In the seventeenth century London was in the middle of a population explosion, with more than double the number living there than during the Tudor period. London’s demands for constant supplies of fruit, vegetables, milk, butter, eggs and meat, meant that better farming methods were needed. Sir Richard Weston, created new irrigation techniques and experimented with different types of crop on his farm (Sutton Place) near Guildford. Weston’s ideas and discoveries led to improved farming, not just in Surrey, but throughout the rest of the country as well.
The need to supply London with food meant that some of the other industries, such as the textile trade, began to be neglected. This was not always the case however; in Godalming the frame knitting trade did excellent business, supplying luxury silk stockings to the rich of London. The pottery trade was also growing in Surrey at this time and ‘Border Ware’, produced in the area around Farnborough and Hawley, was being used by the Virginia Trading Company to supply colonists leaving for America. Some people left because they were Puritans, who felt that their strict religion made them unpopular in England. One of the Pilgrim Fathers, who sailed on the Mayflower, was William Mullins, whose house can still be seen in Dorking.
In 1642, Britain was divided by Civil War. Those who supported Parliament wanted to change the way the country was run, while those who supported King Charles I wanted things to stay as they were. Parliamentary forces pulled down castles such as as Starborough and Reigate (click here to see the HER Page) to stop their Royalist enemies from using them. Others, like Farnham Castle, (click here to see the HER Page) were captured, and were turned into Parliamentary fortresses.
The Civil War was not a disaster for everyone however; in Chilworth the gunpowder mills, created in 1626, made money supplying Parliamentary forces with powder throughout the 1640s. Click here to read more about the Mills and here to see the HER page.
In the summer of 1666 Thomas Budgen, the miller of Outwood, stood in his new mill and watched the fires spread across London. In Reigate, the quarries were kept very busy during the years after the fire supplying stone for building the new St Paul’s Cathedral. New fine houses such as Ham House were built in Surrey for courtiers of Charles II, and rich aristocrats visited Surrey for the horse racing on Epsom Downs.
Seventeenth Century Surrey
- Starborough Castle – 14th century castle, dismantled during the Civil War
- Farnham Castle – 12th century castle used by Parliamentary troops during the Civil War
- Polesden Lacey – a 17th century house, owned by the playwright Sheridan and demolished in 1818 and replaced by a villa built by Thomas Cubitt
- Nonsuch Palace Site – built by Henry VIII, the palace was given by Charles II to his mistress, the Countess of Castlemaine, who had it pulled down and the materials sold off in order to pay her debts.
- Guildford House Gallery – the house, built in 1660, retains many original features including plasterwork and panelling
- Leatherhead Museum of Local History – housed in Hampton Cottage, built during the 17th century
- Ham House, Richmond – built in the 1670s, retaining furnishings of the period
- Quaker Meeting House, Wandsworth (not in the modern county of Surrey) – the first meeting house was built on the site in 1673, though the present building dates from 1778 with original panelling and floors
- Moor Park, Farnham – Gardens were designed by Sir William Temple in 1686, after the Dutch model
- St Mary’s Church, Battersea – completed in November 1777 on the site of a Saxon church. Contains painted glass and tracery dating to 1631
- Chilworth Gunpowder mills – initially built in the 17th century, the mills were extended during the 1860s and in 1885 the Chilworth gunpowder company was formed.
- Abbot’s Hospital, Guildford – the hospital gatehouse was built during the 17th century
- Guildhall, Guildford – a 16th/17th century building
- Guildford Treadwheel crane – 17th/18th century in date
- Outwood Windmill – built 1665. The following year, the miller, Thomas Budgen watched the progress of the great fire as it spread across London
- Epsom Race course – first appeared during the 17th century, with the covered stands constructed later in the 19th century
- Stoke Mill, Guildford – the earliest Surrey paper mill, recorded 1635. The current building dates from the 19th century
Museums containing 17th Century collections
- Guildford Museum – collection of 17th century pottery and glass
- Army Medical Services Museum – traces the history of medicine from 1600 to the present
- Reigate Priory Museum – houses a 17th century oak staircase
- Chertsey Museum
- The Royal Logistic Corps Museum – the history of supply and transport to the army since the 14th century with emphasis on the period 1800-2000
- The Lightbox, Woking