Surbiton is a suburban area of south-west London within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. It is situated next to the River Thames, 11.0 miles south west of central London. Surbiton was formerly within the County of Surrey, but became part of Greater London in 1965 following the London Government Act 1963, together with many areas including neighbouring Kingston and Richmond. Surbiton possesses a mixture of Art-Deco courts, more recent residential blocks and grand 19th century townhouses blending into a sea of semi-detached 20th century housing estates.
- See the article on Thomas Pooley for his rôle in the establishment of the present-day town of Surbiton.
- See also the article on the Municipal Borough of Surbiton for the period 1855–1965.
The present-day town came into existence after a plan to build a London-Southampton railway line through nearby Kingston was rejected by Kingston Council, who feared that it would be detrimental to the coaching trade. This resulted in the line being routed further south, through a cutting in the hill south of Surbiton. Surbiton railway station opened in 1838, and was originally named Kingston-upon-Railway. It was only renamed Surbiton to distinguish it from the new Kingston railway station on the Shepperton branch line, which opened on 1 January 1869. The present station has an art deco façade.
As a result, Kingston is now on a branch line, whereas passengers from Surbiton (smaller in comparison) can reach London Waterloo in about 15 minutes on a fast direct service; as well as places further afield, including Portsmouth and Southampton. This has made Surbiton a convenient and attractive location from which to commute into Central London, reflected in the size of its population.
Resident artists and writers
The Pre-Raphaelite painters John Everett Millais (1829–1896) and William Holman Hunt (1827–1910) came to Surbiton in 1851, 26 years before Richard Jefferies (1848–1887). Millais used the Hogsmill River, in Six Acre Meadow, Tolworth, as the background for his painting Ophelia. Holman Hunt used the fields just south of this spot as the background to The Hireling Shepherd.
In the mid-1870s the novelist Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) lived in a house called 'St. David's Villa' in Hook Road, Surbiton for a year after his marriage to Emma Gifford. H.G.Wells, in his comic novel The Wheels of Chance, describes the cycle collision of 'Mr Hoopdriver' and a 'Young Lady in Grey'; the young lady approaching 'along an affluent from the villas of Surbiton'. The writer Enid Blyton (1897–1968) was governess to a Surbiton family for four years from 1920, at a house called 'Southernhay', also on the Hook Road. C.H. Middelton (1886–1945), who broadcast on gardening during the Second World War, lived in Surbiton, where he died suddenly outside his home. The artist who brought Rupert the Bear to life for a whole generation Alfred Bestall sketched out his cartoons from his home in Cranes Park, Surbiton Hill.
In popular culture
A 1972 episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a mock documentary which investigated whether the residents of Hounslow, another London area suburb, had long ago been descendants of the people of Surbiton "who had made the great trek north."
Surbiton's main claim to popular fame is as an icon of suburbia in such British television programmes as The Good Life (starring Richard Briers, Penelope Keith, Paul Eddington and Felicity Kendal), though location filming was done in Northwood, North-West London), and John Sessions' comedy series Stella Street, which has on occasion led to the town being nicknamed "Suburbiton". Other names for the town include "the 'Surbs" and "the 'Tron" in reference to '80s movies The 'Burbs and Tron.
Surbiton station features in the 2009 film version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Blood Prince, with actors Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter and Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore. Filming took place in November 2007. The station also appears in Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, a TV adaptation of the short story by Agatha Christie and the first episode of the 1989 ITV series. Having been set in the 1930s Art Deco period and external shots of Hercule Poirot's fictional residence Whitehaven Mansions being filmed at Florin Court, the station assists in maintaining the authenticity of the programme and was built within a year of Florin Court.
In the episode of EastEnders broadcast on 23 November 2012, Ava Hartman, daughter of Cora Cross, refers to her difficulties of being a black woman growing up in Surbiton in the late 60's and 70's adopted by white parents.
- For education in Surbiton see the main Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames article.
Surbiton has three parish churches, all of which date back to the Victorian era. Two of them, Saint Mark's and Saint Andrew's, are located in the town centre. The third, Saint Raphael's, is located away from the centre towards the north, in the Kingston upon Thames postal district.
Saint Mark's Church
One of Surbiton's two Anglican parish churches is dedicated to Saint Mark, and is situated near the top of St Mark's Hill, near the junction with Church Hill Road. Saint Mark's is the oldest church in Surbiton, dating back to 1845. Extended in the 1850s, it suffered severe bomb damage during the London Blitz of 1940, and was closed for two decades before being reopened in 1960, after major restoration work. In September 2010 the church was closed for restoration again, during which the congregation worshipped at Saint Andrew's. Saint Mark's reopened its doors once more on 24 June 2012.
Saint Mark's has a light airy interior, with a traditional layout of chancel and nave, and also a Lady chapel. The church is oriented in the traditional way, with the high altar at the east end. The main entrance is through the south porch and door. The tower, spire and north wall were the only surviving parts of the original church which survived the bombing, although the tower has since had to be repaired. They are thus the only places where the work of the Victorian masons and stone carvers can be seen. Most of the gravestones have been removed from the churchyard, as they were broken and damaged, but some interesting monuments remain.
Saint Andrew's Church
The other Anglican parish church in Surbiton is dedicated to Saint Andrew, and is situated at the junction of St Andrew's Road and Maple Road. Grade II listed, it was built in 1871-72 by Sir Arthur Blomfield, at a cost of £1,400, as a gift of thanks to the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) following his recovery from an illness. The organ came from the former Holy Trinity church in Stroud Green, which was demolished in 1959 due to war damage. In 2009 Saint Andrew's underwent restoration.
Saint Andrew's is the only Victorian church in Surbiton which has been left largely untouched. The stained glass above the chancel and both in and above the baptistry is original and was designed and produced by Messrs Lavers, Barraud and Westlake, one of the best known firms at the time. The stained glass windows in other parts of the church were donated later.
Saint Raphael's Church
The Roman Catholic parish church of Saint Raphael, in Portsmouth Road, was designed by the eminent architect Charles Parker in an Italianate style, with early Christian and Renaissance influences. The entire cost was met by Alexander Raphael, a Catholic Armenian whose family came from India. He became the first Roman Catholic to be elected Sheriff of London after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. Raphael built the Church in 1846 as a family chapel and named it after St Raphael. It was completed in 1848. But soon after, in November 1850, he died. His nephew, Edward, inherited the property and opened it to the public as the first Roman Catholic church in Kingston.
Through successive bequests, the Church and land became the property of Captain Hon. George Savile, brother to the Sixth Earl of Mexborough, a Yorkshire family. Lady Anne Savile, daughter of the fourth Earl, lived nearby in Thames Ditton and a plaque is to be seen inside the Church commemorating her death. Unlike many other members of the Savile family buried in the vault under the High Altar, she has no known grave.
From 1998 to 2008 Surbiton hosted the first round of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) season. The Surbiton Trophy was part of the ATP Challenger Series and in 2009 the venue was moved to Nottingham as part of a reorganisation by the LTA.
Surbiton is the current home of both male and female football teams, Darkside FC, Surbiton Wanderers and Surbiton Town Ladies FC.
Surbiton is famous for Surbiton Hockey Club, which was established in 1874, and is regarded as one of the best hockey clubs in the country. Its men's and ladies 1st XIs currently both playing in their respective national premier leagues, while its youth section regularly produces players of international quality.
Surbiton is also the home to Surbiton Croquet Club, which is amongst the strongest croquet clubs in the country, and with seven lawns, one of the largest.
- George Best – a footballer who died there (having been born in Belfast and lived much of his life in Manchester)
- Alfred Bestall – illustrator of the Rupert books
- Charlie Brooks – actress
- Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton – equality and human rights champion
- Rosalbina Caradori-Allan – opera singer
- Julian Clary – comedian and novelist
- John Cooper – car maker
- Allan Cuthbertson – actor
- Edward Davey MP – Cabinet Minister
- Phyllis Dixey – singer, dancer and impresario
- David Essex – musician, singer-songwriter and actor (Lived on Ditton Road for 16 years until 2002)
- John Foxx – musician and digital artist (Former Resident)
- Eileen Gray – cyclist
- Jennifer Guy – actor, Cavegirl
- Thomas Hardy – author (while completing and for the publishing of Far from the Madding Crowd)
- Eamonn Holmes – television presenter
- Saskia Howard-Clarke – Big Brother 6 (UK) contestant and glamour model
- James Johnston – Rugby union player (Lived in Surbiton until 2013 while playing for Harlequins)
- Art Malik – actor
- John McCririck – horse racing pundit, Celebrity Big Brother (2005), and Ultimate Big Brother (2010)
- James McQuillan – contestant on television series The Apprentice, 2009
- Mr Middleton – gardener, writer and BBC broadcaster
- Elizabeth Norton – historian and author
- Betty Nuthall – amongst other major titles, winner of the 1930 Women's US Singles Tennis Championship. Ranked number 4 in the world.
- Andy Parsons – comedian, Mock The Week
- Jon Richardson – comedian, 8 out of 10 Cats, Stand Up for the Week
- William Robinson (Governor of Western Australia) grew up in Surbiton.
- Helen Sharman – first Briton in space, first woman to visit Mir space station.
- David Spinx – actor
Surbiton is a post town in the KT postcode area, consisting of the KT5 and KT6 postcode districts. KT5 includes Berrylands, Tolworth and part of Surbiton; and KT6 includes Tolworth, Long Ditton and part of Surbiton.
||Hampton, East Molesey||Kingston Upon Thames, Petersham||Kingston Upon Thames|
|Thames Ditton||Berrylands, Old Malden|
|Long Ditton, Hinchley Wood||Chessington||Tolworth|
The clock tower at Surbiton was built to celebrate the 1902 coronation of King Edward VII.
Surbiton Branch Post Office, subsequently redeveloped by CNM Estates.
- "Railways South East". Retrieved 2007-08-10.
A township developed on the hill near the railway. This was named New Kingston, New Town and Kingston-upon-Railway before becoming Surbiton
- The Enid Blyton Society, Chronology, retrieved 2012-02-10
- Daniel Smith (2011) The Spade as Mighty as the Sword
- Monty Python's Flying Circus, Episode No. 28, first aired 28 October 1972
- The Good Life house for sale
- "the adventure of the clapham cook" (in english). 1. Season 1. Episode 1. 8 January 1989. 38:28 minutes in. itv.
- Poirot at Amazon.co.uk
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming (Page 89)
- "Saint Mark's Church". Surbiton Parish Church. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Saint Andrew's Church". Surbiton Parish Church. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Saint Raphael - Our Church". Official website. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
- https://twitter.com/JayVJohnston July 2013
- Kingston Borough Council
- Surbiton – 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
- Surbiton People
- Surbiton Croquet Club
- Surbiton Caledonian Society
- Surbiton Parish Church