This settlement of approximately 12,000 people is in the south west of Surrey close to the Sussex border.

In prehistoric times, the area where Cranleigh now stands was part of the vast Wealden forest and was inhospitable and uninhabited.

Cranleigh was not mentioned in the Domesday Survey of 1086.

After the Norman Conquest, the district is thought to have been a centre for hawking and hunting, and became noted for the craneries at nearby Baynards and Vachery. The name Cranleigh is derived from this and the crane is the symbol of the village and adorns a number of monuments.

St Nicholas Church, Cranleigh, 1916 Photographic Record and Survey of Surrey no. 7241

St Nicholas Church, Cranleigh, 1916
Photographic Record and Survey of Surrey no. 7241

The oldest building in Cranleigh is St Nicholas Church which was built around 1170. When the Norman knights came to England with William the Conqueror, they were given land from which they could receive a tenth of all of the crops produced by tenant farmers, in exchange for providing a centre for Christian worship. In Cranleigh’s case that was St Nicolas church, which has been added to over the years and still stands today (see www.stnicolascranleigh.org.uk).

Click here to see the catalogue of the St Nicholas, Cranleigh Parish Records (1566-1980) held at the Surrey History Centre.

Click here to see the catalogue of the Cranleigh Civil Parish Records (1718-1931) held at the Surrey History Centre.

Cranleigh remained an isolated small agricultural community until the early 1800s when permission was granted for the construction of a turnpike road, one reason being to enable the Prince Regent to travel to his pavilion at Brighton more quickly.

The Black Death and the Plague did not appear to have any effect on Cranleigh and although the Civil War did not appear to have any effect either, Oliver Cromwell stayed at Knowle House with a detachment of troops.

Autochrome photograph of the High Street, Cranleigh, by Walter Corin (1873-1934), photographer of Cranleigh, c.1910-1912 Surrey History Centre ref. 7794/1

Autochrome photograph of the High Street, Cranleigh, by Walter Corin (1873-1934), photographer of Cranleigh, c.1910-1912
Surrey History Centre ref. 7794/1

An autochrome was a type of colour photography patented by the Lumiere brothers in 1903. This is probably one of the earliest surviving ‘true colour’ photographic images of Surrey.

In 1865 the railway link between London and the South Coast opened giving rise to an increase in population in Cranleigh as commuters to the larger towns sought houses and gardens in pleasant surroundings with reasonable travelling distances. Cranleigh continued to change until the railway was finally decommissioned in June 1965.

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3 Responses to Cranleigh

  1. Wllfrid Mills says:

    I would like to know the history of Elmbridge Camp School. Elmbridge, Cranleigh Surrey.
    I was a pupil there for approx 1 year during WW 11 and I am interested also in the two School
    Heads Mr Clark and Mr Wiskar. Hoping you can help me
    Best Wishes Wilf Mills

    • Terence Wright says:

      Such a long time ago. I remember Mr. Whiskar who took us for PT. I did a little boxing there and entertained at our Saturday evening shows. Sometimes we could see a red glow in the sky to the north at night.
      Quite an experience. A couple of the teachers were: Mr. Allan, Art, Mr. Gilbert, Music, Mr Jones, Later in the Royal Navy. Mr. Jackson was called up to the Royal Air Force. There were four dormitories, the names of which escape me now. We bred rabbits and sometimes on weekends worked on local farms. Church on Sundays at Cranleigh..

  2. Willy Cole says:

    I was at Elmbridge from 1953 to 1955, when I passed my 13+.
    I loved the school and was a member of the Young Farmers Club(pig section).
    I have no contacts.
    However I have a report from Garth Allmond (2002) and he started the same day as me in the same dorm!
    He refers to an Anthology by Martin Hunt ‘Elmbridge at Cranleigh’.
    I also have a copy of my first term report.
    I would love to reminisce with any others still alive!

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