The town has grown along the main east-west road (A25) and below the ancient castle on its mound. The building of a castle at this location allowed it to dominate the Holmesdale Valley and command the route which passed over Cockshot Hill to the south.

St. Mary's church, Reigate, watercolour by John Hassell, 1822. Surrey History Centre ref. 4348/2/44/2

St. Mary’s church, Reigate, watercolour by John Hassell, 1822
Surrey History Centre ref. 4348/2/44/2

More Hassell watercolours of Reigate can be seen on the gallery page.

Reigate Castle TQ252503. This Gothic archway was made out of the remaining stones of the castle; Richard Barnes built this in 1777 in memory of William de Warenne. Only the earthworks remain. Image: Richard Purkiss

Reigate Castle TQ252503.
This Gothic archway was made out of
the remaining stones of the castle; Richard Barnes built this
in 1777 in memory of William de Warenne. Only the earthworks remain
Image: Richard Purkiss

In about 1088 Reigate was one of several Surrey Manors granted to William de Warenne, a man of Norman origins, on his creation as Earl of Surrey. The construction of the castle followed soon after with buildings on a broad and lofty motte or mound, which took advantage of the natural features of a spur of land. The site was further strengthened later and was of local strategic importance. Only the earthworks remain as a scheduled monument (click the link to see the Historic Environment Record for the castle).

Reigate Priory TQ253499. Image: Richard Purkiss

Reigate Priory TQ253499
Image: Richard Purkiss

Reigate Priory was founded in the early 13th century, and in 1541, at the Reformation, the Priory Manor was granted to William, Lord Howard, with the estates passing to his son Charles, Lord Howard, who was Lord Admiral in command at the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. The Priory was bought in 1945 by Reigate Borough Council and the main building and its immediate grounds are used for school purposes by Surrey County Council. The interior includes a magnificent 16th century carved oak mantelpiece and a fine painted stairwell of c.1710 attributed to the Italian painter Antonio Verrio.

Reigate Town Hall, TQ252502. Image: Richard Purkiss

Reigate Town Hall, TQ252502
Image: Richard Purkiss

The town centre is perhaps best recognised now by its Old Town Hall (click the link to see the Historic Environment Record for the old Town Hall) at the heart of the place. Gradual growth has produced numerous changes over a long period but Reigate retains many buildings of interest.

Click here to see the catalogue of the St Mary Magdalene, Reigate, Parish Records (1556-1910) held at the Surrey History Centre.

Did You Know?

A fine Neolithic (4000 2200 BC) flint axe was found on Reigate Heath in 1955 by a school boy from Reigate Grammar School. Many similar flints have been found nearby, part of the toolkits used by prehistoric peoples.

Further information

advanced_searchSearch for records related to Reigate on this website

  • Old Reigate – a pictorial history website
  • The history of Redhill and Reigate website
  • Reigate Family History Group website

One Response to Reigate

  1. Grace Filby says:

    Here is some text that goes with the DVD video commissioned by Surrey County Council in 2005 – \’Reigate Priory – The State Of The Art\’. It explains that, as a result of this renovation project, the murals are now considered not to be attributed to Verrio, but instead, inspired by Verrio and probably the work of others.

    \”In 2005 Surrey County Council commissioned the renovation and restoration of an historically important early C18 mural and staircase at Reigate Priory, which is currently in use as a Junior School and Museum. The fine murals, inspired by the great Antonio Verrio, are now thought to be the work of Laguerre, whose similar work can be seen at Hampton Court Palace and Chatsworth. The conservation was achieved by an assortment of expert bodies over a period of ten months.

    A DVD video was commissioned to show the entire restoration from the going up to the coming down of the scaffolding, with stunning before and after shots of the murals, the on-screen comments of art experts and historians and an upbeat classical music track. It tells the entire history of the murals and of the meaning, in a captivating style, and discloses one or two controversial revelations which came to light during the work.\”

    The historian and founder of Reigate Priory Museum – Audrey Ward, who provided the initial historical input into this DVD video, described it as \’a delightful record of a wonderful achievement\’.

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