St Katherine's Church
Brook Road leading to the North Downs in front of Brook Recreation Ground
Merstham shown within Surrey
|OS grid reference|
|District||Reigate and Banstead|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Ambulance||South East Coast|
|EU Parliament||South East England|
Merstham // is a village in the borough of Reigate and Banstead in Surrey, England. It is north of Redhill and is contiguous to the town, near the intersection of the M25 and M23 motorways, on the edge of the North Downs. Part of the North Downs Way lies near the northern boundary of the village.
Old Merstham lies in the north and north-west. There is a small day school by the train station, art gallery, village pub, restaurants and a small number of shops.
The Merstham Estate/New Merstham
A larger housing estate, originally entirely public housing, was built to a geometric layout in the eastern fields. This area has its own parade of shops, the Brook recreation ground, three schools, and a youth/community centre along Radstock Way by the house Oakley which is listed and has Victorian gothic architecture features to its masonry, windows and decoration.
South Merstham is south of both mentioned areas and is made up of mainly Victorian and Edwardian terraces, which in part gave a workforce for Albury Manor and brickworkings. Its Nutfield road has a long parade of shops.
There is 2010-11 constructed development in South Merstham close to Mercers Park, Watercolour with views over the Greensand Ridge near Bletchingley and Nutfield. Here there is a Tesco Express integrated beneath flats and a small selection of shops.
The area has been settled since pre-Roman times.
The village lay within the Reigate hundred, an Anglo-Saxon administrative division. Its name was recorded in 947 as Mearsætham, which seems to be Anglo-Saxon Mearþ-sǣt-hām = "Homestead near a trap set for martens or weasels".
Merstham appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as Merstan. It was held by Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury. Its domesday assets were: 5 hides; 1 church, 1 mill worth 2s 6d, 10 ploughs, 8 acres (32,000 m2) of meadow, woodland and herbage worth 41 hogs. It rendered £12.
The area has long been known for its quarries, and it was to serve these that the village became the terminus of the Croydon, Merstham and Godstone Railway, an extension of the horse-drawn Surrey Iron Railway of 1803, the world's first public railway , albeit only for goods. A small section of the railway is on display near Quality Street.
The first mines at Merstham are recorded almost 1000 years ago in the Domesday Book and 'Reigate stone' quarried there was used to build parts of Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle and Henry VIII's doomed palace of Nonsuch in Surrey.
The original parish church, St. Katharine's, dates from around 1220; it replaced an earlier church built c. 1100, although it is believed there has been a church of some form on the site since c. 675 AD.
Merstham's conservation area is centred around its High Street which winds in the village centre to the northwest, forms part of the A23 road and includes many listed buildings; the street with the greatest number, Quality Street, arcs off at a tangent from this curve of the High Street. This was named after J.M. Barrie's play of the same name, in honour of two of the actors in the play, Ellaline Terris and Seymour Hicks, who for a time lived in the 'Old Forge' at the end of the street. 1 High Street partly dates to the 17th century.
The earlier of the two Merstham railway tunnels was the scene of a murder on 24 September 1905. The mutilated body of Mary Sophia Money was found in the tunnel and was first thought to be a case of suicide. On inspection, however, a scarf was found in the victim's throat, and marks on the tunnel wall showed that she had been thrown from a moving train. The crime was never solved, but suspicion rested on Miss Money's brother, Robert Money.
After World War II, the Merstham Estate was gradually built over a period spanning until the early 1970s.
The old village thus became generally known as Old Merstham and occasionally is known as Top Merstham, although no roads climb significantly except for a few roads in the north and the A23 itself takes a natural dip to 110m above sea level, avoiding rises to over 220m to either side. The article on this road provides more details of this being a natural conduit from north to south, host to the famous London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and Cycle Events.
Rockshaw Road, on the hilltop above the conservation area of Old Merstham, was developed at the very end of the 19th century, and between the World Wars was home to many nationally notable people, among them senior Army and Navy figures, financiers and politicians.
At the junction of Battlebridge Lane and Nutfield Road is All Saints church, the original building of which was destroyed in World War II. Volunteers from the Canadian regiments worked to build a temporary church for the village, which became known as Canada Hall and is used as a village hall and weekly meeting hall for some Merstham branches of the Girl Guides.
Sport and leisure
- Census data
- English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1241672)". National Heritage List for England.
- Surrey Domesday Book
- "Surrey Iron Railway 200th". Stephenson Locomotive Society. Retrieved 3 October 2012.
- English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1188930)". National Heritage List for England. The Old Forge
- English Heritage. "Details from listed building database (1294683)". National Heritage List for England.1 High Street
- The history of Edwardian houses at the Rockshaw Road
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