Horley Town History

Pencil drawing of the Six Bells public house in the Nineteenth Century, with St Bartholomenw's visable in the backgroundIn early times the Weald was a densely forested and marshy area unsuitable for agricultural purposes. During Saxon times, the Manor of Horley came under the control of the Benedictine Abbey of St Peter at Chertsey. No mention is made of Horley in the Domesday Book and it is thought to have been included in the northern manor returns. The Manor passed to Henry VIII on the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 and changed hands several times during the next sixty years.

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.

Pencil drawing of the corner of Massetts road in the Nineteenth CenturyThe Common was enclosed in 1812, 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.

Why not visit the Horley History Society website. The society was formed in 1951 with the main aim of tracing, recording and disseminating information on all aspects of Horley and its surrounding villages in Surrey.

Also check out Horley Now and Then, a video comparing pictures of Horley 120 years ago and pictures of the same places now, by local resident Brian Seaman.

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