Cranleigh

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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15 thoughts on “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

    1. 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. Victor Gould says:

      Mr Wiskar became head of Glebelands school Cranleigh.
      There is a road named after him. John Wiskar Drive.

  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!

  3. Sarah E Spencer says:

    I would like to find out more history about my cottage – Sunnyside Cottage, Guildford Road, Cranleigh GU6 8PA. – it built on 1867.
    Are there any photos of that cottage??
    I hope you can help me.
    Thank you
    Kind regards
    Sarah

    1. jean milner says:

      what are you to do with sunny side ?,e mail me and i will tell you anything you want to know .

  4. Penny Herbert says:

    When I was small I lived in Cranleigh with my Mother (widowed in WW”) and grandparents. The house was then called Staveley Cottage and was on the corner of St Nicholas Avenue. I lived there until I was about six years old when we moved to Mount Road to live with my other Grandparents and we subsequently moved from Cranleigh altogether. In the back of my mind I remember my Mother saying that, directly after I was born, we lived at Lulworth House – but I can find no reference of it. Can anyone tell me anything about it please.

    Penny Herbert – nee Boulton)

    1. Sue Merchant says:

      Hello Penny,
      I’m afraid I can’t help with Lulworth House having only moved to Cranleigh a couple of years ago. However, we are the very happy owners of Staveley Cottage (yes, it’s still called that) and would be fascinated to see any photos of the house and gardens as it was when you lived here – do you or your family have any, by chance? I am trying to do some restoration in the garden in particular and it would be great to know what it might have looked like originally.
      Many thanks
      Sue Merchant

  5. Gary Best says:

    Has anyone got any old pictures of lulworth house that was in cranleigh

  6. Keith Hart says:

    Anyone know anything about the Manor House on the Nuthurst Estate owned by a Captain Butt or Buck? I grew up with it visible from my bedroom window but can find no details about it?

    1. Liz Ramsay says:

      Hello Keith
      I used to play on the Nuthurst Estate/farm. Apparently the house was called Summerland and he farmed at Little Park Farm. I am looking into it now and have been in contact with a guy who worked there via Facebook. Summerland was built in the 1920s apparently, to replace (I think) the original house which I guess was called Nuthurst
      I lived on St Nicolas Close and can remember the avenue of trees, the fields, woods etc but not the house. Can you remember what it looked like. Where did you live?

  7. Keith Hart says:

    Hi Liz,

    This is fascinating. We called it the Old House and even broke into it once when it was being used to store building material before it was knocked down and two new (Leamington) houses built on it. We used to play in the orchards and even built a treehouse in one that we camped out overnight in. I lived at 8 Summerlands. The reason I am interested in Captain Butt is that I found a saw fish’s saw in a ditch whilst out playing. I have always wondered if it was connected with the Old House.
    I wonder also if you have any knowledge about why Lewis Carrol was a frequent visitor to Cranleigh. I heard that it might be because Alice Liddell’s (the one who inspired Alice in Wonderland) Uncle was vicar there? This is also research since I have a book by Alice Liddell’s father that I bought at a jumble sale in Cranleigh.

    1. ESP Admin says:

      Dear Keith
      Thank you for comment regarding Lewis Carroll, aka The Rev. Charles Lutwdge Dodgson and Cranleigh. We checked Shirley Corke’s book Lewis Carroll in Guildford (1989) but couldn’t find any reference to him visiting Cranleigh. There is speculation of course that a carving of a cat at the church there was inspiration for The Cheshire Cat in Alice. It seems likely that any link with Cranleigh may have been with the clergy rather than Alice Liddell; the clerical world was a small one, especially as they would all have trained at Oxford. An example of this is that The Chestnuts, the house in Guildford where Dodgson’s sisters lived and he regularly stayed, was leased from the vicar of Albury. We do hold the full published versions of Dodgson’s diaries edited by Edward Wakeling, Lewis Carroll’s diaries, the private journals of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), (2001), so you’d be welcome to visit us at Surrey History Centre and have a look to see if you can discover the Cranleigh link.

    2. Susan Simmons says:

      Hello Keith
      How weird, I was talking to a friend about my childhood haunts earlier today and Captain Butt’s house was mentioned. I was brought up in Cranleigh and often used to sneak into the house by way of a small broken window at the back. I remember most of the house was devoid of furniture apart from one room downstairs. I think it was the kitchen as the table was laid with milk jug, cups and saucers etc. I never ventured in there but it was visible from a window. It looked as though a hasty retreat had been made and the room was left as it was, or maybe somebody lived there which made my adventure all the more spooky. Quite a lot of kids used to visit the place then. Maybe we met? We also built tree camps until some bullies came and ruined it.

  8. Bronwen Summers says:

    Kia ora

    Some Dendy’s were born in Cranleigh. Their father Richard was born in Ewhurst and I only know their mother’s first name which was Anne.
    1703 Feb 4 c1703 Feb 16 John Dendy St Nicholas, Cranleigh, Surrey, Eng.
    1711 June 5 Ann Dendy, St Nicholas, Cranleigh, Surrey, Eng.

    Any information on them or their mother in particular, were there more children? I have no idea where they were married.

    nga mihi
    Bronwen Summers
    Aotearoa

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