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MARKET TOWNS OF SURREY (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Reigate in 1842

Reigate is in the hundred of Reigate, 22 miles from the General Post-office, through Croydon. The borough, which is now co-extensive with the parish, has an area of 5,900 acres. This place is called Cherchefelle in Domesday, but acquired the name of Reigate in the following century. It was a royal demesne at the time of Domesday, and was afterwards granted to the earl of Warrenne and Surrey. There was a castle here, of the foundation and history of which little is known except that it was taken from Earl Warrenne by Louis of France and the insurgent barons A.D. 1216. There are no remains of it now, except the earthworks which mark the site. There was also a priory, of which there are no remains : its yearly revenues at the dissolution appear to have been £78, 16 shillings, 8 pence gross, or £68, 16 shillings, 8 pence clear. The town is pleasantly situated in the valley of Holmesdale, at the foot of the southern declivity of the North Downs. It is a small but remarkably neat place, having an unusual proportion of genteel houses in it. It consists of one principal street, running east and west along the valley, and another street branching southward from this. The town is lighted with gas. The site of the castle is on the north side of the town, behind the houses in the High-street : the site of the priory is marked by a modern mansion, so called, at the southern end of the branch street.

The church is at the east end of the town : it is built of squared chalk or limestone, probably from the neighbouring quarries, and is chiefly of perpendicular character, with some good windows, and a lofty embattled tower at the west end, of later date than the rest of the church. On the north side of the chancel is a brick vestry, built A.D. 1516, with an apartment over it containing a library for the use of the parish and neighbourhood. In a vault under the chancel Lord Howard of Effingham, afterwards earl of Nottingham, who commanded the English fleet against the Spanish Armada, and several of his family, are buried. There are meeting-houses for Quakers and Independents.

There is a small brick market-house with a town-hall over, and a small building adjacent called the ‘clock-house,’ used for confining the prisoners brought here for trial at the sessions. The town-hall occupies the site of an ancient chapel of St. Thomas a Becket ; and there are some remains of another chapel, said to have been dedicated to St. Lawrence, now converted into a dwelling-house. There is a good market on Tuesday for corn and provisions, and a monthly cattle-market. There are three yearly fairs. The Easter sessions for the county are held at Reigate. Reigate is a parliamentary, but not a municipal borough. It returned two members from the 23rd Edward I, but the number of members was by the Reform Act reduced to one. The previously narrow limits of the borough were extended by the Boundary Act. The number of voters on the register for 1835-6 was 195 ; for 1839-40, 198. The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £418, with a glebe-house. It is in the rural deanery of Ewell, in the archdeaconry of Surrey, and the diocese of Winchester.

There were in the parish, in 1833, a free grammar-school, with 26 boys ; a national school, with 66 boys and 60 girls ; fourteen other day-schools, with 278 children, namely, 140 boys and 138 girls ; and three Sunday-schools, with 171 children, namely, 30 boys and 141 girls.