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Reigate, Surrey

Historical Description

Reigate, Rygate, or Rigate, a market-town, a municipal borough, and a parish in Surrey. The town stands at the head of Holmsdale, under the North Downs, 2 miles W of Redhill, 6 E of Dorking, and 23 from London, with three stations on the S.E.R. It has a post, money order, and telegraph office. The town was anciently called Rigegate, signifying " ridge road," and alluding either to some ancient road across its site or to the proximity of the Pilgrims Way; was probably the place of a stronghold in the Saxon times; acquired a castle and an Angiistinian priory in the Norman times; was visited in 1275 by Edward I.; sent two members to Parliament from the time of Edward I. till 1832, and one thence till 1867, when it was disfranchised. It was for some time a seat of assizes; is now a seat of petty sessions, county courts being held at Redhill; and publishes four weekly newspapers. It consists chiefly of two long streets; and has two banks, three chief inns, a police station, a town-hall, a public hall, a literary institute, an endowed grammar school, and two convalescent homes. Main drainage works have been erected at a cost of about £88,000, in connection with which there is a sewage farm of 200 acres with precipitation works. A corn market is held every Tuesday, and one for stock and corn is held at Red Hill every alternate Wednesday. Fairs for cattle and sheep are held on Whitsun-Tuesday, and for cattle only on 9 Dec.

The Castle was built by one of the Earls Warrene, who anciently held the manor; was taken in 1216 by Louis the Dauphin and the Barons; passed from the Warrenes to the Arundels and the Howards; sank into a decayed state in the early part of the time of James I.; was entirely demolished in the Civil Wars of Charles I.; and is now represented by an oblong grassy mound rising about 50 feet above the general level of the town. A vault 150 feet long and about 12 high, and two smaller vaults, exist beneath the castle-mound; are reached by a descent of about 200 feet; have arches of a character to fix their date not earlier than the 13th century; and are traditionally associated with meetings of the Barons in the time of King John. Similar excavations exist in other parts of the town. The Augustinian priory was founded by one of the Warrenes; went at the dissolution to Lord Howard; passed in 1697 to the Somerses; and is now represented by a mansion called the Priory, the seat of Lady Henry Somerset, daughter of the late Earl Somers. The Town-hall occupies the site of an ancient chapel dedicated to St Thomas a Becket. The Public Hall was built in 1861 at a cost of nearly £3500, is in the Gothic style, and contains a main-hall, capable of accommodating 500 persons, mechanics' institution rooms, freemasons' lodge-rooms, and a museum. The Church of St Mary Magdalene is mainly Late Decorated English, but includes portions from Transition Norman to Perpendicular. The building was thoroughly restored in 1876-77, and attached to the church is a good library containing about 1700 volumes. The churchyard contains an obelisk to the memory of Baron Maseres. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Rochester; gross value, £265 with residence. St Mark's Church was built in 1860 at a cost of about £5600, and is in the Early Decorated English style. The living is a vicarage; net value, £300 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Rochester. St Luke's Church is a Gothic edifice, and was erected in 1871. The living is a vicarage; gross value, £150 with residence. Patron, the Bishop of Rochester. The chapel of St Cross or Reigate Heath, at one time known as " Mill chapel" and in connection with the parish church, was once a mill. There are Baptist, Congregational, Wes-leyan, Primitive Methodist, and Roman Catholic chapels, and a meeting-house for the Society of Friends.

The parish contains also the town of Redhill, and is cut ecclesiastically into the sections of Reigate, Reigate St Mark, Nutley Lane, Redhill St John, and Redhill St Matthew or Warwick Town. The borough is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. It is divided into two wards, and has an area of 5994 acres; population, 22,646. Population of the ecclesiastical parish of St Mary Magdalene, 3513; of St Mark, with Nutley Lane, 4207; and of St Luke, South Park, 983. Mansions and villas are numerous. The land includes portions of the North Downs and the valley of the Mole. Fuller's earth, fire-stone, and fine silicious white sand are found. Lady Henry Somerset is lady of the manor.

Reigate Parliamentary Division of South-Eastern Surrey was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 64,45 5. The division includes the following:-Dorking (part of)-Abinger, Capel, Dorking, Newdigate, Ockley, Wotton; Godstone(part of)-Bletchingley, Crowhurst, Godstone, Home, Limpsfield, Lingfield, Oxted, Tandridge, Tatsfield, Titsey, Woldingham; Reigate - Betchworth, Buckland, Burstow, Chaldon, Charlwood, Chipstead, Gatton, Horley, Kingswood, Leigh, Merstham, Nutfield; Reigate, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountySurrey 
Ecclesiastical parishReigate St. Mary Magdalene 
Poor Law unionReigate 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records, in association with Surrey History Centre, have images of the Parish Registers for Surrey online.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Reigate from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Surrey is available to browse.


Online maps of Reigate are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Surrey papers online:

Visitations Heraldic

The Visitation of Surrey, 1662-1668 is available on the Heraldry page.

DistrictReigate and Banstead
RegionSouth East
Postal districtRH2
Post TownReigate