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.
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.
- 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