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MARKET TOWNS OF SURREY (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Dorking in 1842

Dorking is in Wotton hundred, about 24 miles from the General Post-office, London, through Ewell and Epsom. The area of the parish is 10,150 acres. The town is of no historical interest ; but is delightfully situated in the valley on the south side of the North Downs, near the river Mole. It is surrounded by gentlemen’s residences : Betchworth castle and park on the east, Berry Hill on the south-west, and Churt park on the south-east.

The principal street runs from north-east to south-west, the other streets branch from this. The footpaths are paved, and the streets lighted with gas, and the town presents a pleasing appearance : the houses, though ancient, are neat and well built.

The church is in the centre of the town, and is of ordinary stone and flint, except the upper part of the tower, which is of squared stone or chalk. The church is roofed with the coarse flagstone quarried near Horsham : it is cruciform, with the tower, which is low, in the centre; and is principally of perpendicular date. It contains the monuments of Abraham Tucker, author of ‘The Light of Nature Pursued,’ and of Jeremiah Markland, the classical scholar and critic.

There is a town-hall in the middle of the High Street; and there are meeting-houses for Independents and Quakers. The population of the parish, in 1831, was 4,711, about one-third agricultural : the population of the town itself was not distinguished.

The chief trade is in flour and lime ; and a great quantity of poultry of a peculiar breed, supposed to have been brought over by the Romans, and known by having five claws to each foot, is reared in the neighbourhood for the supply of the metropolis. The market, which is well supplied, is on Thursday, and there is one yearly fair.

The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £411, in the rural deanery of Stoke, in the archdeaconry of Surrey, and the diocese of Winchester.

There were in the parish, in 1833, an infant-school with 147 children, 99 boys and 48 girls ; two national schools, held also on Sundays, with 138 children, 70 boys and 68 girls ; a day and Sunday school with 16 girls, connected with Dissenters ; and seven other day-schools, with 155 children, namely, 55 boys and 100 girls.

Dorking is situated on or near the Roman road Stone Street, and it has been said that in digging graves in the churchyard the grave-diggers have occasionally come to the road-way, but this appears to want confirmation.