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.
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 is popularly remembered 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 1960s and 1970s 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. The two Anglican ones, Saint Mark's and Saint Andrew's, are located in the town centre. The third is the Roman Catholic church of Saint Raphael's, which is located away from the centre towards the north, in the Kingston upon Thames postal district.
In addition, there are two other Anglican parish churches in south Surbiton, Christ Church and Saint Matthew's. Both are also Victorian.
Christ Church was built in 1862-63, by Charles Lock Luck and lengthened in 1866. The chancel aisles were added in 1864, and 1871. It has no tower, and is built of red brick with stone dressings with some black brick voussoirs. The east stained glass window was done by Clayton and Bell, the central stained glass window by Burne-Jones, while the other stained glass was done by Lavers, Barraud and Westlake.
Saint Matthew's was completed in 1875, having taken less than 2 years to build. The church and the original vicarage were paid for by one man, William Matthew Coulthurst, who was the senior partner of Coutts Bank. On the outside of the east end of the church there is a stone plaque recording this and the fact that it was partly built in memory of Hannah Mabella Coulthurst, the dead sister of William Matthew Coulthurst. Built into the wall behind the plaque there are a photograph of Hannah, a copy of ‘The Times’ newspaper of the day and a letter from William Coulthurst stipulating that the church should be and remain in the evangelical tradition. The church and vicarage cost £26,500. The old vicarage was pulled down in 1939 and a subsequent one built on the same plot. In 2012 work started on a new vicarage on part of the plot and this was completed in 2013.
Surbiton Lawn Tennis Club hosted International Tennis from 1900 (Surrey Grass Court Championships - SGCC) until 1981 at the tennis Club in Berrylands. From 1998 to 2008 International Tennis returned to Surbiton with an event hosted by The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club (SRFC). 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. The event came back to Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club in 2015 and continues to be played on the site in Berrylands.
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 retired footballer and TV pundit before his death (having been born in Belfast and lived much of his life in Manchester).
- Alfred Bestall – illustrator of the Rupert books
- Charlie Brooks – actress
- Arthur Brian Burton, founder and owner of Thames Ditton Foundry
- Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton – equality and human rights champion
- Rosalbina Caradori-Allan – opera singer
- Frank Cellier – actor
- Julian Clary – comedian and novelist
- John Cooper – car maker
- Allan Cuthbertson – actor
- Edward Davey FRSA – Liberal Democrat Politician
- 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)
- Roy Hodgson – football manager
- 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)
- Lukin Johnston – English-Canadian journalist who interviewed Adolf Hitler and subsequently disappeared
- John McCririck – horse racing pundit, Celebrity Big Brother (2005), and Ultimate Big Brother (2010)
- James McQuillan – contestant on television series The Apprentice, 2009
- Art Malik – actor
- Dudley Mason GC – master of the SS Ohio
- 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
- L. J. K. Setright – motoring journalist and author
- Helen Sharman – first Briton in space, first woman to visit Mir space station.
- David Spinx – actor
- Naunton Wayne – 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". Agatha Christie's Poirot. 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)
- Historic England. "Christ Church (1080070)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
- "St Matthew's Church - History". St Matthew's Church. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
- 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