History and Development
Dorking appears in Domesday Book of 1086 as the Manor of Dorchinges. It was held by William the Conqueror. Its Domesday assets were: one church, three mills worth 15s 4d, 16 ploughs, of meadow, woodland and herbage for 88 hogs. It rendered £18.
Subsequent Lords of the Manor included the Dukes of Norfolk, who lived in Dorking until they moved to Arundel. One of them is buried in Dorking churchyard. In the medieval period, Dorking was a prosperous agricultural and market town, benefiting from its position on the junction of a number of important roads and tracks.
In 1750, the construction of a turnpike road made Dorking a staging post on the route to Brighton and the coast. The Bull's Head in South Street had a famous coachman, William Broad, whose portrait hangs in Dorking Museum in West Street. An inn in the centre of Dorking, the White Horse, was developed in the 18th century; previous buildings on this site belonged to the Knights Templar and later the Knights of St John.
Dorking held a big wheat and cattle market in the High Street. The poultry market was held in the corner of South Street and round Butter Hill. Here the famous Dorking fowl were sold. This breed, which has 5 claws instead of the normal four, was a favourite for 19th century tables, including that of Queen Victoria.
Dorking lost its stagecoaches when the railways arrived, but now attracted wealthy residents who built large houses in and around Dorking, such as Denbies House and Pippbrook House (now with Council Offices in the grounds). Surrounding land and beauty spots such as Cotmandene and Box Hill were donated by landowners for public use, protected by the Metropolitan Green Belt and AONB designation of the North Downs and Greensand Ridge.
A game resembling rugby was once played here. The two sides were unlimited in number, representing the east and west of the town. The goals were the two bridges on the Pipp Brook. The Town Crier kicked off the ball at 2 pm and stopped play at 6 pm. The game was started at the church gates and was "rioted" up and down the High Street. It ceased in 1897 after complaints by tradesmen and it was officially stopped under section 72 of the Highway Act 1835.
Dorking was an urban district from 1894 to 1974.
Topography, natural history and local landscape