The settlement is mentioned in the Domesday Book. The earliest reference to brickmaking is in Tudor times and this, along with agriculture, was probably the major land use for unbroken centuries before modern times.
In 1822 a semaphore station opened on the northern boundary of Claygate. This was part of the Admiralty chain of stations between London and Portsmouth and was in continuous operation until 1847.
The consecration of Holy Trinity Church in 1840 was followed a year later by the establishment of the parish of Claygate. The village then became popular as a place to build mansions, most of which have now gone. Agriculture and brickmaking continued to be the main source of employment along with domestic service.
Claygate’s entry into the modern world can be linked precisely to the coming of its railway station on the new Guildford line in 1885. A new village, built half-a-mile from the old centre, was created around the station and goods yard. Housing development followed on an organised basis, initially as a result of activity by the Hon Fitzalan Foley, whose new estate became popular in the 20th century with London commuters. In 1903 the first Claygate Flower Show was held; it remains a popular annual event.
Claygate’s attraction as a commuter village gave rise to large areas of farmland and mansion sites being used for housing development in the first half of the 20th century, while in the 1960s new sites were provided when the brickworks closed. Although Claygate is now densely developed with a wide range of housing and some office buildings, it remains largely surrounded by farmland protected by the Metropolitan Green Belt.
- Claygate village website: http://www.claygate.info/
- Claygate Flower and Village Show: http://www.claygatecomputers.co.uk/claygate_flower_show/index.htm
- Esher District Local History Society: http://www.edlhs.co.uk/
- Guildford via Cobham: http://www.flamingsquid.com/mallinson/index.htm