The Wealden village of Newdigate lies midway between Dorking, Reigate and Horsham. From Saxon times much of the parish belonged to the Manor of East Betchworth but at the end of the 18th century it was described as the ‘loneliest place in Surrey’.
The name Newdigate is probably derived from ‘On Ewood Gate’, meaning on the road to Ewood, which is to the north of the parish. Ewood (Yew Wood) was described from early times as a ‘park’ and was used for deer hunting but later it became the centre for iron making which flourished until the beginning of the 17th century. As a result of this relative prosperity a number of timber framed houses were built, many of which can still be seen today.
A long period of economic decline followed. Lying on thick clay which made the tracks rutted in summer and muddy and virtually impassable in winter the area became very isolated.
When the railways came to Holmwood in the latter part of the 19th century, and the area became more accessible, a number of new estates were established and these brought employment and a certain amount of house building. The Church of St. Peter (click on the link to see the Historic Environment Record for the church), which earlier had been described as in a bad state of repair, was renovated in 1876 and enlarged to cater for the increased congregation.
Click here to see the catalogue of the St Peter, Newdigate, Parish Records and Newdigate, Civil Parish Records (1694-1975) held at the Surrey History Centre.
Because of the scattered nature of the houses, Newdigate has no village green and it was not until 1945 that a fund was raised to purchase the public recreation area known as the Brocus as a memorial to the fallen in both world wars. Nearby is the village hall, erected in 1901 by Mrs Farnell-Watson in memory of her husband and intended originally as a club and reading room for working men.
Today the village has a vibrant community consisting of the church, an infants school, two pubs, a village club and hall, a village store/post office and a full range of sporting and leisure activities.