17][18]

Ward

2008 Paul Elderton Dorking North
2012 Derrick Stanley John Burt Dorking North
2011 Stephen Cooksey Dorking South
2010 Margaret Cooksey Dorking South
2012 Tim Loretto Dorking South

Famous residents and literary connections[edit]

Laurence Olivier in Pride and Prejudice

People born in the town include: Laurence Olivier, Lord Olivier, in 1907 – a blue plaque marking his birthplace can be found in Wathen Road.

Other people born in Dorking include Walter Dendy Sadler (1854–1923) artist and painter, and Queens Park Rangers F.C. Striker Jamie Mackie (born 1985).

General Sir Lewis Halliday, a Victoria Cross recipient, died in Dorking.

The famous composer Ralph Vaughan Williams lived in Dorking for much of his life, and penned most of the works which made him famous in Dorking. The lark in "The Lark Ascending" is known to have been heard in the Mole Valley to the north of the town.

Absolute Radio DJ Christian O'Connell resides in Dorking with his wife and two children.

Kenneth Baker served as Member of Parliament for Mole Valley from 1983 to 1997 and lived for most of that time in Betchworth. On retirement he was made a life peer and took the title 'Kenneth Baker, Baron Baker of Dorking'.

People who have lived in the town in the past include: Daniel Defoe who attended Rev. James Fisher's boarding school in Pixham Lane, and Defoe later mentioned Dorking in his tour through the whole Island of Great Britain.[19]

Dorking also gets a mention in Defoe's book A Journal of the Plague Year,[20] as a refuge for his brother's family.

Henry Hope and his nephew Thomas Hope spent summers at Deepdene in the beginning of the 19th century. Benjamin Disraeli wrote his novel Coningsby also while staying in Deepdene House (demolished in 1967) on the outskirts of the town. Emma Holland was brought up in the town.

The famous irrigation engineer Sir Arthur Cotton spent his last days, preaching the Bible and experimenting on cultivation of new wheat strains here. His tombstone at a local cemetery describes Sir Arthur as "irrigation Cotton" who was involved in construction of large scale irrigation projects, dams, aqueducts, bridges and canals in India. His daughter, Elizabeth Cotton, Lady Hope, founded an influential evangelistic temperance Coffee-room here.

Dorking and its environs, including Box Hill and the Deepdene Hotel, feature heavily in British author Robert Goddard's fictional thriller Closed Circle (1993). In this novel there are also several allusions to the notorious money-for-titles trader Maundy Gregory, the owner of the Deepdene Hotel in the inter-war years.

The Cubitt family had links with the town also. Thomas Cubitt was born and lived in the town, and later built up large areas of London from the early 19th century. His politician son George also had connections with the town, and notably financed the building of St Barnabas Church on Ranmore Hill known by its nickname of Cubitt's Spire, Cubitt's Finger or Cubitt's Stump.[21]

The English writer George Meredith and the Polish poet Marian Hemar are also buried at the local cemetery.

The Battle of Dorking, a fictional short story written by Lt. Col. Sir George Tomkyns Chesney in 1871, was set in the town. Describing a fictional invasion and conquest of Britain by a German-speaking country, it triggered an explosion of what came to be known as invasion literature.

In The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, Sam Weller's father and stepmother live in Dorking.

Graham Gouldman and Eric Stewart of the band 10cc opened a studio, Strawberry Studios South, in a former cinema in Dorking at the end of South Street in 1976 following the departure of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. Songs recorded here include "The Things We Do for Love" and "Good Morning Judge". Songs recorded here by other artists include "Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder. The building was later demolished and the site was used as a builders yard for a time; a housing development now occupies the site. In addition, The Cure recorded and mixed at Rhino Studios, which was at Pippbrook Mill, Fairfield Drive.

Child composer and musician Alma Deutscher lives in Dorking.

Dorking is also home to Britain's Got Talent finalist Lettice Rowbotham.

Local government[edit]

Dorking is the administrative centre of Mole Valley District Council. It is in the Mole Valley parliamentary constituency.

Twin towns[edit]

The town is twinned with Gouvieux, France since 1997 and negotiations began in 2007 to twin with the German town of Güglingen.[22]

Transport[edit]

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

Road[edit]

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

Rail[edit]

The town has three railway stations.

Bus[edit]

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.

Education[edit]

Various Primary Schools cater for 5–11-year olds:

Secondary education is largely provided for by:

Emergency services[edit]

Surrey Police, Dorking Station (now demolished)


Dorking is served by these emergency services:

  • Surrey Police are situated at the council offices of Mole Valley District Council in Pippbrook, Dorking. The old police station in Moores Road has now been demolished to make way for a new housing development.

Leisure and culture[edit]

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.

The town has an active collection of sports clubs. 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.[23][24] Dorking and Mole Valley Athletics Club is based at Pixham Sports Ground. They host the annual Dorking Ten road race starting from Brockham Green.[25] The Mole Valley Bowmen meet in the grounds of St Martin's primary school.[26]

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.[27] 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[edit]

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.[28] Ralph Vaughan Williams was the Festival Conductor from 1905 to 1953. The present Festival Conductor is Brian Kay.[29] It is a competitive festival 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[edit]

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[1]
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[1]
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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Key Statistics; Quick Statistics: Population Density United Kingdom Census 2011 Office for National Statistics Retrieved 20 December 2013
  2. ^ a b "UK Grid Reference Finder". UK Grid Reference Finder. Retrieved 29 April 2012. 
  3. ^ Surrey Domesday Book
  4. ^ "List of Recreation Areas and Parks". Mole Valley Borough Council. 
  5. ^ "The Cotmandene, Chart Lane, Dorking". Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  6. ^ Timms, John (1822). A Picturesque Promenade Round Dorking, in Surrey. London: John Warren. p. 96. 
  7. ^ Beavan, E (1777). Box Hill, a descriptive poem. London: Wilkie. 
  8. ^ "Howzat". Dorking Museum and Heritage Centre. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  9. ^ H.E. Malden (editor) (1911). "Parishes: Dorking". A History of the County of Surrey: Volume 3. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  10. ^ Visit Surrey
  11. ^ News archive, Natural History Museum website
  12. ^ "Averages for Dorking". 
  13. ^ "Description of Dorking from Local Authority". Mole Valley Borough Council. 
  14. ^ Guy Martin (28 May 2012). "Dorking cockerel gets in Diamond Jubilee spirit". Get Surrey. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Nairn & Pevsner 1965, p. 198.
  16. ^ Surrey County Councillors. Retrieved 28 April 2012
  17. ^ Mole Valley Councillors. Retrieved 5 June 2012
  18. ^ Mole Valley Results 2009–11
  19. ^ Notes on Defoe
  20. ^ A Journal of the Plague Year, 1665
  21. ^ Dorking Deanery – Church Histories
  22. ^ Surrey Advertiser twinning info
  23. ^ Dorking Rugby Football Club
  24. ^ 2005/2006 Powergen Vase
  25. ^ Dorking and Mole Valley Athletics Club
  26. ^ Mole Valley Bowmen
  27. ^ Dorking Group of Artists
  28. ^ And Choirs Singing, An account of the Leith Hill Musical Festival 1905–1985
  29. ^ "Leith Hill Music Festival". Retrieved 14 November 2010. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]