Mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086, the area called ‘Benestede’ is known to have existed as early as the seventh or eighth centuries. Banstead is located on the North Downs east of the main road between Sutton and Reigate.
Today, Banstead is mainly residential with a thriving High Street lined with shops and restaurants. Just south of the High Street lies All Saints Church, a Grade II listed building which stands on ground 126 metres above sea level. A church has existed on the site for at least a thousand years.
Until about 150 years ago, Banstead was a small village centred round the Village Well at the east end of the High Street. At the time, the street was only the width of a country lane with London clearly visible in the far distance when looking to the north. The village was surrounded by open fields, downland and woods with a number of large houses that had extensive grounds and parklands. Scattered amongst the open countryside were farmhouses and cottages.
Banstead has been home to many prominent families including the Buckles and the Lamberts who lived in the area from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Banstead has also been connected with a number of notable local individuals including Hubert de Burgh, a powerful figure in the 13th century and in the 20th century, Lord Tedder, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during the Second World War. Lord Tedder lived at Well Farm which is the oldest surviving house in Banstead.
Rapid expansion of the village started in the 1920s after the sale of the large Garratts Hall and Nork Park estates for house building and has continued after a break for the Second World War. It was not until the 1950s that the east end of the High Street, badly damaged by a flying bomb during the Second World War, was redeveloped. The present Woolpack Inn was then rebuilt behind the old original damaged building and the road widened.
The old Village Well still stands at the east end of the High Street close to the War Memorial.
In recent years there have been more changes. In particular, the old Village school in the High Street has been replaced by a supermarket and the Victoria Public House at the west end of the High Street has been turned into a restaurant.
Did You Know?
“Gally Hills” Saxon (410 – 1066 AD) burial barrows near Banstead were excavated in 1972. A Saxon warrior burial was found, with a spear, knife and hanging bowl. The name Gally Hills probably shows that a gallows stood nearby, which would explain later burials found of victims of hanging.
- The Banstead History Research Group has an extensive set of local history publications and a well illustrated website at www.bansteadhistory.com