Headley is a small village high on the North Downs and the name comes from Hallega meaning a clearing in the heath. People have been in this area for probably 10,000 years or more with traces of Stone and Bronze Age occupation having been recorded just outside the Western Boundary on Mickleham Downs by The Surrey Archaeological Society. Part of the Northwestern Boundary of the Parish is formed by the Roman Stane Street, this along with the documented remains in Walton mean that the Romans used this area extensively.
Headley is mentioned in The Doomsday Survey of 1086 and the Manor was owned by Ralph de Felgeres. Previously the Manor had been held by Countess Goda the mother of King Harrold. Over the following years the Lordship of the Manor changed many times and a full and definitive list of the owners is not yet available. Around 1700 the Manor was owned by the Stydolf family and this continued through various branches of the family until 1780 when it was sold to Henry Bolton of Thorncroft in Leatherhead. In 1804 the estate was bought by Robert Ladbrooke who kept the Manor House (Headley Park) and sold the estate to Richard Howard of Ashtead and the Howard family retained the Lordship until 1877 when it was sold to Henry Dudley Ryder of High Ashurst. He sold it on to the Crookendens, who in 1947 gave the remains of the estate and the title to the National Trust who remain the Lord of the Manor of Headley to this day.
The first records of a church are around 1270 but a simple structure may well have existed before this. The West Tower was added much later. In the mid 1800's the church became to small for the congregation and it was decided to commission the building of a new church just to the North of the old building and this was completed in 1858 and consecrated in 1860 by the Bishop of Winchester. Some of the remains of the old church were formed into a memorial to The Reverend Ferdinand Faithfull who was Rector at the time of the rebuilding near where the South Porch of the old building would have been. The New Church with its fine tall spire has become a landmark in the area and is often associated with Ranmore church on the other side of the Mole Gap as the churches of the North Downs.
In more modern times Headley had several large houses and estates particularly Headley Park (then called Headley House) owned by the Ladbrooke family who had an involvement in the development of Ladbrooke Grove in London. In 1895 it was sold to the Mappins of Mappin and Webb the London Jewellers who commissioned additional building work but before the family could move in it was destroyed by fire in 1896 killing the Housekeeper. The house was rebuilt and lived in until WWII when it was requisitioned and lived in for some time by the Kennedy family who was the American Ambassador to Britain. After the war it was split into 5 houses and remains like that today. Headley Court was an Elizabethan farm house bought by the Cunliffe family from Tyrells Wood and built into an imposing mansion Lord Cunliffe was Chairman of the Bank of England. During WWII it was used as the Headquarters for the Canadian Forces in Europe and since the war it has been used as an RAF and Joint Services rehabilitation centre. Headley Grove has been owned by many famous people including Sir John Bridge the Metropolitan Chief Magistrate, Sir Malcolm Campbell of Bluebird fame, The Maharaja of Baroda, and Terry Thomas.
In the early part of the 20th century several smaller estates were built with large houses including Tumber, Great Hayes and The Manor House.
Today Headley is a commuter village with the farmland being mainly given over to horse pastures with many riding establishments occupying the old farm buildings. Headley is within the Metropolitan Green Belt and partly within the Surrey Hills AONB. This gives a great deal of protection to Headley and there has been little recent development. Headley Heath and the Manorial Waste plus Oyster Hill Wood is owned and managed by the National Trust. Nower Wood is owned by the Surrey Wildlife Trust and the land to the West of Mill Way is managed as a private nature reserve ensuring the beautiful landscape is very unlikely to be spoilt by development.
Recent archaeological finds in Lower Kingswood have revealed that early Stone Age man was active in the area some 350,000 years ago.
The first reference to a settlement in Kingswood is contained in the Domesday Book, where a passage in the entry for Ewell states that `2 hides and 1 virgate were removed from this manor; they were there before 1066, but reeves lent them to their friends'. Historians agree that this refers to Kingswood, which had obviously gone missing from the Manor of Ewell in somewhat mysterious circumstances. We know that it was returned to its rightful owner, the Crown, some time before 1158, when Henry II gave Ewell and its Sub-Manors of Batailles, Ruxley and Kingswood to the Canons of Merton Priory.
At the Dissolution of the monasteries Kingswood reverted once more to the Crown and became part of the Honour of Hampton Court, Henry VIII's vast hunting domain.
In 1564 Elizabeth I granted the Manor of Kingswood to William Howard of Effingham, the Lord Chamberlain of her Household. William was succeeded as Lord of the Manor of Kingswood by his son Charles, the future Lord High Admiral of England, who successfully led the English fleet against the Spanish Armada.
The Howard line became extinct with the death of Charles's son in 1642 and for the next 200 yeayears Kingswood passed through the hands of a succession of absentee Lords of the Manor. The most notable amongst them was undoubtedly Sir Thomas Bludworth, who took over the Manor of Kingswood in 1660 and was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1665. Samuel Pepys had taken an instant dislike to the man and reviled him on several occasions in his famous diary for his inept handling of the Great Fire of London, which took place during Sir Thomas's term of office.
In 1835 Thomas Alcock bought the Kingswood manorial estate from Col. Hylton Jolliffe, of Merstham, and became the first Lord of the Manor to reside in Kingswood and to take an active interest in the welfare of its residents. He set himself two main tasks: the first was to extend and bring up to date the old house in the Warren, in order to turn it into a country seat worthy of his new position. The second of these tasks was to provide the inhabitants of Kingswood, who still had to walk some 6 miles to Ewell to attend church, with their own place of worship. A chapel was built by subscription and consecrated in 1836. In 1838 Kingswood finally cut its century-old ties with the parish of Ewell to become an independent ecclesiastical district. The chapel soon proved to be too small and Thomas Alcock decided to erect a new church, this time completely at his own expense. The Church of St. Andrew, designed by the architect Benjamin Ferrey and modelled on the 14th century Church of St. John the Baptist at Shottesbrooke, in Berkshire, took four years to build and was consecrated in September 1852.
After the death of Thomas Alcock in 1866 the Kingswood Warren estate was sold by his executors to Sir John Cradock-Hartopp, who, as Lord of the Manors of not only Kingswood, but also Banstead, became embroiled in a bitter legal battle over Banstead Commons. The dispute finally bankrupted him and forced him to sell the Kingswood Warren estate, which was bought in 1885 by Henry Cosmo Orme Bonsor, a City financier, Governor of the Bank of England and partner in a brewery firm.
He was the prime mover behind the construction of the Chipstead Valley Railway line, which officially opened as far as Kingswood in November 1897. Cosmo Bonsor also made available the land required by Dr. Edwin Freshfield to build his remarkable neo-Byzantine Church of the Wisdom of God (completed in 1892) in Lower Kingswood. He was a most kind and generous man and, unlike his predecessor, was loved by all in the local community.
In 1906 rising maintenance costs decided Cosmo Bonsor to put the Kingswood Warren estate on the market. The estate failed to sell in one lot at auction and was later broken up and disposed of in smaller lots. In 1911 the Walton Heath Land Company, set up by Cosmo Bonsor, acquired the mansion and some 640 acres of land. In 1912 the mansion together with 102 acres were sold on to the mill owner Joseph Rank while the Walton Heath Land Company retained the rest of the land for development purposes. After World War I the Walton Heath Land Company was taken over by Costains, a Liverpool-based building firm looking to expand its business down in the South: the modern expansion of Kingswood had truly begun.
The name of Tadworth is thought to be Saxon in origin, and means the enclosure or farmstead of Tad (personal name). Stone Age man probably roamed the area as remains have been excavated on the Common near Lower Kingswood. Low grade iron ore has also been found up there so it is likely that it was worked there in the Iron Age and the Roman era. The Romans certainly had a villa on Walton Heath and probably used the entire area for grazing. With the coming of the Saxons we have the first definite history. It is not known where Tad's farm actually was, but it must have had a water supply so it is possible that it was somewhere near Meare Close Pond, opposite which was situated Odin's Pond until it was filled in. During housing development at Tadworth Farm a large Saxon burial ground came to light.
In the Domesday Book it is recorded that in the time of Edward the Confessor the Manor had already been divided into North and South Tadworth. Tadeorde ( South Tadworth) was held by two brothers, and Tadorne (North Tadworth) by Earl Harold and sublet to Godtovi. The Normans gave South Tadworth to Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, who sublet it to Ralph. North Tadworth was given to William de Braiose, and sublet to Holsait.
Subsequently both Manors were given to the Church, North Tadworth to the Priory of St Mary Overie, Southwark, and South Tadworth to Merton Abbey. North Tadworth remained a single farmstead until modern times when its lands were developed as part of the Preston Estate. South Tadworth became the modern village of Tadworth. At the Dissolution of the Monasteries it passed to the Crown and became part of the Honour of Hampton Court, the tenant at that time being John de Steward, who remained in situ until 1551. In 1553 it was acquired by Edward Herrendon and thereafter passed through various hands until 1694 when it was bought by Leonard Wessell, a rich merchant. He built the manor house known as Tadworth Court in about 1700.The property changed hands many times until it was bought in 1885 by Mr Charles Russell, afterwards Lord Russell of Killowen, and Lord Chief Justice of England. He lived there until his death in 1900, his widow remaining in the house until 1906. It was then sold to the last private owner, Mr Charles Morton, who was a great benefactor to the village. Finally in 1924 the estate was sold to Richard Costains Ltd. The House and grounds became the Country Branch of Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children, and is now The Children's Trust. The remainder of the land was developed for housing.
The Parish Church of the Good Shepherd was built in 1912, on land given by The Tattenham Corner Land Company, the chief shareholder being Sir Cosmo Bonsor, Lord of the Manor of Kingswood. For many years it was a chapel of ease to Kingswood, but in 1955 it became a Parish in its own right. There are two other places of worship in the village. The Baptist Chapel was founded in 1822, and was originally situated in Tadworth St on land owned by Tadworth Court. The new owner Mr Tritton did not approve of them and so refused to renew the lease. Within six months the church members had purchased a new site in Chapel Rd and the new building was formally opened in 1883. In 1966 the Roman Catholic Church of St. John was built in the Avenue.
One of the landmarks of Tadworth is the windmill. This is situated in the garden of Millfield, but can be clearly seen from the paths on the Common. There used to be two mills on the site, both post mills. One was destroyed in1890 and contained an inscription stating it was built in 1799. It is thought the remaining one dates from around the same time. By the 1890's it was worked by steam and in early photos the tall chimney can be seen. Milling ceased in 1902 when the miller Mr E.W.Smith died.
Apart from Tadworth Court only two very old houses remain in Tadworth, Hunters Hall in Chapel Rd which dates from the 16th Century, and Meare Close House which may date back to the same time, but is certainly 17th Century. All the other cottages which used to cluster around Tadworth St were pulled down in the course of the 20th Century and modern houses erected instead. Tadworth Cottage, built in 1817, is the only survivor.
The coming of the railway in 1901 being the cause of the sudden rush of development, Tadworth was no longer a small hamlet tucked away in the hills, but within easy reach of London. The lands of Profitts Farm and Corner Farm were rapidly built upon, the Tadworth Court Estate following in the 1930's, with the Tadworth Park development in the 1980's. Mercifully it is surrounded by Banstead Commons, Walton Heath, and Epsom Downs all forming part of the Green Belt, and so is hopefully protected against further building.
Along the western boundary of the parish there are some white painted iron posts, with the City of London arms picked out in red. These are the Coal Posts, and are situated in a ring approximately 20 miles from London. They marked the area within which the City could levy duty on coal and wine. The tax was used for improvements, including the preserving of open spaces within the area. It was used in the fight to keep Banstead Heath and Commons. The most obvious one can be seen along Epsom Lane North, near the junction with Oaks Way.
Walton is an ancient settlement; there are signs of Prehistoric and Iron Age activity on Walton Heath. There are two Roman villas in the area, one on the Heath and the other in Sandlands Rd. in private gardens. Neither is now visible but both have been excavated and recorded. The Parish Church of St Peter's is supposed to date from 1268 but there may have been an earlier church on the site, as the lead font is dated 1150-60. The church has been rebuilt and repaired several times and contains Roman tiles in its walls. Its appearance was greatly altered in 1894 when the tower was rebuilt as it had become dangerous.
At the Norman Conquest the Manor was given to Richard de Tonbridge. It then passed through several owners before being acquired by the Crown. Henry VIII gave it to Catherine of Aragon as part of her marriage settlement, and then took it back again upon their divorce! There is a tradition that Anne of Cleves stayed there, but alas no hard evidence. In 1629 the Manor passed to the Carew family of Beddington who kept it until 1864. They also owned the advowson of the Church. The Manor House has parts dating to the 14th Century including the remnants of a hall and chapel. It had become a mere farmhouse until extensively remodelled in 1891.In the grounds of the Manor there is a mound or motte, whose origin is uncertain. It has been suggested that it was a moot hill or meeting place, another view is that it was a fortification of some kind, possibly Norman.
One of the most popular attractions of the village is the Mere Pond on the edge of the Heath, much visited today by children feeding the swans, but formerly of great importance as the village water supply.
Walton Street still contains several old houses, though many others have been altered and rebuilt. The village is happily still surrounded by its farm lands and open Heath and Commons. One area of which is used by the world famous Walton Heath Golf Club. The establishment of which caused many large houses to be built in the village at the beginning of the 20th Century.
The area is well supplied with pubs, the oldest probably being the Blue Ball, followed by the Chequers and the Fox and Hounds, all having been altered or rebuilt over the years, but dating from at least the early 1800's.The Bell, or the Rat as it is familiarly known was originally only a beer house, and frequented by the stable lads from the race course.
On the western side of Deans Lane and on the Heath there are iron posts with the arms of the City of London marked on them. These are the Coal Posts and once marked the territory within which the City was entitled to levy duties on coal and wine. These taxes were then used for the improvement of the City and the area around it, including the buying of open spaces for recreation. They were useful allies in the great court case when Banstead Heath and Downs which adjoin Walton Heath, were preserved for the people.