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.
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.
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.