Ashtead is a village and civil parish in Surrey and has a railway station on secondary routes to Horsham and Guildford, formerly the Portsmouth Main Line. It is separated from Leatherhead by the M25 motorway, and from Epsom by Ashtead Common and Langley Vale. Its local administration is the Mole Valley District. Ashtead is on western slopes of the Mole Gap of the North Downs and is on the A24 where it is a single carriageway as is generally the case within the circuit of the M25 motorway.
Ashtead parish covers 11.59 km2 (4.47 sq mi) and it had a population of 14,169 in the 2011 UK census. It was a part of Leatherhead Urban District between 1933 and 1974.
There has been settlement in Ashtead since at least Roman times, with a Roman villa excavated in what is now Ashtead common. Ashtead within a few hundred years of the foundations of Anglo-Saxon England lay within the Copthorne hundred.
Ashtead appears in the Domesday Book as Stede. It was held by the Canons of Bayeux from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday Assets were: 3 hides and 1 virgate; 16 ploughs, of meadow, woodland worth 7 hogs. Its people rendered £12 in total to its feudal system overlords per year. Its main source of water at the time seems to have been the Rye.
St Giles Church in Ashtead Park dates from the 12th century, and Ashtead is mentioned twice in Samuel Pepys' diaries. Part of his entry for 25 July 1663 reads:
Towards the evening we bade them adieu and took horse, being resolved that, instead of the race which fails us, we would go to Epsom When we come there we could hear of no lodging, the town so full, but which was better, I went towards Ashsted, and there we got a lodging in a little hole we could not stand upright in While supper was getting I walked up and down behind my cosen [cousin] Pepys's house that was, which I find comes little short of what I took it to be when I was a little boy.
Even after the Victorian general harmonisation of spelling, accelerated by the mass distribution of the maps and the printed press, the name of the village has at times been spelt differently with its most lasting variants being "Ashsted" and "Ashstead". Until 1967, Ashtead railway station had "Ashtead" and "Ashstead" displayed on station name plates hanging on opposite platforms. The suffix '-stead' also written '-sted' is used to form the meaning behind and pronunciation of the place name, as in Sanderstead, Bearsted, Oxted and East Grinstead, and following the spelling of Oxted has settled on minimal instances of 's', it being deemed implicit in English place name pronunciation. However, while it may have been implicit in 1967, as with Cheshunt and Wrotham it is an example of a London satellite area with slightly counterintuitive pronunciation. 'Stede' is the earliest spelling, without any first syllable, from the 11th century, see the Domesday Book above.
Surrey Research Tips
Administrative boundaries of the county of Surrey (Surrey History Centre. The centre has a website with a number of useful indexes--titheholders in various parishes, deaths at the county gaol, etc.)
The website GENUKI provides a very comprehensive list of reference sources for the County of Surrey. It includes: