Lying to the south of the town, the Common was once Dorkings manorial woodland. No road crossed its clay lands until the eighteenth century and there were no villages until the nineteenth. Many farms and dwellings of ancient origin lie distant from its centres of settlement, however – within the Common, along its boundaries and on the slopes up to Coldharbour.

Holmwood Common by George Edward Collins. Image: Courtesy of Dorking Museum

Holmwood Common by George Edward Collins
Image: Courtesy of Dorking Museum

In 1755 the Horsham to Epsom turnpike road cut across the Common. Inns sprang up at the roadside together with tradesmen. A mill was established.

From the 1830s wealthy metropolitans bought farmland on the fringes of the Common and on the slopes up to Coldharbour, forming great estates: Kitlands, Moorhurst and Anstie Grange, Holmwood House, Holmwood Lodge, Bentsbrook and Oakdene.

St Mary Magdalene church in South Holmwood was built in 1838. A school followed in 1844. When, in 1848, Coldharbour parish was formed the North Holmwood area (then known as Bentsbrook) was brought into Holmwood parish and a school built there.

Middle class villas followed and humble dwellings within the Common were enlarged.

With the opening of the station in 1867 Holmwoods hotels and guesthouses became popular with holiday-makers. Charabancs, bicycles and coaches brought day-trippers to its hostelries and tea houses.

North Holmwoods parish of St John was established in 1875. The surrounding area had always been somewhat industrial: the village pond was formed from the diggings of a late eighteenth century pottery. Brick making began at adjacent Stubs Farm in the late nineteenth century and until the 1980s the Dorking Brick Company ran a vast operation there.

Ownership of the Common passed from the Dukes of Norfolk to the National Trust in the 1950s. The grand houses are no more, the inns and hotels are gone and the suburbs of Dorking encroach upon North Holmwood, whilst Mid and South Holmwood suffered bisection with the widening of the A24 in 1971. The slopes of Leith Hill to the west of the road and of the Common to the east still offer beauty and tranquillity, however.

Click here to see the catalogue of the Holmwood Civil Parish Records (1775-1945) held at the Surrey History Centre.

Key Sites

  • Church of St Mary Magdalene, South Holmwood
  • Church of St John the Divine, North Holmwood
  • The Dutch House, Horsham Road, South Holmwood
  • The Sundial, Horsham Road, South Holmwood
  • South Lodge, Holmwood Common
  • The Old Nags Head and September Cottages, Holmwood Common
  • The Norfolk Arms, Mid Holmwood
  • Nutcracker Cottage, Spook Hill, North Holmwood
  • Redlands Farmhouse, Redlands Lane, Mid Holmwood
  • Stoneheal, South Holmwood
  • Betchets Green Cottage, Betchets Green, South Holmwood

Further information

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23 thoughts on “Holmwood”

  1. Diane Oldman says:

    Albert Oakley, my great grandfather, was married to Anne Friday in 1884. He was then 19 years old and his occupation was a gamekeeper. The marriage certificate states his residence as ‘Redlands, Holmwood’ and I have often wondered what game he would have been keeping! Was there an estate in 1884 large enough to employ a gamekeeper in this area.
    Diane Oldman

    1. Steve says:

      Did she have a relation called Ellen Friday at all

    2. Rod Moore says:

      Any relation to Fanny Friday who married Edwin Moore Son of Jane and Thomas Moore?
      Rod Moore

  2. Maureen Benoit says:

    Hi, I read your comment and yes there was an estate in Holmwood in 1884. It’s name is Anstie Grange, and I am a proud descendent of a former owner. 🙂 during 1884 The Grange would definatly have been bricks ( and the ground it was built on is definatly red clay). The gardens of the grange are very expansive and would have needed daily upkeep from several groundskeepers. The Grange used to have a stable but it was taken out when my great great grandmother took hold of ownership. When she moved to Canada my family converted the Estate into apartments instead and sold them.

    1. Mike Ledwidge says:

      Hi Maureen and Diane, I now live in one of the flats at Anstie Grange. I have panoramic views of over 100 square miles of the weald. It is a fabulous place to live. If you want a few photos I can send a few. But is you google ‘Anstie Grange flats for sale’ you can get some very good up to date photos from the property details.

  3. Diane says:

    Hello Steve

    I have looked back several generations from my great-grandmother Annie Friday and can find no Ellen on this line. Sorry.

    1. Lin says:

      I have an Ellen Friday in my tree born in 1832 to Amy and Luke Friday.

      1. Rod Moore says:

        Edwin Moore married a Fanny Friday. Any connection? He was the son of Thomas and jane Moore – Jane having been a lodge keeper at Kitlands Lodge where she died in 1899. She was my gr gr grmother.
        Rod Moore

    2. Rod Moore says:

      How about a Fanny Friday married to an Edwin Moore brother to my gr grfather Felix Caffyn Moore?

  4. Karen says:

    Trying to find relations of George nye. He dates back to 1922. Any information would be great.

  5. chloe sinclair says:

    I would love to have some more information on ‘The Well, Horsham Rd’. It seems that originally it was a small baptist dissenting chapel relating to the holly and laurel pub (now dorking stoves), and subsequently became a Tea Shop which sold home made cakes and local groceries. The owners were the Dawes family. Audrey and Mary ran the tea shop until its closure. Any info or photos would be greatly appreciated. chloe

    1. Rod Moore says:

      I believe there is a Sarah Dawes in my family tree – was married to an earlier Thomas Moore. Any connection?

      1. Chloe says:

        I havn’t heard of Sarah, however, I will ask Audrey Dawes Niece if she knows? Could be related to audrey and Mary’s father? I will have to look up his name. Thanks for the link! 🙂

  6. Rod Moore says:

    My gr gr grmother Jane Moore is listed on 1891 (or at death) census as a lodge keeper at Kitlands Lodge. What remote chances are there of someone having records/photos of the time? She died from Kitlands in 1899. Any info would be much appreciated – who she worked for, duties ??
    Rod Moore.

  7. Gill Gardner says:

    Does anyone know where a register of St John’s School North Holmwood children for the 1920s may be found. My grandmother lodged in North Holmwood with her 3 children and my mother attended the school for a short while.

  8. Diane Gardner says:

    Hi, My father was evacuated from South London in 1939 to 1 Goodwyns Cottage, Flint Hill, Dorking. He always spoke about Holmwood because he kept running away from his host family. My father said that a German ME109 aircraft crashed near Holmwood, and he saw the enemy pilot bail out on fire and land in the trees. So along with his friends, he ran to the crash site, arriving well before the local police and RAF security teams, and carried off an entire wing section, numerous live cannon shells, part of the Perspex cockpit cover and a flare flare pistol.

    They then carried all this stuff back to the farmhouse (assuming it was Goodwyn Cottage) where they were staying and hid it in a nearby barn. Anyhow later one of the kids got caught by the home owners with live German ammo and the police were called, searched the barn and took everything away.

    I believe my father also said that the owners of the farmhouse had a big open fire, and either side of the hearth there were a number of shiny brass artillery shell cases, ascending in size and calibre.

    Can anyone verify this at all?

  9. Edwin Moore born circa 1885 emigrated to Canada and his daughter Phyllis Bertha Moore was born 13 July 1910 in Brandon Manitoba. I have a photo of Edwin and another of his wife and 3 of her sisters taken by G. West, of Godalming and Haslemere (Surrey), but I don’t know the name of his wife nor of her sisters. I notice that Holmwood is only about 12 miles from Godalming. Edwin’s photo appears on the following website: https://tonijan.tribalpages.com/.

  10. Anne Holmstead says:

    Many thanks to Lenka Cathersides who put together a page on your website about my Great-Uncle, Thomas Sydney (Sidney) WATTS who died aged 19 years in WW1. The newspaper clipping from the Dorking Advertiser about his death mentions “Deceased was a pupil at Holmwood Farm when war broke out.” Can someone tell me anything about the school please? I am interested to know if was it a school near Holmwood Farm hence the name Holmswood Farm School or was it more like a hands-on farm training facility at the farm. Many thanks to anyone who can enlighten me.

  11. Jason and Hannah says:

    Hi! Does anyone know anything about the history of the terrace cottages located on Holmwood View Road in Mid-Holmwood? What estate were they part of? Any photos from the era?

    Just moved in and very curious about the history of the place. We know it was built “in the 1800s” but that’s about it! Thanks

  12. My Tickner family lived at Brook Cottage in South Holmood c. 1890s , they had a tea room there and shop. Later it was Brook House Hotel. There was a fire in the 1950s and and it burnt down with the loss of one life. I can’t find anything about this in the online paper archive. Does anyone know about this? Or anything about Brook Cottage/ House?
    My earlier Tickners had a lodging house next to the toll gate, c. 1860s. I have a photo of them outside this. If anyone can help with info on this also thanks.

  13. Peter Booth says:

    does anyone know anything about a hotel fire in north Holmwood back in the 1960’s.My dad was leading fireman at Dorking and they were called out to the fire, I think there were deaths and I did have an old picture from the Dorking Advertiser (I think) of my dad being pulled out of the fire in a semi unconscious state after going in to bring people out. I would love to see the picture again and show it to his (now adult) grandchildren.

    1. Charles Payne says:

      Yes, it was the Brooke house hotel and the fire was December 1963. It was owned by Colonel John Cantopher. We stayed there for six months in the summer of 1958. It was his old mother who drank, and smoked in bed, burnt the house down killing herself and one of John Cantopher’s very good friends. I’m sure now you have the date the Dorking Advertisers photographs will be easy enough to find in the local studies library.

      1. Shirley Anne Cook says:

        That is interesting, thanks. My Tickner ancestors owned the house before it was a hotel.

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