The ecclesiastical parish of Capel lies in the Weald just north of the Surrey/Sussex border. Until the 19th century it included the small villages of Beare Green and Coldharbour. The A24 used to pass through its main street but it is now bypassed. At Domesday in 1086, the settlement formed the southern part of the Manor of Dorking.
The church (click the link to see the Historic Environment Record for the church) was built in the 12th century as a chapel of ease attached to Dorking thus giving the village its present name. Before that it was called Ewekerne, the name of one of the principal farms. In the 14th century it became an independent parish.
Click here to see the catalogue of the St John the Baptist, Capel, Parish Records and Capel, Civil Parish Records (1748-1936) held at the Surrey History Centre.
Click here to see the catalogue of the St John the Baptist, Capel, Parish Records (1653-1981) held at the Surrey History Centre.
The original settlement consisted of about 30 farms. The majority of these still exist today, most of them still bearing the names of their tenants in the early 14th century. Timbers in some of the farmhouses have been dated to that century.
The main occupation of the inhabitants in the middle ages was mixed farming. In the 17th century they began to exploit the heavy clay for brickmaking, and by the early 19th century there were several brickyards. This has become a very important industry up to the present day.
The village remained fairly isolated until the building of the Epsom to Horsham turnpike in 1755. This led to the establishment of two public houses in the main street and two more at Beare Green.
The arrival of the railway in 1867 attracted prosperous families from London who bought up some of the original farmsteads and built large mansions. Many of these became benefactors to the village. Prominent amongst these were the Broadwoods and the Mortimers.
Capel today has several shops, a pub, a surgery, a first and middle school and a bus service to Dorking and Horsham.
A history of the parish is in preparation and will be published in the near future (see comment below for more information).