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Bletchingley (St. Mary)

BLETCHINGLEY (St. Mary), a parish, and formerly a borough and market-town, in the union of Godstone, First division of the hundred of Tanbridge, E. division of Surrey, 21 miles (S.) from London; comprising 5370 acres, whereof 220 are common or waste; and containing 3546 inhabitants. This town, which is pleasantly situated on the road from Godstone to Reigate, is of considerable antiquity; a castle was erected here soon after the Conquest, by Gilbert, Earl of Clare, which was demolished by Prince Edward, after the battle of Lewes, in 1264, and the foundations alone are now remaining. Fairs are held on May 10th and Nov. 2nd, for horses, hogs and lean-cattle. Shortly after quitting the London and Brighton railway near Reigate, the South-Eastern railway at this place enters a tunnel 1080 yards in length. A bailiff and other officers are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor. The borough received the elective franchise in the 23rd of Edward I., from which time it continued to return two members to parliament, until its disfranchisement by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £19. 19. 4½., and in the gift of H. Chawner, Esq.: the tithes have been commuted for £1185, and there are 90 acres of glebe. The church is a spacious and venerable structure, in the early English style of architecture, with a low tower: the south chancel is entirely occupied by a magnificent monument to the memory of the first Sir Robert Clayton, Knt., and his lady, whose effigies in white marble stand on a projecting base; the knight is represented in his robes, as lord mayor of London. There are several other monuments, of which the principal is that of Sir William Bensley, Bart., R.N., by Bacon. John Thomas, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas Cavendish, master of the revels to Henry VIII., were also interred here; the former was at one time incumbent, as was also Archbishop Herring. There is a place of worship for Independents. Thomas Evans, in 1633, founded a free school for 20 boys, and endowed it with land now producing £20 per annum. The town is near a Roman road; and at Pendhill, in the parish, some workmen in 1813 discovered part of the foundations of a Roman bath, the different apartments in which were paved, and some of the walls lined with tiles. The union workhouse is a spacious building near the town, erected in 1839.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.