Bletchingley straddles the main Guildford to Maidstone road (A25) and stands high on a ridge. The village is referred to in the Domesday Book of 1086 and the name probably derives from bleaching associated with the presence of fuller’s earth.
The wide curving main road exposes the properties on either side to prominent view and is an attractive feature of the place, running downhill from west to east. The curvature and change of level retain the visual enclosure which is important to village centres. Footpaths run approximately parallel to the main road and allow the village centre to be walked round.
Bletchingley was once a borough and market town and from 1294 it had two members of Parliament. Amongst the last representatives were Lord Palmerston and Lord Melbourne.
Bletchingley Castle was first noted in 1160 as one of the four castles of Surrey. However, it was demolished after the Battle of Lewes in 1264, but the earthworks are still visible and are a Scheduled Monument.
In the village centre Church Walk represents an early line of the main road, and here are some of the older local buildings. Alongside is the church of St. Mary with a typically squat, 12th century tower. A spire was added later but was never replaced after destruction by lightning in 1606. Sir Thomas Cawarden (c.1514-1559) is buried in the church. He was Master of the Revels and Tents, and as such responsible for laying on royal entertainments.
Click here to see the catalogue of the St Mary’s, Bletchingley, Parish Records (1566-1953) held at the Surrey History Centre.
Did You Know?
The debris from what may have been a feast early in the 16th century was found in a pit on the site of the ‘lost’ manor of Hextalls at Little Pickle, Bletchingley. It included pottery from the Rhineland and bones from a rich variety of birds. There was a house on the site from the 13th century, up until 1559.