This small village situated high on the North Downs between Epsom and Dorking can trace its origins a long way back to the Domesday Book.

Little is known of Headley in very early times as few dateable artefacts have been found in the village but there are finds in nearby villages to the east. Stone Age man probably passed through the area using the high ground in preference to the river valleys.

The Romans certainly would have had a considerable influence in the area with the Roman Stane Street a few hundred metres from part of the western and northern boundaries of the parish.

At the end of the Saxon era as Christianity became established parishes were formed and these parishes were grouped together in administrative areas called Hundreds. Headley was part of the Copthorne Hundred.

'South side of Hedley Church' by John Hassell, 1824. Surrey History Centre ref. 4348/2/90/3

‘South side of Hedley Church’ by John Hassell, 1824
Surrey History Centre ref. 4348/2/90/3

Headley Church is first recorded in 1270 but this could have been a much earlier Norman or even Saxon building although the Domesday survey does not record a church in the village. The church remained much the same until the middle of the 19th century when CT Cracklow and Petrie recorded it on engravings. Soon afterwards it was decided the old church should be replaced with a new structure that was completed in the 1850s.The nave and chancel, built in 1855 by Salvin are described as “appalling” by Pevsner in his Buildings of England Series.
Headley was grouped round three main estates: Headley Park, Headley Grove and Headley Court. During the first half of the 20th century parts of these estates were sold off and other substantial houses such as Tumber, Great Hayes and The Manor were built.

Headley Court, c.1955. Country house and attached stables,  completed 1899, by Edward Warren for Walter Cunliffe. Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Headley Court, c.1955. Country house and attached stables,
completed 1899, by Edward Warren for Walter Cunliffe
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection

Further information

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  • Further information including the full version of this history and old photographs can be seen at the village website

3 Responses to Headley

  1. Julie says:

    I’m interested in information on Tumber House , headley , My Grandmother worked as a servant In 1933 , so I’m interested to know more about this building. , how would I find who owed this . When was this built. , . ! Thank you Julie

  2. Ed Combes says:


    I am looking for information about a Royal Observer Corps underground monitoring post built on the heath in the mid 1960’s, and demolished by the early 1970’s. Records point to it being on the area of heath opposite the cricket ground.

    I have undertaken surveys with the National Trust to find it but have had no joy, does any one have any photos of the heath around that time, or aerial photos or any information/recollections?

    Any small insignificant clue could unlock the location!

    many thanks


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