Horley is a town in Surrey on the border of Surrey and West Sussex, England, south of the twin towns of Reigate and Redhill, and neighbouring Gatwick Airport and in turn Crawley. With fast links by train round-the-clock to London from Horley railway station, it qualifies as a commuter town and has a significant economy of its own, including business parks and a relatively long high street.
In the past the Weald was a densely forested and marshy area. During Saxon times, the Manor of Horley came under the control of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter at Chertsey. In the Domesday Book of 1086, the Manor was within the hundred known as Cherchefelle which in 1199 became known as Reigate. The Manor passed to Henry VIII on the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 and changed hands several times during the next sixty years.
About to the east is the overgrown but well-preserved site of Thunderfield Castle, a twelfth-century ring and bailey castle.
In 1602 it became the property of Christ's Hospital in London and the original map of the manor is now held at the Guildhall in the City of London. This shows that Horley consisted of three hamlets around a huge open common. One was around the area occupied by St Bartholomew's Church and the Six Bells public house; another by the River Mole and the third in Horley Row where some of Horley's oldest buildings can still be seen.
The Common was enclosed in 1816, new roads were laid and the intervening land was sold. In 1809 and later in 1816, two turnpikes were introduced to allow the operation of regular coach services from London to Brighton. The railway was laid in 1841 and a station was built in the town. From that position, and from that date, Horley grew at a slow rate until 1950. Since then its population has doubled as it became a dormitory town for London commuters.
In 1908 the first scout patrol, the pewit patrol, was established. After gaining members this patrol formed 1st Horley scout group which them merged with 2nd Horley in 2006.
The Local Government Act of 1972 changed the boundary of Surrey and West Sussex and placed Horley, Gatwick and Charlwood in West Sussex. The removal of Gatwick Airport and the surrounding area from Surrey into West Sussex met some fierce local opposition with the result that the parishes of Horley and Charlwood were subsequently returned to Surrey in the eponymous Charlwood and Horley Act 1974, leaving the airport to stay in West Sussex.
The Horley Master Plan, which was approved by Reigate & Banstead Borough Council in February 2005, permits almost 2,600 new homes to be built. This prompted immediate controversy as the area as with most of non-metropolitan Surrey, i.e. since its reduction in 1974, is Metropolitan Green Belt however is permitted where in pursuance with the local plan, and meeting national criteria including demonstrating environmental sustainability and upholding the character of existing localities.