A brief history of the Holmwood

Lying to the south of Dorking in Surrey, Holmwood Common was once

the town's manorial woodland. No road crossed its clay until the 18th

century and there were no villages until the 19th. Numerous farms and

dwellings of ancient origin lie distant from its centres of settlement,

however - within the Common, along its boundaries and on the slopes up

to Coldharbour. When, in 1755, the Horsham to Epsom turnpike road cut

across the Common it brought with it roadside inns and tradesmen.

Shortly afterwards a mill was established.


Well into the 19th century, however, the area remained isolated, its farm

labourers impoverished, the Common notorious for criminal activity. But

in the 1830s wealthy metropolitans began to buy farmland on the fringes

of the Common and on the slopes up to Coldharbour, forming great 

estates. St Mary Magdalene in South Holmwood was built in 1838. A

school followed in 1844. When, in 1848, Coldharbour parish was formed

the North Holmwood area (then known as Bentsbrook) was brought into

Holmwood parish. Middle-class villas followed and humble dwellings

within the Common were enlarged. With the opening of the station in

1867 Holmwood's hotels and guesthouses became popular with holiday-

makers. Charabancs, bicycles and coaches brought day-trippers to its

hostelries and tea houses.

North Holmwood's parish of St John was established in 1875. This part of 

the Common had always been somewhat industrial - the village pond was

formed from the diggings of an 18th century pottery - and the brick-

making that began at Stubs Farm in the late 19th century was carried on

into the 1980s by the Dorking Brick Company on a vast site there.

In the 1950s ownership of the Common passed from its manorial owners,

the Dukes of Norfolk, to the National Trust. The grand houses are no

more, the inns and hotels have gone and the suburbs of Dorking encroach

upon North Holmwood, whilst Mid and South Holmwood suffered

bisection with the widening of the A24 in 1971. The slopes of Redlands

Wood to the west of the road and of the Common to the east still offer

great beauty and tranquility, however.