After the murder of Thomas aBecket in Canterbury in 1170, the ancient track which ran across southern England from Winchester to Canterbury, passing through Gatton Park and between Merstham village and the church took on new importance and became known as Pilgrims Way.
Merstham is located 3 miles north-east of Reigate and 6 miles south-west of Croydon. St Katherine’s parish church stands isolated on the north side of the village and dates back to c.13th century. The registers of baptisms, marriages and burials date from 1538. All Saints, South Merstham, parish church, was formed in 1899 out of Merstham civil parish.
The earliest documentary reference to Merstham, although under a variety of spellings, occurs c.669AD, when the Bishop of London granted 20 hides of land to the abbey of Chertsey.
The earliest reference to the ancient church appears in the Domesday Survey of 1086. At the time of the survey Merstham Manor was held by the Archbishop of Canterbury for clothing the monks. In 1539 the manor was surrendered to Henry VIII.
Click here to see the catalogue of the St Katharine, Merstham, Parish Records (1538-1931) held at the Surrey History Centre.
In 1349 the Black Death visited England and caused the loss of many lives in each village. This increased the value of the remaining labour resulting eventually in improved conditions and the possibility for some to purchase their own land.
William Jolliffe purchased Merstham Manor in 1788 and built the great house west of Merstham. He was succeeded by his son Hylton in 1802. The house was demolished c.1834 and sold to Lord Monson.
Click here to see a gallery of Hassell watercolours of Mestham, including one of Reverand Jolliffe’s house, painted in 1821.
From early times chalk was extracted from pits on the northern side of Merstham and processed into lime, which was used as fertiliser on the land. It was later also used as mortar in stone and brick buildings. Sandstone was also extracted from Merstham quarries and used in the construction of the church and also in important building such as Windsor Castle, Westminster Abbey and old London Bridge.
The first narrow gauge public railway, which was horse drawn, was built early in the 19th century, to provide more efficient means of transporting stone to Croydon and on to London. It ran between Croydon and Merstham. In 1837 it was taken over by the London to Brighton Railway Company and later became the main London to Brighton public rail line.
Key buildings and sites
- St Katherine’s church
- National School established c.1849
- Old Blacksmith’s Forge (now converted into a modern house)
- Wheelwright’s Shop
- Merstham village High Street
- Feathers Hotel
- Windmill (demolished 1896)
- Nutfield Road, South Merstham
- Stone quarry